The adventures to be detailed in the pages which follow may read almost like an attempted history of the companies concerned. That is not my idea, rather, I am putting forward a resumé of my personal contacts with them. There may well be errors; there are certainly gaps, and in particular a general shortage of names except for those of people, usually the key people, with whom I came into most frequent contact.
My background and inclination are such that I never even remotely considered a venture into the commercial field as part of my game plan. Had any such idea tried to insinuate itself into my mind I would have fiercely rejected it, not only during my early years but until well into my second retirement. Nevertheless the machinations of Robert David caused me to become substantially enmeshed in this field from about 1989 onwards. The excuse was that there were certain vaguely geological elements which I could handle and the others could not. Also, though I say it myself, I seemed – surprise, surprise – to be better at arithmetic than most. Also, there was at times a clear need to help keep the ship afloat.
I suppose the experience constituted an education in Western life as it is lived which would otherwise have passed me by, and I confess there is a certain pleasure to be derived from getting one’s teeth into a problem and pursuing it through to some sort of end. Not that I was always successful, but at least I feel I can reasonably say I usually had a good try..
There were side benefits. Some of the consultancies permitted distinct echoes of my BGS field survey days; the office work provided a propulsion to keep up with the late 20th Century explosion in office technology; the whole exercise supplied – I suppose – the psychological boost of comporting myself as a member of the employed caste at a period in the life cycle when one might be expected to slip into a lower order caste. Not that I felt in need of that particular boost.
The time requirement of my varied commercial roles ranged from a great deal more than normal working hours, down to nothing at all for weeks on end. Flexibility is an inadequate word to encompass the requirement. Between 1989 and 2000 I suppose around 33.3% of my available time was put into RD’s operations. Enough, particularly when unexpected family commitments arose, to make a significant dent in the planned activities for these years, which had centred around writing and marine matters. For long periods the planned activities were forced, not merely onto a back burner, but pretty well out of sight. However, the facility of flexibility is one of the great human virtues, to be encouraged and developed.
Following his first not-very-brilliant stint at Aberdeen University, RD had a somewhat eventful early professional career in the late 70’s and early 80’s which would adequately fill a book…