Thursday, 22 January 2015

Some Jersey Eccentrics

Some Jersey Eccentrics

This is the peculiar house of Bob Bisson, which was painted with all kind of religious slogans. In this blog, I want to celebrate people’s memories of Bob, and other Jersey eccentrics. Bob I actually met, but some of the others, like Berger and his mummified mother, I had only heard of from others.

My own anecdote about Bob is him parading in the Royal Square when the States were sitting with a placard which stated “Con men in session”!

There’s a kind of oral tradition that goes around regarding these people, and it seemed a shame that it should be lost, so I have put some of the comments relating to that photo on Facebook, to preserve them for posterity. All identification of commentators has been removed.

Jersey Eccentrics – Some Comments

Bob Bisson

Mr Bisson’s house may he rest in peace ,,he was a god man ...he kept painting these versus around his house and when they cleaned it up he did it all over again is now gone and new houses there.

It was jersey's blot on the landscape!

True but was his property to do as he crazy as it seemed!

Dear old Bob Bisson. A strange Jersey eccentric if ever there was. Quoted from the King James Bible, regularly attended (as a viewer) the Magistrate's court. We don't have many eccentrics like him (and Berger) around anymore.

Not a blot, this guy was a true eccentric! I saw him on the bus most days, life needs people like him! Didn't do any harm

Kind of miss seeing that place, was so interesting, unlike today’s buildings

Yes I used to work for a stockbrokers and he often used to come in. I think he used to dabble with the Stock Market. As you say quite harmless

I met this guy in the Royal Square and he told me to give up smoking as it was slow motion suicide and I did

I remember Robert Bisson too, eccentric but kindly. He had very blue eyes I was a bit in awe of him as a child, admire him now for his honesty.

I sat next to him once on an Aurigny flight and ended up giving him a lift back to this place, he usually walked everywhere, but it was raining heavily.

Sandals whatever the weather !

I had forgotten the sandals remember now bless him

Robert Chalmers Bisson. We lived just down the road from him in our early married life but he always stopped and spoke to us and our children. Just a bit eccentric but harmless!

He was an oft viewed figure as far as I know. He sat next to me on the bus once when I was on the way home from school and started to talk about Jesus, not knowing I was already a pretty convinced atheist. I have to say he seemed a nice enough chap though.

Robert Chalmers Bisson, the house has been known as The White Lodge and The Retreat.

I seem to remember he had quite an upper crust voice, sounded educated which I'm sure he was.

The house was semi detached.. 20 years ago we were shown the other half of the property joined on behind it , looking to rent / buy..

What was weird is that the house had a basement, you went down the stairs & the basement was an old church, like a full on church under the house.. The church was split in 2 with a wall separating the properties, but needless to say it was obvious that he had the other half of the church on his side, so as much as it seems like one of his eccentricities, I’m sure it goes a little deeper in to why he wrote all that stuff.. It was a little creepy to be honest, so we politely declined. I'm sure most didn't realise he had a chapel in his basement & that the whole thing was built on a church. ?

He had a Canadian accent.

I think he was originally from Canada, either that or he lived in Canada for a long time.

This was owned by Mr. Robert Charmers Bisson who was a bit of a religious fanatic as can be seen by the biblical verses quite a rich Canadian but very articulate.......

I like him. He was a little strange but nice enough, he used to walk down to the beach with two buckets and fill them up with seaweed for his vegetable garden.

I knew this man very well, in fact had a tea chest full of bibles from him, eccentric but heart of gold

He was known as Barmy Bisson and used to cycle around the island wearing a raincoat with biblical quotations painted on the back.... also I believe a brilliant chess player

He also was a grand master at chess

A wonderful character with a zest for life, totally harmless apart from his booming voice, he spoke to me several times about beliefs and stuff a genuine 42 carat character the world is a less richer place without him what do you see driving up Mont Cochon nothing bland bland and more bland I miss the old chap he was very wealthy I’m lead to believe and was harmless if he’d of ever done anything as folk have said I’m sure he would of been dealt with just an eccentric and very kind man by all accounts

I seem to remember something many years ago, when his neighbours complained about his house being an eyesore, and covered in writing, in response, he wrote the word 'fool' ( or was it 'fools?) on the previously-pristine chimney stack!

I believe he was Canadian by birth. My favourite saying was that he liked to feed the pigeons in the Royal Square, so they would shit on the politicians.

The house was demolished a good few years ago now and a few new houses built on the site.

Certainly beats conventional decorating of the front of your house!!.....remember this well, even blue coaches used to take tourists to see it!!

He was very intelligent. We gave him a lift to church once. Had Canadian links if I remember rightly and often wore a shirt with red stains on it!

I had a friend who lived next door and would play chess with him.

Me and my mate were digging bate at west park in the mid 70s, it was summer, and we were kids, following the tide out as the sun started to rise, about 5am, he came wading out of the sea in front of us, scared the c***p out of us, he'd been sitting on the rock with the pole on it, to the right of Elisabeth Castle, all night reading his bible and waiting for the tide to go out again, I told my dad when I got home, he just laughed and said, "that’s old man Bisson, he won’t harm you". A talking point amongst us kids for quite a while after lol!!

I remember him getting on the bus, always in a long beige raincoat, and he would just start randomly taking to no one in particular !!

Does anyone remember when Mr Bisson was given a court order to re-paint his house as it was such an eye-sore? He obeyed the letter of the law by carefully refreshing all the writing with a new coat of paint. Hence the word 'fools'!

The states wanted him out for years and couldn't make him move, in the end they committed him, took his house and money.

Berger, Hawkins and Paisnel

Somebody on this stream mentioned old Mr Berger, eccentric maybe but I believe there was a connection between Berger and Florence Hawkins, mistress of Edward Paisnel

Wasn't Mr Berger the one who used to take his mother for a Sunday afternoon drive every week in a Rolls Royce, and continued to do so months after she had died? Was always fascinated by the story as a kid. Was it really true? Also was there a connection with Berger paint?

Florence Hawkins lived at the side of Berger's house in Savile Street. I think there must have been a flat there. Paisnel used to park his car in the car park in Elizabeth Lane when he visited her. We lived in Parade Road in the house on the corner of the lane. There were rumours that Berger & Paisnel were involved in some form of devil worship, I don't know if there was any truth in it. I know Paisnel had some kind of concealed area at his place at Boulivot that the police discovered.

Mr. Berger owned a lovely old house in Waterworks valley before it burnt down, as a kid I used to play in the burnt out ruins with friends

Is that the house, about halfway up Waterworks Valley on the left, that's burnt down more than once and is reputed to be haunted?

Seem to remember Mr Berger had a house on the Parade that backed onto Savile St....more or less where Health and Social now have offices....and used to hang a skeleton in one of the back windows...believe he was connected to Berger's Paints

Ahh yes, Westaway Court is on the site of the former Westaway Crèche that I am pretty sure was acquired from a Mr Berger who loved books & had them everywhere. Used his staircase as a bookcase! Hadn't realised until now that it was the same guy! I thought Berger who drove around with a corpse in the passenger seat was from Rozel?

I once took a misdialled phone call from Florence Hawkins wherein she asked to speak to Mr Berger about the time that Paisnel was on trial...she'd misdialled by one digit...and I recall wondering whether or not the police were aware of these connections....believe there may also have been a connection to a house at Leoville that had a dark painted ceiling with stars painted on it ??

Yes it was, it was a fantastic place to run about in. It was indeed supposed to be haunted and we used to frighten each other making noises.

Any more info on this Mr. Berger? The story sounds fascinating!

Yes Mr. Berger used to take "mummy" out for a drive

Was he not one by the police for this? It's illegal to prevent a burial. Was she embalmed? What happened to them? What's the story? X

I know of a few people who witnessed Berger's Sunday drives, it happened

Other Odd People

Does anyone remember the two brothers that use to walk round St Helier >>one was called bobby they both wore flat caps?? And then there was the guy us kids use to call Windy Miller' because he always walked like he was walking into a force 10 gale..And then there was' Archie’ who was always sat on the benches in St Helier' he was famous’ for a certain thing!

Yes best leave Archie well Don’t remember shaky George or Mary'' maybe I was too young at the time' like you say very sad..When you think about it..

Archie was given a two wheeled truck by the dockers , he used to go around the agricultural stores where he was given vegetables which he sold to the public...The dockers also used to buy him a new suit every year and send him to the murattie in Guernsey......

I remember buying veg off Archie great old character

There were two strange ladies. One of them, Francis Heuze was sectioned as she was desperately mentally ill. The other lady is still around.

Oh and shakes George was a mad alcoholic - believe it or not, he dried out quite a few years ago!

The veg that Archie used to sell was mostly borrowed on the basis of 'non return' from farmers lorries waiting for the weighbridge or for unloading at one of the packing stores. There was a George who used to hop about and kick out who was reputed to have been 'shell shocked in the First World War. Another ex first WWI soldier used to play records from a cart outside Woolworth's in the 40's and early 50's.

Then there was old Lemuel who always carried an imaginary butterfly in his hands

I remember Lemuel from the Sacre Cour he was an odd job man always talking to his hand.

Anyone remember the chap that owned Jumbo's Joke Shop in New Street, where the Charity shops are now? I remember thinking as a kid that considering he worked in a joke shop, he was probably the most miserable bloke I'd ever met!

I remember when it caught fire - a stray firework I believe?

Also remember a big man called Ken I think, had deformed hands and pushed a homemade hand cart around collecting people's empty pop bottles to reclaim the deposit...also played a mean harmonica

I remember George Le Sueur who used to kick his legs out. He had lots of white hair. They say he used to do the goosestep behind the German soldiers and got away with it as they thought he was mad.

Archie was Archie Nolan

Anyone remember "Welsh Casey", he put a Christmas tree on the transmitter at Les Platons, the police wouldn't go up and get him, instead waited for him to sober up and come down. He was a true character often seen in the Finsbury and the Great Western

He was a good mate of my dad's and I used to go around with his three daughters who are no longer with us. Casey was always the "life and soul" of any pub he went into. Shame these old pubs no longer exist. Harry the manager of the Finsbury was always barring him 'till the next day

You can’t make it up sadly the characters in life are thinning out and there is a conspicuous lack of replacements.

On the subject of characters does anyone remember the chap who used to walk down New Street in an overcoat and his brief case in the middle of the road, or the flap cap twins (got a photo of the two of them standing in front of the Foots dog and gramophone or Mr Bird the Baker. Haven’t been home in 11 years but I'm guessing there aren't too many characters like those guys anymore

That was George Le Sueur. I remember him well, along with the short twins and their caps.

I remember the chap your on about, he used to walk in front of the traffic with his brief case n brolly in the early 80s, very slowly, sumat t do with him hating cars/traffic someone once told me, don’t know what the full story is though!!?

The guy who walked in the traffic, I believe, had a wife who was knocked down by a car and it was his little protest. He was always very smart but had long since worked.

That would make sense, I was working in the market in 83/4 and I remember him turning and whacking his brolly on the bonnet of Ken Jesty's delivery van that had beeped him to get out the way, but most people just seemed to accept it, suppose they must have known the story!

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