Doc’s Dozen with Mark Perry (AKA Junior), Carpenter, Davis Ice Cream Tsar, SAM Slum Lord
Is this your first trip to Antarctica Mark, and what brings you here?
Yes, indeed this is my first trip to Antarctica. A mate told me he was considering applying for a job in Antarctica which he saw on the internet so I had a look myself and thought I may as well throw an application in as well.
What is it like being a chippie (carpenter) here?
Being a chippie down here is great. I honestly didn’t know what to expect coming down here as I had done as little research as anyone almost could before heading down to Antarctica. The work is good and I’m lucky enough to be a part of an amazing group of chippies who all have a great sense of humour.
If not a chippie what job would you do?
This is a hard one as my current position as the station, ‘Ice Cream Tsar', is right at the top of my wish list though one position does come to mind: STATION LEADER. As station leader I would then have total power and control of all ice cream on station but more importantly I would make the person responsible for ordering all this light ice cream we have accountable for their actions.
Best gig as a chippie Mark?
The best gig as a chippie would have to be the diverse range of tasks that you are required to do. Most often two jobs are never the same hence I never get sick of doing the same thing day in, day out. Every day is different to the last, whether it is just a different location or a different type of sheeting to hang than the week before. My job is continuously changing and I eminently enjoy it.
Best experience in Antarctica?
Though this is a hard one, I would have to say that the iceberg boat cruise in the zodiacs would have to take the cake. Seeing some of the amazing colours throughout the icebergs and watching the Adélie penguins on Gardner Island feed their obese, yet forever hungry, young.
What do you love about Antarctica?
Well, back at Kingston (location of Australian Antarctic Division headquarters in Tasmania) I took part in a psychological test with a counsellor to ensure my approval to come down south. Doing as little research as I had, it was clear to the person doing the assessment that I had not done my homework on Antarctica or Davis station. She asked me clearly,”Well if you have no idea on what it’s like down there how do you know if you will like it or not?” Well, I can honestly say I love it. All the people down here are amazing, the landscape and wildlife is breathtaking and it was not until spending the time here that I realised and appreciated just how lucky I was to have this opportunity. I cannot put my finger on one thing that I love most about Antarctica, just the whole environment.
Who inspires you Junior, plus what kind of car would you be?
Malcolm Blight. The day I can kick an 80 metre bomb, my life will be complete. If I could be anyone else it would be Malcolm Blight.
(For those too young to remember, Malcolm Blight is a legendary Australian Football League player of the 70s and 80s.)
As a car, I would be a stock standard Toyota Land Cruiser that needs not much maintenance and drinks a lot of fuel (food and ice cream).
What have you learned living in a small community?
Coming from a small community town and a family of four other siblings, which consist of an older sister and two sets of twins (which I am one of) I learned a lot about sharing and caring. For example, if there was a nice packet of chips around you DO NOT wait till everyone else arrives. You devour as much as you can in as little time as possible and disappear without a trace. Mostly the same goes in small community living though I have learned that consideration and patience is a must and that not all rumours are true.
(Hmm, those feeding rituals seem vaguely familiar to me Junior.)
Junior, you have a few more jobs and titles here at Davis. Could you explain what ‘SAM Slum Lord’ and ‘Davis Ice Cream Tsar’ mean?
Ice Cream Tsar means I am in control of which flavour ice cream is to be served with each dessert and how much. It is within my power to punish those who I see abusing or misusing the ice cream as I see fit and I am responsible for ensuring that it gets put into its resting ground at the end of each night so that it may not melt.
Slum Lord: once upon a time a landlord of SAM (summer accommodation module), Bryce, decided to abandon his position and move up in the world to the LQ (living quarters — the posh accommodation). SAM was rapidly spiralling out of control and it quickly developed a seriously bad reputation and was referred to as a cross between Ramsey Street and Housos. I took back control of the public housing apartments, since which, real estate valuations have gone through the roof and SAM is now referred to as somewhat of a Summers Bay.
Junior, what is the true nature of your relationship with ice cream?
Well I believe that my relationship with ice cream began at a very young age. As I was growing up, both my parents were ridiculously obsessed with feeding us all healthy food and not so much ice cream or treats. As I grew, I began to rebel against these wishes and secured quite a sweet tooth for ice cream. It seemed fair that those many years of going without required some catching up on. Since moving out of home and now living with my lovely fiancé Ashlie (who feels the need to limit me to five litres of ice cream a week) I believe we will be reassessing our ice cream arrangements before my arrival back home.
Junior, why do you have the nickname of ‘Junior’? Is this appropriate and are you happy with it?
Two people come to mind — Brendan and Ducky — when I think of my new name Junior. One day Brendan decided that there were too many Marks (four) on station and that he was going to come up with a new name for me. To my surprise he turned and said, “Junior, your name can be Junior because you're the youngest Mark on station”. Later that week I confided in Ducky telling him how one of my good mates from home has the name Junior and I was unsure on my feelings about it. With good intentions Ducky then went forward to Brendan telling him of my situation. Brendan did not see this as a valid reason to stop but more of an inspiration to enforce every person on station to address me as Junior. In all honestly, I love my name and I will never forget Junior on Davis station.
What is in store when you return to home?
Once I return home to Tasmania, I wish to mow the lawn around my home at least three times in 24 hours, visit Cold Rock (ice cream parlour) on a daily basis, hang out at the pub with my mates and somehow find time to marry my fiancé.
(Junior, I hope your beautiful fiancé gets a bit more attention than your, albeit beautiful, grass.)
Well, what an amazing insight into the stormy goings-on in SAM and the power wielded by the resident Ice Cream Tsar. Junior, thank you so much for your full and frank revelations. I may just look at taking up residence in SAM — it sounds very appealing under you new management.