“Love is in the Air – Fading memories of an age old airline steward” – Synopsis.

In the first chapter, ‘It started in the Boss’s Office’, we see how, in business, Tony Forster proved to be a good salesman, showed signs of wanderlust and applied for a job in the airline industry as a ‘waiter in the air’.

The second chapter discusses the lovely girls and girlish boys who joined Tony on the BEA ‘training course’ in 1969. It covers the training that the new recruits experienced, including the mock-up aircraft cabin being filled with ‘smoke’ when the evacuation slides were deployed and the five weeks that take place before the Hardy Amies’ designed uniform is handed over to those surviving the course.

In the third chapter, ‘The First Working Flight’, we learn about the briefing that crews undergo prior to each flight. We hear about the service on board and the interaction between the cabin crew members, their duties on board and their attitude towards the passengers and vice versa. There’s even a night stop near Glasgow airport where much joke telling and drinking consumes crew members from two different flights.

The fourth chapter covers the general excitement of flying around Europe on various aircraft types to many diverse destinations, at some of which an overnight stay is enjoyed. It discusses the food and wine served on board (some to the passengers), the difficulty of dealing with different unexpected service interruptions and even a BEA cricket match on the Greek island of Corfu, which BEA must lose if they want to be wined and dined. A brief love affair here and there seems to cross Tony’s path and he even marries prematurely.

Tony decides that all the stewards and stewardesses are so outgoing when swishing and mincing up and down the aircraft aisles that he must surely put them on stage where they’ll be better able to vent the talents amongst their extrovert personalities. A basic show is written, produced and directed and the publicity in the Press and on TV rises far above the expectations of all concerned. The show is repeated as a result of popular outcry from those unable to get tickets for the inaugural. An amateur dramatic society is born and named the B(E)A Cabin Crew Entertainment Society (www.bacces.com).

There’s always an unexpected event on every flight. Rarely does it result in a death but, needless to say, people do die on flights, usually not by their own hand. In this sixth chapter, the events of a dramatic, self induced death unravel as the propeller driven flight slowly distances itself from Gibraltar.

The ‘show’ now goes to Gibraltar with many difficulties on the way. Bill, the alcoholic and star pianist, gets drunk just prior to the first night curtain. 50+ men from Canada in a group akin to the Freemasons are staying on the Rock, where there isn’t a whole lot to do (especially as the border with Spain is closed); they buy tickets to the show and love it. Tony then recounts meeting the West End’s great impresario, Robert Nesbitt.

In chapter 8, Tony writes a musical comedy, ‘A Surprise Package’, with a little help from some of his British Airways Cabin Crew Entertainment Society friends. It’s about the Watt family going on a package holiday from London to Mallorca. There are lovely, colourful costumes and new dance routines for the Skybirds, the stewardesses’ dancing troupe. There’s a tough night in Istanbul, an attempt by a male Tourism Minister to pick up Tony at the Hilton in London and a burning car crash that nearly costs a life.

Chapter 9 reveals the rudest of all passengers who writes a snotty complaint letter with a pack of lies on his experiences aboard a Vanguard to the airline’s Chairman (unfortunately for him, he was rude to too many people who contradicted his story). An emergency landing and the best of sex also take place, in Rome.

Boating on the Thames, lots more sex, another emergency landing (on one BAC 111 engine), another good night at the Brauhaus in Bremen and the annual cricket match in Wales wrap up the tenth chapter.

So where are we headed, what is life about, will our children do alright and survive severely premature birth? And what’s it like to have known the great Freddie Laker, founder of cheap scheduled airfares, as well as other super, generous people, many of whom think of others before they worry about themselves?

The theme throughout the book relates to Tony’s days leading up to, working as and just following his life as a waiter in the air and his co-founding the British Airways Cabin Crew Entertainment Society in 1971. There is an abundance of anecdotal humour throughout; “Look at the lunch box on 13A”, coming from the mouth of one seemingly non-heterosexual steward about some bulging trousers, being a classic example.

© Copyright 2010/11/12

"great stuff", says TV writer

“Just to say huge thanks for sending over a copy of your book.

It's great. The cover's terrific and I've been dipping in and out of it ever since. The stories are funny, personal, bite-size but not without depth. That's one hell of an experience you've had and it deserves to be documented. You should be very proud.”
Rob Young

Tracey, Hessle hairdresser, said, "I really loved the book. I honestly couldn't put it down. I thought about locking the shop and just sitting down to read it but I stopped and ended up finishing it in two bursts. I found it really funny and I loved the way you fought your way into making sales. I bet you did the same on the many flights."