I have so much to say that I almost don’t know where to start! So here are

some answers to questions from Stefan.

Post your own, and I’ll see if I can answer them too!

Does one have affairs? How do the guys (and girls) cope if they’re not,

like, getting any? Is there sexual tension? Are there fits of jealousy that

get in the way of rational decision-making?

Yes, people do have affairs. There aren’t that many women to go around though

(as it were), and any woman with half a brain here will realise that if you’re

gonna, then stick with just one. Otherwise there might be social hell to pay.

So no, most people aren’t getting it. At the moment, to the best of my knowledge,

no-one on base is. But we’re only in our first week of the winter. There’s months

to go.

It’s quite odd being a woman here, in that regard. Cos everyone’s gagging for

it on a very carnal animal level but we’ve (statistically) got more chance of

getting it (it’s fairly homophobic here), so there’s almost a sense of inevitability

and ‘who will it be’ in the air. It’s not exactly flattering but it does put

you on guard a lot of the time and give you a wierd kind of power at times.

And the jokes and innnuendos are incessant. But quite funny. Usually.

The presence of women is definitely one of the potentially most dangerous things

here to the social set-up. And note, I’m not saying that women are, but rather,

their presence is. That is, their effect on men. But then, I would say that.

If I was a bloke, I think I’d rather have an all-male base too.

‘Potentially dangerous’ makes it sounds like the only effect our presence might

have is negative. Word on the street is that the feeling on base has also become

more balanced since women started wintering. Either way, while everyone has

the potential to have a massive negative or positive impact on base life, I

guess we could make it or break it easier. And it’s not a balance that’s easy

to find.

The main problem now is that the balance between men and women is so out of

kilter. We have 2 out of 18, Rothera has 1 in 21, Bird Island 1 in 5… and

the women who do winter tend to be younger (and therefore perhaps easier targets)

than the average on base. It’s a tricky one to answer as most of the jobs down

here are typically jobs that more men are qualified for but I just saw a photo

of the current german wintering team and they have five women to four men. The

dynamic would be very different then I’m sure…

Are there cliques? Are some people considered lazy, or not pulling their

weight? How are such matters brought to the general attention? Are there official

bitching sessions? Is there an official government representative with the authority

to marry, throw people in jail, judge who ate all the pudding last night, etc…?

There will almost certainly be cliques forming (as I said above, it’s still

early days yet) and there are definitely people considered to be lazy. This

is the worst of all sins on base and a definite friend-loser. There is a structure

to the base, with a ‘base commander’ who I guess such issues could be channelled

through if it got really out of control, and monthly base meetings. The base

commander has been sworn in on the ship as a magistrate and has legal powers,

but, alas, we have no jail. We don’t even have a gun or a straitjacket, although

apparently the stretcher works quite well for tying people down..

Why aren’t you being televised for a reality TV show? I think the BBC should

run with it, they can pretend (and get away with) it being a science show. It’d

be a thinking person’s reality TV show, and we could have Cambridge psychologists

and philosophers opine from comfy chairs in the shires as to why you did what

you just did. Every show, one person gets voted off the base, and has to wander

off into the -40C night.

One massive difference between us and Big Brother is that we all want to end

up being friends. Quite boring watching most of the time – lots of people

being nice to each other, watching videos, playing pool, eating, working and

sleeping. Not a crowd winner.

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2 Responses to Q&A

  1. Jim says:

    Very interesting post.

    Cheers to Stefan for asking the vital questions.

    I think you are safe from Mark Burnett!

    May the force be with you.

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