Sunday, 19 February 2017

Some Church Customs Explained: The Lectern

From "The Pilot", 1968 comes this:

Some Church Customs Explained
By S.G. Thicknesse

Why is the Lectern an Eagle?

The lectern is an eagle (or sometimes a pelican) because the Christian Church, generally speaking, is no longer afraid of symbolism.

The eagle of the lectern, although it may well include memories of other even more ancient signs, is primarily the eagle which for centuries has connoted St. John the Evangelist.

Even in the early centuries, Christian symbols were in use, despite Tertullian's uncompromising opinion that, ' the law of God, in order to eradicate the material of idolatry, proclaims, “Thou shalt not make any idol adding also, “nor the likeness of anything “over the whole world hath it forbidden such arts to the servants of God.'

Christians from the beginning had made the sign of the cross, first in the air, and then on to walls and tombs and manuscripts. In time of persecution they had scored the catacombs in Rome with the secret symbol of the fish, an acrostic on the name of Jesus. Very early, too, they had taken and used symbolism from the Old and New Testaments to connote the writers of the four gospels.

In the earliest of the illustrations known, in the Lateran Church at Rome, in Milan, and in the church which Paulinus built at Nola, the four rivers of paradise of the Book of Genesis are used to denote St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John.

By t-he sixth century other symbols had tended to become even more favoured. The four beasts of the Revelation, and their prototypes from the vision of Ezekiel, had long been believed to be symbolic of the four Evangelists, and St. Jerome in the fourth century explained the special suitability of each.

St. Matthew, he said was denoted by the third beast which had the face of a man, because he began his gospel with the Lord's human genealogy. St. Mark was denoted by the first beast, which was like a lion, because he testified to the Lord's royal dignity, and at the end of his gospel to the terrible condemnation of unbelievers. St. Luke was denoted by the second beast which was like a calf or an ox, because he dwelt on priest-hood and the sacrifice of Christ.

The fourth beast, St. Jerome said, which was like a flying eagle, denoted St. John, because it was he who contemplated the Lord's divine nature. The idea of the eagle-or, more properly, the griffon, a form of vulture-was very deep and old in many parts of the ancient world. It appeared, for example, with the viper uraeus, as the usual ornament of a divine or royal head-dress in Egypt, and later on the standards of the Roman legions.

Strict Jews had been constantly on the alert against the inroads of strange beasts into Israel, especially of the ox, the lion, the serpent, and the eagle, the darling idols of the teeming pagan world by which they were surrounded. Even the twelve oxen on the molten sea with which Solomon embellished the temple, and the lions round about his throne, were objects of fierce suspicion. Later, a band of zealots threw down the image of a golden eagle which Herod the Great, the half-Jewish half-Arab king, had erected over the great gate of the Temple.

But by the fifth and six centuries after Christ these ancient terrors had been nearly tamed, and Christians with impunity decorated their churches and the furniture in them with lions' heads and doves, with peacocks, fishes and eagles.

It was natural, therefore, when special "lecterns" came to be made to hold the sacred books, which often became too heavy merely to prop on the ambo (the original " pulpit of the reader ") that they should often be decorated with symbols. It was also especially suitable that they should be decorated with the symbols of the Evangelists.

Though lecterns of many patterns made early in England-like the fine wooden one (c. 1450) in Ramsey Church, Huntingdon, or the great brass pelican in Norwich Cathedral-from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, an eagle lectern of wood or brass became very popular in this country.

Like that which Suger, Abbot of St. Denis, made in the middle of the twelfth century, these eagles held the book on their outspread wings, as does a fine early sixteenth-century lectern in St. Stephen's, St. Albans.

It was probably because the eagle could be so well adapted to the purpose of a lectern that it was the symbol of any of the other three, which became so common.

Saturday, 18 February 2017


The recent spate of mists prompted this poem, which also references images from the Doctor Who serial "Full Circle".


The air is suddenly so chilled
A few wisps of mist appear
Until the very air is filled
It is again that time of year

Mistfall over hill and dale
Creeps along the river bank
Hiding track and every trail
Sight ahead just sees a blank

From the lakes, shadows rise
Comes the time of fear so harsh
All around, are haunting cries
Creatures rising from the marsh

Fear the mist, lest we lose our way
As now the terrors this way stray

Friday, 17 February 2017

Gorey 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.

MONDAY Gorey-La Hougue Bie Eastern Coastline – Part 1

The beds in this hotel are comfortable, there is central heating, and our bedroom faces east so that we get the early morning sun. Owing to the fact that the solitary elderly people who abound in great numbers have large portions of butter and fruit on their tables, I conclude that they are residents who live in Jersey hotels to escape the English income tax.

These elderly people at one end of the scale, and at the other end of the scale the young folk, honeymooning or in gay-time parties, form the large proportion of the guests.

These, together with a fair sprinkling of connoisseurs of drinks of all kinds. Indeed, out of the nature of things, these islands are something of a Mecca to bar-supporters. In our peregrination of the shops yesterday one found numerous shops that combined some other vocation with bright displays of variegated types of liquor that put our more sombre-looking English off-licences to shame. Gin 16s. 6d. per bottle, whisky 19s per bottle, Cointreau 25s., Martini 12s., Dubonnet 11s. 6d., were some of the prices I noticed while Players and other popular brands of cigarettes were 1s.6d. for twenty, with Balkan Sobranies likewise much cheaper.

I have found myself the subject of adverse criticism in some of my books in my eagerness to impart useful information of this character. However, on this occasion I would feel myself guilty of dereliction of duty towards numbers of my readers had I omitted this now. Bass and Worthington incidentally are 8d., and whisky or gin and vermouth 1s. 6d. -first-class hotel prices, at which the profit must be quite considerable. I was glad to find that 1s. and 1s. 3d. was the more usual run of prices for spirits in the average pub.

Licensing hours for sale of alcoholic drink, under the Licensing Jersey Law of 190o are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. in winter and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. in summer on weekdays, with later opening in the morning and a closing break between 1 p.m. and 3.30 P.M. on Sundays. Off-licence sales are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.

The advantages of these liberal arrangements in adding to the enjoyment of the average temperate holiday-maker far outweighs any deleterious atmosphere that may be created by the small minority of all-day sozzlers. Indeed, exhilarated as I was during the succeeding days to find that I could, if I wished, obtain whatever I wished to drink at any hour at reasonable cost, I found our national English custom of afternoon abstinence still lay heavy on me. 

Inner compulsion, inbred through the years, saved me from the sacrilegious act of consuming with anything more innocuous than cups of tea during what for the majority of my active life I have been accustomed to regard as the forbidden hours. I did not take advantage of the liberty accorded to me as frequently as I had expected to. I was not to stay in the Channel Islands long enough to rid myself of this "tabu". 

Looking back over yesterday's impressions of our drive round the west part of the Island, I was most struck by the large proportion of Jersey cows grazing and the number of green fields. All these cows are tethered to stakes in the ground, so closely as only to give them room to lie down. There are very few glass-houses, not nearly as many as I was later to see in Guernsey, but there are plenty of indications of outdoor cultivation of potatoes and tomatoes. Quite large fields were devoted to these. 

I was struck by the prosperous look and dignified appearance of many of the granite farm houses. In their straight sheer outlines they resemble their French opposite numbers more closely than they do the houses of the English countryside; though the small one-storey houses in the more exposed parts convey the atmosphere of the Atlantic coasts of our own larger island.

Here and there one sees the remains of the old cider presses with their large stone wheels and long crankshaft. Cider-making was once a considerable industry, but now the apple orchards have been cut down to make way for the fields of the more profitable potatoes and tomatoes. There are few flowers about in the country districts, other than the bushes of hydrangeas which border certain stretches of the road. 

The Jersey farmer has little time or space to waste on flowers on his valuable plots of land. A curiosity that can be seen to advantage later in the year, however, is the peculiar long-stalked Jersey cabbage, which grows to a height of as much as twelve feet in a long stalk with a sparse collection of leaves on the top. In some places these stalks are hardened, polished and used as walking-sticks.

At St. Peter's we saw an ancient windmill that had been converted into an hotel, but it has not been improved by the addition of a concrete bar.

The coast scenery is everywhere magnificent. There are glorious wide, long and sandy beaches that look hard and perfect for riding which I am told is very popular in the island, though I didn't see a single rider all day.

There are several points about the Royal Court House that I forgot to mention, notably a plaque to "Messire" Walter Ralegh who was Governor of Jersey from 1600 till 1603; also the fact that the Bailiff was dressed in scarlet robes and in front of him stands a singularly magnificent silver gilt Mace that was presented by Charles II in 1663 "as proof of his royal affection towards the island of Jersey, in which he had twice been received in safety when excluded from the remainder of his Dominions".

The flag over the Bailiff's chair is the Banner of Normandy. It is, of course, the basic fact in the history of the Channel Islands that they were first linked to England at the time of the Conquest as part of the Duchy of Normandy.

When Normandy was lost by King John in 1204, they still remained attached to us, but as a direct fief of the English Crown, never subject to the legislation of Parliament.

This was a gusty day and cold but luckily the sun shone for the greater part of it. We caught the 10.30 bus from Snow Hill for Gorey by the eastern coast road, return fare 1s. 3d. each. This journey took half an hour along the coast line first by La Greve d'Azette and Le Croc Point, past a large number of comfortable bungalows overlooking the sea. Then by the broad sandy St. Clement's Bay to La Rocque Point at the south-east corner. It was here that the French landed in their raid under De Rullecourt in 1781 about which I have already said something.

It was no doubt on account of this that there are Martello Towers both here and along the whole length of the sandy Grouville Bay which we then traversed. I was much diverted by the use to which some of these towers had been put. In one case it looked as if a house had been built round it. By the jetty at La Rocque Point I admired the square granite house with its own private tower.

A mile out at sea is the tower known as the Seymour Tower on the islet of L'Avarizon. The land along the road to the landward side was low-lying and mainly occupied by potato fields. So, passing the Royal Grouville golf links between ourselves and the sea, we came within sight of Gorey and its imposing Castle of Mont Orgueil.

This is the most majestic view of the whole island, the natural beauty being set off by the granite castle on the high rock, and below this by the wharf and jetty of the small harbour with its line of a dozen or more continental type houses in their various pastel shades of brown, yellow,. pink and cream. The numerous small boats suggested that this place is a well-frequented yachtsman's paradise. Gorey is a place of enchantment. It is a bright gem set off by excellent sands and a clear blue sea.

Now a delectable small seaside resort, Gorey has, in its time, been quite a place. It is only fifteen miles across to the Cherbourg Peninsula of Normandy, and the hook formed by the castle hill made it the obvious landing-place for boats coming from France.

This gave it importance from the earliest times. This importance was enhanced by its oyster fishing which prospered considerably between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Indeed it is said that at one time oysters were so plentiful in Jersey that they were served free with hotel meals. Many stories are told of the unruly behaviour of the visiting oyster fishermen.

However, by the latter half of the nineteen hundreds, the oyster fisheries had been ruined by over-dredging. For fifty years from 1873 Gorey was connected with St. Helier by the Jersey Eastern Railway, but this was killed by motor bus competition and closed in 1927.

We inspected Rowley's antique shop and then climbed the steep path up to Mont Orgueil Castle. To our dismay we found that it was only open from two o'clock till six and that admission cost a shilling. It stands 310 feet above the sea. 

It is believed to have been first built during the early thirteenth century when John lost Normandy and Jersey became a frontier post. In the fifteenth century it consisted of a Keep, a middle ward and an outer ward surrounded by towers and curtain walls, most of which still remain. At the entrance stands Harliston Tower, built in 1470 by Sir Richard Harliston, the Yorkist Governor of Jersey. 

There are four gateways before the middle ward is reached. The crypt of St. George's Chapel dates from the twelfth century, and in the Keep there is another twelfth-century crypt. The upper battery of the Keep is the Somerset Tower built by the Duke of Somerset between 1549 and 1584.

The castle was besieged in 1373 by Bertrand du Guesclin, Constable of France, but though he captured the outer defences and the castle's water supply he never succeeded in capturing the Keep. In 1460 Margaret of Anjou granted it to France and through the connivance of the Governor it was seized by them and held for six years. It was retaken by Admiral Sir Richard Harliston with the aid of Philip de Carteret, the Seigneur of St. Ouen, after a siege of five and a half months.

In the Civil War it was held for the King by Sir Philip de Carteret's wife, while Sir Philip defended Elizabeth Castle. It was captured in 1651 by Admiral Blake.

William Prynne, the Puritan lawyer, was imprisoned in the castle from 1637 to 1640. The instructions for his treatment as a State Prisoner were rigorous to a degree, but he became a friend of Sir Philip de Carteret who treated him as a guest. After this Cromwell frequently used the Castle as a State prison.

It was the residence of the Governors of the island for about four hundred years.

We walked round the outside of the battlements and saw clearly in front of us the sandy beaches of Normandy and Brittany. 

We then returned to Gorey Harbour and found the Fisherman's Bar of the Dolphin Hotel, an attractive rough granite, small, cosy room decorated with a ship's bell, a ships wheel, and prints of old clipper ships. 

An old man with a white beard wearing a yellow stock asked Jill whether she was wearing the Macmillan tartan and the barman told Imogen that she was wearing the Mackenzie. We all became very Scots and friendly and only just caught our return bus at twelve o'clock. I spent most of the journey back looking for the return tickets without avail and Jill lost one of her black kid gloves.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Standing Orders

THE STATES are asked to decide whether they are of opinion:

(a) that the requirement that Senators and Deputies must be British citizens should be removed;

(b) that candidates for election as Senators or Deputies must have been ordinarily resident in Jersey for at least 5 years in total and for a period of 6 months up to and including the day of the election; and

(c) to request the Privileges and Procedures Committee to bring forward the necessary legislative changes so that the new arrangements take effect in time for the elections due in 2018.

The groundwork for this proposition came in the CPA Benchmarking Survey that was undertaken by a Sub-Committee of the Privileges and Procedures Committee earlier this year, which consisted of Deputy S.M. Bree of St. Clement, Deputy J.M. Maçon of St. Saviour, former Senator Z.A. Cameron, and Montfort Tadier, which suggested that:

“Candidates currently have to be British citizens. Members considered that 5 years’ residency should be sufficient and that the requirement for British Citizenship precluded valuable members of the Portuguese and Polish communities, as well as other nationalities, from entering political life. If Jersey had its own unique nationality, then it would seem sensible to maintain this requirement.”

Jersey politicians have voted against allowing non-British citizens from standing for election in the island. Deputy Montfort Tadier called for a change to the current rules, which stop islanders without a British passport from being part of the States Assembly. His proposition did not get the backing from the majority of politicians though, with only eight members agreeing to the idea.

31 voted against it, while two others abstained from voting.

Interestingly, given his “preamble” about the subcommittee, neither Simon Bree nor Jeremy Macon voted for the proposition.

While he cites other areas where rights have been extended – jury service, the police, voting rights, the elephant in the room was always this:

““In most other jurisdictions there is a nationality requirement for candidates for national parliaments, for example in the United Kingdom and in France.”

In fact, he cannot cite a single case of a country where candidates for election to a parliament or similar body do not have to be citizens of that country – you have to be an Australian citizen to stand in Australia, a German citizen to stand in Germany etc.

There is not a country in the world so far as I know that subscribes to the idea that a foreign national can stand for election to their parliament or national assembly. It is not enough just to be resident, but to have a commitment which comes through naturalisation.

The UK has some peculiarities of its own:

People wishing to stand as an MP must be over 18 years of age, be a British citizen or citizen of a Commonwealth country or the Republic of Ireland"

Lots of legacy stuff - Commonwealth dates from Empire, Republic of Ireland > is a legacy of Ireland being part of Great Britain before splitting off, and also to keep Northern Ireland in the loop.

County council elections in the UK meanwhile have an even wider brief where you must:

"be a British citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of any member state of the European Union" (which of course includes Eire)

There is, however, a caveat on Commonwealth citizens, as the full criteria reads:

“ … a citizen of a commonwealth country who does not require leave to enter or remain in the UK, or has indefinite leave to remain in the UK.”

However, non-British passport holders are likely to have restrictions applied to their stay even if their home country is a member of the commonwealth, and this would in most cases preclude them from being eligible to stand.

For example, New Zealanders most definitely need to apply for a visa for the UK if they intend to stay for more than 3 months or intend to seek work. The same is true vice versa - you need a visa for entry into New Zealand on much the same basis. Hence they would not be able to stand without taking British citizenship.

And even though Adolph Hitler came from Austria, he was awarded German citizenship, a requirement before he could stand for election. It was Feb. 25, 1932 and Hitler had just been naturalized after being appointed as a civil servant in the then-free state of Braunschweig -- a crucial step for the continuation of his political career. This was a precondition for holding political office in the Weimar Republic.

Even dictators need to abide by rules of citizenship before they can run for election!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Food Security – A Strategy in Waiting

Supermarket shelves left bare after ferries delayed

"Its dependence upon the outer worlds for food and, indeed, for all necessities of life, made Trantor increasingly vulnerable." (Isaac Asimov, Foundation)

Food Security – A Strategy in Waiting

The subject of food security, along with water and energy security are rising as priorities for governments globally and particularly in locations geographically isolated or reliant on complex transport links. The Government of Jersey has started exploring the issues around food security for Jersey and perhaps unsurprisingly the majority of fresh fruit and vegetables purchased on the Island are imported.

Food security remains high on the agenda, as food production is now seen as strategically important given the rising world population and food price volatility. A draft Food Security Strategy was prepared for consideration by the Council of Ministers which sets out four main objectives:

1. Securing the availability of food
2. Securing the affordability of food
3. Securing the ability to produce food
4. Securing against supply shocks

Where is it?

Delta Innovation have this in their website:

We worked with the States of Jersey to develop a draft Food Security Strategy, which set out four objectives for food security on Jersey;

To secure the availability of food
To secure the affordability of food
To secure the ability to produce food
To secure against supply shocks.

When I asked via a freedom of information request for the work done by Delta Innovation, the reply was

“Justification for exemption: A draft food security strategy is being prepared and will be integrated within the new Rural Economy Strategy (RES) due to be published in autumn 2016."”

Well here is the Rural Economy Strategy, finally, and I have yet to see the draft food security strategy.

Instead, interesting though it is, we do have responses to a survey. But of that holy grail, outlined above, no sign at all. I am extremely disappointed at the failure of the two Ministers to ensure that it was present especially given the reason for not giving the information was that it would be “integrated” with the RES.

Now I have to ask yet an another request for sight of that Food Strategy Draft.

Meanwhile, here are some of the responses to their survey, which make interesting reading.

Reponses to Survey on Food Security

The Department of the Environment included a section of questions in the 2014 Jersey Annual Social Survey (JASS) to inform the development of a Food Security Strategy for Jersey.

Although a small proportion (3%) of people were unsure how long it would be before their household ran out of food at home, a third of people (32%) judged that their household would run out of food in ‘a few days’, and a slightly higher proportion felt they would last ‘about a week’. A fifth (18%) thought they would have enough food to last around two or three weeks, whilst less than one in twenty (3%) had enough food to last a month or more, and a similarly small proportion had enough for ‘a day or less’.

The majority of people (85%) thought that the main supermarkets in Jersey would be able to keep their shelves stocked for about a week or less, if they suddenly didn’t receive any deliveries from outside of Jersey. An additional 8% felt supermarkets would be able to keep their shelves stocked for ‘around two or three weeks’ under those circumstances.

In terms of where people felt the responsibility for making sure food is affordable should lie, there were higher proportions agreeing at some level that it is up to the Government to make sure food is affordable (90%), compared to those who agreed at some level that it was up to the supermarkets to make sure food is affordable (77%).

However, in terms of where residents felt the responsibility should lie for making sure food is available for Islanders day to day, a higher proportion felt that this was up to the supermarkets in Jersey (91%) compared to those who agreed it was up to the Government (73%). 

Although in an emergency situation, for example, if supplies were unable to get to Jersey, more people agreed that it would be up to the government to make sure there was enough food available for Islanders to buy. Three-fifths (59%) of residents thought that the Government of Jersey should have a stockpile of non-perishable foods for Islanders to buy in an emergency situation. 

When asked how long they felt this supply should last for, a range of opinions were given from one in ten (9%) saying up to a few days, a third (33%) suggesting ‘about a week’, and around a quarter suggesting ‘around two or three weeks’ (25%) or ‘a month or more’ (27%).

Few people (5%) felt that all the food needed to feed Jersey residents should be grown in Jersey rather than imported, although half (50%) thought that ‘most’ of the food needed should be grown in Jersey, with some imports for variety. Two-fifths (39%) thought that ‘some’ of the food should be grown in the Island, with most being imported. Less than 1% felt that ‘none’ of the food needed should be grown in Jersey.

A quarter of households (27%) in Jersey reported growing some of their own vegetables and about a fifth (18%) grew some fruit. One in eight (13%) fished (including for shellfish) for their own consumption. Much smaller proportions of households (around one in a hundred) kept animals for eggs, meat or milk.

The majority of the public felt that that the Government of Jersey should have a stockpile of non-perishable foods for Islanders to buy in an emergency situation (2014 JASS). Agricultural land for local production should be given the highest level of protection and the implementation of the Food Security Strategy would help in securing the availability and ability to produce food locally to secure against supply shocks and help protect local farming. 

Should local production fall away, this will result in Jersey becoming almost totally reliant on imported food and potentially vulnerable to supply shocks.

And we can see this in the photo at the top of this blog!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Last Word: Jayalalitha Jayaram

I always enjoy “Last Word”, the Radio 4 obituary programme, finding out more about people I have heard of, but also being amazed by the stories of people I have never heard of, who have led amazing lives.

Alongside such notables as John Glenn, astronaut, and Peter Vaughan, actor, was Jayalalitha Jayaram who died recently, aged 68.

She was an Indian actor turned politician who served five terms as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, for over fourteen years between 1991 and 2016.

Her biographer, the novelist Vaasanthi Sundaram, told the Guardian that Jayalalithaa was “the most colourful, dynamic and determined woman politician that one has ever seen.

“She relentlessly challenged the male-dominated, sexist politics of Tamil Nadu that worked relentlessly to block her every step of the way,” she said.

The Guardian noted that:

“As the state’s first female opposition leader, she was once physically attacked in the chamber by MPs from a rival party, emerging with torn clothing and a promise never to return “until conditions are created under which a woman may attend the assembly safely”.”

“In office, she pioneered alternative energy and water harvesting schemes and reduced the rate of female infanticide by creating centres where parents could anonymously hand over baby girls. “

“She championed the cause of the rural and urban poor by introducing subsidised food canteens, providing free laptops to thousands of school pupils and students and launching other populist schemes like giving away food mixers and grinders to families.”

But she was also something of an autocrat, who dominated her party. Her policies were always carefully branded to bolster the cult of personality that formed around her.

As the BBC news reported:

“Many publicly funded projects in Tamil Nadu were named after her, including a subsidy scheme, under which canteens served food at low prices. They were dubbed Amma Canteens - Amma in Tamil is Mother, an honorific euphemism by which Jayalalitha was often addressed by her followers in the state. These were followed by Amma Bottled Water, Amma Salt, Amma Pharmacies and subsidised Amma Cement.”

She served 30 days in jail for corruption charges in 1996, and was debarred from the 2001 elections, but swept back to victory. In 2003, when her conviction was overturned, she successfully contested a vacant assembly seat and was once more chief minister of Tamil Nadu.

Indian politics is notoriously corrupt, and her critics painted her a deeply corrupt figure who manipulated the system and saw herself as above the law.

Certainly, she was not the saint she wished to be painted as, but on the other hand, most corrupt leaders hoard power and riches, and do nothing for the poor, and while it may have suited her to be popular, she really improved the lives of many.

As Al Jazeera commented:

“Gifts are commonly used by Indian political parties to court voters, but her handouts were criticised by some as wasteful pandering and unfair bribery. But Jayalalithaa defended the giveaways as welfare measures aimed at helping the poor.”

This can be seen in the reaction to her death from cardiac arrest. As news of her death spread, thousands of people thronged the road long past midnight to watch as a motorcade escorted the ambulance carrying her body from the hospital to her home.

Jayalalithaa's body, in a coffin draped with the national flag, was taken on Tuesday morning to a public hall in Chennai to allow people to pay their respects.

Sugathakumari, poet and activist, said of her:

"Sayalalithaa was a very powerful person; we haven't seen such a powerful woman in the recent times. She did a lot towards the betterment of poor and the girl children. Tamil Nadu was a place where new-born girls were killed. She was successful in bringing a change, with the society now being proud to have a girl child. For the poor, she provided food, shelter and a helping hand in conducting the weddings in their families. Her policies to promote girls' education made her a darling of the masses. She was very sensitive to women's issues and she stood for her people, which was her strength and her personality. I respect her for her progressive policies to safeguard girls and poor people."

Monday, 13 February 2017

Strange Associations

The Dean of Jersey is set to retire on 28th February 2017. I have only one book on my bookshelf with the word "Dean" in the title, and that is "The Dean's Death", an original Columbo novel based on the TV character, and by word association, I always visualise that book cover whenever the word "Dean" comes up. Goodness knows what a Freudian analyst would make of that!

The Dean in the book, however, has the title of an academic post in an American University and not a religious one like Jersey's Dean. Just like the TV show, he is one of those irritating characters who is rather two-faced and winds up lots of people who therefore have a motive to kill him, and it is for Columbo to find out who did it, and expose the truth, while the reader knows from the start.

The Dean is off to work for the Bishop of Bath and Wells - our Dean, not the one who is murdered in the Columbo book. And here I have another association, which is apparently widespread. The title "The Bishop of Bath and Wells" rang a bell with me, and I remembered why.

The Bishop is a debt collector from the Bank of the Black Monks of St. Herod, and particularly enjoys causing pain and injury (even mortal injury) to those customers who cannot repay their debts. He claims to be a "colossal pervert", and enjoys the company of prostitutes such as Mollie. He is angry when customers are able to pay up, and also drowns babies in the christening font and then eats them later in the vestibule.

That, of course, is the character from Blackadder II, not real life!

Played by Ronald Lacey (a veteran of Porridge and Raiders of the Lost Ark) the grotesque baby-eating Bishop of Bath and Wells seen in the episode "Money" was not a genuine historical figure.

That said, the depiction became so recognisable than in 2001 the incoming Bishop of Bath & Wells - the Right Reverent Peter Price - related to the House of Lords that upon his arrival there the Bishop of Southwark had spotted his five-week-old granddaughter and remarked "The Bishop has brought his own lunch!"