AND WE’RE OFF; BUT CAN WE HAVE A GUN PLEASE. SG DIRECTOR SARAH LURCOCK WRITES AT THE START OF THE NEW SEASON WITH AN UPDATE TO THE END OF THE YEAR
The tourist season started early this year, with four cruise ships and several yachts in October, so we had to get inventive to run and staff the Museum. Competition for places on the Fishery Patrol Vessel meant our summer staff did not get here until later, so Will and Paula from KEP were co-opted, trained to operate the Museum shop, and found themselves unpacking huge amounts of stock, cleaning floors and generally involved in the day to day running of the Museum. They were both great and I don’t think our visiting ships realised we were a scratch team.
With huge thanks to both the British Navy, who bought the Curatorial Intern Thomas Kennedy in, and Polar Latitudes who offered passage to the Museum Assistants Gemma and Darren, with Richard McKee at the GSGSSI office in Stanley assisting, we now have the summer team in place and are catching up with the backlog of work that needs to be done at the beginning of the season. This includes the Museum deep clean, unpacking the remaining shop stock for the season, getting the signs and benches out, and all those other jobs.
I returned to South Georgia in July. It was a super winter here, more snow than the last few years, so only a shame that hubby broke his leg skiing (on the flat), so with no ski partner that somewhat curtailed my late season skiing.
On the way back to the Island we travel via the Falkland Islands and I took the opportunity to try to complete a planned new display in our military exhibit. We have a Royal Marine’s uniform as worn when KEP was defended in 1982. I had a challenge finding a suitable and affordable mannequin to display the clothing. Most mannequins are 6ft 4” whereas our donor, Royal Marine Bob Ashton, is 5ft 10”. I nearly made a huge mistake, ordering a mannequin with long unsoldierly moulded hair, but quickly rectified that and so we have a bald one! Sorry Bob.
But our Royal Marine should have a gun to complete the effect. In his foxhole defending the Point Bob had a light machine gun, or more specifically a L4A2 LMG Bren. But I am not fussy, an L1A1 SLRs (the standard British Self Loading Rifle) which most of the other men had would also do, but where to get one? We can’t afford to buy one, but I thought there may be a spare arm at a military museum or perhaps in the Falklands. UK museums, and military contacts could not help, but maybe someone in the Falklands could?It is not every day you walk into an army officer’s office and ask if they have a gun you can have; but then nor would I have predicted that through my work for the South Georgia Museum I would help dig the grave of a long dead polar explorer (Frank Wild) or clean 13 loos in a day. One of the higher ranking officers in the Falkland Island Defence Force had grown up on South Georgia as a child, so I steeled myself and walked into Major Peter Biggs’s office to pose the question, “Peter, do you have a gun you could let me have?” He did not think so, but suggested I go and ask at the Police Station; maybe they would have one spare. So have I found one? Well, no luck so far, but I am still hoping someone will be able to help, so….have you got a gun I can have? Meanwhile, Thomas got to grips with “our Bob” the mannequin. He did not slot together all that easily, but Thomas prevailed and now the mannequin is sporting Bob’s uniform – but placed temporarily just behind the office door, he never fails to make us jump when we enter the room. I have taken to talking to him, telling him off for making me jump once again. Hmmm, would you give such a jumpy lady talking to a mannequin a gun?