v 7.00.00
23 Jan 2024
updated 23 Jan 2024

Overview (Sep 2023 retrospect)

Worm’s-eye view of the 1963/4 Imperial College survey of the Abu Dhabi littoral with Christopher Kendal (X), Sir Patrick Skipwith (Paddy) and Godfrey Butler (God) and brief interventions by Douglas (Doug) Shearman, Graham Evans, and Nick (the Pr*ck) Page, being a diary kept more or less regularly by Robin Waddell, frequently unsure of where we were, or whither we were going, or what was happening, or sometimes which way was up, so writing down more or less everything to be on the safe side. Not always rivetingly interesting in every detail, but who knew then what was going to be important afterwards. Never intended for other eyes anyway, it has only recently resurfaced (May 2017) like a fly trapped in amber, a relic of raw youth, and a vanishing culture and landscape, and the final gasp of British imperial sway.

I’ve always wondered just how much geologising went according to plan, and how much was simply off the cuff and impromptu, but it was ultimately grist to the academic mill anyway. I have also always marvelled at how much hospitality was provided on our arrival and on our way to and from all the various locations. We did rather take it very much for granted.

Throughout our stay I was bemused by the to-ings and fro-ings of our boat and Landrover(s) between the town of Abu Dhabi and the settlements of Tarif, Mirfa, and Jebel Dhanna, and the waste of time this represented. Even today, by the coastal E11 highway, Tarif, Mirfa, and Jebel Dhanna are respectively 119 km (74 miles), 163 km (101 miles) and 257 km (160 miles) west of Abu Dhabi city. Back then there was just a trail, much of it inland, punctures were frequent and breakdowns inevitable. Soft sand, exposed rock, and mud were further hazards, depending on the weather.

Both X and I, despite our accustomed health, strength and stamina, plus psychological fortitude and resilience, suffered constant relapses into sickness, weakness and weariness. All in all, it was a miracle that anything of value was achieved. But it was, and I for one would not have missed it for the world.

1961Doug Shearman, Graham Evans
1962/3 Graham Evans, David Kinsman,
Chris Kendall, Paddy Skipwith
1963/4 Chris Kendall, Paddy Skipwith,
Godfrey Butler, Robin Waddell

Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?

(with apologies to the BBC comedy series of that name)

Doug Shearman

Paddy Skipwith

Nicholas Page

Robin Waddell