Today has been a bonus day.
With my work, I am resigned for days to sometimes disappear. A classic example being on a job in Equatorial Guinea a couple of years back: after having spent many hours feeding a cable into a hole, it transpired that the test engineer - a backwards bumpkin called "Mallett" single-handedly responsible for the imposition of the accursed 11pm onshore curfew - had made a basic error of calculation, which meant we would have to spend many hours pulling the cable back out of the hole before putting it back in again. Running cable in and out of a hole for hours and hours, let me tell you, is not fun. Not at all. And Mallett's maths mistake resigned me and the rest of the crew on the job to another 24 hours of it. When this stupid, stupid, stupid mistake and its consequences were realised, I turned to Mr Calm, who was the job leader, and said, "I suppose the way to think about all this is that it's one more day on this rig, and therefore in a lifetime of finite duration, one less day of our lives to actually live." Mr Calm just nodded, slowly and quietly. "One less day," he said.
And such things often happen. Days disappear. Why, I remember being just 27 years old and starting in the glorious offshore world. What young and fresh days these were. Now I'm 30, life is whizzing past me, and I find myself jaded, and contorted with bitterness. My eager face has long since been mangled into a dour scowl. The days disappear, one by one, a clock ticking ever louder and ever closer to its final tock.
But sometimes, though it may be a trick of the mind, a bonus day comes along. Today was such. On Saturday, after I'd meandered down to a nearby antiques shop and bought a lovely rolltop antique desk, a lovely antique cutlery set, a lovely antique box, and a lovely antique book, I got a phonecall - the lovely sound of my boss. Guess what, he said, your freedom is ending and soon you will be stuck on a metal hell surrounded by angry men. I paraphrase, but that's the gist.
So, I was supposed to be going to Azerbaijan today, and thus I spent Sunday getting prepared. Packing takes me about 20 minutes, and so the rest of my day was spent indulging in my "last day" routine. This is a routine that has been developing in the last year, as I prepare myself for going away again. It involves drinking a bottle of port, eating some very strong cheese, often smoking a pipe or cigar, and pacing about and ranting. These are all some of my favourite hobbies. But then, midway into the bottle of port, a phonecall interrupted my Sunday evening. Because Azerbaijan is on a two week national holiday (I fully endore this concept) something or other couldn't happen and so something else had to be done (I'd drunk half a bottle of port so wasn't retaining the details here). Thus, my flight was delayed from 6.30am on Monday to 9.55am on Tuesday. Hurray!
So today has been a bonus day, unexpected and joyful. I met with Varwell in the morning, for a coffee, as we discussed all manners of highbrow topics, and he accidentally guffawed far too loudly at one point, disrupting the entire coffeeshop/bookstore. Then I took a gentle stroll, bought a brand new housecoat (the gentleman's speckled housecoat, I have called it), and had lunch at 10.30am. My afternoon was spent playing pool on my deluxe table, looking at the pounding rain outside and being glad I was inside and cosy with my new housecoat, reading Calvin and Hobbes, playing a silly computer game and later on viewing a flat (for my mother, not for me). Then it was time to finish the port and cheese: finished.
So a day of inconsequence and indulgence, an unexpected bonus. And it will likely be the last day of such indolence for some time, as the job in Azerbaijan looks to be a biggie. Tons and tons of equipment, and all sorts of fancy stuff being done with it. And thus lots and lots of hard, physical graft for me to supervise over as I sip coffee.
Yes, a frightening amount of work, but don't worry, if it gets too much I'll just "pull a Luanda" and set fire to my passport. I'll try not to burn down the main office this time though.