Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Slow Progress

I got back onto dry land on Sunday, just squeezing onto one of only three seats on the chopper that day. Since then, life has been a series of drinking, tennis and hanging around doing absolutely nothing, bored out of my damn skull.

The drinking has been fine. I'm with two colleagues, and one is an Indian Muslim, so can't be tempted to pour cognac down his throat, but the other colleague most assuredly can. We had a fairly heavy session on Sunday, my return, in which I retired at a sensible hour and just before I lost my mind, but my cognac colleague failed to do, and from all accounts turned into an ultra-buffoon. And last night, for the very entertaining Man Utd vs Milan Champions' League semi, a few beers were sank also.

The tennis has been fine. My poor Muslim colleague plays like a cripple, so is of no competition, but my cognac colleague and I are finely matched. I lost our first match 6-0 6-2 6-2, but yesterday's match finished at me down 6-2 4-5 but the game had to be abandoned due to some other pricks who wanted to play. This was a shame as the quality of our game had risen to levels that would surely have graced the professional tournaments.

The hanging around doing absolutely nothing, bored out of my damn skull has not been fine. The reason I am still here, a prisoner in Port Harcourt, is because we are awaiting our equipment to return from the rig so that it can be checked and packed away safely. Usually this is a very straightforward and speedy process, but in Nigeria it is protracted to agonising lengths. The three of us go to the base with all assurances that our kit has or soon will arrive, and we wait for the entire day with no result. One set of kit, from a different job, is two weeks late. I know the logistics of oilfield equipment is not entertaining reading, so I won't rant on about this, but rest assured that it is even less fun waiting for oilfield equipment than it is reading about it. Especially when you're in some dire base with no facilties, let alone joyous diversions. It's no fun being in Nigeria in this blinkered existence of hotel existentialism and inefficient base monotony, and I'd quite like to go home, given that I've finished the job, so all this hanging around due to others' inadequacies in logistical handlings is very frustrating.

Still, despite all this, I must remember that my daily bonus works out as more than I used to earn in a week as a dishwasher, for substantially less work. And much more soberly, is about 50% of the average Nigerian's annual wage. So all my whinging is but a childish cry to the far greater anguish of those enslaved in this most undemocratic of bullying autocracies.

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