What can we say about Snoopy?
Martin will always be Snoopy to me. Not derogatory in any way. He wore a sheepskin head gear with earflaps that looked to us just like Snoopy in the cockpit of his plane. Look at the Zfids website for 1970. The picture of us all is not good of him but scroll down and you’ll find a good pic of Snoopy in his usual place on a Saturday night. Snoopy is what we called him and Snoopy he will always be to me.
It’s only years afterwards I understood what an important and key role he played on base at Halley Bay. He’d already spent a year at Signy. I believe he was involved in a tough expedition there. He arrived at Halley and hit the ground running compared to us new fids. He had to sort out the food stores that were unloaded for the following year. He had to find out where everything was stored and he was responsible 5 days after arriving to feed us all for the coming year. Dave Clarke was like me new to everything so it all fell on Snoopy’s shoulders.
But seamlessly meals appeared, wonderful meals all from a solid fuel stove the habits of which he had to learn in an instant. Breakfast was lightly attended but had to be there at 9.00 o’clock. Then Smoko with fresh rolls and bacon; lunch a cross between soup and stew we happily called scradge with fresh baked bread – half a loaf a man; new baked cakes for tea; and the widest variety of evening meals. All on a solid fuel stove that was very temperamental mostly dependant on the state of the wind at the top of the chimney.
It’s only now I realise what a responsibility rested on his shoulders. But catering was only a small part of his contribution. He wired speakers in all the buildings and controlled everything from the record player in the dining room. His appreciation and knowledge of music was amazing. And he made sure we were entertained all day: rock, classic, vocals, jazz, you name it Snoopy served it up nonstop.
He was always wandering round the base with his tape recorder, cine or still camera. His library of pictures must be immense. He spent hours in the dark room and entertained us with all his latest productions. He also served up lots of Signy, such a contrast to Halley. We called in at Signy on the way down so we had a basic knowledge but Snooopy’s pics just made the place come alive.
I wasn’t around much in the summer, but Snoopy seemed to spend every waking moment outside, always doing something. I came back to find he took a tin tray to the cliffs at Third Chip and would leap on the tray on his back, head first over a 100 foot drop to land on a windscoop at the bottom. Bloody brave.
He produced a radio programme he had made around base of everyone’s doings and messages from home which he broadcast to us in the field on Christmas day. We stopped the dogs; set up the radio on the sledge, and through the ether came their voices Very emotional to receive in the Shackleton Mountains some 500 miles away for Rocky and I. He’d also packed us a small goody box which was such a joy after weeks of meat bar, hard tack and porridge.
Snoopy was a hard worker, always busy doing something between bouts of cooking. He was great to be around and he always brought fun and laughter to the party. He had the most amazing capacity for alcohol but his one fault was he never knew when to leave the party.
Snoopy was a man of many talents but to me he was one of the most convivial people, a person always worth having around.
[Martin Pinder died in October 2020...Ed.]
22 December 2020