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Today's quote:

Friday, December 25, 2020

A Christmas Eve in the Far South Seas

Listen to the story here


Iin the islands, by some unspoken agreement, we never talked about Christmasses or birthdays. As my best friend Noel once confided, "Talking about it makes it more real", and so we never celebrated either. It was our way of coping with loneliness and being far away from home. Not so in this story by Louis Becke, "A Christmas Eve in the Far South Seas":

"Donald MacBride and myself were the only Britishers living on one of the North Pacific Island lagoons when Christmas of 1880 drew near, and we determined to celebrate in a manner that would fill our German and American trading rivals throughout the group with envy. MacBride was a bony, red-headed Scotchman, with a large heart and a small, jealous, half-caste wife. The latter acquisition ruled him with a rod of iron, much to his financial and moral benefit, but nevertheless agreed with me that we - Donald, she and myself - ought to show the Americans and the 'Dutchmen' how an English Christmas should be celebrated. But as Sera was a half-caste native of the Pelews, and had never been to a civilised country, she also concurred with me that Donald and myself should run the show, which, although I was not a married man, was to take place in my house on account of the greater space available. Donald, she said, wanted to have a 'hakkise'; so we bought a nanny-goat from Ludwig Wolfen, the German trader at Molok, and one evening - the 23rd of December - I helped Sera to drive and drag the unsuspecting creature home to her husband's place to the slaughter. (I may as well say at once that MacBride's nanny-goat haggis was a hideous failure, and my boat's crew, to whom it was handed over, with many strong expressions about MacBride's beastly provincial taste, said that it smelt good, like shark's liver, but was not at all so juicy.)    Continue reading here ...

Louis Becke ends his story thus, "... we raised our glasses and drank to the memory of those who had gone before". I shall do likewise, raising my glass of Pino More to dear and absent friends who, however briefly and whether still alive or not, shared those lazy island days with me: [in no particular order] Noel Butler, Des Hudson, Roy Goldsworthy, Peter Logan, Graham Ward, Ian Paterson, Frank Joslin, Chris Jeffries, Dave Richardson, Hubert Hofer, Brian Herde, Neil "Jacko" Jackson, Bob Green, "Bulldog" Malcolm Baker, Urs Christen, Merv Nightingale ... the list goes on

We've made it home safely, so it's safe to wish us all a Merry Christmas!

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