Georgia's first thought when she arrived in Port Stanley was that the shops were terribly drab. Oh, she knew that she was 7,000 miles from Bond Street, but really! Did everything have to be so provincial and boring? It was, after all, the week before Christmas and the nearest thing she could see to a Christmas present was an SAS balaclava helmet with holly stuck in it.
Then suddenly she realized it didn't matter. She had no one to buy presents for. She had come out here to the Falklands to start a new life and to forget Terry. For a moment, Terry's familiar crinkled face with its roguish smile swam in front of her, but she fought against the memory. She had to report to Falklands Stores HQ, where she was to act as secretary to one Captain Bolsover. They said that work made you forget …
Some soldiers were coming down the street, singing.
'Captain Bolsover?' said one of them, leering. 'Don't bother with him, love. You'll have a much better time with B Company, eh lads?'
'Don't worry about the men,' said Captain Bolsover. 'They mean no harm. It's just that they haven't seen a pretty girl for years and you mustn't forget that men are brutes below the surface.'
'You too?' said Georgia, daringly. It was only her second day in the office, but already she felt she could trust his straight, Italianate features, so different from Terry's – damn! She mustn't think about Terry.
'I'm not a man,' said Bolsover. 'I'm an officer.' He laughed attractively. 'But seriously, you'd do well to keep away from the soldiers. And the construction workers. And the natives. I'm afraid that just leaves the sheep. But tell me, what really brings you here?'
‘The end of an affair,’ said Georgia, blushing. ‘His name was Terry. I thought he loved me, but really he loved his boat more. And when he told me he was going to sail round the world …"
It had been a hard day for Dick Bolsover. As if it wasn't bad enough having Italianate features – his nickname among the men was Luigi, and the officers called him Rococo to his face – he had been out for a stroll among the hills and come across a soldier who had run amuck. Driven crazy by boredom and rain, the man had taken his rifle and started shooting sheep at random. Captain Bolsover had to arrest him, of course, but the big problem was the dead sheep. Could the men face roast mutton again?
'I know a rather good recipe for lamb marinaded in wine and garlic,' said Georgia later.
At supper that night there was a near-mutiny among them over what they called this foreign muck.
'Is this love?' he asked himself.
‘I’d rather be living in Argentina
Than marching around for Sergeant Tina!’
The soldiers’ song in the street outside floated up to the window of the room in downtown Port Stanley where Captain Bolsover and Georgia were working on the final details of the Christmas catering.
‘Who’s Sergeant Tina, Dick?’ said Georgia.
‘What? Oh, that’s Sergeant Duckworth.’
‘And why do they call him that?’
‘Hard to say, really. Perhaps because the sergeant likes dressing up in frocks on his night off.’
‘We’re in trouble, Georgie girl,’ continued Bolsover briskly. ‘The Hercules bringing in our entire shipment of Christmas puddings has come down in the Atlantic. Nobody’s hurt, but they’ve reported a Christmas pudding slick two miles long, looking just like a minefield. Question is: what do we do for dessert now?’
‘I’ve got a super recipe for instant Christmas plum duff,’ said Georgia. ‘I just need a ton of flour and a couple of lemons.’
‘You’re on!’ said Dick. ‘By the way, don’t forget that tomorrow night is the officers’ Christmas party. You’re my guest.’
Port Stanley was all decked out for Christmas. They had strung one streamer across the main street. Georgia had gone window shopping and was wondering whether Dick Bolsover would like a hand grenade or some barbed-wire cutters in his stocking.
‘Hark the herald angels sing
“White Christmas”, as arranged by Bing…’ the soldiers sang.
Dick Bolsover smiled at Georgia. ‘Having a good time, Georgia? Forgotten about Terry now?’
Georgia, emboldened by a glass of sparkling Argentine white wine, smiled back, though she couldn’t help wondering how far dear Terry had gone on his round-the-world trip.
‘Come outside, Georgia,’ said Dick thickly. ‘There’s something I have to ask you.’
Outside, the rain was falling harder than ever. Georgia suddenly realized, horrified, that Dick had put his arms round her.
‘I love you,’ said Dick hoarsely. ‘I want to make my own conquest of Georgia!’
She shrank away, aghast. How could she have felt warm towards this man? Would no one rescue her? Suddenly, out of nowhere, came a form in yellow oilies and green boots. It was, unbelievably, Terry. He dispatched Dick Bolsover with one hook to the jaw and took Georgia in his arms.
‘My darling,’ he said, ‘this is my first landfall on my voyage round the world and I fancy I have come just in time. I stopped for supplies and I found – you! Would you care to fill my extra berth?’
‘I certainly would,’ said Georgia. ‘And while I’m at it, I’d like to rearrange the furniture on your boat and get it painted a nicer colour.’
If Terry had taken the hint, he would have gone on without her, but he didn’t and that’s another story.
Moreover Dec… 1984