Tuesday, 4 March 2008


Nothing to do with birds today except in a very indirect way. I have been doing my personal survival training with Humberside Offshore Training (HOTA). And very good it was too, lots of lectures on how to deploy liferafts, lifeboats and how to wear a lifejacket. All very easy. And a corking pie and chips lunch. There were plenty of 'characters' present, guys off a seismic survey ship, a singer, a kids entertainer and some grunts from the Pride of Hull ferry who couldn't speak without swearing. Fuckers.

After lunch came the practical- I got togged up in my trackies and old tour T-shirt (Gran Canaria '01) - which were all blue for the chavs amongst you - and got into my survival suit. The first one restricted blood flow to my brain and I started cursing like a neaderthal, blessed as I am with a bit of bull neck. The next size up was less horrific and I got stuck in, swimming with no life jacket and jumping in from a height, all good fun. I soon discovered that my suit leaked and when on land I looked like the ex-girlfriend with clubfoot and swollen legs as the booties at the bottom prevented letting the water out. We then had to get in to a huddle and cuddle each other to keep warm. Fat ex-dockers aren't particularly cuddly but I managed and then had to right a flipped life-raft - one of the trickiest things I've ever done, clamber on top and lean back, getting smacked on the head by a raft, half drowning and coming up gasping. Loved it.

The final task was to string all this together in the dark and get sprayed with a cold hose with background nose of wind and thunder ringing. Upon getting into the life raft all 11 of us had various jobs - mine initially was to haul fat men from the water by any means possible with the only other lad that wasnt 18 stone and hungover. I must have arms of steel (well tinfoil) now! A worthwhile exercise all said and much more difficult than expected. On finishing the instructers pissed emselves looking at my swollen trouser legs, full of water and got me to lay on the floor whilst i was picked up by my feet as the water emptied round my ears. How everyone laughed. Apparently I'd have been stuck in the suit if they hadnt done that as the water would have formed a vacuum on attempting to struggle free.

P.S. the oblique reference to birds is I'm now fully insured to go bird surveying in Aberdeen (whats that I hear...you've already been? Hmm, I hope nobody works for IECs' insurers!). Rock on.

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How brains and birds become mutually exclusive