February 9th, 1990

February 9th, 1990

At home

Went to see “Black Rain,” with Sarah (oooh, Andy Garcia and an amazing soundtrack) then to the pub, where we met a few of our old cronies from school. It was really nice seeing everyone, hearing what everyone is up to. While we were laughing about some of our youthful antics, Sarah shot me a look.

“What?” I mouthed.

“Don’t look round.”

I spun around, expecting to see Ben, before I remembered he’s still in Tunisia.

“Karen!”

“Ward!” I exclaimed, getting up.

“Hello darling, long time no see,” he said, kissing my cheek. “I heard you’ve been flying all over the place.”

“You heard correctly,” I smiled.

We made small chat then Ward excused himself and I tried to keep a straight face as Sarah uttered, “Cor, he’s still a bit of alright, ain’t he?”

A few minutes later, Ward passed me a glass of wine. “Looked like you needed a top-up.”

“That’s lovely, thanks,” I said, searching for a spot on the crowded table.

“You lot have been busy,” he laughed, moving some empty glasses around.

“Ere you go mate,” said the burly barman. “Pass ‘em over ‘ere.”

“Cheers mate,” Ward chirped, plying him with the empties.

 

“So what’s the latest, then?” he asked.

“On what?”

“Have you got a boyfriend?”

From the other side of the table, Sarah quipped, “Several. She’s got several.”

“Sarah!”

“Just kidding,” she slurred.

“Well? Do you?” he asked.

“Let’s talk about something else,” I said, feeling my cheeks blush.

“You haven’t changed a bit,” he smiled.

“Don’t say that, I don’t want to still look like a spotty teenager.”

“I don’t remember you like that,” he said, running his fingers through his floppy fair hair.

“Then you have a short memory.”

“What I do remember, is that I was your first proper boyfriend.”

I smiled. “You were, actually.”

“That was a brilliant Summer, wasn’t it?”

I nodded my head. “It really was. Good ole nineteen eighty-three.”

“God, we were young and innocent,” he laughed.

“You can say that again.”

“We should go out for a drink sometime, you know, for old times sake.”

“We are out for a drink,” I said, tapping my wine glass.

“Yeah, but you know what I mean.” He paused. “You about next week?”

I took a sip of wine. “No, I leave on Monday.”

“Where you off to?”

“Hong Kong.”

“Bloody hell.”

 

February 8th, 1990

February 8th, 1990

At home

I stopped in at staff travel this morning and was surprised at how easy it was to purchase a ticket. Can’t complain about a roundtrip ticket to Hong Kong for less than a hundred quid, of course now all we need is one spare seat, for mum. I’ve heard if you have a family member accompanying you on a trip, the Captain may authorize the use of a jump seat. Hopefully it won’t come to that, I can’t imagine the crew getting any work done with mum sitting so close to the galley!

 

More than half my crew were headed to T4 to catch flights home to; Glasgow, Nice, Barcelona and Paris (Bonjour Jean Jacques!) I’m usually exhausted after we land so I can’t imagine dealing with the hassle of flying home on standby, then again driving isn’t always fun either. Things to keep in mind, should I start becoming attached to Paris!

 

According to mum, I missed two calls from David but I did receive a lovely letter from him and a postcard. I’d like to ring him but I doubt I’ll be able to stay awake long enough to catch him when he gets home (eight hours really is a huge time difference.) I thought about ringing him from Detroit but if he’d asked what I’d been doing in the days prior (which he usually does) I doubt he’d have wanted to hear about Paris!

What’s a girl to do?

 

February 7th, 1990

February 7th, 1990

Night flight from DTW – YYZ – LHR

Presently enjoying crew rest on the Boeing 747 (the new 400 series) which is an absolute dream to work on and has the most private crew rest area that I sadly only have twenty minutes to enjoy.

The Economy cabin is totally chock-a-block so when Jeremy (one of the nicest guys I’ve ever worked with) said I could have a quick break, I popped up to First Class where, unfortunately, I found Henny in the galley.

“What are you doing up here?” she hissed.

“I’ve come to see if you can spare any choccie biscuits,” I said, eyeing the array of goodies she already had set out.

“Absolutely not!”

“Oh c’mon, Henny, it’s the middle of the night and the majority of your passengers are already asleep. Not to mention you only have five in total.”

“They may wake up demanding biscuits.”

“I highly doubt it.”

“And for your information,” she said, pointing her finger at me. “My name is Henrietta Winston-Smythe.”

I was about to retort with something cheeky, when a call bell dinged.

“You wait right here,” she demanded. “Don’t move. I want to talk to you about this Lady Caroline nonsense.”

The second Henny turned her back, I grabbed a handful of biscuits that I stuffed in the pocket of my tabard and for good measure I grabbed another and filled the other pocket as well. I darted through the curtain and managed to make it through the Club World cabin and all the way through the first section of Economy, without any passengers stopping me to ask for something. Result!

In the Economy galley, I poured myself a cup of tea and left several biscuits for the others before retreating to the rear of the aircraft. I unlocked the door to crew rest and smiled as I kicked off my shoes and gleefully arranged my sugar stash.

Henrietta Winston-Smythe might be the girl working in First Class but Lady Caroline is the one sipping tea, eating biscuits!

 

February 6th, 1990

February 6th, 1990

Flight from LHR – YYZ – DTW

Marriott Hotel, Detroit, Michigan

First time in Detroit and based on what I saw tonight, I don’t think I’ve been missing much.

I was absolutely knackered when we finally arrived, after a scheduled stop in Toronto. The flight was much too busy for crew rest and the only reason I agreed to go out tonight was to devour as much yummy American bar food as possible!

Several lovely guys on our crew, as well as Henrietta Winston-Smythe, aka the snobbiest girl on the planet. She squeals, “super,” (sounds like “soup ah”) every three seconds and claps her hands incessantly. She drove us batty at the briefing, on the flight, the crew bus and again tonight when she turned her toffee nose up at everything. Granted, the burger joint with the red and white checkered plastic tables was a bit dodgy, but the potato skins were to die for and according to Adam, the buffalo wings were, “the dog’s bollocks.”

If for no reason other than to piss off Henrietta Winston-Smythe (she insists on using her name in its entirety) we started calling her Henny, which put her in a foul mood but didn’t shut her up. If not for Henny, I expect we would’ve stayed longer, during which time I’d have no doubt consumed more of anything slathered in cheese!

When we got back to the hotel, Adam suggested a nightcap (reminded me of Jean Jacques calling it a “nighttime cap.”) Within minutes of being seated in the revolving bar, on the seventy-third floor, Adam and Jeremy, for some unknown reason, started calling me Lady Caroline, which I found very amusing. Henny, on the other hand, got very huffy. “You shall have to excuse me,” she said in her plummy voice. “I can’t bear to listen to one more ghastly American.”

“I’m sure they feel the same about you, luv,” Adam blurted.

“I bid you all a bon soir,” she said, then took off.

When she was out of earshot, Jeremy shook his head. “What a you know what.”

“Thank God she’s gone,” Adam sighed. “I’m ordering a bottle of champagne to celebrate.”

The chap who delivered the champagne took a shine to Adam and made such a fuss over popping the cork, that it attracted the attention of the people next to us. The huge man, sitting closest to me, leaned over. “What y’all celebrating?”

“Being graced by Lady Caroline’s presence,” Jeremy quipped.

The man looked at me. “You’re Lady Caroline?”

“She most certainly is,” Adam responded, in an accent not his own.

“Well, miss, I mean Lady Caroline,” the man said, holding out his hand. “I’m Boone Bryson from the great state of Texas and it sure is a pleasure to meet y’all.”

“Thank you, kind sir,” I said in my poshest voice, shaking his meaty hand.

We chatted to Boone and his buddies (all here on car business) for ages (they were hysterically funny) and when it came time for us to leave, he insisted on paying our hefty bar bill.

“It ain’t every day we get to meet British royalty,” I heard him say as we got up to leave.

It sure ain’t Boone, it sure ain’t!

 

February 5th, 1990

February 5th, 1990

Girls flat, Hampton Hill

I’ve lost track of how long it’s been since I made it to bed before three am.

Feeling melancholy knowing this is the last time I’ll stay here. The lease is up and the girls are on the move, each to a different location. Surprisingly, they’re all here tonight, along with Mr. KLM, who has already shared his plans to whisk Lorna off to Holland!

It was close to ten when I arrived, after what I’d call an enlightening time in Paris. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for the slew of questions to begin.

“I think he’s too auld for you,” Lorna stated.

“A sixteen-year age gap isn’t that much.”

“Does he seem old?” Meryl asked in an innocent tone.

“What exactly are you asking miss Meryl?”

She grinned. “You know.”

“No, I do not know,” I teased. “Spell it out for me please.”

Kimberly chipped in. “She’s asking if the old codger has stamina.”

I cracked up laughing. “He’s not an old codger, he’s actually very with it and…”

“Aye, aye, aye,” Lorna interrupted. “Enough of that, we’re only interested in what happened between the sheets.”

“Is nothing sacred with you lot?”

“Well?” Lorna continued. “Is it true what they say about Frenchmen?”

I felt my cheeks redden. “I have no complaints.”

“None?” she asked, her cheeky smile evident.

“Zilch. And for your information,” I said, tartly, “Not all expressions of love occur in the bedroom.”

“Ooooohhhhh,” Lorna, Kimberly and Meryl cooed in unison, just as Mr. KLM came back into the room.

“What?” He asked, stopping in his tracks.

“Nothing, honey,” Lorna laughed. “We’re just giving missy here a hard time about her dirty weekend in Paris.”

“Lorna!” I said, feeling my cheeks flush again.

“When will you see him next?” Kimberly asked.

“Probably after my Hong Kong trip.”

“I thought you were going stateside tomorrow?”

“I am Meryl, next trip is Hong Kong, after which I’m going back to Paris.”

Ooh la la, Ecossais!

 

February 4th, 1990

February 4th, 1990

Jean Jacques flat

Montmartre, Paris

I was racking my brain, trying to figure out what actually happened last night and why I felt like a clumsy giant that fell into a sophisticated world of beauty and wonder, when there was a knock on the door.

“Car en? Are you awake?”

“Oui, entrer,” I said, flatly.

My first thought when I saw him peer around the door, was that he looked his age and not at all like the larger than life figure he’d appeared as last night.

“You are ok?”

“Yes, yes, thank you,” I said, sitting up in bed.

“Hier soir, it was late, oui?”

“Tres en retard,” I yawned.

“I have for you, tea. Coffee and English people not so much friends, oui?”

I laughed. “Actually, that’s not true, everyone I know drinks coffee. And I’m Scottish, remember?”

“Oui, but I do not see the skirt.”

“What?”

“The skirt, the men wear also, the skirt.”

“Kilt. It’s called a kilt.”

“Killed,” he said, with conviction.

I thought about correcting him but decided not to.

“You av no killed but I will call you Ecossais.”

“Ecossais means Scottish, right?”

“Mais oui. No more car en, I call you Ecossais, now.”

“If you insist,” I muttered.

“So, today, Sunday in Par ee is the best day of the week. I have some ideas for our day.”

“Actually, I was ehm, thinking about leaving earlier than I’d, eh, planned.”

He gave me a confused look. “You are not in love with Par ee?”

“Yes, it’s beautiful,” I said, glancing at the huge casement window.

“Aha, but of course,” he said, sounding excited, gesturing to the naked photographs dotted around the room. “Now I understand. I am so ree, they are not mine.”

“Then whose are they?”

“Long time ago, I av a friend, he is photographer for the bod e. And les livres,” he said, running his finger over one of the books. “What is this called?” he asked, blowing dust off his finger.

“Dust.”

“Yes, the dust, it is bad, oui? I clean it for you and I remove the ladies.”

I laughed. “That’s ok, you don’t need to go to any trouble.”

“It is not problem. I want you app e when you are here with me, pas triste.”

“Thank you, that’s very sweet.”

“No more sad face in Par ee, ok?”

“We’ll see,” I smiled.

“So,” he said, holding his hand out to me, smiling. “You get up, put on your killed and I show you my city.”

“Deal.”

It was late afternoon by the time we finally stepped outside.

 

February 3rd, 1990

February 3rd, 1990

Jean Jacques Flat

Montmartre, Paris

Yes, I’m in Paris and as enticing as it sounds, it’s four in the morning and I’m in the tiniest bedroom ever, surrounded by piles of books that are covered in dust as thick as the pages and several what I’d call “artistic” looking framed photographs of very alluring females.

I’d love to sum up my feelings since I landed in the City of Light, with words like “fantastique” and “incroyable” but alas all I can say is that I feel like un poisson fou hors de l’eau (a foolish fish out of water.)

What was I thinking coming here? How did I allow my silly, girly romantic notions to get the better of me and make me think this was a good idea? Don’t get me wrong, Jean Jacques has been more than pleasant and a gentleman but it was clear to me tonight that he and his friends are way out of my league.

For a start, each and every one of them are gorgeous. And lithe, ugh, so, so lithe. Even the men. The women were classically French looking, all dressed to the nines with what appeared to be minimal effort, the sort of look I could never in a million years pull off, even if I was draped entirely in Chanel.

The men, ah, the men. What to say about the men? Mostly older, around Jean Jacques age (38) and all very accomplished in the music/art/media world. Just like Jean Jacques, they were polite and certainly went out of their way to make me feel welcome but if anything, the attention only served as a reminder of how much out of my element I felt.

In the past I’ve managed to keep up a conversation in French but tonight, I couldn’t seem to find my voice, let alone the right words. The more I thought about what I was trying to say, the more difficult it became and I worked myself into such a state that I gave up. Instead, in an effort to keep up with the glitterati, I used gestures and facial expressions while I observed the manner in which they sipped cocktails and nibbled on food I can only describe as delectable.

Jean Jacques was sitting across the table from me, holding court, talking faster than my schoolgirl French could keep up with. Several times, he caught my eye and mouthed, “Ca va?”

“Oui,” I lied, smiling.

Back here, I feigned exhaustion, declined Jean Jacques offer of “nighttime cap,” and was in too much of a hurry to be alone, to correct him. We said goodnight and when I closed the bedroom door, I sighed a deep sigh of relief and slowly began to decompress.

Roll on morning, I need to go home.

 

February 2nd, 1990

February 2nd, 1990

At home

Due to last night’s lack of passengers, there was nothing to do on the flight so I stayed up all day and now I wish I’d gone to bed so I’d have the energy to follow through on a party invitation from Sebastian. As it stands, I’m home alone on a Friday night while mum and dad are out, no doubt enjoying dinner with Harry and Mercedes.

It’s been a hectic day at home which began with mum bombarding me with questions about

New York. The last time mum was in NYC was 1964 but she talks about it as though she just flew home last week.

“Did you see the Statue of Liberty?”

“Not this time, mum but I’m sure she’s still there.”

“Don’t be cheeky.”

Nice chat to Jon, during which I remembered yesterday was his birthday. He didn’t share anything with me about how he spent it, which for him is unusual. And for once, he didn’t ask what I was doing this weekend or offer to come and pick me up. Hmmm, I think he might be seeing someone.

Mega chat to Pamsy.

“What’d you do in the big apple?”

“I spent a lot of time at Christopher’s apartment and we chatted a lot about…”

“Is he gay?”

“No, he’s not.”

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“Did you snog him?”

“No! We only kissed the first night we met, ever since then we’ve been just friends. You’d like him, he’s lovely.”

“What did you talk about?”

“All sorts but a lot about the men in my life.”

“I thought you were only there for a few days?”

“Very funny! Actually, I found his perspective very helpful.”

“In what way?”

“He helped me to prioritize.”

“With like a flow chart or something?”

“Don’t make fun,” I said. “It felt good to get it all out.”

“And?”

“I came to the conclusion that I probably shouldn’t see Ben anymore.”

“If I could crawl through the phone, I’d throttle you.”

“Fortunately, you can’t, so there.”

“Ugh, how long have I been telling you to stay away from Ben?”

“I know, I know but I promise not to see him for at least two weeks.”

“You do?”

“Yes and I’m sticking to it,” I stated.

“Good for you. Progress! Finally!”

“It’ll be easy.”

“You think so?” she asked.

“Uh-huh.”

“You sound sure.”

“I am,” I said, then hesitated for a second. “He’s on holiday in Tunisia, with Mandy.”

I held the receiver at arm’s length while Pamsy screamed

“Are you done?” I asked

“I should’ve known.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Calm down, there’s more.”

“Wait, I should sit down, this is all a bit too much,” she laughed. “Ok, go ahead.”

“I’ve decided not to go to Paris.”

“Why?”

I sighed. “Just because I had a lovely few days with Jean Jacques doesn’t mean I need to run to Paris.”

“You wouldn’t be running, you’d be flying.”

“Oh, aren’t you just full of it today.”

She laughed. “Did you already tell him?”

“No, not yet.”

“Then you should still go.”

“Do you really think I should?”

“Absobloodylutely.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 1st, 1990

February 1st, 1990

Night flight from JFK – LHR

With a total of twelve passengers onboard this Boeing 747, it feels slightly eerie walking through the cabins, seeing all the empty seats. Some of the more senior crew are complaining about the aircraft change (we were scheduled to fly home on a TriStar.) Honestly people, is that all you have to worry about?

Rang Christopher first thing.

“Morning, I’m just ringing to see how you are and if you need anything.”

“I’m good but I’m kinda bored. I’m not used to being home this much.”

“Don’t you have work to do?”

“It’s all set.”

“You got through that huge pile of papers?”

“Yup.”

“Wow.”

“I didn’t hit the sack ‘til three am, but yeah, I got it done. Whatcha doin?”

“I’m trying to wake up,” I said, stretching.

“Did you go out last night?”

“No but I was on the phone into the wee hours.”

“Cool.” He paused. “Or was it?”

“Yes, very cool, actually.”

“A guy?”

“Eh, yes, a chap from LA.”

“You haven’t mentioned him before.”

“I know.”

“Any reason why you haven’t?”

I sighed. “Lots.”

“Wanna come over and talk about it?”

“That’d be great, if you don’t mind.”

“I’ll be here. It’s not like I can go anywhere.”

“How about forty-five minutes?”

“Sounds good,” he said, sounding much more like his cheerful self. “I’ll make you some tea.”

I laughed. “And I’ll bring  the bagels.”