Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush
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As a child Geoff Dyer spent long hours making and blotchily painting model fighter planes. So as an adult, naturally he jumped at the chance to spend a week onboard the aircraft carrier the USS George H.W. Bush. Part deft travelogue, part unerring social observation, and part finely honed comedy, Another Great Day at Sea is the inimitable Dyer’s account of his time spent wandering the ship’s maze of walkways, hatches, and stairs, and talking with the crew—from the Captain to the ship’s dentists. A lanky Englishman in a deeply American world, Dyer brilliantly records daily life aboard this floating fortress, revealing it to be a prism for understanding a society where discipline and conformity become forms of self-expression. At the same time we are reminded why Dyer is celebrated as one of the most original voices in contemporary literature.
moments later. ‘That’s what they say. I don’t know if it’s true.’ Just in the normal routine of things, planes came in at 140 mph and stopped in 108 feet (or just over a second). There was 2200 feet of cable with a breaking strength of 215,000 pounds. The whole operation was, as he put it, ‘maintenance intensive’. The cable had to be replaced every 2500 traps and the bit out on deck that the plane actually hooked on to was good only for a hundred. Given what it was subjected to, I was surprised
marriage counselling. But coke? Surely, that was not going to help you out if you had PTSD. ‘It’s not,’ she said. ‘But for some reason it’s very accessible.’ ‘Do people have addiction problems with other illegal drugs like that—like coke and marijuana?’ ‘Not illegal drugs necessarily because by the time they get in trouble I don’t see them. They’re separated from the Navy.’ ‘Then I’m slightly confused,’ I said. ‘What exactly are you treating people for?’ ‘Alcohol.’ Ah, good old alcohol.
state of constant potential threat (of accidents or attack) and it’s only by making the responses routine that these threats can be dealt with calmly when they are realized. So a successful deployment in which no lives are lost and no one is seriously injured resembles nothing else so much as an endless series of dress rehearsals for a performance (a real fire, say) that is less dramatic than any of the simulations leading up to it. Day in day out, people toil away, making the rounds on the boat
the last time, I resorted to the equivalent of calling him on the phone: I farted and, sure enough, like rubbing the lamp to make the genie appear, this brought him knocking on my door. For the last time we walked the hall of mirrors, through the knee-knockers and walkways that were busy, as always, with people cleaning, polishing and shining and standing aside to let us pass. At the ATO shack Paul and I said goodbye. No hugs or tears, just a handshake, eye to eye, man to man, Christian to
a little quieter and if I had been feeling less anxious I might have replied, ‘I’d be obliged if you could adjust them so that I can sit more comfortably. And when you’ve done that perhaps you’d be so kind as to bring me a gin and tonic with ice and a slice of lemon.’ Instead, I shouted out my very real fears. ‘I’m worried that when we take off I’m going to break both my collar bones.’ He grinned. ‘Not gonna happen, sir.’ Then what would happen, given the alarmist nature of the safety