Monday, 15 July 2013

Odds and Ends

The Cloud of Unknowing.
Jersey's Anglican diocese has said it cannot say yet how much inquiries into how its churches protect vulnerable people will cost. Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Tim Dakin, has ordered two inquiries into the alleged mishandling of a complaint from a parishioner to the dean. The Very Reverend Robert Key has been suspended over claims he mishandled the complaint made in 2008. One inquiry will be led by a retired bishop, the other by a UK judge. (BBC News)
A spokesman for the diocese said it was impossible to calculate the costs of the inquiries until they were finished, but the money would be covered by church funds.
It's all very vague and nebulous, and you'd think some sort of budget would be allocated beforehand. After all, the States of Jersey both voted for an Inquiry into Historic Child Abuse, and gave an estimated calculation of the cost involved, even though they didn't know the whole outcome. Either the Diocese of Winchester doesn't seem to have very good people in charge of its PR, or it doesn't have very good accountancy budgeting skills. It is all very much a cloud of unknowing.
Not that the States have a brilliant record. The "contingency" fund for buying Plemont came and vanished almost as quickly as the snow did this year; indeed, its existence evaporated immediately after the vote, while the snow took several days to thaw.
Telegrams End
A telegram was a short message transmitted by the telegraph system - the Victorian Internet - and made great inroads as a means by which news reporters could sent an alert on a breaking story (the "Stop Press"), weddings, and of course most notably quick messages in the First World War. It was cheaper than a letter and quicker, almost immediate by the standards of the day.
The last telegrams in the UK finished some time ago. In 1977 the Post Office dropped the service, but it was taken over briefly by British Telecom until 1982 - 139 years after it began. Today there is a private company called Telegrams Online that does a telegram service, but it is not exactly the same as a universal service from every post office.
Now one of the other countries to have the telegram is also finally bowing out. India's state run NSBL is the last major telegram service in the world. Set up in the 1850s days of the Raj, it is bowing out after 162 years. In the 1980s, it was relaying some 60 million messages a year and employed 12,000 people, but numbers have been falling, and now it is stopping altogether.
RIP: Alan Whicker
Alan Whicker was one of Jersey's quite and unobtrusive celebrity residents, someone who liked living in Jersey's countryside and kept a relatively low profile. Perhaps the only slight misjudgement was to appear in a promotional DVD produced by the Waterfront Enterprise Board extolling the virtues of the schemes of Harcourt, Dandara etc. That seemed somehow out of place, too promotional and commercial, and I always thought it was a shame he'd lent himself to what was essentially a PR job to counter the bias most Islanders had about sunken roads, Radisson Hotels etc.
He never did a Whicker's Jersey, which would have been interesting, but the Monty Python team, who did film some of their series in Jersey, also made an affectionate spoof of his style entitled "Whicker Island" which I have never been able to put out of my mind when seeing the great man himself interviewing people.
 (A stock shot of a jet landing which they always use to introduce 'Whicker's World'. This leads us into Whicker Island - a tropical island paradise where all the inhabitants have Alan Whicker suits, glasses and microphones.)
(Various Wickers pace past the camera.)
First Whicker: Today we look at a vanishing race. A problem people who are fast disappearing off the face of the earth.
Second Whicker: A race who one might say are losing a winning battle.
Third Whicker: They live in a sunshine paradise, a Caribbean dream, where only reality is missing.
Fourth Whicker: For this is Whicker Island.
Fifth Whicker: An island inhabited entirely by ex-international interviewers in pursuit of the impossible dream.
First Whicker: The whole problem of Whicker Island is here in a nutshell.
Second Whicker: There are just too many Whickers.
Third Whicker: The light-weight suits.
Fourth Whicker: The old school tie.
Fifth Whicker: The practised voice of the seasoned campaigner.
First Whicker: Cannot hide the basic tragedy here.
Second Whicker: There just aren't enough rich people left to interview.
(Cut to a different location.)
Third Whicker: You can't teach an old dog new tricks and so (turning to a swimming pod with lots of Whickers around it, wandering with stick mikes and muttering) you find them...
Fourth Whicker: (seated by swimming pool) Sitting beside elegant swimming pools...
Fifth Whicker: (seated at drinks table, with sun umbrella) ... sipping Martinis...
First Whicker: (standing by the pool) .. and waiting for the inevitable interview.
Second Whicker: (standing fully clothed in the pool) I talked to the island's only white man, Father Pierre.
(Cut to a different location. Feeling of heat. The third Whicker stands beside a priest in a white robe.)
Third Whicker: Father Pierre, why did you stay on in this colonial Campari-land where the clink of glasses mingles with the murmur of a million mosquitoes, where waterfalls of whisky wash away the worries of a world-weary Whicker, where gin and tonic jingle in a gyroscopic jubilee of something beginning With J - Father Pierre, why did you stay on here?
Father Pierre: (putting on a pair of Whicker-style glasses) Well mainly for the interviews.
Fifth Whicker: Well there you have it, a crumbling...
First Whicker: ... empire in the sun-drenched...
Second Whicker: Caribbean, where the clichés sparkle on the waters...
Third Whicker: ... like the music of repeat fees...
First Whicker: And so...
Fifth Whicker: ... from Whicker Island...
First Whicker: ... it's...
Second Whicker: ... fare...
Third Whicker: ... well and...
Fourth Whicker: ... bon...
Fifth Whicker: . .. voy...
First Whicker: ... age.
(Cut to film of Whicker plane taking off. Roll credits)

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