by: Buchan, Bill
Routine is the order o’ the day fan ye’re affshore. Ivery day is awfa like
anither. Get up at the same time; see the same fowk at the brakfest table.
Avyde the same eens tee if ye get halfa chunce. Oot ti the locker room and pit
on yer working gear afore gaan up ti the control room ti tak oot yer work
permit. Iss tells ye that ye’re allowed to dee fit yer tellt ti dee and try and nae
hurt yersel in the process. Fan ye see some o’ the feels that issue iss permits,
it’s awfa hard ti pit yer faith in the system.
Still if ye’re lucky ye’ll hae gotten a fine jobby ti keep ye gaan for maist o’
the day. Awa fae the gaffer and oot o’ the wither. Ye dinna wunt ti be deein
sma maintenance jobs. Twa hours ti fill up paperwork and twa minutes ti dee
the job. If ye’d wanted ti be a clerk ye widna be oot here. It feels like ye’ve
hardly started fan it’s time for a tae break. But ye’ve been oot for mair than
twa oors. The tae shack is the usual sotter o’ fool paper cups and tabbies. Of
course if ye are a smoker it’s accepted that ye’ll be back and fore a lot
mair than the nonsmokers fa dinna hae ony excuse for tossin it aff in the
shack awa fae brak times. And the smokers pit iss extra time in the bothy
ti gweed use by litterin aa wye, fleers, tables, cheirs and sinks wi bloody fool
fag ends. Among it aa the ashtrays lie ignored in silent but pristine condition. A
quick cuppy o’ tae, a news aboot something, onything and back ootside
awa fae the blue smoke that’s nearly chokin ye.
Naethin else for it noo but ti keep ‘e heid doon till denner time. Nae much
winner some o’s pit on weicht. Aetin is the highlichts o’ wir days. Aet mair
and ye get ti sit langer. The grub nooadays is decent raither than good. Still
plinty o’t myn ye but nae the kind o’ things ye eesed ti get a twa’r three eer
back. Fresh fish eence a trip if ye’re lucky. Scampi fit’s scampi? Chape cuts
o’ beef, chicken and pig noo. Still ye canna feed a man muckle on £1.70 a day,
The aiftemeen is jist a matinee performance o’ the mornin’s pantomime.
Work, dee fit ye’re tellt and keep oot o’ trouble. Wi the cutbacks in men
ower the last puckle eer, there’s mair ti be deen by less. Iss disna breed
good morale or incentive so it’s dee fit ye hiv till and get the shift ower.
The company’s hiv cut back on the men si muckle noo that ye hiv ti work
overtime or the work disna get deen. It’s aa aboot deein as little work as they
need till nooadays. Unless it affects production rates or safety, it can wyte.
Ach twelve oors is eneuch for ony man. The evenin meal is enjoyed aa the
mair for kennin ye hivna ti ging back ti work again. Unless ye’re gaan back
oot on overtime of course. Maybe a suppy sweet to finish aff yer supper.
The blue clood his noo moved ti the TV lounge. On a gweed day a chopper
will hae come oot and drapped aff the newspapers and if ye’re luck’s in
there’ll be een left for ye ti sit doon and read wi yer tae. The lounge is usually
full at iss time. Naebody’s watchin TV or spikkin. Aabody’s too interested in
their paper. Feet up on the coffee tables, rik floatin up fae ahin Press and
Journals, Glasgow Heralds and Telegraphs. Silence broken only by the
occasional fart and the rustle o’ a paper and somebody speirin “Fa the hell
wis ‘at?” As if it maitters. In thirty seconds or so the culprit’ll seen be
sitting ere wi empty cheirs either side o’ him.
Een o’ the biggest changes noo affshore is that maist o’ the rigs and
platforms hiv the phones direct ti the beach. Ye can buy a phonecard fae the
bond and phone hame ivery nicht if ye’re siccen. But then iss his gweed and
bad aboot it. Aye ye keep in touch wi fit’s happenin at hame and hoo aabody
is deein. ‘At’s gweed. But ye can get a lot o’ hertache ower the phone as
wee!. Little thingies that, had ye been at hame, wid mean naethin. The wife
naggin, the bairns hae’n a touchy flu, a letter fae the the bunk maybe. Aa iss
things ye could deal wi richt awa if ye’d been at hame. But fan ye’re oot
here, there’s nae muckle ye can dee aboot it. It jist lies in yer breest and
festers. There’s mony a lad heen ti pack the job in because they couldna live
wi their hamelife nippin awa at them. So div ye phone or nae? Ye peys yer
money and taks yer chunce.
Noo aifter aetin eneuch maet for twa men, ye hiv the decisions ti mak. Ye can
sit in the cancer room and watch a video. Na, ye’ve smoked eneuch for ae day.
Or ye can ging doon ‘e gym and and try and swyte aff fit ye’ve jist pitten on.
Ye’re maybe too stoot for ‘at kind o’ thing. Or ye can ging ti yer caibin and
read a book. But then again ye micht nae be lucky eneuch ti hae a caibin ti
yersel so there’s nae guarantee that ye’ll get peace and quaet onywye. But ye
are lucky and the chunce o’ some clean air and time ti yersel is ower good ti
pass up. There’s nae muckle time ti yersel on a rig. Again it’s the same
routine. S.S.S. Shit, shower and sleep. Iss twa’r three oors can sometimes be
the langest o’ the hale day. Read a book, write a letter hame, maybe. Jist set the
clockie for the morn and pit oot the licht and try and sleep. Iss is fan
homesickness micht come ti see ye and yer myn starts turnin ower little
things that shid’ve been forgotten aboot a lang time ago. Ye’re nae as tired
as sleep and ye tyaave in yer bed as ye try and nae think aboot hame and fit
they’re deein. On a coorse nicht the rig gently showds ye back and fore
and the turbines roaring ootside, mak a quaet but reassurin birr inside. Sleep’ll
come. It comes.