Vietnamese boat children sing again
Looking at the photographs now, it’s hard to believe that these were the same children who had filed into Basing Street Studios a few hours earlier on that winter’s day back in 1978. Disorientated, traumatised kids who had been shunted from pillar to post for months, they did not know what to expect, and stood silently waiting for instructions. Their teacher explained that absolute silence had been crucial in their escape to avoid being captured by the North Vietnamese Army. They had eventually been rescued by the British ship Wellpark in the South China Sea in October 1978 and housed upon arrival at London’s Kensington Barracks.
It took several hours to persuade them they were free to run around, make a noise, play the various instruments. It was like watching plants flowering in spring after a long winter. Gradually they blossomed. You can feel the joy in these pictures and hear it in the music.
Their teacher told me that this had been the happiest day he could remember for many years. A fitting caption to a very special day.