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… had it that bad’. “I agreed” Cleary continued “and when the new lot came it was just as bad. By this time the Sales Manager and the other chap were beginning to get interested and I was more than just beginning to get worried, so I went back to the galley and watched the steward at work. He filled the cup from one flask and then added a fair dollop of cream. I took over. He had been mixing his cream with turtle soup.”

In 1955, David Cleary left the BOAC and joined East African Airways in its Dakota days, flying the one haul down to the Union and Portuguese East. Those were the days of the charcoal burners in the cabin when some Asian gentlemen, unused to petrol driven transport would think to brew up when no one was looking. It was on this service that David Cleary had the job of feeding bottles of brandy to an Arab sheik’s son in coffee cups so that ‘Dad’, who sat further forward surrounded by his ladies, would not see his Muslim son imbibing the hard stuff.

It was also with EAA, this time on a Comet IV, that a certain well known East African lady summoned Cleary at two in the morning and ordered a half bottle of white wine in which to clean her teeth.

David Cleary has few good words to say for some of Kenya’s Nationalists who traipse around the world, making demands on the cabin staff in the belief that they are, in some manner of their own making, people above and beyond other travellers.  “But a nicer lot of passengers than a group of African leaders from the Union and the Federation, I have yet to meet” Cleary said. “The trouble with some of these other types is that they don’t know the difference between civility and servility. My cabin staff are paid to be civil, but never servile.”

“It’s a good life” Cleary said “and as good a way of making a living as any. But when it’s all over, it’s going to be more than many of us can manage, to get down to a nine to five job again. We work difficult and awkward hours, and our home lives are far from settled, but it has so many compensation and it does seem to be a job worth doing. We may travel the world, but we never lose our friends and our contacts. Next week I’m off to London, and I’ll be meeting David Bland, a Director of Faber and Faber … he was one of our crew shot down over Berlin. We’ll be having a drink with our bomb aimer too, he’s a stockbroker in Town now. Then of course our old CO is out here running an insurance company, Group Captain Dixie Dean and ‘Dickie’ Bird, who told you his story last week, he was in Luft 3 with the rest of my crew.

“When you spend your life flying, you find that you live in a very very small world.”

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