Sunday, 31 January 2016

A Ring of Endless Light

The earth will never be the same again
Rock, water, tree, iron, share this grief
As distant stars participate in the pain.
A candle snuffed, a falling star or leaf,
A dolphin death, O this particular loss
A Heaven-mourned; for if no angel cried
If this small one was tossed away as dross,
The very galaxies would have lied.
How shall we sing our love's song now
In this strange land where all are born to die?
Each tree and leaf and star show how
The universe is part of this one cry,
Every life is noted and is cherished,
and nothing loved is ever lost or perished.

I was reflecting on these lines from Madeleine L’Engle’s book “A Ring of Endless Light”, over the tragic death of Nathan Vibert in a traffic accident. The book is about life and death, hope and grief, beginnings and endings. It suggest to us that, as L’Engle puts it, “Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.”

Coming to terms with loss of someone loved dearly is very difficult. I have known the loss of a partner, Annie, who was lover, friend, soul-mate, and that is like your heart being torn apart.

I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like for the parents of Nathan, coming to terms with the loss of a son. I have three sons, and like all parents, I worry about them, even though they are now grown up. The love we have as parents does not end when a child grows up, leaves home, and starts an independent life.

Our society looks at people as individuals, whether as consumers, or as nuclear units, but I’ve known people at work gone back home to England to visit a sick or dying family member. We are all bound together in close ties of family and friendship, and when that kind of knot unravels, and the chord is cut with finality, we feel the pain. The bond seems broken, life seems fractured as if by a seismic shock. As one of L’Engle s characters says:

“This wasn't the first time that I'd come close to death, but it was the first time I'd been involved in this part of it, this strange, terrible saying goodbye to someone you've loved.”

But our finite lives are what make life so precious. That is the nature of the world we live in.

In Peter de Rosa’s short fable, “The Best of All Possible Worlds”, a God creates a world and populates it with creatures all alike (so no jealousies), plenty of food just ripe to be plucked, fresh water to drink, no dangers, and a land of beauty everywhere. It seems a paradise, and the inhabitants have been given a gift of living forever. But it is not enough. Life without the darkness removes all reason for doing anything, all reason for living. 

As a character says in C.S. Lewis book "Out of the Silent Planet"

“And I say also this. I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.”

This is something L’Engle touches on as well:

“If we knew each morning that there was going to be another morning, and on and on and on, we'd tend not to notice the sunrise, or hear the birds, or the waves rolling into shore. We'd tend not to treasure our time with the people we love.”

“If we are not willing to fail we will never accomplish anything. All creative acts involve the risk of failure.”

When my Annie died, my grief went into collecting things she had written, paintings she had done, photos of her, and above all about stories other people had about her part in their lives, because she made a difference. Every life makes a difference, and the film “A Wonderful Life” reminds us of that when we might forget. And I found that it is in the telling that I came to terms with my grief, which is always there, part of me, but is something I can now embrace.

L’Engle also stresses the importance of story. A story teller herself, she found her faith in story rather than doctrine. If we are to come to terms with grief, and belief, we must find it in memory, and in telling each other stories of those lost.

“If you don't recount your family history, it will be lost. Honour your own stories and tell them too. The tales may not seem very important, but they are what binds families and makes each of us who we are.”

“Stories are able to help us to become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos, we see despite all the chaos.”

And that was where she found God, and in the darkness of grief as much as in the light of joy:

“I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly.”

That isn’t to say that we have a trite meaning to story of God, that somehow faith helps us come to terms with grief. C.S. Lewis, when he lost Joy Davidman, was fiercely honest when he jotted in his journal his thoughts and feelings, that which later became the small booklet “A Grief Observed”

“The death of a beloved is an amputation.”

“Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand.”

“Unless, of course, you can literally believe all that stuff about family reunions 'on the further shore,' pictured in entirely earthly terms. But that is all unscriptural, all out of bad hymns and lithographs. There's not a word of it in the Bible. And it rings false. We know it couldn't be like that. Reality never repeats. The exact same thing is never taken away and given back. How well the spiritualists bait their hook! 'Things on this side are not so different after all.' .. For that is what we should all like. The happy past restored.”

The moment we are born, we have the end of our story. We don’t know how long the story is, and some stories are tragically short. But each story, however short, has days, hours, minutes, seconds, and each second is precious. Even the more mundane and everyday memories become precious.

This is not to cling on to the past, it is remembering what we so often forget, the difference that each life make. It is those sudden endings, those dislocations that hurt as much as if it was our bones torn from sockets, that teach us this most strongly - a lesson that L’Engle sums up briefly but perfectly: “Nothing, no one, is too small to matter. What you do is going to make a difference.”

At the end of the book of Job, one of the greatest, though often neglected books of the Hebrew bible, when Job has laid all his accusations of how the innocent and righteous suffer before God, of how he has been so cruelly treated by the loss of his loved ones, by his own physical infirmity striking him down, he waits for an answer.

There is no answer given in terms of the kinds of reason we expect. Instead, we are simply offered a great and dazzling vision of God creating the universe: an epiphany. Madeleine L’Engle does something very similar in “A Ring of Endless Light”. There are no easy explanations, nothing we can say to mend the wounded heart. In the ending, she says this:

A great ring of pure and endless light
Dazzles the darkness in my heart
And breaks apart the dusky clouds of night.
The end of all is hinted in the start.
When we are born we bear the seeds of blight;
Around us life and death are torn apart,
Yet a great ring of pure and endless light
Dazzles the darkness in my heart.
It lights the world to my delight.
Infinity is present in each part.
A loving smile contains all art.
The motes of starlight spark and dart.
A grain of sand holds power and might.
Infinity is present in each part,
And a great ring of pure and endless light
Dazzles the darkness in my heart.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

A Charm for Imbolc

My Saturday poem is for the feast of Imbolc, one revived in recent years by modern paganism, athough its originals remain obscure, and modern rituals are in part an act of imagination, although imagination may also be seen as a channel of insight and revelation.

Ronald Hutton, writing in "The Stations of the Sun", says of Imbolc that the feast, which takes place on 1st February, 

...marking the end of winter and the opening of spring, is cited repeatedly in the early medieval literature under the names Imbolc, Imbolg, or Óimelc; asthe 'b' in the first two is silent and the first syllable in the last is a short 'i', the different words have a very similar pronunciation, as 'imolk' or 'imelk'. 

It was placed in the Roman calendar, adopted by the Irish by the time that written records begin, on 1 February. The festival must be pre-Christian in origin, but there is absolutely no direct testimony as to its early nature, or concerning any rites which might have been employed then. 

There is, in fact, no sign that any of the medieval Irish writers who referred to it preserved a memory of them, and some evidence that they no longer understood the meaning of the name itself. 

Sanas Chormaic, a glossary probably produced around the year 900, suggested that it originally meant 'sheep's milk', a derivation which modern Celticists have pointed out to be linguistically impossible. The latter part of the word, however, certainly has something to do with milking, so that Emer's comment must be near the mark: that this is the time when ewes begin to lactate. 

Eric Hamp has recently suggested, by analogy with other old European languages and customs, that the Old Irish words for milk and milking derived from a lost Indo-European root-erm for 'purification', and that this was the aim of the festival; but this remains a speculation.

A Charm for Imbolc

Come once again, O greenest blade
The sap is rising, earth awakes
Come now all, to the sacred glade
Leave behind winter’s cold and aches

Come our mother earth, alive again
And wake from winter’s icy sleep
Let us dance the magic in fairy glen
The feast of Imbolc, we shall keep

Light our candles, chant and pray
May birthing springtime warm our land
Roots rise through soil, soften clay
And warming sun stretch out a hand

Let blessings come, and healing spell
And may all manner of things be well

Friday, 29 January 2016

Guide book: St. Clement

More from the 1830s guide book.

Outside of the guide book, I've been unable to find anything at all about "eminent solicitor" John Kay, who lived at Woodlands. It shows how transitory fame can be.

One of the best detailed accounts of the Battle of Jersey online is that by A.E. Ragg, in his "popular history of Jersey", which covers the battle in 5 chapters. It can be read here:

Sand eeling remained popular in St Clement, and my mother remembers going one night to do sand eeling there with her friends after the war in the 1950s.

On Samares, it is also worth mentioning that G.R. Balleine's The Bailiwick of Jersey records the unusual rights and duties of a Seigneur of Samares:"Like the lords of Rozel and Augres, it was the seigneur's duty, whenever the King came to Jersey, to ride into the sea to meet him, till the water covered his spurs."

Guide book: St. Clement

St. Clement.—In returning from the village and church of Grouville there are two ways to Town ; one to the right, which, after ascending a considerable rise, is the best view in the Island. On looking back you have in view Mont Orgueil castle, with all its lofty battlements; to the right you have the Prince's tower or La Hougue Bie, mantled with its ivy sides and lofty tower, in front Noirmont Point, Fort Regent, and the long blue sea forming a beautiful marine view.

Although from Grouville the right road is interesting, the left through St. Clement's is not less so; by this road we pass Woodlands, the seat of John Kay, Esq., once an eminent solicitor in the city of London.

About a mile beyond Woodlands, through an interesting country, is the village and church of St. Clement's, from which a bye-road branches to Pontac. A small number of houses on the beach, one of which is much frequented, from the accommodation afforded to parties; close to this is a Martello tower. These towers are very numerous round the Island, being placed wherever the nature of the shore renders it accessible to an enemy: they are constructed of stone, mounting from one to three guns.

The coast hence is literally studded with rocks, extending half across the channel, and visible at low water for two or three miles out, rendering the approach very dangerous to any who are not thoroughly acquainted with their situation ; and the many strong currents and eddies which they form; it was, however, on a ridge of these rocks termed Le Banc de Violet, running round La Rocque point, the South Eastern angle of the Island, that the French, under Rullecourt, effected their landing in the year 1781.

From this part of the coast Seymour tower is a singular and conspicuous object: it is situated among these rocks at a distance of two miles from the land at high water, but may be approached on foot when the tide is low. It is of course often exposed to a very heavy sea, which, during the storms of winter, dashes against it with tremendous power, and overwhelms it with spray and foam. It is occupied during war by an officer's guard, having charge of the military stores contained there.

What dreadful pleasure there to stand sublime,
Like shipreck'd mariner on desert coast,
And view th'enormous waste of vapour, tost
In billows, lengthening to the horizon round,
Now scooped in gulfs, with mountains now embossed.

Near Pontac along the sea coast of this parish, the people of both sex resort in parties during the fine nights in summer, to catch the sand eels, which they sometimes take in great quantities, thus uniting profit with amusement, as there is always a constant sale for them in Town. From this part of the coast and Grouville bay the principal part of the fish is supplied which comes to the market.

The church is the next object we return to; it is a neat building, considering its antiquity, having a light spire in pretty good repair: near it are several good houses, and the constant attendant of every church in the country, a public one. The principal houses on this road are chiefly concealed from the spectator's view by the out-houses dependent on them being erected in front.

About three quarters of a mile from the church on the road to Town, is Samares Manor, the seat of the Hammond family, Seigneur de Samares. The Manor house has been recently rebuilt on an extensive scale; is situated at the end of a noble avenue on the right, the trees of which bear visible marks of their antiquity: it has a lawn and an extensive canal with fish.

In this parish there is a small estate, which was bestowed by Charles the Second on the ancestor of the present proprietor, who was fishing on the coast, and had with him a grey horse, on which he had the honour of landing that Prince from the boat when first he came to the Island. By the tenure of this estate the owner is bound, whenever the King comes to the Island, to provide a horse of the like colour for the same occasion. 

The population of this parish is but one thousand two hundred and fifteen persons.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

The People’s Park

The People’s Park

Simon Crowcroft has lodged a proposition which I am reprinting below, as I think it very clearly and succinctly lays out the reasons why a new hospital should not go ahead on the People’s Park.

At present the Council of Ministers have put no comment on it. Of late, their practice seems to have devolved to the bad old days o Terry Le Sueur’s time and be put out at the 11th hour.

The site of the hospital, I think, also shows the bankruptcy of "collective responsibility". All the Town Deputies have come out against the site – all, that is, except Deputy Rod Bryans. As a member of the Council of Ministers, he is gagged under “collective responsibility” and cannot speak his mind. I feel very sorry for him.

I remember how angry Chief Minister Ian Gorst became when Deputy Rob Duhamel was able to speak his mind and dissent from the Council of Ministers, wanted to get rid of him, and clearly it is no coincidence that “collective responsibility” was brought in – as I remember, by Ian Gorst, to ensure that would no more be the case.

Tracy Vallois, as an Assistant Minister found herself effectively gagged as well. This is not good for transparency, and the consideration of the People’s Park is going on behind closed doors: it is not open government. Is that a good way to build trust and consensus?

People’s Park: Removal From List Of Sites Under Consideration For Future New Hospital: Proposition by Simon Crowcroft

THE STATES are asked to decide whether they are of opinion to request the Minister for Health and Social Services to remove People’s Park from the list of sites under consideration for a future new hospital.

1. Introduction

The current speculation about the possibility that People’s Park will be brought forward as the preferred site for Jersey’s new hospital is causing a great deal of concern to Islanders, not only in St. Helier, but across the Island as a whole. At the last States Sitting of 2015, I was unable to get a firm date from the Minister for Health and Social Services for the announcement of his preferred site, while an e-mail to him and the Chief Minister on 13th January –

“As you know there’s lots of speculation about the new hospital site and I was just wondering when you will be announcing your preferred option, what the Parish will be offered by way of compensation and what the next step will be, i.e. will you be lodging a report and proposition, if so when?”

- went unanswered. I do not believe that a majority of States members will accept the loss of People’s Park, and accordingly I am seeking to nip any such proposal in the bud. If adopted, this proposition will allow the Minister to concentrate his resources on exploring further the alternative sites which exist for the new hospital.

2. Background

The search for a site for a new hospital has largely been conducted behind closed doors. This is in stark contrast to the Les Quennevais School replacement project which hasbeen opened to the Public, with many meetings and stakeholder workshops being undertaken.

As Connétable of St. Helier, I was invited to a short meeting on the subject of the new hospital site, but there has been no attempt by the Minister for Health and Social Services to involve the Parish deputies or parishioners themselves.

At that meeting I was asked whether the new hospital project team could do feasibility work on People’s Park and Parade Gardens as potential sites. I agreed that any potential site in the Parish for the new hospital could be looked at, but made it clear that I believed that parishioners would require, by way of compensation, at least the same quantity and quality of open space before it would accept the loss of any of its parks.

I published my views on the matter in the monthly magazine of the Parish in November and again this month, and have received a great deal of feedback from parishioners, as well as from other Islanders adamantly opposed to the proposal, regardless of what areas of open space might be offered to the Parish in exchange for People’s Park.

3. Open space in St. Helier

The shortage of amenity space in St. Helier was highlighted in the Open Space Study carried out for the Planning Department in 2008, which states –

“Amenity Greenspace – Provision varies from parish to parish, however, under supply in many of the rural parishes is offset by good supply to natural greenspace and/or beaches. The under provision of amenity greenspace is more of an issue in the parishes with larger urban areas, and this is the case in St. Helier (minus 11.67 vergées) and to a lesser extent St. Clement (minus 1.08 vergées)”. Page - 4 P.3/2016

I have sought to remedy the situation in recent years by resisting the loss of amenity space in Springfield Park (P.125/2014 – not debated as the proposition was accepted by the then Minister for Education, Sport and Culture, Deputy P.J.D. Ryan of St. John, and the plans changed); attempting to have the Millennium Town Park extended (P.156/2014 – debated 20th January 2015); and a similar objective in my proposed

Amendment to P.27/2015: Draft Strategic Plan 2015 – 2018 (P.27/2015): seventh amendment (P.27/2015 Amd.(7) – debated 29th April 2015), and the arguments made in those documents and in the transcripts of the debate on Hansard are equally relevant here. People’s Park should also enjoy the protection of the Island Plan (Policy SC04).

4. The value of People’s Park

People’s Park is the jewel in the crown of the Island’s urban parks. (A rival case might be made for Howard Davis Park, but it is on the other side of town and is also a closed formal park; it hosts some large events, but does not have the versatility and accessibility of People’s Park.)

People’s Park is used for an extraordinary number and variety of events each year with some, like the Portuguese Food Festival, attracting tens of thousands of visitors during the course of an event; it is a vital component in the Island’s major annual festivals, including the Battle of Flowers, the International Motor Festival, the Real Ale Festival and the Jersey International Air Display; it is also ideal for sporting events, playing a key role in last year’s NatWest Island Games, and hosting a cyclecross event in December last year.

It is used by local schools and sporting clubs for football practice, sports days and so on. The park is also a much-used and valued area of grass for thousands of residents and visitors, who use it for walking, jogging, picnicking and recreation. Together with Lower Park and the wooded backdrop of Westmount Gardens, it is of important aesthetic value in an increasingly built-up environment.

This explains, perhaps, why the Council of Ministers has been so slow in coming forward with a compensatory offer of open space, because there is no prospect of a replacement to People’s Park being found.

5. Rumoured compensation

Due to the lack of meaningful consultation as to what alternative open space(s) might be offered to replace People’s Park, I have had to rely on rumours of a package including open space on the Waterfront, the present hospital site when cleared, and an extension to the Millennium Town Park. To address each of these in turn:

The Waterfront:

When land was reclaimed ‘West of Albert’, there was talk of using much of it as open space for recreation; it was going to be a largely traffic-free area with some leisure uses and hospitality. Regardless of what one thinks of the present developments on the Waterfront, there is no doubt that the residents, businesses and visitors to the Waterfront expect at least some of the remaining undeveloped space to be used as open space anyway.

The present hospital site:

The site occupied by the hospital today is bordered on one side by a busy road, and on the other by the backs of relatively tall buildings, some of which will be protected; there is a large amount of residential development on its perimeter. It would not, therefore, offer a home for the kind of events which take place on People’s Park, nor would it be available until the new hospital is built and the present site cleared.

An extension to the Millennium Town Park

Efforts to extend the Island’s newest urban park have been continuing, albeit being put on hold while the outcome of an appeal against planning permission is awaited. It is rumoured that such an extension may be part of a compensation package to be offered to the Parish in return for the loss of People’s Park.

However, the arguments made in the propositions and the debates referred to in paragraph 3 above are still relevant: given the policy of the States to concentrate new housing developments in St. Helier, and the fact that the majority of the new housing sites are in the northern part of the town, the extension of the Millennium Town Park should be pursued anyway. The Jersey Gas site offers clear marriage value to the present park, whose facilities are already strained by the thousands of people who use them.

It is not a case of either/or. St. Helier needs People’s Park and the Jersey Gas site, if the future residents of the town are not to be short-changed when it comes to amenity space, with all of the social consequences that go with town-cramming.


If the Council of Ministers is indeed working behind the scenes to find a combination of separate areas of open space whose sum will equal or even surpass the size of People’s Park, it seems inconceivable that such a package would be acceptable to the majority of Islanders, let alone to St. Helier parishioners.

The importance of People’s Park lies in its being a single area of open space with an attractive wooded backdrop and views down to the sea and Elizabeth Castle, a park which is accessible, versatile and robust. There is nowhere else like it. 

There are, however, several good alternatives sites for the new hospital. The new States Strategic Plan makes the improvement of St. Helier one of its 4 Strategic Priorities, with particular emphasis now placed on St. Helier’s environmental quality as a place in which to live, work and visit.

People’s Park is a vital part of what St. Helier offers the people of Jersey, and the States are accordingly asked to send a clear message to the Minister for Health and Social Services that it is not to be built upon.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Is Sir Philip's submission corroborated by the facts?

A former Jersey Bailiff and Attorney General has blamed "incompetence" for a 19 year delay in changes to the law which made prosecuting alleged child abusers easier. Until 2012, such cases of children making allegations needed corroboration of some sort. Sir Philip Bailhache today told the inquiry into historical abuse in the island's care system that he made recommendations to change that law in 1993 but it wasn't brought into effect until 2012. When asked if the delay was because of a lack of political will, he said: "No. The delay can be explained by incompetence probably."

He went on to tell the inquiry that during his time as Attorney General, the corroboration rule never got in the way of a prosecution.

If there were evidence that a crime had been committed one would be straining to bring a prosecution. I don't believe the requirement was a barrier that prevented us from prosecuting more cases of child abuse. I don't remember a case where I said to myself I wanted to prosecute this case but because of the requirements of corroboration I cannot do so. I do not recall any such case.

(Channel TV News)

What was the rule regarding corroboration? It meant the judge would give the jury suitable instructions along the following lines:

The standard direction on corroboration evidence in cases of sexual offences, with appropriate adaptations to suit the circumstances of each case, would be on the lines of: "Experience has shown that people who say that sexual offences have been committed against them sometimes, and for a variety of reasons, tell lies. Such false allegations are easy to make and frequently very difficult to challenge, even by an entirely innocent person. So it is dangerous to convict on the evidence of the complainant alone unless it is corroborated, that is independently confirmed, by other evidence . . ."

So how can we explain the delay? Is Sir Philip right to attribute it to incompetence rather than a lack of political will?

Well, let us start with the submission of Ben Shenton who was Minister for Health and Social Services in 2008. He states the following:

“Wendy Kinnard should not have had any involvement with the investigation as the Home Affairs Minister. Yet, whilst the investigation was ongoing and whilst she was still elected to the Council of Ministers, she made an application to amend the law with regard to the law of corroboration in Jersey. I do not know the exact details, but I believe according to the old corroboration rule, there could not be a successful conviction unless there were at least two independent sources of evidence to support a case. [redacted material] Discussion of the application took place in the Chamber on 16 and 21 October 2008, and the extracts of those minutes appear as my Exhibit 885.”

“As a member of the Council of Ministers I questioned the application to amend the corroboration rule. [redacted material] But I believe that eventually the application was successful in any event, and the corroboration rule was abolished; a Trial Judge no longer has to warn the Jury in cases of sexual offences of the need to look for corroboration of the evidence of the complainant.”

His reason for not supporting that proposition is that he didn’t think enough background paperwork had been provided for the application, and the Council of Ministers should take legal advice first.

If we look at the document he places as part of his evidence – the Minutes for the Council of Ministers for October 2008, it states this:

“The Council, with reference to its Minute No. B2 of 4th September 2008, received a report dated 20th August 2008, which had been prepared by the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs and considered advice from H.M. Attorney General in connexion with the issue of corroboration.”

“Senator W. Kinnard, having cited a conflict of interest, withdrew from the meeting for the duration of this item and was replaced by Deputy A.D. Lewis, Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, who remained present at the meeting for the duration of this item.”

“H.M. Attorney General observed as a matter of principle that the issue of corroboration might be significant in the context of individual cases. In this context he highlighted the current requirement in Jersey Law for a judge to give a corroboration warning to juries in cases where the evidence relied upon that of an accomplice, in sexual cases, and in cases where the complainant was a child. “

“He further observed that the position in Jersey replicated neither that of England and Wales nor that of Scotland. In England and Wales the position was that the rule of practice requiring a corroboration warning in sexual and accomplice cases had been abolished by Section 32 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. In contrast, the Scottish position was that there was a requirement for some corroborative evidence in all cases.”

“H.M. Attorney General, having given further detailed legal advice to the Council on the matter, invited the Council to consider whether to promote changes to existing legislation in order to ensure that judges could use discretion as to whether to give a corroboration warning, depending on the case, regarding the issues raised and the content and quality of evidence.”

“The Assistant Minister for Home Affairs submitted that it would be unethical not to promote changes to existing legislation which would allow a judge to use his discretion in the context of corroboration warnings notwithstanding the potential controversy that might result from the timing of any such change and which might be fuelled by a debate in the States Assembly. He further clarified that if the Council decided to support this small amendment to the legislation he would wish to consult the Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel on the matter.”

“The Council concluded that there were advantages and disadvantages to the positions adopted in Scotland and in England and Wales. Ultimately the Council concluded that it was not able to determine a preferred course of action without further information. On that basis the Council recommended that the Chief Minister refer the issue to the Jersey Law Commission and invite the Commission to consider reporting on the matter expeditiously.”

“The Policy and Research Manager was authorized to take the necessary action.”

It is very important to notice that the Attorney-General – William Bailhache - stated that “that the issue of corroboration might be significant in the context of individual cases”, which does quite tally with Sir Philip’s statement that “the corroboration rule never got in the way of a prosecution”.

The outcome of this meeting - and the lack of action - was that Wendy Kinnard tendered her resignation citing it as a matter of conscience. The Minutes of the next meeting state this:

“The Committee with reference to its Minute No. A 1 of 21st October 2008, recalled that Senator W. Kinnard had made a statement in the States announcing her resignation as Minister for Home Affairs on the basis of an issue of moral conscience and principle, namely that at a recent meeting of the Council of Ministers, the Council had declined to accept a recommendation from her Department that an item of importance be taken forward immediately. “

“The Council reaffirmed the intention that the Chief Minister should make a statement to the States shortly and agreed an outline of the wording to be adopted, subject to finalisation by the Chief Minister.”

“H.M. Attorney General outlined the background to the desirability of promoting an amendment to existing Jersey legislation in order to ensure that judges could use discretion as to whether to give a corroboration warning to juries, depending on the case, regarding the issues raised and the content and quality of evidence. It was recognised that the referral of the issue to the Jersey Law Commission was unlikely to result in a speedy outcome, although the matter would undoubtedly be thoroughly examined and widely consulted upon.”

“Having considered the possible effect on forthcoming prosecutions of a change to Jersey legislation, the Council concluded that it would not be in the Island's interest to release details of any legal advice it might have received on the matter and decided, therefore, not to publish the relevant minutes of its meetings.”

So the end was result was delay – and that by a political decision which was not made clear at the time. There was a clear decision to delay and not make the reasons for delay public!

So who was party to this decision? All members were present, with the exception of Senator T.A. Le Sueur, Minister for Treasury and Resources, Senator P.F. Routier, Minister for Social Security and Senator F.E. Cohen, Minister for Planning and Environment, from whom apologies had been received.

Those present were Senator F.H. Walker, Chief Minister, Senator M.E. Vibert, Minister for Education, Sport and Culture, Senator P.F.C. Ozouf, Minister for Economic Development, Senator T.J. Le Main, Minister for Housing, Senator B.E. Shenton, Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy G.W.J. de Faye, Minister for Transport and Technical Services

In attendance - Deputy A.D. Lewis, Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, Connétable K.P. Vibert of St. Ouen, Assistant to the Chief Minister, W.D. Ogley, Chief Executive, States of Jersey, W.J. Bailhache, Q.C., H.M. Attorney General

Ben Shenton, commenting to the inquiry why he thought it right to question the proposal by Wendy Kinnard stated this:

“We had no real sort of back-up as to why we were being asked this request, or why it was, you know, the right thing to do and I was quite vocal on it and actually led to it going off to the Law Commission, to look at and it and to come back with a properly researched paper as to why the law should be changed, and it was eventually changed.”

“But it all goes back to the point of view of how you act as a politician. Myself and none of the other Council of Ministers at that time had any legal background. We had a retired teacher, this, that and the other. We were at the height of the sort of furore about child protection issues and the problems that the department had been facing. And all of a sudden we get this request with no background. I think realistically, even if I was -- a request had come to me as chairman of a board anywhere, if you haven't got the back-up papers, and you are asking to do something, you want to question why you are doing it, and you want to make sure that you are doing the right thing.”

Of course, as the Minutes make clear, some of the background information as to why the request was important came from William Bailhache, who advised the Council on the law, explained how the rules worked, and told them how different practices applied in England and Scotland.

So it is not entirely correct to say there was no detail. Whether or not the reason was obvious was difficult to say, but obviously by that point it was clear there would be prosecutions from Operation Rectangle, even if Wendy Kinnard had not stated it so clearly. You do not need a lot of hindsight to see that!

How did the corroboration rule work in practice? Did it not make a jot of difference, as Sir Philip said, or did it raise the evidential bar for a successful prosecution?

Police woman Alison Fossey writing to Shaun Du Val, as noted in the inquiry transcript, stated:

"Laurence [ O'Donnell] was of the view, as am I, that a lot of cases were not proceeded with in the past due to working procedures between the Police and [the force legal advisor]. Many files were not even referred for legal advice and were written off by the [detective sergeant or detective inspector] at that time and also the corroboration rule prevented many cases being proceeded with. A major change in the law is required and we were successful in our law drafting bid for a new Sexual Offences Law this year."

[Laurence O'Donnell was a legal advisor from the States law officers department.]

There is also a memo from Mr Robert Bonney, who worked for the police between 1977 and 2005, to Advocate Whelan and it says the following about Leslie Hughes arrested in connection with multiple cases of sexual abuse of children at a Jersey group home:

"I seek your assistance and direction on the question of formulation of charges to be brought and against which girls. We have previously discussed the question of court appearances for such young victims and in light of that, I feel that no charges should be brought against Hughes, in respect of ...[redacted] ... not least because Hughes makes no clear admissions in respect of them, and on the whole they stand uncorroborated."

This was a case with the issue of the evidence being uncorroborated, and yet similar fact evidence existing – five individuals in a house over a span of time, all of whom individually say that they have been sexually assaulted by the same person, but no independent corroboration of each person's being singleley abused.

The inquiry asked: “Was corroboration such a significant hurdle?

Mr Bonney replied: “Absolutely it was and it was brought to the Crown, not that it needed to be brought to the Crown because the Crown would have been living with it for many many years

“And your understanding at the time was that there was a mandatory warning that needed to be given to the jury that it would be dangerous to convict on the 0 uncorroborated evidence of the victim; is that how you understood it to be?”

“My understanding was not necessarily that it was required in law, but whether it was required in practice and certainly it was my understanding that without corroboration the case would likely not succeed, in the absence of any other evidence.”

“Perhaps I should qualify that and say from my discussions with Laurence O'Donnell I knew that this would be the way the Crown -- this would be the evidence that the Crown would look for: corroboration. If we didn't have the corroboration we likely were not getting home.”

“I think Laurence had come to believe that a case of this nature would likely not be taken forward by the Crown for the reasons of non-corroboration.”

The inquiry also cites John Edmonds who submitted that:

"I cannot help feeling that the legal advisors over a period of many years having effectively been applying a test of mandatory corroboration rather than properly evaluating whether an uncorroborated victim would nonetheless be regarded as a witness of truth."”

They ask Mr Bonney: “Does that fairly summarise your view in 2004 of 195's case?”

Mr Bonney: “My understanding is that they knew very clearly about whether it was mandatory or required in practice and our discussions regularly went to that area, ahead of the decision-making coming out of the AG's office.”

And Mr Edmonds says -  looking at mandatory corroboration, that it was the critical hurdle "rather than properly evaluating whether an uncorroborated victim would nonetheless be regarded as a witness of truth."”

Ms Leslie asked Mr Bonney: “The last thing I want to ask you about is just a point of clarification. You have very helpfully explained in relation to the issue of corroboration that obviously the position in law is that where a jury is properly instructed by a judge, they may convict without sort of corroboration, but you have also identified that, as you said, it was clear that in practice this would never happen in Jersey. Where did that practice come from?”

Mr Bonney: “I think over the course of the years -- it settled on me that corroboration was huge and it needed to be obtained, it needed to be looked for, it was a significant hurdle and in practice you weren't getting home without it, whatever that corroboration may be.”

“I acquired this morning the Jersey Law Commission "Corroboration of evidence in criminal trials" and it was -- it's a local document, it's a consultation paper written about corroboration of evidence in criminal trials and it is dated -- it is produced by the Jersey Law Commission as a consultation paper. You may have it, in which case this will be superfluous, but that was produced in 2008 and that set out what my understanding of corroboration was when I was serving in the Police Force and in 2009 the findings of that consultation were reported upon and that was to remove the stringent corroboration requirement that I understand has been done.”

The consultation paper was produced by the Law Officers Department in December 2008 advocating scrapping the corroboration rules. They were efficient and quick, unlike the suggestion in the Council of Ministers minutes (quoted above), which appears to blame them for any future delays!

But it had to wait until Ian Le Marquand was Home Affairs Minister for a change to come about in 2012!

The Jersey Law Commission had done its job by December, but clearly the political will did not exist until 4 years later! Incompetence? I can see no evidence of that in the documented history. I can see plenty of a lack of political will to take the issue and run with it. It is interesting to note that the change in the law only took place after all the trials relating to Operation Rectangle had finished.

The change in the law was voted on 17 January 2012, and became law in March 2012. It passed by 41 votes, with no abstentions, but rather a lot of absences from the sitting. Deputy Roy Le Hérissier asked if more convictions had come about as a result of the changed law in the UK and elsewhere, and Sir Philip Bailhache, acting as rapporteur for this order, replied that:

"I am not sure that I can give Deputy Le Hérissier any specific information about the number of cases which have led to convictions in other jurisdictions as a result of the changes in the corroboration rules, but logic would suggest that the absence of the requirement for corroboration has made it easier to bring guilty men to justice and I cannot, I am afraid, say more than that."

That rather contradicts what the Senator is telling the trial about it not making any difference!


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

A Quality Franchise?

A JEP article on Sandpiper bringing “Burger King” to Jersey described it as a “quality franchise”.

I thought it might be interesting to look at the quality!

How many calories in a Burger King Whopper? Answer: 630.
How many calories in a large fry? Answer: 500.
How many calories are in a Double Whopper? Answer: 830.
How much fat in an Alaskan Fish Sandwich? Answer: 31 g.

Health-conscious patrons may substitute small orders of fries and onion rings, which contain about 400 calories and 16 grams of fat, with apple slices. Substituting milk for soda pop presents lower calorie and sugar counts, as well. Customers may reduce fat by leaving out cheese and forgoing the use of dipping sauces like ranch dressing.

Sarah Muntel, a registered dietician, writing for “Obesity Action” noted this:

McDonalds Big Mac: 540 calories and 29 g of fat
Burger King Whopper: 670 calories and 40 g of fat

Now let’s throw in the sides:

Medium fries: 380 calories and 19 g of fat

She says:

“These foods are highly processed, full of fat, calories and sodium. You could easily take in 1,500 calories from just one meal alone. Keep in mind that a general caloric recommendation for Americans is 1,500-1,800 calories per-day and around 50-60 grams of total fat. Choosing a typical fast food meal every day can lead to increased calories which can lead to weight gain and can lead to other health conditions like heart disease.”

It is already a problem in America, where CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan says that "Parents want to feed their children healthy meals but America’s chain restaurants are setting parents up to fail McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, and other chains are conditioning kids to expect burgers, fried chicken, pizza, French fries, macaroni and cheese, and soda in various combination at almost every lunch and dinner."

“Besides being almost always too high in calories, 45 percent of the kids' meals at the 13 chains studied by CSPI are too high in saturated and trans fat, and 86 percent are too high in sodium. That’s alarming, according to CSPI, because a quarter of children between the ages of five and ten show early signs of heart disease, such as high LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) or elevated blood pressure.”

The 2014 Health Profile for Jersey noted:

“Many of the factors known to cause ill health, such as smoking, are decreasing while others, like obesity, are increasing. While our obesity levels are still lower than other countries, obesity continues to increase. .”

The “State of Men’s Health” compares the health of men in Jersey to those around Europe, and has some worrying findings – including that one in three Jerseymen is overweight. Poor diet is a contributory factor.

Obesity is an increasing problem in Jersey. Experts say obesity could replace smoking as the main cause of cancer deaths within 15 years

Will the introduction of Burger King do anything to help that?

Do we really want that kind of “quality franchise”?

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Is Jersey moving to a Cayman Island model economy?

Is Jersey moving to a Cayman Island model economy?

I remember watching “Cosmos” with Carl Sagan, and he was talking about the planet Venus, which he said was effectively what happens when you have a runaway “greenhouse effect”. It was a warning that the Earth, too, might suffer the same kind of consequences and prophetic for its time.

I was thinking on that when watching, on Friday night, a programme on TV about the Cayman Islands. Companies pay zero rate of tax, which sounds remarkably familiar. The difference is that both the rich elite and the poorer people who live in the Island pay no tax.

So where does it get money for services? Fish fingers cost £8.50, on a packet which had a printed price of £1! As Jacques Peretti, the reporter, said: “A packet of fish fingers costs £8.50 – which is affordable if you’re a billionaire, but if you live on a modest income, this form of indirect taxation means you’re no better off than if you lived in the UK.”

It should be noted that one comment noted that “Fresh fish from the fish market is a lot cheaper and who know what we are eating.” But that depends on enough fish and other local produce being available: it may be an option for the small sized Cayman; it is not one for Jersey.

Jersey, too, has seen the tax burden shifting increasingly from business to individuals and from individuals to indirect taxation. GST is one example, so will be the new sewage tax. These are taxes not as an income tax, but as a tax on consumables which everyone alike - or in the case of a sewage tax, disposables which everyone supplies.

So how come Cayman doesn’t have a black hole? The support network which exists in England, and to some extent in Jersey, is virtually non-existent. The new hospital in Cayman is part of its drive to “health tourism”, as a report from 2014 makes clear:

“Health City Cayman Islands, a 140-bed hospital slated to open on Grand Cayman in February of 2014. The project, which began construction last week, will specialize in cardiology, cardiac surgery and orthopaedics. It hopes to offer those services at 30 to 40 percent of the going market rate in the U.S.”

Charities and private companies fill the gap which the government cannot support. What it does need to support, it does so by high taxes on imports. And without charities coming to help, the poor would sink. As the reporter stated:

“Welfare only makes up 20 per cent of state spending (compared to 40 per cent in the UK), so charity fills the gap for those in hardship. I saw this in action when I met the woman with the sky high mortgage – she was on the verge of eviction, and relying on a Christian charity to find her a place to live.”

The result is that the middle is squeezed out in Cayman, which has progressively become an Island of two halves: the poor underclass, and the rich.

Matt Gardner, a Washington tax analyst, stated where this model left people:

“The heart of our social contract is tax revenues. Undermining that long term makes it impossible to provide services. If developed democracies decide this is a model they want to pursue, I think they’re going to be disappointed pretty fast.”

For further reading

For many years the authorities, some parts of the private sector and those who enjoy a comfortable life in the Cayman Islands have been criticized for denying the mounting poverty. Regardless of the denial, the poverty is real, but what government does not have is empirical evidence and accurate data. Poverty is being fueled by a number of problems, including a serious decline in wages, rising unemployment among locals, which many believe is not being properly counted by government, and the rising cost of living, leaving more and more people living in poverty in an emerging underclass.

The mark-up on fuel for wholesalers and retailers in the Cayman Islands is close to being the highest in the world. That is the finding of the former Texaco Country Manager James Tibbetts who was asked by Government to perform a study on the pricing structure of fuel in the Cayman Islands. He also compared the selling price and cost of fuel with other similar jurisdictions in Caribbean.

'I presented my findings to Government on 19th September, but in a nutshell, the results show that Cayman has the highest price and the lowest taxes on fuel of any location that was studied,' Tibbetts explained that he looked at U.S. Canada, and many of the Islands in the Caribbean.

It is not clear just how much profit margin Cayman gas station owners are putting on each gallon of fuel here in the Cayman Islands.

In districts that return multiple members, Cayman uses the bloc voting system, for single member districts, it uses the first past the post system.

Simon Whom He Surnamed Peter - Part 7

For the next weeks, my Sunday postings will be a transcript of the book "Simon Whom He Surnamed Peter" by the Jersey historian, the Reverend G.R. Bailleine (1873 – 1966).

Most of Balleine's books are either currently in print - as for example his History of Jersey - or online in the form of PDF versions. This book is not, so this is something different. As well as being a Jersey historian, Balleine was also a priest in the Church of England, and Ministre Deservant at St Brelade's Church for a time.

It is interesting to note how many critical judgements on the Gospels are made by Balleine. Aware that the Gospels were written when conflict with Rome was to be avoided, he suggests that the more political elements of Jesus teaching about the Kingdom were largely suppressed or toned down. That’s a very striking critical judgement to take.

One great change in perspective on Jesus studies came with Géza Vermes and his book "Jesus the Jew" in 1973, placing Jesus very much as a Jewish teacher, yet Balleine is doing this years before.

It is also striking to see how Balleine puts Jesus teaching into a framework in which it changed, depending on how it was received, so that the way the message was conveyed altered in the course of the ministry, especially as Jesus failed to get his message across! The more holistic overview is something we tend to lose with form criticism and its concentration on pericopes. 

Bailleine also brings out the inclusiveness of the message of the Kingdom. It is a kingdom for all, and God is a God for all, not a tribal god. There is still a strong tendency for the Church to make God into a tribal god, and this is a message that still needs to be heard today.

The Herald Of The Kingdom
by G.R. Balleine

JESUS was more than a Healer. He was a Man with a Message. `He came into Galilee,' says Mark, `proclaiming, "The Kingdom of God is at hand."' People considered Him a Prophet: `A great Prophet has appeared among us'; `This is Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth.'

His teaching fell roughly into three periods. First, `He preached in their synagogues through all Galilee,' and congregations were eager to hear Him. Then, when Authority grew suspicious, He preached to crowds in the open air.

Later, as the Parable of the Sower shows, this mass-evangelism proved disappointing. Too much of the seed failed to bear fruit. So He devoted more and more time to the training of disciples.

Listening to Jesus revolutionized Peter's life; but to discover what Jesus taught is not always easy. Mark, our earliest Gospel, was not written till at least forty years after the crucifixion; and our other early authority, the lost document Q, from which `Matthew' and Luke made long extracts, cannot be much older; and in forty years much may happen to memories of a Prophet's teaching.

Part may be too dangerous to repeat; so it will be quietly dropped. Part may seem to have been contradicted by events; so it will be modified. Each group will naturally emphasize the points that appeal to it most. And maxims from other sources may be attributed to the Master. All these processes had been at work before our Gospels were written; so it is sometimes hard to decide what Jesus really said.

Did He say, `Blessed are ye poor' or `Blessed are the poor in spirit'? Did He expect the Day of Doom to come in the lifetime of His disciples, or did He look forward to years of quiet progress?

Every attempt to determine His message is beset by these bewilderments. Nevertheless on some points we can feel fairly certain. He was an orthodox Jew with no desire to impose a new religion on His nation. He attended the synagogues, went to Jerusalem for the Feasts, and wore the blue tassel, the badge of allegiance to Moses.

Years later, Peter, who had shared His meals, had never tasted any but kosher meat. One saying of Jesus must be authentic, for no one would have invented it after the Church had drifted apart from Judaism: `Think not that I have come to abolish the Law. So long as earth and sky endure, the tiniest stroke shall not pass from the Law, till its purpose is accomplished.'

He took little interest in the small technicalities which Rabbis loved to debate: Which were most binding, oaths sworn by the altar or those sworn by the gift on the altar? Was killing a flea on the Sabbath as sinful as killing a camel?

Jesus was more at home with the Prophets. Isaiah gave Him the programme with which He opened His mission, `The Lord has sent Me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release for captives, sight for the blind, freedom for the oppressed, and the coming of an Age acceptable to the Lord.'

Later He was constantly meditating on the prophecies of the Man of Sorrows, `led like a lamb to the slaughter', and on Daniel's vision of `one like unto a son of man', who `would come in the clouds of heaven'.

He was an orthodox Jew; but He felt He had something to add to His nation's knowledge, something so vital that it could not be cramped in the old, traditional forms. It was fatal to pour fermenting wine into stiff, old wineskins. His central thought was the Malkuth. `He went through the towns and villages proclaiming the good news about the Kingdom.'

In Chapter 7 we saw how this hope arose. To Peter and every Jew the Malkuth was definitely political. It meant dethroning bad kings, annulling bad laws, creating a new social order. Jesus must to some extent have shared these hopes, for without them the Malkuth would be meaningless. One could not picture a Kingdom of God, in which Tiberius reigned.

If the Evangelists say nothing of this, the reason is obvious. When they wrote, Rome was eyeing the Church with suspicion, and apologists were asserting that it was absurd to fear that the Church was politically dangerous. It would have been folly to publish the more revolutionary side of the Master's message. Through this discretion we have lost all details of His Malkuth teaching.

But this is not our only difficulty. The disciples themselves cannot have remembered all His teaching accurately, for they passed on to the Evangelists sayings that contradict one another. Some declare that the Kingdom might flash on the world at any moment, `at even or midnight, at cock-crow or dawn'. `Some standing here will not taste death, till they see the Kingdom come.' 

But other sayings imply a long process of development. The Kingdom would expand like a seed, first a blade, then the ear, then the full-grown grain, or like leaven quietly transforming three measures of meal. We are told that the Parable of the Pounds was spoken because some `supposed that the Kingdom of God would immediately appear'.

Certain points may be doubtful; but others are not. Jesus gave no support to one widely accepted belief. Galileans assumed that the first step towards establishing the Kingdom must be armed revolt against Rome. In A.D. 6 Galilee had sprung to arms when a Judas had declared that God would not establish His Kingdom till His People showed their eagerness by shedding their blood for it. But Jesus warned Jerusalem that insurrection would be madness: `Your foes will surround you with earthworks, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground and your children within you, not leaving one stone on another.'

Moreover revolt showed lack of faith. When God saw that the moment was ripe, He would intervene. Till then, while God allowed Rome to rule, Jesus would pay Caesar's tribute.

On another point Jesus must have horrified many of His hearers. Men like Peter expected the Malkuth to be a nationalist triumph. Some Prophets had allowed the best of the Gentiles to share its blessings; but grimmer views were more popular. The Gentiles would be wiped off the face of the earth! Jesus, however, realized that His race might prove unworthy of the promises.

Vineyards are taken from bad tenants and given to more deserving ones. If guests refuse to come to a banquet, their seats will be filled by others. `From east and west, north and south, men will come and sit down in the Kingdom,' while `the heirs of the Kingdom are cast into the outer darkness'. But Peter's nationalism had too thick a shell for this idea to penetrate. It needed a special vision later to convince him of its truth.

A third point also Peter had to unlearn. He expected the Judgement to usher in the Kingdom. In Daniel the Ancient of Days sat on his fiery throne, and the books were opened, and the wicked judged, and then the Kingdom began. In the older part of Enoch, too, the order is the same, first the judgement, then the Kingdom.

Later sections, however, thought the Kingdom too wonderful to be pent up in this world. It must begin here; but it will need all Heaven for its consummation. So the judgement was postponed, till the Kingdom should pass to its higher plane.

Jesus accepted this thought. The Kingdom would begin on earth; but its members would be sifted before its transference to Heaven. It was a net that gathered fish of many kinds; but, when drawn up on the beach, the bad would be thrown away.

To Jesus nothing was more important than the Malkuth. His disciples must make it their first and foremost interest. `Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.' Pray daily, `Thy Kingdom come.' It was like buried treasure, for which a man will sacrifice his all; like a precious pearl, for which a merchant will pay his last penny. It demands and deserves the surrender of every rival aim. It had already begun. `If I by God's help am driving out demons, the Kingdom of God must have reached you.' Wherever men accept God as their King, there is the Kingdom in embryo.

But what must its citizens be like? Every Jewish Rabbi was a teacher of ethics, a consultant on everyday conduct; and Jesus, too, regarded this as a matter of grave importance. No Kingdom of God is possible till men behave correctly. The standard of Jesus was exacting. `Unless you set your target higher than the Scribes, you will never enter the Kingdom.' Start with the simple rule in Leviticus, `Love thy neighbour as thyself.' Do as you would be done by. And notice: since love is God's chief demand, the worst sin is hate.

The Old Testament spoke with two voices on this point. Some texts countenanced hate-'Let his children be fatherless'; others taught, `If your enemy hunger, feed him.' Jesus appealed from the lower to the higher: `You have heard the saying, "Love your neighbour; hate your enemy." I say, "Love your enemies." '

Love must include forgiveness. Once Peter asked, `How often should I let my brother wrong me, and be forgiven?' The Rabbis taught that a man should be forgiven three times. So Peter expected praise when he suggested, `Seven times?' But Jesus answered, `Not seven times, but seventy times seven.' So wide was the gulf between the standard of Jesus and the standard of the Scribes.

Another sin against love is selfishness. The Gospel according to the Hebrews, the oldest apocryphal Gospel, brings Peter into the story of the Rich Young Ruler. `Jesus said, "Sell all you have and give to the poor, and follow Me." And he began to scratch his head, for this pleased him not. Jesus said, "It is written in the Law, `Love thy neighbour as thyself', and many of thy brethren are covered with filth and dying of hunger, while thy house is full of good things." And He said to Peter, "A camel can pass through a needle's eye more easily than a rich man can enter the Kingdom." ' Peter had to learn that the Law demanded more than he had ever imagined.

A point that Jesus constantly stressed was that His disciples must be dead in earnest. `He who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is useless for the Kingdom.' Following Jesus was from the first a perilous adventure. An ancient homily, attributed to Clement of Rome, states that, when Jesus said, `I send you like sheep among wolves,' Peter asked, `What if the wolves devour the sheep?' The answer was, `He who is not willing to shoulder a cross is not worthy of Me.' The cross under Roman rule was the rebel's doom. Like any other innovator who tries to reform Society, Peter must expect supporters of the status quo to clamour for his blood.

The great attraction of the programme of Jesus was its simplicity. Everyone must work for the Kingdom. And the best definition of the Kingdom was, `Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.' Every disciple must strive to do God's Will, and to get others to do it. Every new recruit pledged to do God's Will brought the Kingdom a little nearer. When everyone on earth was doing God's Will, the Kingdom would have come.

Such was the message that day by day Peter heard from Jesus. `The Malkuth is at hand, the Kingdom not of a tribal God, but of the Father of all. If you want to feel at home in it, you must share the Father's point of view. If you get a glimpse of what it means, you will sacrifice everything for it.'

Peter, who had long looked for this Kingdom, now felt that nothing could ever tear him away from Jesus. Once, when others were falling off, Jesus asked the Twelve, `Are you too going to desert Me?' Peter answered: `To whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life.'

Saturday, 23 January 2016


As I had a rather tiring night, tonight's poem is one from the back catalog, not posted online. It dates from February 2003. It draws on a saying of Jesus, and is as relevant today as then.

People often say: "What is God like?" They imagine an old man in a white beard. But all they have to do is look to their neighbour, look to those who starve or thirst (or drown trying to reach freedom), or poor, or sick, or in prison. Don't imagine that God will look beautiful and healthy: the ravaged face of those starving, the ragged clothed child in the refugee camp, the pensioner struggling with poverty but who may also be sharp tongued. If we are to see God, we need to see them there. It is not always easy to see the spark of light in the other.


I was starving in a land so bare
Swept clean of food by famine there
And did you come and give me bread
Or turn your eyes away instead? 

I was thirsty, no water there I drank
But only unclean, stagnant pool that stank
And did you give me fresh water, make me well,
Or just ignore me when I fell? 

I was a stranger, unknown here to all of you
Alone, away from friends now far and few
And did you come and welcome me
Or close your eyes, and did not see? 

I was the poor man, overlooked by all
As insignificant, contemptible and small
And did you see me there, a down and out
Or pass by swiftly, lest I shout? 

I was so badly sick, and very ill
No instant cure, no magic pill,
And did you come to pray and care
Or keep your distance out of fear? 

I was in prison, locked up away
Bound in captivity to stay
And did you visit me, in my bare cell
Or judge me there to go to hell? 

Do you see me now, open your eyes
Or just ignore, block out, despise?
Open the door, not shut and slam,
And let me in, for here I AM.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Guide Book: Grouville

As usual, the 1830s Guide Book gets the date of the Parish Churches wrong., and rather than the 14th century. The Church of St Martin de Grouville was built in the 11th century, with the earliest mention of it in a charter of Robert, Duke of Normandy, in 1035.

The mention of Hougue Bie is interesting because at this time it was a hotel in private hands. The Prince’s Tower was started in 1792 by Philippe d'Auvergne, the nephew of Major-General James d'Auvergne. The building was demolished in 1924 as it was deemed unsafe. There is still, however, the Princes Tower Road reflecting the lost building.

Regarding Dean Mabon, it is clear the guide book is simply reproducing Protestant propaganda, for which there is actually surprisingly little evidence. I'd refer the ready to my study "The Image at Hougue Bie: Catholic Deceit or Protestant Propaganda"

It is interesting that back in the 1830s there was a clear realisation that the mound was artificial. There had long been speculation that the mound at La Hougue Bie was in fact a barrow, and when the Société Jersiaise took possession of the site in 1924 no time was lost in exploring this possibility. Excavation of the mound began on the 3rd of September 1924 with the digging of a trench into the eastern side of the mound By luck or design, the dig was started in best possible area for the discovery and entry of the passage grave, after only ten days of digging the original entrance was found and the passage entered.

Gorey is referred to in the representation of the States in 1832 as a town having sprung up in a short time, where before only a few huts were seen. A church was built in 1832 to provide services in English for the English families engaged in the fishery, to the building of which the States contributed £200.

Because of overfishing, the oyster trade, which is described as flourishing in this guide book, went into a fairly rapid decline and ceased by 1872.

1838 - oyster riot leads to Militia being called out
1856 - exports exceed 500,000 bushels
1872 - industry no longer in existence after over-fishing
Guide Book: Grouville.

Grouville parish is in the East, and contains several interesting places, one of which, the most striking, is La Hougue Bie, or the Prince's tower, so called from its having belonged to the Duke de Bouillon, an admiral in the British navy. It is erected on an artificial ground or tumulus, and embowered in a grove of fine trees; it commands an extensive prospect, with a bird's eye view, of nearly the whole of the Island, and a vast sweep of the French coast. Its beautiful walks and pleasure grounds, in addition, induce thousands in course of the year, to visit its lofty tower. It is a place of public resort, where parties may be accommodated with whatever they desire. Here one may exclaim—

Caught lie the varied prospects that appear,
The wanton eye just glances o'er the whole;
No single beauty charms :—the fancy here
Hoves like a libertine without control.

The original construction of this building, which has claims to great antiquity, is the subject of that romance and fable with which the history of distant ages is so frequently obscured. It is said that in ancient times the marsh of St. Lawrence was infested with a serpent or dragon of enormous size and proportionate strength, which, devouring all the inhabitants, without regard to age or sex, spread terror and desolation through the Island.

The fame of this monster having reached the ears of De Hambie, a Norman nobleman, he determined to attempt its destruction; and, arriving for that purpose with one attendant only, succeeded in overpowering his formidable opponent and cut off his head; but while sleeping after the fatigues of the fight, he was himself slain by his treacherous companion, who, it seems, was moved with the designs of obtaining his master's property and widow; and returning to Normandy, he so worked upon her feelings by asserting that the dragon had killed her husband, and that he himself had killed the dragon, and by feigning that De Hambie had urged as a last request that she would marry the person who had avenged his death—that she was moved, as the story relates, from love to her departed Lord, to espouse her servant, and gave him possession of her estates.

But his guilty conscience did not allow him any enjoyment from the success of his scheme; he was betrayed by his restlessness and agitation, and the exclamations he uttered in his sleep, and a full confession of his crime having been drawn from him, he was delivered into the hands of justice, suffered according to his deserts, and his fate was accorded to paint a moral and adorn a tale.

The widow after this, raised upon the spot where De Hambie's murder had taken place, a funeral mount or barrow, on which she placed a tower and chapel for the celebration of masses, of such a height that she could see it from her habitation in Normandy; and this is said to have obtained the appellation it now retains—from Hougue, signifying amount or barrow, and from Bie, terminating the name of the person to whose memory it was constructed,

Many years afterwards, Richard Mabon having been, on his return from Jerusalem, appointed to the Deanery of the Island by the bishop of Coutances, made many alterations in the original building, and added to the chapel, which he tailed the chapel of Notre Dame, or our Lady of Hougue Bie.

In those superstitious times nothing could be too gross or absurd to be willingly received, and Mabon does not appear to have been slack in taking advantage of the credulous temper of the age. He excited 'a peculiar reverence for the place by encouraging the idea that the Virgin Mary, frequently honoured the spot by appearing there to him; and he placed her figure in an excavation underground, formed to resemble the holy sepulchre at Jerusalem, and communicated with by arched passages, through which the people passed to pay their devotions; at the end of these passages, the figure was seen through an opening, leaning on one elbow, and with one hand extended to receive the gifts, which all who visited the chapel were expected to present.

This spectacle failing, when the charm of novelty was over, to attract the attention of the people in the numbers desired by Mabon, he had recourse to the expedient that the Virgin would for the future perform many miracles at the Hougue; and on the days appointed for the exhibitions by various impositions, such as the suspension of lighted tapers from the roof, by means which were concealed, the people expecting to see a miracle, and perhaps unwilling to be deceived, were led by him to believe that supernatural wonders had been manifested; and indeed, so gross and ridiculous were the schemes he practised, that, in after times, (here arose, in consequence, many proverbial expressions scarcely yet forgotten in the Island, and anything^ very marvellous was declared to be a miracle of La Hougue.

Farewell, rewards and fairies,
Good housewives now may say.
For now foul sluts in dairies
Do fare as well as they:
And though they sweep their hearths no less
Than maids were wont to do,
Yet who of late for cleanliness
Finds sixpence in her shoe?
Lament, lament, old babies,
The fairies' lost command;
They did but change priests' babies.
But some have changed your land;
And all your children sprung from hence
Are now grown Puritans,
Who live as changelings ever since,
For lave of your domains.
At morning and at evening both,
You merry were and glad,
So little care of sleep and sloth
Those pretty ladies had.
When Tom came home from labour.
Or This to milking rose,
Then merrily, merrily went their labour.
And merrily went their toes.

Witness, those rings and roundelays
Of theirs, which yet remain.
Were footed, in Queen Mary's days,
On many a grassy plain;
But since of late Elizabeth,
And later, James came in.
They never danced on any heath
At when the time hath bin.
By which we note, the fairies
Were of the old profession,
Their songs were Ave Marias,
Their dances were procession.
But now, alas they all are dead,
Or gone beyond the seas;
Or farther for religion fled,
Or else they take their ease.

In a tempest a few years since, some tons of lead were stripped from the roof and rolled up as a piece of paper. The tower is now the property of F. Le Breton, Esq.

Gorey.—Leaving the Prince's tower we proceed along a newly cut road to this village, which is fast increasing in size and importance. The population is fluctuating, but considerable during the season of the oyster fishing, which commences on the first of October, and finishes on the twentieth of May. About one half of the vessels engaged in it belong to the Island, the rest are from various parts of England: the number thus employed, take one season with the other, are upwards of two hundred.

This fishing is of great benefit to the Island in general as well as to Gorey, of which it is its chief support. It creates a very large circulation of money, and affords employment to several hundreds of persons. The oysters brought are laid on the beach, and sorted according to their size: the largest are left for consumption in the Island, and the rest are purchased by dealers, who lay them on particular parts of the coast of England, where they are allowed to remain some time, previously to their being brought into the London market. Twenty thousand pounds and upwards is annually introduced by this fishery. The constant bustle occasioned by the sailing and returns of the many vessels engaged, the necessary repairs they require, the various trades requisite to supply the wants of so numerous an assemblage of persons, cause the village of Gorey, during the period of the fishing season, to exhibit a singular scene of busy life.

From Gorey towards town, we next arrive at the little village, bearing the name of the parish, and containing the church, which appears to have deviated from many others in the Island in its construction from the general archetype, without entirely abandoning the crucial standard. It comprises three aisles; and over the central one, which extends in length, both Eastward and Westward, beyond the other two, riser" a spire.

Being one of the least ancient of all the Christian edifices, it probably has not been subjected to so many alterations as some of the others. It was consecrated on the twenty-fifth of August, 1312; has three fine gothic windows, in which are still some very ancient remains of stained glass. The church is one of the prettiest in the Island, and is situated in the middle of the village; has an excellent parsonage, with a quiet and rural appearance.

Sweet solitude has charms to sooth thy soul;
To puree thy mind from thoughts that wound thy peace,
And fill that reason which should be thy guide.
But let the guilty murderer beware
He comes not near these happy plains of peace;
Each bush he meets shall make him start amazed.
And each bright star strike horror to his soul!
Lost as he wanders through the mazy grove,
(Affrighted nature shrinking from his touch)
The warbling birds, whose notes melodious sound
On every hush their great Creator's praise,
And Philomel strike murder to his ears!
Dagger to the guilty minds I and balm to those,
Whose conscience, free from guilt, affliction feels.
O solitude thou spring of earthly bliss,
Where honest worth may meet a sure reward,
And, free from scandal, pride and envy, live
Content on earth, till it grows ripe for Heaven!

On an elevated spot near the church, is a venerable and solid structure that, in days of yore, was a chapel, dedicated to St. Margaret. It is now a house of merchandise: the interior of this fabric is plastered, which was probably the case with all similar buildings that no longer exist. The cemetery of the chapel is now become a garden. In the church yard, some years since, an oak was cut down that contained fifty tons of timber; it yielded six .cart loads of bark.

In this yard also is to be seen a monument or tablet, erected by private subscription to the memory of seven private soldiers, who fell in defence of the Island, in the attack made by the French in 1781, with the following inscription :—


Near this place are deposited
the Remains of

Grenadiers of the 83rd Regiment;
Who in a Party
led on

Against a detachment of French Troops
That invaded this Island,

In the midst of their victorious Companions
at la Rocque Plate,
On the 6th day of January,
In the year of our Lord, 1781,
To the memory
of these brave men
The Principal inhabitants of this Parish
Erected this Monument.