June 20th, 1990

June 20th, 1990

Flight from LGW – JFK

I’ve been up for twenty-six hours and feel I could sleep for a week but wow, it’s great to be back in The Big Apple. Flight was seriously delayed, enough so that we almost went out of hours, which on a trip with a quick flight time is unheard of.

My room is located on one of the executive floors and the view from the bathroom is utterly insane. Ah, how I love this city with the yellow taxis and the tall buildings and the crowds and the noise. Oh, the noise!

With the lengthy delay, I expected a quiet night in but the mere sight of the skyline rejuvenated me. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the same effect on anybody else so there was nobody to go out with. I rang David but couldn’t get a hold of him so I thought I might go for a walk but it was one of those evenings where the air felt balmy and I really fancied watching the world go by, preferably with a cocktail in hand, so I rang Christopher.

He was still at work (I reminded him that it was half eight!) but said he was happy to hear from me and would come straight to the hotel. Twenty minutes later, I met him in the lobby and was, as always, thrilled to see him.

“You look tan.”

“Remnants from Antigua,” I laughed.

“You got paid to go to Antigua?”

“Yup,” I said, stepping into the revolving door.

We found the perfect spot to sit and people watch at a little bar just up the street from the hotel. Christopher ordered his signature drink; “Margarita, rocks, no salt,” and I ordered a pomegranate Martini (which was delish!)

As usual, we fell into an easy conversation about where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing.

“So,” he said, a few sips into our third drink (oops!) “Give me the latest in the BK saga.”

“Ah, let’s see. There’s actually not much to report on the Ben and Karen saga, he moved away, which is probably a good thing.”

“Interesting. And nobody else has showed up and swept you off your feet?”

I made a little disapproving sound and opened my mouth to speak but before I could, Christopher raised his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“I know, I know,” he laughed. “You can stand on your own two feet, I just meant it as a figure of speech.”

“Well in that case,” I laughed. “No, I don’t believe so.”

We started talking about the Antigua trip and for some reason I mentioned William and before I knew it, I was telling Christopher all sorts about my time with William, which is weird, because he really wasn’t my type.

“I seem to prefer blondes,” I said, suddenly changing the subject.

Christopher pulled on a strand of his thick, dark hair. “Guess I’m out,” he chuckled.

 

 

June 19th, 1990

June 19th, 1990

At home

I woke up this morning in a panic, worrying about the house and if I’m doing the right thing. Financially, it will be very different but my concern was more related to living alone. Millie bought her house a few years ago so I rang her for some advice.

“What you’re feeling is perfectly normal.”

“Really?”

“Totally,” she said. “I remember feeling the same way.”

“And then you were fine?”

“I wouldn’t say fine but once I got used to living alone I felt much better.”

“How long did that take?”

“About a year.”

“A year!”

“Maybe a little less and it’s not as if we’re around all the time.”

“That’s true.”

“And when you think about it,” she continued, “We spend a huge amount of time alone in hotel rooms.”

“Yeah but that’s totally different to being in a house alone in the middle of the night.”

“Hmmm and it’s not like you can get a dog.”

“No, sadly that’s out of the question.”

“Well if you don’t like it, you can always get a lodger.”

“Oh no, that’s not the goal. I’d hate that.”

“Yeah you’re too much of an only child for that. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

“You really think so?”

“Uh huh. What you need to do is throw a huge housewarming party as soon as you move in.”

“That’s a good idea.”

“Just make sure you have it on my days off.”

“Of course.”

“Will you invite Ben?”

“Eh, I don’t know. Why do you ask?”

“I’d like to smack him.”

I laughed. “I know I’m laughing but that’s quite horrible.”

“Well he’s quite horrible. Have you heard from him?”

“Uh huh.”

“Oh, do tell.”

“He rang earlier.”

“I hate it when you do that.”

“Do what?” I asked.

“When you get all cagey about telling me stuff.”

“I’m not being cagey, you’ve already made it clear you don’t like him so why would I want to share anything with you about him?”

“Calm down.”

“Don’t tell me to calm down!”

“Then stop being childish and silly.”

“I am not being childish. Or silly,” I shouted, confirming both.

“Alright, alright. Sheesh. I was just asking.”

“And I’m just telling,” I snarled.

Ah, Ben, he brings out the best in everyone!

 

June 18th, 1990

June 18th, 1990

At home

I like that time in the day when all the stuff you wanted to do is done, leaving you with the remainder of the day to do what you want. That’s the point I was at earlier tonight, when Jon rang.

“McGarr!”

“Hello you, what are you up to?”

“You owe me a drink,” he teased.

“Yes, I do and I’ll be more than happy to buy you a pint or two but when?”
“You around now?”

“Yes, but where are you?”

“Out and about but I can be there in, say, ninety minutes.”

“You mean an hour and a half?”

“Minutes sound better.”

“They do actually So, where are you now?”

“Like I said, out and about. I’m ringing from the car.”

“Oh, you are such a poser!”

He didn’t respond so I continued. “Are you alright? You sound a little, I don’t know, different.”

“I can never get anything past you McGarr. Truth be told I just got stood up.”

“Oh no.”

“Yup, how embarrassing.”

“Aw, that’s horrible. I’m sorry to hear that. Come and get me and I’ll take you for a drink. I might even buy you dinner.”

“Ooooh, get you, minted McGarr.”

“Not quite but we need to celebrate.”

“What, me being stood up?”

I laughed. “No, of course not. I just bought a house!”

“You did not!”

“I did! I made an offer yesterday and it got accepted, I’m so happy.”

“That’s fantastic, well done McGarr. You can tell me all about it in ninety minutes…”

“Or when I see you in an hour and a half!”

 

June 17th, 1990

June 17th, 1990

At home

I made an offer on a really sweet house with a little garden! Mr. Nile said he expects the owners will accept the offer and if they do (fingers crossed) I should be able to move in, in four to six weeks because the house is vacant. I like it a lot and really hope it all works out.

After a yummy Sunday lunch in the garden, mum and dad came with me to peek through the windows. They both agree that the house and location are ideal. Dad wandered off and we found him talking to the neighbours across the street; a young couple with a baby. They invited us in for a cup of tea and mum held the baby while Sally showed me around their house, which is more or less the same as the one I made the offer on. They only just moved in a few months ago but with all the stuff they have, it looks like they’ve lived there for years. Dad and Steve were deep in conversation about stuff like grass and sheds and goodness knows what, until the baby started crying at the top of her lungs, thereby forcing us to make a hasty exit!

“What a racket that wean was making,” dad remarked the minute we were in the car.

“She was probably just hungry,” mum said. “Bonny wee thing isn’t she.”

“She really is lovely,” I said.

“Karen, do you think Steve looks like a young version of Richard Gere?”

“Actually, he does, mum,” I said, not daring to take my eyes off the road with dad’s beady eye focused on me from the back seat.

“He does not!” Dad said, in a way that made me laugh.

“Aye, he does,” mum insisted. “What a handsome young man.”

“He certainly is,” I uttered.

“Uff,” dad huffed. “You two!”

June 16th, 1990

June 16th, 1990

At home

We landed just after seven am, at which time Ben Two (as Hilary called him)  made one last attempt to get me to give him my phone number.
“The statisti, er, the numbers for long distance relationships are shit you know,” are the last words he uttered before I grabbed my Samsonite and turned and bumped into Sam, from training.

“Well, lookie what we have here,” he said, kissing my cheek.

“Hello darling, you’re looking well.”

Sam took an exaggerated step back and gave me what we refer to as, “The Up Down.”

“And you! From where did you hail?”

“Jo’Burg.”

“Ugh.”

“I know,” I groaned. “And you?”

“Rio.”

“Oooh, brilliant.”

“Was actually,” he said, glancing up ahead at the customs agent. “Do you think we’ll get stopped?”

“Nah, they rarely stop us. Why? What’re you hiding?”

“Keep your voice down,” he whispered.

“Sorry. Did you buy too much booze?”

“No but I have a suitcase full of frocks and a very expensive headdress I bought from some old tranny down by Copacabana Beach.”

I laughed. “I don’t think it’s illegal to carry women’s clothing through customs.”

“It is when said headdress is encrusted with jewels and worth a small fortune.”

“Ooh,” I uttered. “Then you better hope you don’t get searched.”

“Just keep talking,” he urged as we fake laughed our way through customs with thankfully no interruption.

Mum was still in hysterics over Sam and his headdress, when the phone rang.
“I’m not in the mood for talking to anybody,” I groaned.

“Neither am I,” mum said, heading to the bathroom.

I counted eleven rings before giving in.

“Hello?”

“Hey you,” breathed the all too familiar voice.

“Ben, hi, how’s it going? Did you get your Wings?”

“I did, I did.”

“Congratulations. You must feel relieved.”

“Very. Got my first flight tomorrow.”

“Oh wow, already? Where to?”

“The Big Apple.”

“Aw, fantastic. You’ll absolutely love it! I’m sooo excited for you!”

“Yeah I can’t wait. I’ll send you a postcard,” he laughed.

“Please do.”

“Listen, I might come home in between this trip and my next.”

“That’d be cool,” I uttered, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible.

“If I do, I’ll give you a ring and maybe we can go out for a drink and swap flying stories. How does that sound?”

“Sounds good,” I said, sensing the subtle change in my breathing.

“Great, well I better go so I can pack and all that.”

“Ok, enjoy your first trip, hope it all goes well.”

“Thanks, I’m sure it will.”

I have no doubt.

 

June 15th, 1990

June 15th, 1990

Night flight from JNB – LHR

Three hours of crew rest tonight, as we wing our way back to London.

Relaxing last day in Jo’Burg, where I met Hilary for breakfast. We talked about going outside but we’re briefed to use extreme caution in that area so rather than risk anything we just stayed in the hotel. After a few hours of people watching in the lobby we went to my room, ordered room service and I was halfway through my second cake when the phone rang.

“Hi Karen, how’s it going?”

“Who is it?” Hilary mouthed.

“Ben,” I said, with my hand over the mouthpiece.

Hilary rolled her eyes in a very dramatic fashion and grabbed a pillow off the bed.

“I’m looking forward to heading home tonight.”

“Yeah, me too,” he said. “And very much looking forward to working onboard with you again.”

Trying to avoid Hilary’s actions, I mumbled something about the flight being busy and hopefully a short flight time.

“We still have a few hours to kill,” Ben said.

“Eh, yes, call isn’t for a while yet,” I said, turning to see Hilary, prancing around the room Mandy style, with the pillow stuffed under her top.

“So,” he continued. “Can I come to your room?”

I covered my mouth but I was laughing too hard not to be heard.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“Oh, eh, sorry, I’ve got the telly on, some mad film.”

“Can I come and watch it with you?”

Hilary stood in front of me swaying her pillow chest for all it was worth.

“I don’t think so,” I said, unable to stifle my giggles.

“That must be some film you’re watching,” he said, in not such a friendly tone.

“It’s too good to miss, sorry, I have to go.”

Hilary proceeded to parade her hefty chest around the room, which had me in stitches.

“Hi, I’m Mandy,” she purred. “Fly me.”

With the pillow safely back on the bed, Hilary proceeded to tell me that Tony rang her last night and asked if he could go to her room. Honestly, what are these boys like!

 

June 14th, 1990

June 14th, 1990

Johannesburg, South Africa

“Hello,” I said, sounding groggy after being woken from a deep sleep.

“It’s Dex.”

“What’s the matter,” I said, quickly glancing at the clock; 3:27 AM.

“I think I drank too much.”

“Sounds like it. Are you alright?”

“Yeah, just a bit, you know, down.”

“That’s just the booze talking, you’ll be ok in the morning.” Or afternoon, I thought.

“Can I come to your room?”

“No. You need to go to bed and sleep it. Trust me, you’ll feel better for it. I’ll ring you later, ok?”

“Yeah, cheers darling.”

“Bye Dex.”

A few hours later, Hilary came to my room for tea and toast and apparently Valerio got absolutely paraletic last night and ended up passing out on the couch in the party room! Hilary also told me that Mandy ended up leaving with Ben right before he and Tony almost got into a fist fight in the corridor!

Hilary and I were in agreement that we couldn’t cope with another mad night, so we had dinner at the hotel coffee shop then sat at the bar enjoying a few civilized glasses of wine. On our way back to our rooms, Mandy came gliding out of the elevator, wearing the shortest skirt ever, arm in arm with Valerio! No sooner did the elevator doors close when Hilary and I uttered, “Tart,” in unison and cracked up laughing.

Thinking about Ben (not the one on this trip!) and if everything goes to plan, he’ll be getting his Wings tomorrow. It’s amazing to think I’ve survived six weeks without seeing him, the longest ever, except for when I went to Florida last year. He hurt me so, so much and I honestly felt like I’d never get over him and I don’t think I have one hundred percent yet but I’m closer than I’ve ever been.

 

June 13th, 1990

June 13th, 1990

Flight from JNB – DUR – JNB

Early morning call time and off we set, on a very quiet crew bus (due in no small part I imagine to last night’s shenanigans.) Fortunately, the flight time to Durban was just over an hour.

Spent the day at a very swanky hotel, where a shared room was assigned to the three of us, which allowed Hilary and I to witness Mandy’s transformation from Cabin Crew Member to, as Hilary said, “The Polka Dot Prancer.”

Mandy’s bikini was beyond itsy bitsy teeny and weeny, leaving nothing to the imagination. She used every opportunity to prance around the pool, talking not only to the boys on our crew but to every other male in sight!

While Ben was vying for a spot on my sun lounger (that boy is definitely not fluent in body language) Mandy leaned over us and practically took my eye out! Honestly girl, Put Them Away! Dex was in stitches and said it was a shame none of us had a video camera to capture my expression.

Valerio didn’t take his eyes off Hilary and Mandy and Tony (aka Victim Number One) made their way into the hotel together. Prompted by Hilary whispering; “Valerio is getting on my f’ing nerves,” the two of us headed to the room, only to find the door locked! Stifling our giggles, we made our way back to the pool and waited for the lovebirds to show their faces.

About an hour later, Tony came back to the pool, looking more than smug. I pretended to read, which was funny in itself because the entire day I read about three pages in total. Ten or so minutes later, Mandy reappeared, sporting a different bikini.

“That one’s even smaller than the last one,” Hilary mouthed, rolling her eyes as Mandy took her place on the lounger next to her. I avoided all eye contact with Hilary as Mandy seductively stretched every inch of the shiny, fuchsia coloured fabric.

“I was so tired I had to take a nap,” she purred, stretching the fabric dangerously close to its limit. “I think I might have locked the room door by mistake. That’s how tired I was.”

Yeah, right.

Tonight, back in Jo’Burg, we went to the French restaurant just around the corner from the hotel (the name of which I don’t recall.) More amazing than the food was the fact I only had one glass of wine.

We ended up in the crew room again and when I left, Hilary was deep in conversation with Valerio, Mandy was dancing on the table with Tony and Dex and Ben tried to follow me out but I made it clear I was coming back to my room. Alone.

 

June 12th, 1990

June 12th, 1990

Johannesburg, South Africa

Continuing with the tradition established in Antigua, Hilary from my crew joined me for tea and toast this morning, which at the equivalent of two quid is a heck of a lot cheaper than it was on the island.

Hilary’s favourite place in the world is Los Angeles so we compared notes on the places we’ve been as well as the other spots we want to see. It was great being able to talk so freely about David and I find the more I talk about him, the more the need to see him grows. When I showed Hilary his picture she did a pretend swoon that made me laugh.

Met the rest of our crew for dinner and walked over to the Steakman, where I devoured the most delicious tuna steak. Seems most of the guys on our crew are straight and one in particular, Ben (ugh!) made a complete nuisance of himself when he kept trying to squeeze in next to me. Yep, another good looking, full of himself guy called Ben. Gee, how unusual!

Tony, a good friend of Carl’s, pulled Ben aside and had a few worlds with him to the effect of, “Knock it on the head!” I did an Abu Dhabi trip with Tony ages ago where most of the girls fancied him but as good looking as he is, he’s not my type.

“I can see why my mate Carl loves you,” he slurred, while we were finishing up desert.

“Carl’s like a brother to me,” I said. “One of the best for sure.”

“Top bloke,” Tony muttered, before downing the last of his beer.

The hotel has a designated crew room, which is where we ended up after dinner, with Dex as the entertainment. I don’t remember the last time I laughed so much, he is absolutely spot on with the timing of his jokes and should definitely be on tv.

While I was sitting on the couch, Ben meandered over and attempted to sit in my lap but I managed to push him off, after which he found his way to Mandy, the token trip tart!

The females are heavily outnumbered, which is great news for Mandy because she’ll have her pick of the bunch. My prediction is that she’ll end up in bed with Ben (ah, Ben and Mandy, I know it so well!) and possibly Tony, if he manages to stay off the booze, which after tonight seems highly unlikely.

Like I said before, dangerous trip.

 

 

June 11th, 1990

June 11th, 1990

Flight from LHR – JNB

Very youthful crew on this trip, which usually spells DANGER!

Flight time was just under eleven hours but with an hour and a half on crew rest it didn’t seem so long. Typically, with that amount of rest time, I’d stay awake and write but today I got into the bunks and actually fell asleep. Of course waking up and having to get back into uniform was no fun but I obviously needed the sleep.

Johannesburg is only one hour ahead of UK time, so in the unlikely (clears throat) event that I drink too much, I can’t use the jet lag excuse!