Friday, 16 January 2009


I've been promoted.

The last few days have been pretty tough. Not bad, just tough. Two 26 hour shifts in a row, with just a few hours sleep in between, much of it on the exposed pipedeck with the seering African sun burning my neck quite painfully. There's been lifting, pulling, torquing, reeling, tying, taping, bipping and bapping, while drenched in sweat that transforms my coveralls into a cold and soggy rag the moment I step into an air-conditioned space. My contact lenses have become hard crusts on my dried-up eyeballs, and somehow I've acquired a massive tear in the thigh of one pair of my coveralls - very fetching, and it allows for a pleasing, cooling breeze. There have been many admiring glances from the roughnecks.

Despite the physical demands - and it has been one of the more physically tough of the jobs I've done - it's turned out quite satisfying. It's the Hamiltonian's first job of this nature in charge, and he's paranoid about any glitch; as a result, we've been quite comprehensively checking and re-checking, and we now have a nicely ticking system in the hole. Our working unit is spacious and I have my kettle rigged up. Biff seems quite keen on learning chess so I get to beat him several times a day. The next few days are clear, except for coffee drinking and watching data lines move about on my computer, and I can rest my weary flesh in preparation for the further punishments that will follow after the weekend.

But best of all is my promotion. Throughout the last week and half, my reward for my sweaty ardures toils has been a bed in a tiny container with seven others, where I can't even stretch out, with an unsubtle air-con, broken lights, leaking windows, and out-of-action bathroom. But today, as I woke from my slumber into a day mostly clear of suffering, I was greeted with the news that myself and the Hamiltonian (Biff is going onshore for a few days) have been shifted into different beds.

And so now I'm in a spacious four-man room, with working lights and a toilet shared only by the neighbouring four-man room. Luxury! Usually I'd not be so excited by such conditions, indeed they'd be at the lower end of what I expect, but after the squeeze I've just gone through, this is now like a hotel. I've even got a UK plug socket next to my bed.

So, the first of two tests is now in-hole and almost ready to go. Depending on who you believe, by next Friday we may have finished both tests, which would be a remarkable change in pace and one I can't see happening. I'd quite like a little more time just to rest and drink coffee to be honest, rather than more hours spent feeding cable into a hole, or chucking spanners about on a pipe deck. But now I've got my promotion and five-star sleeping quarters, I can handle anything.

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