Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Weekend TV Review

Weekend TV Review

“Have I Got News for You” started the weekend on a roll, with Giles Brandreth’s take on the EU Referendum. What will happen if we leave? Armageddon. And if we stay? Disaster. We simply do not know what will happen.

Of course Giles does tend to dominate, and getting a word in edgeways may be one reason why he is not on shows like HIGNFY quite so often, but he had an interesting a pertinent anecdote from his time in John Major’s Conservative Government, as a Tory MP, along with David Cameron – “we were both office juniors, back then”.

The European Exchange rate mechanism was a precursor to a single currency – as I recall for some reason it was called “The Snake”. The UK joined, and then pressure began on sterling in the volatile currency markets.

To keep parity, with a run on the pound, the Bank of England had to raise interest rates until they were way up around 18% or so, and eventually and sensibly, the UK cut loose and the pound returned to normal, and interest rates came down. It was an extraordinary few weeks. And as Giles said, when it was happening, we didn’t know why it was happening, and afterwards, we didn’t know what had happened either.

The apocalyptic scare tactics are that the UK plunged into a Great Depression within days if we leave, or 200 million immigrants will be flooding in a month if we remain - Giles was exaggerating, but not as far off the mark as that. Claims are being made which are totally unfounded and exaggerated, and as a result, no one will be voting on the basis of informed debate.

In this, the BBC, picking holes in both sides arguments, is presenting probably the most balanced view.


Saturday night was not a lot on, so it was time to get out the old DVD, and watch a classic I had not seen for some time. “Westworld” is a futuristic resort which recreates the authentic flavour of the Wild West – with robots. Gunfights can take place, and fake blood makes them look realistic.

Although the focus is on Westworld, the movie also takes a glimpse of Medieval World and Roman World. Meanwhile, beneath the ground, along corridors is a master control room, and machine workshops for repairing all the humanoid robots. It’s great fun, and the first three quarters of the movie is spend following our two protagonists as they enjoy the Wild West, and slay the gunslinger (played by Yul Brinner) a number of times. Back in the Middle Ages, a rather lecherous middle aged man is starting an affair with the Queen, and looking forward to winning a fight against the Black Knight.

The fine detail of the robot – the arm with plastic removed, the face taken off to reveal a riot of transistors etc, and the snake (which also is electronic) opened up to show its electronic innards is all very well done. The clunky computers, large filing cabinets with tapes whirling away, have dated somewhat. But it is still watchable.

But problems are mounting. The machines are breaking down and malfunctioning. and no one knows why. The chief operator shows charts of breakdowns, and it is clear that something rather nasty is going to happen. But it builds up in degrees – the snake bites a guest, a medieval peasant girl slaps the amorous advances of our letch. Then the machines take over. The control team cut the power, which is a mistake, as the machines had run on stored charge for up to 12 hours.

The gunslinger kills one of the protagonists, and the movie becomes a chase as he frantically tries to get away from our gunslinger – one of those fully charged, who does not tire or give up. I won’t spoil the ending, but this is a movie which brings forth all the worst fears about artificial intelligence. As the controller says – “the machines design the machines; they are so complex even we don’t fully understand them now.”

The new Top Gear was very good. We started watching 15 minutes in, about the right time. I saw the introduction later, and the fast cars sequence is fun, but nothing really to rave about. It is the road trip from London to Blackpool in two revamped Reliant Robins, one of which is anything but reliable, that brought in the comedy.

Matt le Blanc, in particular, shines here, and here on, with his portrayal of an American who is totally unused to quaint British customs. It is all an act, of course, but it makes for extremely funny television. Chris Evans, meantime, really shines in the studio with the banter with the guests.

Contrary to what other commentators have said, I could find no sign that Matt le Blanc or Chris Evans didn’t hit it off; on the contrary, they seemed very relaxed with each other. It is early days, and the show feels slightly raw, but it is certainly eminently watchable and entertaining, and isn’t it rather nice not to have the chauvinistic attitudes that crept into the old show? I’ll probably be watching next week, as there isn’t a lot else on Sundays at present.

On Monday morning, coming to with a coffee and some scrambled egg with sautéed new potatoes (left over from Sunday lunch), I watched the second episode of Saints versus Scoundrels. A fascinating dramatised debate between Rousseau and St Augustine, as they play chess (Augustine has been taught by Rousseau!), and presented in a 20th century context by Dr Benjamin Wiker.

This is on EWTN, the Catholic religious channel, but it is extremely well done, and quite fair to both protagonists, although as you might expect, Augustine wins the debate – and the chess match. It is a debate between the perfectibility of man (Rousseau) and the sinfulness (and failings as human beings), and of course, cleverly interspersed in the dramatic debate are references and selections from their confessions, because both Augustine and Rousseau wrote a work entitled “Confessions” – Augustine on his spiritual journey and his past life, “in love with love”, and having a concubine, and Rousseau in direct answer to Augustine, and having a mistress.

It’s a fascinating debate, and Rousseau does hit some points. Augustine did not ask to become a Bishop, but was seized by the people, by popular acclaim, yet kept his simple garb and lifestyle, and would not accept finery. He took the case of the poor for justice to those who were powerful. But by Rousseau’s time, the church had become part of the establishment, clergy decked out in fine and fancy robes, ceremonial which showed off almost like a peacock display.

It does make you wonder where today’s church is. Under Pope Francis, it is hearing again a call of the poor, of justice, and peace and fair sharing of the world’s riches not just for a few, but the ceremonial is still present, and the Anglican church, in particular, is still bound up with the establishment more than the working classes.

I didn’t have a good opportunity to see all of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, because I was out for a walk to Corbiere lighthouse as darkness fell. I hope to see it all later, probably next weekend. What I did see showed Russell T Davies genius, to take the text, as it is, not to change the words, but to think long and hard and creatively, and produce a wonderfully accessible Shakespeare. Purists have apparently objected, but I thought it was brilliant, and can’t wait to see more.

Monday, 30 May 2016

The Parish Church of St John – Part 2

Here is part two of the forgotten piece by G.R. Balleine on the history of the Church, transcribed below. Balleine had a wonderful grasp of how to make historical narrative interesting, and peppers his history with interesting anecdotes.

The Parish Church of St John – Part 2
By G.R. Balleine

Missing Records

The main source of information about all our old Churches is the Act Book of the Assemblee Ecclesiastique. Here every alteration and addition of the Church is recorded. But at St John's these books have gone astray. They were in the Constable's safe in Mr Falla's time, for they appear on the list of the contents of the safe that he drew up. But since then someone must have borrowed them and forgotten to return them. If anyone can throw any light on their present whereabouts, the Constable or Rector or indeed myself will be grateful for the information.

However here are a few miscellaneous facts that have been unearthed. From the Reformation till 1939 the new South Aisle, which Thomas Lempriere built was used as the main part of the Church, the old Nave and the old Chancel becoming rather neglected.

The date of a Chancel being added to this aisle is uncertain but it must have been long before 1799, for in that year it was reported to be in danger of collapsing and the Parish ordered it to be rebuilt and reroofed. It was then not used for Services, but for the Day School and Parish Meetings, and a stone staircase from the churchyard led into an upper room.

On December 16th 1733, the spire was partially destroyed by lightning during the Morning Service. In 1753 there was trouble over the theft of a silver ewer used for baptisms. In 1774 a weathercock was placed on the top of the spire. In 1777 a gallery was built at the west end of the church, and the tresor had to pay for several dinners, which the Principaux of the Parish consumed while discussing this proposal. In 1791 a new three-decker pulpit with sounding board was provided. This was cut down to its present size in 1921 and is still in use. In 1796 the steeple started to give trouble, and 700 livres tournois were spent on its repair. These, however, were unsuccessful, and in 1804 it had to be pulled down and rebuilt from its foundations. What a pity no one showed the builder what a beautiful thing a steeple can be!

XIXth Century

In 1801 permission was given to Mr Dumaresq whose family had outgrown its pew, to build a small gallery above it to provide additional seats. In 1831 a big restoration of the church took place. The north door, where the Vestry now is, was walled up to keep out the draught; the aisles were paved; the South-East Chapel was turned into a regular Chancel, and a communion table placed at the east end; the singers' gallery (wherever that was; it was not the west gallery, for we hear of that later) and Mr Dallain's gallery were pulled down; and all the pews were made a uniform four :feet in height and painted the same colour.

We now come to the great pillar controversy. The people in the south aisle could not see the pulpit because of a huge pillar that blocked the view. In 1828 the Civil Assembly passed an Act instructing the Rector to apply to the Ecclesiastical Court for permission to remove this pillar. But he hesitated, fearing that its removal might bring down the roof. In 1831 the Assembly renewed its Act, adding that it would be responsible for any damage done. But the Ecclesiastical Court refused permission.

When a new Rector, Samuel White, was appointed in 1849, the antipillarites returned to the attack. But it seemed to him too that their proposal was too dangerous a piece of surgery to attempt on an an old building. But Jerseymen never own themselves beaten. One summer Mr White went for a holiday to France. On his return he found the pillar standing in the Rectory garden, where it can still be seen; and the roof had not collapsed.

From a technical point of view the broad arch that was left behind, when two arches were thrown into one, may be an architectural monstrosity, but from a practical point of view it was a great improvement. Now the preacher can see the congregation, and the congregation the preacher.

Later Renovations

In 1858 the church certainly had an organ, for in that year the tresor paid to have it tuned. But by 1880 this was worn out, for a report says that it was beyond repair; the woodwork was worm-eaten, the leather perished, and the pipes only fit to be sold as scrap metal.

Its place was taken for the next half-century by a wheezy harmonium. In the following year the steeple was given its hideous coat of cement. A note in 1888 shows that the singers then sat in a gallery over the present altar.

More Recent Times

In 1920 a move was made again to restore the Church. This led to tremendous controversies. The first plan was rejected "because it would involve expense beyond the resources of the parish". Mr Charles de Gruchy was then appointed architect. His plans, were accepted by the Assembly, but ten days later a number of parishioners demanded a new Assembly, which rejected his plans, and appointed a fresh committee. The committee's Report was thrown overboard by the next Assembly; and the following meeting formally recsinded the whole proposal for restoration.

Nevertheless the churchwardens persevered and in 1924 at last a plan was produced that was approved by the parish. The west and east galleries were pulled down, and the whole building was thoroughly repaired. Several painted glass windows were then presented.

Meanwhile the steeple proved to have been so badly built, that a bush rooted itself in a crack half-way up, and appears in many picture post-cards of the period. A steeplejack's report on the condition of the spire in 1926 said, "The projection where the bush is lets the rain percolate into the interior of the tower", and the estimate included, "Cut out the bush and its roots".

In 1934 Mr Hornby came to the parish, and under his care the church assumed its present appearance. First the vestry was built and electric light introduced. Then the Rector hoped to strip all the plaster off the walls, and leave the granite bare as at St Brelade's. A beginning was made at the east end; but the parish did not like it, and the Assembly put its foot down and stopped the work. It agreed, however, to restore the north chapel to its old position as the chancel, and place a new altar and choir stalls there.

An electric Hammond organ was also bought. as it was thought that this would be less affected by the dampness of the building than an organ of the older type. This proved to be true for it is still in use. The dampness is caused by the high water table. The disused boiler-room under the chance] is always under water, as a spring runs under the building, and the churchyard cannot be used because water is reached only a few feet below the surface of the ground.

When Mr Hornby became Rector in 1938, after helping Mr Nicolle during the last years of his life, a bitter controversy raged about the renovation of the Rectory, built in 1819. Finally it was razed to the ground and the present Rectory was built on the old site immediately prior to the war.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Simon Whom He Surnamed Peter - Part 17

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 is that while Balleine is a religious man, he is also a man of the scientific age. Where there are miracles, he looks for what are essentially scientific explanations, in terms of biology or psychology, and for historical parallels. Faith can heal, and even apparently restore from the dead - but there are good reasons for that. His use of comparative religions is also interesting, as he uses that to explain that healing it itself does not validate the theology of the healer.

Most of the illustrations and icons depict Tabitha as a young woman, but there is no indication of that in the text. Rather as Balleine describes her - a "lady bountiful", giving to the early Christian movement, and a widow, she might well have been an older woman, so I have managed to find a suitable picture.

More Visits To Philip's Converts by G.R. Balleine

WHEN Philip left Samaria, he travelled south to the Plain of Sharon, the old land of the Philistines, which Jesus does not seem to have visited. In a wayside pool, near the ruins of Gaza, he baptized a negro, `a man of Ethiopia', who was treasurer of the black Queen of a Nubian kingdom south of Egypt. Apparently Philip already seems to have thought of Christianity as a world-wide religion. By this baptism he defied one of the Mosaic laws. Slaves in the women's quarters of a palace had to be castrated; and the Law excluded all eunuchs from `the congregation of the Lord'.

Philip then turned north along the coast road, `preaching in every town, till he reached Caesarea', the Roman capital of Judea, where twenty years later we find him still living. At Lydda and Joppa he formed groups of disciples.

When Peter heard this, he hurried to the district. Baptizing negroes! Baptizing eunuchs! What next would this young man be doing? Clearly his work needed supervision. Peter did not want the Church to be saddled with another Simon Magus. His journey raises again the problem of miracles. An outbreak of miracles had apparently followed the healing of the cripple in the Temple. `Many signs and marvels,' we are told, `were done by the Apostles; the sick were laid on mats in the streets, that the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on one or other of them.' But no particulars of cures are given, and this excitement seems to have died away.

But now on his journey to the West we are told of his healing a bedridden man who was paralysed and restoring to life a woman who seemed to be dead. If these stories are late legends, we lose faith in the rest of Luke's record.

But a little acquaintance with similar movements restores our confidence in Acts. Precisely analogous statements are made by early Quakers, sober seventeenth-century Englishmen, who made it a point of conscience, even to the verge of crankiness, never to stray a hair's-breadth from the truth. George Fox writes in his journal: `I lighted at a Friend's house, and the lass made a fire, her master and dame being gone to market. And there was a boy lying in a cradle, about three years old, who was grown almost double. The Lord moved me to lay my hands on him; and we passed away. Some time after, I met his mother. "Oh," she said, "the country is convinced by the miracle you did on my son. We had carried him to Wells and Bath, and all doctors had given him over. But, after you was gone, we came home, and found him playing in the street." This was about three years ago, and he was grown a straight youth.'

There is even a case in which a Quaker is said to have raised the dead. Next to Fox no leader was better loved than Nayler. In 1656 he was confined with other Quakers in Exeter Jail. One of them, a widow named Dorcas Erbury, fell ill, and appeared to die. For two days her body lay waiting for burial. Then Nayler visited her. Her name prompted him to lay his hand on her head and say, `Dorcas, arise.' And she stood up, and lived for years. There can be no doubt that this happened. It was widely discussed at the time.

Quakers claimed it as a miracle, and, though it took place in a public jail, the authorities could not deny it. Dorcas was examined before a Committee of the House of Commons. `He laid his hand on my head,' she said, `when I had been dead two days, and I arose and live, as thou seest.' `What witnesses hast thou for this?' She answered, `My mother.' Probably this was one of those cases of catalepsy, which even today are hard to distinguish from actual death. The prostrate persons seem unconscious, but they hear all that is said, and one way to rouse them is to call them by name, and tell them to do something.

These modern examples make it easier to accept the story of Peter's miracles. He came to Lydda, a village on the road which ran from Babylon to Egypt. Among Philip's converts was a paralysed man named Aeneas, who for eight years had been bedridden. The mention of his name and the length of his helplessness shows that this was no vague rumour. Peter visited him, and felt moved to say: `Jesus, the Messiah, heals you. Get up and make your bed.' He tried, and found he could obey.

Similar things still happen at times of religious fervour. In sceptical, nineteenth-century France the peasants of Ars near Lyons began to believe that their Cure was a Saint. The sick grew well when he blessed them. As the rumour spread, special buses brought the sick from other villages. The Cure loathed this notoriety. He declared that whatever cures took place had nothing to do with him. They must be the work of St. Philomena, to whom he had built a chapel. But the rush continued.

In France this was bound to be challenged. Militant Atheism could not allow the Church so great a triumph. Swarms of Parisian reporters descended on the little village, eager to detect imposture. Catholics rallied in defence. The result is a mass of evidence, doctors' certificates, declarations before mayors, affidavits by eye-witnesses, that leave no doubt that scores of people were restored to health.

Here is one typical story. Charles Blazy, a lad of nineteen, was brought to Ars with both legs paralysed. After Mass he suddenly found that he could stand. He carried his crutches over his head, and left them at the foot of the altar. He walked home fifteen miles, and ever after had perfect use of his legs.

In 1872 the Cure was given by Rome the title Venerable, in 1905 the title Blessed, in 1925 he was canonized, and acknowledged as a Saint. But by the rules of his Church each promotion had to be preceded by a searching investigation; but at each `Process' the advocatus diaboli failed to shake the evidence for the cures. If Blazy was healed, why not Aeneas?

But, to return to Peter. At Joppa, the ancient port of Jerusalem, one of Philip's converts fell ill. Her name was Gazelle: in Greek Dorcas and in Aramaic Tabitha. She was the local Lady Bountiful, whose gifts supported the poor, and whose needle supplied them with clothes. An urgent summons reached Peter, `Come without delay.' But Joppa was ten miles from Lydda, and when he arrived she was laid out in an upper room apparently dead. Widows surrounded him weeping and showing the clothes she had made for them-a vivid touch suggesting the report of an eye-witness. Tabithal The name reminded him of another scene he had witnessed-Jesus standing by a girl's bed, and saying, `Talitha, cumi.'

Some impulse urged him to call on Jeus to repeat what then had happened. He put the widows out of the room, and knelt by the bed in prayer. Then he said to the silent form, `Tabitha, cumi', and she opened her eyes and sat up, and he called in her friends and gave her back to them alive.

Perhaps she had never been technically dead; but the appearance of death was so convincing, that she would certainly have been buried, had not Peter recalled her to life. The Canterbury monk, who recorded the miracles at Becket's shrine, says of a woman who claimed that Becket had raised her from the dead, `Through sickness she had completely surceased-I do not say "deceased", though she says "deceased"-but she had lost all bodily feeling and seemed lifeless.' Perhaps we can say the same about Tabitha. Peter no doubt believed that Jesus had raised her from the dead in answer to his prayer. But his head was not turned. He showed no wish to win fame as a wonder-worker. Apart from Munchausenish yarns in the Apocryphal Acts, we never hear of his performing another miracle.

The attitude of thoughtful men to miracles has changed in recent years. Once they were considered the great bulwark of the Faith. These wonderful cures seemed clear proof that Christianity was true. Then they suddenly became a grave stumbling-block. A religion that told such incredible yarns became an object of ridicule. Today we have learnt to recognize that miracles are a fairly frequent occurrence, whenever religious fervour reaches a certain temperature. And this seems true, whatever the religion may be.

There is a mound in Egypt, where the sick have been healed for more than three thousand years. In pagan days it was a shrine of the goddess Miritskro, and hundreds of tablets are found in the sand inscribed with thanks for recovery. In Christian days a chapel was built there in honour of a local Saint, and the miracles continued. When the Moslems came, a holy man was buried at this spot, and the sick are still healed at his tomb. Once that hummock became associated with the thought of healing, any religion that could kindle enough faith could secure cures. So Peter's miracles were no proof that his theology was true; but they did prove that his teaching could inspire strong faith in God.

Saturday, 28 May 2016


Viewing the night sky has been particularly good on various days this week, and Jupiter through the Astronomy Club telescope is a sight to marvel at. Here is a poem reflecting an astronomical theme. It is a more pagan and neoplatonic version of Henry Lyte's “Praise, my soul, the King of heaven”.


Bright is Jupiter, the King of Heaven;
In the night sky, wonders bring
In my imagination be forgiven,
For thinking that the planets sing
Jupiter, Bringer of Joy, a Hymn
Of all our planets surely King

Planet omens for fortune’s favour
Or evil warning of distress.
To our short life span, seems forever
Ancients saw them come to bless
Venus, goddess, praise in Hymn
Shining white, and now fluoresce

Comets from deep space encircle us
Plumes of ions bright like snows
Omens of disaster for us
Times of enemies and foes
Darkest times, and darker Hymn
As through solar system flows

Mighty Aten, sun, adore him
But never see him face to face;
Sun and moon, a dance, a hymn
Dwellers all in time and space
In the cosmos all now swim
Dance of majesty and grace

Friday, 27 May 2016

The Parish Church of St John – Part 1

Here is part one of the forgotten piece by G.R. Balleine on the history of the Church, transcribed below. Balleine had a wonderful grasp of how to make historical narrative interesting, and peppers his history with interesting anecdotes.

The Parish Church of St John – Part 1 By G.R. Balleine

Four Chapels

In the early days there were four small chapels in the present parish of St John's, the Chapel of St Mary at Bonne Nuit, the Chapel of St Blaize on the Fief Chesnel, the Chapel attached to the Hougue Boete Manor, and the Chapel of St John.

By 1150 the last of these had been raised to the dignity of a Parish Church, for a charter belonging to the great Abbey of St Saveur le Vicomte in Normandy records that in that year a Guillaume de Vauville with the consent of his wife and his son gave to the Abbey the Church of St John in Jersey, with its tithes, and only Parish Churches received tithes. Another charter four years later confirms the fact that St John's had now a parish, for a Guillaume Suen transferred to the Abbey certain lands "in the parish of St John in Jersey".

In An Oak Wood

The Church at this time evidently stood in an oak wood, for ancient documents call it St John de Quercubus or St John de Caisnibus, which are old Latin for St John of the Oaks; but no official Register makes clear after which of the two St Johns the Church was named.

However, since in the middle ages the biggest Fair in the Island was held every year in this parish on St John the Baptist's Day, {June 24th) and since these Fairs were almost always held on the Patronal Festival of the Church, it is pretty safe to assume that this Church was dedicated in the name of the Baptist and not the Evangelist.

Early History

Like all our ancient Jersey churches St John's grew bit by bit. If you stand in the churchyard on the north side of the church, you see at once that the Chancel is a different building from the Nave; its roof is higher; its stones are rougher; and the corner buttress still remains, where the original building ended. This Chancel is the earliest little church. Stand beside the present pulpit, and look east, and you see the size of the Church as it was about 1100. Neither Nave had yet been built, nor the spire, nor the South Chancel, nor the Vestry. The broken holy-water stoup beside the entrance to the present Vestry, if it is in its original position, shows that the main door once stood there.

There is also, level with the north end of the altar, an interesting old Priest's Door, now blocked up. Over it is the date 1622 and the initials J. L. B. (possibly John Le Baily, for the Le Baillys were an important family in the parish of that period) but the door itself is obviously centuries older than that.

The inscription is only one example of the extraordinary craze that St John's officials seem to have had for carving their initials on their Church. Here we have J.L.B.; on the south-west gable is Thomas Lempriere. Two churchwardens have had their initials carved over the south door, two more have put theirs round a window, while two more have outdone all the rest by placing theirs on the church spire for all the world to see!

The XVth Century

As the population of the parish increased, the West Wall of the Chapel was pulled down, and the present Nave added. Then at the end of the fifteenth century came a great enlargement, the building of the large South Aisle and the Tower and Spire. In this case the name-carving craze helps us to date the extension, for Thomas Lempriere had his name carved with the nine millets that were his coat of arms and two tudor roses on the west gable, and he fixed another granite slab with his arms on the steeple.

Thomas became Seigneur of La Hougue Boete in 1 492 and Bailiff in 1 495, a Bailiff famous for his long controversy with Sir Hugh Vaughan, the Governor. He evidently must have played a prominent part in the enlargement of his parish church.

But from the new aisle the High Altar was invisible; so in those days, when the Mass was the Service that mattered, a second Altar must have been placed under the Tower, and the corbels which can still be seen one on each.side of the arch probably supported the beam on which stood the great Crucifix. The South Chancel was not built till the nineteenth century.

The perquage, the path by which criminals, who had taken sanctuary in the Church, were allowed to escape to the sea, is a curious one. Instead of taking a short cut directly to Bonne Nuit, it crossed the whole Island to St Aubin's Bay. A portion of it can be clearly traced in the garden of the house called Les Buttes. It then followed the course of the stream, till it joined the St Mary's perquage, near the Gigoulande Mill. Then it went on to St Peter's Valley as far as the. Tesson Mill, where the St Lawrence perquage joined it. The three united perquages then crossed the Goose Green Marsh, till they reached the sea between Beaumont and BelRoyal. This last section of the perquage has lately been beqeathed to the Societe Jersiaise to be preserved for all time as a public path.

One curious custom has survived at St John's which must have originated in pre-Reformation days, when on the morning of a funeral the Michael bell was rung to remind St Michael that his services would be required to escort the soul of the dead person to Paradise. At the present day, whenever there is a funeral in the parish, the church bell is always tolled at eight o'clock in the morning, but its purpose now is merely to remind those who mean to attend the funeral to put on their blacks.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Signs of the Times

“A transgender employee must be able to use the toilet or changing room of their expressed gender identity without fear of harassment. People should not be made to use unisex disabled toilets, unless they choose to do so, particularly as a temporary measure during the transition period.”
(The Law Society, Working with transgender employees)

There are a number of slightly differing reports on the case of Erin Bisson, some of which seem to give a misleading impression of what occurred.

BBC News reports that:

“A transgender woman has won her bid to have a ferry firm remove the words "ladies" and "gents" from its toilets. Erin Bisson, from Jersey, launched legal action for discrimination against Condor Ferries after a member of staff told her to use a disabled loo. She had also said the use of words rather than symbols on toilets amounted to indirect discrimination. The firm admitted discrimination at the island's Employment and Discrimination Tribunal on Friday.”

Now this story taken at face value suggest that a member of staff told her to used the disabled toilet when she was actually on board the vessel.

That in fact was not the case, as can be seen from the Sun which reports:

A FERRY company has been forced to change all its toilet door signs after staff told a transgender taxi driver to use the disabled loo. Erin Bisson, 40, launched a discrimination case after she was left “humiliated” by Condor Ferries. Erin had called the firm to check she could use the ladies’ before sailing from Jersey to Saint-Malo, northern France. But she recalled: “Condor said the only facilities I should be using are the disabled facilities.”

And the Daily Mail reports:

A transgender woman has won a landmark discrimination case forcing a ferry company to remove the words 'ladies' and 'gentlemen' from its toilets. Condor Ferries has become the first firm to change the gender specific signs on the doors after Erin Bisson proved she was 'humiliated' at being told to use the disabled toilets. Ms Bisson, formerly known as Robert until she identified herself as a woman, complained to the Jersey Employment and Discrimination Tribunal that she had been discriminated against after the operator banned her from using the 'ladies'. She argued the use of words rather than symbols on toilets amounted to indirect discrimination. It was the first decision of its kind taken since Jersey introduced gender discrimination laws in 2015 and Ms Bisson has now urged other companies to follow Condor's lead. Condor later admitted to the tribunal that there had been a 'non-intentional and non-malicious act of discrimination'.

The Mirror conflates the accounts, stating at first that it was an “incident on a sailing to St Malo”, then correcting that by giving the account that it was in fact a result of a telephone call before sailing:

A ferry firm has changed toilet door signs after a transgender passenger was ordered to use disabled loos instead of the ladies. Taxi driver Erin Bisson, 40, had a complaint of discrimination upheld by a tribunal . Ms Bisson, from Jersey, said she was “completely embarrassed” by the incident on a sailing to St Malo. Condor admitted to the tribunal that there had been a “non-intentional and non-malicious act of discrimination” towards Ms Bisson. The company will remove the words “ladies” and “gentlemen” on all toilet doors and use male and female gender symbols instead. Ms Bisson, 40, a taxi driver, from Jersey, said: “I’m transgender. Rather that just going to use the ladies toilets I phoned up Condor before I sailed to St Malo advising them as such. “They are the ones that own the toilets and decide who uses their facilities. I did not want to be humiliated. Condor said the only facility I should be using are the disabled facilities.”

Pink News reports much the same:

A trans woman who was told she wasn’t allowed to use the ‘Ladies’ toilet has won a case against Condor Ferries. The ferry company had faced action over its treatment of Jersey trans woman Erin Bisson from the company – which operates ferry services between the Channel Islands and Poole, Portsmouth, and France. Ms Bisson says she had asked the company which toilets she should use, and was advised “I should be using the disabled toilets”, which she says amounts to direct discrimination.

BBC Good Morning Jersey, reporting on the story at 6 am said that the call centre operative who spoke to Ms Bisson “suggested she used the disabled toilet if she didn’t know which one to use”. The word "suggested" gives a very different perspective than the word "told to" which is used throughout most of the other stories.

And later, Chris Stone talking to Ashlea Tracy at 7.08 am, expanded on this. He said that Ms Bisson phoned the call centre asking which toilet she should use as a transgender individual. And he reported that “the lady on customer service said that she would have to check and call her back. But in the course of that conversation the operator suggested that she should perhaps use the disabled toilet instead.

Now this puts a very different slant on the story. It contradicts the statement that Ms Bisson is reported as saying that “Condor said the only facilities I should be using are the disabled facilities.”, or the report that “the operator banned her from using the 'ladies', and as Guernsey Press reports it, “the operator said that she would have to use the disabled toilets, rather than the ladies.”

There is a whole world of difference between that and the BBC report by Chris Stone that “suggested that she should perhaps use the disabled toilet instead”

The BBC report on Good Morning Jersey is in fact the only one to give this. In context it makes sense, it was a stop-gap solution which came up in conversation. Why, after all, would the operator say she would have to find out and call Ms Bisson back if she was then going to lay down the law on the matter?

Clearly the reporting in the national media has been sloppy, and slanted to portray Condor in the worst possible light, as a dinosaur whose staff have entirely the wrong attitude. They don’t mention the whole exchange, and  do not mention the operator saying she would have to find out and ring her back, or the tentative nature of the suggestion “should perhaps use the disabled toilet instead”

One can only speculate on why the operator then made the gaff which caused the claim of direct discrimination, but I wonder why the phone call was not terminated at that point. Indeed, Chris Stone reports that the conversation continued, and that tentative suggestion was made during the course of that continuation.

Now I am sure Condor, like most business of that kind, tell callers that “calls may be recorded for monitoring and training purposes”. Somewhere there is probably an exact recording of that exchange, and it would be interesting to read a transcript, and see how the conversation took place.

According to Lamda Legal: “A transgender person should use the restroom that corresponds to his or her gender identity”, and not, therefore, their initial biological identity.

There are certainly serious issues at stake. Only last month, the Mail reported that “A petition to boycott Target has gathered more than half a million signatures after the company announced that it would allow transgender people to use their preferred bathrooms in its stores last week.”

It also noted that:

“Target's decision to let transgender customers and staff follows a wave of anti-transgender sentiment that has swept America in the past year. The most notable example is North Carolina's decision to pass its House Bill 2, which - among other things - restricts bathroom usage in certain spaces, including government buildings, to a person's biological sex.”

And eleven states have filed a lawsuit against Barack Obama's administration, challenging the government's directive that transgender individuals should be permitted to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.

All this is, however, a far cry from a private telephone call in which a tentative suggestion was made as a stop-gap.

Clearly it did breach the law, and was an act of direct discrimination, but equally, most of the media reporting does not appear to be accurate if compared with the BBC live report (available on “listen again”), and this only shows how easy it is to get a very different slant on what may have happened.

If the reports quoting Erin Bisson are correct, she appears to be spinning the story to put Condor in the worst possible light. The alternative is that the reporting by Chris Stone on BBC radio Jersey’s Good Morning programme which outlined the tentative nature of the suggestion was inaccurate. Unless a transcript of the original conversation is possible, we shall never know.

Looking at this as a historical study, it is not my job to take sides, but simply to put the contradiction in the telling of the story before the reader.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Guest Post: Sarah Ferguson on Scrutiny and the Finance Centre

I see that finally the States of Jersey Development Company have backed down as are letting Scrutiny view all relevant documents, but this sorry saga in which taxpayers money has drained away in the course of the dispute to various lawyers, raises the issue of just how accountable these new States quangos are.

In that respect the SOJDC is correct: protocols need to be in place so this does not happen again. Indeed a formalised version of the accepted conditions in this case would surely suffice and be easy to implement. It is not right especially that quangoes which were once States Departments should suddenly be able to be unaccountable.

This subject was the subject of a piece in the JEP by Sarah Ferguson, which apparently was slightly edited in the paper, so here is the complete version from Facebook.

Sarah Ferguson on Scrutiny and the Finance Centre

As the Bard almost says “The officers doth protest too much methinks”! The ongoing standoff we have watched between the States of Jersey Development Company and the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel does give rise to public suspicions about the complexity of the information being withheld.

It was stipulated in the original propositions setting up SoJDC that the company would be subject to review by the Public Accounts Committee and by Scrutiny. Human nature being what it is, is it really surprising that the longer an organisation withholds information, the greater the concern expressed by the public?

It is inconceivable that the Scrutiny Panel could have a sensible discussion with their advisors if the advisors cannot explain the basis for their thinking and the evidence to support it. SoJDC have not noted that there have never been any leaks of information from the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel and appear to have overlooked the statutory requirement that both the Public Accounts Committee and Scrutiny are entitled to review the company. The followup question is to whom does the company think it is accountable? Scrutiny and the Public Accounts Committee represent the taxpayers – the shareholders.

In most countries a summons to provide information to and to appear before a parliamentary Committee is a three line whip. There may be a reluctance if there may be embarrassment. Classic examples are HBOS and RBS but even these organisations produced the required information.

It is conceivable that if SoJDC had been less secretive and dealt with the enquiry swiftly when first asked then this would have removed the uncertainty which it is maintained that prospective clients felt. Certainly the delays have extended the uncertainty. Co-operation at an early stage would also have reduced the interest which would be shown in the Scrutiny report.

In the meantime we now have a situation where the prospects of Orders of Justice are flying all over the place and the public are totally confused. The second planning application for the latest building with the boundary moved was an interesting move but has it really improved the quality of the arguments?

The underlying question is whether government should get directly involved with property development and carry the risk? Is this an area where taxpayers’ money should be utilised? Originally there was the promise of a loan from the currency fund. Security on the loans for construction will presumably be on the assets of SoJDC - assets belonging to the shareholder, the taxpayer.

It was intended that the development of the Waterfront masterplan would provide an attractive mixed use area for work, rest and play, with an income which would provide funds to regenerate other parts of St Helier. We started on this 8 years ago and we are still waiting.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

What the Papers Say - Part 2

An interesting review of the papers with Deputy Louise Doublet on BBC Radio Jersey on Sunday morning.

Deputy Louise Doublet wanted to look at the news stories about how cigarette packaging is changing, and how this may help reduce the take-up of young people smoking

This is because bright packaging is said to attract people without them realising it. But the new boxes will be anything but bright. The new design will be deliberately drab, with a large health warning and graphic photographs.

This is the end result of a long campaign. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) noted in 2003. As Rob Cunningham noted in the 2009 Bulletin of the World Health Organization.:

“As the FCTC Guidelines recognize, health warnings with graphic images of the negative health effects are far more effective than text-only warnings. A picture does indeed say a thousand words. Compared to text-only warnings, pictures are more noticeable, more memorable and have more emotional impact. Indeed, WHO chose pictorial warnings as the 2009 theme for World No Tobacco Day. “

He also notes that: “Picture-based warnings are especially important in developing countries where there are higher rates of illiteracy and low literacy. How useful is a text-only warning to a person who cannot read? And some people might not be able to read the official language(s), such as some immigrants, temporary workers and individuals from minority language groups.”

These changes may not affect seasoned smokers, but it might remove some of the glamour associated with smoking cigarettes for younger smokers.

A look at the history shows how glamorous smoking was seen to be. Movie stars in Westerns would be depicted smoking. James Bond, in the early Bonds, often is lighting up a cigarette. Columbo smoked, of course, but his cigar was invariably out, and anyway he would hardly be a role model in the way Bond would.

It is interesting that Gerry Anderson’s science fiction show UFO had a moon base, in which the astronauts when not on duty, would be sitting around, drinking coffee and smoking heavily. Smoking was so much a part of culture that no one – producer, writer, director – thought it might be rather odd that in a moon base, with limited oxygen, smoking would be permitted. It was opaque to them, it is obvious to us!

The psychology of smoking and the way in which glamour could sell smoking can be seen very well in the celebrated case of women taking up smoking.

This was the brainchild of Edward Bernays (1891-1995) who is largely considered the founder of using depth psychology to “engineering consent,” as he called it. A nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays was the first to demonstrate that people could be made to want things they don’t need by appealing to unconscious desires.

After WWI, Bernays was hired by the American Tobacco Company to encourage women to start smoking. While men smoked cigarettes, it was not publicly acceptable for women to smoke. Bernays staged a dramatic public display of women smoking during the Easter Day Parade in New York City. He then told the press to expect that women suffragists would light up “torches of freedom” during the parade to show they were equal to me, with the slogan ““Women! Light another torch of freedom! “

This was a shock because until that time, women were only permitted to smoke in certain places such as in the privacy of their own homes. He was very careful when picking women to march because “while they should be good looking, they should not look too much like models, and hired his own photographers to make sure that good pictures were taken and then published around the world

The women’s walk was seen as a protest for equality. The targeting of women in tobacco advertising led to higher rates of smoking among women. In 1923 women only purchased 5% of cigarettes sold, in 1929 it increased to 12%, in 1935 the percentage of cigarettes purchased by women was 18.1%, this percentage peaked in 1965 at 33.3% and remained at this level until 1977.

The use of an ideal of female emancipation to appeal to women smoking has since been used in other campaigns by cigarette manufacturers throughout the world. It is clever, if pernicious, because it uses smoking as a means of demonstrating female equality, and appeals to the feminist movement.

But perhaps it sometimes goes too far. Mel Smith was banned for smoking a cigar on stage as he portrayed Churchill – that is surely taking matters too far. However, I remember a performance of Carmen at the Opera House around 20 odd years ago by the Jersey Amateur Dramatic Club.

Now in Carmen, the women – including the heroine – work at a tobacco factory, and leave in one scene smoking cigarettes. I remember in the stalls you could certainly smell that volume of smoking, and the air on the stage was hazy. The opera’s first act takes place in a Seville square outside a cigarette factory, and features smoking in the setting, action, direction and the libretto, or text.

When Carmen arrives on the scene in Act I, with the other factory workers after their siesta, the workers, or “cigarette girls,” as they are often called, sing the praises of “la fumée”, likening it to a lover’s passionate declaration:

In the air, our eyes follow the smoke.
Watch it rise towards heaven,
smelling sweetly.
It billows around your head
and gently carries you away.
A lover’s sweet words--they’re smoke!
Their passions and speeches--smoke!

So where does that leave Carmen? In 2014, the West Australia Opera company decided to drop Carmen from its repertoire because it features smoking!

Perhaps if they make a film version of Carmen, they could use the marvels of CGI to add cigarettes afterwards.

This is the story which I mentioned that Health and Safety concerns have cause concern at the University of East Anglia. The instructions were sent out to students after the institution in Norwich reportedly said that a number of graduates had been hurt by falling hats in recent years.

Instead students are told to mime the actions, and images of the headwear will be digitally added afterwards – for around £6 per student!

Health and Safety has also been making mad inroads into the early years of education, as Deputy Doublet noted. A school has banned whistles to signal the end of playtime as staff are worried the “aggressive” noise will scare children. This is the story that staff at St Monica's Catholic Primary School in Milton Keynes must now raise a hand in the air to get the attention of pupils at the end of break time.

Professor Alan Smithers, of Buckingham University criticised this decision, telling the Sunday Times: “We have become extraordinarily over-sensitive. Does this mean children are not going to be able to play football and hockey because the referees use whistles?”

Monday, 23 May 2016

What the Papers Say - Part 1

An interesting review of the papers with Deputy Louise Doublet and presenter Ashlea Tracy on BBC Radio Jersey yesterday morning. Here are a few notes on what was said, supplemented by some background research of my own.


We began by talking about the EgyptAir tragedy, and how the sad death of geologist Richard Osman from Jersey showed how these events impact on all of us, and global events can now reach into the heart of our own community. No one is immune. But the nature of the catastrophe means that it is harder for those grieving, like Mr Osman’s family, as there appear to be no identifiable remains to bury.

"This is what is ripping our hearts apart, when we think about it. When someone you love so much dies, at least you have a body to bury. But we have no body until now," said Sherif al-Metanawi, a childhood friend of the pilot, Mohammed Shoukair.

How do we honour the dead when bodies are scattered in hundreds of pieces throughout a crash site? How do their grieving loved ones find closure without a body to bury or cremate?

Some answers may come from families of victims of past aviation disasters. Some of those families formed a national group, the National Air Disaster Alliance, an advocacy group of survivors and relatives of victims of several plane crashes.

Would it lead to people travelling less? My son is travelling to Athens in June, and I have to say that while Athens is not Egypt, I have a degree of disquiet with regard to travel into the Mediterranean regions. But as Deputy Doublet pointed out, if it leads to us changing our behaviour because of fear, the terrorists - if it was a terrorist attack – would win.

It is, I suppose the “Bulldog spirit” which led to people carrying on their normal lives in anything but normal circumstances during the Blitz.

Boko Haram

A Chibok schoolgirl and her baby in Maiduguri, Nigeria have been rescued from Boko Haram. She was kidnapped by Boko Haram from her school in Chibok more than two years ago. She says all but six of the Chibok girls are alive and being held in the Sambisa Forest.

Apparently, she wants to be reunited with her husband, as it appears that she, and at least half the schoolgirls taken were married off. She is the second rescued. In February, greed by soldiers, Zara, 16, also said she would rather be with the Boko Haram fighter who abducted and impregnated her.

Nigerian journalist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani says Stockholm syndrome goes part of the way to explaining Zara John's continuing allegiance to her abductor. She says the low status of women in north-eastern Nigeria is another compelling reason Boko Haram captives might be reluctant to leave extremist groups.

"She would be serving a man anyway," Nwaubani says. "She found herself in this new life, being valued by one man, being told how they were changing the world and fighting a war, and how they were going to start a new life."

The Stockholm syndrome emanated after the hostage situation in Stockholm, Sweden some time ago. Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon described in 1973 in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors.

Should these schoolgirls, evidently wanting their captors, be left in what, for them, seems like happiness? I believe that like individuals who have abducted woman, what matters is the action, and not the outcome. If they are not brought to justice, it sends out a message that they can act with impunity, as long as their captors can be brainwashed into supporting them.

As Amnesty International has reported, it is not just that Boko Haram want to be left in peace. Peace is very far from their minds. Another escapee from an earlier case of capture speaks about how they were trained to fight.

Aisha, aged 19, who escaped, spoke to Amnesty International about how she was abducted from a friend’s wedding in September 2014 along with her sister, the bride and the bride’s sister. Boko Haram took them to a camp in Gullak, Adamawa state, home to approximately 100 abducted girls. One week later, Boko Haram forced the bride and the bride’s sister to marry their fighters. They also taught Aisha and the other women and girls how to fight.

“They used to train girls how to shoot guns. I was among the girls trained to shoot. I was also trained how to use bombs and how to attack a village,” Aisha told Amnesty International. “This training went on for three weeks after we arrived. Then they started sending some of us to operations. I went on one operation to my own village.”

Amnesty calls upon Nigeria and International authorities to take action:

“The abducted must be rescued, war crimes and crimes against humanity must be investigated. Bodies must be disinterred from mass graves, further killings must be prevented and those guilty of inflicting this unspeakable suffering must be brought to justice.”

More reviews tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Parables for Today: The Pharisee and the Samaritan Woman

Parables for Today

Today's parable covers much the same ground as Soren Kierkegaard, who wrote:

In the splendid cathedral the Honorable Right Reverend Geheime-GeneralOber-Hof-Prædikant [Private Chief Royal Chaplain] comes forward, the chosen favorite of the elite world; he comes forward before a chosen circle of the chosen ones and, deeply moved, preaches on the text he has himself chosen, “God has chosen the lowly and the despised in the world” —and there is no one who laughs.

The Pharisee and the Samaritan Woman

There was once a Pharisee who went to pray, and he stood in the Temple where he could be seen by many, because he had fine robes, and liked to be seen by others wearing them.

He spoke loudly, because he liked the sound of his own voice, and he liked others to hear him.

‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like the Samaritan woman who used to come to the Temple. I have an epistle from the High Priest, which tells me that which I already knew, that I am a good and faithful servant to you, Oh Lord. And I am not minded to remember that irksome Samaritan woman, who was not even a good Judean, and is no longer here.”

For that is the matter with the Samaritans, that they are outsiders, and despised. And devout Jews do not associate with Samaritans

And in the Temple outskirts, there was a place where the Samaritan woman had stood, and wrestled with her afflictions, but it was empty, and no word was to be heard of her plight, because the Temple guards had taken her away and removed her as a noisy troublemaker.

And now she lived a life of solitude, far away from the madding crowds, and often wept over how cruelly she had been treated.

And the Lord said: “All those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

But it may not be in this life, where there are clearly a lot of people engaged in exalting themselves, and not that much humility in evidence.

Saturday, 21 May 2016


EgyptAir flight MS804 was carrying 66 people - including a British dad-of-two - from Paris to Cairo yesterday when it disappeared from radar. Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry confirmed that crews have found human remains in the search for the missing Airbus A320.

The photo above shows the Imam of al Thawrah Mosque, Samir Abdel Bary, giving condolences to film director Osman Abu Laban, center, who lost four relatives, all victims of Thursday's EgyptAir plane crash, following prayers for the dead, at al Thawrah Mosque, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, May 20, 2016.

Jersey, too, is connected to the events. Passenger Richard Osman, 40, a geologist and father of two died in the plane. I would extend condolences to his wife, their children, and their family and friends.

This poem is a reflection on this tragedy and sadness.


Oh wretched plane, so wounded
With turns and dips came down
Debris in sea surrounded
Too swiftly fell to drown
Oh saddened tale, grief story
The passengers now known
Now tragic end so gory
And families claim their own

Oh poor people that did suffer
For terror’s selfish gain
So evil here transgression
Leave grief and empty pain
Such tragedy the graver
No loved ones face to face
In mourning, grief’s enslaver
Light candles for dark place

What language can we borrow?
To talk of a lost love, friend
And weep of dying sorrow
And grieving without end
Immortal now forever
In death this is so true
Their loved ones never, never
Forget their love to you

Friday, 20 May 2016

Terry Hampton's Moving Notes

Two extracts from “The Pilot” in 1983 today. This was the Anglican Magazine for the Island of Jersey, and each month it would have different articles, and also Church news from the Rectors, Vicars, Curates etc of all the different Anglican Churches – if they got their copy in on time!

In late 1983, the Reverend Terry Hampton and his family left St Aubin on the Hill where Terry had been Vicar, and he became the new Rector of Grouville. These extracts give a flavour of both churches, and also what it is like to leave a place where you have put down roots over many years, and move somewhere new. Of course, it was hardly the other side of the world, only the other side of the Island, but as all good Jersey folk know, it is a long way from St Brelade to Grouville!

St Aubin on the Hill
November 1983

DOUBLE YOUR MONEY. This actually happened at our last church council meeting, when it was decided to "top-up" the Harvest gifts to £200. The collections have gone to the work of TEAR Fund and their outreach in South America amongst Indian communities.

Our numbers were well down on other years, and with a late date for harvest decoration our team of ladies did a marvellous job with the small amount of produce and flowers. The baskets of harvest things taken out were greatly appreciated. But a plea that next year we do need more helpers, and people to tidy up.

EATS AND SWEETS. To all gourmands and those who enjoy good company: on Thursday, November 3rd, at Hotel Christina we will hold our annual Ecumenical Dinner. Tickets from Roy Fauvel, and I hope that many of you will come to it. Members of the Jewish congregation are joining us, plus our Catholic friends, so it will be a rather special evening.

EPHPHATHA. This was a conference in Chichester for all the Diocesan clergy, and it was very good indeed. All the fears about tramping miles to buy grub, or wasting hours over hot stoves cooking food were quite groundless, and we really did get to know one another - though it seems daft that we have to go to England to get to know the Jersey clergy well!

Some of the lectures were quite brilliant, others very good, and Alex McCowan taking us through St Mark's Gospel was an evening none of us will forget. It was great that Tony Bellows, our church accountant, could join us, and he certainly kept the other bunch of Jersey clerics on their toes.

NOBEL PRIZES. Hearing that William Golding had been awarded the Literature prize amidst some disquiet, although a case of rejoicing for English folk, reminds me to remind you to look over the bookstall each week.

Ruth Vibert will be looking after it now, and do please encourage her and benefit yourselves by buying books, asking her to get something which isn't there, or recommending books we should have on view. Very few of us read as much as we should, and there is some marvellous material about to teach us, build us up, and fill: our minds with good things instead of the awful rubbish we so often let in to it.

THE FAITHFUL. I have already been told many times what a marvellous choir I shall be inheriting when we move to the "the parish in the East." So now I want to place on record my thanks to Rozelle and Ernest for their faithfulness during our ten years at St Aubin. Missing only when ill or on holiday, I could rely on them week in, week out, to be there. Added to that, both help with reading lessons, ringing bells, putting up hymn boards, and reminding me when hymn lists didn't appear on the choir stalls! You don't feel half so lonely in your stall when there are a few other people there with you.

And of course I must record my very great gratitude to Bill Morrice, my organist for ten years, with never an angry word between us, but sometimes puzzlement from Bill when he didn't know what hymns to play because I'd left the list at home! And Bill has become an enthusiast for the new tunes in Sounds of Living Waters, and One Hundred Hymns for Today. So thank you, all three.

AND FINALLY. . . My last letter to you all at St Aubin on-the-Hill. It has been a wonderful ten years, and we have been very privileged to work in such a marvellous village community. We have had so many kindnesses, and it's almost unbelievable that when we came we didn't know anyone in the church or village. Visitors constantly remark on the atmosphere and welcome they find, and I know you will maintain this.

We have a gifted and strong church council who realize the tasks ahead, and with the support of all the church family, the testing time ahead will certainly be a -time of growth and learning. We shall discover afresh what that lovely phrase "the Body of Christ" means, and how vital each member is. Use the new Prayer Cards daily in your prayers for each other, the church, and Michael and council as they seek God's guidance in finding another minister for St Aubin -on -the -Hill.

And our family would covet a mention in your prayers as we go to our new work at Grouville, making new friends, learning, sharing insights learned here, and seeking to build up and extend God's Kingdom there. Our love and prayers for you all.

December 1983
SETTLING IN. "Has anyone seen or used the saw?" "I can't find my weddings file ...Dad, there is someone on the phone who wants you to go to a meeting, can you?" Well, the first feelings of being quite at sea are receding (though the Wedding file hasn't surfaced yet, and I fear it is sitting snugly at the bottom of one of three large tea-chests.) already some names and faces are getting fixed in the memory, and light switches, locks and the heating systems are slowly yielding their secrets. Our very real thanks to all who sent or brought plants and flowers, and those culinary friends who made sure we had a hot meal while in the throes of moving. 

I've rebuilt the compost heap, cleared a bed for strawberries, and Mark and I are about to tackle the job of making the garage into the place it is actually designed to be, and not a junk centre. With the aid of maps we are all finding out where people live, and are looking forward to making many new deep friends over the next months.

BEING INDUCED. The Church really has a knack of making simple things sound complicated! But all who packed into the church were part of a truly marvellous service. We used the new form of service, with its modem, very challenging prayers and statements, and that lovely part where different members of the community welcome the new Rector and promise to work with him. My thanks to organist, choir and extra members (two from St Aubin who blew with might and main) whose skills really made the singing "lift off". The Dean stressed that we are called to be the Body of Christ, and that all members are essential.

We had a superb team of workers who carted chairs, arranged flowers, came to a very thorough rehearsal and on the Monday evening made everyone welcome. Thank you all.

CLERGY CARING. I must mention here all the help and loving advice we have received from Laurie and Ruth. It's not easy for others to move into your home and to hear that their children have been climbing your beloved trees must make the blood run cold! To have them both available for counsel is a tremendous help, and I am very aware that the warmth and commitment in the church is the result of their faithful ministry here. Our thanks too to Angus and Babs Robson for passing on many valuable bits of information and suggestions.

OFF DUTY. In all the parishes where we have worked, we have had one day which we tried to keep as a family day. Of course, if there is a sudden bereavement or someone is rushed to hospital, I want to know so that I can visit and care for the people. So what we did was to have a neighbour taking our transferred phone calls, and when an emergency came, they popped round with a note. Simple!

But it does mean that we can have one day without the phone ringing and feel able to relax with book (or our new gift of a superb video) or to go out for a picnic or drive without feeling guilty. So, at the moment, we are keeping to a Friday as our off-duty day, and if you want to get hold of us about something, or to drop in, please can you leave Fridays clear for us. Many thanks.

CHRISTMAS PLANS. As I type this letter, our Church Committee have not yet met, and so I'm not absolutely certain of the services and times for the Festival. We are having cards duplicated, so make sure you get one. Would you all invite friends to join you for either the Christmas Eve crib service or the Midnight communion, and offer transport for any without. And please, in your prayers, remember all who lead these very special services, that they may speak to those who come perhaps only to a Christmas service each year. That something of the service may speak to them about God and His love for us in sharing His Son with us. And as the pressure mounts, remind yourself daily that Christmas is about "IMMANUEL"..."God with us."

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Adrian Lynch - Police Update

In the interests of disseminating the details of the police investigation – background, methodology, hypothesis and current status – I’m placing this update from the States of Jersey Police on my blog posting today. I offer no hypotheses myself, because while there is a good deal of speculation, the possibilities are well set out in the police press release, and armchair speculation by myself would seem to add little to this.

All I might add is that I have discussed the matter with two honorary police involved in the searches, and there can be little doubt that these were conducted by all parties involved on thorough and professional and scientific guidelines, covering the same ground several times over many days and hours with different sets of eyes (in case something was missed), and looking into every garden, shed, tarpaulin etc and knocking on every door in the area of search on multiple occasions.

It can be seen from a report I wrote in December last year that both hypotheses and strategy used in the search follow the best practice on the matter. (http://tonymusings.blogspot.com/2015/12/police-search-strategies-some-notes.html)

Police Update


A lot of information has circulated regarding Adrian’s disappearance and the investigation, both factual and false. A number of recurring themes of questioning have also appeared via traditional and social media forums and this overview is intended to publicly inform and consolidate on the current status. The States of Jersey Police (SoJP) have been open and transparent in the information they have provided to the public and recognise the benefit in providing a comprehensive update.

Adrian’s clothing and items

On the night of his disappearance, Adrian was wearing a blue River Island two piece suit, brown belt, white shirt, white t-shirt and black slip-on shoes. He was believed to be in possession of his passport for proof of age purposes, having recently lost his driving license and he would have had two keys on a single ring with no fob – one a key to a Ford Fiesta, and the other an ordinary Yale door key. He also wore a white and yellow gold signet ring encrusted with a diamond.

Adrian’s movements

Adrian had spent the evening of Friday 4th December 2015 at a combined electrical contractors’ Christmas function at the Merton Hotel. He had consumed a quantity of alcohol and was intoxicated. A colleague arranged for a taxi to collect and take him home, and Adrian left by taxi at about ten minutes to midnight. It is believed that a misunderstanding over the address however led to Adrian being dropped off at the junction of La Rue and La Ruette D’Avranches (halfway between the Six Rues and Carrefour Selous junctions) with Adrian indicating he lived very close nearby. He was actually over a kilometre south of his home address.

He had his phone and wallet in his hand as he got out of the taxi, and these were located the following morning on the road surface in La Ruette just a few metres away from where he got out of the taxi. Although there was no cash in the wallet it is believed that Adrian had spent the cash he had earlier withdrawn from an ATM at the function, and used the remaining £3 to top up the amount his colleague had given the taxi driver when he collected Adrian at the hotel. Due to the positioning of the phone and the wallet, it is believed that he may have sat down for a while on the road surface placing these items down, but inadvertently leaving them behind when he moved off.

Adrian was dropped off at around five minutes past midnight. The following is a chronology of movements of who we believe to be Adrian over the next two or so hours. Times in some cases are approximate based upon witnesses’ best recollection, and references to “Adrian” are based upon a belief that this is indeed Adrian from references to description.

00:15 and 00:35 – a number of sightings of Adrian in the vicinity of the Carrefour Selous junction with La Grande Route de St Laurent. All are indicative of a state of intoxication ranging from unsteady walking to lying in the road.

01:00 – a report of a male shouting and swearing in La Rue de la Golarde, and very shortly after a male fitting Adrian’s description walking east along this lane.

01:05 – Adrian walks into a house in La Rue de la Golarde, occupants are still awake and in the lounge and question his presence before he leaves and is then seen walking west along Rue de la Golarde. Adrian is polite and appeared to have mud on his trousers.

01:40 – 01:45 – a householder in Le Passage hears a voice at the front of his house and on checking sees Adrian sitting on his wall, there was no-one else around. The householder enquired as to what he was doing and if he was ok. Adrian apologises for disturbing him and leaves heading west along Le Passage. At around this time (believed very shortly afterwards) a taxi driver passes Adrian in the lane who is however now walking east towards the junction with La Grande Route de St Laurent.

02:00 – Adrian is seen walking northwards on La Grande Route de St Laurent near to the junction with La Fraide Rue.

02:00 – someone is heard shouting and swearing on the s-bend near Bon Air Stables, and a person believed to be Adrian is seen walking northwards.

02:09 – CCTV at the Thistlegrove site captures Adrian walking north past the entrance, and then entering the yard at the front of Regal, before disappearing down the side of Regal. He re-emerges a few minutes later and is seen to walk south back past Thistlegrove at 02:17.

02:15 – 02:30 – a resident whose house backs onto the vehicular track leading south from La Rue de la Golarde into the Cooke’s Roses Farm complex hears their young child crying seemingly as they have been disturbed from sleep by someone shouting. It is very possible Adrian was walking back towards the very area he had started from, perhaps searching for his phone and wallet.
Adrian’s belt

Adrian’s belt was located on the Saturday by a householder in his garden in Le Passage, near to the boundary with Cooke’s Roses Farm. It was loosely coiled. A friend of Adrian has said that Adrian occasionally removed his belt and carried it in a coiled fashion. It is believed that at some point Adrian had removed and was carrying his belt. It is possible that he dropped or placed this when either leaving or entering the garden near to the Cooke’s Roses Farm complex, possibly at around 02:30 if the last report of hearing shouting related to Adrian passing southwards through the site.

Saturday 5th to Monday 7th December 2015

Contact was made by the finder of Adrian’s wallet and phone with Adrian’s family on the Saturday morning, and the family started their own enquiries before reporting Adrian missing in the early afternoon. An early assessment of the circumstances prioritised Adrian as a high risk missing person and enquiries initiated. Searching was carried out well into the night.

A multi-agency meeting involving representatives from a number of agencies was held at 07:00 on the Sunday and searching continued throughout the day and into the night, under the coordination of a trained police search advisor. One of the challenges that searchers faced that weekend and in the days and weeks that followed was the relative brevity of daylight hours, although searching into the night continued when it was considered conceivable that Adrian may still be alive.

On the Monday a decision to set up a major investigation room was taken, and a command structure to support the multi-agency working established. Use of the UK HOLMES major investigation computer system for recording and tracking data and lines of enquiry was also established. Although a missing person enquiry, the investigation room, team structure and processes mirrored that used nationally for major enquiries, whether crime related or not. The investigation started with regard to all possibilities, and has remained as such.

This had been declared as a critical incident and a command structure put in place to ensure strategic and tactical requirements were recognised and responded to. A Gold / Silver / Bronze terminology is applied nationally across the emergency services to major incidents, and Detective Superintendent Stewart Gull assumed the role of the “Gold Commander” which he still retains. Detective Chief Inspector Lee Turner who had been involved since the Sunday morning was designated as the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) over-seeing Detective Inspector Steve Langford as the “Silver” for investigation and Inspector Tim Barnes as the SoJP “Silver” for the multi-agency searching.

The search

From Sunday 6th to Tuesday 22nd December representatives from ten agencies were used daily in coordinated searching. They were spread across a total of 28 designated zones covering about 12 square kilometres in total, as seen on the map below. There were typically between 30 and 60 searchers deployed on any one day, the management and coordination of which required significant effort and monitoring. The search zones were designated according to the information picture that was developing as the enquiry progressed, and centred on those areas that featured in the reported sightings of Adrian as well as the potential directions he may have travelled in.

1 km radius (2 km diameter) circular zones of higher priority were established, centring on Adrian’s last known location (taxi drop off / belt recovery area) and the furthest believed movement indicated (Thistlegrove / Bon Air stables area). Such zones were also based on input from national search advice, and a National Search Advisor from the College of Policing worked in the island for a few days with search management in December.

The support of the public was and has been significant and careful ongoing consideration was given from the outset on Sunday 6th December and throughout the active search phases to using members of the public in support of coordinated searching, working alongside agency personnel. During this critical phase of the searching, it was assessed that there were sufficient resources for the task in hand. To involve the public in this coordinated way would have placed an unnecessary burden and additional risk on the overall coordinated search. This decision was strongly endorsed by a National Search Advisor from the College of Policing in the early stages.

There are a number of water sites in the general area ranging from garden ponds to the Handois and Dannemarche reservoirs. A number of these aspects could be and were covered by trained Fire and Rescue officers and divers from TTS. Other more challenging aspects were reviewed and where applicable covered by sonar specialists from Humberside Police.

Specialist victim recovery dogs were also utilised over two phases in December and January in areas assessed to require particular attention, or which presented significant challenges to other search methods. These dogs are trained to find deceased people, unlike the more general purpose police dogs which are used by SoJP who are trained to locate the living. As with any search assets, although highly trained these dogs are not infallible and require focus – this is directed and monitored by trained handlers, and will on occasion be restricted by environmental conditions such as wind direction.

A drone used by trained Fire and Rescue personnel was also deployed and viewing of footage monitored and examined over a number of days in support of other methods. This covered a total of about 12 hours flying time and covering a total distance of some 80,000 metres.

With regard to the possibility that Adrian may have been involved in a road traffic collision (RTC), additional and focused search attention was also paid to road surfaces and boundaries (extending up to 10 metres either side of the road surface) inside and out of the 1 km higher priority zones, not only for Adrian but for any debris or item that may have been discarded or flung upon any impact (which is common). Unsurprisingly, debris from what are believed to be minor historic collisions was located, but nothing of apparent relevance to Adrian’s disappearance.

Several thousand personnel hours in total were used in searching the designated areas, both before and after Christmas. There was and remains no information on which to base extending such parameters other than simply extending outwards in all directions which would not only require an exponentially growing resourcing requirement, but would also depend upon the consent of private property owners in circumstances where there would be little or no rationale to request or expect this. In short, in the absence of any more specific information, further searching is simply considered unviable.

Further searching for example in the central Carrefour Selous area was conducted in January based on a hypothesis arising from the last indication of Adrian’s presence in the Cooke’s Roses Farm area at 02:15 – 02:30.

This position has been supplemented by repeated requests for land and property owners to check their own areas outside of these zones, to use employees to assist on commercial and agricultural sites and to call the police for assistance if for example; the infirm or restricted are unable to thoroughly check property and outbuildings.

Difficult decisions such as those involving the parameters of extended searches have to be made, but as with all aspects of major investigations the practical implications are such that parameters have to be applied based on rationale, and the Senior Investigating Officer making such decisions rightly remains accountable for these.

The northern boundary areas around St John’s Village were based on earlier indications of Adrian’s direction of travel from the taxi drop off and the direction of his home address. The absence of any sightings past these areas limited the extent of these zones; however, the north coast has featured in search activity, including the Channel Islands Air Search plane, and also by the States of Jersey Fire & Rescue Service and other assets based on reports of possible relevance. Other areas have also received search attention in response to other possibly related pieces of information that were received.

An internal review of all search documentation is being carried out in order to establish the necessity for any revisits.

Hypotheses and lines of enquiry

A number of hypotheses were established by the SIO in the early phase of the investigation, falling within the three main nationally recognised categories of missing people:

  • Lost person – a person who is temporarily disorientated and would wish to be found;
  • Voluntary missing person – a person who has control over their own action but has decided on a particular course of action eg wishes to leave home or self-harm;
  • Missing person under the influence of a third party – relating to someone who has gone missing against their will eg abduction or murder victim.
The hypotheses established, form the basis of documented investigative strategies, which themselves drive principle lines of enquiry. The investigation has remained open-minded to all possibilities including criminal and third party involvement, but to date it remains that there is no credible information indicative of a crime. Such is Adrian’s apparent disorientation, intoxication and vulnerability that night, some form of misadventure is still considered the most probable eventuality, but other possibilities have never been ruled out.

Before clarification was obtained as to why Adrian might have taken off his belt, an explanation was considered that he might have been experiencing the onset of hypothermia. As bizarre as it might appear, undressing in some cases of hypothermia can occur although no further items of Adrian’s clothing have yet been discovered.

Another reaction can be a form of hibernation-like activity in terms of deliberate and tight self-concealment, and this has not been ruled out. Although it was a relatively mild and dry night, Adrian was not dressed to remain outside overnight, and this combined with intoxication leading to increased cooling of skin surfaces could possibly have created physiological hypothermic reactions.

This is only a possibility however and cannot be determined with any certainty such are the variables involved, but consultation with a Home Office pathologist has taken place in this regard and cannot be entirely ruled out. Contrary to what might be thought, it does not need to be bitterly cold for hypothermia to occur.

The structure of the investigation is such that any turn of events can be accommodated and catered for. Although this is a missing person investigation open to all possibilities, a murder investigation would follow a similar structure but its strategic direction would be influenced by those aspects indicative of a murder having taken place, eg discovery of a body in such circumstances or credible information that this was indeed the case. It is not a matter of switching from a missing person enquiry to a murder investigation simply because a period of time has elapsed without discovery.

Whether a missing person or a murder investigation, both seek to identify sources of intelligence, information and evidence in order to establish what has happened. This is why reference has been made to terminology such as “witness strategy” and “house to house enquiries” which would be expected in murder investigations, but have also been used in this investigation in order to identify and capitalise on information opportunities. As an example, witness strategy included written appeals in foreign languages placed in public areas and delivered to farms in the central parishes. A house to house zone was designated covering the routes Adrian is known to have taken, and may have proceeded to take, covering over 300 properties and over 500 residents, all of whom identified and spoken with.

A range of other lines of enquiry cover issues such as forensics, family liaison, passive data opportunities including CCTV from 18 sites, vehicle damage, and importantly the media.

Over 1,000 people have been spoken with during the investigation, over 250 witness statements recorded and over 560 investigative actions generated over and above the search activity described.

At the end of January a National Missing Persons Advisor and a National Senior Investigating Officer Advisor from the National Crime Agency visited and undertook a review of the structure, hypotheses and basis for the lines of enquiry being generated. As with any form of review in any field, a number of recommendations were made, gratefully received and duly considered and acted upon to varying degrees with regard to the local context and ongoing developments in the information picture. Support and further recommendations were also provided following this, by an NCA National Search Advisor in addition to those given before Christmas by the College of Policing.

The media

There have been over 30 media releases since the investigation began and a number of interviews with DCI Turner and D/Supt Gull. The outreach to an immensely supportive community wanting to help the police and Adrian’s family has been significant. There have for example been 14,122 YouTube hits on the Thistlegrove CCTV images.

A number of appeals for information have been made, including for a number of people who might have seen Adrian or something of possible relevance to come forward. Despite repeated appeals, a number of persons remain outstanding – these are people who very possibly might simply have seen or heard something of interest, however insignificant or irrelevant this might appear to them to be.

  • The occupants of a silver car (possibly a VW or Citroen Saxo) parked outside David Hicks at about 23:00;
  • Two persons with a motorcycle at the junction of Le Neuf Chemin and St Lawrence main road (just north of the entrance to St John’s Manor) at about midnight;
  • A male with a dark pullover hitchhiking up Mont Felard at about half past midnight;
  • A male in a mustard coloured suit walking north past Regal at about 01:15-01:30;
  • A taxi moving south past Thistlegrove at 02:33;
  • A male with white hair hitchhiking south at about 03:00 in the Three Oaks area;
  • Two males hitchhiking north at about 03:00 in the area of Steven Cohu antiques
  • In addition to this, despite a number of requests and other enquiries, it cannot be confirmed that all persons either in, passing into or out of the area at the relevant time have been identified. The CCTV at Thistlegrove identifies a number of vehicles passing in both directions throughout the night but makes and models are not distinguishable – we believe most have been identified but not all.

Current Position

The investigation will not be concluded until Adrian is found and the circumstances of his disappearance established as far as is possible. Maintaining a resourced investigation room and team however is only appropriate whilst there are feasible lines of enquiry to investigate, and these are not infinite. Adrian remains missing and SoJP will continue to consider any potential for fresh investigative leads and monitor any new intelligence or information, and remain ready and willing to resource and respond appropriately to any such developments.

This has been a unique and unprecedented missing person enquiry for Jersey. Whilst the States of Jersey Police will continue to keep an open mind as to any eventuality in respect of Adrian’s disappearance as set out as above, as difficult as it may be to comprehend on a small island, indications are that Adrian simply remains missing by misadventure. This has been an open and transparent investigation, and for as long as Adrian remains missing the Police remain committed to finding him.