Taking a while to get started this morning -writing that it. Have distracted myself with domestic chores: washing, ironing, bit of tidying - you know the kind of drudgery, two cups of coffee and some East is East paperwork and orders. Must knuckle down..after another coffee with a friend of course!
It's not every day a magazine pops through your door and whilst flicking through the pages you see a copy of your book advertised there... but hey, today was my day. Just heard the postman [Alfie alerted me to his visit by growling and flinging himself at the letterbox in the hope of nipping at least a finger tip] and I ignored it. [The post, not the postman who was let off this time and returned to his van unscathed.]
Then when I did saunter over to the front door and picked up my latest copy of Writing Magazine, something made me open it straightway. It usually gets left for at least a few weeks to be unpackaged. The pages only fell open near the middle, to reveal a picture of my book cover and an article by Kizzi at Mithra publishing! Result! I seem to be popping up everywhere.
On another note have just taken Alfie to the vet’s for his annual MOT,only for him to nip the vet’s finger as he was looking at his teeth, so maybe Alfie was full up on fingers – lucky for the postman. But… tomorrow’s another day.
For new visitors to my blog it's all about 24yr old, Suzi's mad existence as cabin crew. Best to go back to the beginning if you want to fill in the details - She's on her way to Mumbai but has a change of heart...
Diary of a Long haul Stewardess
It worked! It only bloody worked. Stan’s eyes widened as though he’d been caught in the headlights, he gasped at the flood of oxygen forcing its way up his nostrils and the shock of my gust of breath made him stop in his tracks mid wail. Result!
‘I told you,’ commented Lucy holding out her finished teddy masterpiece. I smiled at her and nodded my head. Stan continued to look at me in amazement as though I’d just zapped him with a bolt of electricity. Then, as though from the depths of his boots, he let out the biggest burp I’ve ever heard in a man, let alone a small baby.
‘That was what was bothering him,’ his Mum said from behind me as Stan smiled up at her in recognition. ‘Well done. You’re a natural. I’d been rubbing his back for ages to wind him but it must have got stuck somewhere. Whatever you did worked.’
I glanced sideways at Lucy who was still colouring. This time it was a box full of toys spilling out over the paper.
‘You really are good at that, Lucy,’ I said quietly leaning over to admire her work. ‘That’s my favourite. Could I have that one as well?’ I had to give the kid some credit. If she hadn’t let on to the secret of making Stan stop crying, it would all still be a disaster zone. I could just about still see the image of some toys underneath the thick lines of crayon, maybe the girl was improving. Wouldn’t harm to give her a bit of praise.
‘Would you like me to take Stan for a walk round the cabin?’ I offered. Okay, so I was puffed up with praise and getting above myself but I reckoned on a chance for good PR here. ‘It’s a while until the next service round. That way you could get a bit of a break yourself.’
‘Could I come too?’ Lucy chirped up from her seat.
‘If it’s no trouble that would be lovely,’ the Mum replied. I handed Stan back to her whilst I got out of her seat and, helping Lucy pick up her crayons and replace them in the box, we struggled out into the aisle where I took Stan back and led Lucy to the galley.
‘What’s this?’ asked Cathy. ‘Pied Piper time?’
‘This is Lucy,’ I said, introducing the little girl at my side. ‘And her brother, Stan. They’re going to stay with us for a bit while their mummy has a break.’
Cathy raised an eyebrow and then pulled out a trolley from its stowage, placing a cloth over the top. ‘Right, Lucy,’ she said kindly. ‘Would you like to be an honorary stewardess and help me fold these?’ She bent down and picked up the little girl, seating her on top of the trolley so that she was at galley level. A napkin lay next to her.
‘I like colouring,’ said Lucy.
‘I tell you what, help me fold this napkin into a boat and then we can colour it,’ Cathy persuaded.
So while Stan and I watched, the origami class got underway. I looked at Stan, now quiet, concentrating on his sister while he contentedly perched on my hip. He turned to look at me and put one of his chubby hands up to my mouth. He smiled as I blew a raspberry on it and placed it near my lips for another. Maybe this baby business wasn’t so bad after all. We’re all entitled to have our moments. It just so happens that babies can’t explain that they’ve got trapped wind and need a good belch. This baby was quite cute. If it was my baby it would be even cuter and I would like it even more. But if it was Ed and my baby, I would just adore it. I wonder what Ed’s baby would look like. Probably dark haired like him and it was bound to have brown eyes. Ed’s were brown. Suzi McEwan. Mrs Suzi McEwan. It sounded nice. We could have a wedding in an old abbey or … I sniffed. Something disgusting was wafting up underneath my nose. I sniffed again. It smelt like an open sewer.
‘Cathy, can you smell something?’ I asked as she was helping Lucy fold a tricky part of the boat.
‘Yes,’ she answered emphatically. ‘It’s your new charge. He’s shit his pants.’
‘Cathy!’ I exclaimed. ‘Little ears.’ I motioned towards Lucy who looked up at us and smiled sweetly. ‘Oh don’t worry. Mummy says it all the time and then says sorry after.’
I grinned at Cathy and looked down at Stan, his eyes had glazed over and he had a fixed expression on his face. His cheeks had a slight flush to them as he concentrated on filling his nappy a bit more.
‘Think I’d better hand him back,’ I said turning to go.
‘Check your skirt,’ Cathy advised laughing. ‘Just in case of follow through.’
Grimacing at her I held Stan out from my body and took him back to his mother who was reading a magazine.
‘Sorry it wasn’t for long,’ I apologised, ‘but I think he’s done something in his nappy that only a mother would love.’
She smiled at me and started to gather fresh nappies and wipes in readiness for changing him.
‘Is Lucy alright?’
‘Lucy’s fine and helping fold napkins. Can I take her crayons though?’
With only a few interruptions by the other passengers for drinks, the next thirty minutes passed pleasantly with all three of us in the galley colouring. Cathy showed Lucy how to keep her crayon scribbles inbetween the lines of her picture and we found some sticky tape to plaster the cupboard doors with her art work. When it was time to serve the meal round, Stan was fast asleep cradled in his mum’s lap and she was snoring slightly as well when I took Lucy back. I lifted the little girl over the sleeping pair and into her seat by the window and continued with making the tea and coffee in the galley.
The journey to the hotel in Mumbai was an education. I had never seen people sleeping in their make-shift shacks, not only along the sides of the road but on the dry dust in the middle as well. It was poverty with a capital P. We’d already had a hell of a ride from the airport where the bus had to weave in and out of the green or yellow topped tuk-tuks to avoid crashing with the maddest drivers I’d ever seen.
The rest of the crew didn’t seem to notice. I suppose complacency is an attitude that sneaks up on you after seeing the same sights after years of visiting India. But for me it was a major eye -opener. The walk through the airport had been interesting enough. I couldn’t believe how many huge bundles of bags were strapped precariously, tied with bits of old string to a set of trolley wheels, and dragged along behind passengers hoping to travel. If the Far East had been a culture shock it was nothing compared to India.
Arriving at the hotel [which looked as though it was still held in a time warp of the British Raj] we were greeted by a doorman dressed in full Indian national dress, complete with turban. The gold buttons on his long coat jacket gleaming, buttoned up stiffly to its neru collar. After checking in I made my way to my room for a long hot bath before meeting up with Cathy to do a bit of exploring. The room smelt musty as I tried to open the window to get some fresh air in and lighten the austere dark décor. Pulling back the bed covers [I’d got into a habit of always checking out the mattress on arrival to gauge what kind of sleep I was likely to have. You’d be amazed at the difference in hotel mattresses, luckily I’d never encountered anything scurrying to escape my scrutiny –yet.] My heart sank as the white cotton sheets felt damp to the touch. My mobile buzzed with an incoming message. I searched through my pocket to retrieved it, swiped the screen and read. ‘Suz, when do you land in England?’ Ed. Ah…so he hadn’t forgotten me.
Can't let you forget about my new website. www.eastiseasthome.co.uk Beautiful home accessories sourced from Indonesia. Have you seen the coat hooks yet?
Second day down. Have beautiful blue skies and excellent snow. Did a blinder today to share, when getting off the ski bus. It was extremely icy and as I stepped down, skis in one hand, poles in the other, before I knew it I was arse over tit with my head underneath the bus checking out the back tyre. Not my most stylish manoeuvre and caused a bit of blockage with all the other skiers trying to get passed until some young, brown-eyed [that’s all I could see of him he was so wrapped up from the cold] parking attendant came to my rescue and helped this cumbersome English woman upright again. He was suitably attentive especially when I rubbed my sore knee. All in a days skiing... nothing a vin chaud couldn't restore.
I'm off skiing for the week. For those that know me it is one of my passions. I'm not very good but just love the mountains, fresh air and camaraderie. I will be writing while I'm away. I wasn't going to but after winning the Circalit Romance novel competition, I have the opportunity of getting my work critiqued by an editor at Random House publishing. I want to submit Suzi but in the book form,' Love, Suzi x,' that I have been writing alongside this blog. It has more in it and a twist at the end that will send shivers up your spine. So needs must as I mustn't lose this window that has been opened for me and maybe, just maybe, the editor will like it and want to sign me up. I always live in hope... Have a good week - but don’t forget to come back!
For new visitors to my blog it's all about 24yr old, Suzi's mad existence as cabin crew. Best to go back to the beginning if you want to fill in the details - She's on her way to Japan... [ I've decided to make Suzi 24 - she doesn't mind getting older so quickly - instead thinks it'll suit her better.]
Diary of a Longhaul Stewardess
The man in seat 30b was sitting in between two women in a row of three. Both women were blonde, middle aged with doll like features and it was clear that they were twins. It turned out that one was his wife.
I had seen the three of them chatting together but it was during the drinks round when I asked the woman in the window seat what she wanted that the man in the middle butted in before she had a chance to answer.
‘A gin and tonic here,’ he indicated to her table. ‘I’ll have a Scotch and another gin and tonic here.’ He pointed to the woman sitting in the aisle seat.
‘Would you like ice and lemon with that?’ I asked the blonde in the window seat.
‘No. Neither,’ came the reply from the man in the middle.
I ignored his rudeness and prepared the drinks. I tried to hand over the peanuts, coaster and napkin to the window seat woman but the man took them and placed them on his table.
‘What’s with the three in row 30?’I asked Cathy who was working the other end of the trolley with me as we finished the drinks round and pushed the cart back to the galley.
‘Why?’ she inquired and I filled her in on what had happened. ‘Perhaps they’re mute?’ she suggested. 'Or can’t speak English?’
I laughed. ‘I heard them chatting, in English, as I served the row in front. He called one darling and the other by her name. It began with an M but I didn’t hear it properly. They are neither of those things and he is just a downright rude bugger.’
‘It must be you then,’ she laughed. ‘He doesn’t like you.’
‘Or he’s their personal speaker. Like having a personal food taster, or back scratcher.’
‘Or arse wiper?’ Cathy suggested.
‘Too much detail, it doesn’t bear thinking about what the three of them get up to.’
‘Bit kinky though, don’t you think. Having a wife and sister-in law that look the same. 'Do you think they have threesomes?’
I smiled. ‘Go and have a closer look at him, Cathy. He’s lucky he got a onesome. Tell me whether you’d want a threesome with him?’
‘Ahh… but it’s not about me is it? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe he’s got a large hidden talent we don’t know about?’
I playfully hit her arm as she disappeared around the corner of the galley with a plastic bin liner ready to clear the cabin of empties.
Arriving in Japan was like landing on another planet. The airport at Kansai was magnificent. Like a flag attached to the mainland by a long thin pole it stretched out over the water. After getting over the fact that we hadn’t landed in Osaka Bay, the airport building itself was a revelation. It was a vast metal and glass structure, curved in an arch on one side. Incredible architecturally, it reminded me of the ceiling of a cathedral -unlike anything I’d seen before that didn’t have Michelangelo stamped all over it.
I followed the rest of the crew like a sheep as we made our way through the airport and to the transport that links between the mainland and the airport. Not for the first time I was relieved to have the comfort of being in a group when arriving in a foreign land. I like to think I’m a great explorer but really I’m a cowardly-custard who relishes in the fact that there are at least fourteen other people going to the same place as me and odds on one of them will have been there before and know what to do.
Our intrepid skiing group of five decided that the next morning we would take a train to visit the gardens at Kyoto. Arriving at the station I was completely out of my depth and felt like holding our designated leader, Dave’s, hand. He took charge of his women and led us through the station to the right platform. I followed the pack with my mouth open. There was nothing that I could read on any of the signs! Usually when abroad there is something I can understand when looking around for directions on where to go, but although I tried to find it, nothing looked vaguely familiar.
It was obviously commuter time as waves of people rushed in every direction in the large warren of tunnels leading to the platforms. Commuter hustle and bustle was something I knew but what was most bizarre was that every now and again amongst all the young people in western clothes, an older woman in traditional dress would shuffle along like a rare eastern jewel. I tried to imagine what that would look like in the middle of Kings Cross station. Would I have been so surprised? Then I realised it was the way that they walked that made them look so special. Everyone was intent on getting to their destination as quickly as possible but dressed in their long kimonos, the women were restricted in the size of their stride making them slow down, glide and seem calm amongst the chaotic commuters.
When the train arrived we squashed in and, ignoring the fact that we were the only Westerners in the carriage, made our way to Kyoto. The gardens there exceeded my expectations. The Japanese have such a precise way with shape and pattern with their landscaping and planting. Wandering around the gardens had a calming, serene effect. Every rock and stone had its place in the bigger picture and was swept and raked into intricate designs. Ed was right, there was no way you could miss out a visit to the gardens when visiting Kyoto.
I was standing on an arched wooden bridge overlooking a small pool. The water rippled across the surface as it splashed over some boulders on its way. I wondered what he was up to. When he’d rung I’d forgotten to ask him where in the world he was. It was a shame he hadn’t called back. I knew he didn’t mean anything by it. If he was on the other side of the world, even today with modern technology there was often line cuts and interference. I thought I’d wait until we got to Hong Kong before I tried reaching him again. Although I was keen, I didn’t want to seem as though I was gagging for it. It was a fine balance I had to find. Ed was obviously still involved with Candy and I didn’t want him to think I was just waiting on the sideline for him to click his fingers and I would jump. I would have done, of course. He was beginning to get to me, but that wouldn’t be cool. Anyway he probably had loads of women just waiting for him to click. I wanted him to sit up; salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs and beg me to be his girlfriend, not just add me to his collection.
I realised I had been left behind and ran to catch up with the others who had wandered ahead. We had been in the gardens all morning so decided to go into town to get something to eat.
Now that was a bizarre experience. Needless to say I didn’t have a clue what was on the menu but lined up in the windows of the restaurants were plates displaying plastic food so that you could see what you were getting. I didn’t recognise all of the meat or vegetables but some of the others did and we managed to choose enough variety between us to swap around our dishes and have a good meal.
Going into to the local market the next morning before we left, I came across a stall selling bonsai trees. There was a pink, cherry blossom sitting on the top plank of the make shift stall. I’ve always fancied one of these, ever since I first saw them in a magazine when I was a child. They are so exquisite and I reckoned this one must be at least fifty years old. I wasn’t going to be persuaded by the rules and regulations regarding importing plants into various countries. I didn’t have a clue if I would be allowed to take it into Hong Kong or indeed back into Britain. It looked so pretty I just had to have it.
I motioned to the old woman, ignoring her toothless grin at the sight of my cash, and between us we managed to settle on a price which was a snip for me but obviously very pleasing to her. Clutching my purchase I made my way back to the hotel to pack my things for departure. If ever I had to be inventive with plastic bags, soil and packaging now was the time. All those years of watching Blue Peter would have to come into play. I had to get my Bonsai into my luggage without:a) killing it -not ideal when it’s managed to survive fifty years under its own steam only to be cut down in the prime of its life by an amateur;b) not cover all my clothes in soil and c) not be detected and thrown out of a country or arrested at customs for smuggling.
Can't let you forget about my new website. www.eastiseasthome.co.uk Beautiful home accessories sourced from Indonesia. Have you seen the duck candle lantern yet?
What a great day!!
There's an article in the Sussex Express about me and 'Choices' - then I got home from the chore called Tescos to find that Suzi and her Diary had won the Circalit romance novel comp. Days like today make all the years of slog worthwhile. Better than any drugs – not that I’d know for real of course!