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.”

 

August 24th, 1991

August 24th, 1991

At home, England

My four day Seattle trip was cancelled (no idea why) and now I’m on standby. With a maximum of only four hours’ notice, I could get called to fly pretty much anywhere in the world. As cool as that sounds, the reality of it means I won’t be able to go to Spain with mum. After everything mum does for me, I hate to disappoint her but I know she’ll understand. Still, I was really looking forward to a nice little getaway that doesn’t revolve around the needs of hundreds of passengers!

 

May 28th, 1991

May 28th, 1991

Night flight from PIT – IAD – LHR

Feeling the effect of four transatlantic sectors in five days, which, with the stop in Washington, makes tonight feel like it’ll never end. Fortunately, our purser allocated each of us an hour of crew rest, giving me just enough time to dunk biscuits in tea and recall some of last night’s onslaught of questions in the hotel bar (we were all too knackered to venture out.)

“Oh, what a beautiful ring, I didn’t even notice it on the flight, what stone is that?”

“Oh, your fiancé is American?”

“Where did you meet him?”

“How long have you known him?”

“What does he do?”

“Where does he live?”

“When are you getting married?”

“Where are you getting married?”

“Where are you going to live after you get married?”

“So, you’ll be giving up flying?”
“How long have you been flying?”

“If you move to the States, do you think you’ll like it?”

“Do you really see yourself living there?”

“Won’t you miss your family and friends?”

 

I’m astounded that the presence of a ring can generate so many questions!

 

September 15th, 1990

September 15th, 1990

Night flight from LHR – JNB
After hanging up with Ben yesterday I was sorely tempted to ring in sick but my next trip is with Millie and my life wouldn’t be worth living if she found out why I wasn’t on it.

So, here I am, on crew rest as we wing our way to one of my least favourite places.

I guess I’m still learning how to take the good with the bad.

Ugh!

August 26th, 1990

August 26th, 1990

Home sweet home, England

“You’re officially grown up!” Lucy (my first visitor!) said, handing me a bottle of wine and a house plant.

“Don’t be fooled,” I laughed.

Very nice,” she said, looking around. “You sure you just moved in? Looks like you’ve been here for ages.”

“It’s all due to my mum and dad’s help, they’ve been amazing.”

“I’m sure they’re really excited for you.”

“Let me give you the grand tour then we’ll have some wine. Don’t worry, it won’t take long.”

Within five minutes of Lucy’s departure, I rang David.

“Is this a good time?” I asked.

“Sure. I just got home from work. It’s pretty late for you isn’t it.”

“Yeah, Lucy, my old school chum just left.”

“Did you guys have fun?”

“We did. It was lovely to see her and hopefully I drank enough wine that I’ll be able to sleep tonight.”

“You didn’t sleep good last night?”

“Not ‘til the sun came up.”

“How come?”

“All I could think about was the mad axe murderer lurking outside the back door. I was so scared, it was awful.”

“Oh honey, that’s horrible. Maybe you could have your dad install a sensor light or something to make you feel safer.”

“That’s a good idea but it’d be better if you could come over. When can you get here?”

He laughed. “If I catch the red eye out of L A X tonight I can be there sometime tomorrow.”

“Noooooo,” I whined. “That’s too long.”

“Sorry.”

“That’s ok, I’m just being a baby.”

“So, my boss broke the news to me today that I need to go back to Tokyo.”

“Shit, when?”

“Thursday.”

“That’s when I leave for Boston.”

“I know, I have your roster right here. Your mom is going with you, right?”

“Yup and it’s all she can talk about; Lizzie’s big return to America!”

“I hear Boston is pretty cool.”

“You haven’t been?”

“Nope. I’m relying on you to tell me all about it.”

“I wish you could join us.”

“Me too. Hey, I just had a thought.”

“That’s dangerous,” I laughed.

“Yeah, right? Maybe I could hit London on my way back from Tokyo.”

“Ooooh, I could come and pick you up and whisk you back here to my lair.”

“Let me see what I can do.”

Fingers crossed.

 

August 23rd, 1990

August 23th, 1990

Caracas, Venezuela

Spent the morning on the balcony with Millie and Dolly, gorging on tea and toast, recounting; “Tales from the Amazon,” which kept us laughing until the temperature spiked, forcing us inside, where the air conditioning was broken, which led us to the beach!

Floating in the water, I couldn’t help but think of David and how much I miss him. I’ve already sent him two postcards and a mega letter but I wish we could talk. He’s in Tokyo and I know where he’s staying but with a mortgage to pay, there’s no way I can afford or justify the cost of even a short chat.

Tonight, the hotel disco was the place to be, teeming with all sorts, including the Alitalia crew who arrived a few hours prior. Every one of them was stunning looking (average weight seven stone!) dressed to the nines, looking as if they just stepped off the catwalk (some of them acted as though were still on it!)

I got chatted up by an amazing dancer, dressed in a Prada suit (I clocked the label when he opened his jacket on the dance floor, oh, imagine the moves!) Unfortunately, he was deeply in love with himself but still managed to tell me his name is Massimo and that he liked my “style.” I ignored most of his subsequent questions and comments and continued dancing but he wasn’t taking the hint. “I’m on the dance floor to dance, not talk,” I wanted to say.

After a few songs, Massimo started getting a bit full on and when I turned to leave, he grabbed my arm. I attempted to pull away but his grip was firm.

“Let go,” I yelled, thinking my next move would be to, as mum would say, “Kick him in the goolies.” There wasn’t enough room to step back so I figured I’d knee him instead, which I was just about to do when Roberto appeared.

Roberto took one look at me and yelled something in Italian that made Massimo promptly release his grip.

“You ok?” Roberto mouthed.
I nodded yes and he tilted his head in the direction of the bar, where most of my crew was gathered.

“What was all that about?” Millie asked when I finally made it to the bar.

“Just some dickhead trying it on.”

“Looks like your knight in shining armour took care of him,” she said, gesturing to Roberto as he made his way towards us.

“You sure you’re ok?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine, thanks. What did you say to him?”

He laughed. “I can’t repeat it. Far too rude.”

“Well whatever it was, thank you.”

“Yeah, thanks for taking care of that slime ball,” Millie said, passing a drink to Roberto.
“For me?” he asked.

“Uh-huh,” she smiled. “It’s a Mojito.”

“My favourite. Thanks, Millie,” he said, clearly surprised.

“No problem,” she said, passing the same to me. “One for you as well, Madison.”

“Yummy, thanks, Millie, oooh, the mint smells so good.”

“Cheers you two,” she said, clinking her glass first to mine then to Roberto’s.

“Cheers,” Roberto and I said in unison.

Wonders will never cease!

 

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!