When I started off around 12.40 at the L'Etaq end, from the slipway by Jersey Pearl, I could see a line in the far distance by Braye Slip, and I wondered if there would be enough people to manage the vast distance. The line was marked out with poles, evenly spaced along the sand, with a white ribbon (courtesy of Geomarine) between them.
But people kept coming from behind, and from the middle of the bay, and by the time I was nearly at the white house (the white coloured cottage), and pausing for breath, the line was coming towards me from Braye and along behind the route I had taken, and by 2.00 pm, it stretched all the way along the whole length of the bay, a magnificent achievement. I saw Daniel Wimberley about 20 people down the line, and someone said "The Jolly Green Giant" is here - the JEP's Fly on the Wall nickname obviously is a popular one!
It is relatively easy to sign most petitions. A few seconds, a mark on paper, and it is done. Even a referendum is easier; a cross against an option on paper at a Parish Hall.
This was a different kind of petition. People gave time to be there in person; it required an effort. This petition was signed by people being there, in the sand, stretched out to draw a line, to say - so far and no further - on the future development of Jersey's precious coastline and countryside. A signature in the sand, of a kind never before attempted, and a clear message.
Will the message be heard? That is what I heard people asking as they walked along, or walked back. "Will they take any notice?" If Jersey is to have any future, if Island democracy is to have any credibility, this should make a difference. Let there be no prevarication, no slippery words to acknowledge this, and then weasel out of it. A line has been drawn.
We hear politicians speak for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no one speaks as we speak in the street.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God's scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of Jersey; and on sand we have spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.
(after GK Chesterton)
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