July 21st, 1990

July 21st, 1990

Hotel InterContinental

Nairobi, Kenya

Met several crew from Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, the airline more commonly known as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines! I only know the legal name because Lorna tried to get me to pronounce one night after we’d had several cocktails.

It was like a leggy blonde convention by the pool today with all the KLM girls. Thankfully, it was a little chilly so I had the perfect excuse to remain covered up!

I find it interesting that the flight from London to Holland is less than an hour, where there’s such a language barrier, so much so that much of the conversation relies on body language. Then there’s America, thousands of miles away, where I feel right at home (especially in LA!) and generally don’t have any problems communicating.

Being with the KLM girls made me think of Lorna and how amazing it is that she’s more or less living in Holland full-time, learning what appears to be a difficult language, all whilst still flying for British Airways.

Gives me hope that I might be able to pull off the Los Angeles move after all. I bought a chess set made of soapstone in the market today, now all I need is a place to put it!

 

February 6th, 1990

February 6th, 1990

Flight from LHR – YYZ – DTW

Marriott Hotel, Detroit, Michigan

First time in Detroit and based on what I saw tonight, I don’t think I’ve been missing much.

I was absolutely knackered when we finally arrived, after a scheduled stop in Toronto. The flight was much too busy for crew rest and the only reason I agreed to go out tonight was to devour as much yummy American bar food as possible!

Several lovely guys on our crew, as well as Henrietta Winston-Smythe, aka the snobbiest girl on the planet. She squeals, “super,” (sounds like “soup ah”) every three seconds and claps her hands incessantly. She drove us batty at the briefing, on the flight, the crew bus and again tonight when she turned her toffee nose up at everything. Granted, the burger joint with the red and white checkered plastic tables was a bit dodgy, but the potato skins were to die for and according to Adam, the buffalo wings were, “the dog’s bollocks.”

If for no reason other than to piss off Henrietta Winston-Smythe (she insists on using her name in its entirety) we started calling her Henny, which put her in a foul mood but didn’t shut her up. If not for Henny, I expect we would’ve stayed longer, during which time I’d have no doubt consumed more of anything slathered in cheese!

When we got back to the hotel, Adam suggested a nightcap (reminded me of Jean Jacques calling it a “nighttime cap.”) Within minutes of being seated in the revolving bar, on the seventy-third floor, Adam and Jeremy, for some unknown reason, started calling me Lady Caroline, which I found very amusing. Henny, on the other hand, got very huffy. “You shall have to excuse me,” she said in her plummy voice. “I can’t bear to listen to one more ghastly American.”

“I’m sure they feel the same about you, luv,” Adam blurted.

“I bid you all a bon soir,” she said, then took off.

When she was out of earshot, Jeremy shook his head. “What a you know what.”

“Thank God she’s gone,” Adam sighed. “I’m ordering a bottle of champagne to celebrate.”

The chap who delivered the champagne took a shine to Adam and made such a fuss over popping the cork, that it attracted the attention of the people next to us. The huge man, sitting closest to me, leaned over. “What y’all celebrating?”

“Being graced by Lady Caroline’s presence,” Jeremy quipped.

The man looked at me. “You’re Lady Caroline?”

“She most certainly is,” Adam responded, in an accent not his own.

“Well, miss, I mean Lady Caroline,” the man said, holding out his hand. “I’m Boone Bryson from the great state of Texas and it sure is a pleasure to meet y’all.”

“Thank you, kind sir,” I said in my poshest voice, shaking his meaty hand.

We chatted to Boone and his buddies (all here on car business) for ages (they were hysterically funny) and when it came time for us to leave, he insisted on paying our hefty bar bill.

“It ain’t every day we get to meet British royalty,” I heard him say as we got up to leave.

It sure ain’t Boone, it sure ain’t!

 

January 23rd, 1990

January 23rd, 1990

Flight from LHR – JED – DOH

The Oasis Hotel & Beach Club, Doha, Qatar

I was five minutes late getting to TriStar House this morning, where I was greeted by the scornful wrath of Helen, on the crewing desk. She was so annoyed that I fully expected her to say she was taking me off the trip (which would not exactly have made me cry!) but she obviously knew the best punishment would be to send me here.

On a positive note, Doha is dry, so with no alcohol in sight it’ll give me a chance to catch up on some much needed sleep. We made a quick stop in Jeddah today, which always makes the duty day feel much longer but that’s not why I’m knackered.

Just as I was about to leave the house yesterday, Jack rang.

“Sorry I had to cancel on Sunday.”

“I take it you’re feeling better?”

“Much better,” he said. “Back at work today.”

“I’m glad to hear it.”

“What are you up to?”

“I’m just getting ready to drive to Hampton Hill.”

“Hampton Hill? What’s in Hampton Hill?”

“Three very good friends. And a flat. Where I’m spending the night.”

He laughed. “Sounds like a big night ahead.”

“I don’t expect it to be, I have an early morning check in, hence the…”

“Oh, so you’re free tonight?”

“Ehm…”

“Hampton Hill’s my neck of the woods, I could meet you for a drink.”

“You live in London!”

“You know what I mean.”

I laughed. “You’re nowhere close to where I’m going.”

“I can be.”

“Ok, let’s meet for a drink,” I said, surprising myself.

“Where?” he asked.

“I don’t know the area that well and I hate driving in new places, so..”

He laughed. “Don’t worry about that, just tell me where you’ll be and I’ll come and pick you up.”

That’s how it started; an incredible night in London with Jack, the guy I had no desire to kiss not even two weeks ago, when I feigned food poisoning just to get away from him!

And now, after our lingering kiss by the bus stop outside the flat last night, I can’t wait to get home and do it all again.

 

December 25th, 1989

December 25th, 1989

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Christmas day started out with Frankie bouncing on my bed, in an effort to wake me but unbeknownst to her, I’d been awake for ages and had already gone down to the lobby to ring home.

With the time difference, it was still Christmas Eve at home and mum sounded a bit down and said it was a different kind of Christmas but that she and dad were planning on making the most of it. After I told her David rang, she sounded much perkier!

There wasn’t much time for Frankie and I to exchange gifts before having to get into uniform and meet our crew. I got the impression several of them had been up all night, no thanks! On the crew bus, Captain Alan started singing, “Good King Wenceslas” and we needed no encouragement to continue.

One passenger didn’t show up for the shuttle to Manila and unfortunately he had luggage in the hold which had to be offloaded. It took the baggage handlers absolutely ages to locate the suitcase, after which we expected to be on our way to the Philippines.

There was an issue with the aircraft flaps and the passengers had to be offloaded! The crew stayed onboard and we gathered in the First Class cabin while the engineers tended to the problem at hand.

With satisfactory flaps (!) the passengers came back onboard and right as we were about to taxi, we found out we’d gone out of hours! If we operated the flight to and from Manila (three and a half hours each way) we’d exceed the number of duty hours we’re legally able to work in a day.

Much to the passenger’s dismay (that’s a serious understatement!) an announcement was made, more or less saying, “You won’t be seeing the Philippines today!” At that point I really felt sorry for the passengers and all the disruptions they experienced, more so since it’s Christmas.

Off we went and to add insult to injury, Captain Alan broke the news that he’d received a message from London saying we’d be staying in KL for an extra few days. That news dampened everyone’s spirits and there was no singing on the way back to the hotel.

In an effort to cheer us up, Captain Alan invited everyone his room. I told Frankie I wasn’t in the mood to go but she reminded me that it’s still Christmas, so, off we go again!

 

 

December 21st, 1989

December 21st, 1989

Night flight from AUH – KUL

Presently on crew rest, which on the Boeing 747-400 is heavenly. There’s an entire area at the rear of the aircraft, accessed only by crew, with a row of seats and bunks upstairs.

Super cute baby on board called Rupert. He’s travelling with his two sisters and parents who seem a bit overwhelmed with three young kids. I took the three of them to the flight deck for a visit, which the girls loved. Captain Alan spent ages talking to them and was very patient. Needless to say, the parents were happy for the break and were very thankful.

Arrived in Abu Dhabi at four this morning and within an hour we were dancing in the Safari disco! Our circadian rhythms are now shot to pieces with no hope of regaining any sense of normalcy but none of us seemed too concerned about any of that while we strutted our way around the dance floor!

Viking Man (phew, he really is gorgeous) was in Safari and his eyes lit up when he spotted Frankie. They were cutting some serious moves on the dance floor and it was nice to see Frankie enjoying herself so much. They’re really good together, so much more than that obnoxious Sammy.

We left Safari around seven this morning, slept for a few hours then went to the souk. Bought more goodies and wilted even more than in Singapore so it was back to the air- conditioned room for a very quick nap before call time.

Next stop, Malaysia (again!)

 

December 19th, 1989

 

December 19th, 1989

The Westin Stamford Hotel

Singapore

I was so concerned about Frankie that I kept the adjoining room door open and throughout the night, I popped in and out to check on her, like one would, a baby. Each and every time I found her in a different position which reassured me enough to stumble sleepily back to bed.

Just as I was finally dozing off this morning, Frankie came bounding into my room.

“Darling! Are you awake?” she screeched.

Eh, no. I’ve been up all bloody night keeping an eye on you! I didn’t say that of course but I certainly wanted to.

“Sweetheart,” she continued. “Why is there a wheelchair in my room?”

I sat up and stared at her. “Are you serious?”

I filled Frankie in on the reason for her new mode of transport and when I was done recounting the latter part of the evening’s events, she covered her mouth with her hand and giggled like she was twelve again. I tried desperately to maintain my scornful expression but watching her laughing so hard made me do the same.

“Ok, that’s enough,” she said, trying to compose herself. “We have to get ready.”

“For what?”

“Gam is coming to pick us up.”

“No way.”

“Waaay,” she said in a fake drawl.

“No. I. Am. Not. Going. Out.”

“You have to come with us, Gam has the day all planned for us.”

“Sorry but no. I really need to sleep.”

“Party pooper,” she said, blowing a raspberry.

“That’s me,” I said, gleefully crawling back under the covers.

 

Sleep was blissful until Frankie returned and blasted the radio. The adjoining door was open and I poked my head in.

“Frankie? You there?”

“Darling!” She exclaimed, making her way towards me with her arms outstretched.

“Why are you all dressed up?” I asked.

She hugged me tight. “We’re meeting the crew in twenty minutes.”

“Oh no! I thought I’d only been asleep for a little while.”

“Guess you needed it.”

No shit, Frankie!

 

Frankie omitted to tell me Gam would be joining us and he looked slightly bewildered when everyone started showing up in the lobby.

“Who’s he?” Sarah whispered.

“His name is Gam. He’s a friend of Frankie’s. He lives here.”

Sarah snickered when I shrugged my shoulders.

 

On the Captain’s recommendation, we made our way to Fatty’s restaurant. The sleeves of Frankie’s dress were covered in pale pink feathers and each time Alan (our Captain) turned to talk to her, he pretended to sneeze. Sarah, Matt and I were walking behind them and couldn’t stop laughing but Frankie seemed oblivious and just kept talking.

Dinner with our entire crew was most enjoyable, a great bunch for sure and I think the fact we’re spending Christmas together prompted everyone to make an appearance tonight.

After dinner, most of us went to the Top Ten club, where Sammy and his bodyguard (oh, please!) were inside. The second Sammy spotted Frankie, he made a beeline for her. Sarah gave me a questioning look and gestured towards Gam.

“No idea,” I shouted.

The music was loud so we couldn’t hear what was being said but Frankie and Sammy’s body language told us everything we needed to know!

Frankie made her way over to Gam and Sarah and I watched Frankie telling Gam he had to go. And he did. Just like that, he made his way towards the exit and once he was gone, Sammy beckoned for us to follow him to what appeared to be the VIP area. Inside the ropes, we lounged in armchairs with tiny lights inside. Even the Captain joined us!

The champagne (courtesy of Sammy) flowed and we were all in very good spirits. I joined Sarah and Matt on the dance floor, just in time for the chorus of, “I Hate Myself For Loving You.” We sang in a way that pretty much guarantees we’ll have no voice tomorrow.

I can definitely relate to that song!

 

December 15th, 1989

December 15th, 1989

At home

Went shopping with mum and felt sad knowing I’ll be away for Christmas (on a trip with Frankie that will, no doubt, be very interesting!) Mum mentioned more than once that Christmas won’t be the same without not only me around, but also Nana.

I have lovely memories of helping Nana wrap our gifts, then feigning surprise when I opened mine on the day.

“It’s just what I wanted,” I’d say, laughing.

“I’m so glad you like it, hen,” Nana would say, avoiding eye contact with me for fear of cracking up laughing.

I do feel bad I won’t be here, especially this year, where things have been difficult for mum and dad but more than ever I know it’s time for me to move out. I’ve been thinking about Christopher’s offer of helping me get set up somewhere in New York in an apartment that I’d rent (no way could I afford to buy there.) I still love the idea of buying a place in France but New York captures (and holds!) my attention unlike anywhere else and I can imagine “popping in,” to see Christopher (the only person I’d know in New York!) on my days off.

I know plenty of cabin crew who commute, ok maybe not to New York but with the short flight time, I think I could make it work.

 

December 4th, 1989

December 4th, 1989

Flight from LHR – MCT

Hotel Inter Continental, Muscat, Oman

Flight time was just under eight hours but we were chocka so no crew rest. Lovely passengers, albeit very demanding, with one very sweet older woman who reminded me of Nana. Needless to say, she was very well taken care of, so much so in fact that she remarked it was her best flight ever and right before she disembarked, she gave me a huge hug and told me she’d been back in the UK to bury her sister. Took everything I had not to burst into tears and it reminded me that you never know what someone is going through.

Ben rang while I was still at home this morning, asking when I’ll be back. “In a week,” I said, which is a lie because I’ll be home in a few days. Granted, we just had the most fantastic few days together but that doesn’t mean I’m going to allow myself to fall into my old habits and act like a fool. I have no intention of doing that again. Not ever. Not with anyone.

We arrived in Muscat just before seven tonight and most of my crew arranged to meet in the hotel bar but I wasn’t in the mood for socializing. I feel really sad about Nana and thought my time would be better spent alone, writing.

After we left Scotland for England eight years ago, I didn’t get to see Nana as much as I did growing up but she still spent every Christmas with us and I made sure to get up to Scotland to visit as much as I could. Plus, we talked on the phone frequently and wrote all the time. I’m finding it hard to come to terms with the fact I’ll never see Nana again. Or even talk to her. Somehow, that part feels worse than knowing never seeing her again.

It’s two in the morning and I’ve been cocooned in this lush, ridiculously comfortable bed for hours on end. As usual, I’ve already used up every scrap of hotel stationery, most of which is now strewn across this giant bed. Ah, I’m in total bliss!

Needless to say, some of what I wrote has to do with Ben. I actually wrote a letter to him earlier but after I read it, I tore it up. I know I need to step away from him. I don’t think I’m ready just yet to let go completely but I think I’m getting close.

 

November 22nd, 1989

November 22nd, 1989

At home

Just got off the phone with Annabel, which is always an experience.

“Have you heard the news?” she asked.

“What news?”

“The near miss.”

“Sorry Annabel, I’m not following.”

“Miss McGarr, where have you been?” She didn’t pause to let me answer. “You haven’t heard about the Jumbo that came so close to the Penta hotel on landing that it set off the car alarms?”

“Shit, no. When did that happen?”

“Yesterday.”

“What airline?”

“The world’s favourite, of course. I wouldn’t be interested if it wasn’t ours.”

“You really are too much, Annabel. What happened?”

“It was super foggy…”

“Yes it was, we circled for ninety minutes before we got clearance to land.”

“Apparently the Captain was alone in the cockpit.”

“Why?”

“Allow me to finish, Miss McGarr! Gosh, you can be terribly impatient at times.”

I found myself grinning. “Sorry, go on.”

“The First Officer and Engineer were both incapacitated.”

“Incapacitated?”

“Diarrhea,” she stated, with, I imagine, her signature shudder. “Isn’t that just the ghastliest word?”

“It is, actually but I wouldn’t consider having diarr, I mean an upset stomach as being incapacitated.”

Slowly, she said, “It can be considered such if one is stuck on the lav. Or in this case, two.”

“Ok, point taken.”

“Prior to being in Bahrain, the crew were in Mauritius where most of them somehow ended up with gastroenteritis.”

“Ugh, the poor things. There’s nothing worse than flying with a dicky tummy.”

“Apparently, due to the dense fog, the Captain mistook the hotel lights for the runway and almost came down on the bloody roof of the hotel! It was absolutely frightful.”

“You were on the crew?”

“No. I was at the Penta when it happened, after which all hell broke loose. Several people who witnessed it were terribly upset.”

“What were you doing at the Penta?”

“That’s not important right now.”

“You really are a dark horse, Annabel.”

“Perhaps”, she said with a chuckle.

“I’m assuming everyone is ok?”

“Yes, shaken, of course. Thank goodness the Captain realized his mistake in time. It could have been catastrophic.”

“How scary. I’m sure there’ll be a major investigation.”

“Yes, after which, I imagine, heads will roll.”

 

November 19th, 1989

November 19th, 1989

Chicago, Illinois

First time in the Windy City and I like it! The buildings are huge and with all the American flags flying everywhere, there’s no mistaking where we are.

Flight time was just under nine hours, most of which was spent on my feet, so when I got to my room I was sorely tempted to stay in but that changed after I took a shower. The hotels we stay in on stateside trips always have the most fantastic showers but this one is especially nice.

Met up with most of our crew in the lobby and more than half of them went to the hotel bar and the rest of us headed out. The second the wind hit my face, I actually gasped. My instinct was to run back inside but I really wanted to see the city at night.

I worked down the back today with a lovely guy called Christian who is quite possibly one of the best looking guys ever! He dated a guy from here for two years so he was the perfect tour guide. Well, when I say tour guide, I actually mean he knew all the best bars!

To stress the point of how good looking Christian is, he was approached tonight by not one, but three different people, asking which modeling agency he’s signed with! I got the impression from the way he handled himself that this is a regular occurrence. Imagine!

I rang home from TriStar House this morning in the hopes of finding out how and where mum is but dad didn’t pick up. I want to call now but it’s four in the morning at home so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I really hope mum is ok.

I did, however, ring David and found myself smiling when I heard his voice. Even though it was only on his answering machine.