November 28th 2018,
I am currently struggling to read books. I tell myself every day that I should read on my lunch breaks at work etc, but my mind races from one thought to another and I mainly fail at opening a book and discovering what is contained within.
Today, I have decided to chain myself to my desk for each of my lunch breaks at work until Easter, and copy from whatever book I happen to have at hand.
It forces me to read, write and concentrate at the same time, in the hope that it may replace some bad habits with some good ones, and generally help me become a better reader and writer.
This series of posts will be shared, just in case the words being copied might be of interest to you.
(No copyright infringements intended).
I have a different book at hand this lunchtime, a book that has been staring at me and egging me on from my small bookshelf for quite some time…
FAITH UNDER FIRE
By HARRY BAGNALL
(Chapter 1 continued)
Argentine voices were muttering in the background.
Then silence, followed by a somewhat nonplussed
Patrick: ‘Well, they’ve left me on my own now,
they’ve just walked out . . .’ At that moment contact
was again established by the telephone between the
studio and Government House. Governor Hunt described the fighting and the subsequent surrender,
and advised everybody to keep calm and – for the present – do what the Argentine forces told them to do. Immediately afterwards, the Argentines took the microphone and began issuing instructions. The first thing they broadcast was a recording of the Argentine national anthem.
In a town like Port Stanley, the radio station is at the heart of the community. Falklands Radio was a small, informal, friendly station, full of local information and other community news, interspersed with old radio programmes – comedies, quiz shows and so on – shipped out to us from London. Patrick Watts, who performed a magnificent all-night broadcasting marathon on the night of the invasion, was a versatile, popular broadcaster whose easy style at the microphone concealed a shrewd professionalism and one or two specialist skills; he was an excellent sports reporter, for instance. Also, in the wider, scattered community of the Falklands themselves, the radio was a vital link and a way of keeping contact between the outlying farms and the capital at Port Stanley. There was a sense in which you could have said that the radio station was the unassuming, omnipresent voice of the people of the Islands. The Argentines had taken over our Governor’s residence, had seized our airfield, and now had silenced our voice.
They began to issue a series of edicts over the radio, stern lists of instructions read out in clipped military English with a strong Spanish accent. During the morning we learned that General Osvaldo Garcia was the new Military governor and Commander of Operations. His first communique gave us a foretaste of what was to follow, despite the courteous language in which it was phrased:
At this highly important moment for all of us it is
my pleasure to greet the people of the Maldives and
exhort you to co-operate with the new authorities
by complying with all of the instructions that will
be given through oral and written communiques, in
order to facilitate the normal life of the entire
A further communique announced that the Governor, his staff, and the British military personnel on the Islands would be relieved of their duties and deported from the Islands. The implications of this- the removal of all symbols and instruments of British authority from the Falklands – were just beginning to sink in when a third communique, in much tougher language, imposed a house curfew and warned of severe penalties for infringing it. We were told not to leave our houses, and we were informed that shops, pubs, schools, and other public buildings would remain closed for the present. Over the next hour or so there were a number of worried phone calls. For example one lady rang the station in some distress: ‘But I’ve got to go and feed my hens,’ she explained (her hens were in her back garden). It was a vivid illustration of the way people are resilient to even the most devastating changes in the way things are; the Islands had been invaded, and people were more concerned about keeping things going – worried about whether their hens would starve or whether they would be allowed to collect peat from the peat shed. It put things into perspective!
The official edict made it clear that, friendly greetings from the operational Commander notwithstanding, the Argentines were here in force and here to stay. We were to remain under cover and in no circumstances leave our homes. The edict described in considerable detail the various punishment procedures that would be invoked if any of the Islanders contravened the new regulations. As it turned out the situation was regularised within an hour or so, but the intention then was to keep civilians from wandering about the streets. The edict commanded that if there was a real problem that meant one had to leave the house, something white should be hung in one’s window. The passing troops would see it and come to find out what the problem was. It wasn’t a bad idea, though I’m not sure whether anybody took it up.
Iris and I moved around the house restlessly. We couldn’t concentrate on anything, and whatever we began we left unfinished. From time to time Iris went to her spinning wheel, but then a noise in the street or a distant noise of gunfire would bring us both to the window. The morning passed slowly; it was like being in prison, and we wanted to go out. We were both thinking of people – mainly the old and the sick – who would be terrified at what was happening, and wishing we could be with them. It wasn’t even possible to telephone them to ask how they were, because we had been forbidden to use the phone for anything except essential business. Later in the morning, we listened to some of the BBC World Service news broadcasts. Incredibly, there was no official confirmation from London that the invasion had taken place. Eventually Iris said, ‘Let’s have some lunch.’ Neither of us was particularly hungry, but we sat down to eat.
We prayed together. We always do give thanks for our food, but now we had rather more to bring to the Lord; our fears for ourselves, and for other people who were on our minds at that time. We prayed that God’s hand would be very firm upon us during the days to come, that we would know what to do and what to say when our neighbours and friends were in need.
As we began to eat, the doorbell rang. We looked at each other in surprise. Who could it be? The curfew was strict; it couldn’t be an Islander. ‘I’ll go,’ I said, and went to the door.
2: The first day
‘A large task force will sail as soon as
preparations are complete’.
Statement to the House of commons by
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, April 3.
I opened the door carefully and looked cautiously out into the sunny street. An extremely distressed Argentine civilian was standing there.
‘I am so sorry!’ he said. ‘I am so very sorry!’ He was almost in tears. ‘what can I say? There is nothing to say, nothing.’ He gulped back a sob, and wiped the back of his hand across his eyes. ‘ I want to help you. there must be things I can do for you. Necessary things – you tell me, I will do anything.’
I looked at him curiously. I knew him; he was temporarily a neighbour of mine. He was an employee of the Argentine company Gas del Estado, and had been working in the Islands for the past few days on an installation. He was lodging at the Upland Goose. A year before, he had been living on the Islands, and Iris and I had got to know him quite well and had entertained him several times. He was obviously deeply embarrassed by the events of the morning. He was speaking with some difficulty.
‘Please – tell me what I can do for you.’
I had a sudden idea.
‘Yes, there is something you can do for me.’
‘You can get me permission to visit the hospital. I’m stuck in here because of the edicts and I need some sort of official pass. There are people I need to see at the hospital. You can have a word with whoever is in charge of things like that, if you like.’
He nodded eagerly. ‘I will do that,’ he promised, and set off. I closed the front door and went back to the table, rubbing my hands. Iris looked up enquiringly.
‘I think we’ve had an answer to the hospital visiting problem,’ I said cheerfully, and sat down to our interrupted lunch.