There Will be Bugs

There Will Be Blood, is one of my all time favourite films. I have seen it 3 times and it is a fantastic piece of work all about the Oil Boom in the USA.
Back in the Seventies in our own Scottish OIl Boom in the Highlands and North East, I was there.

I recall coming to train station in a town, north of Inverness on a wet misty mid-summer night back in 1973, to be met by a Mr Fergus Morrison of a local construction company called Morrison Construction. I was taken to the local hotel and thought, how plush is this, being put up in a hotel of such high-class. Three days later I was led to a caravan positioned in Morrison’s yard, which was to be my new accommodation, shared with two guys from a place called Wick. They kindly allocated me the lower pish stained bunk and then informed me that my shot of the frying pan, would strictly be after 7.30am, once they had had their fried sausage, egg, black pudding, bacon, potato scone and beans, which they would then wolf down, actually quite unwolflike, and this would be followed by the daily ritual of them shitting and farting within the confines of the 2ft x 2ft loo which was immediately adjacent to the 2ft x2ft catering working area, where I would boil my egg ……. I lasted a further 5 days there, whereupon I had the good fortune to meet three Glasgow chaps in the Hotel Bar, who were having long discussions on the STD that they all had contracted, coincidentally, and how it was handy thing, that they could work the weekends for the forseeable future, so as not to have to share a bed with their loved ones, back home, until such time that the non-domicile Highland beastie ( Not the Midge) that had taken lodgings in their genital area, should or could be eradicated, so anyway , after much discussion on all that, they advised me that WIMPEY were looking for men and had a good works camp on site that sounded at least like a Butlins resort if not Pontins, compared to living with the Gruesome Twosome in Stalag 13.
I duly approached George Wimpey and was asked to commence employment immediately.
I teamed up with 4 lads from Edinburgh, medical students, of higher social class than me but thought me funny because I could talk like Billy Connolly, which at that time was a good thing.
I did have to share a chalet with Torquil from the Western Isles.
On a Friday Torquil would bring back a girlfriend for an aperitif and a shag, and it was considerate of him to carry out such intimacy, only three feet from me lying comatose in my single bed, to which I would abruptly awaken at the regular time of around 1.00am, to the highly pleasant sound of his single bed, the clapping of their flesh on flesh, and the passionate grunting of her, all percussing rhythmically to the crescendo of the Blue Danube playing on the Torquil’s little Fidelity record player.
unfortunately, later Torquil acquired the same STD as the Glasgow roughcasters had, and, one morning, in a rage, most likely brought on by the itch, burnt his mattress , bed sheets and his little fidelity record player. An enquiry was carried out but lips were sealed.

News got around that a company Brown Root- Highland Fabricators were looking for men at Nigg and they paid good money, so me and my new well-educated friends, applied. There was one question to answer at the interview . “Are you willing to climb 200ft up a ladder and then into a pipe 2ft in diameter and clean the welds with a wire brush. Yes . Start on Monday.”

It was shift work and we worked night shift, my duties were for me and an Australian guy that I was paired with, were to go into the large flotation tanks and gather up any wee bits of scrap metal and place them in a metal bin and someone would come around with a lorry and collect them. To this day, there was never any metal, metal containers or lorry to collect bugger all.

To keep warm, we would gather up the temporary lighting cables and position it so all the bulbs were in a circular coil, and we would heat our hands on them. If one of the ‘Goldhats’ ( American Supervisors) caught you doing that your were fired instantly. There was nothing to do, and most nights I just whistled and whistled and whistled, until one night, my Aussie colleague, cracked under the strain, and demanded that I shut to fuck up with my constant fuckin -out-of -tune -easy -listening-melodies.

Every night we would come back to our £6 a week caravan, get drunk on Glenmorangie and crash out in our working togs. One night I woke up , my face covered in earwigs. I had experienced the DT’s before and knew a couple of swigs of Scotland’s finest would soon shift the creepy crawlies. I polished off nearly another half bottle before it dawned on me the bugs were in fact real and not imaginary and by this time had invaded my back and front torso. I screamed so loudly at this, that our neighbour, Crazy Dave from Kilmarnock, was awoken and in a bit of a temper tantrum, broke the necks of all the chickens that were housed in a coop in the adjacent property. Crazy Dave was never seen after that and I was always curious, if my scream was similar to sound of ‘cock a doodle do’

Through working at night in the cold , the boozy nightcaps and the lack of sleep, I contracted pleurisy , but managed to keep whistling.

There was talk of better money in Aberdeen and St Fergus, so Wimpey was asked to lick them and stick them and I bought a one way ticket outta that god-forsaken town and headed for furry boots country……….

Now how can I contact Daniel Day Lewis?


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