Monday, 23 January 2017

Banging the Patriotism Drum

“I am a citizen of the world" (Diogenes)

“At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” (Donald Trump)

I’ve never liked the word “patriotism” as it always seems to be so be inward looking. The root for the word “patriot” is the Latin “Pater”, and so it is connected with another more ominous word – “Fatherland”.

Ambrose Bierce liked it even less, and devoted to entries to the words in his “Devil’s Dictionary”:


One to whom the interests of a part seem superior to those of the whole. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.


Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.

In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.

Now that’s not to say that there shouldn’t be a pride in one’s country, but it can all to easily become a source of division, a tribal affair.

It is one thing to praise something that a country excels at, but another to say that it must be better than other countries. With the history that I was brought up with, of course, it was easy to see this writ large. The British Empire, the envy of the world,, putting British citizens and interests first, is a good example of both the best and the worst of patriotism.

The best, I suppose, because it many ways it was an Empire which brought technology and civilised codes of law to countries where matters could be more brutal. The worst, because it deprived countries for many years of their own self-determination. It was a paternalistic dictatorship.

There’s a lot of tribalism, of course, still around today, sometimes in relatively harmless channels. Sport is of course an obvious example of that attitude, where people root for “their country”, and “their countries team”.

Even there can be a downside, regarding how many medals Team GB brings back as more important that the skill and excellence of other winners.

Surely the Olympics is all about excellence above all, and that is what every team wants to achieve, not even so much against other teams, as to do the best that can be done, so that a world record breaker faces their own record?

This, as Robert Pirsig reminds us, was what the Greeks strived for.

"What moves the Greek warrior to deeds of heroism is not a sense of duty as we understand it—duty towards others: it is rather duty towards himself. He strives after that which we translate 'virtue' but is in Greek aretê, 'excellence' … we shall have much to say about aretê. It runs through Greek life."

And so there is a place indeed for “Make America Great Again”, but it must not be done by a narrow minded vision.

It is when we get to the notion which seems to surface of “Make America Great”... at the expense of the rest of the world, that I part company.

Is there any country anywhere in the world which deserves “total allegiance"?

Charles Dicken’s short masterpiece, “A Christmas Carol” is about business rather than patriotism, but the message is the same: our vision should be global, embracing all humanity

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Isn’t there a higher loyalty, to the planet, and also to all the teeming millions who live and breath and suffer and die in poverty and misery thoughout the world?

Throughout history, rulers nations have sought to claim total allegiance to their nation, but there are values which transcend nationality.

It is not good enough to just say “we will look after our own”. That is too narrow a philosophy, too small a vision. Humanity can be better than that.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Simon Whom He Surnamed Peter - Part 34

My Sunday posting today will be the final transcript of the book "Simon Whom He Surnamed Peter" by the Jersey historian, the Reverend G.R. Bailleine (1873 – 1966).

Most of Balleine's books are either currently in print - as for example his History of Jersey - or online in the form of PDF versions. This book is not, so this is something different. As well as being a Jersey historian, Balleine was also a priest in the Church of England, and Ministre Deservant at St Brelade's Church for a time.


`This belief,' says Harnack, `became official between 189 and 217.' It is accepted by Eusebius, `and he,' writes Kirsopp Lake, was an historian of the first rank, and no writer on the chronology of Acts can pass him by. Jerome repeats this belief. The Liberian Catalogue specified 25 years, I month, 8 days, the Liber Pontificalis 2 5 years, 2 months, 3 days. As twenty-five was no sacred or mystical number, they must have believed this figure to be a fact.

They all knew that Peter was not in Rome for twenty-five years. But the word `bishop' in Peter's day had not its later meaning. It is the modern English form of the Greek word episcopos. (It became `ebiscopus', `biscopus', `biscop', then bishop.) It simply meant `overseer'. The Septuagint uses it for the foremen of the masons who restored the Temple (II Chron. xxxiv. 13). The Episcopus at Rome was the Overseer of the Public Victualling.
Paul, though constantly on the move, kept in touch with the Churches he founded (e.g. Corinth, Colossae, Philippi).

Peter may have done the same. If he spent seven years in Rome from 42 to 49, he may have continued to exercise some over-sight over the Church there, till his final visit before his death twenty-five years later. No city was easier to keep in touch with, for ships sailed to Italy from every port.



Few dates in the New Testament can be fixed with absolute precision. The writers took little interest in chronology, and group their stories by subject-matter rather than by time. Secular History, however, gives one or two pin-points:

High-priesthood of Caiaphas. 18-36 (Josephus).
Recall of Pilate. 36 (Josephus).
Reign of Claudius. 41-54 (Tacitus, Suetonius).
Reign of Agrippa in Jerusalem. 41-44 (Josephus).
Reign of Nero. Oct. 54-June 68 (Tacitus).
Burning of Rome. July 64 (Tacitus).
Mass Martyrdoms. 64 or 65 (Tacitus).
Destruction of Jerusalem. 70 (Josephus).

To these may probably be added the expulsion of the Jews from Rome in 49. The expulsion is reported by Suetonius, without a date; but Orosius in 417 put it in 49. This is late evidence, but it fits neatly with Acts, which brings Paul to Corinth in 50, where he lodges with Aquila, who had `lately come from Italy, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome'.

Some guidance may be gained from the Jewish Feasts: e.g. two and perhaps three Passovers are mentioned during the Ministry of Christ; the first Speaking with Tongues occurred at Pentecost; Peter was imprisoned by Herod during a Passover. Casual references, like Paul's in Galatians, also sometimes help: `After three years I went to Jerusalem'; `Fourteen years after I went again to Jerusalem'.

Many dates are open to dispute. Hence the frequent use of `probably' and `possibly' in this book. But the following table does not clash with any known facts, and seems a reasonable inference from the information we possess:

A.D. 28 (15th year of Tiberius. Luke). The Baptist's Mission begins.
29 Ministry of Jesus (See Note A).
30 Crucifixion. Pentecost.
34 Martyrdom of Stephen.
35 Conversion of Paul. Peter visits Samaria.
36 Peter visits South Palestine. Conversion of Cornelius.
37 Paul's first visit to Peter.
41 Agrippa becomes King in Jerusalem.
42 Arrest and escape of Peter.
44 Death of Agrippa.
45-49 Peter in Rome.
49 Claudius expels Jews from Rome. Peter returns to Jerusalem. The Apostolic Conference. Visit to Antioch.
50 Dispute with Paul.
50-56 Peter `Bishop' of Antioch.
56-65 Missionary Tours. Corinth, Asia Minor.
62 Murder of James, the Lord's Brother.
64 Fire of Rome.
64 or 65 Nero's Massacre of Christians. Peter's Return to Rome.
66 Peter's Martyrdom.
68 Marcus writes his Gospel.
75 Luke writes Acts.
210 Gaius mentions Peter's `trophy' on the Vatican.
333 (?) Constantine begins to build his Basilica on the Vatican.
1506 Pope Julius II begins to build the present Church.
1950 Gaius's trophy (?) discovered under the High Altar of St. Peter's.

Saturday, 21 January 2017


This is a strange poem, because it ran away with me while I was writing it back on Wednesday. The first part is about a battle, although there is an elemental or magical element to it. It looks back to the bronze age, perhaps, to an ancient epoch. And then the second part is a kind of mirror of that, reflecting and changing it, and I wanted something which would contrast, and that sort of wrote itself too. So lots of images bubbling up from the subconscious!

Having re-read it, I added two lines to each stanza, thinking of yesterdays events.


The battle fought, the hands raised high
And victory in the making did they spy
Cloaked in an ancient garb, lent this day
End the conflict, let justice have its sway
And the armies of your people win the fight
In blood, the victory, darkness over light
And as weariness creeps over, standing still
Remain vigilant, hands high, and act of will
Until you can stand no more, then take rest
But to not as yet the cloak of power divest
A stone to sit upon, sacred power of earth
Steady the hands, hold firm, a rebirth
Of the spirit, of courage, bravery, might
Until at last the sunset comes in sight
Take off the cloak, return by the sunset
A pledge to be given, repayment of debt
Victory won, the people great once more
Defeat of that fell enemy at the door
As night falls, wash yourself, return to camp
And take the holy oil, and light the lamp

Healing in sunset, a final night draws near
And they come, those gripped by fear
And they come, the sick, trembling, in pain
And they come, for healing once again
This battle will not be fought by sword
And they come, and cry out, my Lord
And he stood before them, very still
This last night, this final act of will
And healing of his power, now divest
Until he is wearied and takes his rest
A stone to sit upon, sacred power of earth
Within a garden, sunset comes in sight
Of the spirit, of courage, bravery, might
Are needed for this final battle field
But he will take the cup and not yield
In blood, the victory, darkness over light
Drink the cup, prepare to end the fight
Victory nearly won, forever more
Defeat of that fell enemy at the door
As night falls the soldiers come with lamp
And will take him to their prison camp

Friday, 20 January 2017

St Brelade in 1953

Today is a brief extract from Stuart Petre Brodie "SPB" Mais's account of a trip to Jersey in 1953. Stuart Petre Brodie "SPB" Mais (1885–1975) was a prolific British author, journalist and broadcaster, and wrote many travel books. Here is a glimpse of Jersey, just post-war, as the tourism industry was starting to take off well, but before the rise of finance.

When Mais visited St Brelade, he was able to see the German war graves at St Brelade. They remained there until 1961.

In 1961, the bodies were exhumed and reburied in France. Lord Coutanche, Bailiff of Jersey, wrote to the German War Graves Commission, on 14th July 1961, as follows:

“PERMISSION is hereby granted to the German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegs-graberfitrsorge'), of Kassel, Germany.--

“TO EXHUME two hundred and twenty-one (221) bodies which are now buried in the Church Yard of the Parish of St Brelade in the Island of Jersey, and particulars whereof are set out in the Schedule hereto. “AND TO REMOVE them out of the Island for re-burial in a Military Cemetery in France.”

More on the history of the graves can be read at extracts from The Pilot at the links below:

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:

I should point out that GR Balleine points out that the date of consecration mentioned below by Mais is a incorrect.

"We must first dismiss from our minds the assertion, made in all the guide-books, that the church was consecrated in 1111, and is therefore the oldest in the island. The only authority for this is a list that falsely claimed to be copied from the Bishop of Rouen in 314.....Whether St Brelade's is really our oldest church no one can say. It is first mentioned in a charter of William the Conqueror, which is older than 1066, for he calls himself 'Duke of the Normans', not 'King of England'."

St. Brelade's Bay-Corbière Point
by SPB Mais


We are given pats of butter at breakfast. This presumably is our ration. The rules prevailing are those of many English hotels. Gongs ring to announce luncheon at one o'clock and dinner at seven o'clock and most guests seem to take their places as if they were on parade. Breakfast is from 8.15 till 9.30 and there is no service of any kind before 7.30, which makes it difficult for me to do my writing during my usual early morning hours, while if I write at night I am distracted by the bridge players.

We went to church and arrived at eleven o'clock to find the Choral Eucharist just finishing. Matins was sung at 11.30. It was a somewhat spiritless service attended only by a handful of elderly regulars. I was glad to get into the open air.

After lunch a taxi-driver called Stone came for us at two o'clock and drove us first past Lady Trent's house and the Coronation Park bordering St. Aubin's Bay. We then drove on through the town of St. Aubin to the high flat plateau of Noirmont and inspected the derelict fortifications of the German Occupation and listened to the bass bell of the black and white Noirmont Tower and the higher bell of Pignonet beacon.

After this we descended into the lovely St. Brelade's Bay at Ouaisne. We were so charmed with this broad stretch of sand that we decided to walk across the mile or more stretch of bay and ask Stone to meet us on the other side. As I gazed at the lovely scene it seemed to me that Jersey has everything you can dream of for a holiday; it is everything you wish yourself.

The pine trees and the red rocks and the red-streaked sand and the white villas with their tiled roofs reminded me of the Riviera: it was certainly cleaner than any Riviera beach that I have seen. The same continental gaiety was, however, there. St. Brelade's Bay has even livened up its Martello Towers by painting one of them half-white and the other half-red. Here is a suggestion for my friends of the Cinque Ports.

Elevated in spirit by the scene and in body by the fresh air, we came to the other side, admiring on the way the two large white hotels. One of these is, I am told, decorated with the paintings of a former German occupier-turned-prisoner, and his pictures include a number of striking Bavarian Alp scenes.

Just above the stretch of beach beyond the modern hotels the beautiful old granite Church of St. Brelade which boasts itself to be the oldest of the twelve parish churches of the island, the alleged date of its consecration being A.D.1111.

This church is by far the most picturesque and interesting in the whole of Jersey. It has a saddle-back tower and Celtic turret. Its chancel, an old Monastic chapel, and nave date from the twelfth century. Its roof was raised in the fourteenth century.

More interesting still is the sixth-century granite Fishermen's Chapel which stands in the churchyard. This is the oldest place of worship in the island.

It is a tiny building, measuring only 43 feet long by 18 feet wide. The walls are 9 feet high and 3 feet thick. There are five little windows and the roof is made of small stones.

On the inner side are traces of old frescoes, the best preserved of these, which represents the Annunciation, stands over, the Altar. This was accidentally discovered as the result of rain leaking through and saturating the plaster. The work dates from 1320 to 1330. 1 saw that the church had a list of rectors from 1206 and that the monuments were mainly to the Pipon family.

But the outstanding feature of the church and chapel is their position. They stand at the end of the bay on a slope directly above the sands commanding a delightful view across the whole beach. A view over the churchyard shows; ancient and modern in happy combination.

Adjacent to the churchyard is an extension filled with some two hundred white wooden crosses. These we found, to be the graves of German soldiers, members of the Occupation Forces who died during the last war. It seems that the Germans, finding in 1942 the graves of six Germany military prisoners of the First World War in this part of the churchyard, commandeered the remainder of the space as a military cemetery.

The six original graves were conspicuous as having the customary marble headstones. More conspicuous still was the large wooden replica of the Iron Cross under one of the tall trees. This bore the name of O'Feldw Josef Kunkel.

From here we strolled along the lane on the other side of which was a beautifully kept lawn with an old stone cider press neatly displayed in the centre of it, and beyond that a building which seemed to be the new parish hall.

We passed by the lych-gate, given by the first Lady Trent in memory of her husband, who was, of course, originally Jesse Boot, founder of the great business. This was hung with a fisherman's lantern, and on either side were commemoration plates to Lord Trent in English and French respectively.

A well-contented looking padre was explaining the sight to two lady visitors. Two or three sleek brand-new cars came-by: I reflected that many of Christ's lambs in this parish must have golden fleeces.

We joined our chauffeur again and drove over the hill to the lovely little bay of Beau Port, standing below grass slopes on rocks. This was given to the States by the present Lord Trent in 1949.

We drove back through St. Brelade's and then into and along the Route Orange past the famous La Moye golf links.

Then on along the ridge of the point to view the Corbière Lighthouse poised out on the rocks at the south-west corner of the island. On our left we had passed the ruins of Corbière village on which the Germans had done their usual thorough job during the Occupation. 

On the rocks of the point opposite the lighthouse is a highly Teutonic looking cylindrical German concrete occupation post, sliced into on the seaward side by the formation of a number of breast-high galleries, and now used as a direction-finding station in conjunction with the lighthouse.

Thursday, 19 January 2017


Not being 100% well, I was looking for quotes to end the day about coughing, and I found a perfect one in a stanza in a poem by Shel Silverstein. I’ve never come across his writing before but this poem reminds me very much of Hillaire Belloc’s Cautionary Rhymes for Children.

Sheldon Allan "Shel" Silverstein (930 –1999) was an American poet, singer-songwriter, cartoonist, screenwriter, and author of children's books. He styled himself as Uncle Shelby in some works. Translated into more than 30 languages, his books have sold over 20 million copies. He was the recipient of two Grammy Awards, as well as a Golden Globe and Academy Award nominee.

Here is a wonderfully funny poem, and so reminiscent of childhood. My mother was very strict that if you were not well enough for school, you were not well enough to go out at weekends either, so we never tried it  on like Peggy Ann! We also followed that policy with our own children, and I think it is a good one.


“I cannot go to school today"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.

My mouth is wet, my throat is dry.
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox.

And there's one more - that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue,
It might be the instamatic flu.

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke.
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in.

My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My toes are cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.

My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.

My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There's a hole inside my ear.

I have a hangnail, and my heart is ...
What? What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is .............. Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!”

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

An Eye on Local Politics

Retconning the Past

Reconsider, v. To seek a justification for a decision already made. (Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary)

In his defence of the shambles of the Innovation Fund, Senator Ozouf says he is "disgusted and dismayed" that he was "given the responsibility" but not "all the information that was required".

But when the Logfiller managed to grab a loan which disappeared, he was much more bullish about his knowledge. In a JEP report of June 16, 2016, he said: “What I can say is that I am totally satisfied, and have been throughout the procedures. The ongoing review process of what’s happening with the company has continued and that continues to this day. Let’s be clear, there are going to be some businesses that are not going to succeed.”

Now he has said in his resignation speech and to BBC Radio Jersey, he was fully accountable for the period he was responsible for the Fund, which was from January 2016 - the Fund was actually set up several years before that. But here in June 2016, he said he was "totally satisfied" with it!

Now if the States Auditor General could look into matters to get relevant information, why didn’t he? Or to put it another way, if he said he was given responsibility, but not all the information, why didn’t he make plain his lack of knowledge rather than just saying he was “totally satisfied”?

Enough attention had been focused on Logfiller to make it apparent that something had gone wrong, so why not come out at that point and say it needed detailed investigation? It was well known that Mike King had a hand in the fiasco that was Canbedone Films, so shouldn’t that have raised warning flags?

He was saying that it wasn’t until 2016 that he got the control he needed, but this story broke after that date!

How it Works: The Board of the Jersey Innovation Fund

Quorum, n. A sufficient number of members of a deliberative body to have their own way and their own way of having it. (Ambrose Wilson, The Devil’s Dictionary)

It is instructive to see how the board said it was operating, from a JEP report made on February 2015 said:

“The board who would oversee the fund had to be seen to be robust, with a balance of non-executive private- and public-sector board members, with the ultimate decisions made by a States minister.”

The Chairman went on to explain how the team on the board looked at proposals:

“I review every application in quite some detail and categorise them, and then the board also sees every application. If an application looks promising, one of the non-executive directors will kick the tyres in terms of cash flow, costs, budgets and so forth, and that director will then act as a champion for that applicant.”

“Quite often there will then be a formal presentation to the board, and if the green light is still flashing, an economic impact assessment is carried out by the Economics Unit”

“‘I do think that having the States working with the private sector is a good notion, using the expertise – especially from the finance sector – to ensure an informed decision. We hope the States are encouraged that a number of pairs of eyes are looking at this”

The board apart from the Chairman whose job was to sift but not produce a detailed financial review (which task he delegated to one of the non-executive directors), included “experienced businessmen and private-sector members Tim Ringsdore, Aaron Chatterley, Peter Shirreffs and Dave Allen - the non-executive directors - and from the public sector States economist Dougie Peedle, Economic Development chief officer Mike King and an officer from the Treasury.”

Certainly as remarked above, “a number of pairs of eyes”. So who had their eyes shut? When they "kicked the tyres", did they spot some were flat? And why was it not “robust”? And what was Dougie Peedle doing?

Clearly not all the blame can be laid at either Philip Ozouf or Mike King’s door, as there was “expertise – especially from the finance sector – to ensure an informed decision” made  in terms of cash flow, costs, budgets".

Or in this case, some rather ill-informed decisions!

Domestic Waste Charge: Broken Promises?

Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles (Ambrose Wilson, “The Devil’s Dictionary”)

The Jersey Evening Post reported that:

“Last year the introduction by 2018 of new levies for commercial waste disposal was approved by the States as part of the Medium Term Financial Plan Addition, with £11 million of revenue targeted. Infrastructure Minister Eddie Noel, who is due to bring proposals to the States to finalise the details of the charges this year, said that unless such charges were introduced, the Island would fall further behind.”

And it goes on to say that:

“He would also not rule out the future introduction of a domestic waste charge.”

This goes completely against the rationale in the Medium Term Financial Plan and Eddie Noel’s arguments there:

“Introducing ‘user-pays’ funding in Jersey would not only encourage increased recycling rates and more efficient use of services but would also by charging commercial organisations it addresses the unfairness of the current funding regime. Currently businesses do not pay for these services and households bear the burden of paying for services through taxation”

This is making it clear that a waste charge levied on ordinary taxpayers would mean them paying twice, as they already pay taxes for the support of services provided by the States, including waste disposal. But most trading businesses now pay 0% corporation tax, so this is tipping the balance just a little the other way with a charge on commercial waste.

The plan went on to say:

“Charging for commercial solid waste transfers the direct cost from the taxpayer to business, many of whom do not pay income tax, and will also enable alternative business opportunities for recycling which are currently suppressed due to DfI’s free disposal option.”

While not explicit as a promise, it is very clear that the whole premise behind not having a domestic waste charge was that domestic users already pay tax.

The wording makes it clear that – contrary to Eddie Noel’s recent pronouncements – he was ruling out a domestic waste charge.

If not, the whole argument in the Medium Term Plan looks just like something opportunist to use at the time, and not genuine at all. Raising domestic waste – and hence taxpayers paying twice - goes against the heart of the case for business paying for waste disposal. Are we to understand that the whole argument was just an exercise in short term hypocrisy?

Rome was Not Built in a Day

“So much of government is collective decisions. All of us together, best minds in the country, hammering it out. Government is a complex business. So many people have to have their say. These things take time. Rome wasn't built in a day” (Jim Hacker, Yes Minister)

Hearing Senator Routier on limiting population growth was like hearing Jim Hacker returned from the grave. Here’s an extract from “Yes Minister”

Dr Cartright: I'm proposing that all council officials responsible for a new project list their criteria for failure before getting the go-ahead.

Jim Hacker: - What do you mean?

Dr Cartright: - It's a basic scientific approach. You must establish a method of measuring the success or failure of an experiment. When it's completed, you know if it's succeeded or failed.

On BBC Radio Jersey, he was busy extolling the virtues of the new system to contain population, but refused to be drawn on any numbers. As a result, there is, as Dr Cartright in “Yes Minister” makes clear, no method for measuring the success – or failure – of the policy.

Instead, we were told that it would take a lot of time for the effects of the policy to really kick in, and a cynic might think that was until after the next election in 2018. Or "Rome was not built in a day".

Paul Routier is responsible for the slap-dash way in which the previous policy was allowed to lapse with nothing other than laissez-faire to put in its place until now, which looks like too little, too late.

At least he has stopped bleating the mantra that we need to grow the population to pay for services for the ageing demographic, as a growing population will itself grow old, need even more growth. 

It hasn’t stopped the Chamber of Commerce, who still seem wedded to this Ponzi scheme idea, even though it makes no sense at all in the long term. It is about time we realised we cannot sacrifice long term targets for short term gains, and that the Island has only limited physical resources and infrastructure.

But as it stands, the new policy, like the old, is like the emperor's new clothes, with Senator Routier cast as the Emperor.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Guernsey Watch

Guernsey Watch

An occasional foray into news stories from our sister island.

I have to confess an inter-Island jealousy on reading that “GUERNSEY bean jar starred on Friday night’s The One Show.” What’s wrong with the Jersey bean crock? I think in the interests of balance, that should be shown on the One Show too!

The report went on to say:

“A filming team from the BBC One TV programme came over in early December to make the dish and used a number of local products, including Rocquette cider and local herbs. Rocquette Cider co-owner James Meller said it was great to be involved. ‘I tasted it, and it had a lovely smoky flavour,’ he said. He used the cider in the beanjar, and it’s of course essential to use local cider.’”

But one of the commentators was not impressed:

“Cider essential? Not according to my 86 year old Mum it isn't. And leave out the carrots she says.”

According to the BBC site there are varieties of recipe, but this is one:

Traditional Guernsey Bean Jar
1 pigs trotter or shin of beef
½lb (200g) Haricot beans
½lb (200g) butter beans
1 large onion chopped
2 carrots diced
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
2 pints beef stock or water

No cider there than I can see either!

Meanwhile, having watched Jersey’s Innovation Fund turn into an absolute shambles, Guernsey is thinking of copying it – well, the idea, anyway:

“LAUNCHING a Guernsey innovation fund is still under consideration, despite one in Jersey coming under fire for a catalogue of failings. Policy and Resources president Gavin St Pier has confirmed his committee was still looking at using some of the States’ reserves to invest in local businesses. He would not, however, be drawn on the situation with the Jersey fund – the subject of a damning new report. ‘It is still something we are interested in,’ Deputy St Pier said. ‘I don’t know enough about their [Jersey’s] scheme. I don’t know how it was set-up, how it was controlled, so I can’t comment. ..I don’t know enough about Jersey’s scheme. I don’t know how it was set-up, how it was controlled, so I can’t comment!".

This clearly roused the ire of one commentator who though Gavin St Pier was just to lazy to do any homework on the matter, which indeed is the case. The full report by the Auditor General looks at all those questions. But I rather like the slightly sarcastic tone of the comment:

“Gavin...sat on your desk is a thing called a "phone" pick up the receiver, looks like a handle, put it to your ear and using the number pad dial 01534 440400 and someone will say "Hello States of Jersey Financial services , how may I help you" you say, "Hello its Gavin the President of Guernsey here, can I speak to someone about your Innovation Fund please" You may find out why it went pear shaped and save us all a load of money... just an idea.”

Sark Vineyards is closing:

“SARK’S Chamber of Commerce ‘fears for the very future of the island’ following the news that Sark Vineyards would be closing. The company has blamed constant conflict with the island’s government for the decision, including the recent move to tax alcohol production. ‘The vineyards were one of the biggest employers of resident labour on Sark and their operation meant that business actually filtered through to all walks of enterprise on the island,’ the Chamber said in a statement.”

A commentator said this:

“Sad news about the loss of 25 full-time and part-time jobs in Sark's vineyards industry. The continuing direct and indirect bitter feud with the Barclays will only end with one loser........Sark and the Sarkese.”

In a statement the company said it "fails to see any future in Sark or its economy..The decision of 5 October 2016 to introduce taxation of alcohol production itself, amounting to a tax on one industry only on Sark, severely undermines the future financial viability of the business”

But was it the right climate for Sark? One commentator suggests that it had problems with the climate on Sark, and the terrain:

“No its time for the person whose big idea it was to look in the mirror if anyone is casting blame. Misty, moist, salty, windy sea-side Sark on non-calcareous terroir was never a recipe for can only throw so many chemicals at all the terrible fungus attacks like last year. Tearing them out sounds like the best idea although re-growing quality pastures is going to be a complete headache as all the residual copper fungicide will have damaged the fauna such as worms which may take decades to re-establish. Also a shame about all the archaeology that will have been damaged given Sarks increasingly important place in pre-history.”

And another agrees:

“It's a shame about the loss of jobs but it was always a vanity project bound to fail. Why couldn't they have spent the money on projects that enhanced the island instead of ruining the environment - valuable wildflower meadows and pasture land. It was never likely that the vines would flourish (the coasts of Normandy and Brittany not covered with vineyards) and the whole project was doomed once the hotels failed to attract their "high net worth" target guests. “

I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Apparent Wine buff Oz Clarke came over and presumably saw nothing untoward about the vineyards. He said that Sark “has every chance of creating “something special” in the world of wine”

And the UK Vine website notes:

“Geographically closer to France than the UK and standing outside the United Kingdom, Sark has given over two percent of its land to grape production and now seen its first grape harvest that took place under the direction of Bordeaux winemaker Dr Alain Raynaud.”

“Dr Raynaud said: “We had a warm summer on Sark so the grapes were able to evolve well and produce quality fruit. Sark’s first grapes are showing us a good balance between acidity and sugar. We are now beginning our journey to make an excellent quality sparkling wine for Sark, using the Champagne method of production.”

“Dr Raynaud and his team include French winemaker Etienne Longuechaud and vineyard specialist David Pernet. Sparkling wine will be produced in the traditional method used in Champagne – and by experienced Champagne winemaker Mark Quertenier.”

That doesn’t quite sound like a bunch of amateurs without experience of vineyards, although the climate and conditions of Sark are a long way from Bordeaux. However, La Mare Vineyards shows that the Channel Islands can be suitable for wine production.

Raynauld himself had some doubts:

‘Vines had never been planted on this island before,’ says Alain Raynaud, the Bordeaux consultant who is heading up the project, ‘and I had to question at first whether it was even possible to make a serious wine here’.

‘Sark is on the 49th parallel, a touch further north than the Loire and Champagne, and even with the softening effects of the Gulf Stream, this is an exposed location. Just getting equipment onto the island proved a challenge, as a low, narrow tunnel at the harbour made it tough to even bring a grape press onshore.’

“But once I analysed the soil, and studied the figures, I knew we could do something interesting. The terroir is a mix of schist and granite, and the climate is warmer and dryer than the UK mainland.’ And besides all this, for Raynaud the challenge to create wine on Sark was something more than simply a technical one. ‘There are very few times in your life when you are offered the opportunity to create something entirely from scratch. It was too much to resist.’”

And lastly for something very different:

“A VIDEO of a bus driving on the other side of the road has been labelled as 'alarming' by the Environment and Infrastructure president. Barry Brehaut, whose committee has responsibility for negotiating the island's bus contract, said it was only right that CT Plus investigated the matter. 'The driving is clearly dangerous,' he said. 'I hope CT Plus do take action as the driver did put other road users at risk. 'I would imagine CT Plus themselves would have been horrified by what they have seen.'”

“A spokesman for the bus company said: 'The matter is with management and is being investigated.' The video, which was posted on social media, attracted 200 shares on Facebook.”

A commentator noted that:

“I am fed up with these huge buses as they career down narrow roads expecting all cars on the other side to get out of their way. Collings Road is an example where these buses often expect cars on the pavement side to quickly mount the pavement without the bus driver having a quick look as to whether this is possible. On this stretch of pavement there are mothers with prams walking children to school etc. These buses are antisocial monstrosities and can often be seen speeding.”

It can also be seen on the BBC site:

“The bus, on Guernsey, can be seen drifting over to the wrong side of the road and forcing oncoming cars on to the pavement.”

And on ITV it was noted:

“People have commented on the video saying it is common occurrence around the island and blaming it on buses being too big.”

While complaints about erratic bus driving seem to be anecdotal, the rise of special “dash cams” or just passengers in cars taking footage are probably going to be a new trend, and it may not just be bus drivers who are shown up.

In 2014, Jersey featured a clip of a video on YouTube showing a yellow Renault driving east along the promenade that runs along St Aubin’s Bay, where cars are banned. Pedestrians, some with young children and pushchairs, and cyclists can be seen having to move out of the way as the man drives towards them.

On the one hand, it is good that incidents like this are recorded because these are instances of dangerous driving; on the other hand, it may lead some drivers to the temptation to hold a camera or phone to record something in their hand while driving behind the offending vehicle, which might be as dangerous.