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Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs, She…

Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs, She Thinks I'm a Piano Player in a… (2005)

by Paul Carter

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Great fun. A rip-roaring ride through the world of exploratory oil well drilling that maybe doesn't score many points on the "great literature" scale but is likely to have you laughing out loud on numerous occasions. ( )
  expatscot | Dec 19, 2016 |
A quick and enjoyable but very limited read. Not so much a memoir as a (very) loosely-strung collection of anecdotes, Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs, She Thinks I'm a Piano Player in a Whorehouse doesn't live up to the expectations its title (or its glowing reviews) sets.

It's essentially a jumble of various experiences from Carter's time working on oil rigs in (often Third World) countries around the globe. To get a feel of the tone, here are a few select lines from some of the stories recounted: "I had stupidly blown up my monkey with a coconut…" (pg. 36); "the [hotel] staff were very nice and efficient, and would try to get you back if you got kidnapped" (pg. 98); "I had to step over a goat to get to the toilet which was just a hole in the ground anyway" (pg. 151). The unvarnished blokiness and laddish pub stories can be fun to read but Carter, for all his experiences, is not much of a raconteur. The writing is simple and you don't feel as though the ridiculousness of many of the situations have been mined for all their comedic worth. And any genuine mirth is undermined by a lot of the gross-out humour: a lot of the time Carter is not engaging in hijinks but just slumming it, and there's plenty of hangovers and cheap toilet/fart humour (at one point, he vomits on his own genitals) to kill any real stimulation of the reader's funny bone.

Furthermore, it's not all laughs: a big surprise to me was how many of Carter's anecdotes aren't even intended to be funny. There's extreme violence (the murder of a prostitute by a Nigerian security guard; the friend whose face was mashed to a pulp in a bar-room fight), animal cruelty (a scorpion and a mouse forced to fight; another scorpion forced to kill itself whilst being slowly boiled alive) and a bizarre defence of freemasonry which is shoehorned in. The book never veers into nastiness, but it can be confusing to a reader when one minute you're reading a funny anecdote about being locked in a bathroom by a monkey and the next a terrified prostitute is having her brains bashed in by the butt of an AK47.

Consequently, there was little of real value in the book. It is short and often funny, but suffers from the lack of an overall arc or of any stories of real bite. I kept waiting for it to really kick on, but the book was so short it was over before it could. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Aug 17, 2016 |
I read this book while on a flight a few weeks ago. Its surprisingly readable and relatively short -- you can knock it over in a single long haul flight. The book covers the memoirs of an oil rig worker, from childhood right through to middle age. That's probably the biggest weakness of the book, it just kind of stops when the writer reaches the present day. I felt there wasn't really a conclusion, which was disappointing.

An interesting fun read however.

http://www.stillhq.com/book/Paul_Carter/Dont_Tell_Mum_I_Work_On_The_Rigs.html ( )
  mikal | Aug 21, 2014 |
Entertaining, although he lays into Nigeria in a thoroughly unsympathetic way. As another reviewer said, a good way to vicariously experience the rough edges of the world. ( )
1 vote seabear | Jan 9, 2013 |
I have not laughed out loud so much reading a book as I did with this hilarious collection of stories! Some of them just total gross outs, some sad, but mostly very funny. Paul Carter certainly has a gift for comedy! What a life - I can't imagine how hard that type of work is and even more so some of the places he worked in. Pretty scary stuff! I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading his other books. ( )
1 vote clamato | Nov 11, 2012 |
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I was born in the UK to a German mother, an English father, an older sister, and a cat called Brim.
CALENTURE--- A name formerly given to a tropical fever or delirium suffered by sailors after long periods at sea, who imagine the ocean to be green fields and desire to leap into them.
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A 'take no prisoners' approach to life has seen Paul Carter heading to some of the world's most remote, wild and dangerous places as a contractor in the oil business. Amazingly, he's survived (so far) to tell these stories from the edge of civilization, and reason.… (more)

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