February 17th, 1992

February 17th, 1992

Hotel InterContinental, Nairobi, Kenya

Taking my jump seat this morning for landing, all I could think about, as I looked down over the vast Kenyan plain, was the theme music to one of my favourite films; “Out of Africa.” I’d say Mum and I have seen it at least a dozen times and after I surprised her with a ticket to join me on this trip, we watched it again!

Mum got caught up in the throng of arriving passengers and Ian, the Captain, suggested the crew go ahead to the hotel, while he waited with me. At least an hour went by before Mum appeared, gushing over the “fantastic flight,” and how much she enjoyed being on the flight deck for landing.

Once in the taxi, headed to the hotel, I rested my head against the window and finally gave in to my weariness. Mum and Ian continued to chat like old friends while I dozed on and off, the symphonic sounds of John Barry’s romantic soundtrack floating through my head.

 

February 16th, 1992

February 16th, 1992

Flight from LHR – NBO

It’s crew rest time for me, with a cup of Earl Grey and a few delectables, pinched from the First Class galley, where Arianna and Aidan (sweet names for twins!) are working diligently, taking care of the VIP passengers, in particular, one Elizabeth McGarr, who is lapping up not only the attention but every morsel of fine food placed before her!

Seated in 1B, Mum was all smiles and looked right at home. We had a very quick chat but it goes without saying we have to be careful not to broadcast the fact Mum is travelling on a staff travel ticket I paid just over one hundred pounds for. The true cost of the seat Mum is occupying is at least thirty times that amount! Yes, First Class travel is exorbitant but oh, those chocolate biscuits!

 

February 8th, 1992

February 8th, 1992

Night flight from JFK – LHR – Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean

We’ll be landing at Heathrow in just over three hours and shortly after that I’ll be boarding yet another flight back to America, only this time as a passenger.

I woke up feeling a little groggy so I forced myself to go out for a walk but with it being so cold, it wasn’t long before I was back at the hotel. I crawled into bed and turned on the tv but I find American tv so annoying with ads what seems like every few minutes, so I shut it off and picked up my book (The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan, so good!)

I couldn’t seem to concentrate and found myself reading the same line over and over so I gave up on that and thought I’d try and sleep off the tequila induced headache which wasn’t quite bad enough to be considered a full-blown hangover.

After a short stint tossing and turning I gave up on the notion of a nap and took a very long way too hot shower. With the headache gone, I felt a little more with it and considered popping down to the deli for tea and a muffin.

Perching on the edge of the bed, I slipped on my ankle boots and jumped when the phone rang.

“Shit,” I mouthed, expecting it to be notice of a delay to the flight but instead, it was Christopher. He said he was jealous of my clear head and vowed never to drink tequila again! We chatted for a little while before he had to go and meet Laurie off the train. She lives in Connecticut so they only get to see each other at the weekend. Reading between the lines, I sometimes get the impression their relationship is quite formal in the way they communicate and spend their time together but who knows.

By the time we hung up, I’d lost interest in going out so I thought I’d ring the apartment and check the answering machine for any messages (one of perks of being in the States.) Expecting to hear my voice on the recorded message, I almost fainted when William answered! Seems there was a change to the itinerary, although I don’t think that’s what they call it in the Coast Guard! William will be home for a few days before heading back out to sea, so I’m going to spend my days off with him.

Flying across the Atlantic twice in less than twenty-four hours will no doubt leave me feeling wrecked but it’ll be worth it to spend some time with my soon to be husband. Writing that leaves me with a big smile on my face.

 

February 7th, 1992

February 7th, 1992

Lexington Hotel, New York

Back in my second favourite city (it’ll always be you, LA!) where the wind chill tears rapidly through every layer of clothing, reminding me of the expression; “Chilled to the bone.”

Flight was absolutely horrendous with the most unpleasant bunch of passengers I’ve encountered in a long time. Thankfully, us crew managed to keep each other going, especially during the most trying moments when it seemed every call bell was binging and bonging. The worst passengers are the ones that think it’s acceptable to make a grab for you. Whenever that happens (a lot today!) I have to bite my tongue to stop me from hissing; “If you need a diet coke that badly, then perhaps you should’ve brought your own!”

In spite of the arduous flight, it was worth it for the chance to meet up with Christopher tonight. We met in the hotel bar as planned (he was early, I was late!) and had a quick drink before braving the arctic air and heading around the corner to his beloved Irish bar, which, given his ancestry is Eastern European, I find highly amusing.

We grabbed the last two stools at the bar and Christopher wasted no time ordering while I used my glove to brush what looked to be bread crumbs off the bar.

“Why do you like this place so much?”

“I don’t know,” he said, glancing around. “I just do.”

“It’s a bit run down. Definitely not the sort of joint I associate you with.”

“Or you,” he chuckled. “Would you rather go someplace else?”

“Nah,” I drawled. “I don’t mind slumming it for a few hours, but first I need to go and wash my hands!”

As usual, we fell into an easy conversation and it didn’t take long before the talk turned to my upcoming nuptials.

“Are you nervous?”

I shook my head. “Why would I be nervous?”

“No reason I guess,” he said with a heavy shrug and a long draw of his Guinness.

“You don’t sound very convincing. Is there something you want to say?”

“Yes,” he nodded, licking his lips.

I cocked my head to the side, expecting some pithy revelation. “This pint of Guinness,” he grinned, “Is the best I’ve ever had.”

I smacked his forearm. “Tell me what you were really about to say!”

Slowly twisting the coaster, he said, “I’m kinda surprised you’re not marrying Ben.”

Leaning back on the stool, I gestured for him to continue.

“I always figured you two would end up together.”

Taken aback, I blurted, “You have to be kidding! Ben’s a bloody nightmare!”

“Maybe so, but I know you loved him.”

I waved my hand dismissively. “That was during my insanity phase.”

He gave me questioning look and I tried not to laugh when, in a robot voice, I added;

“I. Was. Crazy. But. I. Am. All. Better. Now.”

Christopher cracked up laughing and for a split second I thought I might tell him I bumped into Ben at the cinema but I knew if I did, the conversation would take a turn, raising questions I don’t have answers to. He put his hand on my shoulder and gently squeezed. “I just wanna make sure you’re doing the right thing, you know?”

I cupped my hand over his. “Thank you. I appreciate your concern.”

He held up his almost empty glass. “Here’s to you and William.”

“And to you and Laurie,” I said, clinking my glass to his.

“Same again or are you ready to kick it up a few notches?”

I laughed. “If you’re thinking tequila, this might not be the best place.”

“True,” he smiled. “But we can get a whole lot more drunk here for a whole lot less!”

 

 

January 19th, 1992

January 19th, 1992

San Francisco, California

I think to most people, California conjures up images of sunshine, palm trees, endless beaches and movie making, but I just came back from grabbing some tea and a muffin at the little place next door and I’m chilled to the bone! So much so that I jumped back into bed and piled on the extra blankets I found in the wardrobe.

We arrived yesterday afternoon and I managed to stay up ‘til ten last night which, considering we’re eight hours behind UK time, was pretty good. Still, no matter how late I stay up on this side of the world, I always wake up at some ridiculous hour feeling groggy and ravenous, hence the jaunt to the coffee shop!

Hopefully it’ll warm up today as a bunch of us are catching the boat over to Alcatraz.  Anna from my crew said it’s very eerie and the stories will make me shiver! I’m looking forward to seeing the place where Al Capone spent a chunk of his life but first, I might have to buy a coat!

 

November 4th, 1991

November 4th, 1991

Night flight from BOS – LHR, as a passenger

“Maddie!” Frankie beamed, the second she spotted me stepping onboard, motioning for me to follow her. Instead of taking a right, in the direction of the seat number stated on the boarding card, I followed Frankie through the curtain, to the First Class galley.

“Have you just been to see William?” she said, giving me a huge hug.

“Yes!”

“I knew it!” she said. “You’re glowing. Wait here a sec.”

She strode into the First Class cabin and tapped the Cabin Service Director on the shoulder. He turned his attention from a seated passenger to Frankie, leaned into her whisper and glanced in my direction. He grinned, nodded yes and I held Frankie’s gaze as she sauntered through the cabin, back towards the galley.

“Result,” she mouthed, quickly stepping aside to make room for a young couple. “Good evening and welcome onboard.” Her demeanor was all business as she checked their boarding cards. “Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Starbuck, may I take your coats?”

While they unfurled their scarves, and unbuttoned their matching camel coats, Frankie chit chatted with them, her air professional but friendly. Once they’d entered the cabin she gave me a coy look. “As for you, my lovely, I got you the best seat in the house and you know what that means.”

I gave her a questioning look.

“Bubbles, lots and lots of yummy bubbles. Now follow me please, Miss McGarr.”

 

October 16th, 1991

October 16th, 1991

35,000 feet, somewhere over America

I’m supposed to be on a flight to Toronto but halfway down the M25, my little red car started making sputtering noises, followed by spurts of loss in power that forced me to drive in the slow lane, resulting in me missing the briefing.

 

Shelia in crewing, more commonly known as “the most evil of them all,” gave me a right rollicking and said I’d have to “Take the matter up,” with my fleet manager, who, at that very moment, appeared!

“Nice to see you, Karen,” Brianna smiled. “Where are you off to?”

I began to explain my plight, but Shelia interrupted me. “I told her she’d have to see you.”

Brianna looked confused. “Why?”

“Because shewas late.”

“Car troubles can’t be helped,” Brianna shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry too much. I’m sure you have another trip for Karen.”

Shelia drummed her fingers, feigning a sudden bout of hearing loss.

“Shelia?”

“What?”

“Is there another trip you can stick Karen on? I’m sure she doesn’t want to hang around here on standby all day.”

“As it happens, I do have something.” I could tell from Shelia’s gleeful tone I was headed somewhere awful. She made sure I was looking at her when she sneered, “Lagos.”

“Lovely,” I lied, my heart sinking. “Thank you, Shelia.” For absolutely nothing!

Stretching her lithe frame over the counter, Brianna pointed to the screen.

“Would you look at that, Shelia,” she said, straightening up. “I’ve been guilty of making the same mistake.”

“Mistake?” Shelia hissed. “What are you on about?”

“L o s and l a x. It’s easy to see why you confused them.”

“But, but-” Shelia stuttered.

“Be sure to let Karen know the details,” Brianna said in an authoritative tone, before turning to leave.

“Bye, Brianna,” I said, not daring to look at Shelia, intently taking out her aggression on the poor, innocent keyboard. “Catch,” she growled, tossing the freshly printed roster in my direction. I grabbed it, gave her my biggest fake smile, turned and uttered, “Los Angeles, here I come!”

 

 

October 5th, 1991

462F70E0-657C-4810-874F-7D0CFF6CB7ACOctober 5th, 1991

Hotel InterContinental, Sydney, Australia

Aside from the fact we’re ten and a half thousand miles from home and nine hours ahead of GMT, life in the land down under instills a sense of being on the other side of the world.

One of my favourite things about coming here is spotting the Sydney Opera House on approach, as I take the jump seat and buckle the safety harness. According to one of the passengers, it was opened in 1973 by the Queen to much fanfare, which, given it took 14 years to build, is understandable!

Another thing I love about landing in Sydney is the palpable sense of excitement that sweeps through the cabin. Many of the passengers are coming to reunite with long lost family or in some cases, unite with family they’ve never met, which probably explains the reason I’ve witnessed more tears and hugs in that terminal than anywhere else in the world.

Today, I got to see the Opera House from another vantage point; the water. Sailing past the stark white million plus roof tiles, with the sun glinting, I forgot how jetlagged I am.

September 24th, 1991

September 24th, 1991

Anchorage, Alaska

It’s the last night of this two week trip that took us to Osaka, Narita and Fukuoka in Japan and of course Anchorage. One of those trips where you spend a lot of time with your crew and somehow fall into a routine of meeting for breakfast/dinner, even after lengthy flights through crazy time zones that often left us feeling dead on our feet.

This afternoon, just as I was pondering the possibility of a nap, Creona rang to ask if I fancied going to the pictures. We saw “Thelma and Louise,” which I enjoyed but Creona, in her thick Irish accent, said was, “absolute shite, except for the pretty boy with the floppy hair,” whose name I don’t recall. As good as it was, I much prefer Geena Davis as Muriel in “The Accidental Tourist.” When I told Creona this, she rolled her eyes.

“Don’t tell me,” she huffed. “William Hurt?”

“Love him,” I gushed.

Creona responded with a litany of profanities that I don’t wish to repeat!

As much as I’ve enjoyed the crew and seeing incredible sights, like the glacier in Portage, I’m very much looking forward to getting home to my own bed.

 

September 4th, 1991

September 4th, 1991

Hotel InterContinental, Miami, Florida

Thanks to a problem with the flaps on the Delhi flight that kept us sitting on the ground for hours, the cabin crew went out of hours! Consequently, I got put on standby and shortly thereafter got called out for this Miami.

Weather is amazing and I managed to get a few hours by the pool this morning, which was  super relaxing after last night’s shenanigans down in South Beach, where the salsa music was pumping ‘til the wee hours and the mojito’s flowed.

Leaving in a few hours so time for a little shut eye before heading home to get ready for Sarah’s wedding!