Thursday, 29 January 2009

Nostalgia, Bar Feet and Aussie Legends


So it's that time again - Australia Day. Last year I was in Sydney, flying out to Dubai that night and not allowed to drink anything. Being down by the Opera House with the other hundreds of thousands of people was really something, but this year I was delighted to be here in Dubai.

I'd flown out of Melbourne the night before, arrived at 5am and promptly had a great sleep. Once I woke up it was time for some grocery shopping and then planning our evening. There really wasn't much planning needed. Anyone in Dubai for Australia Day heads straight to Aussie Legends, an Aussie bar about 10 minutes from my place.

I leave everything to the last minute and I mean EVERYTHING! Let me illustrate - on the morning of our family holiday to Bali, I was still madly writing an essay and had to pretty much be separated from the computer so we didn't miss the flight. I practically threw the essay into a pre-dated envelope and hurled it into the mailbox as we flew past the post office. That's how last minute I am. So, it came to late afternoon on Australia Day and I was faffing around, crazily blow drying my hair and cramming illegally procured lamingtons in my mouth. I ran out of time to get the straightener onto it and had to go with slightly wild, fluffy hair. I was slightly amused when one of the Aussie boys greeted me and started stroking my unruly mane like I was a cat!

Cue hours of drinking and dancing, vegemite moustaches and Aussie flags, we had a wonderful afternoon that stretched well into the evening. I ended up in what we were calling ''Face Card Corner'', spotted a senior member of staff looking slightly conspicuous in amongst all the hammered crew, was set upon by a strange girl who clearly fancied herself to be a vampire and was told in hushed whispers that a girl I went to high school with was engaged (that much I already knew thanks to facebook) and that she was getting married in April but it was TOP SECRET!!!

Given the levels of alcohol being consumed on a day that celebrates the shiny amazingness of being Australian, I was most excited to see that the bar was serving Bundaberg Rum this year. It hasn't been available in previous years and that mere fact almost had me wailing into my Bacardi substitute. How dare a pub call itself Australian and then not serve Aussie rum!! Well, we got there at about 5pm and by then the bottle was looking rather miserable. I got the last three shots and then it was all over. I switched to a yummy honey flavoured beer and then it all got a bit messy.

I've been feeling very nostalgic for the last few weeks and haven't been able to put my finger on the reason why. After bumping into a significant ex at the pub, having a hug and being hit by an intense emotional wave, I backed away and stayed away for the rest of the night. Despite having been broken up for 2 years, something really upset me. The next day I figured it out! When I do Aussie trips I stock up on everything from fresh fruit, vegies and ham to bobby pins, hair spray and deoderant. Brands I like that aren't available here. It was the deoderant that did it! I mistakenly bought a different scented one when I was in Melbourne a few days before and realised it was the same one I was wearing over three years ago when I moved to Dubai and was still involved with the ex. Talking to Jena, we concluded that I could already smell it and when when hugged him the two things locked together in my mind and that's why I felt all nostalgic and weird.

Strange how smells are so powerful huh? While we may not remember specific things about situations, like what we said or what day of the week it was, there are just some smells that take us right back to where we were and transport us back to the person we were all that time ago....

There were boys with vegemite moustaches trying to kiss the girls, boys dressed in blue bonds wife beaters and of course, every person in the pub had on a pair of thongs. We are a glorious nation!

The Smell of the 406....

I'm currently perched on my flatmate Jena's bed, testing my lactose intollerance with a cold chocolate breaka and a lamington. I don't have many allergies but every now and then I test the few I do to see how far they've progressed and to see if I still can't eat the foods that irritate me.

Since having moved to Dubai I've become lactose intollerant. However, my intollerance doesn't extend to all dairy and lactose products. In fact, it really just involves milk. Which makes me wonder if I AM lactose intollerant at all. Maybe it's just the crappy way the milk is pasteurised here.

Approximately once a year I test my allergy to cashew and pistachio nuts by eating some of them on board. We have bags of mixed nuts in business and first class and while they're two of my favourite nuts I figure that's one of the safest places to test the allergy - we carry epipens. For those of you lucky enough not to ever have had to see or use one, epipens are an injection of adrenaline that is administered to people who have gone into anaphylactic shock. Lucky I've never needed one - I hear getting one jabbed into your leg makes my leg sessions at the gym feel lame.

I discovered my nut allergy one day while driving to work with my boyfriend. If I can cast my mind back to the dim dark recesses of my mind, I'd say I was 20. A total chocoholic, I was eating a block of fruit and nut chocolate and I started to get an odd itching feeling in my throat. It was a weird feeling that spread to the insides of my ears and made me feel like I'd just been on a painful family driving holiday and I'd had my head stuck against the window in an effort to get as far away from my feral little brother as possible. That horrible kind of itch that you can feel for ages after it actually goes away. Kind of like the smell of vomit, it just stays with you. Anyway, I naively thought there was a problem with the chocoalte, as I'd grown up eating those nuts and not a week would go buy when Dad wouldn't buy a big bag of them when he did the groceries.

Over the next few years I worked out which nuts it was by a trial of elimination and have tried to cut them out of my life. My dear Mum is chronically forgetful and vague (wonder where I get it from?!) and is always buying and cooking meals with cashews and pistachios in them. Thankfully my allergy isn't really that major - I can eat food that's touched the nuts or had nuts cooked in it, but just can't eat the nut itself. Some people are so allergic that if they so much as SMELL nuts they go into anaphylactic shock. I once read a story about a child who died because another child in the playground at kindy licked his face and that child had eaten peanut butter hours earlier for breakfast. How devastating for the parents - thinking they could protect their little one by controlling what he ate when all it took was some little germ-infested rascal to lick his face like a dog.

Again, I digress. Anyway, I periodically test the allergy on board and while it has gotten worse over the last 6 years, I don't think I'm at terrible risk. I also just like eating the nuts and can't seem to avoid things that are bad for me. Like handsome men, they're just irresistable....and they're my downfall.

Now, Jena is a fabulous writer who spends all her time online reading other people's blogs. Like mine. I think she should write her own because I've spent many an hour howling with laughter while reading the hilarious emails she used to send home - before all of our time was taken up with facebook. She refuses to start a blog, so this is how I found myself nestled on her bed, sucking down chocolate milk and lamingtons I'd carried lovingly all the way from Australia. With her reading whatever it is she reads, and me tapping away on here, we were lazily chatting when it hit me. The milk allergy. It was alive and kicking. Mostly kicking me in the guts.

I'm not often foolish enough to drink the milk here in Dubai and after drinking some last week just after my flight took off for Melbourne, I never will again. You see, dear readers, the flight from Dubai to Melbourne is a rather long-winded 14 hours and I was stupid enough to think that a glass of ice cold milk was the perfect accompaniment to the chocolate cream biscuits I triumphantly found in the galley. It's not often we have those biscuits on board, so this was cause for celebration. That and the fact that I was headed to the most glorious country on earth to bask in beautiful summer weather and execute a shopping frenzy.

So, I knocked back only half a glass of milk and within 20 minutes realised my mistake. Luckily I don't have a super severe lactose intollerance either, but let me tell you, I certainly was aware that my stomach lining didn't appreciate an early morning wake up call. I spent the next 13.5 hours with a bloated grumbly belly that I had to drown out in the crew rest area with ear plugs. I'm not joking!! I was actually scared that when we landed and got on the bus, someone who was on the same break as me was going to angrily announce they couldn't sleep and demand to know who's stomach was talking for 4 hours! Grumbling and bloating is really as bad as I get and it certainly makes me very glad I don't have a full blown allergy - there are certainly worse symptoms than mine.

Surprised at how humid it was at 8am when we staggered out of the airport, we all crashed for a few hours at the hotel and then dragged our sorry selves out for an afternoon shopping blitz. We turned left at the crew hotel and within 10 minutes found ourselves right in the middle of Bridge Road - Melbourne's very popular discount and outlet area where designers sell one-off pieces and other shops sell out their left over stock at bargain prices. We inhaled some lunch at the first pub we saw and while it lacked air conditioning, it did allow us to hear all the juicy goss from the next table about Melbourne's latest up and coming Casanova. He happened to be sitting at the table and let me tell you, the fag-hag he was with TOTALLY put him on a pedestal. Over rated in a major way.

My stomach had calmed somewhat and after having found some gorgeous dresses and handing over my recently converted spare allowance money from an assortment of other countries for the past few months, we decided to get a drink from Boost Juice. It's been so long since I had one that I stupidly forgot that my favourite contained dairy. And boy was I sorry I forgot. Long story short, I suffered in silence and finally as we neared the hotel an eternity later and many kgs of shopping bags heavier, I felt better.

Showered and wearing a new dress, I wandered off into the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens across the street from the hotel with a book and basked in the early evening sun and soft breeze. I decided to call it a night once the sun dropped out of sight and the breeze became a gale and started to mess up my freshly blow dried hair.

Off to Auckland the next day we went, snoozed decadently in the afternoon and then sauntered out for margaritas, mojitos and mexican delights for dinner at the Mexican Cafe. We then hit a Russian vodka bar and recalling my New Years adventures I suddenly felt rather nauseous. The following day was spent lounging around my hotel room in my pjs watching Brothers and Sisters, an American series I've recently fallen head over heels in love with. I chewed through about 5 episodes and then it was time. Back to Melbourne and out for drinks and some funky live music. A friend of mine who lives in Melbourne has his finger firmly on the pulse of the music and bars/pubs/clubs scene and gave us the tip off for where we could find some funky funk tunes. Off we went to a groovy place called The Nightcat and had a great night until the incredibly arrogant first officer started being a sleazy prick and offending my mate and all his mates and pretty much anyone he spoke to. We called it a night, got stuck with him and finally shook him at a late night food stop. He then had the nerve to contact me on facebook and ask me if I'd consider breaking my "I don't date pilots rule". I wasn't actually aware I had this rule, but must've said that to him at some stage to discourage him. He's currently getting divorced and is a total catch. I mean, how hot that he'd sleaze onto EVERY ONE of the women sitting at the table, including the girlfriend of one of the guys also at the table....loser.

The next day for me was spent shopping up a grocery storm in the city. I must've done well because I had so much stuff I had to catch a taxi back to the hotel. Then came the conundrum of WHERE to put all of my loot. I'd been given permission to carry an extra bag but that just wasn't going to cut it. I'd bought about 3 litres of soy milk, the chocolate breaka poppers and so much stuff that I had to do some serious rearranging. All too soon it was wakeup time and back to Dubai we went.

I snagged a gorgeous pair of chocolate brown Ugg Boots from Purely Merino at the airport on my way out and they're currently snug on my feet. Lined with sheeps wool, they're the most comfy, warm and super Australian thing I can think of. They're also currently being worn by It Girls in public, out shopping, at concerts and pretty much anywhere else they want to flaunt their i-can-do-sleepwear-in-the-daytime-if-I-want outfits.

My own bed, my well worn pillow and the prospect of FIVE days off made Pink Poodle a very happy girl that morning.

Not to mention the thought of the lamingtons and chocolate milk I'd dragged all the way back with me!!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Virgin: the world's best passenger complaint letter?

I was recently got my hands on a copy of a complaint letter sent to Sir Richard Branson, which is currently being emailed globally and is considered by many to be the world's funniest passenger complaint letter. I sat howling with laughter as I read it, tears almost streaming down my face and in dire danger of slipping into hysteria....perhaps it won't be so humourous to those NOT in the airline industry:

Dear Mr Branson

REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008

I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit.

Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at thehands of your corporation.

Look at this Richard. Just look at it:

I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?

You don’t get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it’s next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That’s got to be the clue hasn’t it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in:

I know it looks like a baaji but it’s in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you’ll be fascinated to hear that it wasn't custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It’s only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.

Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what’s on offer.

I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.

Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this:

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It’s mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.

Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard.

By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation:

It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.

I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point.

Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on:

I apologise for the quality of the photo, it’s just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson’s face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel:

Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I’d had enough. I was the hungriest I’d been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen.

My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations:

Yes! It’s another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff.

Richard…. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I’d done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard.

So that was that Richard. I didn’t eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary.

As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It’s just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to it’s knees and begging for sustenance.

Yours Sincererly


Paul Charles, Virgin’s Director of Corporate Communications, confirmed that Sir Richard Branson had telephoned the author of the letter and had thanked him for his “constructive if tongue-in-cheek” email. Mr Charles said that Virgin was sorry the passenger had not liked the in-flight meals which he said was “award-winning food which is very popular on our Indian routes.”

Yeah, it probably IS award-winning food compared to some of the stuff cooked up in the slums of India, but full fare paying passengers who aren't residents of the sub-continent just wouldn't agree.

Monday, 26 January 2009

oh no, you're single? I'm SO sorry.....

In the ever amusing desert in which I live, there are always a few new interesting and hilarious behavioural quirks that crop up from time to time. From the passengers who wish you a "hello! how are you?" on their way OUT the door, to the man at the car wash who refuses to let you just have your car washed on the outside and not vacuumed, we certainly do get some good giggles.

However, I'm noticing a new trend. Not a cutesy love-for-sparkly-things-that-go-squeak trend, but an annoying and offensive one - the public intimation and complete preoccupation with the notion that in order to have direction, to be a happy, fulfilled, worthy person or to qualify as a normal member of society, one must be in a relationship. Not necessarily a happy, loving, functional relationship, but anything that involves attachment.

I'm a hopeless romantic who loves a good love story, so when I heard rave reviews about the levels of love displayed in the movie Twilight, I decided I had to go. Being a vampire movie, not many of my mates wanted to go. Another friend who'd already seen it 4 times wasn't home and as I was on a short leave of absense from the gym due to an inability to stand upright after two rather intense abs sessions in a row, I decided to go by myself.

In my 26 years of life, I've never gone to a movie by myself and have generally regarded it as a passtime that people do in groups of 2 or more people. Why I have this view I don't know, as it's not like you can actually talk during the film, but it's considered a social outing and that's always what I've thought of it. I approached the ticket counter and asked for a ticket. The attendant asked if I just wanted one. I replied that I did indeed just want one, which prompted him to say "Is your boyfriend meeting you here?". I must have looked confused and when I replied that my boyfriend wasn't meeting me he said "Oh that's too bad. This is the type of movie you go to as a couple". Feeling totally outed as a singleton and stunned by the stellar levels of customer service in Dubai, I bought my popcorn and frozen coke and entered the cinema.

Flashback to my entry about when I saw The Dark Knight - cinema contained large groups of Arabic speaking youths who thought it was appropriate to talk at sound barrier breaking decibel levels and test out their new ring tones. I also detected a rather condescending tone in their voices when I came in by myself. Call me paranoid, but I think they were lamely commenting on my single status.

The movie was FANTASTIC. I'm really not into vampire movies, although I did love vampire books when I was a teen. While some of it was totally far-fetched I was hooked from the moment the lead characters saw each other. The chemistry they had was amazing but what really got me was how much love there was in the film. Clearly from different sides of the track, a vampire and a high school girl make an unlikely couple in this action packed love story. I could totally sense the heartache and the whole forbidden relationship vibe they had going on and can't wait for the next two installments. Could this be the edgier counterpart of High School Musical, without all the cheesy dancing and impossibly perky and day-glo perma smiles? Let's hope so because I've also fallen in love with the moody Edward Cullen.

Following on from the snub at the cinema I was not amused recently when a crew member on a flight announced she was resigning and this was her last flight. The purser (bright spark that he was) said "oh, are you resigning because you're getting married?" He then looked really confused when the girl set him straight and said she was going home because she was going back to uni and had had enough of the flight attendant life. I was dumbfounded for a minute for a few reasons:

1. The girl who was resigning was from a civilised country (read Australia)and clearly getting married and becoming a baby machine wasn't her ticket home.

2. This guy was the PURSER and he clearly equates leaving this unskilled, unimportant and largely monkeys-could-do-it-with-their-eyes-closed job as something he'd never considered. This type of person is in CHARGE of an 18 member team of multi-lingual and multi-national crew???

I thought perhaps this was a one off with a weirdo but no, I've asked around and it's actually a prevalent response to the announcement of resignation. My good friend Mark who's leaving in 3 days got a similar reaction and had to then explain that no, he wasn't getting married and probably never would because he's gay.

So tell me desert dwellers, have you had a similar experience that's left your mind boggling and you wanting to scrub off the telltale stamp-on-forehead signs of your disease ridden single life?

Personally I'm having a great time being single and I feel sorry for people who are in relationships simply because they're too scared to step foot out the front door on their own.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

A few of my least favourite things

Ok, so it's that time again. I've bit my lip, held my tongue and generally walked away from things and people that annoy me since my last outburst.

Excited beyond belief that there are episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on telly here in Dubai, let me exercise some Buffy-style bluntness.

I think English magazines are crap. They go on and on about hideous fashion, encourage girls to get fake nails and tans and boobs and hair and pretty much anything else that's replaceable and in general are just obnoxious. Clearly the writers and editors have never got their hands on a copy of The Australian Woman's Weekly. Now there's a good read. It even has cool, easily cookable recipes inside.

After a particularly painful circuit session at the gym that has compounded the pain in my abs from two days ago, I decided a hot oil bath and a read of a trashy magazine I found in the stack on our lounge room table was in order. I decided on Glamour, which states on the top in big bold letters that it's "Britain's No 1 Women's Magazine". This rubbish mag contains so many eye-popping double standards that my educated brain is strugging to comprehend them all! It starts by belching out the fact that we women should embrace our bodies, love who we are and damn any man who makes us feel otherwise. Ok, check, I agree with all of these comments, but stopped short when I read a rather ridiculous sex survey entitled ''Would you rather....?" It consists of questions, the answers given in percentages and then a clever, witty comment (read condescending and crass) from the editing department.

A perfect example: Would you rather ... sleep with a chubby man or a skinny man? While 42% of readers who responded would rather a chubby man, 58% opted for the skinny bloke. Whatever floats your boat really, but the ensuing comment has really got under my skin: ''You'll take a man with svelter thighs than a human trampoline any day".

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! First the magazine is rabbiting on about how important self esteem is and how we should strive to be happy in our own skin ... blah blah blah ... but it sees no problem in implying that men who aren't stick thin are unattractive? Personally, I prefer my men real - the ability to make me laugh, smile and feel like they value what I've got to say does far more for me than what colour his tan is, or if he's got freckles or ... gasp ... love handles. I'm a real woman and have no issues in declaring that yes, I have cellulite and stretch marks from a lack of zinc in my diet as a pre-teen. I go to the gym at least 3 times a week, take pride in my appearance and think that any man who doesn't like what he sees can bugger off. I also think that there are so many wonderful people out there who are being overlooked as a result of the warped double standards that many young girls are forming after reading their country's similarly named ''No 1 Women's Magazine". For God's sake ladies, your brain cells are being shrunk by all the time you're spending in the sunbeds and the fumes you're inhaling in the nail salons. How about taking some of your own advice and becoming a woman who lives and not a woman who lunches??

Society is consumed by a need to be the same as everyone else. We all wear the same clothes, do the same things and apparently have the same catch cries. A few years ago Lindsay Lohan and her Mean Girls were constantly saying "shut up!!!!", which inevitably filtered through into the everyday speach of movie-goers. If I read one more magazine that says something is "bang on trend'' I think I'll just scream. Call me intollerant if you will but honestly, is it impossible to think that ALL of the female fashion magazines out there might be able to find another phrase to describe something that's currently in fashion? Brisvegas (Australian slang for Brisbane) and random also top my list of most hated sayings.

Also, if I see another person wearing one of those hideously ugly checkered scarves that look just like what Arabic men wear on their heads or my Nanna puts on her kitchen table I might just vomit. Big vomit.

Friday, 2 January 2009

A Ruski New Year

So I just had the most awesome new years ever! I was rostered a flight to Moscow and really tried to ditch it, as I didn't want to go out in the freezing sub-arctic sleet-winds but sadly no-one would give me their good flights. I've just been struck down with another sinus infection 2 weeks ago and have just recovered. Doctor's orders: if you're going to go out in Moscow, rug up super warm because it's not a good idea in your condition. So what did I do? I packed my dvd player, 2 really good books and all the stuff to do a facial and resigned myself to a dull new years. I purposely didn't pack my warm jacket, boots, scarf, gloves and all that jazz because I knew that I'd be naughty and go out when I shouldn't. Sooooo I got into briefing in the morning and the crew were cool. They were chattering about going into the Red Square and I couldn't believe how much of an IDIOT I was for not packing my stuff. New Years in the Red Square??? How often does THAT happen?

My resolve to not go out lasted until I saw the snow. Where there's a will there's a way. While I might not have packed my nice jacket, Emirates has been kind enough to give me a lovely cashmere overcoat for such trips and I decided that jacket and I were going to have the adventure to end all adventures. I discovered on opening my suitcase that I didn't have shoes either. Thongs and sneakers were my options and there was no way my feet would leave the hotel in thongs. So I decided to team my beige coat with my mega ugly brown cabin shoes and make the journey. I didn't even care if the crew laughed at me, I was going out.

There was a massive party in the captain's room and I managed to procure a pair of gloves, a scarf, an extra pair of socks AND the captain's navy blue work coat (far more attractive than my ugly beige one) and we were off! There are pictures floating around somewhere of me comparing my exposed belly with that of an Aussie boy on the crew - if anyone knows who has them, I'd love a copy. After 1 beer, I switched to some lethal paint-stripper Russian vodka that severely messed me up. I have no recollection of getting to the station across the road from the hotel but do remember the journey. All of a sudden we were there and I've never seen so many people! We wanted to see the fireworks but were on the wrong side of the buildings and only saw a few stray ones. Anyway, there are photos on my camera that I don't remember taking, I have a strange bump on my forehead, a few bruises on my legs, terribly strained stomach muscles that ache when I laugh or cough, wind burn on my cheeks and lips, remember lying in the snow laughing like a maniac at 2am, passing out on the captain's bed at the after party and being practically carried back to my room by a much smaller first class girl.

When I woke up and got vertical I realised I'd lost my passport.

I'd managed to return with all my money, my drivers licence, my camera, tissues and room key, but the passport wasn't there. Damn Moscow and their weird rules about carrying passports in public. I had a vague recollection of emptying the pockets of the captain's jacket when I was leaving and called him sheepishly to ask if he had it. Luckily I'd dropped it in his room or left it in his pocket and all was good. I really didn't fancy getting stuck there.

Our first officer got jumped by three assholes in the hotel just after we all went back to our rooms. Most people walked each other back to their rooms to make sure we got there because we were all so smashed but Fred said he'd be fine and when he got out of the lift, three beefcakes approached him, slogged him a good one on the face and then kicked his arse. Literally. He has a boot imprint on his butt, a swollen bruised eye and a ripper bit of blood floating under the top layer of his eyeball. We called him Rocky for the rest of the flight home and I set him up with ice packs for his head. That made my windburn look fairly minimal. Beware when in Russia - no-one wanted to help him when he reported it to hotel security and it was clearly people staying in the hotel on his floor.

4.5 hours on the way home felt like I was flying to LA again. It just didn't seem like it was going to end. There were passengers demanding I put their bags in the overheads, others practically throwing their heavy fur coats at me and we had a train wreck of a passenger in first class who kept us amused for a while. She stank of hideous body odour and was just off her face. Kind of looked like Helena Bonham Carter when she's revived in Frankenstein but without the scars. Not pretty at all. Her hair was just as bad though! We called her crackhead and she had this crazy bird nest style hair that she kept fluffing and pulling at, putting her jacket on and taking it off again and scratching her arms. She was just as high as a kite. Pinging all around the cabin, driving us nuts and alternating between muttering like a mad woman and crying into a wad of tissues. Who knows what her parents thought of her! Glad I was working in the galley, my hangover stomach wouldn't have dealt well with how badly she smelt.

My new years resolutions have been made and at midnight-thirty after seeing in the new year I broke the first one. 12 hours later I broke the second one, so we're off to a racing start!

Happy New Years everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful time and have as many awesome booze fueled memories as I do. If you don't, check your cameras and I'm sure you'll find some dodgy and embarrassing photographic evidence of just how messy you all got!!!