A Trip Affshore: Gaan Awa
by: Buchan, Bill
Half past sax on a caal, dark Febuary mornin. The alarm his jist geen aff
and a teet oot the bedroom winda shows the blunket o’ clean, fite sna that’s
been fa’en maist o’ the nicht. Ye feel the warm bed pullin ye back in ower
but ye canna ging. Nae the day. Iss is the day ye hiv ti ging back. Back ti yer
ither life. Back affshore.
Yer baggy wis packed last nicht so ‘at’s ae thing less ti worry aboot. There’s
naethin waur than haen a cairry on in the mornin and ye leave mair at hame
than ye tak wi ye. The bairns are aa sleepin so ye’ll nae bother waakenin them.
Thank God for the wife bein up and makin ‘e brakfest. Nae ower muckle ti
say at brakfest the day.
If ye wisna wakent afore, the freezing air hitting yer face dis the job noo.
And as ye wyte for the Aiberdeen bus ti come, yer senses’ll be sharpent and
maybe ye’ll feel the first stang o’ homesickness. Aye, even on the bus
and ye’ll be sair. The pain eases wi the sleep on the wye through ti Aiberdeen
A stop, start, fitfu sleep but welcome jist the same.
The heliport wi it’s bing, bongs and tannoys is familiar grun for ye. Nae need ti
look ower hard ti find the ither lads fae the rig sittin in a wee bourachie
ower by the paper stand. The greeting’s the same ivvery time; the same
question “A good time off?.” The same unswer tee “Oh aye, bit nae lang
eneuch”. Ae the same. A wee bit claik and the heids seen ging back inti the
papers and back wi their thochts.
Checked in and yer bags searched, ye’re ca’d through ti the departure lounge.
Names checked and body searched bi an aal lad fa disna really want ti be
deein iss. His reed chiks a mixture o’ embarrassment and eers spent workin
ootside. Airmed wi orange survival suit ye sit doon ti watch the safety video.
Ye’re made ti watch iss dampt picter ivery time ye ging aboord a chopper
and familiarity dis indeed bring the utmost contempt. Blank faces wi unseein
een stare at the screen. Then as if ti further emphasise the control they want ti
hud ower ye, we hiv ti listen ti some young loon, jist oot o’ the skweel or aff
the dole, tell ye hoo ti pit on a survival suit. The men sittin ere’ll hae pitten on
mair suits than ‘at loony’s read comics. Still, there micht be a new start sittin
quaet next ti ye, so he needs ti be tellt richt eneuch.
Thankfully fleein his niver bother’t ye bit jist ti mak sure ye sleep aa the wye oot.
Well, there’s ower muckle noise ti spik and it’s ower crampet for reading a
paper,so big zzzz’s is the best wye ti traivel. In nae time of aa the sleep
disappears wi the pilot’s crackly vyce announcin that we’re aboot ti land
in a couple o’ minutes. The iver growin rig fulls the winda and the wee dots
on the helideck tak on familiar faces. The derrick, crans, containers welcome
ye back. Ye feel the homesickness lettin go a bit as if it kens that something
else has a hud o’ ye. It winna let go aa the gither but it jist wytes quaetly in
the backgrun until the rig is ready ti gie ye back again.