Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I used to work with this British guy, Hugh Martyr. We were chefs at the Fort Worth Hyatt. He smoked Dunhills, and drank Earl Grey tea. He lived out at Eagle Mountain Lake, and drove his little Triumph Spitfire down 10 mile Bridge Road for his commute. He had gloves, goggles, a scarf, and one of those little caps the Brits like to wear when they are “touring”. That’s what they call ‘driving”.

He was really a classy kind of guy, and we made quite a pair I suppose. We used to get into a lot of banter back and forth about systems of government, and Presidents and Kings, and the idea that we are a people separated by a common language. It was always good natured, and Hugh’s dry sense of humor was delightful to me.

In 1982, Margaret Thatcher sent the British fleet to capture back for the Empire the Falkland Islands, which had been invaded by the Argentinian army. Argentina claimed the Falklands, which they called the Malvinas, belonged to them.
 It was a real crisis.  The whole British task force eventually comprised 127 ships. Thatcher sent three Aircraft carriers, four Destroyers, a dozen battleships, no telling how many subs, and all the Auxilliary Navy to support the armada. Also deployed were ocean liners--including the Queen Elizabeth II-- loaded with tens of thousands of tough British marines ready to slog it out with the Argentinean rebels. 
The Falkland Islands are about 100 yards off the coast of Argentina, but 10,000 miles from sunny England. It took the British fleet eleven  days to get there. It is so far away that they lost ships and men just trying to hazard the journey.

Of course, when they got there, they kicked ass, and took their Island back. After all, the Argentineans only had a dozen planes and 4,000 troops in the entire army anyway.

All of this made Margaret Thatcher a hero. But I never quite understood it. During the crisis, I used to come to work and ask Hugh:
“Tell me again why you want this Island? There is nothing there but some sheep, a few stray penguins, and the occasional Magellinic Snipe.. It sits right off the coast of Argentina, its not much bigger than Tarrant County. What in the world does the Empire need with this Island? Why not just give it back? Why not just let them have it?”

The thing is, of all the banter that Hugh and I exchanged while we worked together, this is the one that pissed him off. He didn’t like it one bit, and it created a bit of a rift between us for a while.. He tried to explain it to me, but I never quite understood. Maybe I still don’t.

The reason I write this story is because I went to see the movie "Obama 2016", and in the movie it basically says that because I thought in 1982  that maybe Argentina had a claim to the Falklands, that makes me Anti-American.



soubriquet said...

Yep, we like 'touring' Here's a video of the 2012 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race. We brits love touring.... http://youtu.be/Ph0SjLC_lqk

As for those islands, well, they're home to a lot of people who speak english and who don't want to be argentinians. As for the war, the Argentinians had a pretty effective air-force, armed with french-made exocet missiles, they sank some significant british ships.
Their army had some tough units, but a lot of their soldiers were poorly trained conscripts. We brits were not exactly impressed at the way the international community shrugged at the invasion.
Okay, it's no Kuwait, but the principle still holds doesn't it? Oh. I see. No oil wells? Right.

Did Argentina ever own the islands? No. Do they have a claim? Well, maybe about as much as Cuba has a claim to Florida.
But a zillion times less than Mexico's claim to Texas.

bulletholes said...

Touche'! The Argentinians actually had more planes than the Brits as well,but the Brits fly better!
And the Falklands were not that close to aregentina, 250m coast to coast and 1100 m capital to capital.
But I had fun writing this. Its more fun than I've had in a while.

Good to see you!

Anonymous said...

Interesting comment and very true.

Mexico has a far, far greater claim to Texas, than Argentina ever had or ever will to the Falkland Islands.

The difference is, Mexicans don't gripe and groan about it every chance they get, nor use it as a Political distraction when their economy goes to crap.

Then again, Argentina is a country founded upon the Genocide of their South American natives. They paid a pound a head to wipe out the Tierra del fugans. And they blame every-one else for all of their troubles.

Folcrom Tafazah.

bulletholes said...

"Then again, Argentina is a country founded upon the Genocide of their South American natives."
Thats what America is, substituting North for South!

Relax Max said...

That is so true about America being founded on the genocide of the North American natives.

The coincidence is mind boggling.

And Texas vs the Falklands: so equally relevant it boggles as well.

I am easily boggled today.

This post was great. (comments, including mine, were only so-so) :)

You were a chef? Holy Mackeral! - Emeril is a chef!

Double boggling now.