Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Jersey's Rural Splendour

Here is another piece from "Thinks!", this time written in around September 1988. It carries a certain bittersweet memory for me because within a year the editor and my good friend Ken Webb would be undergoing surgery for cancer. I still remember in August 1989 breaking the news to him that my wife was pregnant with our first son, and he broke the news to me that he had bowel cancer. It seemed like a macabre  parable on life and death, just as the cliché says - a cruel twist of fate. He underwent the surgery, but he was never as well afterwards, and died in 1990.

In September 1988, he was getting tired of the job, and wrote:

However, it is equally true to say that the danger of the Magazine being confined to a rut is ever present, not least because, after nearly five years, I am rather bereft of ideas and am starting to get stale.

Obviously I would give my full support to the new Editor, would spend whatever time is necessary to go over the format with her/him and introduce her/him to the abundant computer files we possess. C.I. Mensa does own its own computer/ word processor, an Amstrad PCW8256, which is admirable for the task Tony will carry on as Assistant Editor and the non-member contributors are all willing to continue to provide material for publication.

Yes - the good old PCW8256 of Alan Sugar was in its time a fantastic invention. Unlike other computers, it came as a complete package - a keyboard, screen, and processor section which used a floppy disk with a rigid case, a Word Processor Section which, while not WYSIWYG was pretty good at showing the different fonts on screen, and a rinky-tinky dot matrix printer which used a carbon ribbon.

Most of the "non-member contributors" were of course Ken and myself. My alter ego Gideon Fell came from the blustery detective based on G.K. Chesterton, and created by the master of the locked room mysteries, John Dickson Carr.

Here is one of the last postcard pieces, and at the time, there was a very real possibility that Les Creux would become a golf course - for the select few - and not a country park that everyone could enjoy, even though it would be ostensibly a "public golf course". There was also a serious move to put a football pitch at Noirmont. Queen's Valley, of course, did become a reservoir. The golf course, fortunately, became a country park instead, largely because of the intransigence of Edward Bisson, who refused to sell any of his fiercely guarded land (and he was a true Jersey miser when it came to land!) and then Deputy Mike Vibert who fought hard for the vision of a park open to everyone.

If I was writing it today, I'm sure the huge flats above Portelet would feature strongly, and the way in which the coastal scene about Corbiere has been and is being eroded by the expedient of replacing buildings of modest size with larger ones.

Meditation on a Postcard
Contributed by Gideon Fell

This postcard features a magnificent scene of rural splendour; it is a valley through which flows a swiftly flowing stream; one either side of this, the foliage runs wild, presenting a riot of differing shades of green, yellow, orange, brown.

It reminds me most strongly of those areas of our island which are least tamed, most wild, and yet nonetheless possess an awesome beauty; I use the word advisedly because it describes most aptly the effect of the landscape upon the sense - literally, they inspire awe.

Yet such areas of Jersey are fast disappearing. Beauport will no doubt become a golf course; Noirmont has been proposed for a football pitch; Queen's Valley in the meantime will be flooded. The reasons for such development are purely commercial; it is no coincidence that Tourism is in support of a golf course, and speaks of the demands of the modern leisure industry (including golf courses) or supports the proposal to flood Queen's valley while at the same time the Tourism committee tells hoteliers that they should install en suite baths and toilets.

Yet the Tourism is not alone to blame - there is a growing malaise in society whereby people's leisure activities must be catered for; leisure has become a vast void which much be filled at all costs. Moreover, quite unlike leisure activities of times past, today's leisure needs are hungry for land, greedily devouring for the pleasures of a few those areas which were once enjoyed by all. So when you see the fences going up around Beauport, remember the words - PUBLIC golf course.

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