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South Georgia

In the late sixties a cousin of mine Norman Tropman decided that he needed a change of direction with his life so he applied to an advertisement that he saw in a national newspaper and got this extraordinary job interview. The following pictures and story are of his adventures close to The South Pole.


Decorator takes on the oddest odd job of all

A Shirley man was 24 hours out of the Uruguayan port of Montevideo today, sailing to one of the oddest jobs in the world.
Mr Norman Tropman is heading for South Georgia, one of the remotest islands of the South Atlantic, where he will spend nearly two years decorating the property occupied by the 50 inhabitants.
The island is so isolated only a whaling vessel can reach it, Mr Tropman aged 33, will transfer to it at Port Stanley, in the Falkland Islands, for the 700 mile leg of the three week journey. And to get about on the island, Mr Tropman an amateur climber, potholer rambler and long distance walker, has taken his skis with him.

Loneliness No Bar

His 18 years experience working as a decorator for a local building contractor got him the job when he applied to a newspaper advertisement.
Mrs Jeannette Pettitt, a neighbour of Mr Tropman and his Mother, in Union Road Shirley, said today: “I have never seen anyone as excited as Norman at the prospect of this job, he has never flown before until he boards the V.C 10 at Gatwick Airport for Montevideo, he regards the whole thing as a challenge to his preference for the rugged, outdoor life, he is the sort of chap who will not mind the loneliness one bit.”

His Two-Year Paint Job: And it’s Near the South Pole!

 For 18 years Mr Norman Tropman has been employed by a local building contractor as a decorator. But on Thursday he began the strangest decorating assignment that he, or anyone else, has ever undertaken.
 Thirty-Three year old Mr Tropman left his home at 45 Union Road, Shirley, and begun an 8000-mile journey by sea and air to paint houses on a desolate glacial island inhabited by 50 people and a colony of penguins and seals.
 The island of South Georgia, an isolated member of the Falkland Isle Dependencies, lying over 1000 miles to His destination? When he arrives on the island, after his three week journey across three Continents, he will be greeted by a small group of inhabitants who remain during the winter to maintain the base, but in the summer months, South Georgia is a different place, hundreds of people return to change the island into a centre for a thriving whole industry and to a man a community that exists only for a few brief months. Winter or summer there are no forms of transport except skis and not a single bush or tree can survive east of Cape Horn South America. The job of decorating every building on the isle will take him nearly two years, and came his way after he noticed an advertisement in a national newspaper. He applied and after an interview in London was offered the position. "Thick protective clothing has to be worn at all times, Mr Tropman told the news" on the day before he left, how he thought of a job that the majority of people would never consider: “I am looking forward to it immensely" I have never flown and never even left this country before. So it will be all the more unusual.  When I arrive, I will be given my own centrally heated house and I am quite sure that I will get to know the people well. To live under such conditions, you would have to get on with your neighbours”. He experienced considerable difficulty in finding room for the entire luggage he wanted to take. With the help of his Mother, with whom he lives, he drew up long list of the things he would need most, needless to say that meant four pairs of everything where clothes were concerned! but his calculations were a little out, he had  been told by airline officials that he would be allowed 44lbs of free luggage, and at the very last count it exceeded three times that much! even so, he was determined not to leave behind the kit that had cost him nearly £200. and willing paid the extra, a final check to see that he had returned all the library books about the island that he had borrowed and he was ready for a journey that would turn print and pictures into very cold reality, so on Thursday evening with bags and suitcases and cameras Mr Tropman left his home with a restful two weeks ahead of him on Riviera not an 8000 miles journey to an ice clad land on the fringe of the South Pole.

What it’s really like to be left in the cold

After an 18 months spell of duty at a scientific base in the Antarctic a Shirley man has returned home “for an indefinite period” before finding another job abroad, this time possibly in South Africa.
Mr. Norman Tropman who is 37 years old, lives at 45 Union Road Shirley when he is not building laboratories or redecorating buildings in South Georgia, an island just north of the Antarctic Circle.
He served on a scientific station in King Edward Cove along with 12 or 13 other men, the only inhabitants of South Georgia.
He said that Altogether he had been in the Antarctic for about five years having originally left Shirley in June 1965, before which time he was a painter with a Solihull firm.
Not content with his stay in the Antarctic which the more adventurous only dream of and the warm blooded shudder at. Mr Tropman would like to return but this time to a station even further south at Marguerite Bay in Graham Land where he would also be a maintenance worker.
However first he would like to swelter in blazing sun, for a change, and travel to South Africa where he hopes to work for a short time.

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