October 24th, 1990

October 24th, 1990

Westin Stamford Hotel, Singapore

At the beginning of a long trip, crew tend to venture out en masse, but typically as the days progress, the numbers become smaller, so much so in fact that on this trip several of us have become known as “The Diehards.”

Tonight, that small group of us (all under the age of 30!) made our way up to the seventieth floor of the hotel, where The Compass Rose is located. At the far end of the bar, I was amused but not surprised to see Annabel holding court.

“Miss McGarr,” she mouthed, sashaying in my direction, somehow managing to keep from spilling a drop of her drink. “Here darling, try this,” she breathed, pushing the glass into my hand. “Lychee martini, all the rage here and simply divine. Waiter! Two more please. Tell me everything but hurry, I have to be somewhere!”

“What are you up to?”

“Nothing devious,” she chuckled, grabbing the glass, downing a huge gulp. “Good lord, it’s nectar. Try it! I’m meeting some friends who fly for Singapore Airlines, you ought to come, wait, don’t look, but the First Officer is heading this way and boy is he dishy! Anyway, how are you darling, you look splendid!”

“As do you,” I replied, marveling at how Annabel could say so much without taking a breath.

“Evening darling,” she uttered, turning her head expectantly for a cheek kiss, as I smiled at the man in question.

“Karen,” he beamed.

“Hi Richard, how are you?”

“Very well, thank you.”

Annabel looked surprised. “I take it you two have flown together?”

“We met recently on a Newark trip,” Richard explained.

“Oh,” Annabel uttered, the way only posh people can. “Ah, here come the cocktails, gosh, don’t they look amazing but I simply must dash, so sorry!”

“I didn’t even get a chance to talk to you!” I said. “When do you leave?”

“First thing, ugh!”

“When do you get back to London?”

“Sometime next week, promise you’ll ring. Bye my darlings,” she gushed, planting a kiss on each of our cheeks. “Don’t do anything too naughty!”

“And then she was gone,” I chuckled, watching Annabel weave her way through the crowd as though she were about to take to the stage.

“Such a character,” Richard muttered.

“Truly. Anyway, how are you? You look well.”

“I was thinking the same about you.” His tone was flirtatious but before I had a chance to respond, Annie slinked her way in between us. “Don’t get too cozy with her,” she slurred. “We’re going to the Top Ten. And you,” she pointed her finger in Richard’s face. “You are dancing with me!” Annie staggered off in Andy’s direction and Richard and I fell into a fit of laughter.

“Who was that?” he asked.

“First Class purser.”

“Wow,” he said. “Just wow!”

“In her defense, this is the last night of a twelve-day trip. I think we’re all ready to go home.” “Understood,” he said, clinking his glass to mine. “Lychee, huh?”

I nodded yes as we each took a sip. “Divine,” he said, sounding exactly like Annabel.

 

For the next hour or so, at least two dozen crew, mine and Richard’s reminded us that we were going to the Top Ten.

“Are you going?” he asked.

“Yeah, why not,” I said, feeling slightly tipsy.

“You?”

“Absolutely! This is the last night of an eight-day trip for me.”

“Why so short?”
“I was scheduled to fly back to Oz with Annabel’s crew but apparently your First Officer took ill.”

“Oh no, poor Malcolm, I hope he’s ok.”

Richard looked at his watch. “He is, in fact he’s presently on his way back to the UK.”

“Already?”

He leaned into me. “Just between us,” he whispered. “I heard he’s having some rather, let’s say delicate issues at home and needed to get back.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Indeed,” he nodded. “So, shall we make our last night in Singapore a memorable one?”

This is not, I thought, the Richard I met in Newark. This one is much more engaging and he doesn’t smell too shabby either.

“Any night at the Top Ten is memorable,” I said.

He grinned. “Lead on, Miss McGarr.”

 

October 23rd, 1990

 

October 23th, 1990

Flight from MEL – SYD – SIN

Westin Stamford Hotel, Singapore

I know it’s two thirty in the morning Oz time, but I can’t figure out what time it is here. All I know is that I’m totally craving chicken!

Still recovering from last night’s raucous room party and an especially long duty day, so I’m staying in (I think!) I plan on writing an epic letter to David but without his new address I’ll have to wait ‘til I get home to post it.

I do know that fourteen thousand miles apart from the one you love does not bode well for a healthy relationship.

Time to drown my sorrows in copious amounts of chicken!

 

October 22nd, 1990

October 22th, 1990

Melbourne, Australia

Until tonight (or 4:13am to be exact!) I’d have put this trip in the “lame and tame,” category but having just returned from the best room party ever (newly arrived crew, half of whom Andy knew) that is no longer the case!

 

October 21st, 1990

 

October 21st, 1990

Flight from MEL – ADL – MEL

Melbourne, Australia

I was still awake, reading, when I heard rustling outside the door, so I jumped out of bed and peered through the peephole to see Andy slipping a note under the door.

“Shit!” He yelled, as I swung the door open.

“Sorry,” I uttered, trying not to laugh at his shocked expression, as he clutched his chest. “You almost gave me a bloody heart attack!”

“I’m so sorry, come on in. And thanks for this,” I said, picking up the note.

Over tea and toast, Andy filled me in on what I’d missed, which amounted to nothing.

“Sounds like we’d have been better off swinging with the oldies in the ballroom.”

“Yeah, probably,” he smiled.

I knew simply from being Carl’s brother that Andy must be some sort of a decent guy but prior to this trip I had the impression he was full of himself, glimmers of which I’ve witnessed but overall, he’s been great company and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him better.

“I’m soooo not in the mood for the Adelaide shuttle,” I whined, draining the last of the tea from the pot.

“It’s only an hour each way. It’ll be over before we know it.”

“How long will be on the ground?”

“Turnaround time is three hours.”

“How on earth do you know all this?”
“I read the roster,” he said, with a wink. “And just so you know, you’re not getting out of going out tonight.”

“Listen, if Fatal Attraction is on again, I’m staying in!”

“Is that the one where she boils the bunny?”

I nodded. “Yeah, poor little bunny. What a scene.”

The shuttle wasn’t so bad and we were back early enough for some downtime before meeting up for dinner so I got comfy on the bed and turned on the tv. “The Accidental Tourist,” was about halfway through so I drooled over William Hurt before dragging myself into the shower.

Sunday nightlife in Melbourne proved nothing to write home about.

 

October 20th, 1990

October 20th, 1990

Melbourne, Australia

Met up with some of the crew for lunch (we’re too messed up with the time changes to even consider breakfast anymore) but due to the rain and chilly air, we only made it as far as the café around the corner.

On our return, the lobby was filled with roadies carting in tons of what looked like excessively heavy equipment, all in preparation for tonight’s concert. They all wore the same shaggy hairstyle (I’m loosely using the term “style” here!) heavy beards, belted jeans and various types of concert t-shirts from era’s past. I thought of David and how much we’d laugh over the apparent “roadie uniform,” and in that moment, I missed him more than I think I ever have.

A few of us arranged to meet for dinner but the giant, squishy bed held more appeal than a night out on the town, so I rang Andy.

“I’m not going out.”

“Just like that? Do you at least have an excuse?” he asked.

“I’m cold.”

He cracked up laughing. “You can borrow one of my jumpers. I might even have a hat somewhere. And a pair of gloves. Oh and…”

“Very funny but I’m tired and just not in the mood.”

I didn’t dare tell him I was already in bed, surrounded by paper and pens in preparation for a marathon letter writing session, which just reminded me I don’t have David’s new address!

“So, you’re not really cold, you just can’t be bothered.”

“Something like that.”

“You’re a wimp!”

“Maybe so but I’m still not going out.”

“Fair enough but if you wake up through the night, slip a note under my door. I’m sleeping like shit on this trip.”

“I’m glad I’m not the only one,” I yawned.

“Yeah but unlike you I’m plodding on!”

Saturday night and I’m in bed watching Glenn Close and Michael Douglas in, “Fatal Attraction,” while, several floors below, in the ballroom, people triple my age are swaying in unison, singing “Heartbreaker,” with Dionne Warwick.

 

October 19th, 1990

October 19th, 1990

Flight from BKK – SYD

SYD – MEL, as a passenger

Melbourne, Australia

The flight we boarded in Bangkok originated at Heathrow so the majority of the pax were exhausted and somewhat grumpy, which, after being cooped up in economy for thirteen hours, with ten hours still to go, was understandable.

All except for 28H who was full of smiles as I made my way through the cabin during the first drinks round.

“Would you like something to drink?”
“What’ve you got?”

“Soft drinks…”

She screwed up her face in a gesture that said, something stronger?

“Wine? Spirits?”

“Oooh,” she cooed, her face lighting up. “Could you do me a gin and tonic?”

“Absolutely, ice and lemon?”
“Yes, please.”

I noticed her small, bony fingers were slightly curled, arthritis, I suspected. “Would you like me to mix it for you?”

“That’d be lovely,” she smiled up at me. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” I smiled back. “Are you heading home or going on holiday?”

“I’m off to see me daughter,” she said in her lovely cockney accent. “And her four granddaughters and me three great grandchildren I’ve never met, plus all the spouses and boyfriends and girlfriends. Sixteen of ‘em altogether.”

“How amazing. When was the last time you saw your daughter?”

“Not since she left London over forty years ago.”

“Wow! I hope you told her you’re coming,” I teased.

She let out a little chuckle. “We’ve been planning this for a long, long time,” she said wistfully. “I was hoping I’d be alive long enough to see this birthday.”

“It’s your birthday?”

“It was when I left London but I’ve been on this ruddy thing for so long it’s probably Christmas by now!”

I laughed. “It’s a long flight, isn’t it? I don’t think I could do it!”

“It’s not as bad I thought it’d be.”

“I’m glad to hear that. I have to press on but once the service is over, why don’t I bring you a nice cuppa and we can have more of a chat.”

“Oh, aren’t you a good girl,” she said, raising her glass in a cheers gesture.

Over tea and carefully “acquired” chocolate biscuits from First Class (thanks Andy!) Mrs. Orion showed me pictures of the family she’s never met. “They’re all coming to meet me at the airport,” she beamed.

“What a reunion you’re about to have!”

“I had better brush me hair,” she chuckled, fingering the thin strands of her hair. “You know, when I was a young girl like you, I had beautiful hair.”

“You still do,” I smiled. “Can I ask how old you are?”

“Eighty”, she proudly stated. “And here I am, on an aeroplane for the first time in me life!”

“No way!”

She nodded, visibly pleased with herself.

“Well in that case,” I said, “we need to get you up to the flight deck for a visit. Would you like that?”

“You’re not pulling me leg, are you?”
“Not at all. Let me go and sort it out, I’ll be right back.”

“Is this the way to heaven?” she chuckled, slowly climbing the stairs to the upper deck, after which she smiled and said hello to every (awake) passenger as she moved down the aisle towards the flight deck. Inside, the guys (female pilots are still few and far between) made a big fuss of her and she had them in stitches with several what she called, “saucy jokes.”

On the approach, I peered out the window and saw the Sydney Opera House for the first time. It looked more amazing from the sky than the pictures in the encyclopedia at home that dad and I still flick through from time to time.

Mrs. Orion waited for most of the passengers to disembark before she came shuffling down the aisle.

“You sure you’re alright?” I asked, knowing she previously refused any special assistance after landing, stating, “I’m not showing up in a wheelchair!”

She nodded yes and took my hand. “I can’t thank you enough,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “I made it!”

“You made it,” I smiled, choking back the tears as I bent to receive her kiss on my cheek.

There really is a first time for everything.

 

October 18th, 1990

October 18th, 1990

Hotel Dusit Thani

Bangkok, Thailand

Just rolled in from Pat Pong, where, over drinks, we speculated on what could possibly be taking place behind the doors of The Magic Club!

“Maybe it’s just a magic club, you know like the stuff Paul Daniels does,” Joanna said, her innocent expression matching her words.

“Is this your first trip?” Samantha asked.

Joanna’s cheeks reddened. “Maybe she’s right,” I said, jumping to her defense.

“Sweetheart,” Samantha purred (her forte!) “If all they’re doing is performing magic, then I’m the queen.”

“No, I’m the queen!” Simon chirped, knocking us into hysterics.

“You lot are mental,” Andy said, trying not to laugh.

“It’s probably another live sex show venue,” Annie, the First Class purser huffed, rolling her eyes in a seen it all before gesture. “I mean, what else is there in Pat Pong?”

“The shopping is good,” Joanna said.

“Yeah, right,” Annie stated. “Men come to Bangkok from all over the world to shop.

“Oh, they’re shopping alright,” Simon said. “And not only for fake Chanel and Prada bags.”

“I love my new Prada bag,” Joanna breathed, reaching to pick it up, while Annie gave me a look that said, Is she for real?

“Who wants another drink?” Andy asked, getting up.

The word “me,” left everyone’s lips at the same time, forcing us into another fit of laughter.

I’m still none the wiser on what happens at The Magic Club!

 

October 17th, 1990

October 17th, 1990
Hotel Dusit Thani, Bangkok, Thailand

One of the best aspects of the crew lifestyle (aside from the fact we get paid to fly around the world and stay in fab hotels!) are the friends we make along the way.

On this trip, I’m getting to know Andy, which, considering he’s the brother of one my best mates, is really nice. We met this morning as planned and hung around to see if any of our crew would appear but after twenty minutes, we gave up and headed outside into the deafening noise and oppressive air.

We took our lives in our hands in a tuk-tuk ride to the market at the President hotel. As usual, there was a ton of stuff I wanted to buy, but the thought of lugging it all about for the next nine days but was enough to limit my purchases (added to the fact I’ve yet to pay my outrageous phone bill!)

It didn’t take long for the humidity to sap my energy so when Andy suggested lunch at The British Club, I was all ears.

“Am I appropriately dressed?” I asked, motioning to my loose linen trousers (purchased in LA!)

“Absolutely,” he laughed. “Have you never been?”

“Not at all, I’ve heard about it though.”

“You’ll like it,” he smiled.

The setting was right up my alley and the décor was like being in a stately home, which is ironic considering it’s located in what I believe to be one of the most polluted, noisiest cities we fly to.

“Cocktail?” Andy asked as we sank into overstuffed chairs. “It’s five o’clock somewhere, right?”

My mind drifted to David and I quickly calculated the time in LA. “Different day and continent,” I uttered.

Andy gave me a questioning look “You alright over there?”

“Yeah, sorry,” I said, reaching for the cocktail menu.

“They do a great Mai Tai,” was all I needed to hear.

The drinks were not only delicious but strong and I probably should have stopped at one but we were having such a good laugh talking about Carl and his antics, that the time flew by. I was hoping to take a nap before meeting up with everyone tonight but by the time we got back to the hotel there was only enough time to shower and change.

The Captain suggested we start at Bobby’s Arms, another British style pub! I was still tipsy from the Mai Tai’s (I do believe three is plural!) so I refrained from drinking, until we got to the Rome Club. What a place! At one point, every member of our crew was on the dance floor, including the Captain, always a sight to behold!

If Andy aspires to matching Carl’s dancing skills, he has a long way to go!

 

October 16th, 1990

October 16th, 1990

Hotel Dusit Thani

Bangkok, Thailand

 

Made it to Bangkok without harming any passengers but I don’t feel any wiser!

Wasted no time cranking up the air conditioning and crawling into the huge, comfy bed at this beautiful hotel (one of my favourites) but made sure to set the alarm to avoid sleeping through ‘til three in the morning!

Only two of our twenty-two strong crew didn’t meet up tonight, probably because they forgot to set the alarm! The crew consensus was to head to the Toby Jug, which I always find amusing. Why come all the way to Thailand just to drink in a “British Style Pub,” complete with a dart board and a menu featuring classics like bangers and mash and toad in the hole.

Thankfully, we were only there for a short time before Andy (Carl’s brother) suggested the Thai Rooms, where our huge group was split up into three tables. Prior to ordering, the captain suggested splitting the bill, which I swear is a prompt for everybody to drink more than usual!

When we left the restaurant, it was humid and noisy, the two things I mostly associate with Bangkok. Most of the crew were heading to Pat Pong to continue the booze fest but I was already wilting from the humidity.

“I’ll come back with you,” Andy offered. “I’m not in the mood for drinking.”

“I was just thinking the same, it’s too hot.”

“Is actually. Besides, the sooner we adjust to the time change, the better. Otherwise we’ll be messed up for the rest of the trip.”

We had a drink in the hotel bar before calling it a night, now the trick is to sleep all the way through to morning, which, considering it’s only six pm at home is unlikely.

 

October 15th, 1990

October 15th, 1990

Flight from LHR – BKK

37,000 feet, somewhere over India!

 

Crew rest time on what is surely one of the worst flights I’ve ever operated. Typically, I’d get into the bunks if only to rest my weary head (and feet!) but tonight there’s too much I need to get off my chest.

My goal is to arrive in Bangkok;

  1. Without having harmed any obnoxious passengers!
  2. With a better perspective on, well, pretty much everything!

After I hung up with David last night, I felt unsettled and couldn’t stop crying. I tried to pinpoint what was making me sad, aside from the obvious, like the fact I’m in love with someone that lives six thousand miles away (on a good day, much more right now!)

I came to the conclusion that I’m sad David moved out of my favourite place in the world. The place where I fell in love with him. I’m sad that we’ll never spend time there again and that I wasn’t involved in the move and didn’t get the opportunity to spend the first night in the new place with him.

Once I figured all that out (took a while!) I knew there was no way I could leave on such a long trip without talking to him again. The phone rang about thirty times before it occurred to me I was calling David’s old place but I kept ringing in the hopes he’d pop back for something he’d forgotten.

Working myself into what Pamsy would refer to as, “a right old lather,” I gave up and rang his work number. Being the weekend, I left a long-winded message about why I was sad, then I apologized because I doubt he had any idea I was upset to begin with. I rambled on about how much I love him and how difficult it feels to be constantly travelling in different directions.

As soon as I hung up, I felt utterly foolish and thought I should perhaps leave another message, explaining the last one but thought better of it. I cringe at the thought of his reaction when he listens to those manic messages on Monday morning!

Throwing a sickie and heading to Los Angeles did cross my mind but I quickly came to my senses and instead packed, drove to Heathrow, met my crew in the briefing room, welcomed passengers onboard then sat on the tarmac for hours due to a problem with the air vents.

With only twenty minutes to spare before the crew went out of hours, this Boeing 747 finally left the ground, filled to the brim with disgruntled passengers whose attitudes and behaviours have worsened considerably with each passing hour.

Only five hours to go!