Time Frame: What everybody's reading

  • Photo by John Vale

October 1, 2013

No wi-fi, no iPads, no DVDs, no Kindles. Need it be added that there was no air conditioning as well?

This was the life of an oil worker in the late 1950s, the early days of exploration and time when a posting to the Western Region was about as remote as moving to Antarctica (but rather warmer).

Here a member of what was still known as Petroleum Development Trucial Coast, relaxes at the exploration base in Tarif with a copy of Everybody’s magazine featuring the actor Richard Burton on the cover.

The photo was taken by John Vale, who worked in the industry in the 50s and 60s.

Although it is not dated, Everybody’s - a British publication and not to be confused with the more famous American original - merged with another publication, John Bull, in 1959, placing the image in 1958, the year oil was found in Abu Dhabi.

The bookcase on his right is filled with well-thumbed copies of Penguin books, the orange covers denoting classic novels, the green being detective thrillers.

Most would have been read until they literally fell to pieces. In those days, Amazon was still just a river in South America.


*James Langton