Site camp bar on 3rd July 1984

Site camp bar on 3rd July 1984

March 1984

The first women arrived on the England on 1st March, apart from the first LMA manager's secretary Mavis who lived on the Merchant Providence. We never saw her. Two were to be secretaries for PSA and two for LMA; when they came into the Merchant Providence canteen in the hold of the ship there were huge cheers and wolf-whistles. Penny P and Esther were ours.

The photo shows the first proper PSA bar at the site camp after the drying room, between blocks D1 and H3 which opened on 5th May 1984 and just before another was converted. Brian S nearest camera, Ken D the big guy facing camera near dartboard, Mike S facing dartboard, Dave N in white pullover, sitting, left, Esther, sitting and George L, sitting, right.

On 9th March 1984 the word came round that Eric S and Wynne K were going to inspect the rooms at 10 am to look for mugs and glasses which people had taken, as the kitchen was getting low on stock. The day before a notice had been posted that evening tea and coffee would be stopped if people didn't return them. (There was still no canteen on site at this time, we were still driving five miles to the ship to eat but coffee, etc. was available). I knew George had some so I dashed back and locked them in the top of my wardrobe. Later we heard that it was a wind-up perpetrated by Campbell D, an LMA QS. Lots of us got caught.

Frank S glued Campbell's boots to the floor at night on 11th March. The boots must have been ruined. Campbell appeared at the office in trainers the next day. (Most people left their muddy boots outside their rooms at night, but that stopped when Mike S had a very expensive pair stolen).

At the end of March 1984, six months after arriving, the food at the Merchant Providence was still poor as the kitchen facilities there were totally inadequate for so many people even with an additional temporary canteen on the shore. Mince in various forms, slivers of pork or beef in warm water, gluey spagetti, no fresh veg or fruit, etc. It improved immensely when the three proper canteens at the site opened later.

8th April 1984: Frank S, Jim O, George L and Wickham found Eric and Don C bogged in overnight on the way to Stanley and got them out, but they returned to site. LMA employees were banned from going to Stanley after some had gone there to a pub. They pinched women's arses, sung vile songs, took their trousers and pants down during the National Anthem which the locals sing at the end of an evening's drinking.

Mike S got into an argument with Ron S and took a swipe at him, hitting the wall and hurting his fingers. He went to the doctor in the middle of the night and said he had tripped getting out of his landrover.

On Tuesday 10th April the Stanley hospital burnt down with the loss of seven lives. Much later a new hospital was built.

A lot of people had colds and flu, probably due to the lack of vitamin C. Later I and many others got a sore throat which just wouldn't go away. I put it down to the very over-chlorinated water. The water was always brown, stained with peat dust. The showers kept getting cooler and cooler then failing completely. The elements were covered in peat dirt and some burnt out.

I woke up late on 26th April 1984 when George went out into the corridor. I could hear a buzzing noise and drunken voices. Later Mark T came into my room shouting "John, John, do you recognise me?" All his long hair was completely off, like a convict. He went to John G's room who threatened to thump him. The next day Jim O and Ray K only had a beard on half their face, looking very odd.

On 27th April the PSA acting No. 1 Mr Johnson visited us from the UK. All the PSA guys went to meet him but we consultants were not invited. The previous No. 1 had resigned because of some corruption scandal.

We understood that the PSA staff were busy discussing their terms and conditions and leave arrangements. Conditions had not got to the required standard over six months, but as the site later became complete they improved a lot. We consultants had tax-free salaries provided we stayed abroad for more than a year, but government employees were taxed. They were upset because the site hours had been reduced yet again to 57 hours a week (PSA only, not LMA) and they wanted to get as much overtime as possible.

Half-tour leave in the UK would have kept them away too long, so some went to South Georgia on a naval ship for a fortnight. Others didn't want to go on leave as it would lessen their overtime.

In the middle of April we were eating green beans which actually had some taste, and melons from South Africa brought on the England.

I looked out of the office window on 7th May and noticed that our landrover had gone, but I had the keys. I noticed that the M & E landrover was outside, so I went to try my keys and found that they worked. I moved it round the corner. When ours came back, John G took it out and later I heard the M & E guys complaining that they couldn't find their landrover! Dave D heard one of them saying "Couldn't you remember where you parked it?"

There was no television ever and up until May 1984 we had no decent radio. The reception from Stanley of FIBS (Falkland Islands Broadcasting Service) was weak. About May 1984 a radio booster station was erected on March Ridge and reception was perfect from then on.

Telephone conversations were impossible for months. Urgent messages to UK were via the ship's Marasat radio which was supposed to be only for ship communications. Eventually there was so much traffic that Marasat complained. Later Cable and Wireless set up a dish at the site offices which linked with their new satellite dish in Stanley and manned it at set times so that people could phone home.

Our monthly valuations were sent by post at first then telex - extremely long and inconvenient telexes - until the first novel fax machine arrived which coupled with the C & W telephone revolutionised communications with the UK.

East Cove port on 24th May 1984

East Cove port on 24th May 1984