Going Back to Aberdeen Part I

If you have been reading this blog for at least a year you’ll know that in the summer of 2012 I moved back to Glasgow for the first time since 2007. I had moved to work in Aberdeen for an oil and gas engineering contractor, leaving my family and friends behind. Some of my friends then followed me to the granite city in search of glory, but in the past few years I grew disillusioned with the city. Despite growing to love it, yes, and even calling it home for a while, moving back to Glasgow essentially started as a certainty, then became a possibility, and then was a definite. It follows this nicely developed curve of mine:

On the y-axis, a score out of 10 where 0 is not wanting to be in Aberdeen and 10 is wanting to stay there. On the x-axis time. Note there are several major drops offs – Houston and moving to Glasgow. Also, the early 2008 drop off is when I went offshore on the 3rd of January. Read about that here.

Obviously, as I stayed within the same company but just moved offices, there was a high likliehood of being called back up North to do things. Either it would be for work directly, or it would be for another thing, the most likely of which being training. My company puts a high value on technical training, and has spend thousands of pounds on courses to keep my technical prowess at what they expect of me. So, with this in hand, last week I found myself travelling back North for the first time since the final drive home on a sunny August afternoon. 

The last time Connie and I were in Aberdeen prior to this visit by myself was the last day of our lease on our old flat. We took a then 9 week old Frank up the road in the car. We stopped once to let him pee, in Perth, and then I spent the afternoon getting sunburned in the back garden as Connie orchestrated a cleaning marathon of the flat. It was a good day for me, not so much for her. On the way home we stopped in Porthlethen to get some supplies for the drive home and I witness an assault. It was just one of those random days that you won’t forget. It was also the first time Frank and I had really been able to bond, having been up in Aberdeen a few nights previously finishing off whatever work I had to finish. 

As the train pulled into Aberdeen station I was reminded of the first time I left Glasgow and got the train to Aberdeen on my own, for a IGL interview as a graduate. I don’t think I had any chance of getting the job, as I was up against a few people who had far more experience. But the guy who denied me the job at IGL later would become a colleague of sorts, on the client side, at a later date. The industry is like that. People know and bump into people in various jobs all the time – half of the Glasgow office have worked elsewhere with each other and the other half have yet to work there. It’s a very incestuous area, and one people are very unlikely to forget you.

In saying this, Connie and I had a running joke when we lived in Aberdeen. When we were out and about it was very rare to bump into someone that spoke to me. I used to joke that it was a fake job, and really I didn’t work in the city at all. But it was true that talking to someone from my office was a rarity at the best of times. So, imagine my surprise as I walked not 30 yards into the train station and bumped into an old colleague. Then, when checking into my hotel, another old colleague whom I’d helped get Chartered, said hello. And then, when returning to the hotel from the music shop where I said good-bye to I bumped into two further ex-colleagues, it felt like I’d walked into karmic resonance for all those times.

It felt strange being back. Very surreal. The place hasn’t really changed, of course. I mean, things have – like Tinderbox being shut, or a set of flats that were just starting groundwork now having been weather-tight for a while. But despite that, it actually felt strangely un-moving. I thought going back was going to be this grand epiphany, a realisation of sorts that would either cement my decision or undermine it, but no. Instead, it just really confirmed something that I have thought for a long time – there are people who live in Aberdeen and want to be there, and then there are the rest.