Kuwait - the Oil Drillers, by John Cogger (1970)

During a four month leave relief in Kuwait (during the hottest months of course!) part of the sales plan I was required to follow involved a visit to one or two wildcat oil sites in the Neutral Zone. They could be a great source of revenue if your timing was right.

We had already made contact with the company geologist in Kuwait City. He tipped us off that he was going out to the site, as they appeared to be getting near a strike. Starting out early, I drove out to the oil platform. The man in charge was a giant of a man with bulging muscles and a shining bald head, who could quote large chunks of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English and Shakespeare at length. He had a few party tricks like throwing a glass of water into the air and because it was so hot and dry only a few drops would reach the ground.

The guys working on the plate worked for 20 minutes only at a time, such was the heat. The geologist tested a few core samples and said it was looking good. He promised to let us know when they would cap the well and the site would close up.

I had spoken to most of the crew while visiting. Most of them wished to get back to Corpus Christi in Texas as soon as possible, some to other destinations. The best thing for us was that they preferred to travel in first class and would usually pay in cash.

At that time we operated the Comet IV from Kuwait to London with good connections by BA to New York, then onward by American Airlines to Corpus Christi.

Reservations just about filled first class. When the drillers turned up to check in, they nearly all had just a small carry-on bag and were wearing their cut-off shirts and thick boots (not the normal BA first class gear in those days!). When they came aboard the cabin crew were ready for them.

As Kuwait is a dry state, drinks were not allowed to be served until after take-off, but these guys were looking forward to a drink as they hadn’t had one for a while, so the crew agreed to bend the rules and took drinks orders before the doors closed. They then handed out the drinks together with saucers of mixed nuts.

We taxied down to the end of the runway, the captain said we were about to take off and the first class stewardess stood at the front of the cabin and announced, “Gentlemen, will you please hold your nuts for take-off”…

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