Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Eyewitness

This is a poem about the pub "The Goose in St Peter", Jersey which I wrote after reading this story.

"When Paul Patterson heard of a string of complaints that The Goose was turning away visually impaired people and their guide dogs, he paid a visit to see if that was really the case. He said: "I experienced the same thing myself. And it makes the people with a disability feel extremely hurt. I didn't realise how hurt I'd feel. I knew there was an issue. It did make me take a few steps back." "We would like to just not have this situation where people can suddenly have the carpet pulled from beneath them. And I go back to my own experience last Sunday and I felt really really hurt by it and I didn't think I would." One of the other people told they're not welcome at The Goose with their guide dog is still traumatised and profoundly upset by what happened, and still too shaken to appear on camera to share their story."

You can see the full report by Gary Burgess on CTV at

Here is the poem...

The Eyewitness
I opened the door, and stepped inside
And heard the merry sounds of cheer
And my faithful dog came along beside
It was a thirsty day, and time for beer
But the bar manager told me, "Go away"
"You are not welcome here, with a dog"
"We take no dogs here in case they stray"
"Go, and seek elsewhere for your grog"
I was turned away, and shown the door
Even though I could not see, being blind
It was in vain that I plead and implore
I was told to go; it hurt me, it was unkind
The bar manager was uncaring, did not mind
And of the two of us, who was truly blind?

Friday, 30 August 2013

The Commissioners Poley, Vaughan and Janson

Something historical today. Here is an extract from "Jersey in the 17th century" (1931),  by A.C. Saunders.

This short chapter tells the story of the Royal Commissioners and their action in the Royal cause. It is interesting that they sentenced various opponents of the King but relatively few were actually executed; instead imprisonment and heavy fines, sometimes forfeiture of lands and wealth, were permitted if an oath of allegiance was sworn.
It is notable that "everything was done in the most legal manner possible", as we are told. Judicial independence of both Jersey and Guernsey begins in 1204, but the law was often applied in unjust ways. Here, it was used as a weapon to enforce one political side - the Royalist party, and there is no doubt that it was an abuse of power by the Royalists. So we must not be too triumphalistic about judicial independence, when it was capable of being used for political ends, and as an instrument of tyranny.
And as can be seen by the hanging in effigy those not present, these trials were "show trials", because the result of the trials was predetermined, and the verdict was a foregone conclusion.
Elise Groulx Diggs, speaking of "show trials", notes that "All trials must contain an element of risk-namely the risk that the accused may be freed. If this aspect is missing, what we have is a show trial, a clear lack of legitimacy, and no desirable legacy for the future of international criminal justice."
These trials did allow the accused to be free in many cases, as long as they submitted an oath of loyalty to the King, and paid a heavy fine. But they were "show trials" nonetheless, designed to impress. No one could walk away with impunity without pledging loyalty to the King; that freedom did not exist judicially. They were rituals of vengeance, for all their legality.
The Commissioners Poley, Vaughan and Janson
by AC Saunders
The Commissioners had plenty to do, and on the 2nd August, 1645, they sentenced Maximilian Messervy to death for his actions in aid of the party against the King. Messervy was a young man, twenty nine years of age, and belonged to a respectable family, and in 1641 he had been pardoned by the King for passing false coinage in the Island and this fact was brought up against him, with the result that the execution was carried out and he was buried in St. Saviour's churchyard. On the 11th of August, Thomas Durel, Zacharias du Hamel and Jean le Mestre were allowed to plead for their lives, and pardon was granted on condition that they each paid a fine of 8,000 livres tournois, but the prison doors were not opened until they had paid the porter's fee of fifty ecus and the Greffier's charge of 10 ecus.
On the 20th August, the trial took place of Benjamin Bisson, Phelipe Messervy, the Sieur de Bagot, Phelipe de Ia Perelle, Ellie Jean, Pierre Hamon, Josnas Marie, prisoners from Mont Orgueil Castle. Bisson had been a Jurat at the Royal Court and had failed to flee from the Island when Lydcott left. For nearly two years he had been a prisoner and during that time he must have realised that he could expect very little mercy from those in power.
But the Commissioners were evidently out for obtaining is much as possible from the prisoners, and the lives of all he prisoners were spared on condition that each took the oath of allegiance to the King. Bisson and Mons de Bagot had each to pay a fine of 8,000 livres tournois, de la Perelle 2,000 livres, besides the official fifty and ten ecus, and Jean, Hamon and Marie were pardoned on the payment of a small fee for the opening of the prison doors. The following Sunday all the prisoners had to attend the Parish Church and here, after partaking of the Sacrament, they publicly recanted the errors of their ways and formerly took the oath of fidelity to the King and his deputies.
There were many fugitives from the Island who had taken a prominent part in the rebellion, and the Commissioners directed the Viscount on the 4th October, 1645, to call out their names in the Royal Court, citing them to appear within a certain date. They directed that all those who failed to answer were to he hanged in effigy in the Market Place, and afterwards exposed on the Town Hill, and that all their goods and chattels were to be confiscated for the benefit of the King.
Apart from Michael Lempriere, Herault and du Maresq, Chevalier gives us the following names of those thus condemned : Phelipe le Boutillier, Abraham Bequet, Charles Maret, Simion Enouf, Nicollas De Rue, Clement Lempriere, Daniel Norment, Andry le Vavaseur Durel, Jean Ricart, Pierre Ricard, Pierre Dassigny, Denis le Gerdain, Jean Herault, Nicollas Efart, George du Maresq, Benjamin Lempriere, Ellie Chevallier, Thomas Pipys, Thomas Lempriere, Hanry le Vavaseur dit Durel, Moise le Vavaseur dit Durel, Pierre le Gallez, Thomas Robert, Phelipe Sallemon, George Sallemon, Ellie Huelin, Jean le Dain, Abraham Maugiet, Nicollas Blenpied, Jean Blenpied, Samuel Chevallier, Nicollas le Quesne, Jacques Maugier, Francois Luce, Jean le Feuvre, Josue Maret, Pierre Louis, Phelipe Messcrvy, Pierre Luce, Edouard Luce, Aron Corbet, Phelipe le Feuvre.
After this sentence all the lands and other property were seized, and the lands were let by auction. Everything was done in the most legal manner possible, and thus large sums of money came into the possession of the King's Receiver.
On the 19th July, 1645, the Reverend Jacques Bandinel was brought to the Court, but there was so much work to do that his case could not be attended to on that day. He was remanded until the following Saturday, when he was too ill to attend, and he remained prisoner in the castle until his death.
We hear nothing more about Jurat Benjamin Bisson until 23rd January, 1655, when his widow, Rachel Bisson, appealed to the Protector, pointing out that in 1642 her husband had been made a Commissioner for the Parliament to oppose Sir Philip de Carteret. Having failed to escape from the Island with Lempriere and others, he had been most barbarously treated by the Royalists, who kept him in prison for two years, and threatened to hang him unless he gave up his estate at a nominal price. This he was compelled to do but he sickened and died leaving a widow and five children to the tyranny of a cruel enemy. He was fined £916 13s 8d before he regained his liberty, and Col. Gibbons the Governor, and Michael Lempriere the Bailiff recommended that she should be repaid that amount out of the fines levied on the Royalists, and the Protector granted the request.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Tony's Newsround

"A man targeted by marketing companies is making money from cold calls with his own premium-rate phone number. In November 2011 Lee Beaumont paid £10 plus VAT to set up his personal 0871 line - so to call him now costs 10p, from which he receives 7p. The Leeds businessman told BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme that the premium line had so far made £300." (1)

I rather liked this story, as I frequently get cold-calls, and more recently, since a car ran into the back of me last November, frequent calls - unsolicited - from companies which are trying to get me to sign up for injury damages on a no-win no-payment basis. I continually tell them to email me the details they want, whereupon they take my email address, and I never hear from them until the next call. Perish the thought that they should actually email me!
Of course, the man does run his own business from his home address, so there is some justification for a premium number. Premium number regulator Phone Pay Plus said: "Premium-rate numbers are not designed to be used in this way and we would strongly discourage any listeners from adopting this idea, as they will be liable under our code for any breaches and subsequent fines that result."
But I wonder if I can dissuade cold callers and others by telling them that all my calls are monitored. That may well work. It may stop me getting so heated by those irritating callers.
Heating up also features in the next story, on global warming, which is not happening as fast as it was predicted to do:
"Scientists say the slow down in global warming since 1998 can be explained by a natural cooling in part of the Pacific ocean. Although they cover just 8% of the Earth, these colder waters counteracted some of the effect of increased carbon dioxide say the researchers. But temperatures will rise again when the Pacific swings back to a warmer state, they argue."(3)
"This new study adds further evidence that the recent slowdown in the rate of global warming at the Earth's surface is explained by natural fluctuations in the ocean and is therefore likely to be a temporary respite from warming in response to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases," said Dr Richard Allan from the University of Reading.
It's rather gloomy prospects, especially as arctic ice still continues to disappear. I'm sure that the global warming sceptics will find something to complain about, but what I find refreshing is that Professor Xie and his colleagues were not content to try and explain away or ignore the slow down in global warming, but wanted to find a proper scientific explanation for it that was testable by observations.
The global warming scenario was not helped by some rather bad fudges of the data, in particular relating to the so-called "hockey stick", and the abrupt way in which the Mediaeval warm period was airbrushed out of existence. That seemed to be approaching perilously like altering the data to fit the theory, which is the reverse of what Professor Xie's team have done. Leaked emails regarding the "hockey stick" show scientists behaving badly in all kinds of ways, and it probably set back public perception of global warming for a decade. Let's hope that the better approach such as Professor Xie can make up for some of that damage.
As I write that, I can feel the shadow of Nick Palmer looming over me, but I think the evidence - as seen in the complete Guardian special investigation shows otherwise regarding the behaviour of the scientists involved:
"Within the narrower confines of assembling a reliable history of global ­temperature, the emails have done significant damage to the credibility of scientists. They show that in their desire to give the world a clear message that humans are ­heating the planet, a group of scientists cut corners and played down uncertainties in their calculations. Their opponents charge that they then covered their tracks by being secretive with data and suppressing dissent."
"'Climate scientists will have to work harder to earn the warranted trust of the public - and maybe that is no bad thing,' says Dr Mike Hulme. While science gets its house in order, we need some perspective. In the midst of a cold winter it may be hard to convince ourselves, but the world is still warming. Humanity is still to blame. And we still, urgently, need to do something about it." (3)
Hiding matters also comes into the story about the NHS, which looks at complaints about hospital food:
"NHS hospitals have been accused of hiding patients' dissatisfaction with the standard of food. There are plenty of complaints about taste but how much is lacklustre 'presentation' to blame?"
The BBC report various chefs, TV presenters, and restaurateurs who commented on photos of the hospital food sent in by readers, although Data Protection forbids us knowing if one of those disgruntled was "disgusted of Tunbridge Wells". The comments are a savage critique, but can also be bitingly funny:
"Take this dish for example - overcooked, dry-looking sweetcorn with really badly overcooked broccoli and something that looks like potatoes and ham, with added skin." (chef Mark Lloyd)
"It looks like it has eczema. It looks like it's cold. I wouldn't touch it. It's just horrible looking, isn't it? I'd rather just drink milkshakes and take vitamin pills if this was my only alternative source of nutrition. It would be interesting to compare this with what prisoners get served." (Matt Tebbutt, chef, TV presenter and restaurant owner)
"I was trying to work out what this was," says Tebbutt. "It looks like it might be tripe. Presumably they serve this to give you the motivation to get better and leave hospital." (4)
I remember being in the General Hospital in Jersey in the 1960s as a young boy, having my tonsils out - at operation which was pretty standard at the time; it was felt that it was beneficial to whip tonsils out, so thousands of school children had them taken out. Because of complications, a possible clot in the throat (the same complication that nearly finished off Lloyd George), I had to stay in longer, and eating with a throat which feels sore was difficult. The hospital food was dry with no gravy, and hard to swallow. It was definitely not pleasant, so I don't think modern hospital food is necessarily any worse than that of yesteryear.
As I was reluctant to eat this dried up food, the nurse took me into a room, showed me a funnel and a rubber tube, and told me that if I didn't eat, I'd be force fed using that. While the food may still be receiving criticism in hospitals, I suspect that the attitude of nurses to children has improved considerably. A friend of mine was later in for the tonsils operation, and received the same kind of bullying treatment, but he got round it by biting the nurse's finger hard, something that had never occurred to me to do.
And finally, on medical matters, this report on new developments seems fascinating (to use Mr Spock's well-loved phrase):
"Miniature "human brains" have been grown in a lab in a feat scientists hope will transform the understanding of neurological disorders. The pea-sized structures reached the same level of development as in a nine-week-old foetus, but are incapable of thought. The study, published in the journal Nature, has already been used to gain insight into rare diseases." (5)
I must have a very wicked streak, because whenever I hear something about pea-sized brains, my mind turns almost reflexively to politicians. Now why do you suppose that is? I leave it to the reader to draw the obvious conclusions!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Tourism: Success or Spin?

CTV reports this story:
"The summer sunshine has helped the Channel Island's tourism success this year. The warm weather over the school holidays has meant more people visited the islands compared with last year. Outdoor adventure businesses say it is a welcome boost following a slow start. "
A friend of mine, Adam Gardiner, comments:
"How on earth can Jersey Tourism claim the season to be a success? They wheel out a beach concessionaire as their 'proof', when she simply compares to last year and says it was better. Of course it was. Last year the weather was terrible and fewer people ventured onto the beach - this year rather better so more people on the beach. That has nothing at all to do with visitor numbers which I predict will be down overall (again) on last year and the 12 that preceded that."
"And yes, a few odd months that did see better numbers over last year - but we aren't talking thousands and in some cases even hundreds. But whichever way you look at it he trend is still downwards"
"Spin, spin, spin...form a department that has had it cosy for long enough."
He also pointed out to be that in 2012, there was a "Draft 2012 Tourism Strategy- Green Paper:" consultation, which began in July 2012 and ended on 30 September 2012. I looked it up and it was promoted by the Economic Development Minister, Alan Maclean, who wrote in his introduction to the report:
"This consultation provides everyone, who has an interest in the future for Tourism, with an opportunity to contribute. All the comments received will be considered, alongside the Oxera report and any other appropriate information, and used to help shape a new strategy for Tourism in Jersey"
One year down the line, and the strategy, apart from the creation of an aptly named "Shadow Tourism Committee" (remunerated annually at taxpayers expense), seems to have disappeared without trace. There is no follow up on the consultation. Unlike Scrutiny, which publishes submissions and final reports, it seems that Ministerial Departments set out consultations, and then conveniently forget them. It is the "Yes Minister" approach, with Alan Maclean in the role of Jim Hacker - "lots of activity but no actual achievement".
The Chamber of Commerce was critical of the approach in the Green Paper from the start:
"The green paper states that it has been recommended that the development of a new strategy for tourism should focus on growing the Staying Leisure Visitor economy. Whilst agreeing that this is a sound objective, the Committee would like to emphasise two matters:-"
1.  The "staying leisure visitor economy" should not be taken to mean the high value visitor economy. It is essential that support is given to the providers of all levels of tourist accommodation and not just to those establishments offering the higher scale of accommodation.
2. There is no mention whatsoever in the document of the day trippers who frequent the Island both from Europe, and from the UK and Guernsey, either for the retail experience or to visit tourist attractions. There is no doubt that these visitors spend money while they are on the Island thereby giving a boost to the economy and more effort should be made to attract more day trippers.
Jersey Hospitality also pointed out the statistics showed a certain decline:
"We will be carefully assessing current tourism trends and by way of an example, statistical data has confirmed the levels of reducing bed stock and visitor number patterns in the hospitality sector locally. Staying Leisure Visitors reduced to a figure of 334,420 in 2011 from 375,860 in 2007 with visitor arrivals reducing to 1,128,571 in 2011 from 1,165,345 in 2007. During the same period the number of establishments reduced to 143 in 2011 from 159 in 2007 and bed spaces reduced to 11,956 in 2011 from 13,050 in 2007. In 1978, a peak year for the visitor economy, there were 574 hotels and guest houses, 2 holiday camps and 6 campsites. In 2011 there were 68 hotels, 44 guest houses, no holiday camps, 25 self catering units, 4 camp-sites and 2 youth hostels making a total of 143 establishments. As a result of the economic and visitor downturn, yield and room rate across the accommodation sector has decreased. With this in mind one can see how vital it is to agree a tourism strategy that meets the needs for the future."
In January this year, the newly appointed head of the Shadow Board for Jersey Tourism said that "There's no quick solution to curbing the decline in visitor numbers"
The remuneration for the Chairman is £12,500 per annum. The non-executive directors will receive an honorarium of £5,000 per annum. Expenses of the Board members will also be payable.
So what are they doing for their money? In August this year, CTV reported that:
"In a bid to refocus the island's offering to tourists, Jersey's Shadow Tourism Board plans to get Jersey back on track. They're asking islanders to come up with ideas to promote the island's treasures which could ultimately boost visitor numbers."
As one comment put it:
"Jersey's Shadow Tourism Board asks islanders to do their job for them, and come up with a way to lure in more tourists."

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

On the Buses: It’s a Liberty!

Time Tables
It is now over six months since Liberty Bus took over from Connex, and they were supposed to have a hundred days period of grace for sorting out problems, but that was extended by Deputy Kevin Lewis, Minister at Transport and Technical Services – the politician responsible for accepting them as the operators, and now seems to have been discarded altogether. Here is a criticism from one of my correspondents, Adam Gardiner:
"We are still getting convoys - timetables are up the creek. It is most marked in St. Aubin where after a 30 minute hiatus (between 10.30-11pm) we got both a 15 and 12 travelling eastbound arriving together - made worse by the fact that the bus stops in St. Aubin can only accommodate 1 bus at a time. The result is the second bus just sat in the road blocking all other traffic. This was compounded by the further fact that the last 12 terminates Corbière and travels back to town - empty - passing through St. Aubin - lights out, 'NOT IN SERVICE'! If nothing else hopelessly inefficient but you can imagine the affect that has on passengers waiting at the bus stop - in the rain!"
He also noted an incident on a Friday (and not the first) when a passenger "was turfed off at Corbière as the service terminated there (X12) Yet nowhere on the graphic timetable does it indicate that and the bus in any event carries on its journey as if it were in service. Someone explain please? They were nonetheless left to walk home. Although it was not dark and raining on this occasion, it is still unacceptable. It is a PUBLIC bus service, not a service to suit either drivers or LibertyBus."
And he goes on to comment that on the Bank Holiday Monday:
"LibertyBus are just operating Sunday services which considering it's a Bank Holiday is barmy. While there is no commuter traffic, at this time of year we have our biggest influx of visitors. It's nuts! Compare that with other forms of 'public transport'. Do aeroplanes, ferries and trains run to reduced services at weekends and particularly Sundays? No. By and large they actually increase them. Why. Because it's a time of peak demand."
"The result is, we have passengers arriving at the airport, but all we can offer them is a long wait for an infrequent and limited service; and at the harbour NO buses at all - that at any time."
Now part of that may be to do with drivers, but clearly part of it has to do with management. I remember contacting the manager of Jersey Bus in the old days about the loop around Corbière, and as I wanted to pick up the bus stop near to the corner where the Prison is, and the bus was not returning, I was told that it was perfectly acceptable to be picked up there for the through journey to St Helier. Clearly commonsense was applied to the bus routes. How the buses operated around the Corbière loop should be a matter for the management to decide. Liberty bus has said it is they, rather than the bus drivers, who are in charge, so why don't they make it clear what their buses are doing.
The position with regard to bank holidays is very obvious. To put on extra services, means paying drivers overtime rates. That again means that it is a management decision, and not one the bus drivers have any control over, any more than they can decide on the time tables, even when that leads (as stated above) to buses being forced to block the road St Aubin. That's also a transport matter, and the Minister, Deputy Kevin Lewis should put pressure on the management to ensure it doesn't happen.
And the bus stop at the Harbour was also discontinued when LibertyBus took over, providing a wonderful insight for tourists as to how much they matter as they come out of the Harbour Terminus and see a sign telling them there are no bus services, and they'll have to walk to town, or incur the expense of a taxi. Deputy Kevin Lewis seems to have buried his head in the sand on this one as well.
Radio Question Time
Meanwhile, Reg Langlois gave this story on Facebook:
"A story I heard today from a couple who were travelling out west, on a bus, last Wednesday 21.8.13 They were horrified when he started using his phone as he was driving along, and when he had finished his call, he started rummaging though the cash box alongside of him...... pity they didn't take his picture."
Donna pointed out that it could be a radio message:
"But you see Reg, you repeat their story, with no evidence and this is part of the problem with the public perception of the bus drivers. I recently had an elderly lady sitting next to me on the bus complaining about the driver talking on his phone when we were driving, but he was in fact replying over his radio to a question from someone at the depot. I also had an elderly client at work who asked "Can you help me Donna, when you've finished playing on your gameboy?" and I was actually using an electronic ordering machine!! The bus drivers at the moment are public enemy number 1 due to the media hype and people doing exactly what you have done with your post and I don't think they deserve this at all."
Annette Du Heaume replied: "Did the couple bother to report this supposed incident to Liberty bus? Doesn't sound like it as there have been no disciplinaries regarding a situation like this recently ( hubby is a bus driver). Also just to point out that with the cameras and microphones monitoring everything the drivers do, there is very little chance of the driver taking the risk.
Jill asked:.."Were these passengers sure he was actually on a mobile (I suggested a phone) or not just talking 'to base' as they often do? I also doubt that one would take the risk as they are well monitored".... would it have made any difference... being on a mobile or on a phone talking to "base" ?
Darren noted that: "Actually any hand held communication device which you hold in your hand whilst driving is illegal. Hence all States vehicles having mic buttons and microphone hands free for their radio system."
Donna noted that "Perhaps Libertybus should be informed of this local law then, as the drivers have to reach up for the microphone to reply when they are called over the radio."
This seems to be getting to the core issue. How do drivers communicate when called over the radio? Do they have to reach up to the microphone to reply? Is this legal? If it is legal, is it none the less, a safety hazard? It seems very likely that it is.
Turning Points
Reg Langlois commented on the buses taking up the road:
"A friend of mine had a narrow escape the other day when she was driving down the hill towards St Brelade Church when a bus appeared around a bend over the white line causing her to take avoiding action. She pulled over and hit the bank on the side of the road, bursting a tyre as she did so."
Annette Du Heaume replied: "
I know these buses cross the white line quite a lot, saying that, the new buses are a bugger to drive, they have really bad turning issues and the driver position and mirrors that stick out too far do make it harder to drive closer to the left hand side. In fact these buses were trialled by Connex back in 2006 and found to be unsuitable then says a lot really."
Apparently, according to a friend of mine, it is all to do with how the wheels are sited on the bus. With the Connex buses, the wheels were positioned a fair way back from the front and back of the bus, but with Liberty bus vehicles, they are right at the front and back.
The wheelbase of a vehicle equals the distance between its front and rear. This affects the turning circle on the bus. The turning path boundaries are determined by the outer trace of the outer front overhang and the path of the inner rear wheel.
As a commentator noted of the buses now in use in Jersey:
"The Optaire is 8 foot wide, closer to ten across the mirrors. They also have the most bloody awful view from the drivers cab, and the mirrors are obscured by the A posts. I have the misfortune to drive the things occasionally. The wheelbase , you will note the front wheels are ahead of the doors, make the turning circle larger as an aside, has anyone got seasick on the top deck yet? That happened quite frequently when our company first got a couple. They roll like a ship in a gale. But hey they are cheap!"
The Jersey versions are apparently a slimmer version of the UK versions, at 2.3m wide which is the Jersey limit. The UK model is 2.5m wide. But the problems with wheelbase mean that when navigating bends – and there are rather a lot in Jersey – it will go over the white line much more than the older buses in use because of the wheelbase and turning circle, regardless of the driver.
When Connex were bringing over double-deckers, Mike Jackson went on the route several times to check going round bends, overhangs etc, but has Kevin Lewis done this kind of practical exercise with Liberty bus regarding turning circles? Or was this just advice relied upon. I find it notable that one observation was that the Optaire was a cheap bus. I'd be interested to know how it compared to the Darts used by Connex, or the specially built buses of Jersey Bus. Did wheelbase, turning circle feature anywhere in the bus tender? If not, for an Island with small roads, why not? Another question, I think for Deputy Lewis.
I went on a number 15 double decker from St Aubin to Red Houses sitting on the upper deck, and it did indeed "roll like a ship in a gale" as it went round bends; it also clipped branches overhanging the road which, presumably because it did not damage the roof, was considered an occupational hazard. Do bus inspectors ever go out and check whether the overhang is too low, as the driver would be unaware of it, and if the branches went just a bit lower, serious damage and possible injury could ensure? 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Funny Old World

Jersey pensioners get letter asking if they still exist
A letter sent to about 4,000 retired people in Jersey asking if they still exist has been described as offensive by some of those who received it. The Certificate of Existence was sent to people who used to work for the States of Jersey by the pensions department as part of an audit.
A spokesman for the Department said that "We need to know if these people are still alive, or have been cloned. The idea came to me after I watched a repeat of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, and wondered how many of our pensioners, still collecting their pensions, have been replaced by aliens, who are not entitled to taxpayers money."
If you suspect that your elderly neighbour does not exist, and has been replaced by an alien, contact Jim Bergerac at the newly set up Bureau des Extraterrestre, PO Box 666, Jersey.
There is also a rumour that pensioners have been vanishing around what is becoming known as the "Trinity Triangle", an area bound by the steam museum, the masts at Les Platons, and a cottage known as "Ioû Foûle".
Bunker Repairs Needed at Plemont
Work could soon start on a controversial housing development at Plemont after the planning minister issued a permit. Deputy Rob Duhamel said the developers would face a number of conditions. These include restoring a structure left by German occupying forces, preserving natural habitats and paying for a study into a puffin colony.
"If I am going to be embattled, I want to be able to relocate the Planning Department to Plemont", he said, "and a German structure would offer excellent opportunities for defence. Meanwhile, the nearby Puffin colony would supply me with Carrier Puffins, like Oscar Puffin, who could wing across and back from Channel Television with important news.
Jersey minister says internet led to youth crime drop
Young people using the internet and staying indoors more has led to a drop in youth crime, Jersey's home affairs minister claims. Senator Ian Le Marquand said: "A causative factor is young people staying at home and talking to each on chat lines on the internet."
But a leaked document highlights possible problems ahead. It said "The difficult question is whether the restrictions on porn proposed for Jersey internet users will block those chat lines and lead to an increase in youth crime".
Meanwhile it is rumoured that the Medical Officer of Health expressed concerns about youngsters not getting out and about too much. "It's bad when people sit in front of a computer and just tap away the day", says a leaked email from the Health department.
Keeping an ear out for bats
The monitoring of batty politicians in the Island is being stepped up to cover more places where they could be blogging. The work is part of a global project called iBats, which monitors batty politicians on Twitter around the world by recording the tweets they make when they should be listening to debates in Government. So far, around 13 Jersey politicians have been reported as being iBats. Volunteers are needed to help to collect batty tweets so that election prospects can be monitored and assessed. It is dangerous work, as reading too many politicians tweets has been known to cause permanent insanity.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Pope Francis: Changing Attitudes

I've been reading the extracts in "The Tablet" from Paul Valley's fascinating book "Pope Francis: Untying the Knots".

It is interesting to see how conservative Jorge Bergoglio (his name before he took on the title Pope Francis I) was when he was younger. The trappings of power, and the use of power for control, and clamping down on anything that was not doctrinal orthodoxy were his key notes when he was in charge of some of the South American Jesuits.

Father Velasco noted that "Berglogli was so very conservative that I was rather shocked years later when he started talking about the poor. Something changed." The Pope's old friend, Rabbi Ambraham Skorka said that "he has changed according to his life's experiences". In a rare interview with Argentinian journalists, he admitted to "hundreds of errors" when pushed into leadership roles in the Jesuits when younger. He also told Skorka that "guilt, without atonement, does not allow us to grow".

It seems that it was his experiences in the Buenos Aires slums that changed him so much, working alongside the poor, seeing them not just as objects of philanthropy, but as people needing "not charity but justice". Over 15 years as "Bishop of the Slums", he changed. Father Marco, at his side for eight years, said "He doesn't see the poor as people he can help, but rather as people from whom he can learn". And during his 18 years as bishop and archbishop, one priest estimated that he must have personally talked to at least half the people in the slum. Apparently, he would just wander the alleyways, chat to the locals, drink herbal tea with them.

That doesn't mean that he didn't help, of course - an example is how he helped a group of slum dwellers who made a living sorting through the cities garbage to find and sell recyclable materials - he helped them form a union and turn the work into something from which they could make a decent living. And at the same time, he came to see the reason why the liberation theologians, whom he had opposed as a conservative young leader, wrote as they did. He has asked Leanardo Boff to send him his writings on eco-theology for an encyclical he is considering on environmental matters.

It is a different kind of attitude, to not see the "deserving poor", but to see the poor at the heart of the gospel. I am reminded of St Francis, embracing the leper, taking on his fear, and changing as a result. The Victorian philanthropists did great works for the poor, but with a very different model: they wanted to control the worker's lives, and make them more moral, to project their own morality onto the poor. It is an attitude we find in the Church giving out hot food and drink that George Orwell described in "Down and Out in London and Paris":

"We ranged ourselves in the gallery pews and were given our tea; it was a one-pound jam-jar of tea each, with six slices of bread and margarine. As soon as tea was over, a dozen tramps who had stationed themselves near the door bolted to avoid the service; the rest stayed, less from gratitude than lacking the
cheek to go."

"The organ let out a few preliminary hoots and the service began. And instantly, as though at a signal, the tramps began to misbehave in the most outrageous way. One would not have thought such scenes possible in a church. All round the gallery men lolled in their pews, laughed, chattered, leaned over and flicked pellets of bread among the congregation; I had to restrain the man next to me, more or less by force, from lighting a cigarette."

Orwell noted that poor people often resent this kind of philanthropy; they need it, but it robs them of their self-respect:

"The scene had interested me. It was so different from the ordinary demeanour of tramps--from the abject worm-like gratitude with which they normally accept charity. The explanation, of course, was that we outnumbered the congregation and so were not afraid of them. A man receiving charity practically always hates his benefactor--it is a fixed characteristic of human nature; and, when he has fifty or a hundred others to back him, he will show it."

That's also true in Jersey, when under Parish Welfare, I knew of elderly people who needed welfare payments, but would not go because they felt it was undignified to do so. It seems strange but true.

Pope Francis clearly understands this very well. His call is not just for helping the poor, but a change of mindset from a throwaway culture to one where human dignity is important; we do not just give to the poor the crumbs from our table. Like St Francis of Assisi meeting the leper, it is a truth that in encounter, we see the human face of God, not just statistics for charitable giving. It is at the heart of the gospel.

His address in Rio de Janeiro is a case in point:

"No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world! Everybody, according to his or her particular opportunities and responsibilities, should be able to make a personal contribution to putting an end to so many social injustices. The culture of selfishness and individualism that often prevails in our society is not, I repeat, not what builds up and leads to a more habitable world: rather, it is the culture of solidarity that does so; the culture of solidarity means seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters. And we are all brothers and sisters!"

"We must never, never allow the throwaway culture to enter our hearts! We must never allow the throwaway culture to enter our hearts, because we are brothers and sisters. No one is disposable! Let us always remember this: only when we are able to share do we become truly rich; everything that is shared is multiplied! Think of the multiplication of the loaves by Jesus! The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty!"

"I would also like to tell you that the Church, the "advocate of justice and defender of the poor in the face of intolerable social and economic inequalities which cry to heaven" (Aparecida Document, 395), wishes to offer her support for every initiative that can signify genuine development for every person and for the whole person. Dear friends, it is certainly necessary to give bread to the hungry - this is an act of justice. But there is also a deeper hunger, the hunger for a happiness that only God can satisfy, the hunger for dignity."

"You young people, my dear young friends, you have a particular sensitivity towards injustice, but you are often disappointed by facts that speak of corruption on the part of people who put their own interests before the common good. To you and to all, I repeat: never yield to discouragement, do not lose trust, do not allow your hope to be extinguished. Situations can change, people can change. Be the first to seek to bring good, do not grow accustomed to evil, but defeat it with good. The Church is with you, bringing you the precious good of faith, bringing Jesus Christ, who "came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10).

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Afternoon Tea

Having been to the St Brelade's Bay Hotel this week, here is a poem all about afternoon tea there....

Afternoon Tea
The sun beams down upon the bay
Outside the hotel, the tables wait
Ready for those who come to stay
Inside, waiters prepare the plate
And we come, take our places here
Sit on the veranda, like a honey bee
Come to feed; a tradition to endear
In glorious sunshine beside the sea
Now come scones, jam and cream
The tea pot, chocolate petit fours
Just like a British Empire dream
Relaxing between the Opium Wars
This is afternoon tea, a sheer delight
Good company, enchanting sight

Friday, 23 August 2013

Sir George Carteret

Something historical today. Here is an extract from "Jersey in the 17th century" (1931),  by A.C. Saunders. Saunders often throws up some quirky details that are often overlooked in the history of Jersey. Here we have the tragic end of the Dean and his son, caught up in the machinations of the Civil War, and there would be no Dean of Jersey now until the Restoration.

We also see the beginnings of the rise to power of Sir George Carteret, son of Helier, and a staunch Royalist who never wavered in his loyalty to the King.

Also notable is the clampdown of the States of Jersey over the everyday lives of the people of Jersey - an Act against the profanation of the Sabbath by absence from church and employing the day in frequenting Taverns which directed " that no taverns shall be opened or any person use them under penalty of a fine of ten francs." This was surprisingly the action of a Royalist States not a Puritan one. The desire to control people's lives runs deep, and perhaps it was thought that sedition was more likely among those who did not conform religiously.

The Parliamentarians who fled the Island at this time "were condemned to death and were to be hanged as soon as taken. In the meantime they were hanged in effigy and the property of all who had fled, poor and rich, was confiscated.". There is something very grotesque and horrible about hanging people in effigy. Something similar occurs today with the burning of an effigy of people today but that is usually because of mob acts of violence and religious bigotry rather than coldly and formally by act of law. The same hatred would manifest itself later, of course, when the two years dead body of Oliver Cromwell was disinterred, hung in chains, formally executed, and beheaded. It is a reminder that the law is not always a mirror of justice.

Sir George Carteret
By A.C. Saunders
The Parliamentarians in the Island found that, although they had numbers to support them, they had no one with military experience to guide them and three days after the death of Sir Philip, Major Leonard Lydcott arrived in the Island as Lieut.-Governor under the Earl of Warwick who had been appointed Governor in the place of Sir Thomas Jermyn deprived of his office by the Parliament.
Michael Lempriere and his friends had made several petitions to parliament for expert assistance but had not suggested additional troops with the result that Lydcott arrived in the Island with only a few officers and some ammunition. He expected to have no difficulty in obtaining possession of the castles as he had been informed that nearly all the inhabitants would support him. But there were two governors of the Island now, Jermyn and Warwick, and each described the other as a traitor. And on October 3rd, 1643, Sir Thomas Jermyn appointed Sir George Carteret as his Lieut.-Governor and his appointment was approved by the King at his Court at Oxford.
Lydcott read his commission at the States meeting of 29th August, 1643, and at the same meeting Michael Lempriere was sworn in as Bailiff. The Lieut.-Governor endeavoured to take Mont Orgueil Castle which was bravely defended by Lady de Carteret and her son. In the meantime he was getting very unpopular and was having considerable friction with the members of his own party. He could not speak French and was a young man twenty-eight years of age and he soon realised that his stay in Jersey might be short and his departure sudden and he therefore arranged to have a sloop always in readiness to take him away from the Island should he be compelled to do so. He was supported by very lukewarm followers who were very uncertain as to the state of affairs. Rumours were reaching Jersey that the King's prospects were getting brighter, and the Cornishmen had arisen with enthusiasm for the Royalist party, and in July, 1643, Waller's army was defeated with great loss, and Bristol and Exeter were taken by the King's troops. So it is not surprising that Jerseymen belonging to the Parliamentary party began to wonder whether they had taken the right side in listening to the vapourings of D'Assigny and Bandinel and to doubt whether they had not been the dupes of these foreigners whose actions had been animated by private hate.
And so we hear of those who a few months before had been so bitter against Sir Philip trying to gain the favour of his widow. We even hear of the Dean trying to make his peace with her forgetting that he had to deal with the widow and son of a man he had done so much to persecute. There was always Captain George Carteret at St. Malo who was keeping well in touch with the affairs of Jersey and was in readiness to come to the Island at the first favourable moment. Many persons went over to St. Malo from Jersey to join his following and on the 19th November 1643, he arrived off Gorey with three small vessels containing his followers and stores. He was immediately joined by the people from the parishes of Grouville and St. Martin, and Lydcott, joined by Michael Lempriere and others, went on board the awaiting ship and made sail for Guernsey.
Captain George Carteret was a most striking personality during the period of the Rebellion and played a prominent part in his support of the Royalist party. He was born in the year 1599, and was the son of Helier Carteret of Jersey. He joined the King's navy at an early age, and, at the age of forty, was appointed Comptroller of His Majesty's ships. In March, 1635, he was captain of the " Mary Rose " and was evidently considered a man of some importance for on June 12th, 1635, John Nicholls writes to inform him that there was a rumour throughout the town and Court that Carteret had been poisoned by two sailors whom he had compelled to go to sea in his ship and expressing his joy at receiving a letter revealing " Carteret's miraculous resurrection from the dead." He was then under the command of Sir John Pennington, and, on 17th December, 1641, Thomas Smith writing from York House to the Admiral, states that Captain Carteret was in Town, and that the Admiral's daughter Elizabeth " was made a Christian on the 14th and was honoured with a gift of thirty pounds in a basin and ewer of yours, brought by your deputy Captain Carteret," and in the same letter Smith adds " Factions increasing as men's humours vary, most governing themselves rather by passion than judgement, and few regarding either religion or honesty in the censures of the state."
When Carteret was appointed Comptroller he writes to the Admiral on the 25th November 1641 that he proposes to live in the Navy Office until he can get a better place as he is to act as Comptroller of the Navy. Later on, on the 6th January, 1642 he writes to Pennington - " All things now are in so great distraction here that there is no thinking of doing anything, but everybody are providing for their own safety, as if everything were inclinable to ruin-but of this I am certain that our good King is much abused."
Soon afterwards Parliament appointed the Earl of Warwick as Admiral of their fleet and at the same time Capt. George had the refusal of becoming Vice-Admiral. Before sending his answer he applied to the King for instructions and His Majesty directed him to refuse the appointment, and Captain Batten was appointed in his place. So that the Captain was out of work for a time, and returned to his native island, but finding little to do he went over to join the King's forces in Cornwall with a troop of horse. But as the army was very short of ammunition, he went over to St. Malo to buy, and arrange, for the necessary supplies, and he stayed there for some time, although on July 27th, 1643 we hear that " Captain Carteret has been along the coast of Normandy and Brittany to hinder the Islands commerce in these parts, and has returned to France, where he is much favoured, to solicit shipping and men to make a descent on Jersey and Guernsey."
He was knighted for his service, and in 1645 was made a Baronet, and his name was always included among those who were exempted from pardon whenever there was any propositions for peace with the King. It was probably through his influence in France, that the King of France by his order of the 10th May 1643 directed all Captains and Governors of the maritime towns of Picardy, Normandy and Brittany and all officers of His Majesty's Admiralty - " not to permitt any of the inhabitants of the Isles of  Gersey and Guernsey to transport any victualls or any other provisions and Merchandises out of this Kingdome unless they have a passe from Sir Philip Carterett  and Osborne Governors of the said Isles."
On the 3rd October, 1643 Sir Thomas Jermyn was appointed Governor and Captain George Carteret, Lieut.-Governor, by warrant from the King given at his Court at Oxford, and, on 24th November 1643, Captain George took the oath of office at a meeting of the States held in Trinity Church, before
Thomas Lempriere, Francis de Carteret, Philip de Carteret, Jean Payn and Philip le Geyt, Jurats, and Mr. La Cloche, Recteur de St. Ouen, Mr. de la Place, Recteur de Grouville, Mr. Gruchie, Recteur de St. Pierre, Mr. Faultrant, Recteur de St. Brelade, Mr. Payn, Recteur de St. Laurens, and Mr. Poingdextre, Recteur de St. Sauveur, and the Constables of St. Helier St. Ouen, St. Martin, Le Trinite, St. Jean, Grouville, St Laurens, St. Brelade, St. Pierre and St. Clement.
The States soon set to work for on the 12th December 1643 they passed an Act against the profanation of the Sabbath by absence from church and employing the day in frequenting Taverns and they directed " that no taverns shall be opened or any person use them under penalty of a fine of ten francs." On the 18th January 1644 it was ordered that all persons above the age of fifteen " should take the oath of fidelity to the King at places and hours appointed by the Governor, as certain persons had omitted to present themselves to show their loyalty to the King." Captain George had been appointed Bailiff and special directions were given that the parishes of St. Helier, St. Martin and St. Pierre should be carefully dealt with as the ministers of these parishes, not natives of the Island, had with blasphemy striven to make trouble against the King, by speaking up for Parliament in the States and in their parishes.
On the 10th February 1644 an Order was received from the King depriving Henry du Maresq, Abraham Herault, Benjamin Bisson and Michael Lempriere of their office as Jurats and directing the States to elect four honest and well affected persons in their place. Previously a Royal letter dated 3oth January 1644 had been received by the Governor directing him to apprehend Michael Lempriere, Henry du Maresq, Benjamin Bisson, John Herault, Abraham Herault, Philip Bouttillier, Denis Gurdain, John Richard, Philip Messervy, Philip le ffevbeur, John Maste, Thomas Durell, Charles Maret, Zachary du Hamel, David Bandinel, James Bandinel and Peter D'Assigny clerks " who have raised and fermented an odious rebellion against us there."
At the States meeting of 21St March 1644, it was decided to have an election to fill the places of the four Jurats, who contrary to the solemn oath taken at their admission to office, had " most trayterously and maliciously endeavoured the subversion of O' Royall Power and authority in the that Isle and sought to introduce another power derived from the pretended Houses of Parliament."
Fortunately for them, Du Maresq, Herault and Lempriere had managed to escape from the Island but Bisson had remained at home and he was immediately seized and lodged in Elizabeth Castle. Here he remained for over eighteen months when he and others were brought before the Special Commissioners Poley, Vaughan and Janson who arrived in the Island on the 10th April, 1645, to deal with all those who were to be tried for high treason.
Only one of the Commissioners could speak French. Vaughan was a Protestant and the others Papists, and Janson was a nephew of Sir Philip de Carteret. They soon commenced work and on the 28th April, they directed that all the goods and chattels of those parliamentarians who had fled from the Island should be forfeited, and the money thus obtained used in the defence and protection of the Island against the King's enemies.
The Commissioners had Mr. Bisson before them on the 5th June and had him transferred from Elizabeth to Mont Orgueil Castle. The Commissioners, by proclamation, directed that all fugitives should return to the Island within fifteen days so that they might be able to defend their actions, and it is of special interest to Jerseymen that Chevalier gives the names of those prominent supporters of the Parliament in the Island. Viz Michael Lempriere, Henry Dumaresq, Abraham Herault, Jean Herault (his son), Philipe le Boutillier, Denis le Gerdain, Jean Ricart, Phelipe le feuvre, Pierre Dasigne, Charles Maret, Abraham Becquet, Andrey le Vavaseur dit Durel, Henry le Vavaseur dit Durel, Jacques Lempriere, Clement Lempriere, Ellie Chevalier, Daniel Norment, Moise le Vavaseur dit Durel, Phelipe Messervy fits Phelipe, Thomas Lempriere, Benjamin Lempriere, Abraham Maugier, Nicholas Blampied, Jean Blenpied fits Jean, Samuel Chevallier, Nicollas le Quesne, Jacques Maugier, Francois Luce, Thomas Bichard, Nicollas Drue, George du Maresque, Pierre Ricart, Thomas Robert fits Thomas, Phelipe Sallemon, George Sallemon, Ellie Huelin, Jean le Dain fits Jean, Jean le feuvre fits Ellier, Josud Maret fits Jean, Jacques Setocal, Nicollas Efard, Jean Nicolle fits Jean, Pierre Luce, Edouard Luce, Pierre le galles fils Pierre, Thomas Pipys."
All these were named on the Warrant issued by the Commissioners, and on the 12th July their names were called in Court and those who did not come forward were left to the Commissioners to deal with. Dumaresq, Herault and Lempriere were condemned to death and were to be hanged as soon as taken. In the meantime they were hanged in effigy and the property of all who had fled, poor and rich, was confiscated.
There was considerable bitterness in the Ecclesiastical world over the action of the Parliament in England in condemning the Archbishop of Canterbury. He had been a man who had aroused very bitter factions in England by his pro-Roman tendencies, but in his immediate circle he was well beloved for his charity, and when the old prelate was brought to the scaffold he forgave his enemies, and apologised for the uncomfortable pulpit from which he was to preach his last sermon.
It stands to reason that, if the head of the Church could not escape from the block, the Dean of Jersey and his son the Rector would receive very little protection from their Ecclesiastical office. They had been lodged in Mont Orgueil Castle and they were confident that the Commissioners would sentence them to death. They had few sympathisers in the Island, where they had made themselves very unpopular, and so the father and son decided to attempt to escape from the Island. They were lodged in adjoining cells, and by means of a rope made by cords and napkins they tried to slide down the rope from a small window at the top of the Castle. The night was very stormy and unfortunately the rope was too short and when the younger Bandinel made the attempt he fell on the rocks and injured himself severely without, however, breaking any bones. The old man then took to the rope but when halfway down the rope broke and he fell on the rocks below. The son having somewhat recovered from the shock of his fall went to his father's assistance, but seeing that the Dean was insensible and terribly injured, he covered him with his cloak and hastened to make his escape. The father was found next morning, but was past recovery and died next day, whilst the son was captured two days later and brought back to the Castle. With his death the deanery became vacant and remained so until the Restoration when a Jerseyman, the Reverend Philip le Couteur, was appointed.
We hear little about Dean Bandinel except that he was very unpopular in the Island and, as an Italian, he did not seem to have the interest of his flock at heart. He was evidently a man of domineering character, and was ready to quarrel with his Constable or with the Lieut.-Governor whenever his private interests were concerned; even Bailiff Herault, he excommunicated. His hatred of Sir Philip was very bitter and possibly, if he and D'Assigny had attended to their duties instead of using their influence to rouse the passions of the people, we would have had a very different record to give of Jersey during the Rebellion.
The son died in Mont Orgueil on the 18th March 1646 after having lost his reason caused by the terrible experience he had passed through and fear of the possible judgment of a court which he had to face. Chevalier seems to be pretty certain that if brought to trial the Rector would have been condemned to death and publicly executed.
The Houses of Parliament were very wroth when they heard of Carteret's proceedings in Jersey, but at the time their hands were full with the affairs in England, and Ireland, and they could not spare sufficient men to assert their authority and so they confined themselves to passing an ordinance dated 16th September, 1645, making void all Commissions and Warrants issued in his Majesty's name to Captain George Carteret, pretended Governor of Jersey, and directed that the said Carteret be called for a just account of his illegal proceedings against the well affected people of Jersey.
But Carteret was not a man to be frightened by words, he was a man of deeds, and so we hear of him looking towards the sister Island, where the Parliamentary party had full sway, except at Castle Cornet, Even as early as 7th February, 1644, the States considered the question of the conquest of Guernsey. Charles had ordered James Ley, Earl of Marlborough, to proceed to Jersey with several ships and many men and the Earl had written to the States asking whether he could have the assistance from Jersey of thirty to thirty-five boats, each manned by six men, so as to enable his soldiers to disembark at Guernsey. Nothing came of this proposed expedition, but on the 5th March, 1645, a letter was received from Prince Charles from the camp at Launcester thanking the islanders for their loyal support of the Royal Cause and stating that by their loyalty they may be the means " to reduce ye Neighbours rebells by yr. force, or at least by ye example of fidelity."
In the beginning of January, 1646, the Earl of Warwick summoned Sir Peter Osborne to surrender Castle Cornet. The royalist garrison was then in a very bad way, and their provisions and stores were running short. The Governor saw no chance of help except from Jersey and he therefore sent a letter to Carteret- " I have these three years (in a continuell extremity of suffering) maintained this place (fed but from hand to mouth lyke a bird and kept in perpetual agonies and fearer, left still to the last extremitys) no man better knowes than yourself."
He informs Carteret that unless he can help him, his castle must surrender. Supplies were sent on 25th January but only reached Castle Cornet on the 8th February. The parliamentarian vessels were on the look out, and these were followed by others, so that Sir Peter was more at his ease and better able to enjoy " a little parcel of special tobacco and a dozen of pipes " which had been sent to him from Jersey. After the arrival of Charles in Jersey, we hear of Sir Baldwin Wake relieving the gallant Osborne from the great strain of defending the Castle.
It is surprising to follow the activities of Captain Carteret. He was a wonderful man, and, in Hoskins' " Charles II in the Channel Islands," we hear of his sending money to Marseilles by one John le Couteur to purchase the freedom of several Jerseymen, who had been captured by Algerian pirates, and sent as slaves on board their galleys. Le Couteur somewhat bungled his mission and spent part of the money in assisting men not Jerseymen, with the result that further money had to be borrowed from a local merchant, who had great difficulty in obtaining repayment of the sum advanced.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Odds and Ends

Will we ever have Guernsey's accurate median wages?
"Wages rise steadily" says the headline, and the details show that it is average wages in use again: "The figures from the States of Jersey show that the average earnings of full-time employees were £660 a week at the time of the survey this year, which compared June 2013 to June 2012."
As Mark Forskitt was correct to point out in a Tweet: "Would be far more indicative and meaningful to publish #median earnings. Average too easily skewed by outliers at high end."
Wage distributions are invariably skewed, not normal (bell shaped) curves. That means that higher earners disproportionably affect the average wage. The correct method in statistics for a skewed distribution, and one that is best practice, is to use the median.
Jersey, because of its peculiar sampling, can only provide an estimate of median wages, not an accurate figure. Guernsey, however manages that. How do they do it? They simply take the earnings from the social security returns, and an accurate median is obtainable.
When I pointed this out on Twitter, Malcolm Ferey of Citizen's Advice Bureau said that "Tony, Soc Sec data does not accurately reflect all earnings, only wages within the earnings limit". That's correct, but as Guernsey Statistics Unit realised - and as I found out when I asked them - that doesn't matter.
I was told for years that Jersey couldn't supply the median wage, so when Guernsey did, I was intrigued and asked them how they did it.
It is because of the difference between median and mean. Let's take an example - a wage sample of thousands per year
And let's assume an earnings limit (above which extra income is not declared) of 40k.
The median is the mid-point, and the data we have - corrected for the earnings limit - is:
The median - the middle point is 18k. It doesn't matter if we can't tell how high the wages are above the limit. All that matters is if we line up the wages from smallest to largest, that the median - the middle point - is below 40k. That is what Guernsey realised some time ago, having some clever statisticians, but Jersey seems unable to recognise.
Bus Strike Off
The bus strike has been averted at the 11th hour. Congratulations to those negotiating, because that will have been difficult. Let us hope that calling off the strike on the basis of changes in working conditions actually results in something positive, and the way forward for negotiations is genuine, and not just a means of averting a strike.
Isn't it a shame that all the politicians seem to have been standing on the sidelines, mostly berating the bus drivers, and seemingly deciding that Kevin's policy of non-intervention was the right one.
But what really concerned me was this:
"The Jersey bus contractor Libertybus has announced it will bring in extra drivers to provide services during a forthcoming strike."
This was about importing drivers from the UK, with no knowledge of Jersey roads, and little driving experience of Jersey's perculiarly narrow lanes. It was to ensure a "skeleton service", but given those drawbacks, the risk of accidents would have been high. "Skeleton service" could have been very appropriate for a description of this plan!
Guernsey Gache could be made off island
I see from a report that the traditional fruit loaf of Guernsey Gache could be made off island due to the closure of Guernsey's biggest bakery, Warry's. Apparently, the remaining bakers cannot make enough for the considerable demand. Would they still be able to call it Guernsey Gache? Or would that be a bit of a cheat? Mind you, we have our own equivalent - the Jersey Pottery shop, which sells Jersey pottery - except Jersey Pottery is no longer made within the Island.
Boutique killed the Video Store
As CTV reports:"Voisins Department Store has announced a Jo Malone London Boutique is to open this October.  Jo Malone was founded in 1994 and specialises in scented products for the home. Its name has become internationally synonymous with British style."
I'd be interested in knowing who is going to frequent that store. HMV in Jersey was one of the outlets of the company that was profitable and had lots of people going in and out. A luxury outlet will have to do well to provide a good return for that space.
There are some interesting comments on Mumsnet:
"I love JM bath, body stuff and candles, but I have the Lime, Basil & Mandarin perfume but never wear it as it's overpowering and a bit cloying imo."
"I can't abide Jo Malone perfumes. I once tried a huge range in Selfridges and didn't find a single one that smelt like the supposed ingredients (I trained as an aromatherapist so have a good nose)."
"I was given a bottle of Jo Malone Lime Blossom Cologne, but it was so vile I gave it away to the Smellies stall at our school fair. I'd sooner daub loo cleaner behind my ears."
"I really like the pomegranate noir fragrance, but some of them can smell a bit like cleaning products rather than perfume."
And finally..
CTV reports that: "Throughout the summer, insect enthusiasts have been heading down to St Ouen to get up close and personal with all manner of creepy crawlies."
They should try the States Chamber in September!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The God Particle: From The Edinburgh Fringe to Jersey

@godparticleplay Saw the show today. Very impressed. Best bit of comedy theatre I have seen in a long time. #edfringe

It is not often that Jersey has the opportunity to enjoy a play from the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe, but the "God Particle" is coming to Jersey - on Saturday 21 September 2013, performed at St Aubin on the Hill Church  - from 8 pm to 9.30 pm, tickets available from the Art Centre - with the chance to talk to the cast after the performance.

This is the blurb for the play:

"Ever seen a romantic comedy sci-fi? Dr Bex Kenworthy from the Institute of Advanced Quantum Theory has been stood up by a lab-technician. When Dr Gilbert Romans arrives, things are looking up, until she discovers he is, in fact, the new local vicar. A die-hard sceptical scientist and a heavenly-minded vicar seem to create entirely the wrong kind of chemical reaction. But there was undoubtedly a spark. On top of this, strange things are going on in the village of Threepiggs. Is there any link between exploding TV-detector vans, a disappearing vicar and the unexplained bending of time? Will science or faith prevail? It's a little bit Rev meets Hitchhiker's Guide or The Vicar of Dibley meets Dr Who. The play features two actors and lasts 70 minutes with no interval."

Here are some other reviews. It looks very good indeed, and the writer has a good pedigree in writing for comedy shows on Radio and TV...

James Cary, co-writer of the aforementioned TV shows and of Radio 4's Another Case of Milton Jones is bringing his new 'sci-fi romcom' to Just The Tonic in Bristol Square, for a three-week run.

The God Particle, which opens tomorrow, has been described as 'boy meets girl, theology meets quantum physics, and Rev meets Doctor Who'.

Dr Bex Kenworthy's evening is not going well. Not only has she been stood up - and by a lab technician at that - but her mother keeps phoning her mobile for updates on her love life and her intended 'plus one' for her impossibly perfect younger sister's wedding.

Things seem to be looking up when a handsome stranger, Dr Gilbert Romans, enters the bar, until Bex realises he is the new vicar. A die-hard sceptical scientist and a heavenly-minded vicar seem set to create entirely the wrong kind of chemical reaction. or do they?

After all, strange things are going on in the village of Threepiggs.

How did the previous vicar mysteriously vanish without trace? Why do TV licence vans keep exploding near the graveyard? Who is the unusual saint depicted in the stained glass window? Why is the local Institute conducting top secret experiments with mercury? And where does a talking donkey fit into the puzzle?

There's only one way to find out.

James Cary's The God Particle is a witty exploration of the intersection of science and religion. The romantic narrative follows Dr Rev Gilbert (religion) and Dr Bex (science) through various heated debates, a growing friendship and unexplained sci-fi occurrences.

The God Particle neatly expresses this argument without falling into the trap of dogma or flippancy, both sides of the argument encapsulated within opposing doctor characters. Jamie Hinde's fast paced direction allowed us to consider science as religion and miracles as plausible. The sitcom style of James Cary's writing is enjoyable and clearly reminiscent of The Vicar of Dibley and other similar BBC programs.

The God Particle will be performed at Just the Tonic at Edinburgh Fringe, 12pm daily - grab your tickets now, this is going to be a Festival hit. If you're not heading to Edinburgh they are also touring - more information can be found on their website.

The God Particle is a stand-out sitcom style performance from an adept and likeable company.

The lengthy queue outside the venue was an immediate indicator that this was going to be good, and it did not disappoint.  A quantum physicist meets a vicar in a bar after being stood up, plunging them into the modern clash between science and religion and even seeing them go through time warps. The show centres on this intellectual debate, within a highly comical context, with moments of great hilarity. The acting was professional, believable and pretty flawless. Crucially, the two protagonists worked perfectly together, displaying their differences in attitude but their simultaneous reliance on each other. It is quite simply a show that just works, perfect for the fringe and well worth the price tag. Go see it!

Went to see The God Particle Play at the Battersea Mess and Music Hall on Thursday night. Took a friend. Neither of us is especially scientific; he's an economist and I'm a lapsed engineer. But we really enjoyed it.

It's one of those plays that I need to ponder for a while before deciding what I think. But, as an entertaining night out, it ticked all the boxes. The two actors were terrific... And the conversation afterwards was stimulating, no doubt provoked by what we'd just seen.

The God Particle is a play addressing the interaction between Christian faith and scientific atheism. The two main characters represent those two perspectives. One is an Anglican Vicar and the other is a Quantum Physicist. The Vicar is male. The scientist is female. And there's a faint whiff of sexual attraction that develops throughout the play. Together these two characters investigate some unusual events in the village of Threepiggs and as they do so their search for an explanation is the vehicle that draws us into the bigger debate. The writer, James Cary, describes the play as a romantic comedy sci-fi.  He's probably right.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Bus Strike: Some Background Details

Today I'm publishing a full memo from one of the drivers. I notice that Nick Corbel is reported as saying the strike had to be about the drivers. For example, on BBC News:
"Nick Corbel, Unite union regional officer, said the 66 drivers and five other staff felt strongly about the driver's dismissal."
And on CTV:
"Nick Corbel from Unite said: "I can understand our members' frustrations. However, we have to operate within the terms of the employment legislation. The trade dispute relates to the unfair dismissal of a driver. They were balloted on that one issue and decided to take strike action."
This contradicts what is said here about the ballot. Can someone publish the primary ballot paper, so we can see precisely what the issues are, as it seems from the memo below that is not the case, and the very real grievances about working practices are being side-stepped by both Liberty Bus and the Employers.
In the meantime, Kevin Lewis appears to be nothing from the sidelines except suggest to the public that they show "community spirit". There are some real issues here - health and safety, excessive shifts, tired drivers, zero hour contracts, and it appears that Liberty Bus are in some instances managing to evade the 42 hour week. These are matters which need verification and investigation, and the somewhat supine and laid back attitude of Deputy Lewis is not what is needed. Perhaps he should note how the late Dick Shenton managed to get involved in bus disputes and bang heads together until there was a fair resolution acceptable to all parties.
Channel TV has reported on the memo from one of the drivers:

Today ITV News has obtained this staff notice which is going to be placed on the notice board at the bus station for drivers to read. It says that "The note, written by one bus driver, expresses real frustration that other grievances about things like shift patterns and lunchbreaks have been, in their eyes, completely overlooked by the union."

But the memo is quoted selectively, and not in full. Below is the complete memo. I think it is important that it is made public in the interests of transparency, so that whatever the rights and wrongs of the drivers, the public can see a more complete picture of what is happening behind the scenes, and I hope this will prompt some action even at the Eleventh Hour by some members of the States to avert a strike. Lyndon Farnham has called the strike "seemingly irrational industrial action"; this memo shows that it is not. Perhaps Senator Farnham could step in where Kevin Lewis seems reluctant to act? Everyone politician who complains seems content to wring their hands from the sidelines, as if there is nothing they can do. I cannot believe that Senator Dick Shenton would have done that.


Memo to Bus Drivers
No doubt you will have seen and heard all the recent media releases from the Management and Nick Corbel.  Despite what is being portrayed, this is not the main reason for the possible  industrial action.
Unfortunately, the company has decided to focus purely on the questionable dismissal of the 2 drivers and are making sure that this is what the public hear.  This has led to the media and therefore the public focusing solely on this too and not the real reasons for the action being taken as this would highlight the companies poor management and organisational practices.
A ballot was taken to show our support against the unfair treatment of the 2 staff members however as their cases are still ongoing it was agreed that it would not be appropriate to take action on their behalf at this time.  The primary ballot paper and the REAL reason for the current proposed industrial action is over the unfair and unacceptable working conditions that ALL STAFF have been subjected to.
The following points were the Union Representatives agenda for the meetings that have been held over the last couple of weeks, in an attempt to avoid industrial action.
Need for a return to a correct procedure in compliance with employment law with regards to correct consultation processes through union representatives.
No facilities for union reps as agreed, such as secured document storage area etc.
Workshop staff back to normal shifts with no lone workers. (health & safety)
Cleaning staff, shifts and working conditions
Use of U.K. domestic driving rules invalid as they do not apply in Jersey. If U.K. regulations are to be followed then surely this should also apply to TUPE law?
30 min meal breaks not adequate. Missing time for bus set up & loading time ect.
Spread over pay missing.
Ignored pay claim from March 1st.
Shift changes still being implemented without notice. (Advised by Donna Dixon that a minimum of 3 weeks notice should be given).
Part time divers in breach of 54 hour rule (multiple jobs)
Some full time drivers still missing Health & pensions
No need for part time drivers (zero hour/minimum contracts) as shifts should be correctly organised  so that staff work full time with all the legal benefits i.e. holiday, sick pay pensions etc.
Trip times cut,
Pay in time missing/ short on many shifts,
Excessive dead time,
Short turnaround times
Long, badly organised shifts
Breaks away from depots, e.g. Route 29 meal break at Gorey/Jersey Pearl in the bus.
Schools after long/ early shifts with tired drivers
No pay parity for drivers, same job, same pay.
Although some progress has been made, it has been a very long and slow process (as you are aware) the company has strongly resisted attempts to communicate with staff representatives, despite numerous attempts by representatives to arrange meetings since even before commencement of their contract in January.
You have no doubt seen further evidence of the companies bullying tactics with the printing and posting of predominantly negative comments in the staff areas.  Despite what CT Plus would like us to believe, there are large numbers of members of the public out there who DO support the staff in our fight for fair working conditions as is proven by the comments to us by many of our passengers (who are unhappy with the poor service they are receiving) and on social media sites.
Hopefully these meetings will continue and we will be able to resolve the issues so that we can bring the bus service back to the high standards that we are used to, for everyone's benefit.

Monday, 19 August 2013

With Just a Touch of Hesitation, Repetition and Deviation: A Review

I have just finished Nicholas Parsons' second autobiography "With Just a Touch of Hesitation, Repetition and Deviation". His first one was called "The Straight Man", and was very much a standard workman like story, interesting, but without anything special that stood out. This is more thematic, and the better for it; the anecdotes are very good, and the whole book seems much more like a work that Parsons enjoyed writing, rather than one he felt he should write,
One of my favourite anecdotes is about Clement Freud, whom, of course, Nicholas Parsons was re-acquainted with on the BBC Radio 4 show "Just a Minute". I love this story, which completely captures Freud's dry sense of humour:
"The success of any restaurant or club is entirely dependent on the personality of the individual running it. He or she needs to be a first class host with shrewd business acumen and a strong personality. Clement was all of those and made a huge success of his club, and it was sad when the theatre failed to renew his lease in 1962, saying that they wanted the room for experimental theatre work. On the last evening, he got neatly everyone he had ever employed to do a show for free. We did about 15 minutes each. It was a fantastic night. Everyone was there. None of the performers would have missed it for the world. The wine was flowing - Clement was clearing out his stock at cut prices - and the atmosphere was incredible. I understand that Clement made a tape of the evening, but I have no idea what happened to it. It would be wonderful if it was ever found and restored. It was a one-off occasion that could never be repeated. "
"Some people patronised the club for the atmosphere, some for the cuisine and some because they enjoyed the personality of the owner, whose agile brain and quick eye never missed a thing. He was always courteous but would not suffer fools and was never afraid to be candid in a subtle way with those he found unpleasant. On one occasion, a difficult customer complained to the waiter about the wine. The waiter reported it to Clement, who immediately went up to the man's table and politely said, 'You have a complaint?' "
"`Yes,' said the man. 'This wine is disgusting. It tastes like vinegar.'
`I'm sorry,' said Clement. 'I'll bring you something else.' He took
the bottle and the man's glass and returned with another glass, full to the brim. 'Would you like to try this?' he asked in a concerned manner.
The man accepted the glass and took a large gulp. Immediately, he spluttered his mouthful over the table: 'Good God, what was that?'
`That was vinegar,' said Clement with a wry smile. The man never returned, and Clement was perfectly happy, "
No story could be complete without "From Norwich, the Quiz of the Year", the notable TV show "The Sale of the Century". Nicholas used to chat to the contestants beforehand, to get to know them so that they would not be inhibited when he put on the pressure later in the show. I love these anecdotes too:
"On one particular occasion, the three contestants were an attractive young woman, a quiet, self-effacing middle-aged man and a friendly, voluble cockney character. I spoke to the woman first and discovered a little about her. I then turned to the Londoner and said, `On the card I have here, it says you are a pawnbroker ...' "
"Before I could go any further, he jumped in to explain rapidly that, while he did that kind of work, his main source of income came from working off barrows in the market, where most of his money was earned in cash: `Mostly back-of-the-hand stuff, you understand, Nicholas, nothing declared. What the eye don't see, the heart don't grieve over, if you get my meaning, Nicholas. I couldn't put that down as my living for obvious reasons, so I thought pawnbroker covered a multitude of sins, without raising any suspicions ...' He carried on loquaciously for a time and then said, `Oh, look at me, I'm talking too much.' "
"Turning abruptly to the third contestant, who had been listening quietly, he asked, And what do you do for a living?' The man replied dryly, `I'm an income-tax inspector.' I had never before seen anyone actually turn white in an instant. Needless to say, our cockney contestant did not do well on the show. "
"The best-ever response came one evening when a lady pressed her buzzer to answer one of the early £1 questions: ` According to the proverb, what should people who live in glass houses not do?' `Take a bath,' came the reply. She received a huge laugh. I told her the correct answer, `throw stones', and said I would love to give her a bonus, but as it was a serious quiz I had to take the money away from her total. "
The questions set were originally in no order, and did not work well, so very soon after the show's inception, Nicholas himself was researching, writing, and grading the questions so that they went from easy to difficult. He was just the presenter, and this was unpaid work, but work that he found thoroughly enjoyable. It was to stand him in good stead:
"In 1981, I appeared as a contestant on the show. It was one Christmas specials, and I took part alongside the comedian and presenter Tom O'Connor and the host of Border Television's Mrs, Derek Batey. We were each raising money for our chosen charities. My charity was the Lord's Taverners. "
"I was nervous beforehand, because I feared I was on a hiding to nothing. The man who presented himself to the public as having all the answers could now be shown up. There wasn't anything I could do but try my best. "
Because of his solid general knowledge, he won, with one of the highest scores any contestant ever had!
And here is another wonderful anecdote from another of the contestants on "Just A Minute", the inimitable Kenneth Williams:
"Straight actors are different. However talented they are, most find it a challenge to walk on the stage as themselves and make even a simple announcement. Actors are used to getting into character. I was once compering at a big charity event at Drury Lane, and a famous actress from the Royal Shakespeare Company was about to go on stage and introduce the next act. She was shaking with nerves, and I asked her what was wrong. `Well, I haven't done this before,' she replied. She would have been absolutely fine if she had been playing a role, but having to walk our there and be herself was difficult. On stage, actors not only have their character written for them but also have the support of those around them. They are part of a team and have someone to help them cover if something goes wrong. Kenneth Williams's story of appearing in an Agatha Christie thriller is a classic example. "
"Kenneth originally saw himself as a serious actor, and he was very good, but even in those early days he demonstrated an incredible ability to improvise. His character was shot quite early on in the play, and Kenneth was supposed to sink to his knees, fatally wounded in the stomach. When using guns in plays, there is always a standby in the hands of the stage manager, so if the one the actor is holding fails to fire the spare is used from the wings. It never sounds as realistic, as the shot is heard after the actor has pulled the trigger, but at least the audience is aware of what is supposed to have happened. On this occasion, both guns failed to go off. Silence. "
"The actors on stage were transfixed. The audience were whispering, and some were beginning to laugh. Kenneth saved the situation. He whispered to the actor with the gun, `Throw it at me.' In desperation, the actor did as he was told, and Kenneth caught the gun against his stomach. Falling to the floor, he went into his full death scene: `Oh, I'm going, I'm going . This is it. You never told me the gun was poisoned.' It was a brilliant ad-lib, and it brought the house down. "
"It is my belief that every performer, whether it is an actor or a comedian, exhibits a degree of insecurity, which is one of the reasons they strive to be on the stage. They need the acclamation of the audience to satisfy something in themselves about which they are not confident.
There is also some introspection on how the outside façade of a performer is very different from the real individual beneath:
"Performers, myself included, can be quite shy. Their public personae may appear to be outgoing and confident, and in some cases this is genuine, but often the reality is quite different. Recently Annie and I appeared on All Star Mr &Mrs, presented by Phillip Schofield and Fern Britton. One of the questions asked revealed this side of my personality publicly. Out of earshot of Annie, who was sitting in a soundproof booth, I was given three possible answers to a question and asked to identify which one of the three I thought Annie would choose when the question was posed to her. The question asked was quite clever: `When are you most likely to fall foul of the just a Minute rules? Would it be: a) Repetition of an anecdote? b) Hesitation when entering a crowded room so that Annie decides to go ahead of you? Or c) Deviation from your usual afternoon nap?' Annie, who knows me so well, matched my answer in an instant: `Hesitation.' "
"If I go on the stage, I know what is involved. It may be tough and tense, but I go out there with the hope that my concentration levels will be high and I will be able to interact positively with the audience. If I go to a social function where I don't know anybody, I am more anxious. I do not know why, but I do think it is a common trait amongst performers, even if they do not admit it. "
There's also an interesting aside on the psychology of stand up comedians.
"Of all performers, I believe it is the comedians, in particular those who stand on stage on their own and have to live and die by their talent and nothing else, who are the most insecure and require the biggest boost from the audience reaction. This need for acclaim might explain a certain character trait I have noticed. A lot of comedians seem to have a distinctive attitude towards money. Most of them find it difficult to put their hands in their pockets. Some of them are downright mean. I put this down to the possibility that the much sought-after positive audience reaction is ultimately expressed in the income they earn. It is hard to part with that. "
This is an excellent autobiography, full of many wonderfully told stories, and I'd thoroughly recommend it.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Christianity in Devon, before A.D. 909 - Part 3

Sundays are going to see a change for the moment in a rather different direction on this blog. I shall be posting sections from "Christianity in Devon, before A.D. 909" by John Frederick Chanter. This was originally published in 1910, and forms source footnotes on many publications on that subject. It is probably one of the best collations of source material out there, but it is difficult to track down.
Why Devon? The reason is simple. We have, in Jersey, one Saint from that part of the world, St Brelade, or Branwallader, as he was also known.
In this final extract we see how Chanter brings the three streams of Christianity together. The Goedelic Church in the West of Damnonia, and the smaller, and in some ways weaker Brythonic Church based around Exeter and to the East of Exeter, and finally the encroaching Saxon Church, which absorbed the Goedelic Church of Exeter.
Because Branwallader belonged to the Exeter Church, which stretched East into Somerset and Glastonbury, and may well have had ancient Roman roots, it is his remains which, after his death, are taken to Milton Abbas as part of the absorbion of that Celtic Church into the Saxon one.
It was a Brythonic church, which explains why Branwallader's name, in the form of Brelade, is found in Brittany and Jersey. And it explains why there is no mention of Brelade in the Life of Sampson.
The "Life of Sampson of Dol" is given in detail in Vita Sancti Samsonis, written sometime between 610 and 820 and based on earlier materials, as Guernsey is referred to as Lesia, the ancient Roman name for the Island. While he too is associated with Britanny, in that case as a Bishop, ordained 521 AD by Bishop Dubricius, there is a singular absence of St Brelade, despite the much cited statement that Sampson and Branwallader went on joint missions. As Chanter shows, the Welsh Church in Damnonia and later in Britanny was quite separate from the Celtic one based around Exeter, and the evidence points to Brelade being Bishop there, not where St Sampson was based, at Dol. A life that early should show evidence of St Brelade, but this shows none.
That is not to say he was not responsible for the foundation of the community which gave its name to the Church at St Brelade, because as Chanter also mentions, it was the habit of Celtic Christianity for dedications to be made to Churches commemorating founders.
But the story of St Brelade, as the last of a line of Celtic Bishops based around Exeter is very different from that, and Chanter provides a plausible case for this being likely. This was the church which connected Winchester, Sherborne, and Glastonbury and Exeter, and on whose lists we find his name. It may not be the pedigree that has gone into the guide books, but it is an ancient provenance, and makes him of considerably more significance that a similar sounding Celtic Martyr with whom his name has been confused.
Sundays are going to see a change for the moment in a rather different direction on this blog. I shall be posting sections from "Christianity in Devon, before A.D. 909" by John Frederick Chanter. This was originally published in 1910, and forms source footnotes on many publications on that subject. It is probably one of the best collations of source material out there, but it is difficult to track down.
Why Devon? The reason is simple. We have, in Jersey, one Saint from that part of the world, St Brelade, or Branwallader, as he was also known.
In this extract we see how Chanter brings the three streams of Christianity together. The Goedelic Church in the West of Damnonia, and the smaller, and in some ways weaker Brythonic Church based around Exeter and to the East of Exeter, and finally the encroaching Saxon Church, which absorbed the Goedelic Church of Exeter.
Because Branwallader belonged to the Exeter Church, which stretched East into Somerset and Glastonbury, and may well have had ancient Roman roots, it is his remains which, after his death, are taken to Milton Abbas as part of the absorbion of that Celtic Church into the Saxon one.
It was a Brythonic church, which explains why Branwallader's name, in the form of Brelade, is found in Brittany and Jersey. And it explains why there is no mention of Brelade in the Life of Sampson.
The "Life of Sampson of Dol" is given in detail in Vita Sancti Samsonis, written sometime between 610 and 820 and based on earlier materials, as Guernsey is referred to as Lesia, the ancient Roman name for the Island. While he too is associated with Britanny, in that case as a Bishop, ordained 521 AD by Bishop Dubricius, there is a singular absence of St Brelade, despite the much cited statement that Sampson and Branwallader went on joint missions. As Chanter shows, the Welsh Church in Damnonia and later in Britanny was quite separate from the Celtic one based around Exeter, and the evidence points to Brelade being Bishop there, not where St Sampson was based, at Dol. A life that early should show evidence of St Brelade, but this shows none.
That is not to say he was not responsible for the foundation of the community which gave its name to the Church at St Brelade, because as Chanter also mentions, it was the habit of Celtic Christianity for dedications to be made to Churches commemorating founders.
But the story of St Brelade, as the last of a line of Celtic Bishops based around Exeter is very different from that, and Chanter provides a plausible case for this being likely. This was the church which connected Winchester, Sherborne, and Glastonbury and Exeter, and on whose lists we find his name. It may not be the pedigree that has gone into the guide books, but it is an ancient provenance, and makes him of considerably more significance that a similar sounding Celtic Martyr with whom his name has been confused.

Christianity in Devon, before A.D. 909 - Part 3
Rev. J. F. Chanter

Let me now try to read the traces and records of Celtic Christianity in Devon which I have given, in the light of these Celtic dedications, and see what story they tell us of the work of the Celtic missionaries in Devon; and try to trace their footsteps, and what we can reconstruct of the history of Christianity m Devon before AD 909.
And first let me remark that many of our difficulties are caused by the frequent recurrence of the same name, borne by different individuals, and the difficulty of deciding to which individual of that name a record refers. Thus, there were three Kings of Damnonia who bore the name of Geraint, or Gerontius, as it appears in Latin; first, the Geraint of AD 530, who was killed at Longoborth, probably near Lyme Regis ; then the Geraint mentioned in the Life of St. Teilo, who probably died about AD 596 ; and thirdly, the Geraint of Aldhelm's letter at the end of the seventh and the beginning of the eighth century. So, also, with the Constantines, or Cystennins, as they are called in the Welsh records; we have first the Constantine, the contemporary of Gildas, in AD 549 ; he is most unlikely to be the same person as the Constantine whose conversion took place in AD 589, the interval of forty years, although possible, makes it improbable that they were one and the same ; then there is a third Constantine, the contemporary of St. Petrock.
The next noticeable point is that while the lives of the Welsh saints and the Welsh records contain many allusions to saints and missions associated with Damnonia, they are entirely silent about the saints and bishops who are associated with Exeter and the district east of it, and, on the other hand, the traditions and legends associated with Exeter and Glastonbury show no knowledge of such people as St. Petrock, St. Brannock, St. Nectan, and other famous Devonshire missionaries who came from South Wales. How are we to explain this ? The answer seems obvious to me, and it is this : that Christianity in Devon had its origin in two distinct sources who knew little of each other, who did not even speak the same language ; each has its own traditions and saints, each has its separate line of bishops.
The first of these, and the oldest, was the Christianity which centred round Exeter and the districts east of it, a Christianity which was at first was mainly confined, as Roman civilization was, to the towns and districts round them ; a Christianity that may have gone back to the time of the Roman occupation, and which gradually spread among the Brythonic-speaking people of Eastern Damnonia ; a Christianity whose association would have been with Sherborne, Glastonbury, and Silchester, and other Brythonic-speaking places in the south-west of Britain, but not with South Wales. And when we turn to the early records and traditions of Winchester, Sherborne, and Glastonbury, we do find these allusions and traces of intercourse and connection between them and Exeter.
Thus, for instance, we find a sister of the Exeter martyr, St. Sidwell, at Sherborne ; again, in the list of founders and benefactors of Sherborne, we find '' Gerontius Rex dedit Macner. de V hid Juxta Thamar " (Cott, Faust, A. ii. 23, British Museum). This Brythonic Church of Eastern Damnonia, small and weak at first, was prevented from expanding westward by difficulties of language ; but reinforced later by the Brythonic-speaking Celts, who retired westward before the Saxon Conquest, it acquired additional position and strength. It was this Christianity with which the Saxon invaders of Devon first came into contact ; it was the Christianity that lent its bishops to share in the consecration of St. Chad, though it is possible that the more western, or Goidelic Church, to which I shall allude presently, may also have shared in that act.
It was this Christianity to which St. Aldhelm's letter was addressed, and which, according to all accounts, by his influence, adopted the western use of Easter and its tonsure ; a Christianity accordingly, with which the Saxons who had settled in Devon in the early part of the eighth century, found no difficulty in having friendly intercourse, though considerations of language must have kept them to a certain extent apart. It was a form of Christianity that, preserving the traditions of the old Roman city, had not become tribal, as so much of the Celtic Christianity had, and so the difficulties of intercommimion were not so great. It is to this Church that St. Conoglas, St. Coventinus, and other bishops, such as Mawom, belonged, and the last of this line seems to have been Branwallader, probably at the end of the eighth century, a bishop who observed, as I have said, the Catholic practices, and was obeyed and respected by Celt and Saxon alike ; hence, when the Celts were finally driven out of Exeter by Athelstan, the memory of St. Branwallader was still honoured and kept alive by the remaining inhabitants of the city, and the remaining Celts east of it. His remains were translated with honour by an English king, but further east, that there might be no danger of his shrine being a rallying-point of the dispossessed Celts ; and so on through the succeeding ages his intercession was still invoked by the English Church. It is to this Church that I would also assign St. Kierrian, a Brythonic bishop from the east or midlands, driven west by the English invaders ; doubtless, there was more than one bishop of Eastern Damnonia.
There are traditions of a see at Congresbury , possibly there was one at Dorchester, and the name of one Bishop of Congresbury has been handed down to us. Of the actual buildings in which they worshipped no parts remain, but on the sites of at least four or five of the old British churches in Exeter the Christian worship has been continuously carried on from pre-English days to the present. The British part of modem Exeter was the central portion of the northern half of the city, and there are still the Churches of St. Petrock, St. Kierrian, St. Pancras, and St. Paul. Mr. Kerslake, in his Celt and Teuton in Exeter, adds to these All Hallows and St. Mary Arches, but the former is, as Davidson in his paper on the Saxon Conquest of Devon points out, plainly a Saxon one. St. Mary Arches may be either Celtic or Saxon. The present age, in its dedications, has sought to revive the names of the older saints of the west, and I trust that in the future a place may be found for St. Branwallader, the last Celtic Bishop of the Exeter and East Devon district, and reverenced there for nearly eight hundred years.
On Branwallader's death the English, who were then a majority at Exeter, would have transferred their allegiance to the West-Saxon Bishop of Sherborne, the Celts passing to the other branch of the Danmonian Church, which had become Brythonic-speaking at that time.
The second source of Devonshire Christianity, and the more important one, was the Welsh Missions directed to the Goidelic-speaking race in Damnonia. Probably, the first in point of date was that of St. Brannock or Brynach, as he is called in the Welsh records. I do not propose to enter into his life here, as it can be read as fully as existing data will allow in a recent publication, the first volume of the lives of Cambro-British Saints, of which one of our ex-Presidents, Rev. S. Baring-Gould, is co-editor, and we are only concerned with the Devonshire part of his life. St. Brannock was, as we are distinctly told in all his Lives, a Goidel, and his work in Devon centred around the Hundred of Brannton, and dates from about AD 540 to 570. It was the period when the yellow plague in Wales had scattered the Christian teachers, and so given birth to a great outburst of missionary zeal.
The district in which St. Brannock began his work in Devon was at the time almost perfectly uncivilized, and we have still remaining there the traces of the first civilization introduced by him. Much disappeared in AD 1298, when there was a re-settlement of affairs in Brannton, of which we have a record in an early D. and C. MS. (No. 705), but the custom of Borough English, which was part of the law of Wales in its most primitive form, and is found in the Demetian Code of Howel the Good, survived till recently.
Many other curious customs also survived there till the last century. All the traditions and legends of Brannock's work in Devon speak more of his introducing civilization than of his religious work. Mr. Kerslake, in his Celt and Teuton in Exeter, speaks of Barnstaple, the capital of North Devon, as being also a sphere of St. Brannock's work, and traces a connection between the names Brann and Barum.
I am unable, however, to follow him in this, although Barnstaple is within the Brannton Hundred, which was by far the largest in North Devon, containing thirty-nine tithings ; it perhaps shows the extent of Brannock's work, though it must be remembered that the Hundred of Hertesberry has been merged in it.
The next Welsh Mission was that of St. Nectan and his kindred, the children of Brychan. Leland gives a long list of these, and names twenty-four sons and daughters of King Brychan by his wife Gladwisa, who were all martyrs and confessors in Devon and Cornwall. The list, he tells us, was taken from the Life of St. Nectan then existing at Hartland ; it does not, however, agree with the Welsh lists. This, again, was a Goidel-speaking mission to a Goidel-speaking people, the children of Brychan being the only one of the three saintly families of Wales that were mainly Goidelic. The work of the children of Brychan would seem to have been mainly confined to the Hundred of Hartland and North Cornwall, with perhaps an outlier or two.
The third, and by far the most important'Welsh mission, was that of St. Petrock, who might worthily be called the Apostle of Devonshire, for it affected not only one portion, but almost the whole of Devon, as well as parts of Cornwall.
It has left its marks in all parts of the county, his churches are still to be found north, south, and west, his religious houses were the nursing-mothers of Devonshire Christianity, and veneration for him led a Saxon King to found the see of St. Germans in Cornwall ; fifteen of the existing parish churches of Devon owe their foundation to him ; in three - Exeter, Totnes, and Lydford - out of the four ancient boroughs of Devon his name still survives, not to speak of those which have been annexed by his better-known namesake, St. Peter the Apostle, who probably annexed his dedication in the fourth - Barnstaple. As he occupies so important a place I propose to give a short account of him, as his legendary life as given in Capgrave's Nova Legenda, is late and worthless.
Petrock is Pedr-oc,  "oc " being a diminutive, so it is equivalent to " Little Peter." According to the Life of St. Cadoc, he was a son of Glwys of Gwent, brother of Gwynllyw the Warrior, and uncle of St. Cadoc. The Welsh genealogists say he was son of Clement, a Damnonian prince, and first cousin of St. Cadoc. John of Tynemouth says he was "Natione Cumber," and is followed by William of Worcester ; others call him a Camber, but as Professor Rhys points out, Cumbria and Cambria are in point of origin one and the same word ; the fashion of distinguishing between the two was later.
We may conclude that he was a native of Wales, with perhaps some Damnonian connections. Setting out from Gwent, or Morganwg, he would have crossed to the nearest Damnonian harbour, and I would suggest Combe Martin as the place of his landing, where the group of three Peter churches, Berrynarbor, Combe Martin, and Trentishoe, may mark three of his earliest cells. From there he would seem to have left the Brannock district on his left, as already occupied by a mission, and have skirted the great wild Exmoor forest in his efforts to get in touch with the natives, the four foundations of Parracombe, Charles, West Anstey, and Bampton, marking his footsteps. From Bampton, meeting perchance with some traces of Christianity among the Brythonic people, he turned down the Exe Valley to Exeter, where he has left his mark again.
Soon leaving this as already Christianized, he turned to the Goidelic people, and passing westward along the southern coast, past Kenton, he came to the head waters of the estuary of the Dart, where he established himself and founded a monastery at Buckfastleigh, just above the ancient settlement of Totnes. All round here we may trace his work : Tor Mohun, Totnes, Dartmouth, South Brent, Harford, still remain of his foundations faithful to their founder. It would seem that the Celtic population clung long round this district, of which we have an existing mark in the name Ashburton- ancient Esse Briton.
After some years spent there, with the restlessness of the Celtic missionaries he moved to the north of the wild Dartmoor region, which had with its solitudes shut in his work on one side, and at Lydford, last of the four ancient Devon towns - Exeter, Totnes, Barnstaple, and Lydford - we again meet with him ; and around this centre we find Zeal and Clannaborough on the east, Hollacombe on the west, Petrockstow and Newton St. Petrock on the north, still retaining their allegiance to their founder, and even as far north as Westleigh lying, perhaps still unevangelized, between the Nectan and Brannock Missions
Such seem to have been his steps in Devon, the scene of his greatest labours, his latter life and work being still further west, at his second great settlement of Bodmin - a corruption of Bosmanach, the home of the monks, often called also Petrockstow. From this place, according to the legends, his longer journeys were made, some taking him to Ireland, where his Life says he spent twenty years, St. Coemigen being his pupil there ; others taking him to Rome, and even to Jerusalem and India, travelling over the seas on a shining bowl that came floating over the waves to him, living for seven years on a single fish, which is, of course, either mythical or mystical, for, like many of the legends, it is patient of a simple explanation - the fish is the symbol of Christ, his sustentation in all things.
On his return he finds a wolf guarding the staff and cloak he had left before his voyage, and which ever after accompanied him, and a wolf is always one of St. Petrock's symbols, meaning his faithful dog.
Finally, he returns to die at Bodmin, where his memory was cherished and his relics preserved, and where the silver casket that contained them may still be seen. Of the theft of these relics and their recovery by the King's efforts in AD 1177, I need not speak. And just as round Glastonbury there have been gathered all the famous saints of the Celtic Church (for according to the legends, St. Patrick, St. Bridget, St. David, King Arthur were all buried there), so round St. Petrock's, at Bodmin, were gathered all the famous churchmen of the Damnonian kingdom, both before and after his days. The generally accepted date of his death is AD 568, though Baring-Gould places it in AD 580.
Such, I suggest, were the footsteps of St. Petrock in Devon ; of his Cornish work I would leave others to tell. Over how long a period they were spread we have no manner of ascertaining. His house at Buckfastleigh became later a Benedictine establishment, and in Domesday it is mentioned as holding several manors in Devon.
How and when it was dissolved we have no means of discovering, but in 1137 the site was granted to a colony of Cistercian monks from Waverly, and they also obtained possession of most of the property of the older foundation.
But his house at Bodmin remained until the dissolution of the monasteries, with the body of St. Petrock reposing in a beautiful shrine before the Chapel of St. Mary, at the east end of the conventual church, though, alas, not a vestige of it now remains. It is as a Cornish saint that he is generally thought of in the present day, but Devon was undoubtedly the scene of his chief labours, and it is as the Apostle of Devon that he should find a chief place in western hagiology.
Other missions were those of St. Hergyth, who has been identified with la, though more probably a native of Devon and disciple of Petrock, and called after an older saint ; St. Budoc, an unknown saint, and perhaps our Devonian David and Bridget, were namesakes of the famous Menevian bishop and the Abbess of Kildare.
Lastly, there remains St. Constantine, generally identified with the Constantine of Gildas, though as there were several of that name it is doubtful, and perhaps Gildas' estimation of the characters of Constantine, Vortiper, and Maelgwyn needs revision. Gildas pours out his wrath upon them as incarnations of evil ; in all other records they appear as leaders of patriotic movements and nursing-fathers of the Church. Vortiper was the patron of St. David, Maelgwyn the founder of the See of Bangor, and our Damnonian Constantines are in one case the patron of St. Petrock, in another the famous saint of the Aberdeen Breviary, in the third case a religious at St. David's. It is of the second of these, who went as a servant to an Irish monastery, and of whom the quaint story is told that when working at grinding the com he was overheard asking himself the question : "Is this King Constantine ? " and to answer : " Yes, it is the same, yet not the same."
Of these old saints of Devon we have nothing remaining but their names, their dedications, their legends, and the stones erected and inscribed by their disciples. There is nothing in any ecclesiastical building in the county, or for the matter of that, in Wales or Cornwall either, to indicate any great antiquity, except simplicity of ground plan and rudeness of architecture ; probably the oldest work does not go back to the tenth century.
The churches of St. Brannock, St. Nectan, and St. Petrock were no doubt gradually Brythonized under the influence of the Brythonic Church at Exeter and immigrants from the Saxonized parts of Damnonia. If any distinctions ever existed between the Goidel and Brython parts they quickly disappeared, and after the adoption of the new cycle for Easter there was little bar between them and the English colonists who, after Cynewulf's campaign, began to flock into Devon. Of the bishops of this Goidelic Church in Devon, as I will call it to distinguish it from the older Exeter branch, we have a few names preserved in some of the legends ; probably the last who exercised any jurisdiction in Devon was St. Rumon, whose date I should be inclined to fix as the early part of the ninth century. At this time a common danger had drawn together Celt and Angle, for both were exposed to the ravages of the black pagans, or black Normans, as the Welsh chroniclers call them - better known to us as the Danes - and so the Celtic bishop was reverenced alike by both races. And it was an Englishman, Ordgar, Earl of Devon, who founded the religious house in Rumon's honour at Tavistock, which afterwards became the most famous and magnificent abbey in Devon. And it is this connection of Rumon with both Celt and Angle that would seem responsible for the somewhat peculiar circumstance of the submission of Kenstec to the Durovernian throne.
Rumon had been accepted as their bishop by both Celt and English for personal reasons, being held in honour by both, but on his death there may have been difficulties felt by the English as to their accepting Kenstec, who had been elected as his successor in Cornwall ; and it was to appease this feeling that Kenstec was willing to come into the scheme of one Church for the whole island and submit to the Durovernian primacy. However this may be, there was yet one more last stage of transition from Celtic to English in our Devonshire Church, which was the episcopate of Asser. Himself a Celtic monk, and nephew of a Celtic bishop, he was in AD 884 given by King Alfred the pastoral care of Celt and Saxon in Devon.
Some sixteen years after he was translated to Sherborne, but still retained the episcopal oversight of the Devonshire Church, which thus became annexed to the see of Sherborne. A very few years showed the arrangement to be impossible, and in 909 Eadulf was consecrated first Bishop of Crediton. And with that the last chapter of the Celtic Church in Devon may be said to have closed.
This attempted sketch of the history of the Church in Devon before AD 909 is, I am aware, all too slight and imperfect. There are many points I have not touched on, such as the intercourse between Saxon and Briton, the story of Sidwell the Martyr without the walls of Exeter.
It is, I know, open to much criticism and charges of being mere conjecture, but it is at least an attempt, feeble it may be, but still an attempt, to piece together in some way the traces, faint though they be, of a Christian Church which had a separate existence for at least five hundred years in our county before our present organism commenced, and whose children we still claim to be.
Just as the present Church of England is the confluence of three streams, the original native Church, the missions from Iona, and the missions from the Continent, so the Church in Devon is a confluence of three streams, the remains of the Romano-British Church, the Goidelic missions, and the later Anglo-Saxon Church ; and we Devonshire folk may claim for it that it is the only portion of the Church in England proper that has an uninterrupted existence for more than fifteen hundred years.
There was a time when the cities of Canterbury, London, and York lay waste and desolate as the cities of Anderida, Verulamium, and Uriconium do now. There was a time when the voice of Christian worship was hushed throughout nearly all England, as it is at Glastonbury, Ford, and Cleeve now ; but throughout these times the Church in Devon and its capital city never ceased to lift the sound of prayer and praise, and may we and our descendants ever preserve and cherish a heritage which is priceless and unique.
Chronological Table of Principal Events.
314. First mention of British Bishops.
410. End of Roman occupation.
480 (circa). Dyvnal Moelmyd organizes Damnonin.
638 (circa). Consecration of St. Kierrian.
646. Constantine of Gildas.
660 (circa). St. Brannock, St. Nectan.
680 (circa). Death of St. Petrock.
687. Conversion of St. Constantine.
696. Geraint of Dingerrin.
600. Gwrgan Vartrwch King of Damnonia.
601 . Mauron Bishop.
666. Consecration of Chad by Wini and Damnonian Bishops.
700. Geraint King of Damnonia.
707. Part of Damnonian Church adopts Catholic usages.
780 (circa.). St. Branwallader Bishop of E. Damnonia.
790. Danish raids lead to coalition of English and British.
800. Egbert consolidates conquest of Devon.
803. Primacy of Canterbury accepted by West Saxons.
820 (circa). St. Rumon Bishop of W. Damnonia.
833. Submission of Bishop Kenstec.
884. Asser Bishop of Devon.
900. Asser translated to Sherborne.
909. Foundation of see of Crediton.
926. British driven out of Exeter.
936. Conan last Celtic bishop in the West of England.