Sunday, 22 January 2012

First Stop New Zealand

After leaving Bill Bates, I called into see Paul Nolan my school friend who was working for British Caledonian Airlines at Heathrow airport to see if he knew of a job for me.  Paul arranged an interview for me at BCAL and I started shift work the following week as an export clerk, based in their offices in the cargo village at Heathrow airport.
I started the job as a means to an end for me and I had no plans of being in the airline business for very long. My plan was to work for BCAL for one year so I could qualify for staff travel discounts to travel the world.
It was the summer of 1975 and after putting in my first year at BCAL I was entitled to staff travel at 90% discount. I arranged a flight for my younger sister Carol and myself with British Airways to New Zealand to visit my older sister Ann and to meet her newborn twins, Peter and Kerry.
We left Heathrow aboard a Boeing 747 Jumbo jet and headed for our first refuelling stop in Bombay (Mumbay). It was quite amusing seeing the local airport police staff and I particularly remember seeing this corporal with his rank stripes attached to his sleeves by safety pins, probably a reflection of the number of times he lost and regained them. We then flew on directly to Melbourne and then changed planes for the last leg to Auckland.
We spent a month in New Zealand and I really loved that country, flying around the whole country for a quick look on my own using my staff ID for discount tickets.
Upon my return from New Zealand, I had a letter waiting for me from Saul Manashe who Ginger had lived with in Lausanne. Saul had taken a job working in Bahrain for William Press International (now AMEC) and he said he was coming home to the UK to see his family and for us to meet up. I called his mothers and arranged to see him in Sevenoaks, Kent on my next day off. We met up and spent the day together. Saul told me there was an open invitation to come and stay with him in Bahrain so I agreed I would see what I could do to arrange a ticket and let him know.
I went back to work at BCAL and Malcolm one of my colleagues had left and joined Gulf Air, which was a new airline based in Emirate of Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf. Through Malcolm I met Jonnie Kerrins, the Cargo Manager who was Malcolm’s boss. One evening in the pub I asked Jonnie if there was any chance he could arrange a ticket for me down to Bahrain for a month? He agreed he would look into it and to leave it with him, but he asked why could I not get an Interline letter from my boss at BCAL? I told him I had just been on staff travel to New Zealand and that was not possible for another ticket request for a further year.
Over the next few weeks, I kept asking Malcolm if he heard anything from Jonnie and he kept on saying, “No.” However one day I was walking along Building 521, which was the Customs Building, and Jonnie, was walking towards me. As we met up he put a small envelope in my top pocket and told me to open that once I was back in the office and on my own. Out in the car park I opened the envelope and there was an open dated return ticket London/Bahrain/London on Gulf Air, totally free of charge! I called Jonnie and Malcolm and arranged to meet up later for a drink to say my thanks personally.

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