When I started writing Anguilla Rising — the screenplay — it was originally titled Caribellion. I thought it was a clever combination of the words ‘Caribbean’ and ‘rebellion.’ In fact, when I registered the screenplay for copyright purposes with the the U.S. Library of Congress and the Writer’s Guild of America, it was recorded under that name.
In Caribellion, the very first words of dialogue come from the character who tells us the story. We see the Anguilla revolution through his eyes — his POV — as it unfolds.
The story begins as we see a man in a winter parka moving boxes from the back of a 1966 Ford Country Squire station wagon across snow-covered ground into a Piper Cherokee 235. The boxes read: MERCY FLIGHT, MEDICAL SUPPLIES. As we watch him, we hear:
“Call it serendipity, or call it dumb luck, but just about everything that happened forty years ago happened by accident … I mean think about it, I loved my work as a veterinarian but I was equally passionate about flying and I flew my Piper Cherokee every chance I could get. Whenever I could get away for at least a week, I’d fly down to the Caribbean and explore some of the lesser developed islands. When I discovered Anguilla in 1965, I knew immediately that I had discovered something very special. Anguilla became my sanctuary. The more I visited, the more I couldn’t wait to get back.”
In the next frame we see the plane speeding down the runway as it is taking off.
Serendipity is luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for, and it’s a word that continues to haunt me — pleasantly — in so many ways. It’s almost like a friendly ghost tickling my feet as I sleep. And every so often it comes back to tease me.
The other day I decided it was time to begin dusting off the pixel dust that has been accumulating on Anguilla Rising’s Facebook page, where more than 8,000 people from all around the globe have been patiently waiting for this project to take off. For the last two years, as was discussed in another post on this site, the project has been on hiatus for a number of reasons — mainly because I’ve been working full-time during the day, and conducting research and writing book proposals on nights and weekends. When I started looking through some emails and messages that had been piling up in my Facebook inbox, I discovered a couple of very pleasant and unexpected surprises.
The first thing I discovered was a message from a woman named Gayle who is part of a huge family that has been following my efforts since the beginning. It said, “Gary, Are you still interested in the rebellion stories? I recently started going through a box of old letters and found several from my parents during that time.”
Letters! Only a week or so ago I wrote a post here about writing letters, which seems to have become a lost art in a day and age where email and truncated communications have become the new norm. Gayle’s father was a minister named Freeman Goodge who served as a missionary in Anguilla during the revolution; the British identified him as “Militant No. 2” on the “U.S. Citizens” list in their intelligence dossier. In this YouTube video, he can be seen peering through a window opening in the background as CBS News reporter Morton Dean interviews British Commissioner Tony Lee at about the 3:00 minute mark.
The other thing I discovered was a comment attached to a photo I had placed on the site. It was made by a British Royal Marine named Andrew who had taken part in the invasion on March 19, 1969. I quickly reached out to him and within minutes he sent me a couple of photographs, including this one.
Andrew’s words: “Gary, “Anguilla” around March 1969 and I was aged twenty years, on HMS Minerva. This frigate was the only one in the Royal Navy that had a full platoon, Naval Landing Section of which, when divided into three made me second in command of the platoon. “Buck” Taylor was 1st by votes. HMS Minerva was also the only RN. frigate with a “Detachment” of Royal Marines especially fitted to accommodate on the frigate. HMS Minerva, pennant number, F45. The “Fighting Forty Five”. was a ‘Leander class, general purpose frigate, into its 2nd commission 1968 to 1971. Five months in the Carribean was our mission to oversee the islands all in good order. I have a good memory of Anguilla where, the first wave to land there was the 2nd battalion of the Parachute Regiment. The early morning jaunt was followed by Royal Marines from HMS Minerva, and thirdly by the especially trained, (Naval) Landing Platoon.
Thank-you, Andrew. Thank-you, Gayle. I love it when I’m surprised by great and valuable things when I’m not looking for them.
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