I would hazard a guess that one of the main reasons people bother to log on to our blog (though those numbers are admittedly quite low in the grand scheme of the internet) is to gain an insight into life in the Falkland Islands. This week we were made aware of two things that might just be able to offer anyone curious about the Islands a slice of Falkland life if they so Desire (there’s a little Falklands history pun there but it’s a bit specialist; the Desire was the first British ship to land in the Falklands and gave birth to the motto featured on the Falklands flag – Desire the Right; that might make the Falklands the only country in the World with a pun on its flag, I’ve not certified that).
Anyway, I digress. My point is that if you’re located in or near London and are looking for a free thing to do then the Falklands 35 exhibition is on at the A and D gallery this week. It’s somewhat personal for us as Han took one of the photos in the display and our friends took and feature in some of the others too so it’s well worth stopping by:
The other thing that we were made aware of that might help the curious to gain some understanding of life here was a similarly rare event to the one above: the Falklands featuring in some light-hearted Irish investigative journalism!
We can highly recommend a read of the following article on, as it transpire, Daniel O’Donnell being the most Googled person in our beloved territory:
I can’t say I was aware of this before or during our stay here but I also can’t say I’m all that surprised.
We like to say
“there are two types of music in the Falklands: Country and Western”.
(This isn’t strictly true and there are some excellent other and bands here, but the predominant music heard/expected/demanded at many functions is more Country/Western).
Hopefully someone out there will get a chance to view one or both of these intriguing peepholes into our home from afar and have their curiosity aroused by something they might not have expected to.
This week marks half term for us here in the Falklands. It’s an oddly timed break, just one week long and with the weather getting to a bitterly cold level (snow and hail are coming and going, though not in terrible quantities and not enough to cause problems). We’re unlikely to head out to Camp all the same as we’ve got a lot to do, but we’ll find time for a break in the proceedings as military history geeks or blog followers with great memories will be aware; 14th June this year marks the 35th anniversary of the surrender of Argentine forces in the 1982 Falklands conflict. To those here in the Falklands, this is Liberation Day and it’s hard to explain the significance and the atmosphere to people living in countries that haven’t experienced military occupation in living memory. The day is a bank holiday, of course, and proceeds with a service at the Cathedral before a military parade at the solemn Liberation Monument on Stanley seafront. It is a safe bet that this will be the largest turn-out for any event in the Falklands. At least, I cannot see there being a larger crowd gathered at all here.
What follows is the great contrast of Liberation Day. On the one hand, the day is solemn. It’s a time to remember those who fell in battle or died fighting to free the people here (many of whom remember the sacrifice made for them and by whom). It is, however, also a time to celebrate; the joy of being granted freedom after oppression at the hands of an aggressor. With that in mind, we then proceed to the largest suitable venue (last year the Town Hall, this year the FIDF Hall; drill hall for the Falkland Islands Defence Force) where the government puts on a “civic reception” for everyone to gather together and celebrate. The excellent Museum is also open with free entry for a few hours (the staff there among the few people in town who are working on the day).
It’s a strange day, particularly poignant for the older members of the community. It’s also a stark reminder that there are some distinct differences between the UK and this overseas territory. I can’t summon to memory a celebration in the UK that seems to maintain the significance of this one to such a large proportion of the people. Perhaps our excitement about Liberation Day is another symptom of being part of this community.
Speaking of symptoms of the community: the annual South Atlantic Mid-Winter Swim is approaching in two weeks. We’ve yet to decide if we’ll do it again this year. It lacks novelty for those who have lived here their entire lives, so is almost universally attended by the many military and fixed-term contract residents (such as ourselves). Stay tuned to find out whether we brave it for yet another Certificate of Lunacy signed by the Governor.