January 1st, 1990
I spent the first few hours of the nineties in a stunning Mews in Notting Hill, with a lovely group of individuals who work mostly either in the art or financial world.
Sebastian and I arrived after nine and were immediately greeted by Tony, the host.
“You made it!” He said, hugging Sebastian.
“Thanks for the invite, this is my friend Karen.”
Tony swept in for cheek kisses. “Lovely to meet you, I heard you just came back from the Far East?”
“Yesterday, in fact.”
“Hence the tan,” he smiled. “Are you jet lagged?”
“Hmmm,” I said, nodding my head. “A little bit.”
“It never occurred to me until recently that crew suffer from jet lag.” He looked at Sebastian. “Does it get easier?”
“Not really,” Sebastian said. “It just becomes part of the job, don’t you think, Karen?”
“Pretty much,” I replied.
Tony squeezed my arm lightly. “Sorry, I ask a lot of questions.”
“So do I. We’re curious.”
“Or just plain nosey buggers,” he said, with a wide smile, waving his hand above his head “Jack! Jack! Come and meet my friends.”
I turned and watched a tall guy with black hair glide with ease through the well-heeled crowd.
“Cor,” Sebastian uttered in a lustful tone.
Tony chuckled. “Don’t get any ideas mate, he’s not on our team.”
Tony wasted no time introducing us to Jack.
“Nice to meet you, mate,” Jack said, shaking Sebastian’s hand.
“Lovely to meet you,” he said, kissing me on each cheek.
“You too,” I said, hoping my flushed cheeks wouldn’t give anything away.
From the other end of the room, someone shouted, “Jack, where’d you hide that bottle of tequila?”
Jack excused himself and Sebastian pretended to swoon. “Right?” he asked, looking at me.
“Dead right,” I said, cracking Tony up.
“Who is he?” Sebastian asked.
“He’s my cousin, obviously from the good-looking side of the family.”
“Is he single?” Sebastian asked.
“Yeah, but he’s str…”
“I know,” he smiled. “I was just inquiring for a friend.”
Sebastian was drinking only soft drinks but I was no stranger to the champagne bar Tony had set up. I was replenishing my drink when Jack appeared.
“Here, let me get that for you.”
“Are you enjoying yourself?”
“Very much so, I love New Year’s Eve. And what a beautiful spot to spend it.”
“I just wish the ceilings were a bit higher,” he laughed.
“I don’t think the original stables were built to accommodate your height.”
He laughed. “Yeah, this would never work for me but I’m proud of Tony, he’s worked really hard for this.”
“He seems really nice.”
“He’s well-loved in our family.”
“So, you’re cousins?”
He smiled. “Yeah, there’s only a few months between us.”
“Did you grow up around here?”
“Here in London, yeah but not in this posh part. Where’s your accent from?”
“I lived in Scotland ‘til I was fourteen, then we came down South.”
“Ah, that makes sense, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Big night up there tonight ain’t it?
“It really is, it’ll last for days.”
“Sounds brilliant.” He picked up the bottle of champagne and topped up my glass.
“So, I heard you’re cabin crew?”
“Yeah, with British Airways.”
“The world’s favourite airline.”
I laughed. “The power of advertising.”
“I have a confession, I work in advertising, it’s part of the job to know all the slogans. How long have you been with BA?”
“Almost a year.”
“Do you like it?”
“I do actually, I’m getting to see some amazing places.”
We spent the rest of the evening getting to know each other and once in a while Sebastian would saunter over, with a big smile on his face. “I’m just checking to see if you need anything, darling.”
I noticed that the closer it got to midnight, the cozier he and Tony got.
Tony turned on the tv for the New Year countdown and we gathered around it.
In unison, we shouted; “Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Happy New Year!”
Jack was standing beside me and I felt him inhale deeply.
“Happy New Year,” he smiled, clinking his glass to mine.
“Happy New Year to you.”
He bent to kiss my cheek and asked for my phone number.