A big disappointment
The Yeoman Rose had no poop deck. Charlie Sea Wolf told me that the best thing about being on an offshore radio ship was pooping about on the poop deck. I will never know if he was right. Shame Charlie Sea Wolf could not have joined us - a Monday At Home Evening on the ship would have been good.
Contact with home
After only a few days on the ship I appreciated my mobile phone as I never had before. I could keep in touch with home and work with no problems. My respect goes out to those who served offshore before mobiles. It must have been hell to be out of contact for weeks or more at a time.
Was it worthwhile?
The phone calls of support, the visitors to the ship and their comments made it all worthwhile for me. They loved Big L as much as we did, and it showed. What a loyal bunch of people and it's great to still be in touch with some of them via e-mail.
The worst moment of all
Without doubt it was reading that last news into Chris Elliot's breakfast show knowing it was time to go ashore and that Big L would not be around much longer. She would be gone even if I wanted to come back. The sort of team spirit to be found on Big L is a rare thing. I've only known it before on BFBS stations overseas. It's the spirit you can only get when you are up against the odds, not in a comfortable station in London or any place similar.
Bye! See you tomorrow
So, accompanied by Rob Yarnold, who was also leaving that day, we headed for Walton pier in the back of the Lady Gwen, both lost in our own memories of the great time we had just had.
It was very strange the next day to be back on the Lady Gwen, having exchanged my Big L shirt for a Sky News shirt in the company of Sky reporter John Cookson and Sid the cameraman. The object? John was to do a news report on Big L for Sky. It was very strange boarding the Yeoman Rose not as part of the staff. That feeling lasted all of ten seconds. One smile from Emily Elliot, a hand shake from Mark Roman, and I was home. The report John filed was, to say the least, magnificent. He really captured the spirit of Big L and conveyed that to his viewers. However, he did get stitched-up during his visit. We persuaded him to read a Big L news for us. John, being an ex-radio man, was pleased to do so. I gave him the news in good time for him to read it through, but 10 seconds before transmission I took his last story and substituted the following which he then had to read, sight unseen. (In fact, the same story I had used to stitch-up Ray a week before):
"It might have been 30 years ago today."
"It might have been 30 years ago today that Sir Abu Bakka Tafawa Belaywa met with President Bongo of Gabon in the presence of President Kanan Banana to discuss the border dispute in the Umkogabongago region. Cardinal Sin of the Philippines was definitely not present."
(Picture - John Cookson before he read the news...)
Believe it or not all those names are for real, if not the spellings. Well, John did a word-perfect news read, then got half way through Sir Abu, etc, giggled and exclaimed, "I can't read this rubbish!" We loved it; he loved it; that's the Big L spirit. By the time John got back to the galley his quote had been written out and posted on the door. Thanks John.