Monday, 30 September 2013

Focus On: Charles Dix Manifesto for Constable’s Election

I've been looking at Charles Dix's manifesto at, most of which consists of quotations from Senator Philip Bailhache, and it raises some interesting questions about his predecessor as well as his own.
"My candidate is a democrat. He would want to represent, as far as is possible, the views of the parish in the States. He approves the old idea of giving parishioners the opportunity to express their views on major policy issues at a Parish assembly before the States debate. He would certainly have represented the views of the 1037 parishioners who voted in favour of reform in the recent referendum, rather than the 264 who voted against reform; and would not have opposed the Bill to bring in those changes. That is what democracy is all about."
Now there's a sleight of hand here that may not be noticed. Sir Philip suggests that Charles Dix would have voted for the Option B proposals in the States, and this gives the impression that he would be taking the views of the Parish to the Assembly. In fact while a casual reading suggests that, it actually says nothing more than if elected, he would take soundings at Parish meetings about major policy issues about the views of Parishioners. That's not the same thing at all.
They will have "the opportunity to express their views", but nowhere does it say that he will be bound by those views, apart from the one instance of the recent Referendum. And we are not told what constitutes a "major policy issue" either, which is a fatal weakness in this presentation. Would the introduction of GST, or a further rise to GST be considered "major policy issue"? We don't know. We can see, however, that Sir Philip Bailhache has lost none of his legal acumen for subterfuge.
As Mr Dix puts as a "challenge" to whoever is elected - "Working families are seeing ever growing taxes on incomes that are hardly rising, whilst inflation is still with us.", any increase in taxes would be of interest to know how he's going to vote.
There's also the suggestion that those who voted against the PPC "Option B" in the States are not true democrats, which is perhaps surprising from someone who took over an independent electoral commission, after the democratic decision of the States was in favour of that, and who nowhere gave any realistic option for retaining the Senators, despite widespread popular appeal for their retention. Banging the democratic drum is something Senator Bailhache does badly.
And I think it is uncharitable to leave the impression that former Constable, the late Dan Murphy, would have voted against Option B in the States. That's the impression one gets from this spiel from Senator Bailhache – if Charles Dix had been Constable, he would "certainly have represented" the views of the Parishioners which implied that the previous incumbent had not.
I had to look up the votes to see how Dan Murphy voted, and in fact, he was absent from the Assembly because of illness. We don't know what way he might have voted, pour or contre or abstained, because he was not there, and to suggest otherwise is to again use sleight of hand to discredit someone who can't defend themselves.
The same veiled criticism of his predecessor can be seen in the following:
"I would like to re-institute the Comite Paroissale, to bring together all sections of the municipality in planning for the future. Decisions based on shared information are usually the best ones."
"I have long advocated the building of a Parish team of those willing, on an ongoing basis; and especially in winter and other emergencies; to give support to the elderly and vulnerable in the parish. Several other parishes and groups are starting to address this need; and I would like to bring all together to find a common purpose and method to help those less fortunate"
It suggests that Dan Murphy supported neither of those things. Charles Dix, as Chef de Police, and also with involvement in Parish events had plenty of opportunities to both suggest these, and sort out emergency teams. In fact, who better placed than a senior member of the honorary police, who often do have to help out on the roads in inclement weather?
We are led to conclude that either Mr Dix was keeping his light extremely well hidden under a bushel, or previous Constables have not chosen to hear his advocacy. What other interpretation can we put on "long advocated"?
He raises three challenges
• Our young people face a shortage of job opportunities not seen since the 1930's.
• Working families are seeing ever growing taxes on incomes that are hardly rising, whilst inflation is still with us.
• Investment income yields for the retired have fallen drastically since 2008.
And states "They look for a Connétable, who is approachable, gets things done, solves problems; and is a really good communicator."
But nowhere in his slim manifesto does he suggest any solutions to these problems. The manifesto is like the "Yes Minister" episode "The Challenge", when Hacker manages to ramble on without a firm commitment to any solid proposals
Jim Hacker: It's a challenge I'm looking forward to.
Ludovick Kennedy:  How will you meet the challenge?
Jim Hacker: It's far too early to give detailed proposals.
While transport is a problem regarding the cycle track, which is not fit for use, Charles Dix also has something to say about the bus service. That's as near as you will get to "major policy matters" in this manifesto, but it is worth reviewing:
"Our excellent bus service: Having lived some 30 years close to the bus routes, and being a daily bus user, I appreciate the superb service we are given. If elected I will champion the maintenance of the helpful new schedules."
The Grouville bus service must indeed be excellent where the reports from elsewhere are for late services, new drivers who do not know the way, and – in the West – incoherent time tables which lead to multiple busses converging on St Aubin at the same time.
I'd have expected to see just a little about the need for more bus shelters, details on when the Avanchi top up card will come online (promised in June), and resolving problems with late school buses, but perhaps as a pensioner who doesn't have to pay bus fares, this is not of immediate concern to Mr Dix.
But what is surprising is that a paragraph should be devoted to a eulogy on Liberty bus, when it could have been better devoted to immigration policy, or even some proposals for environmental matters
"I hope to be able to debate and form parish policy on future development; bearing in mind the need for first time buyer homes: and possible uses of dormant fields: by an advisory subcommittee of the Comite Paroissale."
Where is immigration policy here – surely one of those "major policy issues"? And while there is a debate on future development (with no firm commitments in the manifesto), where is there any recognition of the changes that might be needed for an ageing demographic, as seen for instance, in St Ouen's attempt to get sheltered housing?
And for someone with connections to an IT firm, it is disappointing that there is no online website to see more than the bare bones which are given here.
It will be interesting to see how well he does, and whether the Parish is prepared to endorse a manifesto that has quite a bit more style than substance. Nevertheless, endorsement can be a powerful tool, and the fact that Sir Philip Bailhache, Jersey's equivalent of a heavyweight political boxer, has chosen to endorse Mr Dix will undoubtedly sway quite a few voters in his favour.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Teen Exorcists

"Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, 'In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.' Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?'" (Acts 19: 13-15)
Brynne Larson, 18, and sisters Tess and Savannah Scherkenback, aged 18 and 21, are determined to rescue London's youngsters from evil spirits, which they say they are inviting to possess them by reciting the spells in the Harry Potter books. The threesome, from Arizona, believe the spells in J.K. Rowling's best-selling fantasy series are real, and dangerous.  In fact, they see Britain as a hotbed of occult activity whose origins go back to pagan times. Savannah explains: 'It has been centuries in the making, but I believe it came to a pinnacle with the Harry Potter books.' 'The spells you are reading about are not made up,' adds Tess. 'They are real and come from witchcraft.'(Daily Mail,1)
I watched the documentary on BBC3, "Teen Exorcists" by Dan Murdoch, and I was amazed at statements like these. If they think that "expelliarmus" or "riddikulus" are "real spells", then why bother to listen to anything else they say? I've studied the history of witch trials, and folk beliefs about witchcraft, and I can say with some confidence that those have never been part of the spell craft at any time. Of course, it transpires that the girls have never read the books, and never would, because they think they are "satanic", so that is not exactly surprising.
Charlet Duboc, who also made a documentary on the girls, said that "The way they come across on camera is just the way they were when we turned off the camera, they never stopped the vacant smiling"
With their karate skills, and good looks, they came across rather like clones from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but they come from a very different background - pushy American fundamentalism. Brynne's father the Reverend Bob Larson is a failed Television Evangelist, and there is an air of marketing about how they promote themselves. As the Anorak website notes:
"They are committed to the beliefs and worldview expounded by Brynne's father Bob Larson, a man who has been a familiar figure in US media for years with extravagant tales of Satanic cults and of exorcising thousands of people who he says have been spiritually oppressed by demonic powers."
"Bob Larson, as ever, came across as a showman who pays close attention to branding; his church's slogan is "DWJD" - "Do What Jesus Did", referring to the role of Jesus as exorcist in the Bible - and he wields a distinctive ornamental cross. This cross, along with his clerical garb and dog collar, appear to be a pastiche of Roman Catholicism, but it all plays into the popular image of what an exorcist should look like. Larson's background is actually in neo-Pentecostalism" (2)
That description of Bob Larson struck a chord, and I remembered G.K. Chesterton's "The Vampire of the Village" where there is an actor masquerading as an Anglican parson, until he is unmasked by Father Brown:
"No Anglican parson could be so wrong about every Anglican problem. He was supposed to be an old Tory High Churchman; and then he boasted of being a Puritan. A man like that might personally be rather Puritanical; but he would never call it being a Puritan. He professed a horror of the stage; he didn't know that High Churchmen generally don't have that special horror, though Low Churchmen do. He talked like a Puritan about the Sabbath; and then he had a crucifix in his room. He evidently had no notion of what a very pious parson ought to be, except that he ought to be very solemn and venerable and frown upon the pleasures of the world."
Bob Larson is very different in his style, but there is also a feeling that this style is a fabrication. There's the Holy Water, the Cross, which is sometimes thrust out as if he was playing the part of Van Helsing in Dracula, and the Bible is used as a physical object, a talisman of power to help remove the demons. There's a lot of performance there.
And there is certainly money in this, as the Examiner points out:
"On his personal and church blog, Larson is up to the usual tactics including asking or requesting money from the masses, preaching against paganism, telling the public about the spread of Satanism, looking for support for his war on the demonic, promoting his exorcism ministry, and now there is even a demon test you can take online. Of course the online demon test does require PayPal payment, so if you do not have an account, it seems you cannot be saved. Not to mock, but it is a terrible example of website exploitation at its worst."
Meanwhile Thomas Peters on Catholic Vote, is even more scathing about their self-promotion - "Brynne Larson, 16, is one of many newly-qualified teenage demon slayers". He acidly comments:
"How you can combine the words "qualified", "teenage", and "demon slayers" in the same sentence escapes me."(3)
Free Thought is very scathing:
"Fake 'exorcist' and con man Bob Larson's current meal tickets, his teenage daughter and her two friends that he markets as the Charlie's Angels of exorcism, are hitting England on their world tour of nonsense."(4)
But what is left out of most of the media presentation is the degree to which these exorcisms are psychologically abusive. They manipulate vulnerable people, they plant pernicious ideas that people are demon possessed in distressed people and then proceed to "cure" them.
The techniques are similar to those exposed by Derren Brown in his documentary on Fake Healers, and the worse thing is that they have no idea of how damaging they can be to people.  As Duboc said:
"It was depressing because I just didn't see that exorcisms were going to help any of these people in the long term. It was a shame, these are lives being lived with the wool over their eyes." (6)
It is important to note, perhaps, in closing, that the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church both have a ministry of exorcism, but it should be only sought after proper medical and psychiatric professionals also have assessed the situation.
For example, Anglican priests may not perform an exorcism without permission from the Diocesan bishop. An exorcism is not usually performed unless the bishop and his team of specialists (including a psychiatrist and physician) have approved it.
But what it may come to is the complexity of the human mind, the way in which it can split into disassociated personalities. A good example is the book "Operators and Things", a personal experience of schizophrenia.
That does not mean that exorcism may not be a good way to treat it/ As Psychologist Dr Mitch Byrne from the University of Wollongong says, while he does not believe in demons, the method of exorcism has its merits.
"Oddly enough, I'd say yes there is a place for these people. If you are a person who is possessed of a delusional belief or a psychiatric disability, and you have a strong religious belief, and that belief can be marshalled to help you overcome your distress then why not? I wouldn't say it is the best call or should be the first call in terms of a way of dealing with psychological disturbance, but people should never underestimate the power of belief. Suicide bombers and Kamikaze pilots are evidence that the power of belief is beyond any sort of rational argument, so perhaps working within someone's belief system is the best way to help them recover from their disability or distress."(7)

Saturday, 28 September 2013

A Hymn to Autumn

This Saturday, a poem reflecting on the season....
A Hymn to Autumn
Autumn days upon the earth
Cloudy, hazy, greying skies
An acorn falling in rebirth
Over sea, the seagull cries
Sunlight shines with weakening rays
At darkening of the end of days
Time passing, hour by hour
Fleeting day, and not so bright
The dying back of summer's flower
Sun and moon and stars of light
The turning canopy of night
A passing of the season's ways
At darkening of the end of days
Walking hand in hand in love
Weather grey, but weather mild
Autumn's rain remains above
Pleasures pure and undefiled,
Happy memory yet still stays
At darkening of the end of days
Sweet the scent of autumn pine
Falling cones, as nature riven
Walking here a glimpse divine
Golden leaves and days of heaven,
One last glowing colour blaze
At darkening of the end of days
The years pass by, and evermore
Autumn storms come from above
The tide is foaming on the shore
A season changing, such I love
How could I not adore and praise
At darkening of the end of days

Friday, 27 September 2013

The Privateers – Part 1

Something historical today. Here is an extract from "Jersey in the 17th century" (1931), by A.C. Saunders.
What are we to make of the privateers? The Civil War provided an opportunity for patriots and unscrupulous men, and perhaps the privateers were something of both. It was evidently a pretty tough life – "food supplied consisted of biscuits, salt pork and dried fish with occasional dried peas washed down with cider or cheap wine."
But the rewards could make it all worthwhile. While the richest of the pickings went to people like Sir George Carteret, the crew could also grow rich:
"Any prize was sold and the profit was divided amongst the State, the shipowners and the crew. By the end of the eighteenth century this was usually 20% to the Crown and the rest was divided between the shipowners who received two thirds (53%) and the crew who received the rest (27%). Each of the crew members received a predetermined number of shares in the prize money depending on their role and their position in the ship. Good captains were often part owners of ships as well." (1)
And Saunder's narrative reflects the ambiguity. At times he is fulsome in his praise of how Sir George Carteret's Privateers harried the Parliamentary shipping, but other times he sees them as unscrupulous.
I remember going on a "Petit Train" tour of St Malo, and the guide was very scathing about anyone who called the Corsairs of St Malo "pirates", yet like the Jersey privateers, these were legalised pirates, given the right to prey upon certain kinds of merchant ship.
And what they did amounted to legalised theft – they took from merchant vessels without payment, and sold the plunder. Sir George Carteret's name has been mooted for a statue in the space in front of St Aubin's Parish Hall. He is famous certainly, but I would not have thought he is exactly the right kind of role model to be immortalised in that way. It is an irony that the Old Court House at St Aubin's was the venue for the auction of stolen goods from these privateers, because St Aubin of Angers is the patron saint for protection from attack by pirates.
The Privateers – Part 1
By A.C. Saunders
We would know very little of the activities of Sir George's Privateers had it not been for the diary which Jean Chevalier left behind him.
Jean Chevalier was our Jersey Pepys, and in his diary, he gives us a wonderful, and detailed account, of life in Jersey, and the struggles between the Royalists and Parliamentarians. We learn it was from Elizabeth Castle that Sir George Carteret organised his famous fleet of Privateers, which did so much damage to English trading vessels, causing the owners to await convoys before they dared to sail from English Ports.
We have to thank the Société Jersiaise for the publication of this diary in 1906, under the Editorship of J. A. Messervy, a well known authority on Jersey history, for it allows us to get an insight into the manners and customs of our ancestors who lived in those days.
Of Chevalier himself little is known, except that he was born in 1589, and died in 1675, at the age of eighty-six. During his long life he seemed to have taken an active interest in the affairs of the Island. He did not rise to high rank being only a Vingtenier of the Town of St. Helier, but living in the Royal Square, then the market place, he was able to watch at close quarters the activities of his fellow Islanders, and listen to their gossip much of which he detailed in his diary, sometimes at great length. He had many relations in the Island, and was connected with the families de la Cloche and de Carteret. This probably explains how he obtained access to so many sources of information, which enabled him to give such a detailed and accurate account of the times in which he lived. He was an ardent Royalist and his diary covers the period from 1643 to 1651.
It tells us the story of the final struggle between Sir Philip de Carteret, and Lempriere, and his party, the two visits of Charles afterwards Charles II, and the capture of the Island and the surrender of Elizabeth Castle after Admiral Blake and the Parliamentarian army arrived in the Island.
After Sir George arrived in Jersey and took over the government of the Island in the name of his King, one of his first duties was to organise a fleet of privateers with Captain George Bowden as his Commodore. Bowden was a clever and daring sailor with few scruples to interfere with his personal activities. He was always very careful of his own interests, and avoided unnecessary danger, but when he had to fight he could do so as bravely as anyone. At first he was a Parliamentarian, and was employed in blockading Mont Orgueil Castle. He volunteered to capture the Castle if provided with sufficient men, and granted a sufficient reward. But either they had no men to spare or the Parliament did not believe that Bowden would succeed, so he was not granted the assistance required. Disgusted at their short-sightedness, he collected what was due to him, and sailed for England where he left the Parliamentary party, and obtained a letter of Marque from the King and, so armed, returned to Guernsey.
The people of Guernsey did not know of his change of sides, and pretending sickness he sent a note ashore addressed to the Parliamentarian Commissioners, inviting them to come to his ship as he had very important information to give them. The Commissioners, thinking that the matter was urgent, made haste to go to his ship, only to be arrested by Captain Bowden's men and sent by boat to the Governor of Castle Cornet who immediately imprisoned them in one of the darkest dungeons of the Castle. Later on they were better quartered, and one Sunday morning they managed to escape through a window on to the rocks below, and from there into the town and church, where the congregation was surprised by seeing the lost found, and there were great rejoicings.
Soon Sir George had a fleet of ten or twelve vessels which he used in capturing English ships, and harrying the English Coast. His fleet captured many vessels, but his ventures were not always successful. Sometimes a well known vessel arrived in Jersey waters, which had left as a friend, but returned as a well armed Parliamentarian frigate, to the annoyance of those who had ventured too near and had been welcomed by a warm if unfriendly reception.
Bowden's first adventure under his new commander was an attempt to capture some of the Guernsey ships. So he set out one fine morning in his patache well armed and with a crew of thirty men and sailed towards Guernsey. But the Guernsey men were on the look out and when they saw the Jersey vessel nearing the coast, two Guernsey vessels suddenly appeared about Herm and decided to force a battle. Bowden however was a cautious sailor and seeing the odds against him, he turned his vessel round and made for home, with the Guernsey vessels close behind.
Chevalier points out that " Not that he was in the least afraid of them for he knew that his ship was both faster and slighter than theirs. . Had there only been one ship he would of course have stopped to fight but really he could not be expected to fight two at once."
Bowden then sailed for the English coast where, with another vessel, he made five prizes in a very short time, all English vessels loaded with coal and other useful commodities. When he returned to Jersey he had a grand reception and with a Captain Baudains he arranged to go and meet some English vessels which were about to leave St. Malo for England. These ships consisted of a frigate of twenty-four guns and three or four armed barques.
They met them at the Minquiers and when Bowden saw how powerful they were, he decided that home was best place, so leaving Baudains to deal with the enemy, he returned to Jersey. Baudains however was a different man and he put up a brave fight and only left off after his vessel had been badly damaged, his sails and rigging shot away by cannon balls, two men killed and seven or eight wounded. He struggled back to Jersey without making any capture, but determined to get an explanation from his former ally. He went about the Island seeking his friend with determination to kill on sight, but Bowden was a cautious man and had left the Island before the return of the man he had left behind.
He returned from a cruise off Dover where he had captured a newly-built and fast vessel which had practically fallen into his hands. He had been anchored off Dover when this vessel, returning from the Bay of Biscay with a cargo of corn, and, little expecting they were in the neighbourhood of a noted privateer, lowered her sails and was drifting gently towards the harbour, when Bowden suddenly fired his gun at the unsuspecting vessel. The crew were terrified and rushed to the cabin for protection whilst Bowden and his men easily boarded the vessel, captured her and sailed away for Jersey, where Sir George added her to his fleet of Privateers.
He sometimes made a mistake and he found to his cost that other seamen were as wily as himself. On one occasion he boarded what he thought an easy capture but when he got on board he found a large and well armed crew, who had been hidden away down below awaiting him. He was only able to return to his own ship after five of his crew had been wounded.
The life of a privatersman in those days was never free from danger. He had to face the open sea in all kinds of weather, in small boats, with bad charts, no lighthouses, and very bad harbour accommodation. It was a wonderful period when we recognise that Sir George with his ten or twelve small vessels faced the whole naval and mercantile fleets of Great Britain, and did so successfully for so many years. Yet there were always plenty of volunteers to man the boats. They were well aware of the dangers they had to face and the discomforts they had to put up with. Very often there was little room for the number of men carried and the food supplied consisted of biscuits, salt pork and dried fish with occasional dried peas washed down with cider or cheap wine. They sometimes sailed away and did not return, and Chevalier tells us that " Sir George's brother sent out his three ton boat as a corsair with a crew of men armed with muskets. Failing to capture any prizes off the French coast, they crossed the channel, but were wrecked off Dover in a gale. The men were taken prisoners and nothing further was heard of them."
Nowadays rowing from Jersey to France, along the French coast and across the channel to the Downs would be considered quite a wonderful event, but in those days it was thought little of and only as part of the day's work. But they were all animated with adventurous spirit and cared little for the dangers they had to face, and these were many, for the Jersey privateers were well hated and a Jersey capture would have been welcomed in any English port.
Another of Carteret's captains was named Jelf. He had command of a gaily, armed with six cannons and carrying a crew of forty men. Once when off the French coast he came across the Dieppe mackerel fleet. Being short of provisions and anxious for a little fresh fish, Jelf steered his vessel towards the fishing fleet in order to buy some. But the Frenchmen did not like the cut of Jelf's vessel and mistook him for a notorious Dunkirk pirate, so they surrounded the Jersey. vessel, took Jelf and his crew prisoners and, notwithstanding their protests, took them to France, where they were put into prison and kept there for two months, until they could prove to the French authorities that they were friendly Jerseymen, when the court set them free, and made their captors pay them compensation. He was not a very successful privateer.
The Jersey privateers were very wide awake and they adopted many ruses in order to gain their ends. One of their favourite methods was to sail with two passports on board, so that the most suitable could be available when such documents had to be shown.
A Jersey barque with a cargo of corn was captured by pirates from the Bay of Biscay. The Master had on board two passports, one a Jersey one, suitable to present if captured by Dunkirk or Biscayan pirates, the other a French passport, suitable for use if the vessel were captured by a Parliamentarian vessel. Therefore the captain made no fuss when the Biscayan pirate came aboard his vessel, but before he could produce the proper passport, the Biscayans searched the vessel and unfortunately found the French passport. They were very angry with the Jerseymen for trying to impose upon their credulity. After beating, and otherwise ill treating the crew, they landed them in Brittany and took the vessel to Spain. The crew managed to return to Jersey and went to lodge their troubles before the Bailli, only to be told that they ought to have had sense enough to hide their French passport better " so it served them right to lose their ship and it would teach them to be more careful in future."
The Jersey Privateers were not very scrupulous about the division of the spoils they obtained, and the money thus obtained was soon spent. They frequently quarrelled over the division of the prize money. Chevalier tells us how two Jersey Privateers cruising along the coast of Brittany came to blows over a prize. The first vessel the " Iroise " captured an English vessel loaded with coal, and a prize crew having been put aboard, she sailed for Jersey. When on its way, the prize was met by the " Doggerbank," and although the prize was a Jersey capture and the crew were Jerseymen, the master of the " Doggerbank " took possession of it and making for a Brittany port sold the vessel and cargo at a very good price.
When the captain of the " Iroise " heard of the fate of the prize he immediately set out to find the " Doggerbank," and fortune favoured him, for cruising along the Welsh coast, they found the " Doggerbank " aground at low water in Penmarch Bay, with the master and most of the crew ashore. On the master's return to his ship he was exceedingly wroth at finding it in the hands of strangers. He pointed out that he had a commission as an authorised Privateer, but they assured him that exchange was no robbery, and, as he had seized and sold their prize, they proposed to keep his vessel and politely suggested that he and his crew should go ashore and spend the money they had received from the sale of the prize.
They were a bold, had, unscrupulous set of men and hesitated not in doing many foul things to gain their ends. If an unfortunate French vessel was captured, they did their best to persuade the Master to say that she was English, and if he hesitated, torture was often adopted to obtain satisfactory information. They did not mind using such effective methods as burning matches between the witnesses' fingers or placing the victim's fingers in the windlass, and so by one means and another many so called large prizes were obtained.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Rose Tinted Spectacles

There are bad times just around the corner
There are dark clouds hurtling through the sky
And it's no good whining
About a silver lining
For we know from experience they won't roll by
With a scowl and a frown we'll keep our peckers down
And prepare for depression and doom and dread
We're going to unpack our troubles from our old kit bag
And wait until we drop down dead
(Noel Coward)

Where do politicians buy their rose tinted glasses from? The world that they view seems very different from the somewhat gloomier one that the rest of us inhabit. A case in point is the report just out on economic performance of the Island. The BBC reports that:

"The 2012 figures, published earlier, show economic activity decreased for the fifth year in a row. Finance was still the main contributor to the measure of Gross Value Added (40.2%) but even this sector had shrunk by almost a third since 2008. The report from the States' statistics unit showed the "real terms" measure of GVA (allowing for the underlying rate of inflation) decreased by 4% to £2.78bn during 2012..Each separately-listed sector saw a drop, apart from hotels, restaurants and bars, which rose by 3%." (1)

Alan Maclean, however, is putting his own spin on this rather gloomy news. It is the 2012 figures, and he says that doesn't take into account the fact that this year matters have improved. He dismisses the figures as historical. A year is a long time in politics, to coin a phase. And he talked up on BBC Radio Jersey how the figures were better for tourism, so it is not all bad!

"Senator Alan MacLean, the economic development minister, said the outlook for 2013 looked more positive and that recovery was imminent." (1)

As my correspondent Adam Gardiner says: "certain sectors are showing some recovery, but it's the total economy we should ALWAYS focus upon."

Jersey Finance is also talking up the economy:

"Responding to the figures, Jersey Finance said: "It must be remembered that Jersey has fared better than almost all developed economies in terms of government borrowing (Jersey has no net debt) and employment levels (which remain far higher across all sectors than in the UK and many other G8 nations)." (2)

Only commentator John Boothman seems to give a realistic appraisal of the situation:

"Most of us were looking to see either a small improvement or a small decline but a decline on this scale, coming on top of several years of decline, is very disappointing indeed and it seems to be widely spread around the economy" (1)

Adam Gardiner, who corresponds with me, thinks that there is simply too much spin, when the decline in the economy is painfully obvious. He writes:

"You would think from the way Philip Ozouf and @Ringbinder (on twitter) have been talking over the last few months, the Jersey economy was 'well on track, 'beating the recession', 'showing signs of recovery' etc etc."

"And now we know the truth - not that we already didn't, Jersey not only still firmly in the doldrums but the little breeze we can feel is blowing us in the wrong direction. I am no economist or financial pundit, but I do have a sixth sense and its telling me that the island has a long, long way yet to go before it can genuinely claim to be 'on the road to recovery'."

"We have the retail sector in quite obvious trouble with shops closing almost daily. CI Bakery baked their last loaf only 5 days ago and we have recently lost the second largest shipping company serving the islands. That in addition to the dozens of business failures and job losses in parts of the finance sector of the last 18 months - yet all the time the civil service grows and grows and grows."

I also think there has been a knock on "domino effect" that we are still facing from the loss of Low Value Consignment Relief. The LVCR industry led to a considerable expansion of business before the recession and the removal of that caused major fallout, which we are still seeing today with postal and freight services.

But it is not just the prerogative of Jersey politicians and their supporters to talk up the economy, the same happens in the UK.

As the Huffington Post reports on the latest survey:

"Town centre shops closed at a rate of 18 a day over the first half of the year, despite signs of improvement in the wider economy, research has shown. The rate fell from more than 20 during the same period last year, but it was charity stores, betting shops and cheque cashing outlets that picked up the slack. This comes after research earlier this month found that the number of empty shops on British high streets has stayed roughly the same over the last year." (3)

"Betting shops, coffee outlets and supermarket branches were increasing on British high streets, according to the research. This comes as Chancellor George Osborne welcomed the fact last week that the economy was "turning a corner" and "looking better"" (3)

And if we try to compare like for like, the situation in Jersey does not improve. Adam Gardiner has provided me with the following rough calculation, which is certainly on the right lines (although the UK figures are only for high street outlets):

"18 closures a day in the UK, but given its geographical size and population suggests to me we are faring rather badly in comparison. As I understand Jersey has lost circa around 12 companies in last 12 months (i.e.: one per month) in a support population of 100,000. That extrapolates to the UK with a population of circa 50 million to something in the order of over 50,000 business failures last year. But 18 x 365 = 6,570 not 50,000!"

And he concludes: "We have to face it, Jersey has some serious problems. If only our politicians would admit that!"

At least Noel Coward got it right:

There are bad times just around the corner
The horizon is gloomy as can be
There are black birds over
The greyish cliffs of Dover
And the rats are preparing to leave the BBC
We're unhappy breed and very bored indeed
When reminded of something that Nelson said
While the press and the politicians nag, nag, nag
We'll wait until we drop down dead


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

RIP: Dan Murphy

The speeches reprinted here are available in Hansard, but you have to dig down and get them, so I'm placing a copy on my blog. Dan was an old friend of my father from the time when they both worked at the Walford Merchant Bank (in those days, he was affectionally called "Spud") and he remembered me from those days when we bumped into each other on a few occasions this year. He was supportive of my blog postings in favour of retaining the Constables, and while I did not see eye to eye with him on all issues, I respected his integrity, and enjoyed the occasional put downs to members who should have done their homework. Here's a classic example:

Connétable D.J. Murphy of Grouville: Could I ask the Deputy to allow me to intervene?  Can you just tell me what wealth has to do with standing for Senator?
Deputy M. Tadier: Let me explain, because perhaps it is a difficult concept for the wealthy Members in this Assembly.  An election campaign costs you, perhaps, £8,000 to run.
The Connétable of Grouville: Sorry, it is all limited and capped.
Deputy M. Tadier: You can spend up to £8,000 ... can P.P.C. give some clarification?  What is the current expenditure limits for Senatorial elections?
The Connétable of Grouville: If you do not know what you are saying, you should not say it.

So here is - first - the Liberation Day speech by Dan Murphy given in 2012. It is so good that he gave this speech, and shared some of his personal memories and experience, the more so, because he is no longer with us. I know something is done in the way of archives, but I think a lot more could be done to preserve the memory, in sound and perhaps transcript, of those Islanders who were here during the dark days of the German Occupation. They are all getting older, and like Dan, won't be with us much longer, and their memories will die with them.
The second is the Bailiff's Eulogy given to the States when they first sat this September, the first sitting after Dan's death, which also fills in his background and the esteem in which he was held, and also contains an interesting Occupation anecdote.
Connétable D.J. Murphy of Grouville:
Your Excellency, Lady McColl, Bailiff, Mrs. Birt, members of the Royal Court, Crown Officers, Members and distinguished guests.
When I was asked by the Bailiff to give the Liberation Day address on behalf of this Assembly I was pleased and honoured. Then, when it came to putting my thoughts on paper, I truly appreciated the enormity of the task of not just encompassing my personal feelings but also respecting those of my contemporaries, the Islanders - living, and no longer with us - who lived through the Occupation.
Liberation Day today is a time for happiness, of celebrating our democratic freedoms and showing gratitude to the ordinary people who, when faced with adversity, found within themselves the extraordinary resolve required to win the fight - whether in a theatre of war or on the home front. As British forces make the ultimate sacrifice yet again in a conflict overseas, there is much debate about what constitutes a hero. Is it the soldier who selflessly risks death to win a battle, save colleagues or civilians under threat; or is it a civilian - the ordinary men, women and even children - who, when circumstances dictate, are prepared to lay their lives on the line for the values we hold so dear?
Growing up in Jersey after the Liberation, and living in Grouville, from where so many brave Islanders escaped to France to take up the fight against the foe, it was those very escapees that were my heroes. Ordinary people from my home - growers, fishermen, the ordinary working man and wealthy land owners - who, in peacetime, resumed their everyday lives.
I arrived in this world on the day the Germans invaded the Island, 1st July 1940, at the family home near La Rocque Harbour 3 days after the bombing of La Rocque Harbour in which three inhabitants were killed. Those dark days, 72 years ago, were the most terrible and hopeless in the Island's long and rich history. In the wake of the defeat of the B.E.F. in France and the 'victory' snatched by the daring evacuation from the beaches of Dunkirk, it seemed to the world that our occupation was a portent for the rest of the British Isles. To all intents and purposes we were defeated in the face of overwhelming forces.
Well, we may have been down, but we were not 'out.' From that depth of despair rose ordinary people who were willing to stand up and be counted and, moreover, to fight back in whatever way they could. Our local heroes were many, too many to acknowledge all today by name. Yet I would like to single out the more than 140 brave Islanders who were determined to escape from the jackboot. The majority were successful but nine drowned, 24 were captured and put in prison, and 2l year-old Douglas Le Marchand was shot dead on the beach by the Germans.
Dennis Vibert made two attempts: finally succeeding by rowing around the islands and across the English Channel in September 1941. The distance from the 'Fauvic Embarkation' point to the French coast may have been far shorter but the deeds of those who escaped by this route, including Peter Crill, Roy Mourant and John Floyd, were equally courageous, as was the assistance of the families who lived on the shores of the Royal Bay of Grouville, such as the Payns and Bertrams, Le Claires who together with other islanders,such as the father of the present  Deputy of St John, Denis Ryan, who transported dinghies and equipment in his builder's lorry.
Then there were those who hid escaped slave workers, like Albert Bedane, honoured by Israel for hiding a Jewess in the cellar of his home in Roseville Street, or Louisa Gould who died in the gas chambers for showing human kindness to another mother's son. Yet it was the little acts that also counted.
Who today, in similar circumstances would defy the enemy by singing patriotic songs as Islanders, including babes in arms, were deported to internment camps in Germany, for simply being of British-origin? And does not the 14 year old boy who, on the same occasion, ran from the crowd, punched a German officer on the jaw before being swallowed up and protected by his fellows qualify for our admiration as much as the first wave of soldiers to land on the Normandy beaches?
But for the lottery of birth, my family would have been deported. My parents received 'the knock on the door' at night to be served the order to present their family at College House the next morning for deportation. Can you imagine their distress at the prospect of being torn from their family, home and friends to be forcibly transported into unknown enemy territory with no idea of when - or if - they would ever return? Only in later life, with a family of my own, did that terrible uncertainty strike home to me. They made the journey on foot, pushing me in the pram, with just one suitcase between them, only be told it was a mistake, as my father was Irish they could return home. In spite of such good news, Dad reacted with mixed feelings as, the night before, he had taken his hidden wireless out into the garden, smashed it to bits and buried the incriminating  evidence.  This is not an exaggeration as people were imprisoned or shot for lesser crimes under Hitler's Third Reich.
Liberation Day, Jersey's 'national' day, is one of mixed emotions. Today we shall grieve for and honour the memory of those who paid the highest price for freedom; we shall remember the good and bad times: we shall shed tears of sadness and laugh out loud at the funny stories of how Islanders got the better of the enemy, like my uncle Den who, in the dead of night broke the curfew to milk a goat kept by German soldiers next door so that in the end they sold it to him at a knock down price as they believed it was barren. This kept us children in fresh milk every day!
In remembering Islanders' outstanding acts of bravery - and sheer cheek - it is easy to forget the thousands of unsung heroes, the parents of young children - such as my own. Above all, I want to recognize and praise them today because somehow they overcame the most difficult of circumstances and adversity, first the shortages and then near starvation to feed and raise their children. In conclusion, I would like to draw on my Irish roots and the observation of the 18th century statesman, author and orator, Edmund Burke, who said: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Fortunately for us, seven decades ago, good ordinary men and women were willing to do everything within their power to triumph over evil. We are forever in their debt. [Approbation] 
The Bailiff:
Members will of course be only too well aware that since our last sitting in July, we have lost one of our Members. I refer of course to the Connétable of Grouville, Mr. Dan Murphy. Although he had been absent from the sittings of the Assembly for a while because of illness, I think it came as a considerable shock to all of us when he passed away on 25th July.
Dan Murphy was born in Jersey on the first day of the Occupation and the midwife was apparently so concerned that he might be registered as a German national that she bicycled into town from La Rocque in order to register his birth immediately. In due course after leaving school, he followed a career in banking and then as a financial consultant.
He was elected as Connétable of Grouville in 2003, following the retirement through ill-health of Mr. Frank Amy, and he clearly had the confidence of his parish, because he was re-elected as Connétable 3 times thereafter. He loved his parish and worked hard in its service. He was very proud of the parish in Bloom achievements, particularly in 2007 when the parish won national awards. He was also a strong supporter of the twinning arrangements with Portbail, and the respect in which he was held is shown by the fact that the Mayor of that town and several of his officials travelled all the way to Jersey in order to attend the Connétable's funeral.
His interests of course extended far beyond his parish. In the States, he made good use of his financial expertise. He sat on the Public Accounts Committee for some 3 years and on the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel for some 7 and a half years up until his death. He also chaired the Tidal Power Steering Group, which reported in 2008. He was a strong advocate of the possibilities of tidal power and I have no doubt that his report will assist in due course in moving forward on issues of renewable energy.
In 2012 he was elected to represent the States in the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, having been an associate member since 2006, and he represented the Island at a number of conferences. It is clear that he impressed his colleagues in the Parliamentary Assembly and did Jersey proud. Following his death, I received a letter from the British Co-Chair of the British-Irish Assembly stating how he was, and I quote: "A valued Member of the Assembly" and how they would miss his contributions to their debates and activities.
In the States, he was not one who spoke unnecessarily often, but when he did speak, he was capable of doing so in a very passionate and persuasive manner, and I am sure Members will recall the very moving and eloquent address which he gave on the occasion of Liberation Day back in 2012 last year.
Very often former Members who die have been retired from the States for many years and have not therefore overlapped with current Members. That of course is not the case here, as we have lost one of our current Members. Everyone will have their own recollections of him as a friend and as a colleague, but I am sure we would all agree that we have lost a respected Member of the Assembly who served his parish and his Island with devotion and with distinction. The respect and affection in which he was held by so many was shown by the packed church at his funeral. So on behalf of Members I express our condolences to his wife, Dawn, his daughter, Cara, and I ask Members to rise with me for a few moments in his memory. [Silence]

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Immigration: Three Considerations

bbcjersey: Jersey business leaders have called for a debate on immigration claiming limits on hiring overseas staff is stopping growth.(Twitter)

Kevin Keen was saying an aging population needs "new blood". It is worth pointing out that while part of the population is ageing, it is a "hump" not permanent - there's something of a baby boom at the moment, and I expect primary schools are going to be pushed regarding classes soon.

Meanwhile, Nick Le Cornu was playing the "Jersey people are xenophobic" card on his Facebook comments. And Philip Ozouf was talking about how these debates can get "toxic".

The three things no one seems to consider are:

1) Sustainability

The Island has limited water, electric, sewage disposal etc and no one looks at the impact of increasing population on those. Toxic is a good case in point, as an increased population means more of that to get rid of.

The fantasies of "Hong Kong" Jersey just ignores those issues - Hong Kong, for instance, pipes its fresh water from neighbouring China. We can't do that. Over here, as the population grows, the demands on infrastructure - such as water supply - get greater every year.

See for more details.

There was a time when the original (and now unused) first cable to France supplied all the electricity needs - now we need 2 cables both of which carry more power, or we have to generate expensive power here.

Sewage is still persistently dumped in the sea after heavy rainfalls, and the treatment plant dates from the 1970s with a few tweaks. The pipes from the West of the Island have limited carrying capacity, and get bloated with rainfall. And the same happens in the East:, for example:

It should also be noted that food imports have been cut to about 3 days supply on island. We don't have the same level of food security, as is easily noted after heavy winds and cancellation of vessels lead to empty supermarket shelves.

2) A False Demographic Model

You may think that bringing more people to Jersey helps take the pressure off the ageing demographic peak, but you would be wrong. In fact all that happens with importing people is that it moves the demographic hump - it makes it higher and more drawn out. This should be obvious because the new people will age in turn, and there will be more people of that age - but this seems to be forgotten.

Unless you get people under 25, the ageing demographic won't go away - I've done some computer models on this in Excel using population stats from the Census. The only model that would work on ageing would be like the Australian immigration "Ten Pound Pommes" which specifically targetted people under an age. But no one is suggesting that.

See also

3) Recruitment without Resonsibility

If a business or the States imports people for jobs, this means that less effort has to be put into training and recruiting staff locally. Why put time and money into training up people to jobs when you can just buy the expertise? What plan for the long term ladder of promotion, when you can just pluck people to put in at the upper rungs? So it encourages a very lazy mentality which may have been fine in the past, but really is not needed now.

And let's face it, the two areas complaining most about immigration are the Finance Industry, which needs to take training even more responsibly than it does (I know some work training exists, but "could do better" as the report card said), and the States of Jersey themselves who have again spent decades avoiding having to tackle the issue because they could always look to the UK for recruitment; it has become a mindless reflex, and the new laws making it harder hurt because breaking a habit can be difficult and painful.

That's not to say that some very specialist professions, like the medical profession, need a level of expertise which may not be available. But that is a very special niche, with the kind of knowledge that it may be difficult to train and recruit to locally. Working in the finance industry, and Chief Officers, are not the same kind of profession. There are local degree courses which cater for that specifically.

On the States side, it is good to see that there has recently been more "in house" promotion. That improves the self-esteem of those further down, because they can see a proper structure and training for the job. Recent examples include John Richardson, Lee Henry, and the heads of one Primary and one Secondary school.

This is surely better than when a respected Acting Head of a Primary School doing a good job, respected by fellow staff and parents alike, was brushed aside. It makes you wonder how much the States Employment Board actually goes out and takes soundings, rather than just looking at CVs and how people perform in interview. That they overlooked the obvious candidate was not just a snub to him, but also an indication of an introspective ivory tower approach to recruitment which does not look at the local picture.

I think the mantra that "the best person for the job" will invariably be an outsider is looking worn - the golden handshakes of Bill Ogley and Mike Pollard, and the almost Presidential salary of Steven Izzat are a refutation of that strategy. They were supposed to be "the best people" but proved to be expensive mistakes.

In conclusion, by all means let's have a debate on immigration, but let us hope that calls for "a debate on immigration" does not mean we ignore these considerations.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Odds and Ends

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Mabon
Mabon (Autumn Equinox) was on Sunday, 22nd September at 9:44pm BST in the Northern Hemisphere. Bright blessings for Mabon to all my friends.
Mabon is a Welsh name meaning "great son," and refers to the Son of the Great Mother, The Divine Son of Light. Mythologically this festival celebrates the story of Modron, the Great Goddess of the Earth, and the birth of her son, Mabon.
Other cultures also identified this season with their own mythologies. In ancient Rome, it was a celebration to Mercury or Apollo. Christian Britain replaced the Welsh Mabon with St Michael, to whom churches on many sacred Pagan sites were erected. The Autumnal Equinox became known as the Christian Feast of Michaelmas.
And in Jersey there is also: La Mabonnerie - The 'Mabon' family home. 'Mabon' is a Welsh surname. In Welsh, the name Mabon means- Legendary son of Modron.
There is the also surname Mabon. The last Catholic Dean of Jersey was Richard Mabon.
Dean Mabon's family probably came from Wales. An account of his pilgrimage to the holy land in the middle ages can be read here:
And there's another article about him here:
Funny Business
I came across this quote by Dorothy Parker, that well known American humorist, last week:
Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.
Four be the things I'd been better without:
Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.
Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.
Three be the things I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.
Lost in a Fog of Ignorance
One of those strange thoughts which comes to you when you wake up briefly in the middle of the night: when it is thick fog outside, how come there is no fog inside? I could Google the answer, but it is more fun letting people put suggestions in comments.
Alas, no one had any ideas. All I was told by Reg Langlois was this "One of those strange thought which comes to you when you wake up briefly in the middle of the night:... What the heck have I done to have this cramp."
So any ideas, gentle readers?
All that I've manage to glean so far is "How to keep your Glasses Fogging up When You Enter a Building", not quite the same thing. "Remove fog from inside building" sounded interesting but it is all about some kind of map model software:
"I'm working on a map for L4D, its going fine but I have a slightly annoying problem with the env_fog_controller, my map is going to be completely enclosed with no outside areas, with Fog enable on everything works fine, however there is fog inside my building which I do not want."
Remaining weather related, when temperatures fell on 9 September, novelist John Niven, mentioned that he had switched on his central heating. Tweet: "Anyone else considering putting the heating on?"
The feedback was overwhelmingly disparaging. "The reaction on Twitter was: 'Man up, put a sweater on'," he says.
"Man up" owes its early popularization to another American sport: football. Describing man-to-man defence as manning up on the opposing team is an easy linguistic step to make in the American variety that man up took on a more general idea of resilience in the face of adversity.
The earliest example comes in 1987 - when the San Diego Chargers defensive tackle Mike Charles told The Union Tribune: "Right now, by the grace of God, we're hanging by the skin of our teeth. Now we've got to man up and take care of ourselves.
A Personalised Weather Forecast
I've been taking the daily weather forecasts and subtly modifying them on Facebook. Or possible not so subtly, come to think of it. Here's a recent collection:
Forecast 1:
Forecast for Jersey from noon today Tuesday 17 September 2013 until 6am tomorrow. Weather : Very dark grey Clouds with outbreaks of nasty cold rain and drizzle and a risk of hill fog patches, clearing overnight, so you have been warned! Max : 17 °C Min : 14 °C
Wind : Southwest strong F6, soon veering west, increasing strong F7 at times this afternoon. The Shipping Forecast says it might reach Force 8 "in the North of the Area", which probably means those poor sods who live in Alderney rather than Les Platons.
Forecast 2:
Weather : Occasional light rain or lemon drizzle, mainly this evening. Min : 14 °C
Visibility : Moderate to good, occasionally poor, possibly bankrupt. West strong F6, occasionally strong F7. Open Sea State : Rough. Prince Edward visited and was surprised by the weather. Swell: Confused.
Forecast from 6am until 6pm tomorrow Thursday. Weather : Cloudy with occasional rain or drizzle by afternoon. Dr Foster issues a puddle warning. Risk of hill fog patches. Max : 17 °C Wind : West liberal and moderate F4, soon backing southwest and increasing fresh F5 to strongbow F6, veering wild west during the afternoon.
Forecast 3:
Weather : Rain, drizzle and hill fog patches soon clearing, becoming mainly fair. Min : 12 °C so you'll need a Fair Isle sweater. Visibility : Moderate to very poor soon becoming good, and even saintly. Wind : Southwest fresh F5 to strong F6 soon veering wild west, then north by northwest moderate F4 to fresh F5 this evening, decreasing light F3 to moderate F4 around midnight. Decreasing light is what you expect around midnight. Open Sea State : Rather rough, decreasing slight overnight, with a low swell, maybe that's Lord Snooty going surfing.
Forecast 4:
Weather : Cloudy. Mist and fog spreading from the west during the afternoon. Oh mist rolling in, from the sea my desire. Touch of Wings creeping in the forecast. I do apologise. Let's continue. Max : 19 °C. Visibility : Good, becoming moderate to very poor. Wind : South to southwest light F2 or 3, veering west this afternoon. Blow the wind southerly, southerly, southerly. Sorry, at it again. Open Sea State : Slight. Much like my singing.
Forecast 5:
Forecast for Jersey from 5pm today Sunday 22 September 2013 until 6am tomorrow.
Weather : Fine. And it is 8.00pm and it has been fine so far. So that's fine. Min : 14 °C which is on the chilly side, and may not be quite so fine if you are outside. Visibility : Good. Wind : Northeast light F2 or 3, veering easterly this evening increasing light F3 to moderate F4. Open Sea State : Slight.
Forecast 6:
Forecast from 6am until 6pm tomorrow Monday. Weather : Sunny delight and warm. Max : 24 °C. Wind : Easterly light F3 increasing moderate F4. We may be in for an Indian Summer. Wow! How! I'll get the drums out, and set up the Totem pole to dance around in a loin cloth.
And so to bed.
I always finish my evening with a few carefully chosen quotations on Facebook. I try and not just find any old quote, but one that I think is inspirational, although occasionally I'll put a funny one up as well - humour can, after all, lift the spirits. My funny one recently was the Dorothy Parker one; here are some more quietly thoughtful ones to ponder:
And to bed ... quote for tonight is from R.J. Palacio
The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honour heroes after they've died. They're like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honour the pharaohs. Only instead of being made of stone, they're made out of the memories people have of you.
And so to bed...quote for tonight is from Ray Simpson:
Frequently we do not leave the past behind. We clasp on to it. We dissect it, and let fears for the future, tempered by the past, unconsciously prevent us from taking up the task eternal.
And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Kahlil Gibran:
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise on your lips.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

St Brelade’s Festival of Spirituality: First Thoughts

While it has not quite finished, I thought I'd review some of it event so far. There is still:
2 pm-3 pm The Personal Journey – Healing the Memories
A talk by Brian Clarke on ways to reduce the negatives of life – followed by a therapeutic healing session – in the Fisherman's Chapel, Admission FEE
6.30 Celtic Evening Prayer in the Fisherman's Chapel.

And remember the Labyrinth on St Brelade just below Midbay.  People have been creating and walking labyrinths for centuries. In medieval times, Christian monks would walk them to reflect on the journey of their lives. Beach Labyrinth is a new take on an ancient tradition. How far have you come to this point in your life to be right here, now? Walking the Beach Labyrinth gives you an opportunity to think about the journey of your life. A chance to let go of any rubbish in your life; a chance to draw a line in the sand and move on, a chance to make a solid change for the better.
But in the meantime, here are some brief comments on two of  events I attended.  I'll be reviewing the Ray Simpson presentation in a later blog as well as the God Particle.
Photos of the events so far can be seen here:

Life's Vicissitudes
There are times when I am exceedingly glad of spell check, and that word –must surely be one. Here were different portrayals of clergy, and life's vicissitudes, one of which must surely be how to spell that word, let alone say it. Vicissitudes - not a word you want to say after a glass of wine.
This was a very good evening led by Jo Mulliner with a look at the Vicar of Dibley and clips from Rev for the discussion, part of which was how people see clergy, and how they behave.
What does "Vicar" spring to mind? At that point, Derek Nimmo as Noote in "All Gas and Gaiters" got a mention; incidentally, the radio version is being repeated now on BBC Radio 4 Extra,
It was also looking at contrasts between the cosier presentation of The Vicar of Dibley, which is rural, and written 20 years or more before Rev. Rev is much more gritty and the clips taken from that were much more uncomfortable to watch, particularly the drunks at Christmas Eve.  And it is set in one of the poorer, run down areas of London.
Both programmes take the viewer through a journey, but Vicar of Dibley (and I was surprised at how funny it still is) is much more valleys and hills, going up and down – but not too much. Rev, by contrast is ravines and mountains, but as I've told people who felt it strayed from comfort zones, if you persevere through the deepest valley, the mountain heights will be all the more effective afterwards. Like life, you have to go on the journey and have faith that it will make good in the end.
Jo presented the evening very well, and there was lots of laughter, as well as an engaging discussion between clips, and not forgetting some of  her own and Mark Bond's  personal experience of their own journey, which they shared with us, and made it very authentic, not just a look from the distance.
Matt Harvey
Tinker Taylor,
Soldier Sailor,
Rich Man, Poor Man,
Beggar man, Thief
Doctor, Lawyer,
Indian Chief.
According to Matt Harvey, the reason why we didn't end up in those rich professions is because when we learned the rhyme (usually after eating prunes and custard), we were never told the last two lines. A class conspiracy! So now you know!
I hadn't originally planned to go to this event, then my poem got on the shortlist, and I felt I had to struggle out on a Friday night, at the end of the week, rather than just putting my feet up.
My poem didn't win – I hadn't expected it too – but the winning poem from an Australia was extremely good, and I can see why it easily won the adult class. The children's classes were also good – but I read the poems later as I had trouble hearing – the microphone and acoustics were not brilliant for someone hard of hearing. It is one of the reasons I tend to avoid hustings and political meetings as well. Fortunately, St Aubin on the Hill has a hearing loop system, and turning my two hearing aids to that meant the sound became crisp and clear, so I was able to enjoy the evening.
"An Evening with Matt Harvey" was a delight. He's an award winning performance poet, and think Pam Ayres but male, and you won't be far off. All of his poems are drawn from like, are quirky, fun, and linger after the laughter has gone, and there was plenty of laughter. One or two of the very quick ones were like Ronnie Barker on speed. And interspersed was light banter, strung between the poems like a thread between beads. It was an evening I'm glad I didn't miss, and great fun. I loved the love affair between flotsam and jetsam, the one about slugs, the two about potatoes, the tennis poem, the IT poem full of bits and bytes (and I noticed the Dalek creep in!). And there was a great rapport between Matt and the audience.
Here's Matt with his tennis poem "Twock" on YouTube, not from tonight, but he did this poem tonight. They are not all as breakneck speed as that! But it gives a taste of a bit of the evening. Incidentally, the book functions rather as a prop; he hardly glanced at it.

Incidentally, he was appointed Official Wimbledon Championship Poet 2010. The job entailed coming out with a poem each day of the championship to entertain the spectators. The poems would also be available online and in podcast.
You can read more on Matt here:

Over the past few days, I suspect St Aubin on the Hill has resonated with more laughter per minute than most of its time since being built. This was an evening which left you feeling good – as they say, "laughter is the best medicine", and I am glad I did make the effort to turn out.

Saturday, 21 September 2013


Today's Saturday poem received a certificate of merit signed by Matt Harvey in the St Brelade's Poetry Competition. The theme was "Inspiration". The winning two entries in the adult class, and all the shortlisted poems can be seen pinned up on a display at St Aubin on the Hill Church which is open daily.

A candle burns, and does inspire
A symbol of the tongues of fire
The dancing flame, the spirit's art
Deep warming joy it does impart
Sun light warming from above
His glory shines on earth in love
Now Aten brings perpetual light
And opening eyes to inner sight
Breath of life, come face to face
The gift of spirit, such a grace
Bring joy to us in hearth and home
And guide the way, where nomads roam
In beginnings when all worlds begun
The spirit moved, within the One
And through the ages all along,
She sang with joy her endless song

Friday, 20 September 2013

Charles' second visit to Jersey

Something historical today. Here is an extract from "Jersey in the 17th century" (1931), by A.C. Saunders. It is purely a coincidence, but seems entirely right and proper, that the week in which Prince Edward came to Jersey, and the Royal Mace featured - the same Mace given to Jersey by Charles II - that this history should reflect something appropriate. And what could be more appropriate than Jersey being the first place in the British Isles to proclaim Charles II as King of England?

Alongside the larger political issues, I like the quirky details - as when Charles II exercised the "Royal power of Clemency" in Jersey - surely a first, if not a last. Not a large political case, but a simple domestic quarrel, yet it could be brought before the King who was resident in Jersey, and who granted a petition for mercy to be shown. I find that pretty amazing.

And another interesting feature was the number of sick people who wanted to touch him, to be cured from "the King's Evil". This was a skin disease known as scrofula. Scrofula was usually a swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck caused by tuberculosis. It was believed in England and France that a touch from royalty could heal the condition. The practice began with King Edward the Confessor in England (1003/4-1066) and Philip I (1052-1108) in France. Evidently, the belief was still alive and well in Jersey. During his lifetime, after the Restoration, Charles II is said to have touched more than 90,000 victims between 1660 and 1682.

The last English monarch to carry out this practice was Queen Anne, who died in 1714.

There is also the account of the Seigneur of Trinity bringing a pair of Mallards to present to the King, and I still remember Major Riley bringing a pair to the Queen which he had "on ice" for the occasion, having them in his freezer should the need arise! The tradition was continued until 2005 when the Queen dispensed with the obligation.

Charles' second visit to Jersey
By A.C. Saunders
On the 30th January 1649 Charles the first was beheaded  at Whitehall, after a trial before Judges who were determined upon his death. He had in his last interview with the Duke of York, advised him to escape out of the Kingdom and the Prince, dressed in woman's clothes had managed, through the assistance of Colonel Banfield, to escape to Holland in a small vessel then lying in the Thames.
England was now under military rule, and stern and ruthless it proved to be to the people of England. The tragedy of the King's death had not failed to arouse the sympathy of the people, and the parliamentary party was divided by many sects, who each saw that, by the adoption of the methods they favoured, a millenium would arrive.
Many people who previously had opposed the King regretted the extreme actions of those in power and feared the future course of events. Many of the ships of war became royalist, and put their officers ashore and there was a growing desire among moderate men to see the return of settled government. But Cromwell and his army was now all powerful and Cromwell was a strong man. After routing the Scotch Army, he and his men soon put down all those who had endeavoured to upset his rule.
Jersey, however, still remained a stronghold which defied his power, and thither on the 17th September 1649, Charles II arrived in Jersey with the Duke of York. He had previously been proclaimed King on the 17th February in the market place ; the proclamation having been read by the Viscount by order of Sir George. There was a great concourse of people, and the proclamation was supported by trumpet, and drum, and the firing of many guns from the Castle. After the Viscount had read the proclamation, Sir George raised his hat and shouted " Long live the King ! " and the people in their enthusiasm, flung their hats in the air as they welcomed the proclamation, The next day, after the sermon, the Viscount read the proclamation at Elizabeth Castle, with the same accompaniment of trumpet, drums and cannons ; and again the proclamation was made at Mont Orgueil in like manner.
The original proclamation is now on view at the Societe Jersiaise and the text was as follows :-
" Comme ainsi soit que les rebelles out, par un attentat horrible, jetes leur mains violentes sur la personne du Roi Charles Premier, de glorieuse memoire, par la mort duquel les soveraines couronnes des Royaume d'Angleterre, Ecosse, France, et Irelande, appartiennent et succedent entierement et legitiment a son Altesse le Tres Haut et Tres Puissant Prince Charles : A ces causes nous, le Lieutenant Gouverneur et Bailly, et Jures de l'Ile de Jersey, assistes des Officiers du Roi, et des Principants d'y celle ile tous dun cur et d'une voix publions et proclamons que son Altesse le Tres Haut et Tres Puissant Prince Charles est maintenat, par la mort de notre dit feu Souverain de glorieuse memoire, devenu, par droit de legitime sucession, et ligne hereditaire, notre seul et legitime Souverain Seigneur, Charles
Second, par le Grace de Dieu, Roi d'Angleterre, Ecosse, France et Irlande ; Defenseur de la Foi etc. Auquel nous reconnoissons devoir toute obeissance et fidelite, honneur et service, et prions Dieu, par lequel les Rois regnent d'etablir et d'ffismer le Roi Charles Second, dans tous ses Justes droite, et sur son Crone, et le faire rigner long-tems et heureusement sur nous. Ainsi soit-il. Vive le Roi Charles Second. 1649 le r7 de Fevrier."
It is very interesting to see the names of those who signed the proclamation, as showing the principal Royalists in the Island at that time. Each person who signed the proclamation knew that, if matters went wrong, they had rendered themselves liable to very severe punishment.
The signatures are as follows-
George de Carteret, Chevalier, Baronet, Lieut. Gouverneur et Bailly: Phil. de Carteret, Chevalier, Seigneur de St. Ouen ; Amice de Carteret, Ecuyer, Seigneur de la Trinite ; Francois de Carteret; Josue de Carteret, Elie Dumaresq ; Ph. Le Geyt ; Jean Pipon; Pierre Fautrart ; Josue Palot ; Helier de Carteret, Procureur du Roi ; Laurens Hamptonne, Vicomte Jean le Hardy, Avocat du Roi ; Philipe Dumaresq Edouard Romeril ; Jean Seale ; Jacques Guillaume Nicholas Richardson ; Nicholas Journeauix ; Isaac Herault ; Jean le Couteur, Abraham Bigg ; Helier Hue, Greffier."
And thus Jersey held the proud position of risking much in being the first to proclaim Charles the Second as King of England, and this at a time when the Parliamentarians were getting stronger and stronger each day and their attention was being drawn daily to the Island by the many daring counter attacks under the guidance of Sir George Carteret.
It was a wonderful episode in English History that this man, governor of a small Island, with but a small following, should defy so powerful a man as Cromwell with his many supporters. But Sir George was a brave man of great ability, and he evidently had the capacity of inspiring his followers. We find that early in 1649 he had gone to France and left Sir Philip as his deputy, and did not return until the 8th September when he was able to announce that King Charles and his brother were on their way to take up residence in Jersey, and that he had arrived in time to make arrangements to send vessels to France to bring over the King and Courtiers and their baggage.
So Captains Sadlethon and Barnet, in their frigates, went over to Normandy with other vessels, including the barge made for Prince Charles during his previous visit, and the party embarked from Containville near Coutance where the King and his party had lodged the night before.
It was found however that the frigates could not come too near the coast so the barge was employed to take the King from the shore to the frigate. Captain Baudains commanded the barge, and when the King got on board, he was made so comfortable, and the sea was so smooth that he refused to go on board the frigate, and continued his voyage in the barge to Jersey where they arrived at 4 p.m.
He was welcomed by a great discharge of guns from all the ships in the bay and the Castle. It was a day of rejoicing and excitement in Jersey, as apart from the firing of guns and muskets, the bells of the Island were rung until midnight, and all the hills were lit up by bonfires.
We hear of Sir Philippe de Carteret riding into the sea to meet his King, as he was compelled to do by the terms on which he held his Seigneurie. Then the next day all the horses, carriages and waggons and baggage were landed and the King and his brother, safe in Elizabeth Castle, had the pleasure of seeing the Parliamentary vessels prowling about the Castle too late to stop his landing. A large number of nobles and gentlemen were in the King's suite. The King was then about nineteen years of age, tall, with a good figure, a pale open countenance surrounded with a quantity of dark hair. He was dressed in a violet coloured coat whilst all the members of his suite wore black.
Sir George had made great preparations at Elizabeth Castle for the reception of the King and his suite, but notwithstanding the additional accommodation provided, many people had to obtain quarters in the town, and at St. Aubin, where all the houses were occupied by the families of Sea Captains, and those who followed the profession of the sea.
On the 10th September George Dumaresq, who previously had fled from Jersey as a Parliamentarian, was so shocked by the execution of the King, that he returned to Jersey from St. Malo to throw himself on the mercy of King Charles. He was kept prisoner at his brother's house until the matter could be dealt with, and we find him offering various sums of money to Carteret and others to advance the success of his petition which eventually was granted.
On the arrival of the King, Sir George called the States together and it was decided that the several parishes should levy a rate so as to raise a sum worthy to be accepted as a present by the King, who was making himself very popular in the Island. We find him five days after arrival attending service at the Town Church. He was accompanied by his brother, the Duke of York, but the occasion was somewhat marred by heavy rain which prevented many of the country people coming into the town to welcome their King.
There were constant quarrels between the members of his suite as they discussed their different services to their King, with the result that in a duel between two captains, one was killed, and the other made prisoner and brought to trial. Evidently the prisoner had influence, for it was stated that the death had been caused by the deceased falling upon his sword, and so the King granted a free pardon to the survivor and he was released. But the King's advisors considered that these duels should be stopped, and on the 1st October the King issued a proclamation, forbidding under severe penalties, the fighting of duels.
October 14th arrived, and the Duke of York was fifteen years of age, so the birthday was celebrated by the firing of fifteen guns from the Castle.
About this time Sir Peter Osborne decided to make his peace with parliament. He had been living in St. Malo since he had been deprived, through the influence of Sir George, of the Governorship of Guernsey and Castle Cornet. It had been suggested that his loyalty to the crown was weak, and evidently he was tired of living in a foreign land, for he willingly agreed to the terms of Parliament that he should pay a sum of money to the Exchequer, and also further sums to Guernsey, for the damage he had caused by the firing of cannons into the town of St. Peter Port, during the time he commanded the Castle 1641-1646. Lord Percy had been appointed Governor of Guernsey and he had Colonel Burgess as his Lieutenant.
We now come to a singular point of Jersey law where King Charles from Elizabeth Castle was able to exercise his Royal power of Clemency.
Jean Syvret of St. Ouen had struck his father and the father complained to the Constable, with the result that Jean was taken before the Jurats. The Procureur having pointed out the heinousness of the crime, suggested that he had incurred the penalty of death with which the Jurats agreed. Syvret had admitted that he had struck his father, but the penalty appeared excessive, and Sir George asked that the penalty be suspended until he had consulted the King. The father, realising the possible fate of his son for probably an impetuous action, joined with his wife and Jean's wife in pleading for mercy. The young King granted their petition, and Jean was set free with the determination to curb his temper in the future.
The King spent a busy time while in Jersey and the Jersey Militia were determined to show their loyalty by having a review on St. Aubin's Sands on the 31st October. All able-bodied males from fifteen to seventy were forced to join, and some three thousand men assembled to greet the King. The King and his suite went along the ranks of the men and as he passed they soldiers the raised their hats and shouted " Long live the King ! " Muskets were fired in volleys and the parish guns did their best to add to the noise and confusion.
As the King passed up and down the lines, he was followed by many women, girls and children who tried to touch his person, for King's Evil.
At the end of his inspection the Captains of the several bands were presented, and kneeling kissed his hand whilst the King touched the hat of each officer as they did so. As the King left the sands, escorted by the local cavalry, volleys of guns were fired to show the loyalty of the people.
The fifth of November came round and His Majesty attended divine service at the Castle to thank God for the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot. The Reverend Daniel Lynch preached a most eloquent sermon, denouncing those who had attempted so diabolical a plot. After the service five guns were fired from the Castle.
Charles held a proper Court at Elizabeth Castle, and on 9th February 1650 he sent the following letter to the Seigneur de la Trinite-
" Whereas our Trusty and Well Beloved. Amice de Carteret, Seigneur de la Trinite in the Island of Jersey is obliged by the tenure of the Franc Fee de la Trinite to present one couple of Mallards to the King when he arrived in the Island. Wee acknowledge hereby that he the said Amice de Carteret, Seigneur de la Trinite before named, did a accordingly at or, late arrivell into our Island, present unto us one couple of Mallards. Wherewith we are fully satisfied. Given at our Court in Jersey this 9th day of february 1650 in the second yeare of our Reigne."
During the year Fort Charles was built, and the fortifications were strengthened at Elizabeth Castle ; but shortly after the arrival of the Duke of Buckingham in the Island, the King departed for Breda via France on the 13th February 1650, leaving the Duke of York in charge until September when he followed him.
As a parting gift to Sir George, the King gave him an Island off the coast of Virginia, called Smith's Island, with full authority to build castles, churches and frame such laws and regulations as he thought necessary for the proper government of the Island, and authorised him to fit out the necessary expedition for the purpose.
Sir George, notwithstanding his many other duties, fitted a vessel with all stores, tools and provisions necessary for taking over the Island. Having gathered           together a number of emigrants who were willing to try their fortunes in the new land the vessel sailed from Jersey on 16th May 1650, but early met with misfortune. She was captured on her outward voyage by Captain Green, commanding a Parliamentarian Frigate, and taken to the Isle of Wight. Sir George had to recognise the King's authority over the Island by an annual payment of £6 per annum.
The King departed from Elizabeth Castle on 13th Feb 1650, and going on board his yacht, accompanied by most of the Lords and gentlemen of his suite he made for the waiting frigate in the Bay commanded by our old friend Captain Amy.. Sir George, the Duke of York and several prominent Jerseymen went on board to see him off.
Several took the opportunity of obtaining from the King his signature to patents, guaranteeing them certain offices as soon as Charles regained his throne. Some men went as far as Coutances but the majority left the frigate as soon as the sails were set, and the vessel departed without the firing of guns or other demonstration as the Captain was afraid of attracting the attention of some Parliamentarian vessels in the neighbourhood.
So King Charles departed from the Island leaving the Duke of York as Governor in charge of Sir George Carteret.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Tony’s Newsround

Golden Death or Fair Trade Opportunity?
"I often have a headache, and I am weak. I have a bitter taste in my mouth."
(Fahrul Raji, 30 year old gold miner)
According to Linda Pressly of Radio 4's "Crossing Continents", the extraction of gold comes at a human price:
"About 15% of the world's gold is produced by artisanal and small-scale miners, most of whom use mercury to extract it from the earth. In Indonesia, the industry supports some three million people - but the miners risk poisoning themselves, their children and the land."
A study has shown that people like Mr Raji are being slowly poisoned by mercury over the years. Dr Stephan Bose-O'Reilly, who has been studying the industry, says that he shows the typical symptoms of mercury intoxication, as well as a tremor and poor coordination.
As Linda Pressly notes – "Mercury use in small-scale gold mining in Indonesia is illegal, but miners still use it to extract gold from the rock or soil."
And the situation globally is just as bad – "There are an estimated 10-15 million unregulated gold miners around the world, operating in 70 countries. Artisanal small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is the largest source of mercury pollution in the world after the burning of fossil fuels."
What is alarming is that there seems to be no consideration of this kind of provenance of gold when it is purchased. I have been looking over a presentation by Goldcore, international bullion dealers written by Mark O'Byrne. There is a good deal about ensuring that the gold comes from legitimate sources, and that the gold meets standards of purity, but not a word about how the gold is mined.
It is very similar to buying crystals, which are very popular as New Age artefacts for "crystal healing" etc. I've seen crystals for sale, and asked about the provenance, to ensure that they were not obtained by strip-mining, which damages the environment very badly, and no one can tell me.
Likewise, it is considered unimportant that the gold may have been obtained by the use of mercury, or by mining extraction that damages the environment or harms workers in industry. But there is a silver lining in the cloud.
Toby Pomeroy is a jeweller who is a world leader in environmentally sustainable and socially responsible jewellery, and he keeps an eye on global best practice. He notes that:
"Fair Jewellery Action (FJA) is a Human Rights and Environmental Justice Organization within the jewellery sector. FJA's objective is to direct more of the economic impact of the jewellery sector for the regenerating of local economies, in support of cultural preservation and environmental sustainability."
"FJA is a program launched in the UK and USA by Fairtrade jewellers and ethical jewellery advocates Greg Valerio and Marc Choyt. Greg has been a pioneer and foundational to the international development and realization of fair trade jewellery and traceable supply chains from mine to retail."
In 2011, a South American gold mining cooperative in Cotapata, Bolivia became the first ever Certified Fairtrade gold mine in the world. Commenting on this at the time, and the importance of Fairtrade in Gold, Toby notes:
"Distinct from any time before, people now will be able to purchase jewellery they can fully cherish and be proud of where it came from and what it represents, jewellery created from gold that has been independently certified to have been mined and processed in a socially and environmentally responsible manner where the miners have been paid a premium for their stewardship of the land and for developing model, sustainable communities."
The OECD is supporting this initiative and notes that "These gold standards enable organised ―Artisanal and Small-scale Miners' Organisations to use the Fairtrade and Fairmined marks on certified gold products.... Certified miners, as ASMOs, must employ safe and responsible practices to manage dangerous chemicals involved in gold recovery, such as mercury and cyanide."
Have any Jersey jewellery shops looked at Fairtrade Jewellery Action? And if not, why not? There is an opportunity to make a difference by both retailer and buyer, and improve the lot of miners in the field of gold extraction.
Dog Days
The BBC reports on the sad demise of two guard dogs: "The Ministry of Defence has defended a decision to put down two guard dogs used to protect the Duke of Cambridge, days after he left his military base. The Sun reported the dogs were put down following Prince William's final shift as a search-and-rescue pilot at RAF Valley, in Anglesey, last week. The MoD said it always tried to rehome dogs but that it had not been possible in this case. The patrol dogs were said to have been part of a unit providing extra security at RAF Valley and were not providing sole protection for the duke."
What seems exceptionally callous is the reasoning given for killing the dogs.
"Belgian shepherd Brus was at the end of his working life and Blade, a German shepherd, had "behavioural issues", said the MoD."
I do wonder how much effort was made here. It seems quite possible for the dogs to be retired elsewhere and cared for after they have been used for a long time? This is very much what the charity Dog Action Trust is saying – "we would have hoped that the loyalty the dogs had shown their handlers during their working life was reciprocated at the time of their retirement". Instead, it seems that the dogs are "treated as kit that can be decommissioned".
The departure of the Duke of Cambridge appears to be coincidental, according to the MoD, and it does raise another question. Perhaps these dogs being put down became such a high profile news event because of that coincidence of events, and one wonders how many guard dogs are rehomed, and how many we never hear about are simply killed off when they "reach the end of their working lives".
The Glamour of Electoral Reform
And as the Liberal Democrats Conference comes to an end, it is perhaps worth looking at a lighter moment. Forget all the big conferences speeches, Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and head instead to Andy McSmith's Lib Dem Conference Diary in the Independent.
The fringe meetings are often more interesting than the main events, which the media have described as dull, apart from Vince Cable rattling a few cages. Instead, consider the Electoral Reform Society's meeting which looked, on the face of it, a rather glamorous event. Alas, it was not to be, as Any McSmith explains
"The Electoral Reform Society ought to be reported to the Advertising Standards Authority for the leaflet it distributed on Monday, advertising a fringe meeting headed "From Borgen to Britain: a how-to guide to coalition government", adorned by a picture of Borgen's star, Sidse Babett Knudsen."
"Those who piled in for a glimpse of the gorgeous Danish actress were confronted with a panel of speakers whose only Scandinavian representative was a bald, bespectacled Swede named Magnus Wallera, a functionary employed in the Prime Minister's office, whose talk was as flat as his skull was round."
Perhaps they thought they had to "spice up" the event to get anybody along to hear Mr Wallera!