From the archive: the Falkland Islands long before the war, 1969

11 months ago 148

Thirteen years earlier the war, Marion Morrison travelled to the Falklands for the Observer Magazine (‘The small spot of Empire astatine the extremity of the world’, 31 August 1969), and reported backmost from ‘this windswept extremity’.

Could they enactment British ‘in the look of territorial claims by Argentina and an system that whitethorn person to beryllium connected sheep and seaweed’? Well, yes, but lone aft overmuch loss of life successful what Borges famously called ‘a combat betwixt 2 bald men implicit a comb’.

Morrison relayed conscionable however distant it was. ‘Virtually the lone mode of getting to the islands is connected the monthly RMS Darwin from Montevideo’ – which was a four-day trip.

Shipwrecks cluttered the harbour astatine Stanley, including the hulk of Brunel’s SS Great Britain, which Morrison aboriginal wrote about for the Observer successful 1970 erstwhile it returned to Bristol.

The BBC quality for 10 minutes a time was the main root of extracurricular existent affairs and arsenic determination were nary papers – ‘any communicative spreads and gets misconstrued mostly by gossip’.

Apart from the pugnacious terrain – ‘You tin thrust from Stanley to Darwin, but the 45 miles volition instrumentality you a time oregon more’ – Morrison said the islanders ‘live arsenic good arsenic radical successful galore parts of Britain, and successful immoderate ways amended – washing machines, cameras and radios are taxation free… and successful Stanley a peat serviceman allocates each household a conception of bog’.

‘A large galore of the radical person nary conception of Argentina and are unfastened to beryllium led whichever mode the upwind whitethorn change,’ she wrote, controversially, ‘particularly if Buenos Aires tin connection a cheaper and much convenient root of amusement and supplies than London can.’

Even little prophetically: ‘The islanders consciousness that if they are forced to inquire for British assistance they volition marque themselves much susceptible to a sellout to the Argentines. Perhaps it is already excessively late.’