Book Review: Don’t Tell Mum I Work On The Rigs

As you might guess from the title, Don’t Tell Mum I Work On The Rigs, She Thinks I’m The Piano Player In A Whorehouse, is a bit of a quirky exploration of the itinerant oil rigging lifestyle.

As vagabonders, we get pretty focused on how we can work and travel; can we write for travel magazines?  Program software from Bangalore?  Work in internet pornography anywhere with a steady internet connection and a webcam?  We get so focused on computer-based jobs and creative endeavors that we forget a whole range of jobs that include travel as part of their somewhat grubby descriptions, usually travel to quite remote, farflung places.  Jobs like mining engineer (travel to Alaska, West Australia, Southeast Asia), or in the case of Paul Carter, oil rigger (travel to Russia, Singapore, the Phillippines, and a memorable stint in wartron Africa).  Forget the street cred you get from being a photojournalist; as a rig technician, Carter points out, you not only travel for work, you get thousands in disposable income while you do it, so you can chuck it all about on travel for fun afterwards.

The book is definitely written to be read in a hurry, listing grubby anecdotes about disemboweling right in with baffled and seemingly unrelated tales of owning a monkey.  There’s a lot about monkeys in this book, actually.

The author is clearly not an AUTHOR…meaning, he doesn’t care much for the techniques and shorthands that some authors use to prove their writerliness.  Precious turns of phrase and metaphor do not appear in this book, but what you will find here is a very entertaining view of a career nobody really knows that much about, unless you’ve done it.

I quite like that Carter doesn’t bother to cram a bunch of self-revelation or overly-emotional realizations into the book.  It’s generally a bunch of piss-ups, bouts of dysentery, and talking about boobs…pretty much what you’d expect on an oil rig, actually.  I get a bit tired of every travel book trying to present someone’s trip to Tuscany as an enormously life-changing experience that they spent ruminating on philosophy, the nature of god, or their own bellybuttons; you get the impression that Carter is plenty honest and self-reflective, he just doesn’t really care to share it around.

I’d recommend this book, as long as you can see past the occasionally aimless writing to the fascinating world he’s describing.  Who doesn’t want to hear about climbing up inside a tree in Borneo? Liberally laced with the descriptions of drinking common to Australian memoir, Carter’s book is entertaining enough to read again, and would give a pretty elucidating look at an unheard world.

Posted by | Comments (2)  | November 2, 2010
Category: Adventure Travel, Lifestyle Design, Travel Writing, Working Abroad

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