Week One at Halley!

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.

3 thoughts on “Week One at Halley!

  1. Just got around to reading some of your postings, and only because I’ve called in sick today. I’m not sick, I just badly needed a day off. My life has been all over the place recently, and seems to have been even more so, in comparison with your calm! Anyway, I want to write you a letter and update you. Did you get the last letter I posted – I sent it to Halley, can’t remember when, middle of December maybe?

    lots of love, more shortly.

    Kathy xxx

  2. Dear rhian

    Thanks for all your Blogs. Its as though we are there with you but without the discomfort(Hope the bum is healing rapidly).

    Never worry that you might be forgotten. You’re tucked away in our hearts forever!

    Love Jane and Bob

  3. The letter is in progress, but of course it is turning into rather a major work. I’m snatching odd moments to write it in, and each installment is in a rather different mood! I’ll probably email it and post it, because I don’t want to miss the last post of the year!

    Thanks Erika for the vote of support. Hope all is well with you in Cambridge.

    Kathy xxx

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