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!

 

October 14th, 1990

October 14th, 1990

At home, England

In the time that it took for mum and I to walk Tini around Willen Lake and devour baked potatoes slathered in beans and coleslaw, dad painted my kitchen!

David rang tonight but the eight-hour time change certainly didn’t appear to work in our favour.

“How’s the move going?”

“To quote you, swimmingly.”

I laughed. “Glad to hear it.”

“Yeah, we got everything out yesterday.”

“So where did you sleep last night?” I asked.

“What?”

“Did you sleep at your new place?”

“Oh, eh, yeah, first night. Very cool.”

“How was it waking up?”

“Waking up?” His tone indicated he didn’t understand the question.

“With the new view, how was it?”

“Awesome, yeah, pretty cool.”

“Are you ok? You sound a bit distracted.”

I heard him yawn and couldn’t help but wonder if he was also stretching. Concentrate.

“It’s still early,” he said. “And all I can see are boxes that need to be unpacked. Preferably before the start of another crazy work week.”

When did unpacking become more important than talking to me!

“Then I should probably let you go.” I snipped, hoping my tone would alert him to how unsatisfied I was with the boxes excuse!

“Cool,” he replied. “I guess I’ll talk to you, when?”

“Not for a while,” I sighed, hoping that would rouse him. “This trip is a really long one.”

“How long?”

“Twelve days.”

“That’s not so bad.”

Maybe not for you with all that unpacking to keep you busy!

“Ok so I guess have a good trip and let me know when you’re back.”

“Will do,” I stated.

“I love you honey.”

“I love you too,” I croaked, hanging up just in time for the tears to start.

I’m blaming the paint fumes!

 

October 13th, 1990

October 13th, 1990

At home, England

Another wild Saturday night for me, wait, no, I’m at home, just off the phone with David!

“How was your day?”

“Really nice, actually. Felt like a proper Saturday, out shopping, you know, the sort of thing normal people do on the weekend.”

David let out a little laugh. “You don’t get much of an opportunity for that sort of normalcy.”

“Neither do you when you think of it, you’ve been travelling as much as I have recently.”

“I guess,” he said with what sounded like a slight sigh.

“How have things been since you got home?”

“I’m surrounded by boxes!”

“So, you’re moving today?”

“I’m hoping to have everything out of here by tomorrow at the latest.”

My mind drifted to the rooftop terrace and some of the amazing times David and I shared there. Feeling wistful, I said, “I’ll really miss being on the roof with you.”

“When you see the new view, you’ll forget all about it.”

“Oh ok, then,” I laughed. “I’ll take your word for it. Is somebody helping you to move?”

“Eh, uh-huh, yeah, it’s all good.”

Something about his hesitancy made me a little uncomfortable so I blurted. “Who? Who’s helping you?”

“My buddy Marcus.”

Phew, not Claudette the lawyer/bikini model who exists merely in my imagination and surfaces whenever I feel insecure!

“Oh, I haven’t heard you mention him before, is he a friend from work?”

“No, he’s eh, I met him surfing.”

“I don’t suppose you’ll have much time for surfing this weekend.”

“You never know,” he laughed. “Hey, you know what?”

“What?”

“I miss you.”

“I really miss you too, so much so that I hope I dream about us swimming with dolphins and…”
“Hey,” he said, interrupting me. “I gotta get groovin but why don’t I call you again tomorrow?”

I was taken aback by his abrupt tone but I reminded myself how stressful moving is. “Ok, good luck with everything today.”

“Thanks.”

“I love you,” I uttered, but he was already gone.

 

October 12th, 1990

October 12th, 1990

Flight from CAI – LGW

At home, England

Call time was three thirty this morning which can only be described as hideous, but on the plus side, with a flight time just under five hours, I was home early. Waiting on the door mat to greet me was the phone bill, the amount of which I responded to with a slew of expletives, all before I’d even removed my uniform jacket!

Driven by my new level of poverty, I went to mum and dads for dinner, over which, the conversation turned to the weather.

“Was it scorching in Cairo?” Mum asked.

“It was on the way to and from the hotel but other than that, I didn’t set foot outside the hotel.”

“Uff, I’d be at the pool day and night.”

“That’s because you’re a sun worshipper.”

“I’m dreading the winter,” she sighed as a look of concern flashed across dad’s face.

“Why don’t the two of you go away for a wee break?” he suggested.

I shook my head. “I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“My phone bill is eh, pretty hefty, to say the least.”

“Och, well that’s understandable,” mum chirped. “Given how much time you spend on the phone with David.”

“The price of love,” dad said with a little chuckle.

“And worth every penny, right Tommy?”

“Honestly, you two, behave!” I said, trying not to laugh. “What’re you like!”

“Anyway”, mum continued. “Where should we go for a wee bit of winter sun?”

I looked at dad. “Don’t worry about the money,” he said, waving his hand.

“Thanks dad. How about I buy staff travel tickets to say, somewhere in Spain and you and mum pay for, well, pretty much everything else.”

Dad laughed and mum looked eager. “When can we go?”

“I have leave the first week of November, we could go then.”

“What about David?” Mum asked.

“He’ll be in Japan that week. I probably won’t see him now ‘til Thanksgiving.” Just saying it made me sad.

“Spain it is!” Mum said, jumping up off the couch. “C’mon upstairs Karen and help me sort my clothes out for Espana.”

I didn’t have the heart to point out the obvious, like the fact we’re not going for at least another three weeks!