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 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 11th, 1990

October 11th, 1990

Cairo, Egypt

Planned on meeting the crew for breakfast but when the alarm went off, I chose to ignore it and go back to sleep.

It’s been a lovely, relaxing day reading and writing, fueled by Greek salad and a double helping of chocolate mousse from room service.

Ah, the glamorous life of a hostie!

 

October 10th, 1990

October 10th, 1990

Flight from LGW – CAI

Cairo, Egypt

 

I felt so sad when I dropped David off at terminal four this morning.

“Til we meet again,” he said, grabbing his suitcase out of the boot.

“I hate this,” I groaned.

“Me too honey but I’ll see you soon.”

“Maybe not ‘til next month.”

“We’ll figure something out before then,” he smiled. “We always do.”

“I’m so looking forward to seeing your new place.”

“I should be in by next week, I’ll send pictures.”

“No, don’t, I want it to be a surprise.”

“Deal,” he said, giving me a peck on the cheek. (No kissing whilst in uniform!)

“Have a good flight,” I sighed.

“You too, honey. I’ll call you this weekend, ok?”

“Ok.”

And now Cairo, where it’s hot, humid and seven and a half thousand miles away from Los Angeles.

 

October 9th, 1990

October 9th, 1990

Penta Hotel, Heathrow Airport, England

Just when I thought David couldn’t be more perfect, he rang first thing (like six this morning first thing!) to say he’d changed his flight from Germany to LA so he could spend the night in the UK.

“I’ll be in class all day, did you forget?”

“No, what time will it be over?”

“I should be done by five at the latest, which unfortunately won’t give us much time at my house.”

“I took the liberty of booking a room at the hotel.”

“Wow, what time did you get up?” I laughed. “So, is it safe for me to assume I’ll be spending the night?”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Ah, be still my beating heart.

“Sounds great, I should be at the hotel by about five thirty.”

“Tell me where you’ll be, I’ll come pick you up.”

“Are you sure? Will you have a car?”

“I already reserved a rental car.”

Oh my!

 

I couldn’t wait for class (annual certification for Safety, Emergency Procedures on the Boeing 747) to be over but when the instructor said we were done at four thirty I inwardly groaned, thinking of the wait I’d have ‘til David arrived. Of course I should’ve known he’d already be outside, waiting.

“Didn’t I just see you in Germany?” he grinned, holding the car door open.

I laughed. “Hurry up and get in, I can’t be seen kissing you in uniform.”

 

A few seconds later, he leaned over and kissed me. “Better?”

“You tell me.”

“Much, much better,” he smiled. “Hey, you wanna go to London for dinner?”

“Yeah, that sounds fab but I need to change first. My car’s on the other side,” I said, pointing.

“Cool,” he smiled. “Show me the way.”

 

Amazing night. Amazing guy.

In every way.

 

October 7th, 1990

October 7th, 1990

Flight from DUS – LHR as a passenger

At home, England

 

I don’t quite know where to begin so I guess I’ll start by saying how much I’m missing David after such an incredible time in Germany.

It was raining this morning, so we had breakfast inside, but with the balcony doors open.

“I had the best sleep I’ve had in a long, long time,” David said, stretching enough that his t-shirt rose, revealing parts of him I find irresistible.

“Glad to hear that,” I smirked. “Can you just do that again?”

“Do what?” he asked. Such innocence!

“That stretch thing,” I said, waving my hand. “Only this time reach higher and slow it down a bit.”

“You’re bad,” he said, leaning over to kiss me.

“Did you have the dolphin dream?”

He looked surprised. “No, did you?”

“I did, actually,” I said in a cocky voice.

“And?”

“There were seven dolphins swimming around us.”

He cracked up laughing and I loved that he got it without me having to explain. “Seven, huh?”

“Actually,” I continued, in the same vein. “It might have been nine.”

“Hmmmmm,” he said, rubbing his chin, in an exaggerated way.

I glanced at the clock and sighed.

“I wish you could stay”, he said, echoing my thoughts.

“As much as I want to ring in sick for the Paris flight tonight, if I do, it’ll mess everything up and I’ll lose the trip I requested to spend Thanksgiving with you.”

“That’s not an option.”

All too soon, we were on our way to the airport.

“You don’t have to come in, just drop me off.”

“No way,” David said. “I’m coming inside with you.”

The desk agent had a stern look to her that didn’t exactly scream Customer Service and with a well- practiced eye roll, she uttered the words one never wants to hear whilst travelling on a staff travel ticket; “The flight is full.”

“Are you sure?”

“Very,” she stated, her tone falling somewhere between stern and evil. “You vil not be travelling to London today.”

“Shit!” I exclaimed, followed with a quick apology as she practically tossed the ticket at me. I looked at David. “I can’t ring in sick, I really can’t.”

“Can you take a flight out of another airport?”

“I, I don’t know,” I stuttered.

He gave me a look that said, “Allow me?”

I nodded yes and stepped to the side as he cleared his throat. He leaned slightly over the counter and said something in German to battle axe lady that actually made her laugh, which in turn made him laugh but I could tell he was faking it. All I understood from the quick exchange was “Dusseldorf.”

Battle axe turned sex kitten hit the computer keys in a frantic fashion, all the while making sounds confirming the reason why German isn’t considered a Romance language.

“Ja,” she breathed seductively, gazing at David as though I had vanished into thin air.

“Danke,” he smiled, followed by words that made her cheeks flush slightly.

“What exactly is happening?” I snipped.

“I’ll tell you in the car,” David said, looking at his watch. “We gotta move it!”

Fortunately, due to the fact David flew into Dusseldorf just the other day, he remembered the way.

“Don’t worry honey,” he kept saying as he bombed down the autobahn. “We’ll get you home in time for work tonight.”

For a myriad of reasons, my insides were churning as we neared the terminal so I told David just to drop me off.

“You sure?”

“Uh-huh,” I nodded, fearing I might cry. “There’s no time to linger.”

He grabbed my bag out of the boot, we kissed and I ignored the immense sadness welling up inside as I quickly made my way towards the entrance. Just as I was about to step inside, David called out. “Nine dolphins, huh?”

I spun around to see him standing with his elbow resting on the car door.

“Actually,” I yelled. “I think it was ten.”

He smiled and blew me a kiss.

Inside, the terminal was packed and I fought my way to the Lufthansa check-in area and joined the long queue. When I finally got to the counter, the desk agent typed in all my information, all the while making small talk (I think!) with the man working next to her.

“Are there many people on standby?” I asked.

“About twenty too many,” she replied in a Northern English accent. I refrained from asking where she was from, but just knowing she spoke the same language was enough to make me continue. “The woman in Cologne said there was space on this flight.”

“There was, until about ten minutes ago. We had a huge group of VIP’s check in, now we’re juggling everybody about to accommodate them.”

“Ugh, so there’s no way I’m getting on this flight.”

She gave me a sympathetic look. “Sorry. The best I can do is put your name on the list for the Air Europe flight. To Gatwick.”

“That’s the only other one today?”

“There’s one to Manchester later.”

“My car is at Heathrow,” I said, feigning a smile.

“Sorry, I wish there was something else I could do.”

The thought of losing the request trip to LA was enough to make me come up with Plan B, so with a freshly paid for phone card, I rang mum and asked her to ring crewing. “Tell them my car broke down but make sure whoever you speak to knows I’m not ringing in sick. I can’t let David down at Thanksgiving.” I knew the mere mention of anything David related would be enough to guarantee mum’s utmost attention!

The prospect of waiting for the flight to Gatwick was depressing so I concocted a fantasy (what else can you do in the airport with three hours to kill when you’re too distracted to read?) in which I made my way back to Cologne. David opened the door. Stretched! Took one look at me, fell to his knees, told me he couldn’t live without me and asked me to marry him! Of course, I said yes and we lived happily ever after (in LA!)

Fine tuning the fantasy details took up a lot of time and before I knew it, I was on the flight, vowing never again to rely on staff travel to get me home in a timely fashion!

I got a crappy middle seat but I knew two of the girls on the crew from my days working with Air Europe so I moseyed to the back galley, where I enjoyed several glasses of Champagne, all whilst giving Ally and Emma the condensed version of why I was in Germany.

Reality once again set in when we touched down at Gatwick and I had to leg it to catch the Gatwick Express to Victoria train station. From there it was two tube rides to Heathrow then finally to the crew car park, where I sighed a deep sigh of relief. Even the thought of a two-hour drive home felt like nothing compared to the eight hours prior.

Rang mum to let her know I made it. She said the woman she spoke to on the crew desk was really helpful, and assured mum that none of my other trips will be affected. I do have to ring crewing in the morning though, so hopefully I won’t be in too much trouble.

I put on some music, made hot chocolate and pondered whether I should unpack or wait ‘til tomorrow but I felt too wired to sleep, so the bag won. At the bottom of it, was a postcard of Cologne Cathedral, attached to a small box, tied with white ribbon. On the back of the card, David had written; “Here’s the first of many. Thank you for the best time ever. I absolutely love you x”

And inside the box, was a Swarovski crystal baby dolphin.

 

October 3rd, 1990

October 3rd, 1990

At home, England

It was nice coming home to a freshly painted bathroom with new floor and wall tiles, all thanks to dad who was a busy bee in my absence.

Picked up Chinese food on my way over to mum and dad’s and after staying up all night and day I expected I’d soon be ready to call it a day, but that was before mum asked if I fancied going to the pictures.

Headed to The Point, where we saw, “Presumed Innocent,” which literally had us hanging on the edge of our seats. Such suspense! Needless to say, we loved it and agree that Greta Scacchi is an absolute knockout.

And now, after being up for thirty-three hours, I’m finally going to bed!

 

October 2nd, 1990

October 2nd, 1990

Night flight from BOS – LHR

Millie just finished crew rest but I have another twenty minutes. She came into the crew rest area laden not only with my favourite chocolate biscuits but several plates of delicious chilled seafood from the First Class galley.

“I’m so glad you got called out for this trip,” I said, greedily picking apart a chunk of lobster tail. “This is the best back to back I’ve ever done.”

Millie laughed. “You’re just saying that because a pilot gave you his phone number.”

“Yeah right.”

“Flight deck floozie,” she said with a wink. “Actually, to be honest with you, I think Richard was really nice.”

“Hmmm,” I mumbled, polishing off the last of the seafood. “He’s only been flying for two years.”

“Longer than you. Did he tell you he always wanted to be a pilot?”

“No, he said he actually wanted to be a footballer but he got some sort of injury when he was a teenager.”

“Oh wow…”

“I know, not exactly the norm for pilots, is it?”

“Not at all,” she said. “Well, maybe if things don’t work out with David you can give Richard a ring.”

“Hey!”

“What?” she asked.

“Things are working out with David.”

“Yeah I know but you know what it’s like with this job and stuff. I can’t even find a boyfriend in the UK let alone manage a long-distance relationship.”

“Yes, but you have issues,” I said, not entirely joking.

“And you’re perfect”, she said in a sarcastic tone.

“Far from it. At least yours are only once a month. Mine are ongoing!”

She laughed. “How much did you want to throttle me?”

I rolled my eyes. “Which time?”

She shook her head. “Guess I had better up my intake of Primrose Oil.”

“Might be a good idea. And just so you know, I’m keeping a calendar so I can avoid you during that time.”

“Good idea,” she said with a little chuckle. “And will you do me a huge favour and let me know a week ahead of time so I don’t leave the house?”

“Deal. Oh and thank you for the yummies,” I said, wiping my mouth. “That went down a treat.”

“It’s the least I could do.”

I’m sitting here thinking about my Nana on what would’ve been her seventy-second birthday. I have no doubt mum has been doing the same and hopefully isn’t feeling upset. The last thing mum needs as we get closer to winter is to dwell on something that makes her feel sad. The darker the days get, the more prone mum becomes to suffering from another bout of what she sometimes refers to as, “the dark tunnel.”

The one place I definitely don’t want to lose her to.