February 24th, 1992

February 24th, 1992

Flight from LHR – BOS, as a passenger – Somewhere over the Atlantic

I slept through the alarm and woke up with the phone ringing. Hoping Mum would answer (Dad was at work) I stuck my head under the pillow but Mum’s voice wafted up the stairs, to my room. Feeling like I’d been run over by a truck, I rolled out of bed and shuffled my way downstairs, checking to make sure Mum was out of ear shot as I picked up the receiver, fully expecting Ben to be on the other end.

“I thought you were going for the early flight!” Pamsy boomed.

“Ugh, keep your voice down,” I groaned. “My head is pounding.”

“Oh no!”

“What?”

“Did you change your mind about going?”

It took my mushy mind a second before registering what she meant. “No, of course I didn’t change my mind, I just overslept, that’s all.”

“By about three hours!”

“Shit, I had better ring William and let him know I’ll be on the later flight.”

“Karen’s in trouble,” Pamsy sang.

“Oh well, he should probably know who I am before he marries me!”

Pamsy chuckled. “I still can’t believe you’re getting married! Your Mum sounds so excited, bless her, oh and make sure your Dad takes lots of pictures.”

“I will.”

“Good luck my lovely, I’ll be thinking of you.”

I felt the lump forming in my throat and croaked, “Thanks Pamsy.”

“Aw, now you’ve got me crying,” she sniffed. “I can’t believe you’re leaving me!”

“I’m not leaving you, I’m just getting married.”

“To a guy I haven’t met who lives three thousand miles away,” she blurted, before blowing her nose. “What will I do without you?”

“You’ll come and visit! Besides, I won’t be moving to the States until all the immigration stuff is sorted and that’ll take ages.”

I waited while she blew her nose again. “When you say ages, do you mean years?”

“Maybe one.”

“So, I still have you for a little while,” she sighed.

“Pamsy, we’re best friends. You’ll be stuck with me forever!”

 

February 21st, 1992

February 21st, 1992

Hotel InterContinental, Nairobi, Kenya

Over dinner last night at Carnivore, the conversation turned to travel, giving Mum the perfect opportunity to rattle off the countries we’ve visited. Thor agreed with Mum that Hong Kong is captivating but he has yet to make it to Australia, which is surprising, since it appears he travels extensively.

With no idea who Thor is or what he does, I made a sneaky call to Ian (our Captain) who promised he’d, “do a spot of investigating,” prior to Mum and I meeting Thor. It probably helped that Thor is staying at the same hotel, hence the reason for Ian’s prompt return phone call. Apparently, Thor is a regular guest at the hotel and has, “multiple business holdings in the area.” From the info Ian managed to garner, he said he felt assured that it’d be safe for us to venture out with Thor but just as an extra precaution (true to the nature of a Captain) he arranged to be in the lobby when we were due to meet Thor!

Back to dinner (which I have to say was hugely entertaining) where Thorasked if I have “a special someone.”

I nodded. “Fiancé.”

“Niiiice,” he drawled. “Any wedding plans?”

“Yes,” I smirked. “One week from tomorrow!”

Wine shot from Thor’s mouth, narrowly missing Mum by about an inch! Poor guy looked absolutely mortified as he dabbed at his mouth, then the tablecloth, all the while apologizing profusely.

Getting back to the conversation, Thor asked Mum what her future son-in-law is like and this time, he looked like he was about to fall off the chair when Mum nonchalantly replied; “I don’t know, I’ve yet to meet him.”

Thor’s response came out sounding as though Mum didn’t understand English.  “You haven’t met the man your daughter is marrying?”

“Tom and I will meet him next week.”

With Thor’s gaze firmly on me, he shook his head. “You know, I thought eating buffalo or ostrich would be the craziest thing about tonight, but….but…here you are, so close to your wedding, on a different continent!”

“And loving every second,” I retorted.

“Shouldn’t you be in Scotland making plans?”

Preparing to savour the moment, I smiled my biggest smile. “The wedding isn’t in Scotland. It’s in America.”

“Oh…this…story,” he uttered in his lovely accent, clutching at his heart in such a way it had me wondering if he was doing it as a joke or not.

“You must start at the beginning,” he smiled. “But first, some Champagne.”

 

February 18th, 1992

February 18th, 1992

Hotel InterContinental, Nairobi, Kenya

Mum and I are having the most fantastic time and today we went to the Rothschild Giraffe Centre, a place I’ve long longed to visit! From the pamphlet, we discovered that the Centre was founded by Jock Leslie-Melville, the Kenyan grandson of a Scottish Earl. Well, that was all Mum needed to hear before she started on about how proud she is to be Scottish (something I’ve never heard her express before!) From that point on, every other word she uttered was heavily punctuated with “ochs” and “ayes,” leaving Issac, the guide, looking quite bewildered!

Mum commented that the giraffe’s tongue felt like sandpaper and Issac was about to answer when he stopped and turned his attention to a woman who appeared a little out of breath from having climbed the stairs, to the feeding platform.

“Good afternoon,” he nodded, with a wide smile.

“Allow me,” she said, with just a hint of an American accent. The guide passed the bucket to her and with an easy manner, she continued feeding the giraffes with us and introduced herself as, “Betty.”

Betty was a mine of information and shared some fascinating facts about the Rothschild giraffes but she seemed especially interested in our Scottish ancestry and asked what brought us to Kenya.

“Karen’s getting married!” Mum gushed. “This is our last wee hurrah!”

Betty’s eyes widened. “Congratulations! You chose, in my opinion, the most beautiful place on earth to visit. Where will you be married?”

“In the States.” She looked surprised. “My fiancé is from Massachusetts.”

“Ah, New England,” she smiled. “A Summer wedding?”

I shook my head and tried not to laugh, “No, it’s eleven days from now!”

We continued chatting and by the time the bucket was empty, we’d learned that Betty was born in Maryland and shared with her (third!) husband, a great passion for animals and their wellbeing. Sensing she had more to impart, I wasn’t surprised when she asked if we’d like to join her for tea. Mum glanced at me with an, “It’s up to you,” expression.

“Thank you, that’s very kind of you but we have a driver waiting to take us to the Karen Blixen museum.”

“Karen Blixen was a woman ahead of her time,” she stated. “The museum is delightful, you must go and enjoy it but promise you’ll return and tell the giraffes all about your winter wonderland wedding.”

 

February 1st, 1992

February 1st, 1992

At home, England

Home late last night from an amazing trip to Buenos Aires, a city I found to be joyful and refreshing, filled with suave men and sensual women who dance the Argentine Tango like there’s no tomorrow. The food was incredible and the crew mostly young, so all in all it was a great trip.

Woke up to a blue-sky morning and my first thought was of William and where he might be. I know the Coast Guard boat he’s on is somewhere around Haiti, a place I’ve never been. I can’t imagine rescuing people from the sea is any picnic but he never talks about his work so I don’t know how he really feels about it.

Over breakfast, I asked Mum if anyone called while I was away. Typically, I don’t get a chance to ask as she usually gives me a rundown within ten minutes of me walking through the door. I don’t think anyone realizes how exhausting life as crew is. Flight time home was just under fourteen hours, plus two hours before the flight takes off, then a two-hour drive home, after finally locating my car in the staff car park!

The second I asked if anyone rang, Mum stuffed a large piece of toast in her mouth, a sure indication that there was something she wasn’t keen on telling me. I busied myself with the eggs on my plate and talked about the trip but as soon as Mum got up from the table, I asked again. With her back turned to me, she uttered, “Ben.”

I made a feeble attempt at feigning surprise. “Oh, when did he ring?”

“The day you left on your trip.” She said, practically tossing her plate into the sink, filled with soapy suds. I watched her shoulders rise and fall and knew I should leave it at that but I had to know more.

“Did he leave a message?”

“Aye, something about you getting back to him.”

“Oh, ok,” I stuttered. “Ehm, did he say anything else?”

“Just that he was surprised you were away.” She turned and waved her hand in the direction of the table, my cue to clear the dishes and stop asking questions.

Mum washed, I dried and we didn’t speak until everything was put away.

“Thanks, hen,” she smiled, her usual demeanor back in place.

“No problem,” I said, wondering if I could get away with just one more question. She took my hands and squeezed them. “Are you nervous?”

“About what?”
She laughed. “Did you forget you’re getting married four weeks from today?”

I shook my head, a wave of sadness washing over me that I still can’t explain.

“C’mon upstairs,” she urged, “I’ll show you what I’m thinking of wearing to your wedding.”

 

January 16th, 1992

January 16th, 1992

At home, England

“Who gets married on Leap Year Day?” Pamsy screeched on the phone. “You’ll only get an anniversary gift every four years!” We continued chatting about my upcoming nuptials and when I told her how brutal Winter is in New England, she joked, “You might be better off wearing a white snowsuit and gloves!”

I have no idea how I’ll balance wearing something I like versus something I won’t freeze in! Mum, on the other hand, already bought a hat and not one but four new outfits, all of which would be much more suited to a wedding in Hawaii.

Planning a wedding while your fiancé is involved in rescue efforts at sea, for people fleeing their homeland in makeshift boats, seems frivolous so I’m glad our wedding isn’t going to be some frothy frock affair.

Growing up, I never gave much thought to my wedding, unlike some of my friends that have been planning “the big day,” since they started talking! I’ve never really understood putting all that emphasis on one day, when the really important part is the years that follow.

I’m excited that we at least have a date but I wish William didn’t have to head back out to sea so soon after. Between his work and mine, we decided to put our Honeymoon on hold until I get my Green Card and can live in the States legally, but who knows when that will be.

It’s crazy to think that in just six plus weeks, I’ll be married!

 

September 8th, 1991

September 8th, 1991

At home, England

Sarah is married! The day started out with a few sprinkles but by the time we were ready for pictures in her mum and dad’s garden, the sun was out in full force.

“Look at you lot,” Sarah’s dad said, discretely wiping a tear, as the photographer barked, “No squinting!”
“Bleeding ‘ard not to,” Suzette, the other bridesmaid uttered, while I made a poor attempt at sucking in my stomach.

“You’re not crying, are you, dad?”

“Me? No. Think I’ve something in me eye.”

“Aw, bless,” Sarah and Suzette cooed in unison.

“No talking! Please!”

“He’s a bundle of laughs, where’d you find im, Sarah?”

“And three, and two, and one,” the photographer shouted, above the sound of the shutter, snapping what I imagine will be amusing pictures.

“He’s a mate of-”

“And silence!”

“He better not keep this up all day!” Suzette huffed, making me laugh.
“And we’re quiet! And we’re still!”

“Still annoying,” Suzette hissed, as the photographer waved his hand. “Bridesmaids, step aside! Parents, step in!”

Suzette shook her head and pulled me aside. “We’ve time for some happy juice, before we go to the church,” she winked.

I gave her a questioning look. “Listen,” she whispered. “If we ‘ave to be stuck in these frothy frocks all day, we’ll need a drink. Or three.”

Ah, a girl after my own heart!

 

September 1st, 1991

September 1st, 1991

At home, England

It’s hard to believe that this time next week, Sarah will be married and the pastel, puke inspired dress, she’s insisting I wear will be rolled into a ball and stuffed in the back of my wardrobe.

She caught me off guard when she asked who I’m bringing to the wedding, something I hadn’t given any thought to.

“You can bring anyone you want,” she said. “Just not Ben!”

“Like I’d invite him!” I said, much too defensively.

“You should invite Jon.”

“Nah.”

“Why not? He’s really nice to you and-”

“He is…was, but he’s heavily involved with someone.”

“I bet he’d come if you asked him.”

“I just told you he has a girlfriend!”
“I still think you should invite him.”

“No, absolutely not. I guess I’ll be coming alone.”

“Well in that case I’ll get my husband to be on it and he can fix you up with one of his friends.”

“Ehm, thanks, but no thanks,” I stuttered remembering several occasions where Sarah thought it’d be a good idea for me to meet “someone they already know.”

“You say that now,” she smiled, “but you know after you see me getting married you’ll feel all romantic and want to snog somebody. That’s what happens at weddings!”

All I could do was roll my eyes as she continued. “Where is it you’re going tomorrow?”

“Delhi.”

“And when are you coming back?”

“Friday morning.”

“That’s cutting it a bit close, don’t you think? What if you get delayed or something?”

“I won’t,” I said, inwardly chuckling at the thought of not having to wear “the dress,” but knowing she’ll kill me if I miss her wedding.

 

 

August 3rd, 1991

August 3rd, 1991

At home, England

Spent the morning with Sarah, at “the final fitting,” for the bridesmaid dresses she chose for Suzette and I.

“How it feels?” the seamstress said, jerkily zipping me into the dress.

“Fine,” I lied, continuing to suck in my stomach, whilst attempting to hold my breath, which I have to say is not an easy combination!

“Leetle tight,” she said, her heavy Russian accent doing nothing to mask her disdain.

“Uh-huh,” I uttered, afraid the zip would give if I dared say anything more.

“Heeps,” she stated, smacking my right hip, before undoing the zipper in one fell swoop.

“Yes,” I said, quickly stepping out of the dress. “I have hips.”

“Tut tut tut,” she clucked, staring me down. “Too much heeps.”

“Too much tongue,” I hissed, under my breath.

Sarah smiled in my direction. “What was that you said?”

“I was just saying how much I love my dress.”

“Aw, do you really love it?” Sarah cooed.

“Truly,” I smiled.

About as much as I can love something that clings to me and looks like regurgitated pastel crayons!

 

March 10th, 1991

March 10th, 1991

Flight from BDA – NAS – BDA

Hamilton Princess Hotel, Bermuda

I’m so enjoying this trip, which took precedence over a weekend in the English countryside at what I expect would be some stately home (ah!) owned by Jacob’s parents. Frankie and I had a good laugh after I remembered I was actually due to be here in Bermuda for Lorna’s wedding!

Just rolled in from a most entertaining evening with the wedding gang. We’re all so familiar with each other that it’s hard to believe we only met just over two years ago. Life for all of us has changed so much, all from joining British Airways as Cabin Crew.

Operated the shuttle to and from Nassau, with high winds and a deluge that drenched us while we waited for the crew bus to appear. Carl said the only remedy for the cold was rum and lots of it, so we headed to his room to put his theory to the test!

Several hours later, we made our way into town. I walked with Lorna, who seemed quieter than usual.

“Penny for your thoughts,” I said, linking my arm through hers.

“I’m just thinking about tomorrow,” she said, sounding wistful.

I squeezed her arm. “It’s going to be amazing!”

Carl and Daniel lead the way,  with Klaus walking between them. Klaus kept looking back, blowing kisses in Lorna’s direction.

“Look at him,” I said. “He’s totally gaga about you.”

“He is that,” she sighed.

Sensing something that I couldn’t put my finger on, I stopped walking. “Lorna, is there anything you want to talk about?”

“Nah,” she said. “I think I’ve just got a bad case of the wedding jitters.”

“I can only imagine what a big deal it is.”

“I think it’s just, you know, moving to Holland dealing with his family and stuff. It feels like a lot.”

I nodded. “I think once you’re married it’ll be different.”

She gave me a questioning look.

“What I mean is, I think your relationship with his family will be different.”

“How so?”

“I think once you’re his wife, it’ll be easier for you to tell them to piss off,” I said, making her laugh.