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
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
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.