February 19th, 1990

February 19th, 1990

At home

I was awake early so I got up and with mum’s advice still fresh in my mind, I rang David.

“Hi, it’s Karen.”

“Whoa, awesome surprise. Where are you?”

“I’m at home, why?”

“Isn’t it kinda early there?”

“Yeah it’s just after five. Needless to say, I’m totally jet lagged from Hong Kong.”

“Man, isn’t that the worst.”

“What are you doing home on a Saturday night?”

“Let’s see, I got the cool jazz station playing and I’m just kickin back. With a beer,” he laughed.

“Sounds nice,” I said, feeling a smile spread across my face.

“Work was crazy this past week, I needed some chill time.”

“Sorry to hear that. Isn’t your work always like that though?”

“I guess,” he laughed. “As is yours.”

“Not really, I mean it’s hectic while we’re onboard but after we land, either at home base or down route, that’s it.”

“Sure but you still have to keep up your license, right?”

“Uh-huh, it’s called SEP, Safety and Emergency Procedures. And it’s yearly but it’s not difficult.”

“Not for you,” he laughed.

“Well, you know,” I teased. “How was the weather in LA today?”

“Shitty, as usual.”

“Really?”

“Nah, it was beautiful, low seventies and sunny.”

“Sounds perfect,” I said, listening to the rain battering against the glass on the front door.

“In fact, I only came inside about an hour ago.”

“Oh. From where?” My tone of voice could’ve been interpreted as accusatory but he didn’t seem to notice.

“I spent most of the afternoon and the early evening reading on the rooftop deck. The sunsets are amazing from up there. You’d love them.”

“I’m sure I would,” I sighed wistfully.

“So, whacha got going on for the remainder of your days off?”

“Uh, eh” I stuttered, hearing mum’s words in my head; “I don’t think you need to mention it.” “You know, just this and that,” I said, hoping my words didn’t constitute telling a lie.

“When’s your next roster due?”

“It should be in the post this week. Why?”

“We need to figure out a way to get together.”

“Yes,” I said, thankful he couldn’t see my huge smirk. “Yes, we do.”

“Let me know when you get it so we can put our heads together. It’s been too long.”

“It really has.”

The other piece of advice mum gave me was to “Go to Paris,” which I’m doing tomorrow. And she mentioned something else but I don’t recall what it was.

 

February 18th, 1990

February 18th, 1990

At home

Thanks to my friend Jet Lag, I was wide awake just before five am and went downstairs to find mum in the kitchen.

“You too?”

“Up with birds,” she chirped. “Tea and toast?”

“Yes please,” I groaned.

“You came in late last night.”

“Sorry, hope I didn’t wake you up.”

In a tone of voice I knew better than to mess with, she said, “Where were you?”

“I was out with Ben.”

She spun around so fast I expected her to lose her footing.

“What did you say?”

“I’m not going to lie to you mum, I was out with Ben.”

She came and sat across the table from me. “Do you understand why I, and dad for that matter, don’t want you to see him?”

I nodded my head and felt tears spring to my eyes.

“Don’t greet,” she said, getting up. “He’s no bloody worth it.”

 

“Thank you,” I sniffled when mum placed the plate of buttery toast in front of me.

“David phoned you again last night,” she said, sitting down.

“He did? What did he say?”

“Lots of nice things. He’s no giving up you know.”

“He lives so far away.”

“Is that the only problem?” she asked.

“Probably,” I said, picking the bread apart.

“I’m just going to say it once and I won’t bring it up again.”

“Go on,” I urged.

“I think you should keep in touch with him and make plans to see him again. You never know where it might lead, besides, he sounds lovely on the phone and…”

“Yeah mum, I know you enjoy talking to him but when I’m sitting at home alone on a Saturday night none of that is relevant.”

“Aye, I see what you mean but some things are worth the sacrifice.”

“And how am I supposed to know if he’s worth it?”

“There’s no way to know for sure.”

“Exactly, so why bother!”

“Uff, that’s a terrible attitude.”

“I can’t ring and tell him I’m going to Paris. I wouldn’t feel right doing that.”

“Who said you have to say anything about Paris?”

“Mum!”

“I don’t think you need to mention it.”

“Oh, so when he asks what I’m doing I should just say nothing much?”

“No of course not but did you tell Ben you went to Paris?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know, it just wouldn’t feel right sharing that with him.”

“So why can’t you do the same with David?” she asked.

“It’s different with him.”

“It’s no different. The sooner you learn that the better.”

I let out a deep sigh. “Everything feels complicated.”

“That’s because you’re making it complicated. Just keep your heid doon and your arse up.”

I laughed. “It’s alright for you to tell me just to get on with it but…”

“Oh here we go again wi the drama.”

“Drama?”

“Oh aye, you’ve more drama than ten episodes of Eastenders.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Sorry, I didn’t realize I was being so dramatic.”

“You’re a long time deid, just enjoy yourself,” she said, getting up.

“Is that your advice?”

“That’s a wee bit of it. Och, I forgot the tea, it’s probably cold by now.”

“I’ll still drink it. What else do you have in the advice department?”

“Och, I’m no going doon that road,” she said, passing the mug of tea to me.

“Please, I pleaded. “I’m listening.”

“Phone David. Go to Paris. And forget about Ben.”

 

 

February 17th, 1990

February 17th, 1990

At home

I’m used to driving home alone with the radio blasting to keep me awake but with mum’s presence this morning there was no need for such!

We were only in the door about ten minutes before dad heard a condensed version of all we experienced in Hong Kong. He laughed and said he was glad to have us home safely and he was thrilled with his bounty of new silk ties.

Apparently, David rang yesterday. Dad told him I was coming home tomorrow because he imagined I’d be wiped after such a long flight. I really would like to ring David back but I doubt he’ll want to hear that I’m going to Paris to see Jean Jacques. Obviously, I have no idea what David does or who he sees but if he told me he was flying to Paris to see some girl he met in Africa, I doubt I’d wish him a bon voyage! The phrase, “sticky wicket,” springs to mind.

“Did anyone else ring, dad?”

“Aye, eh, Ben and Pamsy and…”

“What did he want?” mum scowled.

“I don’t know Liz, I didnae bother to ask him.”

“You’re no phoning him back, are you?” mum asked.

“No, of course not.”

 

The minute mum and dad left to take Tini for a walk, I lunged for the phone.

“Hello?”

“It’s Karen.”

“Hey you.”

Ah, be still my beating heart.

“My dad said you rang.”

“Yeah, I was just wondering what you’re up to. Feels like I haven’t seen you for ages.”

Keep it together Karen, act cool. “Not much.”

“Are you around tonight?”

Say no, you are not available. “Why aren’t you spending the weekend with Mandy?”

Please tell me you split up because you love me more than life itself.

“Long story,” he sighed.

Act indifferent, sound bored.

“Oh, that’s too bad,” I said, not meaning a word of it.

“So, if you’re around, would you like to go for a drink?”

Say no thank you, I don’t drink anymore. “I’m a bit knackered from the trip.” Yes! Keep it up. You can do it!

“Just a quick drink?” he asked.

Grin. Kiss. Touch.

“Yeah, go on then.”  Noooooooooo.

“Come and pick me up?”

Change your mind, Karen. It’s not too late! “Of course, I’ll be there at eight.”

You numpty!

 

February 16th, 1990

February 16th, 1990

Night flight from HKG – LHR

I had a slight coronary when Billy, the Cabin Service Director appeared in the upstairs galley, pre-boarding.

“I have some bad news,” he said, looking solemn.

“Oh no! Please don’t tell me my mum can’t get on the flight.”

“I said bad darling, not horrific,” he laughed.

“Sorry, I’m confused.”

“The bad news is First is full but your mum does have a seat elsewhere.”

“Phew, you had me worried there. Where’s her seat?”

“Right up here in your cabin. Is that ok?”

“That’s brilliant, ah, what a relief, thank you!”

So far, the passenger seated in 61A has been a treat to take care of. She’s very polite and not at all demanding. Kidding aside, it’s lovely having mum in my cabin and of course she’s already been invited to sit on the Flight Deck for landing into LHR. Thanks, Roy!

This has definitely been one of my favourite trips and I think the fact it was not only mum’s first time in Hong Kong but also mine, made it more special. Last year was so hard on mum, with the loss of Nana and mum’s dip into that sad (understatement) world she falls into each year. It’s been a treat seeing her laugh and act much more like herself again.

I have no doubt this is the first of many trips mum will accompany me on but she’s definitely not coming with me on Monday, to Paris!

 

February 15th, 1990

February 15th, 1990

Excelsior Hotel, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Felt very refreshed when I woke up from the “hour nap,” at seven this morning! Oops, I guess

that knock I heard on the door last night wasn’t in my dream after all. Mum couldn’t believe it when I told her we’d slept for thirteen hours.

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure,” I said, picking up my travel clock to show her what time it was.

“Uff well, we must’ve needed the sleep. We’ll make up for it today,” she said, bolting out of bed.

When I came out of the shower I found mum cocooned, in a puff of pink, enjoying a cup of tea.

“Is eh, that what you’re wearing out today mum?”

“Aye, do you like it?”

“Um, I don’t know if pink chiffon is necessarily the best choice for sightseeing.”

“It’s no chiffon,” she stated.

“Oh, ok then.”

“You’re taking far too long to get ready,” she said. “I’ll get you in the lobby.”

Our first stop was at a place filled with peril, known as The Breakfast Buffet, where danger lurked in every mouthful of deliciousness. Feeling utterly stuffed, we made our way to Ocean Park but somehow ended up at the Zoological and Botanical Gardens, which I have to say was quite delightful. We did eventually find not only Ocean Park but also Stanley Market (loved the double decker bus that took us there) where we stocked up on all things silk for a minimal price.

While we were getting ready to go out for dinner, mum said she was sad it was our last night.

“I am too but with staff travel concessions you can come again another time, or anywhere else for that matter.”

“That’s what Roy said.”

“Roy who?”

“The Captain.”

“When did you talk to him?”

“This morning. We had a lovely wee blether in the lobby while you were dilly dallying.”

“You’re on first name terms with the Captain?”

“Aye of course,” she laughed. “He’s awful nice.”

“What did you talk about?”

“This and that,” she said with a smirk.

“Like what?”

“He asked me how I’m enjoying Hong Kong and I told him I’m having the time of my life.”

“What else did he say?”

“He said I looked lovely in my pink dress.”

“Honestly mum,” I laughed. “I can’t believe you were flirting with the Captain.

“Pink to make the boys wink,” she said with a little chuckle.

 

February 14th, 1990

February 14th, 1990

Excelsior Hotel, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Happy Valentine’s Day from Hong Kong, where love is most assuredly in the air.

Hong Kong is buzzy in the sense New York is; deafening, the streets teeming with people, excessive congestion and general chaos, all of which was wrapped in the most exquisite floral bouquets we witnessed everywhere we went today.

Mum and I were absolutely ravenous when we woke at five so I ordered all sorts on room service and while I was setting everything up by the window (no balcony here!) mum moseyed around the room waving the two red roses that came with breakfast, singing, “My Funny Valentine.”

On the subway, we sat across from a nervous looking young man, carrying the biggest bouquet ever. I could see mum was chomping at the bit to talk to him and find out who the flowers were for but his stop came before ours so we never did find out.

It’s amazing when you get to experience something you’ve only ever seen on film, like for instance, the Star Ferry, which we took to Kowloon. The views as we travelled across Victoria Harbour were nothing less than spectacular as the buildings rose above what I’ll call mist (which sounds better than smog!)

On Kowloon, mum shrieked when an elderly Chinese woman grabbed an escapee chicken and promptly chopped off its head! We didn’t hang around to see if the obedient chickens were about to come to the same ending.

Mum treated me to valentine’s day lunch after we took the magical journey on the peak tram to overlook all of Hong Kong. I didn’t mind the ride up but going down felt pretty scary and I was happy when we reached the ground.

The plan is to now take a quick nap before we meet up with the crew at seven pm.

 

February 13th, 1990

February 13th, 1990

Excelsior Hotel, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Mum’s arrival in Hong Kong began in a state of exhilaration, when she bounded out of the cockpit, just as I was saying goodbye to the last of my lovely passengers.

“Welcome to Hong Kong, madam,” I said in my best hostie voice.

“Oh my,” mum beamed. “That was the experience of a lifetime.”

“How was the bird’s eye view?”

“I felt like I could stick my hand out and touch the washing, hanging on those balconies.”

“Wasn’t it wild? I’ve never seen anything like it, did you enjoy it?”

“It was bloody brilliant!” she boomed.

“Did you manage to keep quiet?”

“Oh aye, even if I wanted to talk I don’t think I could’ve.”

“That’s a first!”

She laughed. “That was really something, I cannae get over how they did that.”

“What? Land the plane?”

“C’mon you,” she smiled. “Let’s see what Hong Kong has in store for us.”

 

February 12th, 1990

February 12th, 1990

Night flight from LHR – HKG

Feeling very thankful that several people didn’t show up for this flight, which allowed mum to nab not only a seat, but one in First Class where she’s no doubt indulging in the lap of luxury. It would’ve been awful had she had to head home alone but I guess that’s the risk you take travelling on a staff travel ticket (aka standby!)

Working on the Upper Deck for the first time, configured as Club World, which is heavenly as it’s a nice size cabin and the passengers are great. It’s a busy working position with not just passengers to take care of but also the guys on the Flight Deck, who, I have to say, have been absolutely lovely. The Captain has already said mum is welcome to sit on the Flight Deck for landing. I’ve heard landing in Hong Kong can be hair-raising so that will be quite the experience.

It’s funny to think mum is way up at the front of the aircraft while I’m here in the rear, scribbling away, on crew rest. The others on crew rest wasted no time changing into sleepwear and hunkering down in the bunks but I don’t think sleep is on the cards for me, I’m far too excited!

I might pop up to First and see if mum can slip me some biscuits!

 

February 11th, 1990

February 11th, 1990 ~ At home

Suffered slightly this morning after last night’s rumfest with Florence’s but no regrets! I feel I can talk to Florence about pretty much anything, with no fear of her judging me. Don’t get me wrong, she voices her opinion and doesn’t always agree with me but she does it in a way that makes me feel like she “gets me.” I think that’s a really important part of a great friendship.

“Have you heard from Jean Jacques?”

“No, I thought he might ring to see if I got home ok but nothing so far.”

“What about the other Jack?”

“London Jack?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Nothing from him either, which is baffling because we had so much fun the last time we saw each other.”

“And that wasn’t that long ago.”

“No, it wasn’t but I do remember when we were talking about my job, he said he thought he’d find it difficult going out with someone who’s always going away.”

“Maybe that’s it.”

“Who knows, I’m not going to worry about it. There’s plenty more fish in the sea!”

“Ah, fish,” she sighed.

I laughed. “The sort of stuff you don’t have to worry about.”

She gave me a questioning look.

“Being married and all that. You and Morris are so lucky.”

“Compromise. There’s a word for you to remember in the future.”

I laughed. “I don’t think I’m very good at it.”

“You’re still young, when you meet the right person you’ll be willing to do stuff you never thought you would.”

“Oh, I don’t like that sound of that,” I joked.

“I’m sure you compromised with Ben through the years.”

“Hmmm, no, I think I just gave in to him.”

“Then he’s not the one for you,” she said, draining the last of the rum from her glass.

“It’s funny you should bring his name up, just last night I had a vivid dream about…”

“Sorry,” she said, “hold it right there while I got for a wee and get us refill.”

 

A few minutes later, Florence returned with drinks, filled to the brim.

“Lovely, thank you”, I said, taking a huge gulp to avoid spilling any.

“That’s the last of the rum,” she said. “Morris is getting ready to pop over to the shops to get us more or whatever else you fancy.”

“I’m really enjoying this. It’s going down a treat.”

“Then rum it is. Alright, tell me about your dream with,” she rolled her eyes, “lover boy.”

“I was feeding a baby, a really cute baby with blonde wispy hair, sitting in a big wooden high chair in an ultra-modern looking kitchen.”

She laughed. “You and your details.”

“Is it scary that my dreams are so detailed?”

She shook her head and gestured for me to, “carry on.”

“You know that mushy baby food that comes in a jar?”

She laughed. “Yes, I do have two kids, granted they’re grown but I do remember feeding them.”

“Well, anyway, I was feeding that to the baby and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Ben coming towards me, with a big grin on his face.”

“Oh dear, I know the effect that has on you.”

“Exactly, so as he’s coming towards me looking seductive and irresistible, I reach into the jar and scoop a glob of food into my hand. We start kissing and…”

“Wait, let me close the door,” she whispered. “I think Morris is still in the kitchen.”

“I don’t need to tell you right now.”

“Oh yes you do,” she uttered, quietly closing the door.

“So, while we’re kissing, I start rubbing the food over Ben’s face and through his hair.” I paused to see if Florence wanted me to continue.

“Go on,” she urged. “Don’t stop now!”

I stifled a giggle. “It was one of those really passionate kisses that, well, I’m sure you know where a kiss like that leads.”

“I think I remember,” she said with a chuckle, gesturing for me to continue.

“Ben followed suit and started smearing the food over my face, all the way down my neck then he started pressing…”

“Oh my,” she said fanning her face. “Did it suddenly get hot in here?”

“No, it’s a perfect temperature.”

“Must be my age,” she said, cracking open the living room window.

“Or the dream,” I laughed, right as Morris opened the door to the living room.

“Right you two,” he said. “I’m off to the shops, what do you want?”

Florence looked at me. “Rum, right?”

“If that’s ok with you. And thank you, Morris.”

“No problem, anything else, ladies?”

Florence licked her lips. “I could go something from the chippie. Karen? Fish and chips?”
“Ooooh, yes please.”

“Two fish suppers and don’t forget to ask for extra vinegar on my chips please, love.”

Morris nodded his head yes. “Anything else?”

“I think that’s it,” Florence said.

“Alright,” Morris said, bending to kiss Florence. “I’ll be right back.”

“Thank you, my love,” she said, with a big smile.

 

Florence was quiet until we heard the front door close. “What about the baby?”

“What baby?”

She laughed. “The baby in the dream!”

“Oh, yeah, I guess the baby didn’t get fed after all!”

“Poor little baba,” she laughed. “How could you forget about it?”

I smiled. “You forgot to ask Morris to get something.”

“I did? What?”

“A few jars of baby food!”