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Upon Returning From Antarctica

To the loved ones friends and family of returning Antarctic adventurers, notes to help you rehabilitate the lost soul. This is of a vintage circa mid 80's when I first read something like it on base, it's not all relevant any more as times have moved on.

Underneath the gruff and unsophisticated exterior however lies the person you once knew, but a much bigger and better version of that person, gentle coaxing and understanding can bring forth the swan from the ugly duckling that came back.

The sudden shock of return to "reality" can be profoundly disturbing to the returnee, he is best seen as a newly born baby albeit hairier and with some peculiar habits.

Some of these habits can be tolerated as harmless, some are distinctly useful and some rather more perplexing.

  • Try to discourage him from collecting all of the flammable rubbish from neighbouring houses. On still windless days, he will attempt to use it to start a large fire in the garden. Warning will be given by the announcement "I'm going to have a burny!" this may occur on "gash" days (see below).

  • During winter months if there is a lake, river or similar water course nearby that freezes over, he may again go around neighbouring houses, this time to collect metal rubbish. This will be carefully placed in a large pile out on the ice to "blow out when the ice goes". Again gentle discouragement is in order.

  • On some mornings he might declare brightly "No work today I'm on gash!". If possible this should be encouraged as he will enthusiastically wash-up, help with dishing up food and be of great value around the house and kitchen.

  • In extreme cases he might be encouraged to make cakes, pastries or sticky buns which he will come to regard as his specialty and take great offence if anyone else makes them.

  • On less enthusiastic days he can be brought back into line with a withering admonishment of "Slack gash!"

  • Also to be encouraged is the notion of "Scrub out "which will happen once a week usually after dinner on a Friday. The returnee will set about the cleaning of a particular part of the house with gusto.

    Although this does have the disadvantage that it could generate deep resentment if he perceives that other members of the household are not pulling their weight.

    He can be kept at bay for a little while by the claim "I'm on night watch"

  • Public houses are places where great care is required. It is recommended that the returnee is not allowed near the bar area unaccompanied for some considerable time.

    As well as the fact that he will not have any money on him at all (having neglected to bring any out) he will probably go behind the bar and help himself and any others present to (unpaid for) drinks. His claims of "I filled the fridge" or "I lobbed two bottles last week" will unfortunately fall on deaf ears.

  • Do not allow him to purchase shorts from the bar. An inevitable argument will follow with the bartender when he complains that not only is he still waiting for his drink, but he has been "handed a dirty glass" in the meantime.

  • If the returnee appears unusually tired during the day, enquire as to whether he is "on night watch". He will rejoice at the idea that it is unnecessary but probably be concerned for some months that no-one else appears to be doing it.

    Tell him that "it's the BC's job" and he doesn't need to worry.

  • Moods may depend on the weather to an unprecedented extent. Forget SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), this is more like DAD - Daily Affective Disorder.

    On bright sunny days (especially if very cold) your man may be bizarrely happy, almost skipping around saying things like "I'm going out to get the grips in, it's dingle!".

    On other days when he may complain that "it's manky" and begin acting like the world is going to end or indeed has ended.

    On very windy days, panic may set in and he may been seen outside the house lashing down the family car, garden shed and any other potentially moveable objects.

  • Babies at a certain age seem not to acknowledge that anything exists unless it has been given a bit of a chew or sucked for a while.

    Likewise the Antarctic returnee will feel the need to photograph every event of even the slightest significance to acknowledge that it is worthy of attention.

    The object / event will be recoded as it is or with some-one else in the shot (he may helpfully offer to take a photograph of any others present with their camera) and of course with your man himself in the midst of the action (someone else will have to take this shot).

    If no-one else present has a camera, he will undoubtedly announce that "you can all have copies of my grips" but will secretly be very pleased that he alone will have the event recorded.

  • The response to attractive young women may be rather alarming as the returnee will have a tendency to stare. The young lady in question, if it is not possible to warn her in advance, is best removed.

    Shaking the head and looking down is all that should be offered as an explanation to the condition lest she become interested and he decides to go for some fast-track rehabilitation.

    It may also be worthwhile telling him that not all of those films he saw on base were doccies.


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