It’s not what you say, but…


Diplomacy. Not my finest skill.

Let’s just say that when it comes to diplomacy I do try hard but unfortunately there are the odd moments you’d wonder if it would have been better to allow a bull to wonder around that metaphorical china shop rather than have me open my mouth.

I shouldn’t be too hard on myself as a recent offshore trip put me into a position that I’m not usually in and required a little more tact than normal. Rather than be the sort of person that would make Saddam Hussein look like a pussycat, I preferred the softly softly approach to get the team to move in the direction I needed them to head towards, rather than dragging them there. After all, you get better results with carrots than you do sticks, plus it keeps the amount of upset people to a minimum.

There were some hiccups on the way, and in one incident, I found one of my techs made an error and got the equipment caught round the crane wire. No dramas, as the senior pilot was all over the situation and managed to help the less experienced guy correct his mistake and complete the task of hooking up a subsea basket to the crane for recovery to deck.

The wee yellow beastie. Lives to fight another day.

The senior pilot reported the incident to the other senior coming on shift that they may want to inspect the equipment for damage when it came on deck. This is correct procedure, but the new senior pilot couldn’t wait to tell the superintendent in the morning that the junior pilot had been caught on the crane wire and it was a disaster. But it wasn’t a disaster. The correct actions had been taken to ensure no damage had been caused and better still the pilot in question had gained a little bit more experience. Somebody just wanted to look a bit better than somebody else at their expense. That’s very bad craic. There are gentler ways of imparting this information and it ensures harmony is maintained within the group.

I’m pretty pragmatic about these sorts of incidents. Bad things sometimes happen during our operations, but careful planning of what should happen in the event of an occurrence is often all that is needed to help people succeed when things aren’t what they should be. I’m old enough and certainly ugly enough to know that not everybody is as far down the journey of experience as others, and it is our responsibility to aid these people down that route rather than blab to the superiors or public. It just makes you look like a prize cock, as there are ways and means of doing this that don’t need to be quite so direct, yet achieve a more gentle yet effective result.

So what has this story got to do with whisky? To be honest, not a lot. There won’t be a review at the end, but hopefully an edifying conclusion, and we will all be in no doubt where I stand.

I’ve written a couple of blogs this year where I’ve maybe not been the most diligent of researchers or my source material hasn’t been the most accurate. I’ve been sort of fortunate in that I’ve had somebody point it out, but unfortunately they are lacking a wee bit in the etiquette department, so I’m going to use some of my diplomacy skills to help them see the errors of their way.

Ready for re-education?

Firstly, I agree facts are important. It’s good that any errors are pointed out. However I am not going to alter something when it’s just a matter of semantics and not actually incorrect.

Secondly. As I have already told the person who kindly pointed out the errors in my blog, I don’t have endless time to trawl the internet for obscure data. Indeed, I don’t even have access to decent internet for 7 months of the year due to being at sea. This is something I make apparent when explaining the infrequent nature of my posting and the basic look of my blog. I’m not going to know about the Nepalese whisky with its barley malted by yeti dung unless it’s a well known thing. If you know about it then you’re just a bigger geek than me.

Thirdly. Entertainment. If you are looking at my blog solely for facts, you’ve come to the wrong place. While I make reasonable endeavours to make sure what I write is accurate, and will correct any errors pointed out if necessary, I try to tell a short story first. If I can I’m going to try and make it amusing, and I enjoy some self deprecation as I’m primarily writing for entertainment (mine and yours) and maybe letting people smile a bit at least. Then I’ll drink a whisky and let you know what I thought so we can all smile. It’s never a recent release, so I’m providing a wee retrospective look at drams long gone and sometimes from distilleries that have fallen silent and won’t ever produce again. To recap, key points of my blog are tasting notes and an entertaining story if possible, which in most accounts seems to be working.

Fourth point is that I’m no expert. I’ve never claimed to be, and I never want to be. Whisky is a hobby. I get enjoyment from drinking it, telling stories or sharing experiences from it. You’ll never catch me going for a WSET as I don’t want to be in the industry in such a way that it would be any benefit. I can see why people in the industry do these courses, but I’m old school – I’ve only ever learnt on the job. If I ever retire from the offshore life, a full time distillery tour guide will be as far as I fancy reaching. I can share my enjoyment and knowledge with those who want to visit. There’s enough wannabe limpets around the industry as there is and I’m not going to be one of them.

The real experts write books like this or work in the industry. The rest of us are enthusiasts.

I also don’t need to be spoken to in such a way that makes me feel as though I’m a school kid who has made a mess of his homework. I’m an educated 40-something, and while I’m no expert, I’m certainly not an idiot and I don’t need to be treated like the person who enjoys the taste of window glass.

My fifth and final point is on the nuances of social behaviour. As alluded to previously, there are subtle ways of handling people when errors are made in such a way that they don’t lose face and the person giving correction doesn’t look like a twat. I’ve always been of the opinion that you praise in public, correct in private. It’s the work of a total cad to make your point in public and show off you know more. All you are doing is making yourself look like a cretin. If you really want to correct somebody, consider a DM, as you may also be wrong. And you wouldn’t want to look like THAT person, would you? After all, you were likely the only one to have an issue if nobody else mentioned it. And how important is it that you need to correct it, or are you really just using it as an opportunity to massage your ego?

Anti-social media strikes again.

I’ve made more than one blog post on the subject of social media and the fact that it is often not social at all. Yet again, the internet has left me unsurprised and I get to be Mr Grumpy for a while. I know it’s a bit hypocritical of me to say that about correction being in private then writing this article, but I’ve not mentioned the person in question. They alone will know who it is if they read this post and ask themselves AITA?* Of course, they probably only thought they were trying to help, but they didn’t really go about it in an appropriate way for a second time, so I’ve decided a wee bit of social guidance needed.

If anybody has really got an issue with what I write in my blog, then please feel free to unfollow me. I’ll live. I’ve thicker skin than an armadillos knackersack. But if you really must give your tuppenny worth, consider taking the advice of that it isn’t what you say, but the way that you say it that matters.

*Am I The Asshole.

Yours In Spirits


Index of tastings here

Index of articles here

Photo Credits

All Photos – Authors Own

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