January 15th, 1991

January 15th, 1991

At home, England

Just got off the phone with Lorna, who excitedly confirmed that her wedding date is March 12th, in Bermuda. The plan is to request a work trip with Carl and a few others we did our British Airways training with, which should be very fun! Sadly, I won’t be going with David but I’m not going to dwell on any of that. As Florence has pointed out on more than one occasion, there’s nothing I can do about a guy who prefers guys over girls. Absolutely nothing.

William sent a cassette with some of his favourite music, which I have to say was dreadful and not at all my cup of tea so I won’t be blasting that in the car anytime soon! Along with the cassette was a very, what I’d consider “heavy,” letter. As much as I like William, I think he’s too intense for me but I’ll at least write and say thanks (no thanks, haha!) for the cassette. Besides, the postage from Antigua cost a fortune and as mum would say, “It’s the thought that counts.”

 

January 14th, 1991

January 14th, 1991

At home, England

As much as I enjoyed Toronto, I came home with a bit of a cold so when I saw mum earlier she insisted I slather my neck and chest in Vicks VapoRub before going to bed and gave me one of her “wee nylon scarves,” to wear. For as long as I can remember, these two things combined have been what mum “swears by,”
to cure a cold or a cough!

I heard through the grapevine that Ben and Mandy are getting married this summer. Ugh! I don’t know why I’m so shocked, they’ve been engaged for over a year but as if that news isn’t dire enough, I also heard they plan on living in this area so the chances of me seeing them will increase. As far as Ben is aware I’m still seeing David, I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him what happened.

A thick envelope arrived from Antigua but between the news of Ben’s upcoming nuptials and feeling poorly, I can’t be bothered to read it. Besides, I don’t imagine there’s anything earth shattering within the pages I need to know.

Hopefully I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling a lot chirpier than I do tonight.

 

January 8th, 1991

January 8th, 1991

At home, England

Florence came over tonight and surprisingly, we didn’t even finish the bottle of wine she brought.

“There’s too much to talk about, love,” she smiled.

“You can say that again!”

“So, what happened? And I promise I won’t interrupt or ask any questions ‘til you’re done.”

“You’ll never be able to do that,” I laughed.

“Watch me,” she said, with a mischievous wink.

“Ok, so the phone was ringing when I got home yesterday morning and it was, as you know, freezing, so it took me a while to fiddle with the key and get it in the lock, but when I came in, the phone was still ringing, so, I dashed into the living room and picked it up, hoping and don’t hate me for this, hoping it might be Ben to say he was coming to see his parents for the day or something.”

Florence rolled her eyes but didn’t speak.

“I know, I know…Anyway, when I picked up, I said, “Hello?” and the voice said, ‘Do I call you Karen or Madison?’”

Florence’s eyes widened.

“Yup, William! And guess what the first thing I said was?”

Her expression asked, “What?”

“I said, hang on a sec, I have to shut my front door!”

Florence burst out laughing.

“So, I shut the door, dragged my suitcase into the living room and we were on the phone for about two hours!”

Florence’s hands gestured, “And?”

“Obviously he received my epic letter, the one you suggested I send, explaining, for example, the fact I don’t actually work for Vogue or live in New York. And that my name is actually Karen and not Madison Frazer!”

Florence shook her head, as I continued. “Let’s see, oh yeah, so he asked when I’m going back to Antigua and I said Millie had suggested we try and get the fourteen day trip again but when I said that he got a bit quiet so either he isn’t interested in me being there that long or he doesn’t like Millie much.”

Florence’s expression led me to believe it was the latter.

“I know she can be a bit of a pill sometimes and looking back she wasn’t particularly nice to him so we’ll see but for now we agreed to keep in touch and I told him what you said about showing up on my doorstep and he said ‘don’t’ give me ideas.’ I mean, can you imagine if he did? That would be absolutely mental. Anyway, that’s it! You can talk now. Say something!” I urged.

“I don’t know what to say,” she laughed.

“You’re never at a loss for words.”

“So, you’re going to keep in touch and see how things go?”

“Yes, but to be honest with you after what happened with David I’m in no rush to get involved with anyone, let alone someone who once again lives thousands of miles away.”

“This is different though.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Well for a start, William’s only stationed in Antigua, so at some point I imagine he’ll probably go back to the States.”

“Oh yes, he did mention that. He should be back in the States within the next six months or so.”

“Does he know where?”

“Not yet but I’m hoping LA!”

She chuckled. “You need to stay away from there!”

I sighed. “I know but I still think about David. I wonder if he came out to his family.”

“Well let’s hope if he did, it was a good experience.”

I hope so.

 

 

 

The Diary

The Diary

For as long as I can remember, I’ve kept a diary. The first one was a Christmas gift from my Nana when I was eight. It was the one with the little key, remember those? That flimsy, metal key made me feel like I was locking away all of my secrets.  Of course, anyone could’ve opened it had they wanted to, but there was something about the key that made me feel everything in the pages was “mine.”

As an only child I didn’t hear, “You know when Katie was your age,” nor did I have a brother to torture me and toughen me up. No, it was just me. And my diary.

At the end of the day, I loved filling the pages with stories about school and friends, who was wearing what and, more importantly, which boys we were interested in.

Fast forward thirty-five years, where I’m in the basement of our house, with my teenage son. He’s doing something on his phone and I’m rifling through my mum’s old steamer trunk, filled to the brim with what I like to call, “my treasure.”

I’m looking for…, well to be honest, I don’t know what I’m looking for. A few months prior, my Father had passed away suddenly in Scotland and I think I was looking for something to remind me of him. An old card, a letter he wrote, a photograph, something, anything that might bring me a little comfort in this time of sorrow.

“Who are those presents for?” My son asked.
“They’re not presents.”

He gave me a questioning look

“They’re my old diaries.”

“Why are they wrapped like presents?”

“I don’t know,” I said, shaking my head. “It’s just something I started doing a long time ago.

At the end of the year, when the diary was filled, I’d wrap it up and put it away.”

“Can we open them?”

“No! Absolutely not!” I said, slamming the lid shut.

“Sorry,” he uttered, clearly sensing my discomfort.

The next morning, I found myself back in the basement, where I opened the trunk and grabbed one of the diaries. Just seeing the paper it was wrapped in took me back to when and where I bought it. I carefully peeled back the tape ( it really was wrapped like a present) and took out the diary. The year was 1989.

With my interest piqued, I took the diary upstairs and made a cup of tea. I expected to read a few pages but once I started reading, I got carried away and before I knew it, I was at the end of February and my tea was stone cold.

Each page transported me back to life as a young woman, finding my way, but at the same time, I recognized so much of the person I still am, which took me by surprise. I read all the way to August and only stopped because I had to go to work!

That night, I finished reading about my life in 1989, much of which I hadn’t thought about since then. As well as chuckling over my youthful shenanigans (of which there were plenty) I found myself crying at the memory of how painful it’d been to lose my Nana and other stuff, mostly love related, that had made me sad. I rewrapped the diary, put it back in the trunk and went to bed.

The minute I closed my eyes, my mind began to race;

What if the basement floods?

What if there’s a fire?

How would I feel if all those diaries filled with all those words about all those people I loved were lost?

Because I was still grieving my Father’s passing, the word “loss” didn’t sit well with me, so,

the next morning, I unwrapped 1989 (again!) and began the painstaking task of transcribing each day. It took months to type the entire year of pages, but when I was done, it seemed only natural to continue, with 1990.

I was now dedicating the majority of my time to this project and when friends asked what I was doing, I told them I was writing. Some asked if they could read my “stuff,” and my first reaction was similar to that of when my son had asked the same question. Absolutely not!

In the meantime, I’d also written a play titled, “A Leg Up,” with two other women. The play was very well received and with that newfound confidence, I sent some of my favourite snippets of the diary to several friends.

Much to my surprise, my friends said they loved it and expressed an interest in reading more. They said the diary reminded them of their youth and that they could relate to it in so many ways. They also used a word I love; “Hooked.” They said they were hooked.

Hearing that was enough to give me the confidence to share more so I created some social media accounts and decided I’d start posting on January 1st, 2016. I spent the days prior talking myself in and out of doing so, but somewhere inside, I knew the time had come to throw away that flimsy little key.

My favourite night of the year has always been New Year’s Eve and on that night, 2015, I was home, sitting by the fire with my laptop, ready to go. I’ll never forget the tremble in my hand, when, just after midnight, I hit the button to upload the first post. My first instinct was to immediately delete it and scrap the whole thing but in my head, I heard my Dad telling me not to.

“It’ll be fine,” I heard him say.
He was right.

Big, huge, thanks!

IMG_5562

Thank you to all who read, followed and liked Miss McGarr’s Diary. I started posting two years ago and have been amazed at the response to my diaries from life in 1989 and 1990.

Posting daily has been a labour of love and as most of you know, seriously time consuming so my blog will now focus on other writing projects.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and again, THANK YOU!

 

 

 

December 31st, 1990

December 31st, 1990

Hilton Hotel, Perth, Australia

Ending 1990 on the other side of the world, in a hotel room, where I’m not alone.

Still fragile from the room party our gregarious Captain insisted upon, even although we arrived at eight this morning (!) I stayed in bed most of the day and didn’t get up ‘til I heard a knock on the door.

I peered through the peephole to see Perfect Penny and my initial reaction was to creep quietly away, until I spotted the plastic shopping bag in her hand, at which point I knew something was “off.” Perfect Penny isn’t the sort of girl to ever be seen in public in possession of a bag with any less status than one designed by a woman named Coco (whose real name, incidentally was Gabrielle.)

As soon as I opened the door, Perfect Penny strode into my room.
“Hey Penny, come on in, why don’t you!” I drawled, my tone snarky.

“Penelope. Please,” she hissed.

She looked pale. “I see you’re still suffering as well.”

“What?”

“From the room party? You-”
“I must use your loo,” she blurted.

“Be my guest.”

I scanned the room service menu to see if they offered chocolate mousse (they did) and thought I’d order one not only for myself, but also for PP, mostly because I knew there was no way she’d eat it, which brought a smile to my face but that quickly changed when I heard her piercing scream.

“Are you alright, Penny?” I called out.

“It’s Penelope,” she shrieked.

“Sorry!”

She opened the door and held out her hand, in which she held a stick from a pregnancy test kit. I glanced at the solid pink line and a little sound, indicating shock, escaped my lips.

“It might be wrong,” I stated.

“I hope you’re correct. I shall try again,” she snipped, slamming the door shut.

I paced around the room, the appeal of chocolate mousse suddenly gone, then I heard the bathroom door creak open. “What does that one say?”

PP held out the stick. The result was the same.

“I’ll try another one,” she uttered, this time closing the door, slowly.

“How many do you have?”

“Four,” she whimpered, from the other side of the door.

“I’ll make us some tea,” I offered, because I really didn’t know what else to say.

PP came walking out of the bathroom as though she was in deportment class at finishing school but I could see she was shivering as she sat down.

“Here,” I said, pulling the blanket off my bed, draping it around her bony shoulders. “And I made you a nice cup of tea. Drink it up and I’ll turn up the heat.”

I sat on the bed across from her and noticed her hands were trembling. We didn’t speak for a while until PP broke the silence. “I don’t….I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“They’re all-” I started to ask.

“Positive, yes,” she nodded. “All four of them.” Her voice sounded shaky.

“I’m sure you and Jeremy will figure everything out,” I said, in my most soothing tone.

She stared at the floor. “I can’t tell him. He’ll be furious.”
“Things don’t always go as planned,” I uttered, my mind wandering briefly to a momentous moment in a hotel room in LA just last month.
“I don’t think you understand,” she stated. “Jeremy and I have yet to…explore that side of our relationship.”

My questioning look prompted her to confess. “He thinks I’m still a virgin.”

“Oh,” is all I managed to get out.

“We planned on changing that on our wedding night, so you see, I…I can’t tell him.”

“Shit, Penny.” She glared at me. “Sorry, Penelope.”

“Thank you,” she sniffed, picking up the cup and saucer.

I didn’t know if she was thanking me for the tea, or for using her full name.

The evening arrangement was to meet in the First Class purser’s room at eight, then head to an Italian restaurant close by, where the Captain had reserved a private room. However, as the hours wore on, the reality of PP’s “condition” seemed to take hold of her and she went from being quiet and trembling, to crying hysterically.

She shared with me the entire sordid tale of the passionate affair she’s been having with the man who trains her horse (he’s twenty years her senior, married, with three kids.) He and Not So Perfect Penny have been having it off in the stables for the past six years!

After a few hours of trying to console her, I moved my suitcase off the spare bed and tucked her in. She was fully dressed and didn’t put up a fight, which is when I knew she’d gone over the edge. Within minutes, she was sound asleep, making murmuring sounds that led me to believe she was dreaming of her horse!

I can’t believe I feel sorry for her, but I really do. At some point, I’ll have to inform the Cabin Service Director, but it’ll have to wait, as I know he’s out celebrating with the crew.

Meanwhile, I’m 9,000 miles from home, trapped in a hotel room with sleeping beauty and her bun in the oven, thirty minutes away from 1991.

 

December 30th, 1990

December 30th, 1990

Night flight from MEL – PER

Short, uneventful stay in Melbourne, now on crew rest, as we make our way to Perth, the place where we’ll bid farewell to 1990, the year in which I travelled to;

Lagos, NIGERIA

Malaga, SPAIN

Jeddah, SAUDI ARABIA

Doha, Qatar, SAUDI ARABIA

New York, New York, USA

Montreal, CANADA

Detroit, Michigan, USA

HONG KONG

Washington, Dulles County, USA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Toronto, CANADA

Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA

Nairobi, KENYA

Dusseldorf, GERMANY

Kingston, JAMAICA

Amsterdam, HOLLAND

Bergen, HOLLAND

Los Angeles, California, USA

Abu Dhabi, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Miami, Florida, USA

Antigua, WEST INDIES

Durban, SOUTH AFRICA

Cairo, EGYPT

Harare, ZIMBABWE

Seattle, Washington, USA

Vancouver, CANADA

Caracas, VENEZUELA

Bogota, COLUMBIA

Puerto Ayacucho, VENEZUELA

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Newark, New Jersey, USA

Cologne, GERMANY

Bangkok, THAILAND

Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

Adelaide, AUSTRALIA

SINGAPORE

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

A total of 21 countries and 376, 279 miles!

 

December 29th, 1990

December 29th, 1990

Night flight from BKK – MEL

Winging our way to the land down under on this Saturday night, on a plane filled with crying babies that literally haven’t stopped since we left Bangkok four hours ago, which means we have another five to go.

Ugh!

 

December 28th, 1990

December 28th, 1990

Dusit Thani Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

Graeme left first thing to operate the flight to Melbourne, which was most welcome as he was just starting to get on my nerves. There are very few people I want to spend heaps of time with and I rediscovered Graeme isn’t one of them but hey, no regrets!

Spent most of the day with Penelope Platt-Balfour (from my crew) who’s make up and blonde chignon looked as immaculate at the end of the day as when we met this morning. Even after hours in the sticky heat, nothing about her appearance faltered. It was ridiculous, I mean, who goes shopping in the markets of Bangkok wearing pearls?

Penelope just got engaged to Jeremy (three carats) and they’re going to live happily ever after in their country house in Hampshire; “We plan to build on a parcel of land Jeremy’s mummy and daddy acquired.” A “Parcel of land,” in Penelope’s world is equivalent to half of Scotland and “Acquire” is posh talk for “Inherit.”

Penelope and Jeremy will have two point two children, named Rupert and Clementine (after her great-great grandmother, the rich old bag who left Jeremy’s Daddy oodles of dosh and “the land,” in Hampshire.)

Rupert (commonly known as Ropes) will play rugby and dabble in archery but he’ll fail to excel in anything, because his Mother will constantly compare him to his younger sister, forcing him to grow up feeling inadequate.

Clementine (affectionately known as Pudding, a name bestowed upon her by her doting Grandmama) with her striking resemblance to the old hag who left all the dosh, will play piano superbly, dance ballet beautifully, sing like an angel, and demand a pony before she can write her name.

Jeremy will continue to “work in finance,” but will fail to notice how much Penelope spends employing the five people who run her, “terribly hectic life.” When the head nanny (“We keep two just in case I manage to conceive again, it’s all been so dreadfully difficult”) loses weight and comes dangerously close to weighing the same as “Mistress,” Penelope will take to her top of the line Range Rover and drive across muddy fields (read as; “all the land we own.”)

During that particular trek, Penelope will devise ways to sack “Skinny Nanny,” before stopping halfway across the field to check her make-up. In the mirror, Penelope will admire her still glossy blonde locks but when she runs her hand across her pale, smooth cheek, tears will begin falling from her beady eyes. Penelope will scold herself for being a terrible person because she knows Skinny Nanny’s weight loss is related to the recent, sudden death of her younger sister.

Penelope’s tears will land on the freshwater pearls (handed down of course) she wore in Bangkok, years ago, during what she still secretly considers the happiest time of her life. A time before Mummy won the argument that, “Only common girls work.”
Ok, so perhaps I’m being a little harsh on Perfect Penny (“It’s pen eh la pee. Please refrain from calling me Penny. Mummy says it’s frightful to shorten one’s Christian name.”) After an entire day of listening to her high-pitched voice, I returned to the quiet of my room but in my head, I could still hear her prattling on about her horse.

In an effort to escape, I ordered far too much food on room service (all gone) then climbed into bed and watched, “A Room with a View,” with Julian Sands, who is much yummier than the three servings of chocolate mousse I mistakenly (yeah, right!) ordered.

 

December 27th, 1990

December 27th, 1990

Dusit Thani Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

So, there might have been a little bit of kissing tonight. Ok, there might have been a fair amount of kissing. Oh alright, I confess, I had a major snog fest with Graeme!

I met Graeme on a trip last year, during which we fell in what I like to call, “trip lust,” which typically occurs in an exotic location, in this case the beautiful island of Bermuda with its pink sand and turquoise water.

Since that trip, there’s been a running joke between us that I continually lost Graeme’s phone number, when in fact I never kept it in the first place!

We met up again tonight in that most romantic (not!) of places, The Toby Jug, which crew seem drawn to like moths to a flame. I only agreed to go because it tends to be the first stop for crew before heading somewhere livelier (and less British!)

I soon realized I wasn’t in the mood for traipsing around Pat Pong in the heat so I came back to the hotel with Graeme, where we sat in the beautiful lobby bar with the huge Christmas tree and piano tunes to match. Conversation flowed as freely as the Mai Tai’s before he walked me to my room, outside which there was that awkward moment of, “Now what?”

Graeme gazed at me in that Christmas lights a glowing sort of way and his eyes sparkled accordingly, which, on reflection was at least eighty two percent alcohol induced but regardless, I’m a single girl, in Thailand, with a cute guy.

Added to which, it’s Christmas!