August 22nd, 1990



August 22nd, 1990
Flight from Puerto Ayacucho to Caracas as passengers
Caracas, Venezuela

I would not recommend drinking straight vodka on an empty stomach!

With the absence of a lock, Nigel suggested we drag the dresser (with all three drawers missing!) in front of the bedroom door, which Dolly and I attempted to do, whilst Millie, visibly sloshed, looked on and asked why we were blocking the kitchen door with the drinks trolley!

Thanks to the humidity and the boxy room with not a lick of cool air, I felt utterly drained but each time I tried to sleep, either Millie or Dolly would let out a piercing scream anytime a bug landed on them.

Morning couldn’t come fast enough and we literally crawled outside to the table set up on the street (no dining room in the hotel!) The toxic fumes from the speeding cars only added to the flavour of whatever it was we were eating and at one point, we watched in horror as one of the lovely ladies plying us with food, narrowly escaped being hit, as she crossed the road, her arms laden with several baskets of freshly baked bread we could only assume she brought from her kitchen. We devoured every last crumb and left a hefty tip for her and the other woman, who, through body language, told us they were both widows, with seventeen kids between them!

Ample carbohydrates and Millie’s temper proved a lethal combination when she confronted Juan, after he finally showed up two hours late to whisk us off on what the flimsy pamphlet
touted as; “The Jungle Jeep Tour.” From the back seat of the van, Dolly asked if there was any vodka left and Nigel laughed heartily and said this is the best trip he’s ever had!

For what felt like hours, the rusty van wound its way through makeshift roads, then out of the blue (more like brown) we came upon a vast, open area, with young children running in our direction. Juan was all smiles as he got out and introduced us to each of them and Millie wasted no time pulling out her sketchpad. As well as drawing the huts dotted around, she drew a picture for each of the children while they made funny faces that made her giggle in a way I’ve never seen.

A few hours later, Juan looked more than relieved to be dropping us off at the airport, by which time we were dying of thirst. The only drinks available in the terminal were lukewarm bottles of coke that Millie enhanced with the last of the vodka.

The return flight was on a Boeing 727 Avensa that had clearly seen better days and a crew I’d say the same of, all of whom seemed intent on chewing gum, inspecting their nails and re-adjusting their sloppy ponytails throughout the fifty-minute flight, during which none of them moved from their jumpseats!

At the hotel, we immersed ourselves in the ultimate in luxury; guzzling ice-cold drinks in an air- conditioned environment, free of fumes and insects.

August 16th, 1990

August 16th, 1990

At home (mum & dad’s)

Went with dad first thing, to the carpet showroom, only to find the entire building secured with huge padlocks! There wasn’t a soul about, so I guess I’ll have to find another company, which means spending more money on something I already paid for.

The fridge was delivered this afternoon, as scheduled, but the bed didn’t show up, so I rang the company, in Italy, in the hopes of finding someone that spoke English.

“Buon pomeriggio, comme posso aiutarti?”

“Oh, eh hello,” I stuttered. “Do you speak English?”


“Great, ehm, I’m ringing about a bed I ordered.”


“Bed. B. E. D.”


“Yes. I ordered a bed from your catalogue.”

“The book?”




“Too fast. Again.”

“C 1 9 8 4 4 3 6.”

“One min eet pleeze.”

While on hold, I fanned myself with the invoice and ignored the outrageous amount of money I spent on something I bought because I liked the glossy picture.

“Ok,” she said, the sound of papers rustling in the background. “Tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow for what?”

“For the bid.”

“No, it’s supposed to be delivered today.”

“Not today. Dee lay.”

“I need it today. It’s supposed to be here today.”


“I won’t be here tomorrow,” I stated.

“So, you want today?”

“One min eet.”

More fanning with a few deep breaths thrown in for good measure.

“Ok, so tonight.”

“Tonight? I can get it tonight? What time?”

“Ten or more o’clock. It is ok?”

“Eh, I suppose that’s ok, yes, that’s fine. I’ll be here.”

“Ok tonight for the bid.”

I now have a bed and a fridge. And bare floors.


August 15th, 1990

August 15th, 1990

At home (mum & dad’s)

Shot over to my house first thing to meet the flooring guys, who didn’t show up ‘til late this afternoon when a burly, gloomy looking guy knocked on the door and told me the company had gone into liquidation, therefore no carpets I already paid for! Dad said he’ll see what he can do tomorrow and in the meantime mum helped me clean the house from top to bottom, which, with the music blaring wasn’t so bad.

I’m so glad I didn’t buy a house in France!




August 14th, 1990

August 14th, 1990

At home (mum and dad’s)

I don’t know what I’d have done without mum and dad’s help moving all my stuff, which took most of the day.

“Yer no taking this old thing are ye?” dad asked, at the sight of mum’s steamer trunk.

“Uh-huh, I love that thing.”

“It’s bloody heavy.”

“That’s where Karen keeps all her secrets,” mum laughed.

“Yeah right, mum, the lock doesn’t even work.”

“Oh, if only it could talk,” mum sighed, gazing longingly in the trunk’s direction.

“Those were the days eh, Lizzie?”

“Oh aye,” she smiled. “I still remember packing my stuff to come home from America. It was so heavy I couldnae move it.”

“Nothing’s changed,” dad laughed.

“I can give you a hand with it, dad.”

“Thanks, hen. Wit do ye actually keep in it?”

“All my old diaries, letters, photos and stuff like that.”

“Yer a sentimental wee soul,” he said, squeezing my shoulder.

I wouldn’t disagree with that.





August 12th, 1990

August 12th, 1990

At home

Got home at six tonight, just as mum and dad were heading out to H&M’s for dinner. Hopefully they’ll return with piles of delicious nosh that’ll carry us through the weekend!

I was in the kitchen, combing through the stack of post that arrived in my absence and there, at the bottom, was a letter from Ben. My heart deceived me with a slight flutter that I paid no attention to and continued making tea.

Half a packet of jaffa cakes and two cups of tea later, I’d memorized every line of what was essentially a generic account of Ben’s recent trips, all until the end;

“It’s obvious our lives are going in different directions but I want you to know I’ll always love you. Always. Always. Always.”

My stomach is in knots, the jaffa cakes are gone and I’m crying.









August 11th, 1990

August 11th, 1990

Night flight from YVR – LHR

Really enjoyed Vancouver and look forward to returning, of course one of the best things about being there was being able to chat to David.


“Morning sleepy,” I said, stretching.

“Saturday morning, slowly waking up.”

“What are you up to today?”

“I’m heading to San Diego soon.”

“Oh, to see your parents?”

“Yeah and my sister is coming for the weekend, be good to catch up.”

“That’ll be nice.”

“Be nicer if you were coming.”

“I wish I could.”

“Me too but you’re going home to an exciting time.”

“I am?”

“Did you forget you’re buying a house?”

I laughed. “No, of course not, I just haven’t thought much about it.”

“It’ll be awesome, having your own place and all that.”

“You’ll have to come and stay.”

“Cool. Hey, I had a funny dream.”

“What happened?”

“We were floating in the ocean under a full moon, it was really cool. Dolphins were swimming around us.”

“Those pesky dolphins again, huh?” I said, trying not to laugh.


“How many this time?”



“Too many?” he asked.


“You sure about that?”

“Absolutely. One is enough.”

“No way,” he laughed. “One is sad.”

“One is plenty.”

“Three is better.”



I guess we’ll see!
















August 10th, 1990

August 10th, 1990

Flight from SEA – YVR – SEA

Followed by transport back to Vancouver!

Vancouver, British Columbia

Really enjoying the crew on this trip, makes all the difference when you have a good bunch to explore with. Met for breakfast in Seattle then went to the Space Needle, where, towering 605 feet above the ground, we enjoyed amazing views of the city. Edward Carlson, the man who came up with the idea for the Space Needle was apparently inspired by the Stuttgart Tower in Germany, a little titbit I forgot to share with David, who enjoys stuff like that.

Operated the shuttle from Seattle to Vancouver then back again, after which the we were due to take crew transport to Vancouver, all except for the flight deck crew who have the luxury of flying on a six-seater jet while the cabin crew slog it out on a coach.

Fortunately, my name was picked from the hat (literally!) to take the last seat on the jet with the flight deck crew, which, needless to say, prompted all kinds of inappropriate comments from my lovely but envious crew.

I couldn’t wait to tell David and rang him the minute I got to my room.

“I wasn’t expecting to hear from you ‘til tomorrow morning, did something change?”

“Oh yes!”

David was highly amused by my stroke of good fortune and uttered, “Wow,” more than once as I told him about the short plane ride and the limo that met us on the tarmac.

“That’s the way to go.”

“It certainly is. It was fab, especially as the sun was setting when we left Seattle.”

“Your crew won’t talk to you anymore.”

I laughed. “Probably not, they were bad enough when my name got picked.”

“I wish you were coming here for the weekend.”

“Me too but I have to fly home tomorrow night.”

“I know,” he sighed. “So close yet so far, huh?”

“Seems that way doesn’t it.”


“Sorry. I hate it too.”

“At least we’re in the same country,” I said, trying to sound positive.

“And on the same time zone. Let me grab a beer and I’ll call you back from the roof, ok?”

“Ok,” I said, wishing I could crawl through the phone.

“And hey, Karen?”


“I love you.”

“I love you too. Talk to you in a minute.”





August 9th, 1990

August 9th, 1990

Flight from SEA – YVR – SEA

Seattle, Washington


Woke up with David on the phone.


“Hey yourself, this is a nice surprise.”

“I wanted to call like an hour ago but I figured with the time change, you’d be wiped.”

“What time is it?” I asked.

“Just after seven.”

“That’s fine, you can ring me anytime.”

“Cool, I’ll remember that.”

“How’s life on the roof this morning?”

“How did you know I’m up here?”

“I can hear the waves.”

“How do they sound?”

“They’re calling my name.”

He laughed. “You can’t ignore them.”

“Trust me, if I didn’t have to work the shuttle today I’d hire a car and land on your doorstep.”

“That’d be awesome. Where’s the shuttle going?”

“Vancouver, there and back.”

“What’s that flight time?”

“Just over an hour or so.  Not a bad work day.”

“Have you been watching the news coming out of Kuwait?”

“Yes, it’s all everybody is talking about. What do you think will happen?”

“I think we’re about to go to war.”

“You do?”

“It’s not looking good. Thousands of foreign nationals are trapped and…”

“I know, it’s awful. That must be terrifying.”

“British Airways fly to Kuwait, right?”

“Yeah but I haven’t been yet.”

“You’re not going!”

“I might not have a choice.”

“There’s no way I want you going there. No way.”

“So, if I get rostered a Kuwait what do you suggest I do?”

“Say you’re sick. Or that you don’t feel comfortable going to that part of the world.”

“I can’t say that. I’d lose my job.”

“I’m serious Karen. I don’t want anything bad happening to you. Promise me you won’t go.”









August 6th, 1990

August 6th, 1990
At home

Millie left tonight and I so enjoyed her being here. Mum and dad agreed that she’s lovely and said they enjoyed meeting her but when dad went into the living room, mum asked if Millie’s a lesbian.
“I don’t think so, why?”
“I was just wondering.”
“She’s had a lot of boyfriends.”
“Aye, I just had a feeling about her.”
“She has a wee bit of sadness to her that I thought might be something to do with that.”
“Well, if she is, she hasn’t told me but I hope she feels she can if that’s the case.”
“Oh aye, I agree. She’s a lovely lassie.”
“She really is, we have a great time together.”