Running Dublins Docks.

Running Dublin’s Docks.

The closer we get to Brexit, with its implicit threat of a border, either hard,   around the six counties of Northern Ireland, or wet down the Irish Sea, the more my dock running PTSD affects me.

Hard or wet, the imposition of a border between Ireland and Britain, means the re-imposition of customs formalities, hence my Post Traumatic Stress Disorderdness..

Despite the title, I was never actually responsible for the running of Dublin’s docks.

I just ran around them.

In 1975, I was eighteen years old when my father organised a job for me with a now long defunct shipping company, on Sir John Rogerson’s quay, in the heart of Dublin’s South Dock lands.  .

Their offices were in Transit House, a building from which both my father and grandfather had worked as stevedores for most of their working lives.

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Mexico City Bullfight.

The Bullfight.

When I arrived back in Mexico toward the end of October1999 I was told that there was a delay with the demobilisation of a new vessel to carry the trencher, the divers and the ROV, so I should wait in Mexico City and the travel to Carmen after five days. The concierge of the Marriot hotel in Mexico City who I was on a “Hola, como estas” acquaintanceship, offered me a ticket to the Corida on that Sunday afternoon for a few hundred pesos, it would have been rude to refuse, they were difficult to get, so he was doing me a favour and I convinced myself that in order to speak knowledgeably about the cruelties of bullfighting, I had to see one for myself.

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Fort William ROV course.

Fort William Scotland November 1996: ROV course.

In November 1996, in response to the ending of my ostensibly secure diving job with Oceaneering in Angola, I developed a profoundly fuzzy plan involving ROV’s and working with them offshore, this despite my having almost no real knowledge of their operation or their inner workings.

The acronym ROV stands for Remotely Operated Vehicle, uniquely those used in water.

By the time I went to train on them, they had reached quite a sophistication from their early days in the 70s and 80s when us professional divers chortled at their inability to do anything well, except breakdown.

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Saudi Arabia Decompression Bend and paid off.

Saudi Arabia, Bend and Two Years out of Diving.

The neurologist showed me the scans and the lesions, and for the first time I fully understood what a bend was, there were physiological consequences!

The gas forced into solution in the tissue of my spinal-cord during the dive, had not been given time to come out in decompression, so it expanded where it was, forming tiny bubbles, which caused lesions in my central nervous system (CNS) and some reduction in faculty, even though that reduction was so tiny as to go completely unnoticed.

There were two lesions in the base of my spine which had affected sensation in my lower legs and to in my occipital lobe which was affecting my eyesight to a tiny extent.

He explained that over time, the tissue would scar over, and any blood flow affected, would find a new route.  However, until then, there could be no diving.

He would review my case in one year, but he was pretty sure it would take two years at least for things to get back to normal.

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My early motoring life.

 My early motoring life.

In 1976 I was 19 and working as a customs clearance clerk for a shipping company in the port.

Mostly my job was writing customs entries in the office, bringing them to the various landing stations around the docks, and picking up clearance slips.

For the first eight months working there I had had a company supplied Honda 50 which was fantastic (once I learnt how to change gear) because my girlfriend lived in Churchtown which was a two hour walk (once I learned that there was another shorter way than the bus route) from where I lived.

Having transport in those days was important because buses were notoriously unreliable, and taxis out of the question.

Unfortunately and fortunately that particular period of free transport came to an end after eight months when I was promoted to an office job, more money, but back to cycling, walking and buses.

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How Hot is the Middle East?

How hot is it in the Middle East?

When I arrived in Saudi Arabia in May 1985, the air temperature even at night was probably around 40°C.

Stepping off the flight in Dhahran at 2:30 AM, I was sure that the airline steps were right in the path of the exhaust from the engines, but it wasn’t, it was just the heat.

From the airport I was brought to an Algosaibi guest house in the city, where even though there was air-conditioning of a sort, I lay sweating profusely on my bunk until I got the call for breakfast in the morning.

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A visit to Veracruz and the Pacific Ocean.

A visit to Veracruz and the Pacific Ocean.

In the summer of 1999, while working on board the barge Europa in the Gulf of Mexico, we were caught cold by hurricane Bonny.

We had heard from the mad radio operator that the US met service was warning all shipping to go for cover. Apparently they issue a 12 and a six-hour warning, and by the six hour warning, any boats in the affected area should be gone.

The master of our vessel did not consider it prudent to heed the warning, so by the time he got around to ordering his crew to start pulling our 6 anchors to leave, we were in trouble.

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Cecil’s Bar in Port Said Egypt

I have mentioned Cecil’s bar in Port Said Egypt in one or two I of my stories before this one.

In the other tales the bar was mentioned peripherally as somewhere that expats could go for an alfresco beer in the evening.

It was a place to relax, yet experience the vibrant street life that is Port Said on a busy shopping street.

Cecil had a fenced off area where customers could sit to avoid being tormented by shop owners, seemingly desperate to sell their genuine Egyptian ‘knockoff’ papyrus and carvings to tourists or oil workers like us.

This exclusion zone was very, very important when it came to the protection of Cecil’s clientele.

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The Garden Blackbirds.

The Garden Blackbirds.

I saw them this morning hiding in the naked tree next door, the tree where I think they nest every summer.

There was no song, instead they looked like they were wary, hopping from branch to branch perhaps checking it out for the nest later in the year.

I wondered if blackbirds migrated or stayed near the nesting site. I also wondered if they were married if they paired for life, so I googled blackbirds.

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Crab Fishing.

The flat grey sky reflected darkly in the deeper water beyond the shallows.

James gambolled happily at the edge of the sea; running away squealing playfully from incoming wavelets, and then chasing them back as they retreated.

I picked up his discarded shoes and strolled along, the crunch of the sand, shell and small rounded stones underfoot; breathing the salty seaweed air and watching the sea move slowly in the deep water, heaving, almost soundless.

All was tranquil here.

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