Well, from extrapolation of what meagre facts I've gained, it seems like The Scallion suffered some kind of paranoid meltdown. Hence being flung on the first chopper home. Up until 5.40am of the morning of his unscheduled departure, I (and the rest of us) had no idea. But lots of little events seem to converge in The Scallion's mind, all leading to conspiracy conclusions. Against who? Me? Talisker? Baracus? The rest of the rig? I'm not too sure about this yet - perhaps it was the world in general.
Where was his missing tally book? That seems to have been one detail. As it happens, we discovered that at the back of a drawer the other day. Where had his well-test notes disappeared to for two days? Why was there some mysterious files on his memory stick? Industrial sabotage, surely. Added to that were the people "laughing". One time, so the story was retold to me, The Scallion, not the tallest of chaps, left the galley and noticed some people laughing. Immediately, his ears pricked up. It turned out his tracksuit bottoms, bought new, still had the "small" sticker all the way down the leg. And then, on the drill floor, he got "cupped".
"Cupping" is the rather amusing practice (when it happens to someone else) of having a grease-dipped cup stuck onto your hardhat. Because it's so lightweight, it's not noticeable, except to all the sniggering roughnecks on the drillfloor. And so I was down on the pipe deck when someone nudged me and said "Is he one of yours?" The Scallion was heading down the rig floor stairway towards me, oblivious to the cups either side of his hardhat, looking rather like horns. Above the V-door on the drill floor, the roughnecks and others had gathered, gesturing to me to "Shh..." So with a straight face, I worked for five minutes with The Scallion on some equipment, before quietly taking him back to our unit where the prank was detected. He didn't look too happy about it.
So all this, and (I quote someone more in the know than me) "a lot, lot more" seemed to send The poor Scallion into meltdown. And really, I can't imagine he can ever go offshore again. Seriously. This had been just about one of the most leisurely jobs I've been on. The team out here are great, both Talisker and Baracus are extremely friendly and helpful, and even I have my moments. The rig is comfortable, and the rig crew are just your usual bunch of guys, and there's none of the brash hostility seen on some rigs (especially the ones with deep south Americans). If he can't cope with this, how's he going to deal with the intensity of Equatorial Guinea, or being chucked out to Brazil for months, or the mania of Nigeria or... anywhere really, except maybe Trinidad.
I'm not sure if there'll be any follow up to this when I return to base, but I don't think management are looking to accuse anyone. The main consequence for me is that there's now no chance of me getting offshore tomorrow, because we've only three men here now, and apparently there's no-one available to replace me. Yes, yes, that's not exactly a big surprise. I doubt in my lifetime my company will have enough employees. Of course, as The Scallion will testify, it's a tough old job, especially when everyone's against you...
His is not the only meltdown though. The entire rig test seems to have dissolved into disaster. I woke this morning expecting everything to be ticking along nicely, but just at the crucial time, everything has all gone wrong. Not with our stuff, just the general test. Meaning, pull back out and start again. But, in my favour, meaning I may get replaced some time next week now, before I lose my mind too. Over 130 days away this year already!