Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Daemons

Beltane, the first of May is coming, and my Saturday poem reflects this, looking back to the years when Jon Pertwee was Doctor Who, and facing an alien race called "The Daemons" at the village of "Devils' End", along with the Master, disguised as the Reverend Magister - Latin scholars will see that one!

The story begins with Beltane and the opening of a tomb, which actually houses the Daemon's space ship, and ends with the destruction of the village church - so good model work that complaints were made! - the capture of the Master, and Jo Grant (The Doctor's companion) and the Doctor joining the villages in a celebratory dance round the Maypole on the village green.

Curiously, for all that the title of the story is "The Daemons", there is only one in evidence, and we are told he is the last one!

For those who would like to read further on my memories of the Pertwee area, and the changing face of Britian under which it was made, and how that fed stories, see:

The Daemons

Beltane is coming, the cold of night
Wind and rains lash the public house
The tomb is opening, time is right
In the cavern, quiet as a mouse

From the tomb comes storm of ice
But round the village, heat arises
The Master chants the mantra thrice
Power supreme among his prizes

The Daemon stalks the earth again
And the Doctor tries to talk of peace
But Jo’s self sacrifice, the Devil’s Bane
Daemon destroyed, troubles cease

The Master captured, they end his ploy
And around the Maypole, dance with joy

Friday, 29 April 2016

Terry Hampton Moves to Grouville in 1983

Just before he moved to Grouville Church, the Reverend Terry Hampton penned this piece for “The Pilot” magazine which is a look back at his life, and his time in St Ouen and at St Aubin on the Hill. It is written in his inimitable style, full of humour, but also the deep faith which was also the mark of the man.

The cover of that edition of “The Pilot” has a lovely photo of Terry and his wife Rosemary against the backdrop of Grouville Church., which I have reproduced above.

During his time at St Aubin on the Hill, Terry became a good friend, and in fact I am godfather to his youngest daughter stemming from that friendship. It was something of a wrench when the family left St Aubin for pastures new, but it was nice to visit them, usually on a Saturday morning, at Grouville when working with Rosemary on the Celebration of St Francis, and the Grouville History Pageant.

Spiritual Milestones
By Terry Hampton

(Whose Induction and Institution as Rector of St. Martin de Grouville will take place on 31st October 1983)

Last year I went to one of our local schools to talk about " A Day in the life of a clergyman". The best bit was the questions afterwards! "Do you get paid?" "Why don't some priests marry?" and a lot more besides.

To many people, not only youngsters, the way we spend our day is largely a mystery. Older people have ideas about us pootling around in slippers during the morning, reading The Times or perhaps The PILOT, doing a spot of gardening or looking at our butterfly collection before having lunch, a post-prandial nap, and then maybe, a few gentle visits. Tea, then the rigours of an evening meeting, and so to bed. No wonder clergy live so long!

Few of our parishioners know how we became Christians, or of the slog to make Theological College and convincing doubting Bishops, panels that God had called us into the ministry. Our worthy Editor has asked me to jot down a few spiritual milestones, and in the hope that some may be encouraged, here we go.

A Fearful Pest !

Milestone No 1. A small village between Lincoln and Gainsborough called Sturton by Stow. On the hills nearby, Scampton aerodrome, place of the Dam-Buster squadron. Because my parents had split up, I grew up with another family. They went regularly to church and took me along. Later Sunday School, where I was a fearful pest and my long suffering teacher vowed I would never survive to be twenty. (I went back years later as an Ordinand, and she was delighted that I was still alive and unhung, and that God truly moves in mysterious ways!) So the pattern of Sunday worship, and the thrill of being allowed to pass the collecting bag down the pew which only one Warden allowed; he has since claimed much credit for my becoming a cleric.

Amongst Real Friends

Milestone No 2. St Ouen, Jersey, our home from 1947 to 1960, A great parish to grow up in, and St Ouen's Church, a place of many wonderful memories. Edward and Molly Richardson, who put up with a very unruly group of lads, who loved us, prayed with and for us, and made their home a place of meeting and growing on Sunday evenings. Molly who taught me Latin, and Edward who let me loose on taking services, and who became such deep and wonderful friends so that I stayed with them before Rosemary and I were married in 1963. (Our twentieth wedding anniversary was in Israel this summer, spent on a camp site just outside Jerusalem.) Friends have always meant much to me, and the friends made in my St Ouen's days I still have: Brian is Vice-Principal of Victoria College, Francois is a fearsome Inspector of Produce, his brother Edouard and Jean have both made their marks in London, and in our own. States, Rodney is a lecturer up North, and so on.

Christianity: Attractive and Simple

Milestone No3. St Ouen was the means whereby a group of us went to Lee Abbey Youth Camp in 1956. There we met a remarkable and gifted man called "Scant" - officially Canon Scantlebury of Carlisle Cathedral, but Scant to all. He made Christianity so attractive and so simple that at Lee Abbey I become a committed Christian. (Sorry about those who don't like that word "committed", but .1 can't think of a better one.) Two years after Lee Abbey, at a Bryan Green Mission to Jersey, I felt that God was calling me into the ministry of the church. When I told Edward Richardson, he too was heard to murmur "God moves in a mysterious way"... .(Now where had I heard that phrase before?)

Then followed several years of study for more "O" levels, including Latin, and "A" levels done by correspondence course, in Roman History and Divinity. That really was a slog as I was doing both subjects in under a year, while still working all day at a building firm. But God who gives us the tasks, also gives us the strength for them. Four years at the London College of Divinity, where my New Testament tutor was Michael Green, were tremendous fun, as well as tough going academically. The friends made there have been over for holidays with us and have provided a lot of locum cover.

The Church Family

Milestone No4. St Aubin on-the-Hill, to distinguish it from the other churches in the village! Ten extremely happy years building up a church family, and working with Michael Halliwell, Gerald Stoddern, Colin Hough and John Le Page. I can't honestly say that I shall miss some of those protracted staff meetings, but I shall miss the fellowship and fun we had together. From the laughter coming from the vestry I've often wondered what the Communicare staff thought we did in there, and it was through sharing the funny things as well as the sadnesses, that we became a strong team.

I shall miss that very much, but I hope that we can build up a simple system of meeting with the Grouville clergy, Malcolm Brookes, Father Michael Ryan, John Dodd, and Malcolm Beale at St Clement. Clergy and people must work and share more together because we are all parts of the Body of Christ. The Wardens and Church Committee at Grouville have already made us feel very welcome, and St Martin de Grouville will be another milestone for us; teaching us new things, and I'm sure, being willing to learn from insights we have gained working for God in other parishes.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

A Tale of Two Islands

As I write this, the Guernsey elections are underway. Unlike Jersey, where collective responsibility has cemented the government together, and silenced dissent amongst Ministers and Assistant Ministers, Guernsey sees Ministerial government as a failed experiment.

C.S. Lewis notable said this on progress:

“Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”

It remains to be seen who has taken the wrong road, but Guernsey and Jersey have now taken very different roads, and for Guernsey there is a return to greater participation by all elected members in the government of their Island, as they return to a committee structure.

The status of scrutiny in Jersey, which was supposed to provide balance, is surely now questionable since the refusal of the Treasury Minister and the States of Jersey Development Company to supply information to Scrutiny in a timely manner, and then with caveats and grudgingly. If Scrutiny cannot access information to do its job, then it is a step along the wrong road.

And while collective responsibility works with a cabinet whose membership is very small compared to the whole number of members of Parliament, it remains to be seen whether it can work when those drawn into its remit effectively comprise almost half of the States.

A record number of people have given their stamp of approval to Guernsey's 2016 election by signing up for postal votes. The popularity of posting your vote - allowed in Guernsey since 1972 - has grown significantly in recent years. Voters had until midday on Election day to deliver their completed ballot slips, either by post or by hand, to Sir Charles Frossard House. Postal votes are available to all islanders who wish to vote in this way.

In Jersey, postal voting is restricted to those outside of the Island at the time of the election. Pre-poll voting, including the necessity of election officials to visit establishments (such as old people’s homes) has taken its place. This is clearly not nearly as convenient as being able to apply for a form, and then sign an election form and post it in, without having to be inconvenienced by attending a polling station.

In many respects this is a backward step, which was largely a result of postal voting apparently leading to increased numbers of Jersey Democratic Alliance votes in St Helier, and the suspicion of undue influence. In fact, the Reform vote has held up despite the absence of postal voting, but a new problem has arisen – that of the astute politician who visits an old people’s home shortly before a visit from the electoral officers attend to take votes.

The number of seats in Guernsey has been reduced from seven to five, as part of the wider cut to the total number of deputies from 45 to 38. Despite calls for a reduction of seats in Jersey, it has singularly failed to do anything like that, as the different vested interests all manage to spoil any suggestions from getting past the States.

A total of 30,320 people, just under half of the population of Guernsey and Herm, have registered to vote in the election. In 2014, the Jersey elections saw a total of 39,697 registered voters in Jersey, a considerably lower percentage of the population of Jersey, coming in at only 39.7%. Registration in Guernsey can be done online, while Jersey hopes to have that in place by the next elections.

Guernsey also has seven electoral districts, and the ratio of voters to Deputies standing is pretty close across the board. In Jersey,Parishes like St Mary have considerably more voter power than those in larger Parishes, and a vote in St Mary is worth double that of a vote in St Helier. Despite many attempts to get fairer representation, this has failed, mainly because of the different vested interests in the States blocking change.

However, Guernsey still has no electronic voting within their States Chamber, whereas it has been present in Jersey for many years. As the Guernsey Press asked: “Where, for example, is a single form breaking down how each member has voted on each contentious issue over the past two years? “ In Guernsey it is almost impossible to see patterns in voting; in Jersey it is recorded and available in hours.

Neither Island is yet looking at electronic voting at polls. Jersey is to consider voting machines at polling stations, but that is about the extent. As is so often the case, rather archaic arguments about security are raised, as if we were still living in the age when the internet was born. Online banking systems use sophisticated security methods all the time, and quite frankly, if the powers that be have so little faith in electronic voting, they should ensure that no States employees or members use electronic banking.

As the Internation Business Times commented: “We can bank, shop, communicate, and order a new passport or driving license online, so why can't we use the internet to vote”. And yet there are some problems – as Graham Cluley pointed out, a denial of service attack on the voting portal on election day could well cause major problems.

But even electronic voting machines would be a step in the right direction, because it would enable votes to be counted almost instantaneously, and would also allow the move to more representative voting systems than first past the post. Other systems invariable require longer times to collate votes, but a voting machine would take that problem away.

In the meantime, Guernsey’s election will be over by the time you read this, and they will be moving towards a return to Committee government. Time alone will tell whether Guernsey was right to call it a day on Ministerial government, or whether Jersey was correct to sail full steam ahead through sometimes foggy waters.

Postscript: turnout is 71.9% , compared to Jersey at a paltry 45-50%, and across the island, 21,803 people voted on Wednesday - 7% more than in 2012 (71.4%). Real change has taken place, which seems not to be possible in Jersey, and I do wonder if it is time to revisit larger constituences, as at present Minister can effectively be in small "safe" seats, like St Lawrence, where there was not even an election in 2014.

In Guernsey, they can see that their votes can make a difference, and what a difference to registration and turnout. Jersey's low registration, and low turnout, are indicative that there is something seriously amiss, and a huge disconnect between potential electorate and the States. That is not good for a healthy democracy.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Theatre of Death: A Solution

Theatre of Death: A Solution

"But what do you make of the problem?" asked Inspector West. "Well, you say the wife had sparkle, and that she was a bright thing," said Miss Marple, resuming her knitting, "But you know, that doesn't mean she was clever. I remember dear Jane Helier, such a pretty young woman but not clever, these theatrical people are often not, you know. Talented, but easily tricked. As this woman was by her husband, you know."

"We suspect the husband. But who is 'Sandra'? What about the diary? And why did he do it?"

"Well, no woman, even of the stage, would go out to a meeting without taking her handbag. We never leave them, do we? So you see, Inspector, it was not her handbag, but her husband's."

"The ventriloquist?" asked the Inspector, perplexed.

"No, the husband was a drag artist, under the name of 'Sandra'." replied Miss Marple, "That explains the handbag, and also his high-pitched squeaky voice. It was she who was the ventriloquist. That was what I meant about mushrooms and toadstools. You took things the wrong way round. I have not seen many women ventriloquists, so it must have been quite an unusual act - and there is her success story.”

“As for the husband, he was jealous and angry. She was taking his career away from him and, I suspect, about to leave him. Look at all their rows. And stage people are so flighty, I often think. That is the whole sad story. And you see, everything fits together nicely. No loose ends."

Miss Marple paused, and looked anxious, "Now just I moment, while I count this row. I fear I may have dropped a stitch."

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Theatre of Death: A Puzzle

Theatre of Death: A Puzzle

"I really would be most grateful if you could help, Miss Marple." said Inspector West. Miss Marple got out her knitting bag, and began to knit. "Yes, yes, do go on, my dear Inspector." The Inspector got out his notebook, and glanced at it: "Well, this is what you might call a theatrical murder. Both husband and wife were on the stage, you see, in variety acts. It was the wife who had been killed. “

“Apparently, she used to be the husband's assistant, before her own career took off. From friends, I gathered she was the bright one of the pair - plenty of sparkle, they said. She had gone out one morning and never returned. Later her body was found near the canal -strangled. We traced an old drunk by there, who recalled two women struggling."

"What was the husband like?" asked Miss Marple, as her knitting needles clacked merrily away.

"Friends said that he was not too smart. A bit of a dummy. Then they laughed. I didn't realise what they meant until I saw inside the flat. There on the sofa was a ventriloquist's dummy, an obscene grin on its juvenile features. I interviewed the husband, and he brought out her handbag, which it seems she left behind. Inside, her diary confirmed that she had a meeting with 'Sandra' beside the canal, at 11.00 -and that was the time of death, give or take five minutes.”

“I also questioned him about the breakup of their act, and he commented that she did not like a man who used a high-pitched squeaky voice in their act. So many loose ends. How do they tie up?"

"I am reminded so much of Mrs Smith's little housemaid," said Miss Marple, "She never could distinguish between mushrooms and toadstools." 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Do you know these words?

From "The Pilot", 1949, G.R. Balleine gave these definitions of Church terms:


BANNS OF MARRIAGE.-The public proclamation of an intended marriage for three Sundays in the Church of the parish in which each of the parties lives or habitually worships, in order that anyone who knows a " just impediment " to the marriage may make it known.

BAPTISM -The Sacrament “ordained by Christ Himself," by which a new member is `' grafted into the body of Christ's Church “by " water, wherein a person is baptized, In the -Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

BAPTISTRY-Part of a church set apart for the administration of Baptism.

BEATITUDES.-The eight declarations of blessedness made by our Lord at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are the---."

BENEDICITE--A Canticle attributed in the Apocrypha to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the
fiery furnace, which may be used as an alternative to the Te Deum (during Lent and on other occasions.

BENDICITUS --The Song of Zacharias after the circumcision of St. John the Baptist, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel” (Luke I: 68), used at Morning Prayer after the Second Lesson.

BIDDING PRAYER - An exhortation to pray for certain specific objects, sometimes used before the

BIRETTA.-A square cap often worn by clergy at outdoor functions.

BISHOP.-A clergyman consecrated to the highest rank in Holy Orders, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, for the spiritual supervision of a diocese. Special functions reserved for him are Confirmation, the selection and Ordination of new clergy, the licensing and instituting of clergy to parishes, and the Consecration of new churches.

BLACK LETTER – Minor Festivals in the Prayer Book Calendar for which no collect is provided. In old calendars these were printed in black, while the Greater Festivals were printed in red.

CANON The Greek word for a rule or list. Used :

(a) for Clergy who are on the list of those attached to a Cathedral, e.g. Canon Le Marinell
 (b) Books on the list of those accepted by the Church as Scripture, the Canon of Scripture.
(c) The list of Saints accepted and canonized by the Church.
(d) Certain laws which govern the Church, e.g..The Jersey Canons of 1628.
(e) Hymn-tunes in which one group of voices repeat; the notes that another group has previously sung, (as in 'Three Blind Mice), e.g. Tallis’ Canon set to “Glory to Thee, My God, This Night”

CANTATE –The 98th Psalm, “O Come Let us Sing Unto the Lord”, used as an alternative to the Magnificat at Evening Prayer

CANTICLES – A name given to prose hymns such as the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis

CAROL – A glorious sacred song of a lighter and more popular type than a hymn. There are Eastertide Carols, and Ascension tide Carols as well as Christmas Carols.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

War and the Princess

Back in the Second World War, Princess Elizabeth - Elizabeth Windsor, was service number 230873, for she had volunteered as a subaltern in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, training as a driver and a mechanic. Eventually, she drove military trucks in support roles in England.

In 1942, at age 16, Elizabeth registered with the Labour Exchange –the British employment agency at the time – and was extremely keen to join a division of the women’s armed forces. Her father was reluctant to let her do so, but eventually relented. Once in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, Elizabeth learned how to change a wheel, deconstruct and rebuild engines, and drive ambulances and other vehicles.

Collier's Magazine says that "One of her major joys was to get dirt under her nails and grease stains in her hands, and display these signs of labour to her friends"

This poem, written to commemorate her 90th birthday, looks back on that period in history, when the world was at war, and a great and heroic generation, ordinary men and women, supported the war effort, and she was clearly determined to be part of that, a Royalty that was prepared to "roll up its sleeves" and get "stuck in". She remains, a thread connecting us to that time, when people could see what really mattered, and fought for freedom. It is also why the poem sets the backdrop against which she did her bit for the war effort.

All this is seventy five odd years in the past. A new generation now holds the stage. The Queen’s generation has already slipped into the shadows of this pageant we call “life”, but she remains, a firm link to those days of that war to rescue freedom, and save those values which we know so often treat too lightly.

War and the Princess

The bombs are falling, falling, down:
The Blitz descends on London Town;
And night time full of heavy roar,
Bombers fly overhead once more;
And below the city, underground,
People shelter, hear that sound;
Hitler strikes with power and might:
The buildings blazing burn all night;
The World at War, and all must pray,
No more death will come this way;
Fire fighters out, the hiss of steam,
As water strikes the burning beam;
In the skies, the RAF fights back,
And courage, airmen do not lack;
Spitfires, Battle of Britain fight,
Against the many, an air force slight;
And at sea, the navy guards the seas,
The U-Boats swarm like dread disease;
The convoy is protected, lifeline ships,
Across stormy Atlantic making trips;
And soldiers train, prepare to fight,
Against all the Third Reich’s might;
Driving military trucks, doing her bit,
Elizabeth did not simply wait and sit;
Trained as driver and mechanic too,
Drove military trucks, part of the crew;
A Women’s Auxiliary, a volunteer,
To help her country loved so dear;
Now she celebrates her ninety years,
A lifetime away from wartime fears;
And yet she was there, and not aloof:
Embodiment of the crown, living proof,
Of a princess who served, and became
The Queen, and remains the same;
Through the war, and after in peace:
She carries on duty, does not cease:
In praise of the princess, of long ago,
Became the Queen we love and know.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Have You A Heart?

Have You A Heart?
Though separated by 70 years, the struggles of refugee life are much the same. On the left, refugees and displaced persons arrive in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, 1945. On the right, Middle Eastern refugees wait in a Vienna train station en route to Germany, 2015.

I choose this location, and this time, because it is reflected in a letter to "The Pilot" (The Jersey Anglican Church Magazine) in 1948, where the events in Germany led to a plea for help.

For background to the piece in "The Pilot", I looked at the American situation, where in the late 1940s, an intransigent Congress made it difficult for many post-WWII European refugees to come to the U.S. Among those displaced persons was Milan J. Kubic, who looked back on then and on the situation now.

Milan J. Kubic was a correspondent for Newsweek magazine from 1958 to 1989, including stints as bureau chief in Beirut, Vienna, West Germany, and Jerusalem. Born in Czechoslovakia, Milan was a refugee and lived in displaced persons camps in the U.S. zone in West Germany from June 1948 to February 1950.

He wrote of the current migrant crisis:

“Startling as it has been, the tidal wave of desperate and impoverished asylum-seekers who have been arriving in Western Europe is far from unprecedented. Millions of similar victims of violence who were made homeless by World War II paid the same compliment to the free part of the Old World in the 1940s and early 1950s.”

Earl G. Harrison, the dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, was sent to assess the situation. He wrote: “One must raise the question as to how much longer many of these people, particularly those who have over such a long period felt persecution and near starvation, can survive on a diet composed principally of bread and coffee”, noting that the refugees were demoralized and lacked medicine, clothing, and fuel for the coming winter.

Congress was dead against opening doors to migrants, but Harry Truman, the President, was resolved to do what he saw as the right thing. As Kubic comments:

“As a result of laws he passed, including the additional immigration authorized in 1953, the United States admitted a total of 600,000-plus World War II displaced persons and refugees whose homes were behind the Iron Curtain. An additional 400,000-plus displaced persons were resettled by Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and other Western countries. By the end of 1955, Europe’s World War II migration crisis was over.”

“In his memoir, Years of Trial and Hope, President Harry S. Truman wrote, ‘All my life, I have fought against prejudice and intolerance.’ The fight may have to be waged and won again to resolve the plight of the Middle Eastern migrants in Europe.”

Truman also wrote:

“It is unthinkable that the refugees should be left indefinitely in camps in Europe. We cannot turn them out in Germany into the community of the very people who persecuted them.”

And yet the modern solution seems to be to try to repatriate refugees to Syria - into the community of the very people who persecuted them. Have we learned nothing?

But going back to 1948, Jersey, too, was being asked to play its part in that first migrant crisis. In “The Pilot” of March 1948, was an article entitled “Have You A Heart?” It is worth reading, and listening to this call to respond to the plight of our fellow human beings.


If you have, I am sure it will be moved by the following extract from a letter from Miss Stocker, a daughter of Col.H. Stocker, of Fliquet:

"I was demobilized this summer after nearly eight years in the Army and I am now back in Germany in a Foreign Office appointment. I am Governmental Staff Officer for an area roughly the size of Yorkshire, and my work touches everything connected with local Government including, amongst other things, public health, welfare, education, school feeding, displaced persons and refugees.

It is of the Refugees that I am now writing. I doubt whether people at home realize the desperate plight of these people or the utter hopelessness of their future. The old and middle aged can never hope to achieve decent conditions in their lifetime; let alone comfort. The younger ones may, but many will be handicapped by chronic ill health due to years of vagrancy and malnutrition.

The overcrowding in Schleswig-Holstein is particularly bad; the refugees outnumber the indigenous population, and more and more continue to pour in from the East. They have nothing but what they carry in their hands: many have been wandering for three or four years; their clothes are in tatters, their footwear practically non-existent.

In Germany the shortages are so acute that the normal residents are unable to replace worn out garments; so there is nothing for the refugees. They cannot even repair the clothes they wear, as they have no needles, no thread, no scraps for patching. Things like handkerchiefs, towels and dusters are unobtainable and new-born babies have to be wrapped in most unhygienic rags as there are no baby clothes and no napkins at all.

I am dealing with these people personally; I see them constantly, and I am not exaggerating. I am asking, there-fore, whether you could ask the members of the Church to send me some parcels for these people. I am not asking for anything new or expensive, but for old garments and scraps which most people would consider useless.

There is literally nothing which these people cannot use, they unravel ragged socks to reknit others; they make a new garment out of half a dozen old ones; colours or shapes are immaterial. Shoes of any kind are worth their weight in gold, and worn out ones are used for patching. Any-thing in the way of tape, braid, buttons, hooks, needles, cottons, and mending wool is invaluable as they have none at all.

I am fully aware that our own people are also suffering from shortages. Furthermore I know that, in the Channel Islands, there must still be bitterness against the Germans, and many will consider that they are reaping just reward. Some may be antagonistic towards my request and even shocked that I should make it. I am confident however that those who know me and my parents will realize that I am not likely either to sentimentalize over Germans or to distribute indiscriminate charity to Nazis.

Anything I receive will be given to women and old people, who were unwilling victims of circumstance, and to children and babies who, we hope, may grow up to be a sane and peace-loving people. Those who survive will be anything but sane and peace-loving, unless something is done quickly to give them self-respect.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

A Tutorial in Tutelles

A Tutorial in Tutelles

The Jersey Archive has an old parchment dating from January 6th 1683, with a seal, on which in faded handwriting are the words:

"Francois Amy, Jaque Alexandre, Philipe Touzel, Deny Le Tubelin, Jean Collas, Thomas Hormen, Jean Alixandre and Jean Houper appoint as the tuteur of the children of the late Barnabey Alexandre. Philipe Touzel is appointed."

This document is an early example of a tutelle. A tutelle is something singular to Jersey, with origins in the ancient Norman customary law of the Island of Jersey. It has developed over time as a means of protecting the interests and managing the affairs of children considered too young to do so for themselves.
It is a form of court-administered protectorship, in some ways like a trust, but part of the customary law of the Island. It was last updated in 1862 by the Loi (1862) Sur Les Tuteurs which imposed certain obligations on the tuteur with regard to preparation of accounts.

The tuteur took an oath of office ““to take the same care of the property and affairs of minors as a responsible head of the family would do for his or her own, on pain of liability for fraud (dol) and neglect of duty”.

When a child inherits money, property or some other assets and is under the age of 18 (it was originally 20), a tutelle was required. A Tutelle is formed when a minor inherits property or assets under a will or, in some instances, by way of compensation or gift.

Unlike a trust, all it requires is that seven persons, traditionally drawn from close family and friends, should be convened before the Royal Court. These seven persons, known as “Electeurs” then nominate from amongst their number, one person to act as the head of the Tutelle. This person is known as a “Tuteur” if male, or a “Tutrice” if female. The Tuteur must be resident in Jersey. Also only individuals are able to be appointed as tuteurs: corporate bodies may not be.

Traditionally, four electeurs are represented by the father’s side and three by the mother’s, but in practice they may well be friends of the family willing to take on the responsibility of being Electeurs, or even staff from the family’s lawyers.

I remember when I was made an “Electeurs” for a Tutelle. First, we had a briefing by the lawyer on the what a Tutelle did and the Court procedures, who made sure we were all properly attired - one Electeurs had turned up without a tie and had to borrow one. Lawyers are used to this and have spares available! Then it was over to the Royal Court where we sat on a bench and waited while a number of property transactions took place, as it was a Friday.

And suddenly, it was our turn, and we all were ushered (by the court usher) to the front of the Court, to stand in front of the Jurats. The membership of the Tutelle was briefly mentioned, and then we all took together our oath of office. Oaths in Jersey are unlike those in England and elsewhere. You simply stand silent, right hands raised, while the Bailiff administers the oath. You don't repeat or say anything - raising the hand while the oath is spoken constitutes assent. And that was it, and we left the Court.

The Tutelle comes to an end when the minor reaches 18 or on his death, should he die before the age of 18.

An informal survey of the incidence of tutelles in the Island was carried out in the year 2000 with the help of Advocates Marian Whittaker and Rose Colley. It showed that there were 24 tutelles in existence in 1998, 14 in 1999 and, at the time of the survey in 2000, over 20 then in existence. Since 1995, there have been 99 children subject to tutelles and, although very difficult to get a proper understanding of the average value of tutelles, it would appear that the vast majority are valued at less than £150,000.

But the management of tutelles has recently been changed to reflect the very different circumstances of the 21st century and the problems which can arise. For example:
  • There is no investigation into the suitability of a person to be either tuteur or an electeur. This can become particularly relevant in circumstances such as the payment of damages to a minor resulting from a medical negligence claim where the father or mother might be the tuteur and is financially unsophisticated or might have a criminal record for fraud or similar financial crime.
  • The customary law favouring the paternal over the maternal side of the family is potentially a breach of human rights legislation.
And as Sir Philip Bailhache told the States, “In a more close-knit and local community électeurs understood their duties and fulfilled them very satisfactorily. But in the aftermath of the Liberation and as a consequence, I think, of the considerable immigration which took place after 1945, people became more disconnected, in part, from the customary law that had served them so well for centuries. They did not really understand the duties of électeurs, the remedies available to them and the bodies of électeurs became empty forms.”

The change to the law, accepted by the States this April 2016, will replace a tutelle of seven by a single tuteur appointed by the Royal Court and a number of statutory duties in order to protect the interests of the minor would be imposed on that tuteur.

The French language has been retained because the English equivalent words – tutor or guardian - both have different grammatical or technical meanings. So although the tutelle as it stands is being abolished, the single appointee would retain the name “tuteur”.

And so passes the one remaining customary law procedure by which committees were established to look after the property of those who were unable or incapable of looking after it themselves.

Originally, there were three. They were the administratelle which looked after the property of someone who had left the Island and whose whereabouts were unknown; the curatelle which looked after the property of someone who was mentally disordered; and the tutelle, which looked after the property of a minor.

In each case, the family and friends were summoned to attend the Royal Court, quite often by the Connétable, and seven électeurs were sworn in. From those seven électeurs an administrateur, a curateur or a tuteur was chosen by them and he or she then took the oath before the Royal Court.

The duty of the électeurs was, broadly speaking, to keep an eye on the administrateur, the curateur or the tuteur and, of course, to approve the annual accounts.

The administratelle was abolished in 1963 and replaced by an administrator appointed by the Royal Court. The curatelle was abolished by the Mental Health Law of 1969 and was replaced again by a curator appointed by the Royal Court.

And now the tutelle has been abolished, although the administrator of the property of a minor will still be sworn in before the Royal court and still have duties and responsibilities. The tuteur as under the old law, will at all times be ultimately answerable to the Royal Court

Under the new law a tuteur must be appointed if the minor has either any immoveable property or any moveable property to a value of £25,000 or more. The Chief Minister would be empowered, by Order, to amend that figure.

A tuteur ordinarily will have rights to employ experts and to delegate certain limited functions in the same way as a trustee under the Trusts (Jersey) Law 1984

What of existing tutelles? The Chief Minister will bring in an order for necessary transitional provisions and savings for the purposes of the commencement of the Law and the repeal, if need be, of any other enactment and the abolition by it of any rule of customary law.

Such an Order will include provision as regards anyone already holding the office of tuteur when the Law comes into force, and the électeurs in relation the relevant tutelle; and the extent (if any) to which the new requirements will affect such persons.

In short, the new law will be consistent with the modern legal framework within which Jersey family and property law need to operate.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Songsmiths Concert Tonight


with Guest Soloist: Tracy Bromley - Flute

at St. Aubin on the Hill Church

Wednesday 20th April, 8.00pm

A free concert, for all are very welcome.

In aid of the Jersey Haemophilia Society, with Drinks and Nibbles, with retiring collection.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Nursery Education: A Critical Overview of the Figures

There’s a lot of angry people saying that Jersey’s middle class will take the brunt of the cuts, and one father of three said the cuts would “unfairly hit Mr and Mrs Average”.

So what is the situation behind the cuts, and who would be effected, and by how much? Before we start protesting about cuts, let's have some figures. Otherwise we are, as the phrase puts it, making bricks without straw.

Some Nursery Figures

At present, when children are receiving nursery education outside of the States system, the nursery receives – directly from the States - £3,914 per child per year.

Now that’s not the full amount. So how much does it cost? Some nursery fees are online, and one I looked at has a maximum of £307.75 per week for a full week, if the child is 0-2 year, reducing as the child moves into upper age bands. For two years plus, it comes in at £273.98 for a full week, and for three years plus, it comes in at £ 227.50.

But the States Nursery Education fund is limited. It provides free States-funded nursery education in the school year that the child turns four years old. It currently involves a placement with a nursery which is a registered Nursery Education Fund (NEF) provider, or with a States primary school nursery.

It is important to note, however, that there are private prep school nurseries which receive no States funding because they are not currently in the NEF. We will return to this later.

And while some private nurseries cover school holidays and run the whole year round, the child can get up to 20 hours’ free education each week, for 38 weeks, during school term-time only, even if in a private nursery.

So our nursery fees for full weeks, for three years plus, will come to £8,645 per annum for 38 full weeks at the private nursery looked at above, and if for 48 weeks, for £10,920 per annum. Before four years old, the parents may be funding this or more for a private nursery, with no subsidy from the States.

Now many mothers who work, do so before the child is four years old, so they are paying out, and managing to budget for nursery education. It is after the child is four, that the States intervenes, and they still have to pay, but they may find an extra £3,914 in their budget.

In their fifth year, children enter the States school system in reception classes, and this is fully funded by the States. So there is only a small interval of two years at most when there might be two children receiving the States reduction in nursery fees, and unless there are twins, this is only going to be for a relative short time of under one year.

Statistics on Median Income

I have gleaned information from the States Statistics Unit about the median household income for a income for a family with one child or more under 5, and this is £52,900. This means that half will have an income or more than that figure, and half below. So all those below – half of those – will still retain the subsidised nursery education.

The 70th percentile for families with under 5s is £75,000. This means that 70% of all families have incomes below that figure, and will retain the subsidised nursery education.

So how many are in the remaining 30%? According to the States statistical unit, there are on average about 1,000 children in a cohort, so education’s proposal for a threshold of £75,000 would potentially affect around 300 families.

But remember that I mentioned that there are private prep school nurseries which receive no States funding because they are not currently in the NEF. It is estimated that about 70-75 families send their children there, so they receive no States funding.

The remaining families are split between free States school nurseries, and private sector NEF nurseries. It is unknown how this is split up, but the Education department thing that it means around 100 will be affected in the private sector, but it could be as low as 66 or as high as 119.

But let’s break this down a bit more. While 30% of families have income above the threshold of £75,000, it turns out that in fact 20% (the 80th percentile) have incomes about £99,000. I’m not convinced that those are “Mr and Mrs Average”!

It should be seen from this that the choice of £75,000 is not an arbitrary figure but one which has come from a careful study of the statistics involved.

Potential Budget Squeezes:

Looking to the future, there is a potential increase in private nurseries claiming through the Nursery Education Fund. More nurseries from the private prep schools have indicated they may want to join. This makes the scheme unsustainable in its present form.

Introducing a threshold would mean that it can continue for the lower income families who are least able to afford to pay for nursery. That is important for it is lower income families whom studies have shown need it most.

The prohibitively high costs of private child care and the dearth of quality, accessible public providers means that parents on lower incomes are often left to choose between the lesser of two evils: low-quality care or forgoing needed pay to stay at home and care for a child themselves.

Parents on higher incomes may mix nursery time with paying for a live in nanny which can be more cost effective for them. Moreover, a nanny or au pair does not need to be a registered childcare provider, with the added expense that registration incurs.

Some Comments:

For parents who need to cover child care, the current situation leads to 20 hours per week in term time, which is 4 hours per working day (for a five day week). Any time ahead of that will need to be paid for by the parents.

It is very unlikely that all parents take the minimum free hours. Given school holidays, and the need to work at least during some of that time, parents will almost certainly be paying more than that. There is a gap between the funding rates and the cost of providing the hours required.

A petition launched by Linda Symons in the UK, looking at the government pledge for increased hours from 15 hours to 30 hours but at a lower rate, suggests cutting the free hours back to 15 hours, and offering the additional 15 hours on a subsidised basis, dependent on parental income. She wants the extra 15 hours to be means tested and offered to low-income families.

I'm not suggesting that Jersey goes down that route, but I cite this to show that at least one individual who runs a nursery school is thinking more about how the benefit to the poor can be improved, even if it means taking it away from those who have much more income. The complaints about the £75,000 threshold come from a 30% who I am certain do not know poverty in the same way as the poorer families in our community. And 20% of those families affected have incomes of £99,000 or more.

I am sure there would be even greater complaints if there was a lower threshold, but a higher subsidy to poorer families, both saving money, and improving the lot of those who do face real poverty. I’m not suggesting it, but I am suggesting that a threshold of £75,000 is a very generous one.

Currently the subsidy paid to the nursery per child has been frozen for this year, because there are not enough funds. Who will that affect most? Not those whose income is £75,000 or above, I am sure. One of the aims of early intervention is to tackle disadvantage by addressing the attainment gaps already apparent between children of different backgrounds by the time they start school. Already by the age of three, children from poorer backgrounds could on average be as much as a year behind their more advantaged peers.

I do think, however, that a fixed limit of £75,000 may well lead to “gaming the system”, and that a better approach would be a graded reduction, between £75,000 to £80,000, with complete drop-off at that point, much as there is with the University grant system, which is also means tested. (and which, it should be noted, focuses purely on income not outgoings).

I also think that it is unfair for some above £75,000 to continue to receive the subsidy to nursery education because they have children in States nurseries rather than private ones, and I suppose controversially, but because of fairness, I would suggest that alongside a graded reduction, the inclusion of all children within both States and private sector should be taken into account with the means testing.

Finally, I think that some consideration needs to be taken, just as with University grants, for calculating a discount from the threshold for parents who have two children within that small band between nursery education being subsidised (from age 4) to school age. Those will be hardest hit by the introduction of a threshold, and some compensatory mechanism needs to be there for those.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Some Bygone Tragedies

Back to a history blogh today and from “The Pilot” of 1947, I unearthed this rather nice piece by G.R. Balleine, which I’d not come across anywhere else. It reads like a “Who’s Who of Death”!

It reminded me of a friend in Guernsey, where an office ran a “Death Sweepstake”, and names of prominent people in the news and celebrities were put on slips of paper, and drawn from a hat for money in the pot. When someone named died, the individual with that slip scooped the lot, and they began again!

Sadly with so many deaths of celebrities – Ronnie Corbett has just died – there is probably a winner every week. This is somewhat different though – a list of ordinary people, which brings me to another true story of the not quite so recent past, perhaps no more than 30 years ago.

It concerns a certain States department, and you might think it could be tax or social security, but I couldn’t possible comment (as Francis Urquhart was wont to say). They fell out with the town hall, and resorted to cuttings from the JEP on death notices.

Well, sooner or later something would go wrong with that, and sure enough, one poor elderly lady received an official letter regarding her recently deceased – but still very much alive – husband, who was away from home at the time. When news of the upset got back to said department of cock-ups, an order was sent to a minion to send her flowers with a note of apology. A ring at the door, and there was a delivery man with the flowers – a funeral wreath!

Nothing like that is the case here, where those dead are well and truly buried.

One curiosity - Reg Langlois drew to my attention that the text says: "William Cornwallis Symonds devoured by a shark off the coast of New Zealand; his mother was Miss Carteret of Trinity Manor". I've checked the original, and that says "Miss" not "Mrs".

I suspect that Balleine's ledger is giving her maiden name. I've been doing some investigations and his father was Sir William Symonds, and William Cornwallis Symonds was the son of the marriage between Sir William and Elizabeth Saunders Luscombe, daughter of Matthew Luscombe of Plymouth. After Elizabeth's death, his father remarried on 10 March 1818, Elizabeth Mary, daughter of Rear-Admiral Philip Carteret, of Trinity Manor. After her death, he married a third and final time, in 1851, to Susan Mary, daughter of the Revd John Briggs. So in fact Elizabeth Mary was his step-mother.

Some Bygone Tragedies
By G.R. Balleine

Knowing my rather absurd love for musty old documents, Mr. J. Curwood very kindly lent me a curious old ledger, in which a Joseph Farley of St Aubin's had jotted down day by day how his fellow-islanders died.

He started in 1777, and his first entry tells how Francois Le Cras of La Moye tumbled from the top of a house and was killed. The next says, "Mr Dumaresq of St Lawrence murdered by one Doughty. He was hanged for it." On the same page we read, "Mr Peter Deslandes of St. John fell from a load of hay and was killed"; "Lieut. Hogan, Surgeon of the 69th Regiment shot by Lieut. Burrow in a duel"; "Mr John Le Sueur had his arm shot off in firing a field-piece on the Town Hill"; "I, Joseph Farley, lost my left eye by a fork which I was cleaning"; "A Soldier's wife found on the sands murdered"; "Manon Le Cras fell in the brook near Captain Le Maistre's house and was drowned."

And so the dismal record runs on. Among the unusual entries are: "William Hales condemned to be hanged. The rope slipped. He was reprieved and transported"; "Mrs Le Dain from the scratch of a pin; her arm mortified"; "A man jumped off a boat in St Brelade's Bay. Supposed to be a smuggler from Guernsey. He was drowned". "Captain Burnett shot by one of the crew of the French King's cutter at the oyster fisheries"; "A child named Gallichan scalded to death by pulling from the table a basin full of hot soup"; "Mr John (name illegible) dislocated his neck making a somersault. He died much regretted. Grand funeral"; "Thomas Clements, hair-dresser in St Helier's, by swallowing a live sole fish. He choked"; "Isaac Coutanche of St Martin's killed hirnseli by gluttony. He ate 18 raw eggs and drank 10 glasses of gin, ate a quantity of raw pork and drank 2 glasses of brandy, he died."

During the Napoleonic War,  Farley records again and again the death in prison of Jersey sailors who had been captured by the French: "Mr John Mauger in a French prison"; "Mr John Le Gresley in a French prison"; "Mr John Le Couteur of Le Coin in a French prison"; etc., etc., Jerseymen in those days were sea-faring folk, and the Register is full of entries such as: "Captain Watts on board the Iris washed overboard coming home"; "Captain Hamon of St Aubin's fell from the mast-head on his voyage home and was drowned": "Mr Syvret, Mr Bertram, Mr Le Feuvre drowned off the Westward Isles"; "William Cornwallis Symonds devoured by a shark off the coast of New Zealand; his mother was Miss Carteret of Trinity Manor".

"Mr Edouard Mauger of St Ouen's died of smallpox on board the Laurel going to Newfoundland. All the crew had it except the Captain"; "The Croissant brig, belonging to Mr Peter Du Val, lost on the Paternosters at eleven at night"; "Son of Mr Low the doctor fell down the hold of an Indiaman at Liverpool; killed"; and again three years later, "George Low, son of the doctor at Le Coin died on his voyage to Quebec."

Every vraicing season brought a list of tragedies: "Phillip and James Payn, George and Thomas Carrell, John Le Cras, and John Le Masurier, returning from the Ichios, all drowned." "Six persons incoming from the Ichios in two boats from vraicing, all drowned".

But the most striking fact that emerges from this dismal record is the amount of serious crime that there was in the island in those days. Within four months the old diarist records: "Mrs J. Charlton murdered by her husband"; "Mr Derbyshire shot by Jacques Fouquet; he was hanged for it",

"Mrs McKirty murdered by her husband"; "A soldier of the 26th Regiment killed one of his comrades."

Every year had its homicides: "Mrs Plowman, an officer's wife killed by a kick from her husband"; "Rachel Le Page shoved down a pair of stairs by Mrs A. Locket; she died next day"; "Mrs Le Loustre of St Lawrence murdered by a soldier named Tommy."

The hangman was kept busy, for he had not only to officiate at the gallows on Gallows Hill, but also to administer the public floggings and other corporal punishments. We meet many such entries as: "Charles Hoquard, pilloried for forgery"; "Gilbert Wilson, private 66th Regiment, whipped for theft"; "John James Le Marchand pilloried and ears cut off for forgery on Aaron De St Croix".

Whatever our faults, we have at any rate become a trifle more civilized than our grandparents.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Simon Whom He Surnamed Peter - Part 14

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.

The picture above is the rather striking "Pentecost" stained glass window in St John's Church, Jersey

The New Synagogue in Jerusalem
By G.R. Balleine

Now for a time our story centres round Jerusalem. The city had scores of synagogues. Any ten Jews could start one. And a large room, perhaps the one used at the Last Supper, became the synagogue of the Nazarenes, the nickname given by outsiders to followers of the Prophet of Nazareth. They numbered at this time about a hundred and twenty. They were orthodox Jews, devout Temple-worshippers, but, like early Methodists, they supplemented the official services by meetings in their own room.

Every group needs a leader; and here the Church had a narrow escape. Family feeling is strong in the East. When Mohammed died, he was succeeded by his father-in-law, then by his nephew. Something like this nearly happened in the Church.

The family of Jesus stepped into unexpected prominence. Some regarded His brother James as His rightful successor. When James died, his nephew became leader of the Jerusalem Church. The next two leaders were James's grandnephews.

If hereditary rule had become established, the result would have been disastrous. James was intensely religious; but his outlook was totally unlike that of Jesus. He was a strict ascetic. Hegesippus says: `He drank no wine nor ate meat; no razor touched his head; he never anointed himself; his knees grew hard as a camel's through incessant prayer.' Religion to him meant rigid obedience to the Mosaic Law. But the new wine of the Gospel could not be bottled in stiff old Jewish wineskins. A leader was needed, who would gradually slough off outgrown regulations. And fortunately for about ten years the new synagogue found this in Peter.

His strong personality brought him to the front; and he knew the mind of Jesus better than the brother, who had not believed in Him till the Resurrection. Like everyone he had faults. One was impetuosity, acting with sudden energy without sufficient thought. Some think that his first step was an example of this. The Apostles had been known as the Twelve; but, now Judas had gone, this name was a constant reminder of the triumph of the enemy. Peter regarded every text in the Old Testament as a message from God, which could be torn from its context and applied to present problems. (Every Rabbi did the same.) Now he remembered words in a psalm, `His office let another take,' and he took this as a command that Judas's place should be filled. When other Apostles died, the Church did not replace them. But for the moment this was a fine gesture of faith. They would not let their Movement die.

Peter made two conditions. The new Apostle must have been with Jesus through all His ministry, and he must have seen the Risen Christ. Two names were proposed, Joseph Bar-Sabbas and Matthias. Behind the quiet words, `they put forward two', may lie an Oriental scene of arms gesticulating and voices shouting the claims of the rival candidates. A contested election must be avoided. So Peter fell back on a common form of divination.

Jonah's sailors settled by lot who should be thrown overboard. Haman fixed the day for his pogrom by casting lots. And Peter said, `Leave the choice to God.' He wrote each name on a white stone, and put these in a jar. He prayed, `O Lord, show which Thou hast chosen.' He shook the jar, till one stone flew out, and everyone read MATTHIAS; `and he was numbered with the Eleven'. Later the Church forbade lot-drawing. Many Church Councils decreed, `If any seek to know God's Will by lots, let him be anathema.'

Before going further we must ask, `Is our information trustworthy?' We now depend entirely on Acts, a book written long after Pentecost, by Luke, a Gentile convert, who had no first-hand knowledge of the early Jerusalem Church. He had to rely on documents, and behind his opening chapters critics detect two, which they call A and B.

A's sober, straightforward story raises few difficulties. B is later, and shows how reports grow by repetition. Luke adopted the curious plan of inserting both accounts, so that we get the impression that things happened twice.

We have two outpourings of the Spirit, two mass conversions, two arrests of the Apostles. We must disentangle the two documents, and follow A's order of events, even though by so doing we puzzle readers accustomed to the order in Acts. But we shall not ignore B, which often gives useful details.

At first the disciples attracted no attention. Jerusalem was accustomed to see provincials wandering round the city. But one afternoon Peter and John went to the Temple for the Evening Sacrifice. At the Gate Beautiful a lame beggar raised his whine for alms. The thought struck Peter, `Jesus would have healed him.' Then came another, `Cannot He still heal?' He grasped the man's hand, and pulled him to his feet, saying, `In the Name of Jesus-walk!'

If that gate was the beggar's daily pitch, he must often have seen Jesus. He would have heard that Jesus healed cripples. Peter's sudden grip left no time for doubt. When he stood on his feet, he found that he could not only stand but jump. `He went with them into the Temple, leaping and praising God.'

There is nothing incredible in this. Faith-healing centres can show dozens of similar cures. Many pilgrimage shrines, pagan and Christian, have sheaves of crutches on the walls left by excripples.

The man's exuberance drew a crowd to the cloister called Solomon's Porch; and here Peter spoke to them. We now meet another problem. Luke puts eight speeches on to Peter's lips. They are only brief resumes; but are they trustworthy? It was the custom of ancient historians to compose imaginary speeches to enable their heroes to explain their motives. Luke may have done the same. But his reports show so many traces of a primitive theology, which the Church had outgrown long before Acts was written, that probably he had seen some record of what was actually said.

The gist of Peter's speech, as Luke gives it, is: `We did not heal this man. God healed him to honour His servant' (R.V. and R.S.V.) `Jesus, Whom you rejected and killed. So repent, that you may be forgiven. Then God will send back Jesus as Messiah, Who is waiting in Heaven for the Great Restoration. He is the Prophet, Whom Moses foretold.'

The sermon was never finished. The resurgence of the Nazarene Movement startled the Priests. The two Apostles were arrested, and lodged in the Temple jail. Next morning the Sanhedrin met; Annas and Caiaphas were there and most of the judges who had condemned Jesus, a semi-circle of the highest and most honoured men in Israel. Before them stood the two fishermen, `uncultured and untrained', but unabashed by these scowling dignitaries.

`In whose name,' Peter was asked, `have you done this?' Sorcerers were supposed to work by the names of Demons; so Annas apparently hoped to charge the Apostles with sorcery. Peter replied: `If you ask about a kindness done to a cripple, I admit that he stands before you healed, because he trusted in the Name of Jesus, whom you crucified. In no other name can salvation be found.'

Some of the Council `were so enraged that they wanted to kill them'; but that silent witness for the defence, the healed cripple, embarrassed them. So the prisoners were removed. Then Gamaliel, a leading Pharisee, said: `Leave them alone. Fanatical movements like this always fizzle out.' They took his advice, recalled the Apostles, and `charged them to speak no more in the Name of Jesus'. But Peter replied: `Judge for yourselves whether we ought to obey you rather than God. We cannot help speaking of what we have heard and seen.' Further threats failed to frighten them, and at last they let them go.

According to A, our best authority, it was after this that the gift of the Spirit came. The cure of the cripple and the Apostles' release had thrilled the disciples. In their exultant mood they were ready for anything. God was with them! Annas was powerless! They were on the verge of victory! The Feast of Pentecost began.

After the Morning Sacrifice they flocked to their meeting-room to hear the prisoners' story. They prayed for boldness to proclaim their message. They prayed that more wonders might be worked in the Name of Jesus. The excitement grew, till a wave of emotion swept them out of their normal selves.

A tells the story briefly: `When they had prayed, the room rocked, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke God's message fearlessly.'

Jerusalem is subject to earthquakes. One might have been enough to jerk the disciples over the line that separates normal from abnormal. Or the tremor may have been wholly subjective. Fox notes in his Journal that at a Mansfield Prayer Meeting `the Lord's power was so great the house was shaken'.

B adds, `They all began to speak in other tongues.' Tongue-speaking (glossolalia it is technically called) is clearly historical.

We meet it at Caesarea and Ephesus; Paul describes it in I Corinthians; and it has recurred in modern revivalist meetings.' But Luke, who wrote after it had ceased, and had probably never seen it, misunderstood `other tongues' to mean foreign languages. Paul, however, makes it clear that the `tongues' were incoherent gabble: `He who speaks in a tongue speaks to God. No one understands him.'

There are moments when religion becomes deeply emotional. Bunyan wrote of such a moment, `I could have spoken of God's love to the very crows on the ploughed fields.' This was the mood that swept through the Nazarene synagogue. First, says B, they seemed to hear `a mighty blast of wind', and flashes of light like tongues of fire seemed to descend on them. (Trances are said to begin with a roaring in the ears and `seeing stars'.)

Then they could not keep silent. Perhaps someone shouted, `Hosanna'; someone else, `Hallelujah!' Others took it up, and, being Orientals, they did it at the top of their voices. When they could not find words quickly enough, they made up words of their own. Pandemonium broke out. The din was so deafening that a crowd collected in the street. The disciples thought they were `proclaiming the mighty works of God'. But passers-by thought they were drunk.

Peter saw and seized his opportunity. He stepped out on thel fat roof and preached his famous Pentecost sermon. We have no verbatim report of it. The resume in Acts can be read aloud in three minutes; but it very possibly indicates the arguments he used. He was a Jew pleading with Jews; so he based his case wholly on the Old Testament. After brushing aside the charge of drunkenness with the remark that at nine in the morning they were not likely to be drunk, he explained what had happened by Joel's prediction, that before the Day of the Lord there would come such an outpouring of God's Spirit that even slave-girls would prophesy.

The profoundly moving psychological experience through which they had passed clamoured for explanation and again Peter found the answer in an Old Testament text. The Spirit of God had swept down on them. The Power that had once inspired the Prophets would now be their Guide. The preliminary sign had been given. Soon the sun would turn black, and the moon blood-red. So let everyone call on the Lord before it was too late.

Then he told them about Jesus. Most of the crowd, who had come from abroad, had probably never heard of Him. He described some of His miracles. He spoke of His crucifixion and His triumph over death. He quoted more Old Testament texts: `Thou wilt not leave My soul in Sheol', as a prophecy of the Resurrection; `Sit Thou at My Right Hand', as a prophecy of the Ascension. To non-Jews this line of argument may not seem very convincing; but it exactly suited his audience. And in his case it was perfectly sincere. This was how he had learnt in the synagogue to argue. Every statement must be based on an Old Testament text.

The effect of his speech was startling. Voices cried, `What shall we do?' He answered, `Repent and be baptized in the Name of Jesus.' It is not clear to what extent baptism was used during the mission of Jesus. It is nowhere mentioned in the Synoptics except in the rather doubtful closing words of `Matthew'. But to Peter, an old disciple of the Baptist, this seemed the obvious way of enrolling new converts; and `that day', says B, `there were added to them about three thousand souls'.

The word `about' warns us not to take this number literally. The Bible often uses `three thousand' loosely for `a large number'. The Levites slew three thousand worshippers of the golden calf. Three thousand perished when the Temple of Dagon fell. Job had three thousand camels. Solomon spoke three thousand proverbs. But we need not doubt that a large number of converts was won at Pentecost.

There were several public pools in Jerusalem, like Bethesda and the Pool of Siloam. We do not know which Peter chose. But the march to the Pool and the sight of the Twelve, standing waist-deep in it and plunging hundreds of men and women under the water, must have set the city talking. Pentecost opened a new chapter in the Church's history. By no means all the converts became members of the Nazarene synagogue.

Most of them had to return home when the Feast was over, and, though their instruction must have been sketchy, they may have carried to distant lands news about Jesus, and laid the foundation of Churches, which later became famous. But many remained in Jerusalem, and the Church faced the tremendous task of absorbing and training a crowd of converts who outnumbered the original disciples. Strangers to Peter and strangers to one another, they brought with them problems by no means easy to solve.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Circle Dance

Lacking inspiration today, this Saturday poem is from my unpublished "back catalogue", and was written in November 2005. It is a mixture of influence from Celtic Christianity, David Adams, Charles Williams and Celtic Paganism.

Circle Dance

Mother of all creation, giver
Of insight, love’s lawgiver
Bring up her wayward child
On Israel, she dearly smiled. 

Brother, flesh of our flesh
To see Kingdom so afresh
Close as bone of our bone
No more shall we be alone. 

Sister, Spirit breathing now
Pledge of co-inherence vow
Within, sharing in our being
Open eyes to wonder seeing. 

Draw the Caim, encircle be
Three in One, One in Three
Enfold us in protecting arms
Keep safe from all that harms. 

Turning round, in circle dance
Glory comes, and does enhance
Our vision, let us touch and feel
Your hand upon us, here to heal.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Why we need a Digital Jersey?

The new CEO of Digital Jersey spoke to the Chamber of Commerce at their monthly lunch yesterday, and, having listed to him, I’m more optimistic about Jersey and the digital economy that I was a few months ago.

Here are my notes on that talk, transcribed from my scribbles after a good lunch (braised beef bourguignon, flavoured with red wine, caramelised baby onions, creamy mash potatoes with spring buttered cabbage), and a glass of white wine, and a fortuitous cup of coffee to wake me up sufficiently afterwards to take notes!

I would have like him to elaborate more on failure, which he sees as important part of the learning process. It is true that we can learn a lot from our mistakes, but expensive mistakes in IT - as Private Eye has exposed in the health service (for example) exceed what most people would consider acceptable. But it is true that too much focus on the possibility of failure leads to a risk averse culture in which nothing is risked, but nothing is gained.

Of course sometimes failure comes because of the impossibility of crystal ball gazing to determine the future. Back in the 1980s, there were three personal computers available launched almost simultaneously - the Act Sirius, the IBM PC, and the DEC Rainbow. As the States of Jersey already had DEC mainframe systems, they duly rolled out DEC Rainbows to civil service desktops, purchasing systems which would be effectively obsolete by the early 1990s.

Digital Jersey is not without its own critics about failings. In 2015, in an open letter to the agency, a group of web developers and coders have criticised Digital Jersey for ignoring their views and not doing enough to help start-ups or attract new businesses, and for not having enough digital skills or expertise. Has that changed? Certainly this talk shows that Digital Jersey has been listening to concerns from the Industry.

On one point, the talk was rather vague. Tony Moretta seemed to suggest that there was a need to almost fast track or bias the immigration policy towards much easily and more relaxed immigration for the digital sector. But this was vague. I would like to see a clearer published message about immigration for the digital industry, with guidance for both local businesses and those considering setting up or relocating their businesses to Jersey.

"Why we need a digital Jersey?”: A Summary of the Talk

Tony Moretta was speaking on “Why we need a digital Jersey?” at the Radisson hotel. He found that there is no shortage of ideas, good innovative, creative thinking about IT, but the challenge was in the “follow through”. The ideas were there, but Jersey was slow to embrace change, and often the implementation just did not happen.

Parking scratch cards were an example of a system which, to outsiders like himself, and holiday makers, seems incredibly strange. Most cities in the UK have parking systems which allow for drivers to pay using smart phones, and have done for years, but Jersey’s public sector is dragging its heels and is slow to embrace this new world.

Digital Jersey was not just about the organisation of that name, but also about improving matters across the whole island. Unlike larger jurisdictions, Jersey has to focus and pick the right areas to focus its skills upon; it needed to look for appropriate niche markets just as the Finance Industry has managed to do.

Ensuring proper plans were in place so that the digital economy could grow were needed to ensure the future prosperity of the Island just as much as finance.

But there had to be realistic expectations. We could not complete on the same scale as a Silicon Valley, so we had to focus on selected key areas, and a natural match for Jersey was FinTech (Financial Technology), as well as mechanisms for automating and streamlining matters like compliance, which was also a growing global market. “eHealth” – bringing new ways to improve access to data and services was also a way of becoming more efficient with limited resources. And Jersey could also serve as a useful “test bed” for the emerging technology such as the “internet of things”.

It was very important the government supported local technology firms, and helped build them up, funding projects. The government should be looking for local solutions rather than going offshore, and provide incentives and support from Digital Jersey for private sector businesses. Cyber security and Data Protection were important issues for engaging with the private sector.

With regard to education, it was important to grow the private digital economy to encourage young people to come back to opportunities. School children should be developing digital skills like coding. In that respect, while there was nothing intrinsically wrong with religious education, it did seem odd that it was a compulsory subject for all students while information technology was not.

However, it must be realised that while talent can be nurtured, the technical demands of a growing economy must not be unduly hampered by employment licensing and regulation. It Jersey’s digital economy is to grow, we need to have sufficient talent, even if it means initially some employees from outside of Jersey coming to live here.

Jersey in the past has typically looked towards the UK for the means by which the economy and government can be improved by digital technology, but the truth is that the UK is not always the cutting edge of the digital economy in public and private sectors. Also what is good for a country the size of the UK cannot necessarily be scaled down and work well in Jersey.

In particular, where the public sector is concerned, Estonia, a much smaller country of around 1.3 million people, the smallest in Europe, is leasing the way with tried and tested technology, with electronic voting, submission of tax returns, eCabinet meetings, digital signatures on documents etc. Digital Jersey has had meetings with officials and government members from Estonia, and are looking to improve relationships with that country, and seek to find what could come from Estonia and fit a Jersey model.

Digital Jersey aimed to grow local talent, and also provide opportunities for local talent to compete globally. It was enabling, supporting, developing, promoting and partnering with the private sector. And a digital policy for government was currently under development for publication later this year.

This should ensure that procurement is weighted towards the local digital sector, rather than just outsourcing to the UK on an even footing. If we are going to have a local digital economy, we must enter into partnerships with local industry. A recent procurement went to the UK, and this was not a good vote of confidence in the local digital economy. Hopefully we will not see that sort of thing again. There should be very clear “blue water” between external and internal bids for work.

Digital Jersey was in partnership with a number of organisations including Jersey Business, the States of Jersey, Visit Jersey, Jersey Finance, Jersey Financial Services Commission and the Jersey Library. The latter was in fact becoming a portal for opening digital opportunities to the wider public.

A key part of digital innovation was to realise that failure could also be important, and that lessons can be learnt to improve digital systems if they are not successful. Learning from mistakes was important part of the learning process and a culture which crucified civil servants for making mistakes also suffered from being too risk averse.

The Digital Hub is also taking a lead in growing talent, in the regular weekend “hackerthons” at the Digital Hub where people come not just “techies” but from other areas, for example lawyers, and are given challenges. Organising into teams, they need to work together to generate ideas to solve the challenges, and from this can come solutions that can be put into practice, as well as prizes being awarded for the best proposals. It is a small way in which Digital Jersey is shaping the future of the digital economy. But from small acorns, great oaks grow.

Useful Links:
Digital Jersey


Thursday, 14 April 2016

A Bite of Nostalgia.

"The times you lived through, the people you shared those times with — nothing brings it all to life like an old mix tape. It does a better job of storing up memories than actual brain tissue can do. Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they can add up to the story of a life.”  (Rob Sheffield)

It's amazing what you come across buried on old data drives. I recently unearthed an old backup drive, which by the standards of the day was "portable", in the same way that the old "portable" pcs were more like "luggable" than today's lightweight notepads.

Even mobile phones were heavy, brick-like, objects, hardly capable of fitting in a pocket.

Most of the files on my hard drive dated from 2003-2005

And of course in 2005, there was a general election. Tony Blair was Prime Minister, and against him was Michael Howard, of whom Ann Widdecombe had memorable said "he has something of the night about him", conjuring up images of Vampires.

The United Kingdom general election of 2005 was held on Thursday, 5 May 2005 to elect 646 members to the British House of Commons. The Labour Party under Tony Blair won its third consecutive victory, but its majority now stood at 66 seats compared to the 160-seat majority it had previously held. It remains the last Labour general election victory in the UK. But Michael Howard lost, and had to return to the dark side of the Commons.

I came across this mock-up joke piece which I had put together, which shows Mr Howard very much as "something of the night". It was very much a light-hearted spoof but it is interesting to note how immigration was very much on the agenda even over ten years ago.
Vampire Party Manifesto

The leader of the U.K.'s only Transylvanian Party, Michael Howard, urges you to support him and his

Sensible policies for sensible vampires:

1) health - shorter waiting lists for blood transfusions, free coffins on the NHS

2) immigration - we need to keep out all those people trying to sneak into the U.K. by hiding in boats,
trains and planes. We don’t want these people because they are trying to grab a stake in Britain, and we
are against stakes. Genuine cases of hardship can fly in by night.

3) money - we may be bloodsuckers, but we don't want all your money. We are looking to reduce taxes
and introduce alternative payments schemes. We're not after money, only blood.

Remember the vampire slogan: "Are you drinking what we’re drinking."

If you are a young man or woman, you can also join the young haemovores, they are always looking for young (and fresh) blood.

There was an interview from that time which shows Jeremy Paxman grilling Howard. This is the extract dealing with immigration:

HOWARD:  I'm going to explain that to you Jeremy, you just have to be patient for a moment or two. Only two our of ten of the people who apply for asylum in this country today are genuine refugees, so we want to break the link between people who have to come to the country illegally, who have to trick their way in, in order to apply for asylum. We would take a number of genuine refugees from the UNHCR and if people arrived in this country and wanted to claimasylum we would we would look for overseas processing centres and put them there... Asylum seekers arriving in the UK and other EU member states, could be transferred to a transit processing centre where their claims could be assessed, that centre would be located outside the EU

PAXMAN: This would also involve you would it not in withdrawing from the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees.


PAXMAN: Are you aware of any other civilised country that has withdrawn.


PAXMAN: Are you aware of any other political party in Europe, even for example the extreme right wing national front party in France, advocating such a withdrawal.

HOWARD: I, I've no idea what their ...

PAXMAN: No, are you aware of the other countries which are not signatories to that, that convention ...

HOWARD: Mr Blair is on record as saying that the 1951 Convention is out of date and that it doesn't respond to the circumstances which we face today. I agree with him about that. The difference between us is that he only talks about it, I'm prepared to take action to deal with it.

PAXMAN: You presumably have a list of paper on which you've got the names of the other countries which are not signatories to that convention. (interjects) You know that they include for example, Saudi Arabia, Libya, North Korea. You want to be in the company of those places do you.

It is interesting to note that the current remedy, of an agreement whereby refugees are taken out of the EU and returned to Turkey (the place from which they entered the EU), has a very similar ring to this.

Of course, Turkey is hoping to thereby fast-track its entry into the EU, despite clear indications that it cannot tolerate a free press, but it is taking migrants out of the EU for "processing".

In “A Cause for Our Times: Oxfam - The First Fifty Years”, Maggie Black outlines the historical reasons for the UN Convention against forcible repatriation. The post-war landscape she describes is horrifyingly like that we find today in the Middle East. It is worth looking back, and seeing why the convention was passed and why it is important that it be respected:

"The story of each refugee is an individual story. It is a story of fear, in which flight and exile, material loss, the abandonment of home, kin, country, personal status, job and profession, even of birthright and identity, seems preferable to the fate involved in staying put."

"During the war, around 30 million people in Europe were uprooted by one cause or another from the land where they belonged. The task of wholesale repatriation was given to UNRRA, but it was a difficult task to complete."

"At the end of 1945, 750,000 displaced people who refused to go home were still living in camps in Austria, Germany and Italy. Most came from countries absorbed into the Soviet bloc; many had ethnic or other associations which led them to fear persecution if they returned. New waves of refugees soon joined them. All these people, rich and poor, young and old, skilled and illiterate, wanted a new start in life. Many set their sights on emigration to North America."

"When the United Nations General Assembly discussed what to do about these refugees early in 1946, the debate was long and heated. The idea that, under certain circumstances, the citizen of a country might claim as a right protection against being made to belong to it was a relatively novel concept, and by no means universally agreed."

"Finally, against opposition from the Eastern European countries, the principle of no forcible repatriation — first upheld by Fridtjof Nansen, Refugee Commissioner for the League of Nations after the first World War — was accepted."

"This advance for human rights gained ground when a UN Convention set out as the criterion for refugee status ’a well-founded fear of persecution’ in the home country. It was many years, however, before the 1951 Convention was fully recognised in international law."