Monday, 6 January 2014

New Year Resolutions

Thanks to the generosity of Ed Le Quesne - not to be confused with his forebear, I have had the opportunity to make copies of some articles by Deputy Ed Le Quesne (Ed's grandfather) in "The Jersey Critic", and I hope to transcribe them in due course.

This was a journal whose mission was to provide "A weekly journal on island questions for the Jersey man at home and abroad." It was edited by Edward Le Brocq, and provided a critical and independent alternative to the Jersey Evening Post in the years before the Second World War.

It is rather good to note that there is a small advert for De Faye's Chemist: "De Faye's one shilling toothbrush is splendid value, and is quite as good as far more expensive ones. Buy one the next time you pass the pharmacy in David place." The price might have gone up a bit, but De Faye's is still there providing a good service to the community.

Here is a piece I've now done dating from 31 December 1927, looking ahead to 1928. I'd make the following comments:

1) Deputy Le Quesne alludes to a move afoot, firmly resisted by the States, for the UK Government to control more of Jersey's affairs.
2) This was written just as the Great Depression began to send shockwaves around the world. This began with a fall in stock prices in the USA that began around September 4, 1929, and started to become after the stock market crash of October 29, 1929.
3) What Deputy Le Quesne means by "for fear anyone would have suspected me of what is considered unpardonable in a strong man" is being reduced to tears. That should be made clear, as we live in more suspicious times, where the act of charity to a child as described would probably be regarded (unfortunately) as inappropriate. This is just an innocent anecdote about heartfelt and impulsive generosity.
4) There were only two major industries in the Island economy - agriculture and tourism, and tourism was only just taking off.

On the Jersey Commercial Association, Alex Glendinning provides more detailed information (in a reply on Channel Island Rootsweb Archives)

"In 1888, the Jersey Commercial Association was formed, managed by a Council of 24 of the 500 members. To quote from their publication'Jersey Illustrated' of 1890, its objects were  "to provide amusements to Visitors and Residents, and to supply, gratuitously, all information respecting the Climate, House Rent, Hotel Accommodation, Apartments, Amusements and Routes etc. Any enquiry will be gladly answered by the Secretary." The J.C.A.,therefore, was a forerunner of the Jersey Tourism Department."

"It would seem that, rather than hoteliers and innkeepers who might expect to benefit directly from the tourist trade, the J.C.A. was comprised mainly of merchants, tradesmen and shopkeepers. They could see that the Island's future prosperity would come from tourism and set about raising funds by subscription. Among their investments was the lease of West Park Pavilion. They promoted concerts in order to provide entertainment for tourists and ploughed back the profits into their promotional activities. The Military Bands of the British Garrison and many of the Regiments' talented singers performed in the Triangle Park for free and the modest admission charges went to the J.C.A. In wet weather they moved to the Pavilion, which doubled as a skating rink after 1898."

New Year Resolutions by Deputy Edward le Quesne (1927)

There is so much that could and so much that cannot be written at this season of the year, that it is somewhat difficult to choose a subject that is non-controversial and yet is of sufficient interest to warrant writing a short article.

This is the season of "Goodwill to all men;" and whether it celebrates the birth of the founder of Christianity or whether it has its origin in "pagan" festivals of much greater antiquity, the. fact remains that to at least a large proportion of Western civilisation, it is the season of the year where a kindly and more sympathetic spirit is in evidence as between man and his fellow and above all it is the time of the year when the kiddies must be made glad, even if those providing the fun have much in their minds that would normally create not gladness but sadness and despair.

Let us therefore for once leave aside all expressions of rejoicing that the Revised Prayer Book was not being accepted, and sympathise with those who, having prepared to celebrate a solemn "Te Deum" after the proposal had passed in the House of Lords, find themselves in a quandary as to what to do now it has been rejected by the House of Commons. Imperial contribution and income tax can also be left to provide the amusement and controversy of the coming year; and even the chance of Jersey in that some most important event of the year, "The Muratti", can be left for discussion and disagreement till after Christmas and New Year's Day were passed.

True, works may be slack and unemployment rife; true, money may be tight and the rent is due, but Father Christmas is here again and, for a few short days, let him have his fling and fun and merriment reigned supreme.

To those of us whom fortune has favoured with a fair proportion of this world's goods, the duty is compelling to loosen the purse strings and make sure that in every possible way as much as we can afford is spent making as many as possible happy. Even the expenditure of a few shillings can work marvels, and those who have even a few pounds to spare such joy can be obtained in the thanks of expressions on the faces of numerous little ones as can hardly be imagined, and no one who loves children can ever have a reward to equal the simple thankful expression of a little child. And even to those who have only little to spare, I would say, do what you can.

Nothing has ever pleased me so much in all my life was the thanks I once received from a little girl, poorly clad and shivering with cold, whom I saw gazing with envy as beautiful doll displayed in the shop window. No one could have failed to understand her feelings; they were so manifest in both expression of face and movements of her little arms supposedly hugging the beautiful doll. It only cost one shilling and nine pence and that one shilling and nine pence jumped out of my pocket with alacrity. I brought out the door, gave it to the little girl, and the look on her face sent me quickly found the nearest corner for fear anyone would have suspected me of what is considered unpardonable in a strong man.

And therefore to all of us at this time of festivity let the message come goodwill and thoughtfulness towards one's fellows and let the motto of the New Year be "Do unto others as you would they would do to you."

In our own dear little Island we are faced with problems that are going to tax intelligence and legislative ability of our States to the utmost, and problems also face the municipal authorities which will require much earnest thought and consideration, but much is in evidence to show that the outlook is much brighter than was the case at the same period last year.

In agriculture there is still cause for anxiety; competition, severer and severer, is facing us annually, the facility of transport has brought us up against countries whose land is cheaper and earlier than our own and the freight from which is very little more expensive than from here, but at last the Jersey farmer is awake to this fact, and realises that the old system has got to be modified if not to go altogether, and new and up-to-date methods adopted.

Many of our most intelligent growers have realised this for some years, and their example of good grading and packing is being largely followed; and many of our best men are seriously studying the question as to whether a completely new system of agriculture is not a necessity if we wish to keep our end up.

The problem has to be faced, and we can be sure that the old Jersey spirit of determination to overcome difficulties will be just as apparent now that our backs are against the wall as it was on similar occasions in our past history.

In regards to our second most important industry the outlook is brighter than ever. The visitor traffic has been greatly increased during the past few years and the splendid advertisements we have obtained during the past year by the almost weekly references as to our doings in the general news bulletins of the BBC, as also in the Greater London newspapers, have created an interest in our little island amongst thousands who had hardly heard of us previously.

We must therefore do all we can to foster that interest, and one way in which we can all help is to join the Jersey Commercial Association and encourage them with our subscriptions to further extend the good work of advertising Jersey which they have carried out in such a splendid manner notwithstanding the small amounts of support they have in the past received.

Let the second New Year's resolution be a determination to become a member of the J.C.A.

And, thirdly, the outlook in the building trade, which employs such a large proportion of our local labour, is distinctly encouraging; the depression due to the uncertainty of the position of wealthy English residence is disappearing with the realisation that we are determined that they are not to be offered up as a sacrifice to the Imperial Moloch.

Enquiries are being made from all quarters for new buildings and once the States informed the Government that under no circumstances would we tolerate interference with our own administration an enormous amount of work will commence.

The big harbour and drainage schemes shortly to commence will absorb a large amount of unskilled labour, and without being unduly optimistic,  I opine that in the New Year will be one of renewed hope and prosperity for our little community.

Let us then all pull together, undivided and undismayed, pinning our faith in the future, on an appreciation of our success over adversity in the past, and never forgetting that each in his own little way owes a service and has a duty to perform to his island and his fellow. Let us all help to make possible, that which we all wish, prosperous and happy little land.

Prosperous not for a few, prosperous in the fact that all will have a sufficiency not only for mere subsistence but also a sufficiency to get out of life and joy and happiness which is the birthright of all.

Let this thing be my message for the New Year. Remember it is always darkest before the dawn; that in every land and at all times periods of depression are nearly always compensated for by periods of prosperity and affluence, and that with the many advantages with which we are here blessed it only remains for us to throw aside that "laissez-faire" attitude which has so often been a curse in the past, and with energy renewed determine that our period of affluence is due, and that we are not going to let it slip from our grasp.

In conclusion, to all the readers of your bright little journal, a healthy and happy New Year.

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