October 21st, 1989

October 21st, 1989

Flight from LGW – MBJ

First time in Jamaica but I couldn’t care less.

Total shock this morning when David rang, from Manchester! Apparently, he spoke to mum last week, while I was away. He left the name of the hotel where he’d be staying with mum, in the hopes that perhaps I’d be able to meet him. Mum assured him she would pass along the message but sadly she started slipping into her present condition, so that didn’t happen.

While I was talking to David (worst chat ever, felt totally stilted, all my doing)

Ben showed up. I gestured for him to go wait in the kitchen. Through the glass wall, I watched him moving around, with ease; making tea, scoffing biscuits.

“I have to go,” I told David.

“Of course,” he said, sounding despondent. “I’ll be back in LA when you come home from Montego Bay. Give me a call?”

“Yeah, sure,” I sighed.

“Who was that?” Ben asked, when I went into the kitchen.

“None of your business.”

“Fair enough. Listen, I rented a car for a few days. I can drop you off at the airport if you want.”
In a snippy tone, I said, “I have my own car.”

“I’m well aware of that,” he snapped back, before promptly changing his tone. “I thought maybe it would be a good opportunity for us to talk.”

Being in the car together did allow us to talk at length and from what Ben said, I don’t think he really knows what (who?) he wants. He claims he does but I totally disagree.

Our goodbye felt strained and awkward and he didn’t offer to pick me up upon my return. I certainly wasn’t about to ask him to either but the second I walked into TriStar House, I felt sad and hid in the loo for a while ‘til the tears subsided.

I was surprised to see Frankie in the briefing room.

“You look awful,” were her first words.

“I’m not in the mood for anything today,” I groaned. “Least of all, hundreds of passengers.”

“How come?”

I shook my head. “It’s a long story.”

One I’m really tired of.

 

October 17th, 1989

October 17th, 1989

Night flight from LOS – LGW

One would think that after one has trouble zipping up one’s uniform skirt, in a hotel room in Nigeria, that maybe, just maybe, four hours later, one might refrain from eating the biscuits one eyeballed in the First Class galley, while one accompanied a young boy and his Father on a visit to the Flight Deck!

However, here I am, on crew rest, at the back of the TriStar, separated from the passengers by only a curtain. Judging by the crumbs that remain on the plate on the tray table, it would appear that one has not yet learned how to curb one’s craving for such!

Saw absolutely nothing of Lagos! Cabin crew are advised to use extreme caution there and it’s not recommended anyone leave the hotel alone. Besides, there was nothing close to where we stay, so I spent the entire day in my room! Read, wrote, ordered room service (more than once) and couldn’t help but think about mum and how she’ll be when I get home.

And Ben. I don’t even know where to start with those thoughts. As I write this from 35,000 feet, somewhere over Africa, I find it hard to believe that he’s already back in the UK. It’s been four months since we said more than a tearful (mine, not his) goodbye in Spain. To say I’m excited and scared about seeing him again, is a major understatement.

I wish I could just close my eyes and have him standing in front of me when I open them.

 

October 16th, 1989

October 16th, 1989

Lagos, Nigeria

Our crew hotel is in the middle of nowhere, so I spent most of the day by the pool with Lorna.

Making myself comfortable on the lounge chair, I said, “Thanks for listening to my woes last night.”

“Don’t be silly,” she smiled. “Anytime honey, you know that. I hope a wee bit of insight helped you.”

“It really did. You explained a lot I wasn’t aware of. It helps just to know what might be happening to my mum.”

“There are some good books I can recommend as well. I used to have them but I’ve moved so many times I don’t know where they ended up.”

“You’re lucky to have lived in so many different countries.”

“All by the ripe of old age of twenty-one,” she said with a wink.

“You’re not that much older than I am.”

“You’re twenty-two, right?” she asked.

I nodded my head, yes. “I’ll be twenty-three in February.”

“Yer a wee spring chicken,” she chuckled. “Seriously though, it looks like I’ll be on the move again soon.”

“Holland with mister KLM?”
“Oh aye, without a doubt,” she said, excitedly. “This is it for me.”

“Isn’t it amazing that you met him on a trip and now, as you say, you’ll probably end up marrying him.”

She smiled. “It’s been some year for us honey, hasn’t it?”

“It really has. I can’t believe we’ve only been with British Airways since January.”

“You know,” she said, looking pensive. “I see this job as a double- edged sword.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Well for a start, we hardly spend any time at home and when we do it’s rarely during the weekend when everybody else is off work. And we’re knackered. That combination makes it difficult to meet anyone at home.”

“You can say that again,” I laughed.

“And then when you’re on a trip, you might meet somebody but the chances of seeing them again are slim to nil.”

“But not in the case of you and Dutch boy.”

“He’s no boy, honey, he’s a man,” she boomed, pretending to shake all over.

“You are too much,” I laughed.

“So what you have to do is make the most of wherever you are and just go for it.” She paused and looked at me. “Right?”

I nodded yes. “I think I’m doing that.”

“Good,” she said. “So does this mean everything with that bloody Ben is done and dusted?”

I sighed deeply. “I don’t think so.”

She sprang up from the lounge chair. “You’re no still in touch with him, are you?”

I didn’t dare look at her. “I’m going to tell you something but you have to promise to keep calm,” I said.

She loomed over me, forcing me to look at her. “If it’s something to do with him, I cannae promise anything but tell me anyway.”

“He arrives back in the UK tomorrow.”

“You better be kidding.”

“I’m not.”

“And let me guess,” she said, placing her hands on her hips. “You’re going to see him.”
I looked at her but didn’t say anything.

“Ohfurbeepsake,” she shouted.

“I didn’t know you were already fluent in Dutch.” I said, trying to keep a straight face.

Lorna grinned and sat across from me. “I could throttle you right now.”

“Please don’t, I’d rather not die in Lagos.”

“Listen,” she said, with her finger pointed at me. “I’m just going to say one thing about this.”

“Just one?” I smirked.

“Aye, just one, so listen up.”

I sat up and faced her. “Ok, I’m listening.”

“Love. Is. Not. Meant. To. Be. Com. Pli. Cated.”

I opened my mouth to speak but she “hushed” me with her finger and continued. “When it’s right, it all falls into place and works. Effortlessly.”

Based on that advice, I definitely have it all wrong.

 

October 15th, 1989

October 15th, 1989

Flight from LGW – LOS

My first time on the continent of Africa, namely, Lagos, Nigeria. Seems incredible that a mere seven hours on a plane can transport us to such an incredibly different landscape.

Seeing Lorna in the briefing room this morning was a lovely surprise.

“I didn’t see your name on the roster.”

“I was on standby with ten minutes left when crewing phoned. I thought Kimberly was kidding when she said it was BA on the phone.”

“Well I’m happy to see you,” I said.

We worked down the back together and eventually took off four hours after the scheduled departure time. All because of a generator replacement, nothing too serious!

Arriving in a new destination is exciting and I’m not jaded enough yet (unlike many crew) that I don’t still enjoy the views from the crew bus on the way to the hotel. Vast and dusty are two words I’d use to describe my initial impressions of Lagos.

Most of us met in the CSD’s room where, according to the crew, there’s not much to do here so I imagine it will be a quiet trip. After just one drink, I decided to leave the room party. Lorna said she was leaving too.

“Why don’t you come to my room, honey and we’ll order room service.”

“I’m not really in the mood, but thanks.”

“Wait a wee minute,” she said, grabbing my arm. “Come with me so you can tell me what’s upsetting you.”

“I’m fine, just tired, that’s all.”

“Aye right,” she said. “Enough of that. You’re coming with me.” She tugged on my sleeve and literally marched me to her room.

“You really a bossy cow.”

“The word you’re looking for is assertive,” she smirked.

I wasn’t hungry (for once) but Lorna insisted on ordering all sorts of goodies from room service.

“So,” she said, staring at me. “Is it that bloody Ben again?”

“No, it’s my mum.”

“Is she alright?” she asked.

“Probably not.” As soon as the words were out, I started crying.

“Och, c’mere honey,” she said, putting her arms around me. “Whatever it is just let it all out.”
When the tears stopped, I took a deep breath. “My mum suffers from depression and she’s, well, I don’t know how to explain it, she’s on her way into another one.”

“I take it this is no the first time this has happened?”

“No, she’s had it for most of her life.”

“Does she get help?”

“Sometimes,” I sniffed, “but sometimes she takes to her bed and that’s pretty much all she does, until she comes out of it.”

“How long does it usually last?”

“Days, weeks. Months even, it’s hard to tell but I know she’s falling into it again.”

“Och, the poor thing,” she sighed.

“It just makes me really sad. I always think it won’t come back and she’ll be ok but it always does.”

“I know honey, I know. It’s an awful thing for anybody to go through. You know I was a nurse before this,” she gestured around the sparse, dated looking hotel room, “life of glamour and glitz took over?”

I couldn’t help but smile. “I do know that, yes. I remember you getting the highest scores in training, when we covered Aviation Medicine.”

“What you probably don’t know, is that I specialized in psychiatry. For years that was my area of expertise.”

“I didn’t know that part.”

“Well now you do honey, so grab another wee cake and tell Auntie Lorna everything.”

 

October 8th, 1989

October 8th, 1989

Flight from LHR – MIA

Hotel Inter-Continental, Miami, Florida

I made it! First flight working on the Boeing 747 is over and I loved it. Flight time was nine hours, twenty minutes so a bit of a long duty day but it really didn’t feel like it.

I was so nervous when I got to TriStar House this morning, an hour before check in! I was first in the briefing room so I wouldn’t have to experience that awkward feeling of walking into the room, with such a large number of crew. That, for sure, is one of the biggest differences I felt today, but beyond that, everything I learned in training came naturally and the aircraft was a dream to work on.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t the most junior crew member and was able to pick a work position, so I chose to work in Club. Ah, what a treat that was! So much nicer than being stuck “down the back.” Especially with the smokers, yuck. I wonder if smoking onboard will ever be banned? I doubt it.

The hotel room is sumptuous, with oversized windows facing Biscayne Bay, where there’s no shortage of boats passing by. I was able to stretch the phone cord far enough to actually sit on the windowsill while I spoke to Liza in Orlando. The big news is that Gabriel and Maria are getting married! I was a bit taken aback to hear that, given Maria’s antics when I was in Orlando at the start of this year. Love is, indeed, strange! I hope Gabriel will be happy, he’s such a lovely guy and I never think of him without smiling.

Shortly after we checked in, most of the crew met in the lobby and walked to the bar next door to the hotel. Being such a pleasant evening, we sat outside and the Club purser, Stefan, insisted I try a drink called, “sex on the beach.” Of course I blushed when I asked for it but after the first one went down, I had no problem ordering two more! Funny that!

Shelia, the CSD sounded rather posh in the briefing room and also onboard when she made various announcements on the PA. However, after a few drinks tonight, her cockney accent came out in full force and she was hysterically funny.

“I ‘ave a few words I’d like to say, if you don’t mind,” she said, standing up.

“Go on, girl,” Dave, the First Class purser shouted, in his broad cockney accent.

“I’m slightly scotch mist,” she slurred, “but I just want to say sumfin to Karen.”

I felt my cheeks redden (again!) when everyone looked in my direction.

“I’d like to speak on bee half of the crew and welcome you to the Jumbo fleet. I fink you’ll find we’re the best!”

There were several rumblings, mostly in agreement.

“Oh and one more fing,” she said, swaying slightly from side to side. “The tiddly winks are all on me tonight!”

Needless to say, her generous offer got a rousing response.

Back in my room and local time is almost midnight, which is really five in the morning.

 

September 23rd, 1989

September 23rd, 1989

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Around four o’clock this morning, after a huge helping of chocolate mousse, I felt beyond bored, so I scribbled a note for Laney and made my way down the corridor, to her room.

Just as I was slipping the note under her door, she opened it, which made me jump. I let out a little scream.

“Come in quickly, before we get in trouble,” she said in a half whisper.

“You can’t sleep either?”

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I’m sorry I didn’t meet you and Mavis last night, I forgot to set the alarm and didn’t wake up ‘til eleven.”

“Me too,” I said. “Oh, shit.”

“What” she asked.

“I hope poor Mavis didn’t wait for us to show up.”

“Oh, I didn’t even think about that. Let’s go stick a note under her door to apologize.”

“You’re in your pj’s.”

“Nobody will see me at this hour,” she laughed.

An hour later, while Laney and I were gorging on toast and carrot cake (I know, totally bizarre combination) there was a light knock at the door.

Laney peered through the peephole. “It’s Mavis,” she said, opening the door.

“I’m so glad you left that note, hi Karen,” Mavis said, coming into the room. “I’ve been tossing and turning for hours. I was in such a deep sleep yesterday that I didn’t hear the alarm go off.”

“That flight really took it out of us,” I said.

“In seven years of flying I’ve never experienced such an awful flight,” Laney said.

“Aw, I was only fifteen when you started flying, Laney.”

“And I was only fourteen,” Mavis said.

“Hush your mouth, children,” Laney chuckled.

Mavis perched herself on the edge of the bed. “I didn’t wake up ‘til after eleven last night.”

Laney and I started laughing.

“What?” asked Mavis.

“We clearly have the same circadian rhythm,” I said.

“I don’t know that that is,” Mavis yawned, reaching for a slice of carrot cake, “but we’re definitely on the same wave length.”

I laughed. “Nothing like carrot cake for breakfast.”

Mavis brushed the crumbs off her lap. “Listen, you two, I have to tell you something, but you mustn’t say a word to anyone else on the crew.”

Laney gestured for Mavis to, “Go ahead.”

“When I woke up last night there was a note under my door.”

“Who was it from?” Laney asked.

“Simon, you know, Simon, the First Officer.”

I moved uncomfortably in the wing chair.

“What did he want?” Laney asked.

“It was weird, actually. He said he’d be in the hotel bar until about midnight and that he’d like me to meet and have a drink with him.”

“That’s a bit creepy,” Laney said, polishing off the last of the carrot cake.

“That’s what I thought, but it gets even stranger.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Inside the envelope were several vouchers for free drinks at the hotel bar.”

Laney put her hand over her mouth. “Are you kidding?”

“No,” Mavis said, shaking her head. “Isn’t that tacky?”

“That’s beyond tacky,” I said, hoping my face wouldn’t give anything away.

“Soooo tacky,” Laney agreed.

“You must both promise not to tell anyone on our crew. I’d be mortified if anyone found out.”

“Don’t worry,” Laney said, “we won’t say a word.”

 

September 22nd, 1989

September 22nd, 1989

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Arrived at the hotel at lunchtime, feeling completely wrecked from a long night filled with demanding, disgruntled passengers during what was, by far, the worst flight I’ve ever experienced.

On the crew bus, I sat with a cool girl called Laney, who joined our crew in Abu Dhabi. As shattered as we were, we still managed to gab all the way to the hotel and laughed over what Mr. Fenwick referred to as, “Shitgate.”

Typically, on a trip, regardless of when we arrive or where we are in the world, the crew meet up in the lobby at five pm. Surprisingly, there was no talk of such today. I think that, alone, sums up just how awful the flight was. Laney and I arranged to meet up with Mavis at eight tonight to go to the night markets but I managed to sleep right through the alarm.

When I finally woke up, there was an envelope with my name on it that had been put under my door. Inside were several free drinks vouchers redeemable at the hotel bar, along with a note from the First Officer, that read; Hello Karen, not sure what your plans are this evening but I’ll be in the hotel bar until, I imagine, around midnight. Hope you’ll come and join me for a drink. Simon.

I looked at the clock and couldn’t believe it was half eleven, which meant I’d slept all day. After I took a shower, I felt wide-awake and thought about popping down to the hotel bar but the free drinks vouchers seemed more than tacky. Besides, the only time I talked to Simon was on the outbound sector when I took two little boys up to the flight deck for a visit.

I decided just to stay in my room, where for the past few hours, I’ve been writing lots of letters. I actually wrote two to David because one wasn’t nearly enough to cover all that’s been happening. I think we’re eight hours ahead of UK time here, so if David’s at home in LA, he’ll be having lunch soon. On the twenty-first!

It’s after three in the morning now and not only am I feeling wide-eyed and bushy tailed, but also totally, utterly bored.

I think the only thing left for me to do is order some chocolate mousse on room service!

 

September 12th, 1989

September 12th, 1989

Shuttle from BDA – TPA – BDA

Considering the amount of rum I consumed last night, I felt extremely well today!

Met Kimberly and a few girls from our crew first thing and made our way to Macmillan’s for breakfast. Kimberly moved her pancakes from one side of the plate to the other and didn’t touch a morsel. I had eggs benedict, which I love and consequently devoured but I was still hungry and was sorely tempted to ask Kimberly if I could pinch a pancake but of course I didn’t. I guess there’s a reason why Kimberly weighs about two stone less than me!

The five of us strolled back to the hotel and I asked if anyone was interested in sitting by the pool. Nobody was, so I went to my room and grabbed the bag of books I’ve been lugging all over the place.

I sat in the shade by the pool and didn’t recognize any of the other crew (so easy to spot!) which was great because I got to witness how we, as crew, might come across to others. Loud, confident and slightly obnoxious were just a few of my observations.

I soon got bored watching the antics of the different “types” of people parading and sunbathing so I stuck my nose in Hemingway’s, “A Farewell To Arms,” and almost cried over Catherine Barkley’s tragic demise. What a great, but sad, book.

Later today, we operated the Tampa shuttle, which was easy and actually quite enjoyable. Unfortunately I forgot my Filofax so I didn’t get a chance to ring Miriam or Liza.

It was late when we got back so nobody wanted to go out, which was fine by me. I wasted no time changing, got into bed and wrote a mega long letter to David, that I’ll pop in with his birthday card. I wonder where he’ll be on his birthday.

I just started a new book by Margaret Atwood called, “Cat’s Eye,” which I’m already enjoying so much that I might actually stay up until I finish it.

Regardless of whether I stay up or not, I can hear my liver thanking me for staying in!

 

September 6th, 1989

September 6th, 1989

Girls’ flat, Hampton Hill

Another enjoyable day in the classroom, plus more time spent onboard the Boeing 747, navigating our way around the beautiful aircraft that I can’t wait to start flying on!

Kimberly and I ordered Chinese for dinner and set up our food on the living room floor. We sat on cushions while we ate, with the telly on, turned down low.

“Thanks for driving to Cranebank every day,” she said.

“No problem, it beats my usual commute.”

“I’m glad we’re on the same Jumbo course.”

“Me too. Thanks for having me. The three of you did well to find this flat so close to the airport.”

She nodded her head. “You’re always welcome to stay. I think there’s been about three or four nights so far where Lorna, Meryl and I have been here at the same time.”

“We have an unusual job,” I said, topping up her wine glass.

“You can say that again! How many people can say they spent the day wandering around an empty aircraft trying to locate the safety equipment.”

“We can,” I said, waving the empty wine bottle in the air.

Kimberly laughed her lovely laugh.

“Do you know what I just remembered?”

“What?” She asked

“Christopher is in LA tonight.”

“You mean David?”

“No,” I said. “Christopher. He’s there for the MTV Video Music Awards.”

She put her hand over her mouth. “That’s right. You should be there!”

“Can you imagine?”

“I heard The Cure are playing.”

“Where’d you hear that?” I asked.

She smiled. “I have my sources.”

“Oh, get you.”

“Nah, I’m just kidding. There was something in the papers about it being their first appearance on American tv.”

“I wish we could watch it. Though with the time difference it doesn’t actually start until about four in the morning our time.”

“Maybe when we start flying on the Jumbo to LA, we’ll meet some Hollywood stars in First Class.”

“I’m sure we will. I can’t wait to get to LA,” I said wistfully.

“Nor can I,” Kimberly said, grabbing the empty wine bottle as she stood up. “But for different reasons to you.” Using the wine bottle as a microphone, in a tv announcer voice, she roared, “But this weekend, LA is (she made the sound of a drum roll) “coming to youuuuuuu, Karen McGarr!”

I jumped up and joined her, dancing around the living room.

“Woo hoo,” I shouted, gleefully. “I can’t wait!”

 

August 27th, 1989

August 27th, 1989

Night flight from LCA – LHR, as a passenger!

I noticed the message light on the phone flashing as soon as I woke up. Expecting it to be news on the whereabouts of my suitcase, I was surprised to learn we’d be flying home as passengers and not as operational crew.

Having no extra clothes, I wrapped the bed sheet around me and opened the doors to the balcony. I peered out and saw Suzette sitting on her balcony, right next door.

“Suzette,” I whispered from behind the door.

“Who is that?” she asked, putting down her book.

“It’s Karen.”

“Oh, morning sweetums. What are you doing?”
“If I come out, will anybody see me?”

“No, it’s safe, come on out,” she said, standing up.

I gingerly stepped outside. “Looks like Armani,” she laughed. “I just remembered you have no luggage. Do you need anything?”

“You wouldn’t happen to have a spare toothbrush would you?” I asked.

“Give me a minute,” she said, with a nod.

I waited on the balcony and heard Suzette talking, I assumed, on the phone. I couldn’t make out what she was saying so I assumed she was talking to her boyfriend. When she came back out, she had a First Class toiletry bag in her hand.

“You can keep that,” she said, passing it to me over the low wall that separated us.

“Ooh, lovely, thank you.”

She held her finger up to her lips and spoke softly. “Acquired during a recent upgrade on a staff travel ticket to see my sister in Australia.”

We chatted for a little while and I noticed Suzette looking at her watch.

“Be right back,” she said, going into her room.

Next thing I knew, Suzette and four others emerged from her room, all draped in bed sheets!

“Surprise!” they shouted in unison.

I cracked up laughing and took the offer of Simon’s hand to help me over the wall.

“We didn’t want you to feel left out,” Suzette chuckled.

“Yeah, you’re not the only fashion queen around here,” Simon tartily said.

“Let’s order room service,” Suzette suggested.

“But first, we’ll start with these,” said Simon, producing two bottles of wine from underneath his designer toga.