Times Gone By
The strangest thing about the photos are that the groups haven't really changed that much. Most photos were taken outside, over the years a few people have chosen to wear inside clothes. These are some of the only clues to which year the photo might be from- that and the aviator sunglasses (and the congo line from the 80's- nice). Our clothes haven't changed that much -we camp with almost the same gear as Scott and the other early explorers did. But two significant things are different; dogs and women. The Antarctic Treaty bans all flora and fauna that aren't native to Antarctica. In 1994 all of the dogs were removed from the continent- most of them died though. After all of the years of isolation from the rest of the world that the dogs weren't resistant to diseases other dogs were. From what I've read the dogs made a big difference to base life (trawling through the old base reports is enlightening). I can imagine having a base cat but have never seen dogs here- so seeing them on films and documentaries is a bit strange. The other difference is the absence of women until 1996. The timing causes the obvious joke that women had to be brought in to replace the dogs, but the reality is that Britain was very late in letting women winter. I suppose a unisex base of either gender would be slightly psychologically easier, but a mixed gender base simply reflects the society we come from and so should be encouraged. Personally I don't see why anyone would have a problem with women here (some people do), and think that the 'good winterer' gene has nothing to do with the X or Y chromosomes, but more to do with whichever genes dictate your personality. This year five of the 16 of us are women and we contribute wonderfully to the base (my digging arm is getting really strong). But that's not because we're women, but because the mix of people (with everyone's individual strengths and weaknesses) on base is perfect.
The main influence behind this themed evening was for us to give slide shows to each other. Three of us have avidly been using the dark room, printing off Black & White prints and creating colour slides. I bought an SLR just before I came down and thought I'd give the dark room a go, but spent the first year sending colour print films back to the UK to be developed. Andy and Anto have since got me into colour slides and the quality difference from a digital camera is amazing. It's such a shame that there are no plans to put a dark room in Halley 6.
So Anto, Andy, John (just had some lying around) and I showed a selection of our slides, which I believe went down very well (though South Africa Andy? on a FIDS night?).
We also put on a couple of cinefilms 'The Surfboats of Agra' and a jazz themed 'The Free Piston Engine' were the choice feature films. The base has a very large supply of these cinereel films and I'm not sure if it's possible to watch them all through a winter. Most of the reels are 20 minute news reels, but we have some longer features. They've been supplied to the base by oil companies over the years so the general themes are 'look what this engine can do', 'isn't technology great' and 'drive as far and as fast as you like, there's always going to be more oil'. However the best film in my opinion is the TransAntarctic Expedition (we seem to have more than one copy of this?!?) which set off from Shackleton base (which was not far from here when it existed). We showed this over the summer along with 'The Last Tram' which is about the end of Trams in London Town.
I regularly have a browse through the zfids website (see link to the right) and a recent update was this photo of a Piano in Halley 1. I must say that I am very jealous of this guy. Beside family and friends, the biggest things I miss are pottering about in the garden and playing my piano. There's nothing better to blow the cobwebs away than a bit of Beethoven bashed out an octave lower than it should be. On that note....
Ok- lots of apologies for writing this close to a month ago and not publishing until now... mid-winter blog to come soon (the festivities are ongoing).