Thursday, 31 July 2008


I was sipping a cold beer and listening to a splendid DJ mix by Frenchman Ivan Smagghe yesterday afternoon when there was a knocking on my door. As I was very busy playing snooker I asked my PA to answer it. It was the neighbours. Would we like to join them on the roof for a barbecue? Well, why not?

It turns out, it's rather nice up there.

Later on, I went for some drinks with Kitchen Mark, French Claire and The Swish Fish. I got monstrously drunk and ended up DJing again - I was so drunk I thought I was doing it well. Yates, our neighbour, also visited, and promptly passed out on my sofa.

This morning, I have found an empty bottle of whisky and an empty bottle of gin. I'm feeling a little sub-par I must admit.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Varwell's Mullet

Those of you familiar with my good friend and former travelling colleague, Varwell, may be aware of his somewhat unconventional mullet world tour. This, in a nutshell, is Varwell's single-minded quest to visit every place in the world with the word "mullet" in it. Foreign translations also count, apparently.

Varwell has been doing this "hair-brained" (to quote every single piece of journalism so far published about him) mission for some years now, and is now impervious to people asking him quite why he's pursuing this goal. His response to those who ask him "have you nothing better to do?" is far more reasoned than my own, which would just be to stick my fingers up at them. The sort of people who ask this question are the sort of unimaginative plebs who have lost their souls to television, and can't conceive of spare time being used elsewise. Why climb a mountain, why send a telescope into space, why build an elaborate train track in your attic: because we can. I'll vote for active endeavour any day over passive vegetation. And although I think Varwell's mullet mission is ridiculous, I think it's ridiculous in the most sincerely wonderful way.

That Varwell has attracted a degree of media attention for this is not altogether surprising; news needs its "And finally..." stories. But many seem just a little disappointed that despite Varwell's great enthusiasm for the mullet hairstyle (perhaps a growing admiration for the fish too), he doesn't sport one himself.

Not any more...

You see, many years back, when we had just met, and I was some callow beardless youth and Varwell was a political monomaniac, Varwell sported a far less trim hairstyle than today. Tangled, long and stringy wouldn't be unfair descriptions, but fierce debate has raged for years now as to quite what form the "long" took. Varwell will insist his hair just simply wasn't cut often, but I - and many others - believe something quite different: Varwell had a mullet.

And just a couple of days ago, I stumbled upon the photo I knew existed, the infamous "Varwell mullet" photo. Taken in either 1996 or 1997, I don't know if he's ever seen this picture, though he has always strenuously denied the accuracy of the contents.

And, well, I think it's best you see for yourself.

(click on the picture for a closer look)

To the left you have a very cherubic looking Joe Guyan, then we have Imray, standing tallest is Varwell himself, then it's someone who apparently was once me, then it's Green , and at the bottom, looking incredibly smarmy, is the reclusive insomniac Robert Graham, who I'm told is still alive to this day. It's hard to believe none of us had girlfriends back then, isn't it? But let's focus on Varwell.

Now, I know exactly what he will say - "it was just long hair" - but is it really? Just look, at the front, hanging just below his eyebrows, at the back, touching his shoulders. Indeed, clearly shorter at the front than at the back: hallmarks of a mullet. The truth is, that underlying this entire epic quest, is the deep-seated, perhaps subconscious, dark truth that Varwell himself used to sport a mullet, and this entire trip is to exorcise these demons of the past.

It is believed that other, even more convincing, photos of this period may exist.

I think little more needs to be said. Varwell, I await your response.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Catching Up

It's been almost three weeks since my feet touched the warm ground of Aberdeen, and the nightmares of the North Sea, Equatorial Guinea and Brazil could be put behind me, and I could envelope myself in the arms of loved ones. In that time, I've been catching up with friends, family, my properties and life in general, though mostly on the beer missed while offshore. I could write an incredibly erudite entry, weaving deftly among topics, about all the events and happenstances that have occurred in this mega-jamboree of hometime - but as I can't be bothered including photos, I know nobody would read it. So instead, I'm returning to the old favourite - category headings in bold. This will, at least, make it easier to skim.

My New Flat

I acquired my new flat at the very end of May, but being hustled off to the North Sea prevented me having it ready to rent. Fortunately, it needed very little done and it is now on the market, and I'm confident will be fully out of my hands soon. The credit crunch - a necessity now the media are getting bored of terrorists - plays into my hands, as it means people are more likely to rent than buy, so the rental market continues to be extremely buoyant in Aberdeen. This means my tenants can hardly refuse when I insist on putting giant portraits of myself in every room.

Leonard Cohen

I was somewhat upset when I missed Cohen play in Dublin by a day, because of North Sea shenanigans, and spent some time in a girly huff. But recompense was made, and earlier planning paid off. You see, I'd bought tickets to two different shows, knowing that I should at least get lucky with one, and so two weeks ago, on the 16th, I saw Cohen play Edinburgh - and it was the best gig I've ever been to.

My old friend, and one-time very bad influence, Emily came along with me, and we warmed up with some drinks and a meal. We discussed how civilised we have become these days, and reflected on many fun evenings of yore, when we would soak ourselves in red wine, cross-dress and behave in a manner that now shames us. But we now both cut fine figures of professionals, and recognise that all the fun and laughter is behind us, with only a steady decline into old age ahead. Hence a Cohen concert seemed quite appropriate.

In fact, despite Cohen's reputation as a gloom-peddlar, he's nothing of the sort, as anyone in attendance, or with knowledge of his music, would testify. There's some bitter reflection, there's some melancholy, there's some scathing damnation, but there's a lot of wit, and a very warm manner. With no warm-up act necessary, 73-year-old Leonard sung for two-and-a-half hours, and I have never been so enthralled at a gig before.

Even better, by chance internet meanderings, I discovered he's added new dates to his tour, and some very lucky timing meant I have secured a ticket for the Millennium Dome in London, in the primary A block closest to the stage. He'll be close enough to pelt with paper aeroplanes. It's in November, and I've already got the time off due to my 30th and a wedding.


On my first five days home, I was really quite sick. A combination of desperate insomnia, exhaustion and some kind of virus I think, but it was the sickest I've been in years. My PA wasn't even at hand to bodywash me.


Yes, I've hardly seen my PA since I got back. She's supposed to be waiting hand and foot for me, but she took a long weekend at T-in-the-Park, getting wasted, then a long weekend at a London dance festival, getting wasted, and for the last week she's been in Edinburgh because her step-grandfather died. In the time she's been around though, she's been very useful, as she's washed all my clothes. But she needs to start cooking more, and dusting and stuff. Or at least bring pretty friends round in the evening.

My PA's grandfather

His name was J. T. Mckintosh, or at least his pen-name was. He wrote about twenty science fiction novels in the 50s and 60s, and editor of the Press & Journal in the 80s. My PA described him as "cantankerous". I read one of his books, and really enjoyed it, but I'm not sure how well it would wash with modern feminism.

Varwell turns 30

Varwell turned 30 last week, and seemed morose in his lamentations about aging. I figure there's no need to worry as long as you still have your hair.

On the topic of Varwell and hair, I have now found the photo - taken 12 years ago - that proves Varwell once had a mullet, and I will be posting it up soon.

My sister

My sister has just a week left before she walks away from doctorhood and becomes a drunken waster for a year or more. My mother blames me. As a result of this, I have been helping her get her flat ready to rent, and have recarpeted it all as well as chucking out tons of rubbish. She had her official leaving night on Saturday, which culminated in an after-party at my flat, the first such party it has hosted. It went very well. My flat is now geared up for parties, with decks in the living room and a snooker table in the snooker room, as well as a nice, big, open kitchen. It was my first ever public DJing performance - I was bad, but not half as bad as Justin.


Since finishing my fifth flat, and sorting out my sister's, I am now in the joyous position of being finished. For the first time in over two years, my onshore time isn't a frantic race against the clock to redecorate, renovate or refurbish. For two years, when I've not beeen working, I've been working - but now it's all over. I almost don't know what to do with myself. There's still bits and bobs with paperwork, the flat I'm living in and lots of small personal projects, but essentially my days are now clear.

You won't be surprised to hear that I yesterday had to write a note to myself not to start drinking in the afternoon.

Hello Guys At Work!

Two or more years ago, during my time in Korea, my good friend Matt - the cheesily handsome Kiwi, that made all girls swoon - discovered my Korean blog. This was terrible news, as I'd been horribly indiscreet, and named him and others by name. Oh dear. It was a very regrettable episode. Thus, when starting this blog, I have been meticulous in keeping out all mention of my company and colleagues by actual name. But still, word has leaked out, and at least a few of my colleagues are aware of this blog's existence. So, hello.

Fortunately, I've not said anything too incriminating, and haven't mentioned my rampant and promuscious homosexuality, or the fact I'm regularly supplying rival companies reams of confidential information. And fortunately, I know the guys at work will just be looking at the pretty pictures, rather than reading the Queen's English, so they won't have noticed my cryptic messages of hate.

Becky's Wedding

The reason I've been off for a few weeks is fortuitous timing and my official week's holiday starting on Saturday. This was taken for my old friend Becky, who gets married next Thursday, in Birmingham of all places. I never thought I'd take a holiday to go to Birmingham, but life throws all sorts of strange stuff at you.


To reward those who have read this far, I have included a photo. This was taken in Brazil, offshore, and is of a Brazilian's underpants. The Brazilians have a strong predeliction for leaving their underpants hanging conspciously on all available spaces.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Wedding Of The Lamb And The Milk Barons

I've been absolutely inundated with emails requesting photos from the wedding I was at exactly one month ago. This wedding, you will recall, was between Lamb and the UK's premier milk baron family. I did take a camera with me and even took a few photos, which were invariably all rubbish; fortunately, there was a professional present, and fairly recently all the wedding photos were put online. The website didn't permit the saving of these images to file, because they are "copyright" of the photographer, or some baloney, but by pressing the Print Screen button I have bypassed all this.

There were hundreds of photos to choose from, mostly of the married couple, but I have carefully selected the cream of crop (i.e. photos with me, plus someone with tartan trousers). Thank the Lord none of the photos of people dancing featured me, especially during the latter stages.

After the church, we all went to the wedding reception hall, pictured here, which also happened to be the bride's family home. This was only revealed to me some time after. First I was a little surprised, which was then replaced by a deep, searing jealousy - why can't I marry a milk baron?

This is another view of their home. It's almost as nice as my Market Street flat.

Here's a photo of the rutting wedding "stags". Listen to us roar! They wouldn't allow me to take centre stage, instead getting the groom to stand there. That's why I'm the only one not smiling.

Here's everyone at the wedding. How many people do you recognise?

Check out the guy in the tartan trousers. He's the guy in the red box (which I drew in myself - it wasn't in the original shot). Only a very rich man or my grandfather can get away with wearing tartan trousers like these, and he's certainly not my grandfather.

Unbeknownst to myself, the photographer chose to take a sly, arty photo of me, pondering some thoughts over a champagne. But I think I look a little odd in this picture.

Later on at the wedding, I found this giant cat. Look at it!

(in other news: I get free from this rig on Wednesday - confirmed.)

Tuesday, 1 July 2008


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!