It seems to me that a day lasts a week down here, and a week lasts a month.
But time doesn’t drag, it’s chock to the brim, and there’s barely time to breathe.
But when you do breathe, it’s stunning, and you realise that really, in a place
like this, that’s all we should be doing: breathing, and taking it all in.
Then you get busy again and start forgetting. It’s all very incongruous –
the work and the environment, the office politics and the snow, the meetings
and discussions and then the activity itself. But the ice itself, the place,
the space, that’s not incongruous, it’s simple. Simple (not perfumed, not coloured,
just kind!). And you wonder how a world could have ever existed that could have
filled a brain with so much nonsense as advertisement slogans. Give me time
and space here and I will fly with the fairies.
But what have I been doing? Why the busy-ness? What fills a day? Each
day holds a story, I don’t know where to start. There was the day that I jumped
off a trailer, cut my bum (radio call: “Frank Frank, Katie: we need your help,
Rhian’s cut her bum”; radio silence; construction site laughter rebounding off
the clouds) and had to have three stitches. It was the best hospital in the
world and I recommend it to anyone. We had a meeting of friends, classical music,
poetry recitals (me to them, while they stitched my arse), stitching classes,
much laughter and then three days of happy pills. I was much more chilled out
after that. And the corners that did the damage in the first place had all been
filed down before the end of play that day.
And then there was the day we built a big mast (lots of digging) and today,
when we put a massive mirror on the mast and bounced a light off it from 4km
away… and it worked! Oh yes, and I forget,
best of all was last week on Saturday when the whole base stops work at 5pm
instead of 7pm (we start at 8am) and have Saturday night scrubout and I got
to clean the library for two hours.
What a joy! I had to get someone to check up on me in the end because more
pages were being cleaned by my eyes than shelves by my duster. What a great
library! You can tell loads about the type of people who come here – I
could write a chapter on the library alone! There’s a whole section with great
Antarctic literature and diaries, of course, and then polar exploration, exploration
in general, sailing, rock climbing, skiing. I’m talking a shelf each for these
topics in a room the size of your average boxroom.
Top shelf in the corner has religion and psychobabble next to history, and
then, below it, military greats. The bottom shelf, of all levels, has antarctic
press cuttings and records. Around the corner we have, top shelf again, poetry,
travel, languages and music and then lots of humour, cartoons, sci-fi (shelves
and shelves of star trek and Stephen King) and then at last, the alphabet begins.
I’m not as savvy at perusing the alphabet because the shelf doesn’t give you
any hint of what you might be looking for, but already I’ve seen some classics
that I want to dive in to – how do you book lovers do it? I know this
room is stacked with Great Novels by Great Writers (I barely got beyond rows
of Amis and Amis) but how do you know which to pick when the only way they’ve
been organised has been alphabetically? Far too sterile. I’m looking forward
to finding out though. if I ever get time to breathe.