September 30th, 1990

September 30th, 1990

Excelsior Hotel, Heathrow Airport

When I got to the crew car park this morning, Richard was standing a few rows over from where my car was parked. He waved, I waved back and before I had a chance to unlock the boot, he was right beside me.

“Allow me to help you with that,” he said, pointing to my Samsonite.

“I’ve got it, but thanks,” I said, swinging my suitcase into the boot.

“I was hoping to catch you,” he said, the flush rising in his cheeks.

I slammed the boot shut. “You were?”

He cleared his throat. “I was wondering if you’d like to go out for a drink sometime?”

“Ehm, actually, I’m seeing someone.”

“Does he fly?”

“No. He’s an engineer.”

“With British Airways?”
I shook my head. “No, he’s American. He lives in Los Angeles.”

“Oh,” he uttered. “Wasn’t expecting that. Well, I’d eh, I’d still like to give you my phone number.” He held out a sheet of First Class stationery, with his number scribbled across the bottom.

“Please take it,” he said, his cheeks becoming redder as he passed it to me. “And if LA begins to feel too far away, please give me a ring.”

“Righty-o,” I said, immediately feeling foolish at my use of such an expression.

“Ta ta for now,” he responded in a mock posh accent, grinning widely.

 

I came to the hotel and slept for most of the day before meeting up with Lolly tonight, who, I haven’t seen since she came back from working in America. Our first stop was at the Magpies but we only stayed for one drink before heading out in search of someplace livelier, which we found in Richmond.

“All the blokes are wearing white jeans,” Lolly giggled.

“That’s what we get for coming to a trendy wine bar.”

 

We talked for hours about Lolly’s time in Boston working as a nanny, which she has no intention of returning to.

“Didn’t you like living in America?”
“I did but I really missed my family. You know how close I am to them.”

“I have to say, except for my mum and dad, I don’t think I’d miss any other family if I was, say, to move to somewhere like, say, LA.”

She laughed. “So, this whole David thing is that serious?”

I nodded. “Just the other night we were talking about me moving there. A conversation, he said, we’ll continue after I meet his family at Thanksgiving.”

“Blimey!”

“Well that’s if I can get leave, I’m not sure yet, but yeah, I’d say it pretty serious.”

“And if you didn’t join BA, you’d never have met him.”

“I know, that’s such a weird thought, isn’t it? And I’d never have met you either.”

And what a shame that would be, because Lolly is, without doubt, someone I’ll always be friends with.

 

September 29th, 1990

September 29th, 1990

Night flight from EWR – LHR

Woke up with a horrendous headache. Guzzled down two bottles of water and was getting ready to go back to sleep when the phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Are you hungry?” Millie asked.

“Thirsty, yes,” I croaked. “Hungry, no.”

“I’m starving, come and get some food with me.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes, you can. Meet me in the lobby in thirty minutes.”

 

She greeted me with, “You look rough,” which prompted me to flash my fake smile and ask, “Are we going shopping for Primrose Oil?”

She ignored me and headed for the revolving door.

“Karen!”

I turned to see Richard walking quickly in our direction. “Morning ladies,” he said, bowing ever so slightly, which I found amusing. “How are you?”

“Suffering from throbbing noggin syndrome,” I groaned.

“Me too,” he nodded. “Millie?”

“My head is fine,” she said curtly. “You two obviously had too much to drink.”

“You’re not by any chance heading out for some nosh, are you?” Richard asked in the same way I’d ask someone if they need medical assistance.

“Millie’s on the hunt for food. Me, I just need liquid.”

“I’m in dire need of both,” he said, after which there followed an awkward pause where the three of us shuffled about in an effort to avoid the hotel guests coming and going.

“So, ehm,” he continued, clearing his throat. “May I join you?”

Millie’s face flashed a look that said, Go away and leave us alone, which Richard clearly understood. “On second thoughts,” he said, “I might be better off grabbing something from the coffee shop.”

“Don’t be silly,” Millie said, looking coy. “Come with us. I’m sure Karen would love your company.”

I felt my cheeks flush and somehow managed to restrain myself from pushing her head first into the revolving door!

 

We ended up in some pseudo Italian place in the mall, where I ate heaps of disgusting fettucine, swimming in Alfredo sauce but as awful as it was, I felt so much better. Millie flirted with Richard throughout lunch and she kept touching his arm and responded to pretty much everything he said with a toss of her hair.

 

When Millie went to the loo, Richard rolled his eyes and pretended to slump over the table. “I find the whole thing rather tiring,” he commented. “I have a few bits of shopping to do after this, would you care to join me?”

“I need to get some sleep, otherwise I’ll never make it through the night.”

“Understandable,” he said, in a tone I imagine he uses in the cockpit in response to a request from the ground. “Perhaps we can share a cup of tea during the flight. It’s a short flight time so if we’re not too busy I’ll pop down and say hello.”

I was about to respond when Millie reappeared. “What are you two talking about?”

“The food,” Richard quipped, kicking my foot under the table. “We’re talking about how dreadful the food is here.”

“Awful,” Millie agreed, with a toss of her hair, as I excused myself to go to the loo, the only place I was free to crack up laughing.

 

September 28th, 1990

September 28th, 1990

Flight from LHR – EWR

Newark, New Jersey

With my head still reeling from spending time with David, I walked into the briefing room this morning and was surprised to see Millie.

“Where the hell have you been?”

“Morning to you too!” I said, tossing my cabin bag under the seat beside her. “What are you doing here?”

“I got called out on standby,” she said quickly. “I’ve been trying to get hold of you since last night.”

“I wasn’t home.”

“I gathered that,” she said, in a tone that told me I should do everything possible to avoid working alongside her on the flight.

“Where were you?”

Out looking for Primrose Oil, I wanted to say.

“It’s a long story,” I sighed, with zero desire to share any details, like how sad I felt after dropping David off not even twenty minutes before as we once again set out to travel in the opposite direction.

Thanks to my lack of seniority I worked in Economy while Millie, with a total of three passengers, got to swan about First Class!

On the crew bus to the hotel, the Captain suggested we go to TGIF’s, that he jokingly referred to as TFIF, which, after a serious lack of sleep, took me a minute to figure out why everyone was laughing.

Prior to meeting up with the crew, Millie showed up at my door.

“Here,” she said, pushing a brandy miniature into my hands.

“Do you have something we can add?”

“Nah, just swig it.”

“I don’t think I can.”

“Stop being annoying and just knock it back.”

“Ugh,” I said, shaking my head after one mouthful. “That’s vile. Here, you have the rest.”

“You’re pathetic,” she said, grabbing the tiny bottle. “By the way, Richard fancies you.”

“Who the hell is Richard?”

“The first officer, dummy. He fancies you. That’s why he sat behind us on the crew bus and kept barging into our conversation.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. He was just being friendly.”

“Yeah, right”, she said, downing the last of the brandy.

To get to TGIF’s, we had to cross the motorway, which on a Friday night during rush hour was perilous to say the least. Richard was on my right-hand side and when he held out his arm in a “Don’t go yet,” gesture, Millie rolled her eyes and mouthed, “Told you.”

Safely inside (the Economy purser suggested we return to the hotel in taxi’s!) I headed for the loo and when I came out, Millie was nowhere to be seen so I started chatting to some of my crew. Richard joined the conversation and before long it was just the two of us talking about how long we’ve been flying, where we live, the usual. I was enjoying my wine and the atmosphere of the crowded bar, when out of nowhere I felt a kick on the back of my leg that made me lose my balance. Richard quickly reached over and caught me before I had the chance to fall.
“You alright?” he asked, his hand on my elbow, steadying me up.

“Too much to drink?” I heard Millie slur in a tone I can only describe as venomous as she sidled up beside me and said, “You had better stop what you’re doing.”

“Cut it out,” I hissed, through gritted teeth, hoping Richard wouldn’t hear us.

“Calm down,” she sneered. “I’m only joking.”

“Everything ok?” Richard asked.

“Fine,” I smiled, not meaning it, as I watched Millie making her way to the other end of the bar, where, thankfully, she remained.

 

September 27th, 1990

September 27th, 1990

Penta Hotel, Heathrow Airport, England

“You’re seriously here?” I said, feeling beyond excited.

“I seriously am!”

I quickly glanced at the clock on my bedside table. “I can be there in about three hours.”

“Awesome, I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to give you a heads up. It was crazy getting out of LA.”

“Are you kidding? This is the best surprise ever.”

“Yeah for me too,” David laughed.

“I’m so happy you were able to swing a night in the UK before flying to Delhi.”

“So, I can expect to see you in about five hours?”

“No, no, no, I said three.”

He laughed. “Karen, your three is more like my five.”

“Cheeky bugger!”

“Sorry, couldn’t resist. So, you’ll be here in three hours then, huh?”
“Maybe four,” I said, trying not to laugh.

 

Approximately two hours and forty-five minutes later, David looked gobsmacked when he opened the hotel room door.

“Hey you,” he uttered, smiling from ear to ear as he pulled me towards him. “You’re early.”

Words I rarely hear!

 

September 26th, 1990

September 26th, 1990

At home, England

Tonight, mum and I went to The Point to watch Sarah Ferguson arriving for the Royal Premiere of, “Presumed Innocent,” a new legal drama with Harrison Ford.

Mum insisted on us getting there (in my opinion) far too early so I was surprised to find hundreds of people already lining the entryway. Mum was not at all fazed by the size of the crowd and more or less barged her way to the front (I followed!)

A loud cheer went up when the stately looking car pulled up and an even louder one, when Fergie stepped out, at which point mum leaned into me and whispered, “Her hair looks awful straggly, she should have it up.”

The Duchess of York took her time walking up the red carpet, allowing mum ample time to comment on, well, pretty much everything related to Fergie but I do agree that she looked better in person than she does on tv and definitely much thinner.

“You look smashing,” mum blurted as Fergie walked past. She smiled and said, “Thank you,” with a little wave.

“Och, that was nice of her, wasn’t it,” mum uttered to nobody in particular.

 

Dad feigned interest as mum regaled him with every detail of her, “Encounter with Royalty,” whilst at the same time attempting to continue watching Daniel Day Lewis in “My Left Foot.” He eventually gave up and turned the tv off, which mum took that as an invitation to continue and I had to laugh when she said, “Even with that red hair of hers, Fergie looks better in bright colours. That velvet dress, as lovely as it was, was too dark for her.”

When I was getting ready to leave mum said, “Thanks for coming with me, hen, I really enjoyed it.”

“Me too, mum,” I said, kissing her cheek. “It was fun.”

“I just have to say though, Fergie’s nice but she’s no a patch on Diana.”

I nodded in agreement as mum gave my cheek a little squeeze. “And Diana’s no a patch on my lassie,” she said, smiling widely.

Ah, mum.  Always my biggest fan.

 

September 25th, 1990

September 25th, 1990

At home, England

It’s not even nine o’clock but I’m already in bed, trying to ignore the sound of my growling stomach and the hunger pangs accompanying it.

My current fantasy revolves around meeting David at the airport in Germany, where he takes one look at me, steps back and remarks, “Wow, Karen, when did you get so thin?” At which point, I’ll smile and wave my hand in a gesture of, “Oh please,  I always look like this.”

In order for said fantasy to be fulfilled, I need to lose one pound per day for the next eleven days, which will take me down to eight stone. In David’s language that’s one hundred, twelve pounds, in mine it means I’m skinny.

This afternoon, in another attempt to avoid eating, I went to the pictures and saw, “I Love You To Death,” a very cool black comedy with William Hurt, who I find incredibly appealing. River Phoenix was also in it and he’s not too shabby either, but given the choice (like that’d ever happen!) I’d pick Mr. Hurt.

Shit, I’m hungry!

 

September 24th, 1990

September 24th, 1990

At home, England

Florence just left after a fun night, where we only drank a bottle of wine. Each!

“Tell me again what David said about meeting his family.”

“I’ve already told you twice.”

“I’m just so excited for you,” she said, shaking her fists in the same way a little kid would. “I wonder what they’re like.”

“I’ve seen pictures, they look normal.”

“Oh, Karen love, we look normal. Until,” she motioned to the empty bottles, “you take a closer look!”

“Maybe they don’t drink.”

She rolled her eyes. “Do you think you’ll be nervous when you meet them?”

“Probably, I mean, I hope not but, yeah, I probably will.”

“I’m sure they’ll love you.”

“What if they don’t?”

She smiled. “They will. I have no doubt. You’ll fit right in.”

“You make it sound so easy.”

“It’s the wine talking,” she laughed. “So, next time you see David will be in Germany, right?”

I nodded enthusiastically. “Twelve more days.”

“That isn’t long.”

It is for me.

September 23rd, 1990

September 23rd, 1990

At home, England

The best thing about being at home is picking up the phone and dialing my favourite place in the world.

David’s “Hello,” was all it took to make me want to crawl through the phone.

“Hey sleepy,” I uttered. “Is this too early for you?”
“No way! This is the best way to wake up,” he said in his sexy morning voice.

I imagined him in bed, stretching. Concentrate. Concentrate.

“Did you have a late night?”

Please say no and that you’re tired from staying up late reading “War and Peace.”

“I guess, well, ah, I don’t know.”

“Oh.” Keep it together McGarr. Be cool. “Did you go out?”

“Yeah we had an awesome night, we…”

“We?” Cool! Be cool!

“Yeah, Elizabeth’s here for the weekend. Did you forget I told you she was coming?”

“Oh, Elizabeth. Your sister Elizabeth!”  Not some gorgeous tanned, toned girl called Claudette, with long dark hair and green eyes who does bikini modelling “just for fun” because being a lawyer can be “soooo tedious!”

“Where’d you go?” You two. Brother and sister. Not you and Claudette!

“To our favourite sushi place.”

“Where’s that?” I asked.

“You know, the place in Bel Air. Our favourite sushi place.”

“Oh, I thought you meant…”

“Ours, honey. Our favourite.”

My hand instinctively reached for my heart.  Ours. He said ours. “How was it?”

“As usual, the food was amazing. I mean, that place, wow, right? We talked about you for most of the night.”

“You talked about me? To your sister?”

“Yeah, she said she cant’ wait to meet you. I think you two will hit it off.”

Result!

“I can’t wait to meet her either.”

“I’m thinking Thanksgiving.”

“When’s that?”

He laughed. “November. It’s always the third Thursday in November.”

“Oh, it might be too late for me to request leave but…”

“I’m just throwing it out there, so hopefully we can figure something out. It’d be awesome for you to come and meet everybody.”

“Like who?”

“My folks, my sister. Some random family members, friends, you know, holiday stuff. Besides, you need to come and see my new place.”

“When are you moving in?”

“Hopefully before I leave for Germany, which is kindofa crazy goal but I think I can swing it. And you are gonna flip when you see it. Front row baby!”
I laughed. “Bang smack on the ocean, can’t beat that! Ugh, just saying that makes me homesick for LA.”

“Now that’s funny. You being homesick for a place you’ve never lived.”

Yet.

“Guess we got a lot to do, huh?”

“Yes,” I said. “Yes, we do.”

Especially now that we have a favourite restaurant and you want me to meet your family.

 

 

 

 

September 22nd, 1990

September 22nd, 1990

Night flight from NBO – LHR

Heading home, which means I’m only hours away from talking to David on the phone.

Went to the market with Molly and Anita this morning but refrained from buying anything. I need to see how much money I have left after I pay the mortgage this month! Besides, I already have a lot of the hand-crafted items they sell, my favourite being the soapstone chess set.

We parted ways this afternoon in the hopes of getting some rest before flying tonight, but when I turned the telly on, “Sandy” was strutting her stuff in tight leather trousers, telling “Danny” he’s the one she wants.  “Oo oo oo, honey!”

Grease is, indeed, the word!

 

September 21st, 1990

September 21st, 1990

Night flight from JNB – NBO

I’m on my second cup of Earl Grey and my third (or sixth!) choccie biscuit that Anita smuggled out of the First Class galley (I knew I liked her!)

Back we go, to Kenya.