by: Buchan, Bill
The clock dirls it’s roch tune in yer lug. Usually ye fling oot an airm ti silence
the dampt thing in an automatic response. Bit nae iss momin. Iss momin is
different and ye’re lyin ere wytin for’t. Half a ring; ae ring at maist and ye’ve
quaetened it. Iss is the day ye’ve been wytin for for the past twa wiks. Nae mair
get ups. Ets a get up and go day. Last nicht fan ye finished yer supper ye felt
great. Ye could relax. Half a shift ti dee and ye’d be awa. Jist ti mak sure ye
checked the wither forecast. If there had been fog on the go ye widna’ve
been si cocky. There’s naethin waar than fan ye waaken up on the mornin
ye’re gaan hame ti be welcomed by the soon o’ the fog horn. Wis it Samuel
Johnson fa said ‘only a fool worry’s about something over which he has no
control?’ Well, there maun be a lot o’ feels oot on the rigs. But some folk
seem ti enjoy tellin ye aboot hoo foggy it is ootside or hoo bad it is back in
Aibierdeen. Ye’re nae blin or feel and ye jist try and nae rise ti their bait.
Coorseness, ‘at’s aa it is. Jist coorseness.
But iss momin there’s nae fog. Brakfest tastes a bitty better the day. The fowk
ye’ve been tryin ti avyde at the table noo seem nae si bad and ye’re happy ti sit
doon and listen ti them bumpin their gums. Of course aabody notices that
ye’re aa bonny shaved. Ye enjoyed ‘at last nicht. It’s like a milestone. Ye only
shave at certain times in a trip. Some fowk shave aa the time but they must
hae anither wye o’ brakkin up the trip.
The permits are collected and ye hurry ti get oot o’ the wye. The gaffer’s
nae ower bad and unless there’s ony important brakdoons gaan on, he usually
keeps a couple o’ sma jobby’s for the lads on the day that they’re gaan hame.
Even the smokey tae shack seems clearer iss momin and ye enjoy the banter
wi the ither lads. Iss is fan ye start ti appreciate that there is a great deal o’
kinship affshore. Aabody micht be different bit ye aa face the same kind o’
problems. Ye get some fowk fa widna gie ye the dirt aneth their finger nails
but maist o’ the boys on yer crew wid dee ye a gweed turn athoot a second’s
thocht. Ye ken ye wid dee the same for them tee.
So ‘at’s it. Sign aff the last permit for the trip and turn it in ti the control room. Ye’ve made it. Peyed yer dues. Seen anither trip ahin ye and it’s time ti sign aff. The best job
in the world ye micht think. Aa that ye see afore ye is the twa wiks at hame.
Nae lookin back noo. Ye bide langer in the shower iss time. Savourin the
het wafter and deliberately thinkin aboot the faimily at hame. Of course
the wither will be bonny, plenty o’ money in the bank and nae jobs ti dee fan
ye get back. Noo ye ken that ye’re dreamin but it’s fine jist the same.
As if ti mak up for aa the maet ye’ve shivved doon yer throat in the past
fortnicht, ye tak a licht lunch the day. Fit belt hole did it ging inti afore ye
came oot? Ach well, ye’ll surely cut back next trip, eh? The TV lounge is far
the safety video is being shown again. Ye hiv ti ging through the motions o’
watchin it but iss time it’s a bitty easier ti thole. And then the announcement
ye’ve been wytin for. “Chopper in fifteen minutes. Helideck crew to the
helideck. Passengers collect their T cards and muster in reception”. The
great big orange survival suit gings on like a velvet glove iss time. Mair jokes
and banter. The young lads hiv aa got ti tell ye aboot fit they’re gaan ti dee ti
their blons. Ither boys are makin plans aboot far they’re gaan ti hae their first
drink. Some ither men jist stan quaetly wytin. Routines again.
The awfa faint throbbin grows louder and ye can feel the rig shakkin as the
chopper touches doon. Ye picter the scene up abeen on the helideck and then
feel the rush o’ the HVAC air as the first passenger comes inti the
accommodation block. The on comin crew look ti be in various states o’
shock. Bleed shot een. Breath stinkin o’ drink. But then, iss is fit you wis like
twa wiks ago. As ye swap life jackets and ear muffs wi yer back ti back ye gie
him a run doon on fit’s been happenin. Fit’s broken, fit’s changed, fa’s left,
The final part o’ iss routine is yer back ti back gaein ye a newspaper ti read
on the wye in. Then ye’re ca’d up ti the helideck and inti the chopper for the
journey in ti the beach. Ye’ll hae tried ti get a seat next ti a winda. Iss is
easier for escapin in an emergency as the video tells ye. But really it’s jist
fine ti see the land appearin in the distance. As the helicopter leaves the
helideck the rig taks on a different view. Like sayin cheerio ti an aal freen.
Govey dicks, ye’re nearly wavin till’t. The flight ashore is different fae the
een comm oot. Ye mak a pynt o’ readin the paper even though it micht still
be crampet. But a lot o’ men jist fa asleep as usual. Dreamin o’ fit?
Somethin? Naethin? Fa kens, but they’re getting nearer hame aa the time.
Through yer little winda the cloods open up and ye watch little fishing
boaties punchin their wye through the waves. Now ‘at’s a hard life ye widna
like ti dee. Awa in the distance a thin line grows thicker and ye can start
ti mak oot the landscape. Rattra Heid and the sans. Peterheid and the Bullers
o’ Buchan. Afore ye ken it the pilot is tellin ye that ye’re aboot ti land at
Aiberdeen and ti mak sure yer seat belts are fussent. The excitement builds.
The rig wis eers ago. It’ll be a lang time afore ye think aboot ‘at again and
then the wheels gie a sma bump as they touch the runwye. The chopper has
hardly stopped ootside the terminal and the seatbelt licht has geen oot. As
the doors open ye poor oot o’ the helicopter in a weel mannered but excited if
hurried kind o’ wye. The men struggle oot o’ their life-jackets as they cross
the tarmac as if they can save a puckle seconds and mak their time ashore
As ye collect yer kitbag some boys rush oot ti get a taxi. Maybe they’ve trains ti catch. Maybe they jist canna wyte ti hae a drink. Maybe they jist canna wyte ti get awa fae the hale affshore thing. it’s their business. “Aye lads hae a gweed time aff. See ye next trip.”