April 3rd, 1982
Thirty years ago today, I was born. About four weeks ahead of schedule, as it turned out – not that being early is something I’ve made a habit of. But what else was occuring in the wide world back then?
As you’ve probably noticed from the recent parade of speechifying1 on both sides of the Atlantic, the Falklands War was just kicking off. A sidelined former global power and a brutally repressive military dictatorship fighting over a handful of weatherbeaten islands with no natural resources – an inspiration for us all. But what exactly was happening on my birthday?2
The Battle of Grytviken
While the Falklands themselves had fallen the day before South Georgia, a small island 864 miles to the SE remained in British hands. At the dawn of April 3rd, 60 Argentinian marines, several helicopters and the corvette Guerrico prepared to assault Grytviken, the main settlement on the island and the location of the 22 Royal Marines defending it. The Argentinian commander began by demanding the British surrender, telling them either incorrectly or dishonestly that the previous day’s surrender of the Falklands Islands had included it’s dependencies. When that failed they began the attack, which didn’t quite go to plan. After the first group of marines were landed, the second wave was sent to a location in full view of the defenders and their helicopter was shot down. The Guerrico was sent closer to provide fire support; rather too close as it turned out. Subjected to a barrage of small arms fire and 84mm Carl Gustav shells, the corvette was damaged and forced back out to sea, which must have been pretty embarrassing. After a while the Guerrico got it’s main gun working again and forced the defenders to give in. A small affair as these things go, though no doubt big enough for the 3 men who died.
Meanwhile, far from the front lines, the UN Security Council was meeting in New York. The resolution in question, tabled by Britain, demanded an end to the fighting and an immediate withdrawal by the Argentinians. Unfortunately for them, the head of the Argentinian delegation had only just arrived and was woefully unprepared; the junta also seem to have assumed that Britain would not get enough votes to pass the resolution, or if they did the Russians would veto it3. In the end, only Panama voted no, with the Soviet-aligned nations preferring to abstain, and Resolution 502 passed 10 to 1. Naturally no-one expected Argentina to comply, but the resolution did put Britain in the right under international law. Equally, I doubt anyone expected that failing to pass would prevent the fleet sailing.
The lesson we learn from each of these? Always prepare thoroughly before going in. Well, all this fighting and dying and political horse-trading is getting me down; let’s see what was entertaining people when I fell into the world. What was the UK #1 single thirty years ago?
Goombay Dance Band – Seven Tears
Oh dear. That’s kind of disappointing. As German bands with UK hit singles in 1982 go, I would definitely have preferred it to be Kraftwerk. Well, never mind4. But this is the early ’80s we’re talking about, let’s see what was at the top of the indie chart.
Anti-Nowhere League – I Hate People
Well, it’s an improvement at least. Not a big fan of Oi!-style punk, and it’s a bit ‘FUCK YOU DAD!’ for my tastes but still. Not too shabby. And over in America, what was #1 outside that UN building?
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – I Love Rock & Roll
Now that’s more like it! Joan Jett is awesome. Potentially the only thing that could make me wish I was born in Los Estados Unidos.
So far as I can tell there don’t seem to be many celebrities turning 30 today, a quick look reveals precisely two. And I’m not sure one of them really qualifies as a celebrity, at least in this part of the world.
Canadian actress, most famous for being in the sitcom How I Met You Mother. Which I’ve never watched, other than brief glimpses of it on the staff-room TV. Actually I don’t think I’ve seen her in anything. She’s in the new Avengers film, so I guess I’ll probably see that.
A Japanese bikini model. I’ve never heard of her5 and I suspect neither have most people. Perhaps she’s more famous in her homeland. I’m resisting the urge to make the obvious ‘big in Japan’ joke, so maybe I’m getting more mature with age.
Warren Oates – Who I definitely have seen. And so should you have. Otherwise, The Wild Bunch is probably the best place to start.
1 Including the priceless spectacle of Argentina and Great Britain accusing each other of colonialism.
2 Well, more or less – the time difference means some of them might actually have happened the previous or following days depending on your perspective. Trying to work it out only confused me.
3 Despite the fact that Moscow policy was to use the veto only in cases directly affecting their interests.
4 I suppose at least this way I know it wasn’t playing whilst I was concieved.
5 But then I would say that, wouldn’t I.