Jack's Journey
by Jack H. Garven

"Young John was bewildered by the Greek Orthodox figures, and during a pause in the proceedings, he asked in a loud voice if the man with the big hat was Santa!"

Garven was born into a farming family in rural Scotland. Unlike many children of similar backgrounds who wish to escape their bucolic past and venture into the vast urban landscape, the author was content with his agricultural upbringing and possibly would have stayed in the country if he had not met his future wife. But as she was a "townser" and his parents' farm could not support two families, he left with his new bride for the industrial town of Kilmarnock. Little did he suspect that this move would be the first of many that would take him around the globe.

In his witty and extremely entertaining memoir, Garven chronicles a life well-lived. After getting a job cutting grass at Prestwick Airport, he landed a position as a trainee in mechanical engineering and never looked back. Work in his chosen field at first took him to Iran as a construction manager, but much of that time was spent alone under bachelor status. When an opportunity to work for British Petroleum (BP) came up that promised long-term family benefits, he made the jump to become a career man with the company. His work took him to places such as Abu Dhabi, Alaska, and various offshore oil platforms. After retiring from BP he took a position with a company based out of Milton Keynes, which sent him to even more far-flung locations.

What makes Garven's memoir stand out, though, is the wealth of anecdotes he shares of his experiences, such as waking up with snakes cuddled up to him to keep warm in Rasht or keeping his cool on the job in Latvia while bullets from an AK-47 are hitting the tanks around him. His well-written prose and the complementary poems he includes make his story a treat to read.

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