Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Mark Boleat and Education: Confused Messages

What did Mr Boleat really mean?

"The standard of state education is well below what it should be for an island of Jersey's incredible wealth. If education and employment training was improved, more local people would get the jobs and Jersey would be less reliant on immigration. The education system is simply not adequate." (Mark Boleat)

Once again, Mark Boleat, certainly as he has been reported, seems not to have investigated the matter in hand before pontificating about it. As this subject is education, one might say he has not done his homework.

The island’s schools follow the UK National curriculum, so if they are failing their pupils, this is something to do with the whole structure of the National Curriculum. The schools follow a largely academic syllabus, and not a vocational one.

It is not exactly clear how Mark Boleat thinks matters might be improved. Before the introduction of comprehensive schools in the UK, the school system set up in 1944 was tripartite – there were the technical colleges (which largely faded away), the grammar schools for the academic, and the secondary moderns, where the focus was much more on vocational education. Does he want a return to that kind of school system? If he does, he should at least spell it out.

Does he mean that the standard of academic education is poor? I see no sign of that. The academic top echelon at Hautlieu and the fee paying schools are showing good results every year.

The other States schools cannot be measured in the same way, because their academic top layer is creamed off to Hautlieu. On way to fairly gauge their successes is to add back the academic statistics from those pupils who went elsewhere, or, alternatively, to look at the numbers transferring to Hautlier. If a secondary school has very few pupils going to Hautlieu compared to others, that might well be cause for concern.

Trident and Career Advice

And there is also opportunities in place for pupils to experience a workplace environment in Operation Trident, or has Mr Boleat not come across that?

What is missing, perhaps, is enough of a link between schools, careers, and Trident. Trident, after all, only provides a small opportunity for pupils to go to businesses, but perhaps there could be more follow up. After all, if businesses are looking for skill and ability, this is an opportunity for saying to the pupils to give them a call afterwards.

Degrees and Dangers of Statistics

On the subject of degrees, Mr Boleat remarked:

"The hard reality is that if Jersey wants to continue to have a high and rising standard of living and slower population growth then it must produce a better educated and skilled workforce and increase the labour market participation rate of local people. In Jersey only 16% of the Jersey-born workforce have degree level education, compared with 26% of those born elsewhere in the British Isles and 40% of those born outside Europe. For comparison 60% of the inner London workforce have degree level education."

But as Mark Forskitt remarked:

“There is a weakness in the numerical argument. It is comparing who is in the workforce without recognising the mobility of the people, That rather depends on the industry and work that is available and the options to travel/commute. e.g locals who have a degree in engineering are not likely to return to Jersey as the positions are not available here. It is hardly surprising there's a higher proportion of non-local born have degrees - one of the factors in importing population is to fill skills shortage eg in surgeons where degree level requirement is much more likely a pre-qualification. None of which really is germane to primary and secondary education which practically 100% of Jersey-borns do have, and seems to tbe the subject of the concerted attack.”

So while a physicist may well find a suitable job in University research or in industry in the UK, it is unlikely that physicists will be in high demand in Jersey. They will either head abroad or retrain for the local market. I personally was at school with a number of contemporaries who went into engineering, none of whom returned to Jersey. Likewise, I know a marine biologist who went abroad (and is now in Kenya) because the job opportunities for that locally are thin on the ground. The numbers of graduates departing Jersey for jobs elsewhere will certainly skew figures in comparison, especially as the numbers are small, as is the population, compared with a country or even a city in the UK.

London is a particularly bad example for comparison, because from early times the city has acted like a sponge, sucking in a workforce from the surrounding countryside. This was a process which accelerated during the industrial revolution, and while lessened, shows little sign of abating. London, not being an Island, of course, can draw from its commuter belt, what Betjeman called "Metroland". It is not possible for Jersey to do that.

In fact, the statistics from the Office of National Statistics also mention that ““Over 40% of graduates worked in the public administration, education and health industry compared to 22% of non-graduates”. And it notes that “Turning to the banking and finance industry, 21% of employed graduates were working in this area compared to 14% of employed non-graduates.”.

So while Mr Boleat implies that the 60% workforce with degrees work mainly in finance, the statistics themselves would suggest otherwise, especially when you consider the heavy concentration of public sector administrators in London. Jersey has a large public sector, but nowhere near as large as London, where we find a Civil Service at the top rung of the UK public sector.

The other thing which should be considered is what one might call “wastage”. In 2013, 47% of graduates in the UK were working in non-graduate jobs. We should also consider how that applies in Jersey. The UK can afford high levels of wastage because there are vast numbers of students taking degree courses. On a smaller scale, in an Island like Jersey, to increase the numbers of graduates in graduate jobs might well require more students than exist on the Island!

Vocational Training at Highlands

Now there is vocational training at Highlands, and perhaps here Mr Boleat may have a point. It seems to me that a lot of the courses are driven by demand from numbers of students, rather than demand from business. That is to say, the popularity of courses appears to be fed from the bottom, from the students who want to do a course, rather than the businesses who may need specific skills.

The two business degree courses, of course, are an example of good training for finance, something the Jersey Business School also supplies in its courses. But the below degree level vocational courses do not seem especially tailored to the needs of business. I suspect more could be done there.

We should perhaps for better comparisons look to the Isle of Man, which faces similar problems. A report there notes that:

“The on-Island delivery of higher education and student research projects and placements can link directly with, and contribute to, the Manx economy.”

And in fact, 6,750 hours of graduate-level work is poured into economy each year with placements. They also note that:

“Lancaster University’s Work Foundation reports that linkages between higher education institutions and organisations (for example, business and public sector) are critical to the creation of novel ideas with the capacity to be used to economic advantage. It is therefore advisable to encourage direct links between the education sector and relevant industries so that synergies are developed.”

Soft Skills

But perhaps should also be considered is what Mr Boleat terms “soft skills”. In an August 2014 article in the Huffington Post, he notes:

“While employers understand that technical knowledge is increasingly important as workers progress in their careers, being good at communicating “and able to work in a team are the key ingredients to getting the initial foot in the door.

“The education system can teach school leavers a number of transferable skills that will ease their transition into the workforce, but it is soft employability skills that offer a real opportunity for young people to become job-ready and transform their prospects. The economy is steadily improving, but we need to address the skills shortage and ensure that young people are better prepared for the world of work in order to bolster this economic growth. We also know that failure to do so results in high levels of youth unemployment and a tragic waste of talent.”

Yet the initiatives which he describes in this article by the Working Together programme are outside the educational system. It is about apprenticeships, work placements and business taster sessions. There’s a fair bit of that taking place in Jersey, but as with Mr Boleat’s City of London, it is post-education, and it is not clear how that has anything to do with the standard of state Education in Jersey. So why did Mr Boleat castigate the educational system?

No Clear Vision

It is fine to pontificate, but unless Mr Boleat provides some concrete suggestions as to exactly what he is looking for, it seems inconsiderate to simply throw out blanket comments about education in Jersey. If he could suggest ways in which Jersey could follow initiatives described in his article, that would be really useful, and something worth listening to.

Instead, what we have, in his speech, are merely the words of the business guru, who makes pronouncements without much in the way of substance. I would invite him to suggest positive ways to make improvements rather than merely criticising (and not coherently either).

Off the Peg Skills: The Cheap Option

But there is another matter to consider. It appears that finance businesses sometimes want an easy option – they do not want the cost of training up members of staff, and it is much simpler to buy “off the shelf” employees who fit the bill, which often comes into conflict with Jersey’s immigration policy. It is especially likely to occur in a recession, where pressures to cut costs are high.

Isn’t it time that instead of just expecting education to do all the work, that businesses acknowledge that they have a corporate responsibility to take on some of that burden themselves? So be fair, some businesses in the finance sector do this, and have employees also taking courses while working - but not all by any means.

I see a lot of corporate sponsorship of charitable and sporting events, but wouldn’t it be nice if they also sponsored more employees for training than they do now? Isn’t there a case for arguing that is a civic duty as much as sponsoring events (which is, of course, also promotional advertising)?



Monday, 29 September 2014

Jersey in Transition, for politicians, 2014.

Here are some of the ideas thrown out by Jersey in Transition. While I don’t agree with all of them, I think it is a list worth studying. It’s a tidied up list from their Facegroup page. But also see their website, http://jit.org.je/, which has a very good case for Farm Shops, and also for practical initiatives.

One of the chief problems with some of the items on the list is that it is good as a wish list, but does not really specify how something would be done. For instance, “Reduce the island's dependence on the finance industry” is something I suspect even politicians like Philip Ozouf would actually agree with, but what is not clear is how that is to be done.

I’ve heard and seen it on countless manifestoes both this time, and in the past. All kinds of suggestions are made, such as (in the time of the e-commerce boom) that Jersey would be a centre for e-commerce. There always seems a gap between aspiration and implementation. Digital Jersey seems the latest incarnation. But what is needed is to successfully bridge the gap, and that is, I think, incredibly difficult to do, and that’s what needs to be addressed.

But among the list are also some very practical applications – home insulation for example. I have always thought that there are limits to growth imposed by our finite water capacity, and better use of water has to be a priority or we will face drought conditions and water rationing again. The loss of one vessel shows us how flimsy our food security is, and that’s something we should also consider.

Jersey in Transition, for politicians, 2014.

Here are some specific points that JiT has identified where the States of Jersey could make changes that would lead to immediate benefits in the island. In a global transition to a more fair and sustainable way of living on the planet, it is important that the people of Jersey are neither caught unaware nor left behind.

The coming decades will be ones where communities that are more resilient and better connected will be able better to adapt to the changes that we all will face. Preparing for such changes are often win-win strategies - people who experience life in more open, more caring, and less wasteful societies, and those with less class distinction, are happier and feel more satisfaction in their lives.

* Home insulation - reduces outgoings and carbon footprint, pays for itself quickly. Building regulations can insist on high 'passive home' standards, and other buildings can be retrofitted.

* Less car use - better public transport, more walking and cycling, health improvements etc. Subsidise buses, more cycle paths, Boris-style bikes to borrow, trams, minibuses, cycle rickshaws around town.

* Reduce imports - increased diversity of local industry and local job opportunities. Reduce the island's dependence on the finance industry, which remains a dangerously large single point of potential failure, and does not suit everybody.

* Better recycling - All types of plastic. Separate recycling capability for each type of plastic (1-5) and non-ferrous metals, aluminium, copper, lead, brass etc. Electronics. Glass should be recycled, not used in land reclamation. Importation of goods or packaging that cannot be recycled should be taxed (see externalisation of costs below) The goal should be to run the incinerator for only a day a week, or a few days a month.

* Increase local organic growing - e.g. add import tax onto harmful and increasingly expensive agro-chemicals, use extra income to encourage organic growers.

* Reduce externalisation of unsustainable costs - e.g. potato growers who saturate land in fertilisers etc make a quick profit, but cause water purification problems for waterworks, green slime on beaches that put off tourists, soil erosion for future generations etc.

* Marine life - no-take zones and other marine protected zones should be established in local waters to allow fish, the sea-bed and invertebrates a chance to recover and to breed in peace.

* Strict controls on building on green land - the island cannot be resilient to problems like food security, species extinction, replenishment of our fresh water aquifer, soil erosion etc, if green spaces are increasingly paved and built upon.

* Edible hedges, forests and parks - there is a win-win-win combination of planting increasing areas with combinations of native and non-native food-bearing and other trees, shrubs and plants that mature and self-seed largely at their own pace: soil improvement, biodiversity, people's engagement with the countryside and town parks, food security, building local know-how and skills including plant recognition, foraging, preserving and preparation, and re-building a better sense of small localised communities.

* Local diverse energy supply - a sensible feed-in tariff would encourage householders and local businesses to innovate. It would be fairer if all utilities had small consumers paying a lower unit-rate than large and massive users - a simple start in this direction would be to scrap standing and upfront fixed charges.

* Divest States funds and pension schemes from unsustainable businesses especially those based largely on the heavy and continuing use of fossil fuels.

* Have a health care system that is separate from the current illness system - actively engaging people on diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyles.

* Introduce a universal social dividend.

* Where are the new multi-generational homes? Cannot have real family and community care unless the homes people can live in are suitable.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Prayer Book in Jersey

For this Sunday, an interesting historical piece by G.R. Balleine. St Brelade, under the Rector, Michael Halliwell, used to have an occasional French service, and I went to one, purely out of curiosity. It was interesting to hear how the prayer book would have sounded to my Le Marquand and Le Cornu ancestors, who are buried in the church yard. Needless to say, the service was not well attended, as most of the French in Jersey were Catholics. The decline in numbers of French immigrants over the past 50 years has meant that it is very unlikely that many would be around today.

St Thomas Church, in St Helier, still has the Christmas Eve service with the gospel in French, a legacy of those bygone days, although the foreign languages services it holds are now in Portuguese and Polish. Post-Vatican II, it is interesting to note that the Catholics receive communion standing; it is only the Anglicans and Methodists who do kneeling at a rail, although not in all services, and that is fairly recent - the Calvinist practice was to have a table in the centre of the church..

St Brelade's no longer has French services, but they do have occasional services in sign language, although there is no official signed version of the prayer book as far as I am aware.

The Prayer Book in Jersey
By G.R. Bailleine

The Anglican Prayer Book has not been known for four hundred years in Jersey.

True, in 1549, the Order arrived from the Privy Council that the Latin Services were to cease and Cranmer's Prayer Book was to be used in every Church in the Kings dominions. The old services were apparently discontinued, for a few months later the Council thanked the island "for embracing His Majesty's laws in the Order of Divine Service". But what took their place?

An English book would have been in French-speaking Jersey even more unintelligible than a Latin one, and the French translation "for the use of the Churches of Calais, Guisnes, Jersey and Guernsey" was not issued till April, 1550.

Most of the Rectors introduced the only French Prayer Book available, the excellent book of Prieres Ecclesiastiques, compiled by Calvin for Geneva and the French Huguenots, and so the first Anglican book never came into use here.

In 1552 the Government issued a new edition of the Prayer Book, which was translated into French by Francois Philippe. Copies of this reached Jersey in the Spring of 1553; but, before it could be used, the boy King died and was succeeded by his sister Mary, an embittered Romanist. The Latin Services were restored; but Jersey remained Calvinist at heart. When Elizabeth came to the throne, the island sent a deputation to London to try to obtain leave to continue the use of the Prieres Ecclesiastiques, to which the people were accustomed. Elizabeth, as her habit was tried to compromise. The Huguenot Prayer Book might be used in the Town Church "provided that the residue of the parishes continue the Order of Service ordained within this realm without any alteration or innovation". But the country parishes were too firmly welded to the book they knew, and this was quietly ignored.

Calvin's book continued in use in every church in the island for the next sixty years, and copies of it can still be found in many Jersey homes. It survived all through Elizabeth's reign and for the first seventeen years of the reign of James I.

But James, who had been brought up in Knox's Scotland, hated Calvinism, and in 1620, taking advantage of discontent that had arisen among some of the Jersey Calvinists through the ultra-strict discipline of their Church Courts, he swept away the Calvinist system, appointed a Dean, and compelled every church to use a French translation of the English Prayer Book made by Dr. Pierre De Laurie, "but forbearance shall be shown in the use of the surplice, the cross in Baptism, and the reading of the Apocrypha", three points which the Calvinists specially disliked.

This however met with considerable opposition. The Rector of St. Mary's was ejected from his parish for "uttering unreverent speeches against the Book of Common Prayer". Of the Rector of St. John's we are told; "he accepted the Prayer Book much against his will. From the first he never used the responses, and set aside all ceremonies and vain repetitions." The Dean could not persuade even his own congregation to kneel when they received the Communion.

This state of things lasted for twenty-two years. Then with the outbreak of the Civil War Calvinism and the Calvinist Book came back again with a rush. Even during the years when Sir George Carteret held the island for the King he could not enforce the use of the Prayer Book in any church but St. Helier's.

When the Cornmonwealth triumphed, the Prayer Book entirely disappeared. It was not till the Restoration and the appointment of a new Dean in 1672 that the Prayer Book returned to stay. The edition used was a translation made for the French Huguenot Church in London by Jean Durel, a Jerseyrnan who later became Dean of Windsor. Many editions of this were published with sundry emendations, the most important being the revision by the Guernsey S.P.C.K. Committee in 1833 and a fresh revision by the Jersey Clergy in 1886. This last remained the book in use throughout the island, till in this present century the French Services were superseded by English.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Happy Days

A bit of nostalgia today, on TV and films of bygone childhood.... I must watch Grease again!

Happy Days
Do you remember the Fonze on TV?
The real star of that show, to you and me
It was nostalgia, a fifties that never was
And just as untrue as the Wizard of Oz
But does that really matter? Past days
Are what we remember, the sun stays
High in the sky, and there is no rain
Because, as you know, it went to Spain
Peggy Sue got married, we sang along
You're the one that I want, super song
And summer loving, had me a blast
Frolicsome days, back far in the past
Where Dixon of Dock Green kept good order
While New Year's Eve, North of the Border
Moira Anderson sings, bagpipes galore
Now open the door to summer once more
Wave to the steam train puffing along
With railway children, we so belong
Childhood memories, teenage days
Such a happy time, always stays.

Friday, 26 September 2014

A Visit to Rozel Bay

"One of, if not the sweetest bays of Jersey, is Rozel", Henry Inglis, The Channel Island, 1834.

On Battle of Flowers day, Katalin and I decided to try to get to Rozel Bay, on the presumption that most people would be at the Battle, and we would stand a fair chance of getting parked. We had tried once before, but it was a sunny day, and the bay was packed out.

It is one of those bays part of whose charm is that it cannot be too crowded, because it is difficult to get there, rather like the restaurant in the G.K. Chesterton story - "It was a thing which paid not by attracting people, but actually by turning people away.".

Rozel is a small fishing port at the north east of the Island, and the name means "reed". It comes from the ancient Roselle family in Normandy, and the family also went across to England with Duke William, from which came the Anglicised version of the name, Russell.

One of the highlights of Rozel, and a reason for its popularity, is the "Hungry Man", a beach cafe which serves all kind of food, most of which is probably not healthy in any shape or form, but which is very, very tasty! So of course, we went to eat there. As Trip Advisor says:

"The Hungry Man is a Jersey institution, right on the harbour at Rozel, Kate and her team serve up everything from crab sandwiches to Jersey cream teas and bacon rolls to tasty burgers, all ready to eat at the alfresco tables outside"

And they are not wrong!

A singular feature of "The Hungry Man" is the fabulous pieces of artwork by local artist Edward Blampied."My art is a reflection of how i see life...colourful, sexy and very funny", he says, and it is certainly the case.

Waiting in the queue - and there is always a fair queue at the Hungry Man - means you have time to enjoy these very funny pictures, almost in the old seaside picture postcard style, although while cheeky, not quite as rude as Donald McGill.

I don't know if Edward Blampied is directly related to the famous Edmund Blampied, despite looking on his website, so perhaps it is just a name in common, not a genetic talent.

We had a roll with sausages each - and yes, that is the standard size, not the "Heart-Wrecker" one - and a portion of chips between us. Often that's a side order and quite small. At the "Hungry Man" it is almost two side orders in one. Here I am, chomping my way through the roll, with as ever, some tomato ketchup also on the plate! Anyone who knows me will know I am a fiend for ketchup.

No one knows how the word "ketchup" came about. There are theories that it was Chinese in origin, or Malay or Arabic. The word appeared in Britain during the late 17th century, appearing in as catchup (1690) and later as ketchup (1711).

We managed to get under shelter, because there was an occasional light shower, but close enough to have a nice view outside - well, Katalin did, as can be seen here. I had a nice view of her, so that was good too!

The food was very filling, but we just had enough room for a soft scoop ice cream, which we shared between us. Jersey ice cream has a creamy quality that the shop bought ice creams simply do not have; it is all the richness of Jersey milk. Heart attack heaven!

We bumped into my friend Debbie, who was there taking her uncle around the sites. It is amazing how small a place Jersey is, and how despite there being a population of 90,000, you still find yourself meeting up with people you know.

Katalin wanted to look for shells on the beach. She loves collecting sea shells. So we went down to the beach to see how many there were. But she doesn't sell them, so we are not quite into tongue twister territory. However, if you, gentle reader, would like one appropriate to the shore and sea shells, try this:

"She sells seashells by the seashore. The shells she sells are surely seashells. So if she sells shells on the seashore, I'm sure she sells seashore shells."

Try saying that fast!

Going inland a bit from the bay, there are some interesting road signs, including one which warns drivers of "ducks and geese on road". Actually we didn't see any on the road. However one enterprising motorist who did see them made this short video.

Further inland, the road winds past an antiques shop and several houses. There is also a wall mounted post box, still in use.

The initials ER II, standing for Queen Elizabeth II, show that this was put in place during the post-war years, when the tourism boom hit Jersey, and people posted massive amounts of postcards. It's all gone now. The tourists are not over in such numbers, and mostly they take camera shots with mobile devices to place instantly online.

There's a nice bench given in memory of Bill Dilks on the pier, which is a fitting location for a fisherman to be remembered. I like these "in memoriam" benches, and the way they tell a tale. And poor Bill was only 56. Who was he? I have not, alas, managed to find out more.

As we walked around, I spotted an old house which had a datestone. Datestones are descibed by Alex Glendinning:

"The initials of husband and wife and a date were often carved on a piece of granite and used as a lintel above the front door. Sometimes the two names have between them a heart (or two entwined hearts - as above) hence the description marriage stone. These stones rarely commemorate a marriage however, but usually mark the inheritance, construction or alternation of a building."

This one is "JRS & JLS 1832" next to Fishermen's Rest, Rozel Harbour. Alex has done a lot of work identifying the people on date stones, but this one is still unknown.

Along the harbour wall are fishermen's huts, some in quite bright colours, like the pinkish / mauve one in this photo. These are a particular feature of some of the smaller Northern bays of Jersey, like Rozel and Bonne Nuit, but are not much in evidence elsewhere in the island. It is a reminder that the Island's fishing heritage is still very much alive in Rozel today, as it was when the postcard below was taken some decades ago.

Rozel has a small and beautiful harbour. It has come a long way from the 1685 survey when it was only described as "a small creek called Rosel, where the Islanders keep several boats, both for fishing and for going to the Ecrehou". The Northern bays tend to be smaller, more intimate, than those on the South and West coasts, and Rozel was certainly one of the nicest for us to visit, despite the overcast skies, which could not mar its beauty.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Politicians Parachuting In

“The local party have made their views known that they wish the candidate who is selected to be a local person with strong ties to the constituency.”(UK election, St Helen’s Star, January 2014)

It is interesting to look at where the Jersey candidates for Deputies live, and where they are standing, in the Elections of 2014. Here is a list of the “invaders”, those “parachuting” in from outside.

Trinity, St Mary, St Peter, St Clement and St Ouen have contested elections, and all the candidates live within their respective Parishes.

The same is not true of St Helier.

In St Helier No 1, Russell Labey comes from St Ouen, Judy Martin from St Clement, and Scott Wickenden from St Martin.

St Helier No 2 sees Sam Mezec come in from St Saviour

St Helier No 3 and 4 sees Richard Rondel from Trinity. And Andrew Lewis comes from St John, but put his St Helier business address on his nomination paper. An attempt to ingratiate himself with a Parish that he doesn’t actually live in?

In St Saviour No 1, all are from within the Parish, but St Saviour No 2 sees Louise Doublet come in from St Helier. The remainder of the candidates live within the Parish.

St Brelade No 1 sees all candidates live in the Parish, but St Brelade No 2 sees Beatriz Poree and Natalie Duffy both from St Peter’s. It was notable on the nomination night that alone of all the candidates, their proposers left out their address, which suggests the candidates themselves felt uneasy about that.

Natalie Duffy does have a business in the Parish – the Salty Dog – but that’s actually in St Brelade No 1, so while she is very familiar with St Aubin’s and its problems, she may be less so for Les Quennevais.

Does it matter? Perhaps not. But if you live in another Parish, you may not be as aware of the day to day problems – or for that matter problems at night – as if you live in the Parish itself. It’s like the difference between someone who lives “over the shop” and someone who goes home at night.

There is bound to be a degree of detachment, a lack of local knowledge, especially with newcomers. And if there is a clash of Parish events, or Parish meetings, do they attend to their home Parish or their adopted one?

Ask yourself this: given two equally good candidates, would you prefer to be represented by Fred, who lives in the next street, and knows at first hand all about the noise at night caused by revellers leaving the pub, and the parking problems around your estate?

Or would you like to be represented by Bill, who may stop off passing through your street to post a letter or go to the shops, but lives elsewhere, in a comfortable country house? This is pretty much how part of the election battle played out between Bob le Brocq, who lived outside the Parish of St Helier, and Simon Crowcroft, who lived within the Parish.

How well can an Deputy represent people as well as an insider if he or she does not live among them and understand the problems they have? It is another question for the voter to ponder!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Short History of Conkers – Part 1

And now for something completely different. My friend Terry Hampton wrote this piece for The Pilot magazine in 1994 when he was Rector of Grouville. Terry had an impish fun side that strained to get out, and often did, and while “The Pilot” was a church magazine, this light hearted piece isn’t really religious in any shape or form, but just good natured humour, of the sort that brings forth groans as you spot the terrible punning references to conkers.

But it is certainly the right time of year for this, as the horse chestnut trees are already giving up their nuts. If you take the walk from the car park opposite the Elephant Park, and go along the path by the side of the road towards the railway walk, that will take you past several trees.

In my youth, I used to get some from a tree in a lane in St Lawrence. We were friends with the Le Feuvres, and spent quite a lot of time there, and sometimes walked down the lanes to “stock up” with conkers for school.

Of course, when you played conkers, you occasionally got your knuckles hit and aching, but that was part of the fun. When you are young, a few cuts and bruises are part and parcel of life, and you think nothing of it. But today, I fear the health and safety inspectorate have ensured that conkers will not be a playground pastime at school, at any rate.

And yet all my time at school, I never saw another boy with broken hand or fingers through playing conkers. It really seems such a shame that such a wonderfully seasonal pastime should be so frowned upon.

But enough of that. Come back with Terry, as he takes you on a meandering journey through the byways and backstreets of the history of the conker. And groan...!

A Short History of Conkers – Part 1By Terry Hampton

AUTUMN is not only a season of mists when the leaves are green then turn to brown - but to one group of misunderstood people it is the most important time of the whole year.

Autumn means conkers. The prickly green husks are cracked open and the glossy contents eagerly examined for the perfect conker. (Pearl-divers have a similar tho'.more valuable hobby.) I. was in England for last autumn and taught my two nephews David and Daniel a much more excellent way of playing conkers. But first, a bit of perhaps not well known history of the humble conker.

JULIUS CAESAR is the first recorded, unashamed conker player - did you know that? His famous Latin boast was VENT, VIDI, VICI - which translated means "I came, I saw, I conquered." (Notice how non-conker playing historians have altered the spelling of the original "conkered.") The date Caesar was playing conkers? About 46 BC.

Conkers were also involved in Caesar's assassination. Again, the clue here is the famous -question the dictator asked Brutus -ET TO, BRUTE? (tr. and you, Brutus?"). What really happened was that the avid conker champion Caesar was asking Brutus if he'd remembered to bring his conkers. to the Senate house that morning. Clearly Brutus had forgotten his nuts, and in a terrible fit of pique he stabbed the divine Julius to death. Moral - always carry your conkers with you.

An English (well, Norman really) King everyone has heard of was William the ... yes, Conqueror! Ah - you had never realised the significance of his name before had you? William was conker champion of Falaise and brought his reputation with. him to England.

But what about the first historical really English person who was a conquer freak?


You may not be too conversant with this name, but I: assure you it. is honoured when all true English conker players gather together. The aforesaid king lived in a .splendid palace at Fishbourne (Chichester). It's been excavated and superbly roofed over to make visiting it a pleasure.

Now, the name Cogidubnus has been tampered with. once again (see Julius Caesar Latin trans.) A very early Roman manuscript, called the Codex Britonsis, tells us that the original name of this British king was actually CONKIDUBNUS - but clearly scholars with an anti-conker bent have quietly changed. the name - so please no longer be fooled. If you visit Fishbourne Palace you might care to write on the Roman walls "Long live CONKIDUBNUS" - but don't do this when any staff of the Historical Monuments Commission are around!

CONKERS AND INDIA. Did you know that the humble conker played a quiet but vital part in shaping the beliefs of the great Mahatma Gandhi? No? It happened like this. The youthful Gandhi wished to play conkers-in Indian, the game is called "galli chandar" -but because the local fads were of a. lower caste than him, Gandhi was forbidden to play. This both upset him and made him question the whole, evil caste systems, which he then spent his life trying to change.

WHAT ABOUT THE HYMN BOOKS? You may well ask. If you look the A. & M Revised. .hymnbook, No 191, you will read this line:

"Conquering kings their titles take
from the foes they capture make."

Clearly the translator (from the Latin) of this hymn is referring to-the many kings in history who have not spent their days cooped up in their money-laden counting houses, but instead had been spending their kingly time in the far more energetic and challenging sport of conker-combat.

Part 2 to follow....!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Strong on rhetoric and weak on recognising reality?

The recent Scrutiny report on the budget by the Corporate Services Scrutiny panel is well worth reading, if only for the shocking way it exposes the weakness in the Treasury, and the parlous state of the Island's finances.

The expert advisors who looked at the budget were from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and MJO Consultancy. The advisors are independent, and free from any political interference. 

Here are some extracts from the advisors, but I would suggest the whole report also be read.

CIPFA = The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy
MJO = Professor M. Oliver

Extracts from the Summary Points:

CIPFA : “…we understand that as there is a continuing deterioration in 2014 income (which is now estimated at approximately £40m below budget within 2014), we would take the view that such positions may be optimistic given the downward trend in income….” (Para 1.5, page 3 of CIPFA report)

MJO : “…It is very difficult to comprehend why the Treasury did not use the May 2013 forecasts for the 2014 Budget and to persist with forecasts which were out-dated even at the time of the publication of the MTFP in July 2012….” (Para 4.5, page 124)

MJO : “…In turn, this raises some very important questions…

- Did the Treasurer provide advice to the Treasury Minister which was based on more optimistic scenarios rather than those which were prudent and if so, why?

- When were the Council of Ministers aware of the deterioration in the income forecasts? Did they express their disquiet about the forecasts?

- Were the 2013 forecasts not published in the 2014 Budget because policymakers were concerned that this would have called into question the wisdom of the marginal rate tax cut and drawn attention to the potentially deteriorating fiscal position in Jersey when the authorities were seeking to obtain a favourable review from the credit rating agency, S&P? …” (Para 4.5, page 124 / 125)

MJO : “…Finally, this report has shown that there have been weaknesses in the policymaking process over the last few years…” (Para 4.9, page 131)

MJO : “…Prudence has been lost. As remarked above, it is difficult to understand why the revised forecasts to the MTFP (Medium Term Financial Plan) made in the first half of 2013 were not included in the 2014 Budget…”(Para 4.6, page 126)

MJO : “…The significance of the Fiscal Policy Panel’s …comment that ‘the medium-term outlook, while uncertain, suggests that there are significant challenges in even maintaining a balanced budget’ should not be underplayed….” (Para 4.6, page 126)

MJO : “…The constraint of the MTFP has been breached and because of this alone it is difficult not to come to the conclusion that States expenditure is out of control…” (Para 4.8, page 129)

CIPFA : “…The fact that a further 1% cut in the marginal rate of Income Tax was in contemplation when Income Tax Forecasts produced by the ITFG showed significant downturn further suggests a lack of clear direction in the setting of Financial Strategy …”
(Para 7.6, page 37 of CIPFA report)

CIPFA : “…The need to fund core net spend from specific reserves/funds, together with the apparent speed by which the remedial measures have been put together does not inspire confidence that the 2015 Budget has been founded on sound principles and good financial management practice. …

It is clear that the proposed remedial measures lack maturity and in some examples clearly contradict what was thought to be settled strategy …” (Para 1.7, page 4 of CIPFA report)

CIPFA : “…The very phrase “Other measures if required” suggests an inherent lack of certainty and confidence in the Financial Modelling even by those involved in promulgating such proposals…” (Para 3.24, page 17 of CIPFA report)

CIPFA : “…It would be our considered view that the timing and the character of the remedial measures, as now presented, seriously undermines the confidence attached to the robustness of the States’ Financial Strategy….” (Para 3.26, page 17 of CIPFA report) (and para 7.4, page 36)

MJO : “…Like its predecessor a year ago, the foreword to the Budget is strong on rhetoric and weak on recognising reality….” (Para 1.4, page 101)

Monday, 22 September 2014

Mike Jackson for Deputy

I'm very pleased to put up Mike's election manifesto. His roots, and his heart is in the Parish. Mike attends many Parish Assemblies, because of his concern with Parish Matters, and I would suggest, he sees it as a civic duty to do so. So he knows the Parish well.

Mike was also an excellent Minister at TTS after Deputy Guy de Faye's abysmal time in office, and introduced low-energy lights along the St Aubin's Bay sea front, which were also much better for cyclists, pro-actively supported recycling initiatives, more bus shelters, and brought back the double decker bus to help demand for passenger numbers on the route 15. He was always receptive to new initiatives and was very much an innovator, although sensibly, as with the low-energy lights, he set up a pilot scheme first to test how well it would work. That's a very good scientific way to plan.

Photo of Mike taken at the recent Nomination Meeting

Mike Jackson for Deputy

Contact number: 743819 or 07797 719778
Email address: jacksonyacht@gmail.comWebsite: www.vote-jackson.com

Home Grown Variety

I’m a St.Breladais born and bred. I currently live in the house in which I spent my childhood

My background and training is in the marine industry. I am proprietor of a boatyard and ship chandlery shop in St.Aubin which has been trading successfully for over 30 years

I experienced a great deal during my term in office as Connétable of St.Brelade between 2005 and 2011 and as Minister of Transport and Technical Services for 3 years. I have demonstrated an ability to make difficult decisions, to deliver projects from bus shelters to residential homes to public parks and even waste incinerators. I’ve made mistakes but importantly I feel that I’ve learned much.

Why Deputy

I believe that most people crave stability and I believe in getting back to ‘grass roots’ politics and dealing effectively with local issues that concern people most. I have decided to stand as Deputy as I appreciate the need to stay in touch with those who elected me.

I would consider it an honour and privilege to be elected to this position to enable me to best help and assist Parishioners from all walks of life with their particular concerns, large or small. 6 years of experience in the States means I’m equipped to hit the ground running and get results

And What Will I Do In This Area Of The Parish?

If elected, I shall continue to use my best efforts to ensure that St.Brelade No 1 remains the pleasant place to live that we currently enjoy. I will happily challenge States Departments and Parish authority when appropriate to achieve this

I shall listen to your thoughts and ideas as to how improvements can be made if deemed necessary

I shall give active support to the Clubs and Societies in No 1 district and encourage their future development

If elected I shall relinquish my position as Constable’s officer but continue to support and encourage recruitment to the Honorary Police to ensure this backbone of the Jersey way of life continues to prosper and adapts to modern needs.

I shall seek to alter the convoluted parking management at St.Aubin by bringing it under one authority not the current 3. I believe this should be the Parish because of its central position. I shall continue to investigate the availability of further areas for parking.

I shall listen to the residents and business’ in St.Brelade’s bay and St.Aubin with a view to maintaining the character of the areas as proposed in the 2011 Island Plan.

I shall invite suggestions on how to improve and make roads and paths safe for walkers and cyclists within the district.

I shall watch for inappropriate over development and ensure neighbours receive due respect in the planning process.

Most importantly, I shall be available to listen to all.

What Will I do In The Island As A Whole?

If elected, I shall support the delivery of healthcare fit for the 21st Century

I shall support the raising of standards in our schools and support young people with their aspirations.

I consider we must make far more effort to help those leaving school fulfil their chosen career paths whether it be through further education or in acquiring vocational skills.

I shall support our Heritage and the arts

I shall support investment in our roads and infrastructure

I shall support diversification of our economy

I shall support prudent investment in our finance, tourism and agricultural industries

I shall support investment in our waste strategies to comply with the latest environmental standards.

I shall continue to question all States expenditure to ensure the public receive good value.

I shall focus on reducing excessive States expenditure and strongly resist any taxation increases.

I shall encourage a revision of the licencing laws which are no longer fit for purpose.

I shall ensure strict adherence to immigration policies whilst recognising genuine business need.

I shall be conscious of world events and the effects of extremism

I shall listen and learn.

What I Won’t Do!

I will not support development on green fields.

I will not support anti-social behaviour.

I will not support complex GST exemption schemes which will lead to an increase in the rate.

I will not support long debates in the States on reform. These achieve nothing and prevent members engaging in meaningful duties.

I will not support wasteful States expenditure on enquiries and reports which more often than not should and can be done ‘in house’.

Aspirations in the States

My primary responsibility, should I be honoured to be elected Deputy, would be to St.Brelades No 1

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Humour and Faith

Rowan Atkinson, in his Vicar's Wedding Speech, has the Vicar, in rather nervous tones, say:
"Hi! People! After all we're all people aren't we? I heard someone laughing out there at the back. Well done. Good, because the Lord he loves laughter and that's really the theme of my talk today, on this - let's face it - happy occasion: God, the laughter giver, Christ, the Comedian."
But that's not too far from the truth, as we shall see. People tend to think of Christianity as something very serious, where there are ponderous sermons without a joke.
That is why there was such a media outburst a few years ago with the discovery of the 3rd century "Gospel of Judas", and much was made of the fact that "Jesus laughs". A reading of the text, however, showed this was laughing at the disciples because of their lack of hidden knowledge; it was the mocking laughter that is not particularly pleasant, and showed in that portrayal rather a harsh and patronising Jesus; it was the laughter of someone who is a member of a secret society, laughing at those outside - "those fools, little do they know".
But comedy and Christianity have been around for some time, and we see this in the miracle plays, where humour is used to mock those in authority, much as stand up comedians may do today.
I remember "All Gas and Gaiters" on television in the 1960s, with the Bishop, Archdeacon, Bishop's chaplain and Dean of St Ogg's Cathedral. It poked gentle fun at the Church of England, but was considered in its day by some to be something the BBC should not be doing. In fact, most clergy adored it, as it got the absurdities and pretensions of the C of E so well.
In more recent years, the Vicar of Dibley, while going at times for very broad humour, combined Christianity and comedy very well, and was extremely popular. Perhaps not quite as popular, but still brilliant, was "Rev.", where unlike the rural valley and gentle countryside of Dibley, there was inner city deprivation, and small declining congregations, and humour that pushed the boundaries, often in a very thought provoking way.
I think it is largely due to a Puritan legacy that we have a notion that Christianity should be serious, of the kind that Lord and Lady Whiteadder (in one of the episodes of Blackadder II) would approve - tight lipped, no place for children except seen but not heard. These were, after all, the people who abolished old Christmas customs because of frivolity, and some were lost for good. The Reformation also ended those vehicles for humour, the Miracle Plays. The Puritan legacy casts a long cultural shadow, and we are still chained in part by its cultural legacy, whether we believe or not..
But, here, with a counterpoint, is G.R. Balleine, who in an article in the Jersey magazine, "The Pilot" , from 1964, fifty years ago, was writing about Christianity and humour.
The Humour of Our Lord
by G.R. Balleine
Does this title shock you? It should not, for humour is a very charming and very useful quality. Indeed a lack of humour is always recognised as a defect. Solemnity is seldom a sign of saintliness. True humour is something very different from clowning. It is an appreciation of the whimsicalities of life, a quickness to notice what is absurd. It acts as a check on one-sided views. It helps to keep life sane. All the most successful teachers have owed much to their humour, for abuses, which resist logic and rebuke, often shrivel beneath gentle ridicule.
No one can possibly read the Gospels with an open mind without noticing how often our Lord made use of this weapon. He had a keen sense of the ludicrous, and loved to employ it in his teaching. He seldom said to sinners, "See, how wicked you are!" but, "See, how ridiculous your course of action is!" Just as we sometimes use a magnifying glass to make a thing clearer, so he would humorously exaggerate a failing to make its absurdity more obvious.
If he wants to warn us of the folly of fussing over niggling scruples, while we neglect things that really matter, he pictures a man carefully straining a gnat out of his wine, while all the time at the bottom of his cup lies the corpse of a drowned camel! If he wants us to remember that censoriousness is far a more serious thing than the faults that the censor so glibly condemns in others, he draws the unforgettable picture of a man with a plank in his eye offering to remove a speck of sawdust from the eye of his neighbour, a true bit of carpenter's humour.
If he wants to put us on our guard against self-advertisement, He pictures a roan, about to give a penny to a beggar, hiring a trumpeter to blow a blast to attract everyone's attention. If he wants to make absolutely clear the fact that love of money makes entrance to His Kingdom impossible, he pictures a camel trying to squeeze, hump and all, through the eye of a needle.
If he wants to caution against incompetent teachers, he pictures a blind man leading another, and both falling into the ditch. Equally ludicrous are his pictures of a man trying to feed pigs with pearls, a man counting all the leaves on his mint before making his mint-sauce, in order to send every tenth leaf as tithe to the Temple, and the pompous Pharisee praying, "I thank thee that I am not as other men are".
If an artist tried to reproduce these pictures in black and white, we should see how almost grotesquely comic most of them are. Our Lord was not a portentously solemn or lugubrious person. He often taught with a smile on his lips and a twinkle in his eye
There was fun in the nicknames he gave his friends, when he called impetuous Simon Peter Cephas, the Rock, and the loud-voiced brothers, James and John Boanerges, the Sons of Thunder.
But most of his humour was more subtle. He quietly called attention to the fact that some people managed to reach a street-corner at the hour of prayer, the spot the modern advertiser covets, for then people in two streets could see them at their devotions.
There was irony in the words put on the Elder Brother's lips in the Parable, "Thou never gayest me a kid," when we have already been told that the Father had "divided unto them his living". All the Father's property belonged to the grumbler. "All that I have is thine," but like many other of the Father's children he did not use the gifts given him.
How quick too our Lord was to appreciate humour in others. When, for example, that "dog of a Gentile", the Syrophenician woman, put forward as a plea for her daughter that "the little dogs under the table do pick up the children's crumbs".
We miss much of the message of the Bible, if we think only of its serious side, and ignore its humour. Some of its most vital teaching is given with a smile; and many of its difficulties disappear, when we recognise that words that puzzle us are not to be taken with prosaic literality, but are semi-humorous exaggerations of a truth.
For example scholars have argued ponderously over the camel and the needle's eye, trying to prove that the word "camel" may mean a kind of rope, or that some narrow gate may have been called the needle's eye. But their far-fetched arguments are unnecessary, when we realise that our Lord did not disdain humour.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Small Acts of Kindness

I was listening to a radio play on BBC Radio 4, called "Small Acts of Kindness", and I thought that would be a good title for a poem. You have only to turn on the news to hear of new horrors, but the late Stephen Jay Gould stated what I believe is a fundamental truth:

The patterns of human history mix decency and depravity in equal measure. We often assume, therefore, that such a fine balance of results must emerge from societies made of decent and depraved people in equal numbers. But we need to expose and celebrate the fallacy of this conclusion so that, in this moment of crisis, we may reaffirm an essential truth too easily forgotten, and regain some crucial comfort too readily forgone. Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one. The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. Complex systems can only be built step by step, whereas destruction requires but an instant. Thus, in what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible as the ''ordinary'' efforts of a vast majority.

Here, then, is a poem which balances the acts of kindness against the evil in the world. Each of us, every day, has opportunities to be kind, compassionate, and caring to others, whether friends or strangers. Of course, we also love very strongly our children, and we love our partner (if we are lucky enough to have one, as I am with Katalin).

But the small acts of kindness are also important, and when we do them, they also help to invisibly change us into better people. The world needs more kindness.

Small Acts of Kindness
Shattered dreams, lightning above
But set against that, steadfast love
Each moment, with the end of days
Looking back upon all our ways
Small acts of kindness, gifts of grace
Matter so much more than to debase
So many wars, where fighters swarm
Dark is the path on the wings of storm.
Small acts of kindness, so often untold
Every present, from young to old
Like waves lapping on sand, this is the key
Making difference, many ripples in the sea
Who can tell such goodness, who can recite
The kindness untold that shines in the light?
With no thought of reward, no thought of gain
Gentle goodness falling, like the softest rain
Small acts of kindness, so feeble and frail
Seemingly hopeless, and bound to fail
But hands still reach out, right up to the end
The dying comforted by touch of a friend
Small acts of kindness, compassion and love
And I see peace descending like a dove
So balance the wars with better days
And where is goodness, sing its praise

Friday, 19 September 2014

Afternoon at Ouaisne

It was a warm summer afternoon in August, and rather than go home for the afternoon, Katalin and I decided to go down to Ouaisne bay to enjoy the fine weather, and have a snack to eat.

Ouaisné (pronounced "Way Nay") is the name given to the bay to the east of St Brelade's Bay. According to Dr Frank Le Maistre, the word means an anchorage, perhaps because the bay was sheltered by the La Cotte headland affording a safe anchorage for small ships.

Early forms of the name are Hoisnet, Hoinet (in a map of 1810), and Houéné (in a map of 1844). Stone was taken by boat from the quarries at Ouaisné in the 18th century for the building of St Aubin's Chapel. Ouaisne Common is one of the Island's richest and most diverse nature reserves and designated a Site of Special Interest (SSI).

There is a beach stall which sells hot food, drinks, and ice creams. It will probably be closing soon, and I always think these little beach concessions are a sign of the seasons. They close up in Winter, just as the plants are dying back, and the leaves grow brown and fall from the trees. And then, usually around the Easter holidays, they open again, ready for the spring and summer once more.

The nearby Smuggler's Inn does excellent food, but what we wanted on a hot summer's day was something to eat outside, so we could sit on the ledge by the sea wall, and enjoy the view. In the end, we opted for a very tasty hot dog, with onions. I'm becoming quite a connoisseur of the beach cafe. Some have the bare essentials - just a roll and sausages. But the best give you the full works - a roll, a generous helping of cooked onions (delicious if bad for my heartburn!), and really tasty sausages, real sausages, not just the ones out of a jar.

The nearby headland, of course, is quite famous as it has a granite case - La Cotte de St Brelade, which was the site of the earliest habitation in Jersey. Neanderthal man lived here around 250,000 years ago - the earliest record we have of the occupation of the Channel Islands by an intelligent species. The Neanderthals are named after their discovery in the Neander Valley in Germany.

They died out only around 30,000 years ago, and were close enough cousins to human beings to interbreed. They were like us, only shorter, more heavily built and much stronger, particularly in the arms and hands, and with a thick bony brow ridge. No one knows for certain the reason why they died out.

The cave at La Cotte was inhabited by these hunter-gatherer tribes in between Ice Ages, spanning a period of over a quarter of a million years, adapting to the climate changes. They lived in a bleak land on the edge of the snows and glaciers that were even then receding northward.

Later on the cave was re-used by Homo Sapiens (that's us), again hunter gatherers, and they left behind their artifacts - animal bones, limpet shells, and stone tools.

You can't get into the cave now, unless you go on an authorised tour, because it is dangerous. Unlike limestone, granite caves like this tend to fracture, with large lumps of rock descending on the unwary tourist.

On top is a small cottage, where an old lady used to live alone, and she kept a goat which was tethered and grazed the headland. It must have been a strange, rather isolated existence, especially when there were strong winds and rain in Winter. The property now belongs to the National Trust, and it is rather nice to see a modest cottage there, rather than some massive development like that at Portelet.

It was a sunny day, so we decided to have an ice cream - the soft Jersey ice cream ones in a cone, with a chocolate flake, and never mind the diets, it was the summer. I sneaked off to the beach stall, and got two to surprise Katalin. She was very pleased!

And there were no wasps around to swoop. I hate wasps, having been stung enough times to be wary of them. 

Then it was time for the traditional sea-side pastime - paddling. Both Katalin and I braved the sea, which seemed very cold at first, and then was rather pleasant. The photo above is Katalin.

And here am I, looking to all the world like someone in the 1950s, but missing the handkerchief on the head.

Now the word "paddle" in this context means to dabble in water. The dictionary tells me this:

The sense 'to dabble in water' is in Palsgrave, who has: 'I paddyl in the myre;' and is perhaps due to O. F.patouiller, 'to slabber, to paddle or dable in with the feet, to stirre up and down and trouble.'

Despite the sea-weed, it was enjoyable paddling, and it was a very relaxed, pleasant afternoon. Ouaisne always seems like a poorer relation of its neighbour, St Brelade's bay, but it has its own distinct beauty.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

My First Nomination Night

Procureur Peter Norman keeps proceedings in order.

It may come as something of a surprise to those of you who think I am a political animal, but I have never actually been to a nomination meeting for an election, whether for Constable, Deputy or Senator. So this was my first!

If you have seen the blog heading, and thought I was being nominated, I've caught you out!

All the supporters turn up at the Parish Hall, along with the candidates themselves, although strictly speaking their presence is not required.

In the case of St Brelade, Procureur Peter Norman took the chair , with the Parish Secretary beside him, and he guided proceedings from start to finish very well, actually making the reading of the standard blurb about proceedings sound interesting. Peter himself did actually face a contested election for Procureur earlier this year, which he won by a landslide.

Julian Bernstein and his bow tie proposes Steve Pallett. 

The first position was that of Constable, and Julian Bernstein proposed Steve Pallett. It was a good heartfelt, speech, and done without notes [apart from reading the nomination paper] which was extremely impressive. No one else was nominated, but we had to wait for a few minutes in case of a last minute nomination.

In the break, Steve Pallett, chatting with Margi Holland Prior

There will be a lot of criticism about unopposed Constables, but if the critics cared that much, they would find a candidate to stand against him - or him and her in other Parishes. Instead, expect the usual comments on Facebook and Twitter. Incidentally, there was a Constable's election in Grouville earlier this year; it is hardly likely that another would take place.

Actually if a Constable was really unpopular for various reasons, the chances are they would probably stand down anyway. Both Len Downer and Graham Butcher decided not to stand because for different reasons, each had alienated the electorate, one by dividing the Parish, the other by abusing the trust of his office. Others, like Peter Hanning, have fought a campaign, but lost because in his case, he had promoted a property development that most of his Parishioners did not want.

But there is nothing to stop any critic standing, just doing hustings and online, and taking their vote as a measure of the unpopularity of the current incumbent. The fact that they don’t suggests they know there is little point in standing for the sake of it.

Now it was time for the Deputies, and as the Constable had signed a Senatorial nomination paper, he though it more impartial to let the Procureur continue in the Chair.

Nominations came for St Brelade No 1, and these were for the following:

Angela Jeune
Mike Jackson
Murray Norton

Monty Tadier discusses his proposer's speech.

Then came St Brelade No 2

Beatriz Poree
Graham Truscott
Jane Blakeley
Jeff Hathaway
Montfort Tadier
Natalie Duffy
Peter Troy

The proposers spoke, and both listed the people on the nomination form, as well as saying something nice about the candidate and why they would be an asset to be in the States. They handed the forms to the Procurer. They had 3 minutes, after which a bell told them they had 30 seconds. Only Mr Truscott’s proposer went past the first bell, past the second, and looked likely to carry on for another ten minutes when the rather annoyed murmurings from the crowd shut him up.

Peter Slater proposes Jeff Hathaway

After each proposer, the Procureur read the relevant piece on the form about how the candidate is to be known, how they have signed the paper saying they understand article such and such of the election law.

The candidates, after all proposals, took the opportunity to thank their nominees and anyone else who has supported them. This was not meant to be a political speech, as the Procureur reminded them: this was not a hustings. Most of them were pretty short and to the point.

Peter Troy was humbled that his friends had said thee were privileged to sign his paper, and I thought for a moment, he might burst into tears. Jeff Hathaway mentioned in addition to his proposer and nomination, thanks to his wife, which was rather nice. He was the only candidate to thank a partner. And Graham Truscott, evidently taking the lead from his proposer, launched into a cut down bullet point version of his election manifesto, naughty man!

Beatriz Poree thanks her proposer and nominees

There were two extra speakers, outgoing Deputies John Young and Sean Power. They each thanked those who had voted for them, said how they were privileged to have served their districts.

Sean said: "I thanked the Parishioners of St. Brelade for the privilege of serving them as a Deputy for Quennevais and La Moye for nine years and told the seven prospective candidates of that privilege."
Sean Power thanks St Brelade No 2

And there was a get together of each district’s candidates for a photo shoot., which enabled me to get one of my own, unfortunately only for St Brelade District 2.

More pictures of the whole evening can be seen at:

St Brelade No 2 Candidates

 Some other photos:
"Murray's Phone In" as someone's mobile goes off.

Exchanging Secret Handshakes

Sara Ferguson shares a joke

John Young

Peter Troy and Angela Jeune