One Man Invasion

There is a lovely older Irish gentleman at work who is retiring this week. He’s a kind, gentle old soul and I like to pepper him with questions when he comes into the office just to hear him tell stories with that accent. Today I was asking about his plans for retirement, and he informed me that he loves to garden and ride his bike around, and he will keep as busy as he wants to. Someone else asked how his wife feels about having him home all the time and he just smiled and said, ”Ah, she’s ok with it. We like each other.”

My soon-to-be-retired Irish friend has plans to traipse around Europe, including a three week stop on the Channel Islands to visit his daughter, who lives there. Since I read and loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this particular plan piqued my interest. What are the Channel Islands like? What do people do there? Is it as quaint as it sounds in the book? What is the ratio of cows to people? I wanted to know.

He told me that the island is made up of farmers and bankers (off shore banking, you know). Apparently there are a surprising number of things to see and do on Guernsey, for such a tiny island. But the real gem of the channel islands, says he, is the Island of Sark. There are no cars there and everyone gets around on a tractor. ”Even the doctor!”

And so—because I am curious—I looked up the Sark on Wikipedia. I found perhaps the funniest story I have ever stumbled across on a Wikipedia rabbit trail.

In August 1990, an unemployed French nuclear physicist named André Gardes attempted a singlehanded invasion of the Island of Sark, armed with a semi-automatic weapon. The night Gardes arrived, he put up signs declaring his intention to take over the island the following day at noon. While sitting on a bench, changing the gun’s magazine and waiting for noon to arrive, he was arrested by the island’s volunteer constable.

I have no idea if this is a true and accurate account. I hope so. One thing is for certain, I need to visit the Channel Islands when I retire (in the year of our Lord, 2064).