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!

 

 

September 20th, 1989

September 20th, 1989

Hilton Hotel, Abu Dhabi

United Arab Emirates

In the briefing room yesterday at check-in, after a quick scan of my crew, I concluded that half of us are under the age of twenty-five. That fact alone ought to have been a clue that this trip might be a bit on the wild side.

When we arrived last night, Mr. Fenwick (as we’re affectionately calling him) invited everyone to his room for a party. I wasted no time showering, changing and making my way to his room, where, surprisingly, most of my crew were already on their second drinks!

Several bottles of fizz later, someone suggested, “Popping downstairs to the Safari club.” On the dance floor, I met a gorgeous guy from Cape Town, called Marc. He was a fantastic dancer and we all know what a sucker I am for a guy who can dance.

For hours on end, we went from the dance floor to the bar (I was playing “how much Champagne can Karen consume in one night?”) Marc told me he works for a Dutch engineering company and is here on a business trip. When he asked what I was doing here, I said I was on a business trip (I kind of am!)

When Simply Red’s, “It’s Only Love,” came on, Marc and I danced pretty close together, which I’m not going to say was at all unpleasant. I sensed I’d gone well over my bubbles limit when, halfway through the song, our lips found each other. With a guy as good looking as he is, it’d be too easy to get carried away but instead of falling into that all too familiar territory, I excused myself.

On my way to the loo (slightly cursing myself for being sensible) the gaudy purple and gold carpet seemed to take on a life of it’s own, which made me chuckle. I pushed open the ridiculously heavy door to the loo and saw a girl resembling Frankie. She had her back to me and was bent halfway over, drying her hair under the hand dryer, but when I clocked her outfit I knew for sure it was Frankie.

I went over and tapped her on the shoulder. Her body shot up and she screamed when she saw me. In rapid-fire fashion, the questions began:

“When did you arrive?”

“How long are you here?”

“What’s your crew like?”

“Are you on the Delhi, KL trip?”

“How are you?”

I forgot to ask how she got her hair wet!

Back on the dance floor, I kept a safe distance from Marc, which I have to say wasn’t really my first choice but I knew if we danced again, there’d be more kissing and that’s usually when things begin to get complicated. I definitely wasn’t in the mood for complicated last night.

Needless to say, with the addition of Frankie’s presence, it ended up being more of an early morning than a late night. And tonight wasn’t much tamer! We (I think there were twenty-two of us in total!) started out at the Mexican restaurant at the Sheraton Hotel, which was surprisingly good. I ate Mexican food for the first time this year, in Florida, with Gabriel and while I chomped on chips and salsa tonight, I thought about him.

From the Sheraton, we came back to the hotel and stopped in Safari but only for a little while because it was pretty dead (no sign of Marc, phew!) We lost most of the more senior crew (the over thirty crowd) at that point but at least a dozen of us were still raring to go. Mr. Fenwick, who is definitely over thirty, suggested a nightcap at the Carousel club so the diehards made our way there.
Frankie and I danced like maniacs, until she spotted a blond guy she previously met here. A guy, at least a foot taller than her, who she calls, “The Viking.”

 

August 2nd, 1989

August 2nd, 1989

Hilton Hotel, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Went back to the beach club today with Carl and Kimberly but I have to say, I was pretty miserable. I felt horribly bloated and hid under an umbrella the entire time we were there. The heat here is just unbearable.

I was so much happier when we came back to the hotel and sat in the comfort of the air-conditioned lobby. Carl and Kimberly commented on how much I seemed to be enjoying the sweet tea.

“I love this stuff,” I gushed.

“I can tell,” Carl laughed.

“Karen, when you like something, you really like it,” commented Kimberly.

“Right girls,” Carl said, rubbing his hands together. “If we’re out on the town tonight, I’m off to my room to have a kip. Give us a knock on my door about eight darling?”

“I will,” I said, draining the last of the syrupy tea.

We started off the evening with a few drinks in Hemingway’s bar then came back to the hotel and went to the Safari (no Cartier boxes in sight!) It was a bit dead so we went to the Carousel club, which was jumping.

Carl went to say hello to a mate of his who was there with some of his crew and on the dance floor, Kimberly and I met Roland, BA’s station manager for the airport, who was super nice. Toby showed up and asked me to introduce him to Roland, then they went to the bar together and when Carl came back he yelled, “I’m just letting you know that my mate Terry Chapman just told me he fancies you.”

I glanced over in Terry’s direction. “I don’t think so,” I shouted over the music, to Carl, which made him laugh.

Kimberly sidled up to me. “Tonight might be my lucky night with Toby,” she shrieked in my ear.

I looked over to the bar where Toby and Roland looked pretty cosy together.
“Ok,” was all I could respond with and watched as Kimberly headed in the direction of disappointment.

I noticed Terry making his way to the dance floor so I averted my gaze but when I looked again a minute later his head was deep in conversation with the ample bust of a girl with long dark hair. I gestured for Carl to take a look.

“Sorry darling, looks like he changed his mind about you.”

I brushed my fingers across my forehead in an exaggerated fashion and Carl laughed.

“Check out Kimberly at the bar.”

Carl danced his way towards me and shook his head when he saw Kimberly gazing up at Toby, who was doing the same to Roland on the other side of him!

Just then, Johnny Kemp came on and Carl and I sang at the top of our lungs; “Just got paid, Friday night, party hopping, feeling fine.”

Even though it’s actually Wednesday.

 

June 30th, 1989

June 30th, 1989

Flight from LHR – CDG – LHR

At home

Feeling a bit weary tonight which is no surprise considering I crept back to my room  ten minutes before call this morning. Call time comes an hour before we’re due to meet in the hotel lobby and head out to the aircraft and a mere hour this morning was nowhere near enough time for me.

Graeme was on a later Paris and when I was leaving his room, he said, “I’ll ring you.” Then he smirked and added, “Oh wait, I can’t. I don’t have your number.”

I just smiled and on my way back to my room I asked, “Who am I?” Bold or what! So unlike the old me! Graeme rang my room and said he had a great time and that we should really meet up again. We shall see.

Flights to and from Paris went well, although I have to say the service we offer on those short flights is just outrageous; newspapers, hot towels, full hot breakfast and two rounds of drinks, all served in under forty minutes. It always amazes me how we manage to get it all done and no sooner do we strap in for landing then we hit the runway.

Mum was in the garden when I got home and before she even opened the gate she started in on the questions.

“Mum!”

“Sorry hen, I just have a lot to tell you.”

“Let me get changed first,” I said, kissing her cheek.

Even while I was upstairs, mum was still calling out questions but I pretended not to hear her and continued to change out of my uniform.

In the garden, over tea and strawberry tarts, we talked for hours. I told mum I bumped into a guy I met on a Bermuda trip and that we went to London for dinner. I forgot to tell her the rest!

“He sounds awful nice she said with a big smile. “Do you like him?”
“I do like him, he’s great fun and very easy to be around, but…”

“But what?” she asked, touching my arm.

“Nothing,” I said, suddenly feeling choked.

“Janice told me about you and Ben,” she blurted.

“She did?”

“Aye, she told me because she knew you were upset.”

“Well now you know.”

“I cannae say I’m sorry you’ve split up. I don’t think he was the one for you but I don’t want to see you hurt.”

“I’m ok,” I sighed. “Sometimes I feel really sad over it but if he doesn’t want to be with me there’s nothing I can do to change that so I’m just getting on with it.”

“That’s ma lassie,” she said. “Oh, I meant to tell you Jon phoned last night.”

“Did you talk his ear off for an hour before you mentioned I wasn’t here?”

She laughed, “Maybe a wee bit longer than that.”

“You’re lucky he likes you,” I teased.

“Dad and I both like him, we were just talking about him last night and then he phoned. It was uncanny.”

“What did he have to say?”

“He just came back from Africa.”

I was surprised. “What was he doing there?”

“He was on holiday in Cape Town, said it was fantastic, great prices and beautiful scenery.”

“Wow, good for him. I didn’t know he was going on holiday.”

And how would I? It’s not like I ever make any effort to keep in touch with him.

May 26th, 1989

May 26th, 1989

Flight from LHR – CDG – LHR

At the girls’ flat, Hampton Hill

Happy to be here with Lorna and Kimberly tonight (Meryl is away on a trip so I’m sleeping in her room.) We had a great night at The Three Magpies with Carl, Daniel and Tina. I have a sneaking suspicion there’s a budding romance between Daniel and Tina, I hope so as they’re very sweet together.

A very quick flight to Paris on the TriStar this morning with Kimberly, who claims it took her three days to recover from our Cairo trip. She obviously drank way more than I did!

In the briefing room, the crew appeared unfriendly but I’m finding that’s the way it is initially, when everyone is more or less trying to suss each other out. Considering the flight time to Paris is only forty minutes, I expected the briefing to be short but there was just as much information for the CSD (Cabin Service Director) to impart as is usual on a longer sector.

Typically, by the end of the briefing, the crew seem more at ease (perhaps because the Safety & Emergency Procedure questions are out of the way and you no longer have to worry about being put on the spot.) At that point, our working positions have also been established, so we know where on the aircraft we’ll work on that particular flight/trip.

Seniority is the name of the game in flying! The most senior member of the crew gets to choose the position they want to work. From thereon, the CSD works his/her way down the list, all the way to the newbies like Kimberly and I. We established on the Cairo trip that my company ID is one digit ahead of Kimberly’s, therefore I got to pick before she did. Not that it mattered much for a flight to Paris and back but it was nice having the choice between the last two working positions, as opposed to getting what was left!

The chatter amongst the crew usually begins when we board the bus that takes us out to the stand, where the aircraft is parked. One of my favourite things is stepping off the bus and looking up at the aircraft, then climbing the steps up towards it. I still get a rush of excitement stepping onboard and seeing the rows of empty seats before they fill up.

At that point, we gather in the galley/cabin we’ll be working in and start preparing for boarding. Each working position comes with its own set of responsibilities and we have to work quickly to ensure those are taken care of before boarding can commence.

Once the boarding announcement is made, on goes the professional face and from that point on, we’re in charge of the passengers and their safety. It helps knowing your fellow crew have all gone through the same training and that if should something go awry, we’ll respond accordingly.

I think it’s amazing how we all work so well together, regardless of the vast differences in age, experiences and personality types. Working as a team at 35,000 feet in a tin can, surrounded by hundreds of strangers, each with their own needs and expectations, certainly makes the role of cabin crew very unique.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 13th, 1989

May 13th, 1989

At home

Stephen rang and invited me to Brighton for the weekend but I told him I was stuck at home on standby. As usual, he had me in stitches and we shared and compared what we call, “Trolley Dolly Tales.”

While I was out last night, British Airways crewing rang to say there’d been a change and instead of standby starting at six this morning, it started at noon and ended at midnight. That change obviously put an end to me going to Pamsy’s, so here I am at home on Saturday night when I was expecting to be out clubbing with my mate. Pamsy was sorely disappointed when I shared the news with her this morning but no doubt I’ll get to see her soon.

Mum and dad came back from the city centre with all sorts of goodies, food and otherwise. Mum bought me a beautiful cream coloured skirt that I love and tonight we put on a fashion show in my room, complete with thumping music. When mum is well, we have so much fun together and her energy level never ceases to amaze me.

Obviously, I couldn’t leave the house but I have to say I’ve enjoyed catching up with mum and dad without the distraction of me coming and going. Dad was in one of his talkative moods tonight and chatted a lot about his family and how things were when he was growing up. It’s hard to believe dad is one of fifteen children and the father of only one!

Dad talked at length about his Mother, my lovely Granny, who died when I was six. Sadly, I don’t remember much about her but pictures help and both mum and dad have shared so many stories about her. I especially like the way dad talks about his late Mother. I think it’s very important for a man to treat his Mother well and have a good relationship with her.

I enjoy listening to dad talking about the old days and how it was for him growing up in such a big family. Granny lost five of her babies during childbirth, which must have broken her heart over and over again. With everything she and Granda endured, all I’ve ever heard about her is what a lovely, kind person she was and how she welcomed mum into their big family with open arms.

Both mum and dad’s upbringing was so different to mine. Mum has often told me how heartbroken dad was when he lost his Mother. I can’t even imagine how awful that must be. I absolutely adore my parents and can’t imagine a time without them in my life.

I feel fortunate that I still have two grandparents, Granda on dad’s side and Nana on mum’s. According to mum, Granda is coming next month from Scotland to stay with us. My Granda is a real character and we have a great time whenever he comes to stay. It’s no surprise where dad gets his love of story telling from.

I really miss Ben, and I wonder if we’ll have children together? I’m pretty sure he’s the love of my life, but he isn’t here right now so I need to be strong like my Granny was and make the most of this situation.