I realise that many people who read the Misssy M Misssives are in far flung parts of the world and come from diverse walks of life. Hello all diverse international lovelies sitting at home wherever you are with your Scots English dictionary at the ready. Conversely I realise that many others are from my local area of Aberdeen. "Fit like?" The folk of Aberdeen are, in the main, oil folks. If they aren't oil folks they are farming folks. And if they are not farm folks, they are fish folks. And if they are none of these things they are related to oil, fish or farm folks in some way, or know some socially at the very least. Oil folks, fish folks and farm folks are hard, and all of those camps will think me a jessie for the tale I am about to tell. So I turn to my other readers to defend me when I come across like a total big girl's blouse.
I am in Canada for work, and it's not going well.
I don't really want to go into the whys and wherefores but my journey to Canada took twenty three hours, when it shoud have take seven. Our arranged arrival time on the vessel we were filming on should have been 12.45pm. Instead it was 12 midnight. I know those sums don't add up. But this is called dramatic effect. And there's time differences involved so the laws of time and space are irrelevant.
We arrive in Halifax aiport and no-one is there to meet us. We are so knackered that me and my cameraman, once a wisecracking duo a few hours ago, are now only speaking to each other in monosyllabic grunts and limp-wristed hand gestures.
Instead of being collected at the airport, which I've got to tell you would have been nice at this juncture, we are informed by phone to take a taxi to an empty car park. Think the opening scene of The Usual Suspects, where Kaiser Soze kills Gabriel Byrne at the port in the middle of the night.
"Are you sure you've to be dropped off in an empty carpark at midnight in the pouring rain? That doesn't seem terribly safe," says our middle aged taxi driver.
My thoughts exactly, my friend.
"Apparently we've to find a Portakabin,"I say.
"I'm gonna hang around and make sure you guys find it before I drive off, okay" This guy is the reverse-Travis Bickle. I think I love him.
Sure enough we find a Portakabin at the edge of an unlit quayside carpark. It is "dingin doon". My hair is plastered to my face, occasionally it is whipped by strong winds to lash my ruddy, rain-battered, puffy, jet-lagged face. There is probably mascara running down my cheeks that I applied what would have been yesterday. I am awake all of a sudden.
This is my cameraman's first trip "offshore". He is mentally phoning the Job Centre.
This being our first trip away with one another, my cameraman and I have recently had that "What's your favourite film" type conversation. Jaws has been mentioned. We may have even acted out the scene where Captain Quint and Richard Dreyfus compare scars. "Fairwell and adieu, you fair Spanish ladies...." We will soon regret this.
Once in the Portakabin a guy that definately is a Lord of the Rings fan signs us in and asks us to put on lifejackets. I think of that last scene in LOTRs where all the dead characters go to Hobbit Heaven in a boat. I think that guy was thinking the same, but only cos he's constantly running the trilogy in his head on a loop.
A little boat arrives and our very own Captain Quint takes our stuff onboard. The rain has reached Biblical proportions. I am Captain Brodie. Suddenly I don't like the water so much. I don't know if we're supposed to, as the boat is mostly open, but we cram ourselves into the tiny bridgey control area where Quint and his pal, Salty Joe, are stashed. Quint says some stuff but we don't understand a word as it's in Seadog.
He is probably saying "Get out of my bridgey control area, mongrels."
In my head he's saying this; "Here's to swimmin' with bow legged wimmin!"
I might even say "Aye Aye Capt'n!" as I am delirious by this point.
Captain Quint and Salty Joe carry on making the boat work and eventually after a journey during which me and my companion exchange the whisper, "They look like cold blooded killers...", we suddenly stop in the water and are shouted at a something we don't understand in seaman's language.
We grab our kit and go out onto the deck hoping that the shouted something wasn't "Shark attack!" It is not. In front of us is a massive jack-up rig, jacked up very high indeed. One question pops into our heads, "How do we get up there?" One answer swings back down on the end of a wire. The answer is a Billy Pugh.
A Billy Pugh is a Personnel Transport System, but that's being too kind. You know the bit at the end of Mousetrap (the boardgame, not the long running West End murder mystery play) where the mouse gets caught in a domed cage? Well a Billy Pugh looks like that but has a bottom to it. For those with deep interest (or suspicion that I'm making this stuff up) you can see what I mean by going to www.BillyPugh.com where a man who sounds like, and may even be, Bill Clinton tells you how safe they are in a very unconvincing way. There is NOTHING safe about a Billy Pugh. I realise I'm opening myself up to litigation with that comment. Note I will counter sue for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Let's just drop it, shall we, lads?
We get in to the Billy Pugh (which may or may not be named after someone called Billy Pugh) through vertical slits in the net that surrounds it. I notice briefly that there are closing straps that I imagine are designed to secure the gaping holes in the net so that we don't fall out to our watery deaths. As soon as I notice these unclosed straps, we are abruptly hoisted into mid air with absolutely no warning. I grab onto something and hope to God it's attached to the Billy Pugh and is not my poor cameraman who is now mentally applying to be a trolley-jockey at Walmart.
I am not afraid of heights, however I am afraid of falling from one through a gaping hole in a flimsy net that is all there is between me and the Atlantic. The wind is up, my hair and clothes are soaked by horizontal rain (I don't have a rainjacket, I am an idiot. But neither does my companion, so he's one too), I look like crap, the Atlantic smells like crap, so I reckon no-one will notice if I actually crap myself. If I do it in time I can kick it out the bottom of my trousers into the Altlantic through the gaping hole.
I do not crap myself. And if I did I wouldn't admit it here. All I can think of is, "My Mum would have a fit if she saw me in this."
By the time we land on the vessel, I am laughing like a demented loon. I sign myself in the visitors log as "Mary Queen of Scots" and go down to my cabin for a wee cry.