13th December 2001
Time is screeching to a halt as I approach the half way mark of my trip. Days still pass relatively quickly but there are just too many days still to go. I need weeks and months to pass, not just days. That being said today has been a good day; I like to think that it was in lieu of being my Dad’s birthday (but I don’t know the real reason), we had a good lunch accompanied by dried fruits to start, a glass of martini, and a frozen biscuit-based desert to finish. We have long since run out of fresh fruit or vegetables except a few rubbery carrots and grainy potatoes, so the dried fruit felt like quite a luxury. We also had wine with the meal and whiskey afterwards so I’m feeling pleasantly warm and fuzzy.
The fishing is very poor and with only a few fish in the bin, it took no time at all to get my work done. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching two videos. While I was in the factory earlier, one of the engineers came up and asked me what the small problem was in my cabin. I was baffled as there were no problems as far as I knew. Well, not other than it being freezing cold and having no ventilation, but I hadn’t mentioned that as the whole ship was the same. I eventually remembered that ages ago, not long after I arrived, I asked the chief engineer to make a bracket to fix my laptop to the desk. Two of the engineers came up to my cabin and measured my desk and laptop so hopefully tomorrow I’ll have a new bracket and I’ll be able to leave my laptop out rather than putting it away in my underwear drawer every time.
It’s Dad’s birthday today, and the day we traditionally put up the Christmas tree. The thoughts of missing it all makes me feel homesick, but I’m trying not to get bogged down by it. I’ve just got off the phone to wish Dad a happy birthday. As expected there is a house full of people but I just missed Vik, Tim and Kez. I managed to speak to everyone else, including the children which wasn’t easy because children are awkward on the phone at the best of times, let alone on a one-way radio link. Nevertheless it was great speaking to them, and the single robotic yes or no answers I got in return for my trouble were much appreciated! I really really miss them.
While a phone call is much better than no phone call, the whole experience can be a bit frustrating and awkward. Mum and Dad are used to the format now, but still it’s not as easy as a normal phone, or the luxury of normal one to one conversation. The radio link means that only one person can speak at a time, which flattens natural conversation, and the extortionate cost of the call makes you feel rushed and on edge. As I said though, it’s much better than nothing and I have come off the phone feeling happy.
I went back to my cabin afterwards and re-played the phone call in my head, building the scene to accompany it from my memory as the phone was passed around the room. I can just imagine being there among it all; the fire roaring and the house sweltering hot, the children wound up, over-excited and arguing, empty cups of tea cluttering the table and dinner plates on the worktop. A video playing in the front room for the children who will only watch 10 minute snippets while they catch their breath before tearing around again. In the back room Dad will be in his chair, Mum sitting next to the table, Karen sitting in front of the fire in spite of the heat, and Steve sitting on the floor with a pile of bags and coats that were jettisoned on their arrival. Jake will likely be in the office spinning on the computer chair, Toby (Bill) will be in the front room watching the film like an old man, Tally on Karen’s lap, while Josh, Jake and Abby milling around scheming. Happy Birthday Dad! x
13th December 2017
Today would be Dad’s 70th Birthday. Wish he was here to celebrate it.