May 7th, 1990

May 7th, 1990

At home

Had to get up early for my annual gynecological check-up, which needless to say is not something I look forward to, especially since the first thing they make you do is step on the scale. I’m the least I’ve weighed in a long time (eight stone nine) but I’d probably be a few pounds lighter had I not made a glutton of myself with those buttery croissants yesterday (not to mention the Chips Ahoy cookies I brought home from LA!)

It poured all afternoon so I stayed home and got cozy in the phone chair.

“I can’t wait for our request trip,” Laney said. “Do you know it’s only two weeks from tomorrow?”

“Yes! A fortnight in Antigua with just one shuttle to operate. Where’s it to, again?”

“Saint Lucia and I heard the flight is full of sickly couples in love, mostly going to tie the knot.”

“Aw, that’s really sweet.”

“Ugh,” she groaned. “You’re just as bad as they are.”

“It’s nice to see people happy together.”

“You had better be careful or you’ll turn into one of them.”

“What’s so bad about being in love?” I asked.

“You end up hurt.”

“Hmm, you have a point but, I don’t know, I think it’s good to be open to new experiences.”

“I expect there’ll be plenty of experiences to be had in Antigua.”

“Like what?”

“Like whatever you want, we’re still single, you know.”

“I’m not interested in meeting guys, if that’s what you mean.”

“You say that now but…”

“I mean it. There’s only one person I’m interested in.”

“We should request a LA so I can meet this David character.”

“Uh,” I stuttered.

“What? You don’t want me to meet him?”

“Ehm, yeah of course but maybe not in his surroundings.”

“Why? Because you want him all to yourself?”

I didn’t like her tone of voice so I attempted to change the subject.

“Are you buying any new clothes for Antigua?”

“We’re still talking about LA,” she said sounding huffy. “And you need to explain why you don’t want to go there with me.”

Fourteen days on an island with Laney, now that should be interesting!

 

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.

 

January 14th, 1990

January 14th, 1990

Flight from LGW – LOS

Lagos, Nigeria

I lay awake half the night, worrying about how I’d approach Laney to apologize for my outburst last night. While I should have been sleeping, various scenarios played out in my head, all of which left me feeling sick.

By the time call came, I felt exhausted and not at all in the mood for a seven-hour flight, working alongside Laney. As I made my way downstairs for the early morning pick up, my stomach churned at the thought of being confronted by Laney, so when I didn’t see her, I breathed a sigh of relief and grabbed a seat beside Derek, the First Class purser.

We (he) made small talk, mostly about his disgruntled attitude towards British Airways and how much things have dared to change in the past thirty years, since Derek joined the company. Once he got that out of his system, he started banging on about the house he just bought in Brighton and the “astronomical cost associated with restoring it to its original splendour.”

When I spotted Laney out of the corner of my eye, I wasn’t sure whether to make my way over to her or stay put so I pretended not to see her and continued to feign interest in Derek’s dilemma. Then I got concerned that Laney might feel the need to make a scene once she spotted me, so I glanced in her direction and was shocked when she smiled, gave a little wave and started sauntering towards us.

“Morning you two,” she said in a cheerful tone.

“Morning lovey,” Derek replied.

“Hi Laney,” I mumbled.

“How’d you sleep, Karen?”

“Eh, not so good,” I said, avoiding her gaze. “How about you?”

“Like a baby.”

One that’s teething? I was tempted to say but thought better of it.

“I can guarantee we’ll sleep like the dead tonight after what I can assure you will be the flight from hell.”

Gee Derek, I thought, thanks a lot for that positive reinforcement.

Unfortunately, depressing Derek was spot on and I can honestly say the flight was, by far, the worst ever. Surprisingly, it was Laney who kept me going after I reached the end of my tether with 37A and his two sons (B and C) who felt it appropriate to continually snap their fingers, demanding everything from blankets, brandy and extra food, to the retrieval of their excess luggage from what Derek still calls “the hat racks.”

The rest of our crew are all over forty and on the crew bus, most of them snoozed like older crew generally do after a hectic flight. I had no intention of meeting up with them at the hotel bar, but as Laney pointed out, it was much too early to go to bed so I quickly changed out of uniform and made a mental note only to stay for two drinks.

And for once, that’s exactly what I did!

 

January 13th, 1990

January 13th, 1990

Flight from LGW – AGP – LGW

Gatwick Airport Hotel

 

“You did what?” Laney asked.

“It was horrible, wasn’t it?”

“I’d say.”

“I feel terrible,” I groaned.

“You should. Don’t expect him to contact you ever again.”

“Actually,” I said sheepishly. “He rang me this morning.”

“No way.”

“Yeah, he said he was ringing to see how I was feeling.”

“What did you say?” she asked.

“I apologized for leaving the way I did and told him I don’t really have any interest in going out with him again.”

“I hope you didn’t say all that in the same sentence.”

“Of course I didn’t. I’m not that insensitive.”

“I don’t know about that.”

“Listen, if your heart isn’t in it, isn’t it better to be done with it rather than lead someone on to think it is, only to eventually hurt them?”

“You have a point but you based this decision on seeing him, what? Three times?”

“Something like that,” I nodded.

“Too soon, much too soon.”

“Not when you know your feelings are elsewhere.”

She drained the last of the wine from her glass. “I could throttle you.”

“What? Why?”

“When will you accept that it’s all over with Ben?”

“I wasn’t…”

“You must know by now that he’s not the one for you!”

“I do.”

“What?”

“I do know that. I don’t like it but I do know it. And there’s no need to shout.”

She looked at me, confused. “But you just said otherwise.”

“You were too busy interrupting to let me finish.”

“Oh ok, then finish.”

“When I was out with Jack last night, all I could think about was David and it made me realize how much I really miss him and want to make a go of it with him.”

“I see,” she said, placing her glass on the table.

“Why’d you just roll your eyes?” I asked.

“I was hoping you’d pick someone who at least lives in the same country.”

“It could work.”

“It won’t,” she stated.

“Don’t say that. There’s no need to say something like that.”

Laney stared at me. “You know what your problem is?”

“I’m sure you’re about to tell me!”

She surprised me by continuing. “You can be very unrealistic at times.”

“And you can be very opinionated.”

“See? You won’t even listen,” she said, getting up.

“Maybe I don’t care what you have to say!”

“Suit yourself,” she said, heading for the door.

I opened my mouth to speak but I didn’t know what to say, so I kept quiet and watched Laney storm out of my room.

Well done, Karen! This is the second night in a row you’ve managed to hurt or piss somebody off. Nice. Real nice.

Ugh!

 

December 26th, 1989

December 26th, 1989

Flight from KUL – BKK

Hotel Dusit Thani, Bangkok, Thailand

Woke up in Malaysia to some very good news! There was a message on the phone to say we were staying on the original trip, which meant operating the flight to Bangkok. Such a relief as none of us wanted the trip to be disrupted.

The news cheered Frankie and I right up and we invited Matt and Sarah to our room for some yummy breakfast. They laughed at our Christmas decorations and helped us take them down. When Frankie asked if they’re having a “romantic liaison,” they looked at each other and smiled. I think they make a nice couple but I imagine it’s a trip fling, at least for Sarah I think it is.

They teased me about coming home early last night and filled me in on the evening’s antics. Seems I missed a rather raucous night! I didn’t dare tell them I spent the evening furiously writing to my heart’s content!

Flight time was a meager ninety minutes and we’ve only been here for a few hours but when people say Bangkok is wild, they’re not kidding! The streets are crowded and the traffic is beyond horrendous. The pollution is so bad, many of the locals wear masks and after almost choking to death on fumes earlier, I can see why!

We didn’t venture too far tonight and ended the evening in the plush hotel bar, along with most of our crew.

 

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!