Henry's Songbook

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  • (Martin Carthy)

    I saw her by the showroom window
    Standing alone on a market day
    As I passed her by I heard her sigh
    As the military parade came on TV
    There were twenty screens in the showroom window
    Victors marching large and small
    As they wheeled on by I heard her sigh
    Oh, and oh for my darling boy

    They called him Jack, they called him John
    He was there sat tight offshore
    They caught him cold in the heat of the battle
    For a South Atlantic company store

    Mama told me, Don't you wed a soldier
    Don't ever marry your heart's delight
    He will be gone when the morning comes
    And you will be left for to mourn in the light
    Every night I dreamed that I saw him
    Dreamed I never would see him more
    In my dream his body come floating
    Away where the ocean rise and fall

    But it was not death that bawled in the alley
    Came skittering up to my love's door
    It was not death that cried and howled
    In the teeth of the South Atlantic roar
    But a bomb bounding down in the alley
    The bomb wrapped in a silver shell
    The bomb that plucked the face from my love
    Spread it wide on the face of the swell

    Oh sweet and soothing showers
    Breathe upon his burning head
    Ease among his waking dreams
    Whose tears nightly drench my bed

    For it was all a case of saving face
    When they sent my love to the war
    For eighteen hundred landless tenants
    Of the South Atlantic company store
    Eighteen hundred landless tenants
    Eighteen hundred landless poor
    Eighteen hundred waking dreams
    Of Empire long gone before

    In that dream I stand at Bluff
    With an empty shell up to my ear
    The only sound the sound of cash
    Being wrung from the snows of Antarctica
    Ring-a-ring-a-city roses
    Victors march and markets bloom
    The flame that melted my love's cheek
    Come a-dancing the Iron Lady too

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1988:] As an avid stamp collector when I was a little boy I was, for some reason, fascinated by the Falkland Islands, and I remember first hearing the name Malvinas during the fifties and then approximately every ten years after that. It still astonishes me that during the 1982 war there was so very little, if any, public questioning of the basic notions which Parliament and the press propagated. The first war that England had watched on TV may have had something to do with it, and I certainly shall not forget the utterly toneless briefings of that M o D official night after night. I'm sure he's always existed and that the armed forces have always made use of him. I'm equally sure that the laughing, cheering and banging of drums that saw off the task force was replaced in fairly short order by [...] doubt, misery and torture [...]. (Notes Martin Carthy, 'Right of Passage')

  • [1995:] [Mrs Thatcher's account of the Falklands War is] history with little nuance or complication, whether political or moral. The Argentine invasion of the islands was completely unforeseeable (she set up a royal commission afterwards which confirmed it, so that's that); the British were defending 'our honour as a nation'; while our wider duty was to ensure that Aggression did not Succeed, and that international law be not flouted. But the war also sprang from - and celebrated - Mrs Thatcher's nature, and her resolution. When the Argentine Fleet set off to invade the Falklands, the second-thoughting Defence Minister [John Nott] gave her the feeble official view that, once seized, the islands could not be retaken. 'This was terrible, and totally unacceptable. [...] Not while I was Prime Minister.' She has to kick a few peaceniks into line, including her Foreign Secretary, Francis Pym, who shows wobbliness and a disproportionate interest in diplomatic solutions; and she is willing to threaten resignation to get her way with the War Cabinet. Staunch support comes from Caspar Weinberger, Laurens van der Post, and Francis Mitterrand [...] but it is, essentially, Maggie versus the Argies. Much of this is comic strip simplification. The Falklands, with its depressed company-store economy, tiny population, and militarily insufficient runway, held no interest for the British except perhaps among philatelists. We had been trying to unload the islands for decades, efforts which culminated in Nicholas Ridley's 'lease-back' proposal of 1980. This was thrown out by the House of Commons; but still, in classic playground fashion, we did not really want, or think about wanting, the islands until someone else did. [...] Nor was Mrs Thatcher at all in the valiant isolation she now chooses to describe. The House of Commons fell immediately and noisily behind the Prime Minister, not least after a key intervention she fails to acknowledge: that of Michael Foot, old-socialist leader of the Labour Party and, in his own words, an 'inveterate peacemonger', who came out for war. So did most of the nation: the British are still a bellicose race, and they rather like fighting, preferably by themselves and in a good-versus-evil struggle as sketched by the Prime Minister. For once, something was happening out there, the TV pictures were good, and xenophobia could be indulged.

    [Mrs Thatcher] doesn't mention the basic statistics of the war. One thousand eight hundred islanders were liberated from the Argentines (who brought not torture and death but colour TV sets to cheer the crofters' firesides), at a cost of just over 1000 deaths, 255 of them British, plus countless modern maimings. Try doing the sum on a different war: imagine that the reinvasion of France in 1944 had cost 23 million lives, 6 million of them Allied. Would we rejoice so much and praise our leaders? Freedom is indivisible, politicians like to say, but of course it isn't; on the contrary, it falls into strict categories. It was lucky for the islanders that they were white, just as it was lucky for the Kuwaitis [in 1991] that they exported oil rather than Turkish delight. [...]

    Today, the islanders are no nearer the hearts of the British than before; a political solution has been endlessly deferred; and the enlarged airstrip, which we once couldn't afford, has now been built, to the ultimate benefit of the Argentines. [...] In fact, the cost of the campaign, plus that of securing the Falklands to the end of the eighties, was upward of 2 million pounds per islander.

    All this, though, is politically irrelevant. However impressive the feat of arms, its true and lasting significance for the British was as a domestic metaphor. [...] Hence the explicit linkage Mrs Thatcher made immediately after the war in a speech at Cheltenham: 'We have ceased to be a nation in retreat. We have instead a newfound confidence - born in the economic battles at home and tested and found true 8000 miles away.'
    (Julian Barnes, review of Margaret Thatcher, 'The Downing Street Years', Letters From London 248f)

  • [1998:] Nördlich der Falklandinseln wird nach Erdöl gebohrt - das weckt neue Begehrlichkeiten der Argentinier und schürt die Ängste der Insulaner. Das letzte, was die Falkländer von den Argentiniern vernahmen, war ein unsittliches Angebot: Bis zu einer Million Pfund, bar auf den Tisch, versprach Staatspräsident Carlos Menem 1994 jedem Inselbewohner, falls die Bevölkerung sich bereit erkläre, auf ihre britische Staatsbürgerschaft zu verzichten [...]. Die Offerte hatte damals bei den Insulanern wahre Emotionsausbrüche hervorgerufen: [...] Man sei und man bleibe britisch, die wichtigste Straße in der Hauptstadt Port Stanley heiße nicht umsonst "Margaret Thatcher Drive". Die Eiserne Lady hatte nach der argentinischen Invasion 1982 das Leben von 255 britischen und (mindestens) 746 argentinischen Soldaten geopfert, um die Falklands für die Krone zu retten. Außerdem das Leben von drei einheimischen Frauen, die durch eine fehlgeleitete Granate aus den eigenen Reihen getötet wurden.

    Die Abfuhr [...] war nicht nur angemessen patriotisch, sie war auch wirtschaftlich richtig. Denn die erdverbundenen Insulaner können auf ungleich fettere Beute hoffen: theoretisch 16 Millionen Pfund Sterling für jeden - Mann, Frau und Kind. Soviel käme zusammen, wenn die Ölfelder im Norden der Inselgruppe wirklich etwa 100 Milliarden Pfund abwerfen, wie Analysten in der Londoner City schätzen. 40 Prozent aller Erlöse flössen dann als Lizenzgebühren und Steuern an die Falkländer zurück. Die Regierung in London, die sich vom Nordsee-Öl insgesamt 150 Milliarden Pfund gesichert hat (was vor allem die Schotten beklagen), versichert: "Alle Öleinkünfte gehören den Falkländern."

    [...] Eigentlich könnten die Falkländer auch ohne den reichen Ölsegen zufrieden sein. Ihr Leben hat sich seit dem Krieg deutlich verbessert. Eine neue Verfassung hat ihnen demokratischere Verhältnisse und eine weitgehende Selbstverwaltung beschert; eine Bodenreform schuf die Voraussetzungen, ortsfremde Großgrundbesitzer, vor allem die Londoner Falkland Island Company und ihre Aktionäre, zu enteignen und das Land unter den Einheimischen aufzuteilen. Frau Thatchers anachronistischer Kolonialkrieg hat den Falkländern einen richtigen Wohlfahrtsstaat hinterlassen. Neue Straßen verbinden auch entlegene Gehöfte mit der Hauptstadt. Gesundheitsversorgung, selbstverständlich kostenlos, und die neue Schule sind vom Feinsten; die Hälfte der Bevölkerung arbeitet in der Verwaltung, und alle Bewohner haben unter bestimmten Bedingungen Anspruch auf kostenlose Auslandsreisen. [...]

    Mit Skepsis sehen die Falkländer dem November entgegen, wenn erstmals seit dem Krieg ein argentinischer Präsident zum Staatsbesuch nach London reist. Sie fürchten eine Einigung auf ihre Kosten.

    Für das vergangene Wochenende war auf der britischen Luftwaffenbasis Aldershot das erste große Treffen von Falkland-Veteranen geplant - komplett mit Auftritt der Falkland-Siegerin Thatcher und der Enthüllung eines Mahnmals für die Kriegstoten.

    Von sich aus haben sie deshalb schon mal versprochen, die 70 Millionen Pfund zu erstatten, die die Verteidigung der Inseln die britischen Steuerzahler jährlich kostet - vorausgesetzt natürlich, daß das viele Öl auch wirklich fließt. (Spiegel, 15. Juni)

  • [1998:] He used to swish along the avenues of Buenos Aires in escorted motorcades. Now former Generalissimo Leopoldo Galtieri, ex-dictator of Argentina and sometime conquistador of the Falklands, drives an ageing Ford Escort. [...] The man behind the wheel [old, with a shock of white hair and a broken nose,] once refused to take calls from President Ronald Reagan until the Argentine invasion of the Falklands was under way. Six days later, on 6 April 1982, Galtieri stood on the balcony of the Casa Rosada (Pink House) and took the salute of 150,000 people packed into the Plaza de Mayo. He had taken back Las Malvinas. Then Mrs Thatcher and the ghost of the British Empire struck back.

    Today few officials will acknowledge Galtieri's existence, even fewer want to talk about Argentina's dim-witted version of Chile's General Augusto Pinochet. Amnestied for his role in the Falklands War and never found guilty for his part in the country's Dirty War, the politics of forgetting has meant that Galtieri has been airbrushed from the official history of the country. The only observation people volunteer on Galtieri is that he used to be a drunk who downed a bottle or two of Black Label a day. [...] He lives with only [his wife] Lucía for protection in a flat in an ugly brown block, where he is part-time janitor and in constant fear of harrassment. [...]

    Galtieri was a junior partner in the military junta during the worst season of the Dirty War, which claimed around 15,000 [Argentinian] people murdered or 'disappeared'. But he never spoke out against it and he accepted power when he was offered it. [...] 'He was not stupid, but he was not a clever man', said Gustavo Figueroa, who during the Falklands War was the Chef de Cabinet to Foreign Minister Nicanor Costa Méndez. 'To be fair, it is true to say that Galtieri was never in the top 10 of human rights abusers. But he did not speak out. None of us did. And that is a criticism I make of myself.' On the Falklands, he allows Galtieri a plea of misjudgment. 'None of the three-man junta which Galtieri headed ever believed the British would ever send a fleet. Towards the end, he wanted to pull us out, but he didn't have the wit to do it.' (John Sweeney, Observer, 1 Nov)

  • [1999:] Bluff is Bluff Cove which is on the Falklands, and the Iron Lady is an imaginary dance that both sides were dancing. (Wally Macnow,, 22 June)

    See also Weston, Simon, Walking Tall (Bloomsbury, London 1989 - story of a Falklands veteran who was almost burned to death during the fighting and ended up badly disabled and disfigured)

  • [2000:] In the light of what followed, I blush to be reminded of my first thoughts. Yet, in the beginning, the dispatch of the task force did seem an extraordinary idea. [...] Thatcher was talking about fighting - going to war with horse, foot and guns in the year of our Lord 1982 - to recover some meaningless piece of real estate at the other side of the world. For God's sake. Take a pill. Lie down. The fever will pass. Flippant or not, that is how many people felt, including some at the summit of government and military command.

    The Prime minister did not lie down, nor take a pill. The fever did not pass. Instead, the carriers Invincible and Hermes were ordered to sea, and sailed with their escorts on 5 April. 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines, was readied to embark for the South Atlantic. Sea Harrier and Sea King squadrons were earmarked for service. The Royal Navy's two assault landing ships, those elderly veterans Fearless and Intrepid, prepared for a role no soldier or sailor could have imagined they would ever fulfil in earnest. (Max Hastings, Going to the Wars 270 f.)

    Many, perhaps most, men in the task force took a sardonic view of the merits of the cause for which we were going to war. They knew they were embarked on a throwback of history, in consequence of a huge political failure at home. I saw no Thatcher-worship in the South Atlantic, only a powerful professional commitment to doing the job (Max Hastings, Going to the Wars 295)

  • [2002:] What Thatcher needed in 1981-82 was diversions. At the time she was the most unpopular prime minister since records began, but she proceeded to make her name by bashing the unions, privatising, and 'busying giddy minds with foreign quarrels' in the Falklands War. (William Keegan, Observer 24 Mar)

  • german [2003:] Er war einer der meistgehassten argentinischen Generäle, die das Land während der Diktatur von 1976 bis 1983 beherrschten. Denn der eitle Offizier war nicht nur für Folter und Mord an zahlreichen Oppositionellen verantwortlich. Er schickte Tausende schlecht ausgerüstete Wehrpflichtige als Kanonenfutter in den Falkland-Krieg, wo viele jämmerlich starben. Der General hatte sich verkalkuliert, als er am 2. April 1982 die Inseln besetzen ließ: Er rechnete nicht damit, dass die Briten das Archipel mit Waffengewalt zurückerobern würden. Am 14. Juni räumte der angetrunkene General mit schleppender Stimme die Niederlage ein, seither zeichneten Argentiniens Karikaturisten ihn meistens mit einem Whiskeyglas in der Hand. Im Juli vergangenen Jahres wurde er wegen seiner Verbrechen während der Militärdiktatur unter Hausarrest gestellt. Leopoldo Galtieri starb am 12. Januar in Buenos Aires an Bauchspeicheldrüsenkrebs. (Spiegel, 20. Januar)

  • more:

  • See also
    20th anniversary of the Falklands War

    First day of the war

Quelle: England

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aktualisiert am 08.04.2003