Well my ‘flu has subsided, thank heavens, I genuinely don’t think I have ever felt so ill in my life before. I am still not back at work, and have been keen to use the quiet time to continue with laying down the journal I kept in 1988 when I visited the Falkland Islands as a Scientific Officer with the fisheries department.
It should be obvious from the journal itself, but my girlfriend at the time was called Deborah. The next few entries describe some of the upset of leaving loved ones behind. It was tough, but exciting too.
Thursday 3 March 1988. Montague Place, London
It is these pages which I shall return to for home comforts during those ‘black’ periods I am sure to have on my voyages. I shall remember the bomb site loosely described as my bedroom. Remember the phone call with Deborah in which she told me she was coming to London tonight and not tomorrow afternoon as planned.
Every time I go away I spend a fair amount of my time recording music – I don’t know where I would be without music. Jim said that rechargeable batteries are essential – I may have to get some. Also, I may copy him and get a small electric organ, for hours of composition fun.
Tonight I say my farewells to Dad, he is taking Karen and me to a restaurant somewhere in the St Martin’s Lane area.
Deborah’s present is great – I wish someone would buy ‘Hockney, a Retrospective’ for me!
It seems that I, like everyone else, buy presents which I myself would only love to receive given half a chance.
I said my farewell to Sean – he will keep me posted re AFC. I hope he keeps his word.
I received my ticket this morning – no turning back now. I think I ought to give Neil Downs a buzz.
Saturday 5 March 1988. Montague Place, London
A lovely meal at the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory and a drink at le Beaujolais was as much of a send-off as anyone could ask for.
Seeing Deborah off was painful – I didn’t think I would cry, but it was inevitable. Everyone tries to kid me that (5) 10 months is such a short time. It isn’t.
My coat problem was solved today – Richard gave me a Barbour type coat when Deb and I went to say goodbye. I shall see such a change in Helen when I get back. I have a stack of clothes and bits to take.
The Lucian Freud exhibition at the Hayward was enjoyed far more by Deb than by me.
Sunday 6 March 1988. Montague Place, London
I am not certain, but I could be terrified. It is all still unreal. Less than 24 hours, and my adventure will have begun. I would like to think that I could be home with the snap of the fingers, but must be content without any such luxury. Everything is set and ready to begin.
I will miss very much everyone whom I love and this makes me sad, but this cannot hold me back. Missing Deborah already. Very much. How is she so understanding?
Some things have been left undone, but I do have tomorrow.
My next entry will probably not be made for a couple of days, although I hope I can do some writing on the aeroplane.
I am too tired to stay awake, too excited to sleep.
Arsenal beat Spurs 2:1 at Highbury.
(At this point there are letters from both of my grandmothers stuck into my journal. They are both personal and very touching. Sadly both have since passed away, but their advice, love and guidance was an essential part of this extraordinary year)
I love my grandparents. They write so well.
(There were a couple of further cuttings in my journal, the last ones before leaving the UK. The first is an article from the Sunday Times on 6 March 1988, which was a little unsettling, and the other was the standings in the Barclays League First Division. I wasn’t going to let a few thousand miles stand between me and football!).
Wednesday 9 March 1988. Port Stanley
The flight, although very long, was ok. I think boredom was the most challenging problem to overcome. The jet, a tri-star, was rather like a bus or a coach, very smooth. Ascension was like a Dr Who set, lava and dust everywhere. I picked up a small piece of lava from the airstrip. It was very hot, 80 degrees at 7:30 in the morning, and I could have happily stayed there.
On to the Falklands. I don’t feel I’m here – getting down was so easy, I could just as easily be in a small Cornish village.the buildings are colonial wooden or post-colonial wooden and corrugated iron.
My first task today was to accompany ‘the Warrah’ a small patrol vessel, to Berkeley sound for some checking up on jiggers, trawlers and reefers. It was quite rough but the Stugeron sent me to sleep. I saw my first wild dolphins today, and Gentoo penguins and steamer ducks too. The cormorants here have white breasts.
Jim went to sea in a Taiwanese jigger – he was not too happy about it.
And so my journey had begun. I am enjoying reading through my journal, bringing to life some experiences that happend half a lifetime ago. I will try to make time to do another upload soon.