I recently finished Tabitha Lasley’s memoir ‘Sea State’, after reading an article she wrote about working in a chip shop.
Part doomed love story and part exposé of the exploitation of rig workers by crude oil companies, Lasley leaves her life in London and heads to Aberdeen to find out ‘what men are like with no women around.’ Sea State undresses the masculinity and loneliness of men who spend months isolated from society in punishing climates and dangerous lines of work. The men Lasley meets are young and old, flirtatious and threatening, but always intrigued by her presence in their local pubs. Through alcohol-induced intimacy, the interviewees reveal the gulf between their lives at sea and their lives on shore. Like soldiers away from home, they chart a history of accidents, mistreatment and horror stories from inside the oil industry. Lasley uses the icy Scottish surroundings to explore the gruelling consequences of her romantic relationship with the first oil rig worker she interviews. With a narrative voice that is witty, unflinching and more-ish, from start to finish, I could not put ‘Sea State’ down.
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