Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Dave’s Dummies Guide to the 2016 Senatorial By-Election

My post today is a guest posting from Dave Cabeldu. What it aims to to is to provide one person's review of the candidates and how they appear. I think he paints a pretty accurate picture, and I'm certain that the Senator chosen will be from one of the following four candidates: Christian May, John Young, Sam Mezec and Sarah Ferguson although, as was said in the Morcambe and Wise sketch, not necessarily in that order. I'm personally wavering between two of those and am still undecided.

Coming soon will be a series of questions and answers posed by Save Our Shoreline, which I have been given permission to publish. These are very pertinent and necessary questions, and I think the responses will be an additional help in aiding voters to decide whom to vote for.


Below is my brief appraisal of the candidates and their likely aspirations from now until the next general elections in 2018. (In alphabetical order)

ALVIN AARON - Probably wished he hadn’t started - The questions were all a bit too much. So he left the stage in St. Clement after only Round 2 to research. Despite his island tour and Facebook posts, I doubt we will see him in 2018.

MIKE DUN - Highly intelligent and diligent, he has worked hard for the community and championed social rights. Mike has attended every Scrutiny meeting there has been. I believe he knows he won’t get in but wants a platform to air post BREXIT issues. In that sense he has succeeded in raising awareness and promoting discussion.

GUY DE FAYE - Good speaker and can be very droll, but gave us an out of date overpriced ugly incinerator - whose construction (with -a later admitted - defective E.I.A.) extensively polluted the Ramsar Area. I just can’t let that one go. Can’t see him doing too much cage rattling, as he knows the old crowd pretty well. Sorry Guy!

SARAH FERGUSON - Proven ability, bulldog spirit, massive experience and is a good cage rattler. Answers every email (how many States Members do that?) and she does what she says on the tin. (We won’t mention climate change though!) Unfortunately narrowly ousted by the ‘Dark Magician’ in the last general election and it clearly rankles. One of the favourites.

NICK LE CORNU - Good talker but can be condescending to his audience (which they don’t like) and seems very bitter towards the press who he blames for his last departure. He has some good social policies and would work hard to achieve them. But I can’t see him appealing island wide in a Senatorial election. Nick would be better placed to fight one of the St Helier Deputy seats in 2018.

STEVIE OCEAN - Whatever’s going on here (a double bluff?). I was initially amazed to learn that he advises the COM on what to invest in the strategic reserve and of his hot line to the PM and other crucial links, which he says, the COM will need. Then Darius set me straight. Seems a lot of energy to expend for an experiment!

CHRISTIAN MAY - Did well with People’s Park (as he is keen to point out!) Is very organised and able, with specific policies. if he doesn’t make it here will definitely get elected in 2018. I was a bit troubled (initially) to read that he is ‘willing to work with the COM’ - in that he could ‘do a Murray’. But after talking to him, I trust him not to. (He said that he would refuse to be an assistant minister if asked in this government.) He is independent and clearly a contender.

SAM MEZEC - Sam’s enthusiasm and hard work is well known. I have plenty of time for him but he does need more life experience. Sam can rattle cages with the best, but he is already there! He could cost us another good cage rattler - if he got in it would cause another by - election for his Deputy’s seat, and a numpty may get in there. That’s my worry and why I won’t be voting for him until 2018 (if he still stands for Senator.) Sorry Sam!

MARY O’KEEFE BURGHER - Ms OKB is hard wired to the establishment - at least she honestly advertises the fact. Reform? perish the thought! the COM needs to be stronger! With her in it of maybe? And she is laying the ground for 2018, and spending a fortune. Short on environmental knowledge and hard policies so probably ideal current COM fodder. (Susie can show her the ropes and discuss her plan to bring in dog licences).

HUGH RAYMOND - Good self publicist - an establishment candidate. No clear policy on reform other than he favours the retention of Constables in the States. Stood in the last election for Deputy of Trinity and did well. But no fined up policies: e.g. Immigration; ‘We have to consider our needs and prepare for the future’ ; We need a strong economy; etc. etc. Probably looking to get his name out there for the 2018 general election and would probably succeed.

JOHN YOUNG - John has a proven track record of cutting through the red tape and getting propositions into the States- and many have succeeded. He is thoroughly clued up and always well researched, has amazing stamina and is a thoroughly nice chap. The COM know he is 100% spot on and a danger to them - he is way more intelligent than most of them. And he is very effective. He has my vote to do the most good for the island in the 20 months available.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Is it time for an apprenticeship levy in Jersey?

Is it time for an apprenticeship levy?

One of the great problems in Jersey is getting some businesses to take on and train apprentices.

I am sure that one of the reason applications are made to bring staff in from the UK and elsewhere is because it is easier and quicker to buy the expertise of someone ready trained than to train someone up. An apprenticeship levy would go some way towards providing a positive incentive for training home-grown staff as those who did not do so would be have to pay for that privilege.

Another advantage of such a levy is that it would shift the burden - as with the waste charge - to companies rather than taxpayers. It would necessarily not apply to small businesses who might struggle to afford it, but certainly could apply to businesses over a particular threshold. The UK one is, in my view, probably over-generous, but even that would be a step on the right way.

Basically in the UK (and why some businesses vehemently opposed its introduction), it ensured that businesses who took on apprentices were not disadvantaged, and those that did not had to pay more to support those that did.

Here are some notes from the UK on how it works:

In April 2017 the way the government funds apprenticeships in England is changing. Some employers will be required to contribute to a new apprenticeship levy, and there will be changes to the funding for apprenticeship training for all employers. The apprenticeship levy requires all employers operating in the UK, with a pay bill over £3 million each year, to make an investment in apprenticeships. You can benefit from this investment by training apprentices.

You will need to pay the apprenticeship levy if you are an employer, in any sector, with a pay bill of more than £3 million each year. For the purposes of the levy, an ‘employer’ is someone who is a secondary contributor, with liability to pay Class 1 secondary National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for their employees. The levy will be charged at a rate of 0.5% of your annual pay bill. You will have a levy allowance of £15,000 per year to offset against the levy you must pay. This means you will only pay the levy if your pay bill exceeds £3 million in a given year.

Earnings include any remuneration or profit coming from employment, such as wages, bonuses, commissions, and pension contributions that you pay NICs on. We will not charge the levy on other payments such as benefits in kind, subject to Class 1A NICs.

You will pay the levy on your entire pay bill at a rate of 0.5%. However, you will have a levy allowance to offset against this. The levy allowance is worth £15,000 for each tax year. This means the levy is only payable on pay bills over £3 million (because 0.5% x £3 million = £15,000).

Monday, 29 August 2016

Vicarious Grief and the Media

“Happiness lies for those who cry, those who hurt, those who have searched and those who have tried. For only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives.” — Victor Hugo

“Royal summoned mourners. They came from the village, from the neighbouring hills and, wailing like dogs at midnight, laid siege to the house. Old women beat their heads against the walls, moaning men prostrated themselves: it was the art of sorrow, and those who best mimicked grief were much admired. After the funeral everyone went away, satisfied that they'd done a good job.”

― Truman Capote, House of Flowers

"According to Chochinov, there are a couple of catches to vicarious grief. The less the victims resemble us, the less grief we feel. And we don't seem to feel this grief as acutely for those who suffer from chronic problems, which often have their common denominator in poverty."
Maria King Carroll

It seems that every event like the tragic murder of Labour Jo Cox, or the shootings in Orlando attract comments across the globe,

Part of that is natural enough. We are all shocked by such events, and we want to express how we feel. That’s a very human need.

But I cannot help noticing that we seem to get a lot of official statements, especially those from notable people with only a marginal connection to the tragedies. It is almost as if there is an impulse to grab some of the grief, and somehow participate in the event vicariously.  These are people who have little or no connection to the tragic events, but they will have their say. 

It is a trend which has certainly been growing over the last decades, and of course the most extraordinary outpouring of grief, and official statements from famous people on the margins of that event, was the death of Princess Diana. The grief which overtook the nation seemed at times almost hysterical, not least when the Queen was pilloried for not lowering the Royal Standard, and for maintaining a discreet and reserved silence.

It is rather like the way in which conventional upbringing of boys has the mantra that boys should not be “cry babies” and that grown men do not cry. It seems a learned part of our cultural makeup that we have to show open signs of mourning at a tragedy, and none more that celebrities.

Part of this is fermented  by the media. In his study of the subject, R. Scott Sullender notes that:

“The media’s coverage of both real and fictional death and trauma has increased the incidence of vicarious grieving and vicarious traumatisation by the viewing public. Accessing the human innate capacity to empathize, the media invites us to share in the sorrow of others and to bind together in times of collective tragedy. At the same time, the intensity and scope of the public’s exposure to unnatural death might be creating a generation that is actually less sensitive to the needs of others.”

As Chochinov showed, “People feel vicarious grief in proportion to the amount of media coverage they are exposed to.”

Annie Hauser exemplifies this manipulation by the media very well when she made the extraordinary claim that "We are seeing the mourning live on television, so it becomes not vicarious grief, but real grief."

And this leads to a kind of “social contagion” when intense reactions became somewhat infectious to those who observed them and stimulated within these observers their own intense responses to a death or deaths. There is now an unwritten etiquette which demands that every such tragic event be marked by public grieving.

But this almost mandatory  requirement to make a public pronouncement of grief can lead to absurdities. An example  can be seen in the way great events are treated in the States of Jersey. In one paragraph, the Bailiff speaks out “to express, on behalf of all Members and for this Assembly, sympathy for the families and friends of those who died in the atrocity in Orlando.”  

And in the next breath, he says: “On a rather lighter note I would simply like to mention that the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations seem to have gone extremely well and I would like to congratulate all those who have been involved in the various celebrations, both the celebrations in St. Helier at the Town Church in the Royal Square and across the Parishes over the weekend.”

There doesn’t seem any awareness that the juxtaposition of sombre grief and joyous rejoicing is somehow incongruous. It is almost as if public figures feel they have to go through the motions of expressing sympathy – not that it is not genuine, it is – but it is not thought out., nor I venture is it necessarily appropriate.

Robert Solomon, in his book “In Defence of Sentimentality”, has this to say about Diana’s death:

“I suspect that many of us found the grieving lamentations for Elvis and Princess Diana inappropriate, if not downright embarrassing, just because there was no prior relationship (despite the indignant denials of the aggrieved). The shared tragedy of a likable young man or woman cut down in the prime of life prompts grief only insofar as the relationship with the griever is something more than vicarious voyeurism.”

He suggests that “grief is about a relationship”, and that as we are onlookers, on the fringe of the tragic, our grief is in danger of becoming narcissistic because we lack that anchor. In the case of Jo Cox, one can understand Jeremy Corbyn feeling the loss, and David Cameron too because “she was one of us”, a fellow MP. But as we move away, the expression becomes less of an expression of loss in a relationship, and more of a superficial gloss. How many of those, especially famous people, who are making statements today actually knew or had heard of Jo Cox?

Zachariah Wells comments on public vigils of mourning that "People will go there to worship their own idea of a person they did not know. They have been invited to do this. It is a form narcissism." Wells adds that “I have a very hard time believing that this kind of "grief" has been earned, nor that it will last longer than the present moment” And Eva Wiseman, asks the question: “The worry is that we're self-identifying, and making a stranger's death all about us. Projecting our own little concerns on to the blankness of a screen.”

The worry is that we're self-identifying, and making a stranger's death all about us.

Direct grief also differs from vicarious grief in longevity. Where there is a relationship of whatever kind broken by death, the other person is always missed, and while intense mourning may diminish, that sense of loss, and that kind of grief never goes away. Vicarious grief on the other hand, fades, because there is no direct relationship to sustain it. Nowhere is this more apparent that the collective vicarious grief at the death of Princess Diana, which vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

By contrast as Dr Leeat Granek explains, grief over the loss of a relationship goes on:

“Having spent years studying grief, and being a griever myself now entering her tenth year of loss, I know that grief does not work this way. It is not an event in time. It is not even just an emotional response to a loss. It is a process that changes us permanently but also constantly as we ourselves change and grow. In this sense, grief is just like love. It is not something that happens once and goes away — it is something that evolves, expands and contracts, and changes in shape, depth, and intensity as time goes on.”

Elizabeth Wilson, writing in 1997, sums up the contrast between direct and vicarious forms of grief:

“In the week after Princess Diana’s death I was baffled and deeply alienated by the public response to the horrifying accident, and its amplification by the mass media. I could neither understand nor share the apparent outpouring of grief, nor the explanations thought up by media commentators for the flowers, the poems, the queues and the candles. Of course, I thought it was terribly sad—the death of a young woman and mother when on the threshold, it seemed, of a happier period in her life—but I did not feel I had lost a friend or a member of my family. On the contrary, since a neighbour of mine had just died, I was painfully aware of the difference between the death of someone who actually was a friend and the more ethereal loss of someone known only as a media figure.”

Of course the recent incidents – the murders in Orlando, and the murder of Jane Cox, have also been marked by extreme forms of hatred. And it is only right that we should take cognisance of that, and it is right and proper that statements should be made against those xenophobic forms of hate and prejudice.  And there can be no doubt that we are saddened and shocked  by the deaths of others.

But we should not let that blind us to the fact that unless it leads to change, vicarious grief has often more to do with ourselves and how we feel than those who have perished.

It is understandable that the 9/11 massacre and the bombings in London are so immense that we should mark them. For other events we seen bound up in what appears to be a learned behaviour rather than a natural one., in which we mourn the passing of strangers, and not those whose relationship with us has touched our lives. And the media presentation has a lot to do with this.

As R. Scott Sullender notes in “Pastoral Psychology”:

“Accessing the human innate capacity to empathize, the media invites us to share in the sorrow of others and to bind together in times of collective tragedy. At the same time, the intensity and scope of the public’s exposure to unnatural death might be creating a generation that is actually less sensitive to the needs of others. “

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Simon Whom He Surnamed Peter - Part 25

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 Martyr's Crown
by G.R. Balleine

PETER worked with success for perhaps eighteen months, and Tertullian refers to `those whom Peter baptized in the Tiber'. Then storm-clouds gathered. In 65 plague swept through Rome, claiming 30,000 victims. This no doubt reawakened the cry, `The Gods are angry!'

In 66 Nero, who had fled from the plague, returned in a bad temper. The building of his Golden Palace had stopped for lack of funds. His expedition to find Dido's treasure had returned empty-handed. In a fit of rage he had kicked his beloved Poppaea, and she had died. Rumours of revolt were spreading. A hurricane devastated Campania. Something must be done to placate the Gods. And what better scapegoats could be found than the detested Christians?

According to Clement of Alexandria one of the first to be arrested was Peter's wife, the staunch old Jewess, who had welcomed Jesus to her cottage in Capernaum, and had been her husband's helpmate through all his missionary work. They say that Peter, when he saw his wife led out to death, rejoiced that she was homeward bound, and called her by name very encouragingly, `Remember the Lord.' The story is so simple that it may be true. A romancer would surely have invented something more dramatic. Peter had written to Pontus, `The more you share Christ's sufferings, the more you will rejoice, when His glory is revealed.' This was probably what he meant by `Remember'!

Next comes the Quo Vadis legend. There are several versions. The Apocryphal Acts of Peter, written about 16o, says that Xanthippe, one of Nero's court ladies, sent him warning that his hiding-place was known. `The Brethren urged him to escape. "Shall I desert my post?" he asked. "Go," they said, "that you may still be able to serve the Lord." So he yielded saying, "I will disguise myself and go." But at the city gate he saw the Lord about to enter Rome, and asked, "Lord, whither goest Thou? (Domine, quo vadis?)." He replied, "To Rome to be crucified." "What," cried Peter, "crucified again! Then, I will turn and follow Thee." And the Lord ascended into Heaven.' This story is not incredible. Peter was a visionary, much influenced by visions. If he was doubtful whether his flight was right or wrong, this would be just the state of mind to induce a vision.

The story was told by many early writers, but with different explanations. To some Christ's words were a rebuke. Those who desert their post `crucify the Son of God afresh'. To others it was a call to a higher duty than obedience to the rule, `If you are persecuted in one city, flee to another.' Rome would not be won till Christ was crucified again in the person of Peter.

That Peter was martyred is certain. In 96, only thirty years after it happened, Clement of Rome, a survivor of the massacre, wrote that Peter had `contended unto death'. All contemporary records, however, of his end have vanished. This is not unprecedented. A vast number of ancient books have vanished. Of the three contemporary Roman historians of the period, Fabius Rusticus, Cluvius Rufus, and Pliny the Elder, not a line survives. Of Tacitus' Histories only one manuscript escaped destruction.

And in 303 Diocletian ordered a world-wide destruction of Christian documents, which has left wide gaps in our knowledge of early Church History. In the Roman Mass worshippers still say they revere the memory of twelve martyrs, whose names are solemnly recited. These must have been famous in their day; but the learned Jesuit, Professor Jungmann, in his Missarum Sollemnia admits: `There is considerable doubt about the last five.

From the viewpoint of historical truth little more can be established than their names.' And even of Peter the story of his death can only be reconstructed from traditions.

Clement, our best witness, wrote from Rome; and he attributes Peter's arrest to `jealousy (dia.Zelon)'. This is an ugly word. He is warning the faction-rent Church in Corinth what harm party-jealousies can do. Jealousy led Cain to kill Abel, Joseph's brethren to sell him as a slave, Saul to lay traps for David. Through `jealousies' the `vast multitude' lost their lives under Nero, and `through wicked jealousy' Peter had `endured many torments and gone to his place of glory'.

This is susceptible of only one interpretation. The trouble at Corinth was not the jealousy of the heathen, but of rival Christian groups; and jealousies of this kind had evidently been responsible for the death of Peter. The Roman Church before this had been blamed for its dissensions. Paul had rebuked its `rivalry and. envy', and the way some preached Christ `out of party-spirit'. Perhaps at this time a militant group, foaming with rage against Nero, despised Peter's pacifism.

We do not know who was guilty; but thirty years later Clement could state as a well-known fact that Peter had been betrayed by the jealousy of fellow-Christians. His form of martyrdom was crucifixion. This was universally believed in the second century, and is implied in the Fourth Gospel (xxi. 18), for what other form of death requires the victim to stretch out his hands and be bound?

The Apocryphal Acts of Peter add a strange detail, `He was crucified head down-wards, having himself desired this.' This became the accepted tradition, repeated by orthodox Fathers of the Church like Origen and Ambrose; and the fact that the writers of the apocryphal books were puzzled to explain it shows that they did not invent it. One makes Peter say, `Crucify me head downwards, for the Lord said, "Except you make the top the bottom, you shall not know the Kingdom".' Another said, `Christ hung feet downwards, because He came down from Heaven, and Peter feet upwards because he was going to Heaven.' Not till Jerome (about 360) do we meet the explanation that later became popular,

`He said, "I am not worthy to die like my Lord".' The difficulty lay in the idea that Peter chose this position. This form of crucifixion was not unheard-of. Seneca reports that he had seen some years before `crosses on which men hung head downwards'. Nero's septic humour may well have tried to rob death of all dignity by treating Peter thus. The unexpectedness of this detail sounds as if it might be true.

The Apocryphal Acts also state that Peter was martyred in Nero's garden on the Vatican, the scene of the former massacre; and their topography is probably more reliable than their hagiography. They do not hesitate to invent fantastic miracles; but, when they state where Peter died, they would repeat the current Roman tradition. They would lose the confidence of their readers if they contradicted the prevailing belief. The Vatican in those days was a rural district outside the city. It contained a steep, vine-covered hill, the Mons Vaticanus, and a valley at the foot, the Vallis Vatican, where Nero had his private garden. Here was his circus, an oval race-course for chariot-racing, which could be flooded and made a naumachia, a lake on which gladiators could fight from rafts.

Nero's garden was a conspicuous spot; and, if Peter died there, it would not be forgotten. This became the universally accepted tradition in Rome. An early version of the Acts ('not later than 200', says James) reports that the cross was placed `at the place called the naumachia beside Nero's obelisk on the Vatican'. Another version says, `by the obelisk between the two turning-posts'.

If he was executed in the Emperor's garden, his death must have formed part of a public spectacle. Nero's blase boon companions looked for more exciting entertainment than the death of an elderly Jew. That cross was probably a minor detail in some brilliant pageant. In his imperial box Nero sat betting with gaunt Tigellinus, while by the ancient obelisk, that once, with our 'Cleopatra's needle', in Moses's day had guarded the Temple of the Sun in Egypt, Peter hung dying in excruciating agony.

Truly a tragic death! In Galilee he had dreamed that he would see God's Kingdom a reality and earth purged of evil. Buoyed up by that hope he had carried the Good News from land to land. He knew now what his Master's warning had meant. Those who would not follow to the cross need not follow at all. What had this untiring life of strenuous work accomplished?

Strange results followed from it, as our Epilogue will show. But its chief practical result was to have spread through East and West the facts of the life of Jesus, as we find them in Mark's Gospel. Paul had broadcast deep ideas about divine redemption, but Peter told the concrete facts about the Galilean Carpenter, without which theology would be mere speculation. In addition to this, if the view taken in the previous chapters is correct, we can credit Peter with three epoch-making achievements.

When the problems raised by the Gentile converts threatened to split the Church, Peter's common sense had checked the schism that seemed inevitable. He had planted his message from Jewry to Jewry right across Asia Minor, and thus built up Churches which became the strongest in early Christendom. His crowning triumph had been to rebuild the Church in Rome after the great slaughter, and leave a team of trained disciples to carry on his work in the strategic centre, to which Europe, Africa, and Asia were going to look for guidance. A servant who had done this might without presumption hope to hear his Lord's `Well done!'

Saturday, 27 August 2016

The Hungry Earth

Today's poem was reflecting on the terrible earthquake in Italy.

The Hungry Earth

Beneath tremors start, there are houses above
A church where people come pray and love
There is no defence on such terrible days
Vulcan with hammer sings anger and praise

The townscape above, the clock tower face
And here is the might, the rending of space
The grinding of rock, the earthquake does form
And dark is the time of this oncoming storm

When words simply fail, what tongue can recite?
The shaking destruction, the earth in its might
It shatters the hills, it tears up the plain
And after is weeping, tears falling like rain

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail
In a moment is silence, then a cry and a wail
Unforgiving, how brutal, how savage this end
And out comes a cry for child, lover or friend

The rescuers come, with compassion and love
As if heaven sent, come down from above
To search over rubble, for life signs blaze
And rescuing each, hearts sing in praise

The hungry earth is eating, and devouring life
Human conflicts are petty, compared to this strife
With trembling and fear, lives hang by a thread
And we comfort survivors, and bury the dead

Friday, 26 August 2016

How Geography Shaped the Politics and Economy of the Channel Islands

My post today is a selection from "The Channel Islands" by David Thomas Ansted and Robert Gordon Latham, published in 1865. Most travel guides look at the population, the sights to visit, something of the history, but this is an exception. It begins by looking at the geography of the Islands, and then considers how this has shaped their subsequent history, so it is a bit different from the general guidebook.

How Geography Shaped the Politics and Economy of the Channel Islands
by David Thomas Ansted and Robert Gordon Latham

That the Channel Islands possess great importance as military stations, and are capable of affording refuge to shipping in time of war, is a fact that has always been felt, and from time to time acted on by Great Britain. Large sums of public money have been expended in fortifying them and commencing harbours. The harbours, however, at present available, have been constructed entirely at the expense of the islanders.

Perfect freedom from customs'-duties, and all other taxation for the benefit of England, an absence of interference with local laws, and even a permission to use in the public courts, and for public occasions, the French language, and to employ French coins in circulation, has been granted without question.

That a people so governed should be loyal, and should do all in their power to retain the customs and privileges under which they have so long flourished, is not surprising. That islanders should be hardy boatmen, and but indifferent agriculturists, might also be expected; and that a people so greatly favoured by nature in climate and fertile soil, and by political circumstances in their local governments, should be free and independent, jealous of interference, and rather proud of what they have already done, than careful to adopt new systems of which they have had no experience, is neither to be wondered at nor blamed.

In visiting these possessions, therefore, or while reading an account of them, the traveller in the one case, and the reader in the other, will do well to bear in mind, that both place and subject are neutral ground. The islands can neither be regarded properly from an English nor from a continental point of view. The people have customs, venerable from age and historical association,—customs, superseded in Normandy and England, but not, perhaps, the less adapted to small communities.

They have a language which, in its peculiarities, must be regarded as unformed rather than deformed. They are, in Guernsey especially, and in some respects also elsewhere, singularly tenacious of their family ties, and apt to narrow, rather than extend, their social circle. They are, in a word, islanders rather than English.

It must also be borne in mind, that hardly any Celtic element is recognisable in these islanders. They are not like the Manx men, the Welsh, or the Bretons. They are Normans, but Normans of the old school. Norman freemen, before there were Norman barons and vassals of the crown, retaining the northern love of independence, and not at all the Gallic tendency to depend on the fostering hand of a central government.

They thus offer curious points of character; and, till lately, the mass of the population in some of the islands had undergone marvellously little change.

But the time of change has come. Roads, steam-boats, and public works, have already so far altered the peculiar features of the larger islands and the national peculiarities of their inhabitants, that we must now seek for many quaint and interesting characteristics that, only a few years ago, openly presented themselves in the streets and market places.

The cultivation of the land is improving; legitimate trade has assumed large proportions; excellent roads, and noble piers, quays and harbours, have been constructed at vast expense; and to provide funds for these, the inhabitants have been contented to tax themselves very heavily. Prices of all kinds of food, house-rent, and other necessary items of expenditure, have become gradually higher and higher,—have approximated, in fact, more and more to the prices of similar articles in the great centres of population; so that now, the islands have almost ceased to tempt the possessors of small incomes and large families to migrate thither. In the place of these, of whom, however, many remain, there is a rapid increase in the number of tourists, who flock over by hundreds, in search of health, amusement and relaxation; and who will find their time well spent in examining the numerous objects of interest that here abound. It is desirable to clear the way for their benefit, and state briefly and what is distinctly remarkable and best worthy of notice in every part of our little channel archipelago; and in the history, antiquities, science, natural history and literature belonging to its various members.

To give the reader some idea of the very great number of islands, islets, rocks and shoals, forming the Channel Islands, a list is subjoined of the various groups, as named in charts; and to this is appended the proximate area, in square miles, of the space each group may be considered to occupy.

It must be understood, that the area given is not that of the actual land. In some of the groups, the surface of rock exposed at high water is not more than a few square yards in area, for every square mile of dangerous surrounding sea; but, estimating the dimensions by the extent of dangerous water, a very fair idea will be formed of the relative importance of each group in navigation. It would, perhaps, have been interesting, had it been possible, to state the number of rocks beyond a certain size, visible at all times of tide; but no sufficient materials exist for this.

In this list, the names of all those islands that are regularly inhabited are indicated by a star (*). Several of the others are occasionally visited during summer, either for herbage or as fishing stations, and on them are huts or other buildings. The most important of them are the Burhou larger island, the 'Maitresse lie' of the Minquiers, some of the larger of the Ecrehou rocks, and some of the Chaussey islands. On the Ecrehou rocks are remains of buildings of great antiquity, said to be constructed of stone brought from the main land of France.

In addition to this long list of names, each of which represents a group, and often a very numerous group of rocks, there are many smaller groups, and a multitude, almost countless, of detached rocks, either visible at some time of tide, or dangerous to navigation from the sea breaking over them. Close to the French shore, both of Brittany and Normandy, but especially the former, the rocks and shoals are almost too numerous to be marked in any chart.

A very important chain of light-houses indicates, by a line of fire, the outlying points of the Channel Islands and the whole adjacent land.

From Cape la Hague, in Normandy, to Les Heaux, in Brittany, there are no less than thirteen lights, several of them of the first class, placed at intervals on the French coast. The Casquets light, and a light recently placed on the Hanois rocks, near Guernsey, mark the approach to the islands from the Channel; while various coast and harbour lights on all the principal islands assist in pointing out to the mariner the dangers that exist to navigation and the welcome refuge offered.

The subjoined cut represents the Chasse marie, a kind of French coasting vessel, characteristic of the Channel, and often seen in Guernsey seeking shelter from westerly gales. These craft are extremely picturesque, and were formerly common. Diminished smuggling and improved navigation have rendered their visits less frequent of late years.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Misreported News

The JEP reported this on 23 August 2016:

“THE heartbroken mother of a woman who died after being swept out to sea has today paid tribute to her ‘bright and bubbly’ daughter – and said she hopes her death will teach others to respect the coast. Kim Noble has told how her daughter, Joy Godfray, was dragged out in a second as she paddled up to her ankles with a friend in rough seas at Green Island on Saturday.”

“The talented guitarist and pianist would have celebrated her 32nd birthday the day after the tragedy. And Mrs Noble said she also wanted people to know the ‘true facts’ about her daughter’s death after a series of hurtful comments were posted on social media, including one which stated that rescuers should have left her body in the sea and another which branded her ‘brain dead’ for going into the water.”

But the story was reported very differently in earlier versions of the news. Rather than being someone paddling who fell and was then swept out by an undercurrent from a wave, the news stories all gave the same impression: that Joy Godfray was out swimming in the treacherous seas. Nowhere did it mention what has just been mentioned, that she was dragged out when just paddling in ankle deep water.

This was how the story was reported on August 21 in the JEP:

“A SWIMMER has died after getting into difficulty in rough seas at Green Island. The Fire and Rescue inshore RIB and an RNLI lifeboat were launched at about 8.20 pm on Saturday. One male swimmer had already been rescued by a member of the public but another - a woman in her 30s - was dragged east towards Le Hocq.”

Another story around the same date said:

“A SWIMMER who died after getting into difficulty off Green Island yesterday evening has been named as 31-year-old Joy Godfray.”

And on August 22, the report said:

“A WOMAN died after being dragged out to sea in treacherous conditions at Green Island at the weekend. Joy Godfray got into difficulty while swimming with a male friend at high tide on Saturday evening as the Island was battered by strong winds and pounded by big swells. The man, believed to be aged in his 30s, was rescued by a member of the public but Miss Godfray was carried away from the shore and towards Le Hocq.”

This is a mixed report; it gets the fact that she was dragged out to sea, but also suggests that she was dragged out while swimming, not while paddling.

The Sun also reported:

“Jersey Fire Service’s rescue boat and two RNLI lifeboats set out to sea at approximately 8.20am yesterday morning following reports of two swimmers caught in rough conditions.”

The Independent reported:

“A woman drowned while swimming off the coast of Jersey.”

And yet the same article mentions another drowning – “A man has died after being swept into the sea as he sat on rocks with his family in Cornwall.”

The Daily Mail had:

"Swimmer Joy Godfray died in hospital after getting into difficulty off Green Island in Jersey on Saturday night - the day before her 32nd birthday. "

And the Mirror:

"The woman who died after swimming off Green Island in Jersey last night has been named as Joy Godfray."

Even the BBC report has this same misrepresentation of the facts:

“A swimmer who died after getting into difficulty in the sea off Jersey has been named. Joy Godfray, who would have been 32 on Sunday, was rescued by the coastguard near Green Island at 21:00 BST on Saturday, but was pronounced dead in hospital. A man swimming with her was helped to shore by a member of the public.”

I think that even if someone had been foolhardy enough to swim in such treacherous conditions, that it is simply cruel and thoughtless to say as much on Facebook, as appears to have happened.

When I read the earlier stories, I did wonder why on earth anyone would be swimming in such a sea, in force 7, gusting to force 8, a powerful swell and tempestuous waves. It seemed lunacy. But I didn’t comment. The family would have enough to grieve over without heartless comments.

But other people read that story, and decided to comment.

As a result of that darker side of social media, the JEP’s latest story tells us what really happened, and suddenly it makes a lot more sense.

Paddling, and stumbling, and dragged out by a sudden wave: this was the true story. It is a tragic story, but it is also a tragedy that the story was misrepresented by the media for so long.

But despite that misleading reporting, it is good to see so many tributes, even before the true story was told. 

Scores of people have written messages of condolence to the family – some who clearly knew Joy. Karen says she was a ‘wonderful girl’, and Nat writes ‘thanks for being a dear friend – for all the teenage fun and laughs.’ Steven says she was always kind-hearted and cheerful, and a former teacher says ‘I have never forgotten her cheeky sense of humour and mischievous smile’.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Oysters and Sea Lettuce and Sand Furrows

A few days ago, the JEP carried this story:

BOLD new proposals to tackle Jersey’s growing sea lettuce problem, which would involve cutting huge troughs and ridges into St Aubin’s Bay, have been unveiled today.

Environmental lobbyists Save Our Shoreline have suggested cutting a number of 400-metre-wide channels into the sand.

They claim that the move would accelerate the flow of the outgoing sea water close to the sea-bed and pull the lettuce out to sea, preventing it from ‘matting’ at the top of the beach.

David Cabeldu, researcher for SOS Jersey, together with Tony Legg, of Jersey Sea Farms, who are both putting forward the proposal, were due to meet Infrastructure Minister Eddie Noel this afternoon.

The reader might have been alarmed by this dramatic picture, but in fact, the proposals were nothing like as large-scale and gigantic as suggested in that story.

Jacqui Carrell, writing to the JEP, corrected this impression

The JEP article ‘SOS propose accelerating flow of outgoing sea water’ [18 august 2016] is incorrect about the width of the proposed channels. They will have given readers the impression the channels are going to be very wide and all over St Aubin’s Bay! SOS Jersey would like to reassure everyone that the proposed channels are not going to be 400 metres wide, but 400 metres LONG and ONE furrow wide.

To clarify, these furrows would be low and temporary and dug at specific angles to the tidal flow. Sea lettuce will wash up and down with each tide, but these channels should prevent it from gaining a hold in the intertidal areas and other specific areas and, as a result, stop its accumulation at the top of the beach.

The furrowing will be done early in the season and repeated if necessary; this approach is meant to be a short term, partial solution to the sea lettuce problem until the Jersey native oysters programme starts to show results. We are mindful of tidal flows and of the local flora and fauna, and furrowing plans reflect these.

We would also like to clarify that SOSJ have acted as facilitators in the proposed Jersey native oyster project and haven’t the resources to carry out further surveys. We will issue no proposals: that is for the relevant States department to do. We will monitor and help when possible, but Infrastructure are now in a position to continue the sea lettuce project in collaboration with Tony Legg of Jersey Sea Farms.

Why Oyster farming?

Oysters feed by filtering water to remove phytoplankton and other particles floating in the water. This action helps to maintain water clarity and quality and to cycle nitrogen and phosphorus, two nutrients that can be harmful to our bays. Increased filtration by healthy oyster populations can also prevent harmful algal blooms. These blooms can affect the health of the water and wildlife living in and around it.

But oysters need some removal of sea lettuce before they will prove effective. As noted in the Mill River, in Canada, in 2012, too much sea lettuce choked oysters. This is the story:

Hal Perry said sea lettuce is choking out oysters and costing fishermen their living. The underwater plant grows profusely when there is excess nitrogen in the waterway from nitrate run-off from farmers' fields, industry, cities, and sewage or forestry practices. As it rots, it sucks oxygen from the water.

Oyster fisherman Johnny Powers said he's never seen an oyster season this bad. "All dead, not a single living oyster amongst it," said Powers, as he pulled up a nearly empty oyster tong from the riverbed. "Most of the fishermen I talked to say there's anywhere from a 35 to 50 per cent mortality rate," he said. "So that's our income cut almost by 50 per cent."

A report in August this year confirms that the problem remains unresolved for Mill River estuary:

“Back in the late 70s, we use to dig clams on almost every point on the Mill River and Hill River, but now there’s not a clam to be seen,” said Mr Lane, adding when sea lettuce dies and goes to the bottom, it can smother clams as well as oysters, “Talk to oyster fishermen, they will tell you in the last five years that the amount of oysters they’ve caught that are dead has increased and the amount of live ones are decreasing.”

Ray Konisky, a Marine Ecologist, writing in UNH Magazine, Winter 2011 noted also how excessive sea lettuce could affect oysters:

"In the past, there was enough natural flushing, with tides going in and out, to handle any excess." Now there's too much—especially nitrogen, which has risen 42 percent just in the past five years. Algae blooms, including a large alga known as sea lettuce, can spread in thick green mats, making it hard for anything else, including oysters, to survive. It's a vicious cycle: Just when the bay needs its natural water treatment system more than ever, oysters are suffocating in sea lettuce and silt.”

Oyster can help restore the ecosystem, but they need some help. And both removal of excess sea lettuce and furrows may be one way forward.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Brown Study

This is an occasional blog which looks at what Gordon Brown has been saying and doing. Today’s offering is a reprint of an article first published in Project Syndicate, and later in Eyewitness News. This is a very interesting analysis of the situation which fleshes out what he sees as 8 uncertainties.

  • The first uncertainty is the date when exit negotiations will start.
  • The second uncertainty is whether the negotiations can simultaneously resolve the United Kingdom’s terms of exit from the EU and its future trading arrangements with Europe’s single market
  • The third uncertainty is Britain’s negotiating objectives.
  • The fourth uncertainty arises from voters’ concerns over immigration and the extent to which any new EU trading arrangement must be conditional on restricting the free movement of workers
  • The fifth uncertainty is the EU’s own negotiating stance, starting with who will lead the negotiations, the European Commission or the Council of Ministers
  • The sixth uncertainty is the economic circumstances under which the negotiations will take place
  • The seventh uncertainty is whether the UK itself can survive as a United Kingdom.
  • An eighth and even greater uncertainty, however, concerns Britain’s future global role.
When Article 50 is triggered is still a matter of uncertainty because at the moment there is no team of negotiators ready, no negotiating positions decided upon, no model to aim towards, and no idea of compromises which may need to be made.

John Redwood said PM Theresa May wanted to "get on with it" and trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - which officially begins Brexit. But Mrs May has said she will not invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty this year and it is widely thought it would be triggered at the start of next year. rexit Secretary David Davis has predicted the trigger will take place "before or by the start of next year".

Juliet Samuel, writing in the Telegraph, points out the problems with haste:

“We don’t have enough trade negotiators or lawyers. And it would be better if clear lines of command, staffing and seniority are established before negotiations start. What is currently happening is a game of ping pong: ministers want policies from their civil servants, but the civil servants need direction to be set from above.”

BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action looked at “Brexit: The Legal Minefield”. It featured three legal experts - Mark Elliott, Catherine Barnard and Steve Peers. Regarding law which had been enacted because of membership of the EU, the panel agreed these would be in force until revoked. They would need to be placed into three categories:

  • Keep, because they form part of what is seen as acceptable in civilised society – rules on discrimination would be here.
  • Retain but revise
  • Revoke
There is a lot of legislation, and it all has to be carefully sifted, and looked at when one piece impacts on another. This is major surgery. Boris Johnson’s own stance, set out in a Telegraph article on the subject was, as one legal adviser commented, "nonsense on stilts".

Remaking Britain
By Gordon Brown

LONDON – Britain will has a new prime minister – but the country’s post-European Union future remains uncertain. Indeed, prolonged delays are likely in implementing the voters’ decision to leave the EU.

The first uncertainty is the date when exit negotiations will start. The process should be completed within two years of invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon; but the incoming prime minister, Theresa May, has already said she would not want to trigger negotiations until the end of the year.

The second uncertainty is whether the negotiations can simultaneously resolve the United Kingdom’s terms of exit from the EU and its future trading arrangements with Europe’s single market. While the UK will claim that, under Article 50, negotiators should be “taking into account the framework of future relationships,” the EU trade negotiator is insisting that future arrangements can be discussed only after Britain leaves.

The third uncertainty is Britain’s negotiating objectives. Will it seek full access to the single market (the Norwegian option), or to part of it (the Swiss option)? Or will it go for the Canadian low-tariff option, or just trade with Europe on the same terms that all World Trade Organization members do?

The fourth uncertainty arises from voters’ concerns over immigration and the extent to which any new EU trading arrangement must be conditional on restricting the free movement of workers. The new prime minister has said she would not accept engagement in the single market without a deal on managing migration.

In theory, the Norway option – membership of the European Economic Area – could be stretched to include a Liechtenstein-type protocol on limiting residency permits, or involve use of the EEA’s safeguard clause, which might allow restrictions on migration if inflows rose too quickly. But, fearful that others would demand a similar dispensation, the EU would find it difficult to agree to such a change.

The fifth uncertainty is the EU’s own negotiating stance, starting with who will lead the negotiations, the European Commission or the Council of Ministers. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already made it clear that she will not give the Commission carte blanche to negotiate on Germany’s behalf. Beyond this question lies another: whether Europe will agree on its final negotiating stance before France’s presidential election next spring and Germany’s general election next autumn.

The sixth uncertainty is the economic circumstances under which the negotiations will take place. Britain appears to be sliding toward recession as companies put their investment plans on hold. Business pressure on the UK government to move more quickly will thus grow, as a longer wait means a further ebbing of confidence and, in turn, a weakening of Britain’s bargaining position.

The seventh uncertainty is whether the UK itself can survive. Lord North is remembered for losing the British union with America. Two centuries on, the outgoing prime minister, David Cameron, may be remembered for losing two unions – with Europe and between England and Scotland. Whereas Conservatives want Scotland to be in a Britain without Europe, Scottish nationalists want Scotland in a Europe without Britain. And with Northern Ireland’s Republicans, led by Sinn Fein, demanding a vote to reunite with the south, the very existence of the UK is now squarely on the agenda.

There is one way to lessen uncertainty and risk: The government should quickly announce that it will be negotiating with the EU on the basis of the Norway option of membership of the EEA. And it should make clear that EU nationals resident in the UK are welcome to stay.

This avenue would give Britain what businesses want – access to the single market. While the UK would still have to contribute to the EU budget, it could repatriate responsibility for agriculture and fisheries policies and negotiate its own trade deals (for example, with China and India). Joining the EEA would offer an additional advantage – giving Scotland the level playing field it wants in trading with the 27 EU members.

It is also essential to resolve the vexed issue of migration. Any genuine solution must include a fund to help communities whose health facilities, schools, and other public services are under stress because of above-average population growth. Tougher enforcement of minimum-wage and other legislation protecting workers is needed as well, so that we allay fears that migrants are forcing a race to the bottom. And EEA negotiations should begin on the basis that our membership would include a protocol on migration and the ability to use the safeguard clause if pressures grow.

An eighth and even greater uncertainty, however, concerns Britain’s future global role. In particular, how will it respond to the irreversible shift in the global economy’s center of gravity toward Asia, and to the technological innovations that are revolutionizing industries and occupations – and thus increasing voters’ anxieties about their employment prospects and future livelihoods?

The referendum result revealed high concentrations of pro-Brexit sentiment in towns once at the center of the British industrial revolution but now awash with derelict factories and workshops, owing to Asian competition. These areas rebelled against the advice of political and business elites to vote “Remain” and instead demanded protection from the vicissitudes of global change. The “Leave” campaign’s very slogans – centered on bringing control back home – aligned it with populist, protectionist movements that are fracturing old political loyalties throughout the West.

The result has exposed a Labour Party divided between a leadership that elevates anti-globalization protest above winning power and a Parliamentary group that knows it has to explain how globalization can be managed in the public interest.

But the governing Conservatives are also split on how to respond to globalization. Some believe in a global free-for-all; others believe that Britain should be free of foreign entanglements; and a third cohort wants, like Labour, to be part of the EU, viewing it not as the problem, but as part of the solution to managing globalization. But, because of these divisions, none of the leadership contenders have put forward any proposals that address in any meaningful way the grievances of those who feel left behind.

So post-referendum Britain needs a more comprehensive debate on how it will cope with the challenges of global change and how it will work with the international community to do so. A viable program for managing globalization would recognize that every country must balance the autonomy it desires with the cooperation it needs. This would include coordinated monetary and fiscal policies across the G20 countries; renewed efforts to expand world trade; new national agendas addressing inequality and promoting social mobility; and a laser-like focus on science, technology, and innovation as the key to future growth.

As long as globalization appears leaderless, anti-globalization protesters will stifle reform, shout down proposed trade deals like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and make national economies less open. Now facing life outside the EU, Britain cannot ignore or sidestep these global issues. The UK must now decide whether it will stand up to the protectionist impulse that drove Brexit and what part it can play in making globalization work for all.

Monday, 22 August 2016

The Imposter Syndrome

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

This was the subject of a fascinating BBC Radio 4 documentary, in which in emerged that the only people who tended not to have self-doubt were probably those who were not very competent anyway; it was the competent, those very good, who nonetheless were plagued withmost doubts about their knowledge and compentency. And while high achievers suffer perhaps the most, almost everybody suffers from it to some degree, except those who manage somehow to delude themselves.

Of course, most people manage by present to the world a facade in which they appear as competent; they struggle, and for the most part, overcome this fear of being found out. Their internal dialogue is full of doubt.

But there is another kind of facade, and another kind of imposter. That is the person hiding behind the facade because they want to present a different perspective to the world but when unseen can be on a spectrum ranging from merely quite unpleasant to a malicious and nasty. Usually, they get away with it, but sometimes that hidden self becomes exposed to the outside world, and it is not a pretty sight.

Senator Frank Walker, believing he was having a quiet word with Stuart Syvret, and unaware that the microphone was still live, took a few tips from Malcolm Tucker, years before “The Thick of It Aired”:

SS: “Frank we’re talking about dead children.”

FW: “Yes Stuart exactly. So you shouldn’t be politicising it you should now be throwing your support behind the Police and behind every effort to find out who was responsible.”

SS “Indeed I have repeatedly expressed my full support.”

FW – “No you’re trying to shaft Jersey internationally.”

Mild language for the day, but when you hear the tone and anger, the listener can appreciate why this was so controversial, and indeed, it is only this year that the former Chief Minister actually apologised for his words. But it showed a rather less suave side to Mr Walker.

And now this has emerged with the election campaign, and been reported in the JEP.

Mary O’Keefe Burgher, tried to silence St Lawrence Parishioner Jason Cronin for asking a question. As he stood to speak, she asked the Constable to stop him, as he had also asked one at the St Mary Hustings (where he was attending but not a Parishioner).

Quite rightly the Constable thought he should be able to speak, and took an immediate sounding among the other candidates who unanimously thought the question should be asked. Mary was obviously irked by this, and sent this email to her fellow candidates for Senator:

“Due to the abysmal turnout at the hustings and the same supporters asking questions I am suggesting that we reduce the hustings to 3 more. St Brelade,St Helier and Grouville. Please reply yes or no. No explanations. It is down to the candidates.”

To which Guy de Faye replied:

“Sorry Mary. No. No. No. All the hustings have been comprehensively advertised. Your resistance to being questioned at St Lawrence was frankly baffling. Attending the hustings is not compulsory should you consider them to be a waste of your time.”

This annoyed Mary, who decided to send a personal insult rather than an argument:

“And it would be nice to sit next to someone who didn't stink of booze!!!”

Guy de Faye, who had in fact only had one pint before the Hustings, replied:

“You forgot the cigarettes. Try and pitch the personal insults a little more accurately!!”

Mary apologised later to Guy de Faye – after it emerged that all the other candidates had been included in the last exchange, it would very likely head towards the JEP, and a rather unpleasant side of her character would be exposed to the public.

She did not, however, apologise to Mr Cronin for her outburst, or to members of the public for behaving in her email in a way unbefitting the office of Senator. I think both Mr Cronin and the public also deserve an apology; as it is, the apology looks as if it was given only because she was found out.

Do we really want to elect someone who behaves like this when they think they cannot be noticed, someone who is all smiles in public, but quite capable of nastiness behind closed political doors?

And if she has trouble with all Senatorial hustings, how will she manage with her job at Andium HVR Global and being a States member? Would she be another of those absentee States members who just can't manage to juggle two jobs? Or will she feel justified in leaving on those occasions when too many States members are absent from the house?

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Simon Whom He Surnamed Peter - Part 24

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

In the dragon's den
by G.R. Ballleine

No CLEAR statement that Peter visited Rome can be found earlier than about A.D. 170; so in the thirteenth century the Waldenses denied that he ever went there. But the controversy died away.

Even the debates of the Reformation failed to revive it. Luther said: `Some scholars deny that Peter came to Rome. I give no decision on this.' But modern historians are divided. The great majority believe in his visit, but some dissent strongly.

Both sides agree that by the end of the second century all Christians believed that Peter died in Rome. About 170 Dionysius of Corinth wrote in a letter to Rome, `Peter came to Italy, and, having taught there, suffered martyrdom.' A few years later Irenaeus in Gaul declared that Peter and Paul `entrusted the bishopric of Rome to Linus'. About the same time Clement of Alexandria stated that Mark's Gospel was compiled from memories of `what Peter had taught in Rome'; and Tertullian in Carthage referred to `those whom Peter baptized in the Tiber'. The contexts show that these writers were not copying one another, but alluding to a fact believed in places as far apart as Greece and Egypt, North Africa and Gaul.

It is strange that no earlier document survives which mentions Peter's death, for readers of Acts must often have wondered what happened to him. But an immense number of Christian manuscripts were systematically seized and burnt during Diocletian's persecution, and some may have told the story. But, in spite of the lateness of the evidence, Peter's visit is probably true.

The argument from silence is impressive. The Fourth Gospel, when it speaks of `the death by which he' (Peter) `would glorify God', assumes that everyone knew that he had been martyred; and, if many knew this, some must have known where it happened. Yet no city but Rome ever claimed to possess his grave.

A greeting in his Epistle, however, seems decisive, `She who is in Babylon salutes you'. He is evidently writing from a place which he calls `Babylon'. A few scholars maintain that he means the famous city in Mesopotamia. But nine out of ten are convinced that, when he says `Babylon', he, like the author of the Book of Revelation, means Rome.' If so, it is clear that towards the end of his life he was in Rome.

How long did he work there? Tertullian states that he was martyred under Nero, who died in June 68. It is often assumed that he was one of the victims of the massacre of 65; but the scanty evidence we possess points to a later date. No early Father took much interest in dates till Eusebius, about 325. He puts Peter's death in 67, and so does the Liber Pontificalis. Epiphanius (375) puts it in 66, Jerome in 68. But all agree that it was later than 65.

One clue may help to fix the year more precisely. If the story is true that Peter died in Nero's garden, only the Emperor could have given permission for that. But he was in Greece from September 66 till March 68. So our choice lies between the first half of 66 and April or May 68. The latter date is unlikely. As soon as Nero returned to Italy, he heard of the revolt. His last two months were spent in frantic efforts to save his crown. But in 66 he had leisure. Christians were still under suspicion of having caused the fire. The wholesale slaughter was over, but, whenever a Christian was caught, he would be executed; and the crucifixion of a leader like Peter might well be made one grisly item in some public spectacle. This date would account for the tradition that Peter was Bishop of Rome for twenty-five years. If he first went to Rome after his escape from Herod at Easter 42 and died in August 66, ancient methods of reckoning would count the odd months as a year.

It seems reasonable therefore to assume that Peter reached Rome soon after the massacre, and worked there for nearly two years before his arrest. This was a different Rome from the city he had visited twenty-three years before. That had been a friendly place, welcoming strangers, and interfering with no man's religion. Now in apocalyptic language it was the den of a seven-headed dragon, a harlot city drunk with the blood of Saints, the most dangerous spot on earth for an Apostle to enter. If Peter had played the coward once in the High Priest's courtyard, he more than atoned when he ventured into Rome to help the remnant cowering under Nero's maniac fury.

The stunned survivors of the butchered Church sorely needed a leader, and the way Rome revered Peter later shows that it realized how much it owed him. Paul, too, had taught in Rome, and been martyred there; but Rome regarded Peter as its Bishop, and it was round what it thought was Peter's tomb that its early Popes were buried. If he had welded the shattered groups into a united Church, this would explain his prestige. Paul had been an honoured visitor, but, whoever may have founded the Church in Rome, Peter was its re-founder.

The most urgent problem was, what should a Christian's attitude be towards a Government so ruthlessly hostile? Peter discussed this in the letter he sent about this time to Asia Minor, where he believed, perhaps mistakenly, that persecution would soon break out; and we may be sure the advice he sent to Pontus he would also give in Rome, `Submit to the civil authorities for the Lord's sake.' Nero may be a monster, but he and his magistrates exist to preserve order and suppress crime. Respect the Government. Obey the laws. Don't provoke Rulers recklessly. One policy, and one only, can check persecution. Well-doing is the best reply to the charge of evil-doing. Real goodness wins respect even from hostile neighbours. `Let your life among pagans be so praiseworthy, that they learn to glorify God by seeing your good deeds.'

Peter bade them face their trials with cheerful courage: `Keep cool. Keep awake.' `Don't get flustered at the fiery ordeal.' `Gold has to be tested by fire, and your faith is more precious than gold.' `You will be sharing Christ's sufferings.' `Therefore be glad.' Never hide your colours. `Always be ready to explain your hope to any who ask you; but do it courteously, that revilers of the Christian life may feel ashamed.' Above all let there be no divisions among you. `Be of one mind, full of brotherly love.' `Love draws a veil over countless faults.' `Welcome one another into your homes.' `Greet one another with a kiss.'

After Peter's arrival the crippled Church enjoyed a brief respite. Other problems kept Nero busy. The rebuilding of the city was a gigantic task. The Emperor himself was designing a Golden Palace. In the spring of 65 a plot was unearthed among the Senators, and many heads fell. A Government plunged in a life-and-death struggle with its own aristocrats has no time to think of obscure sectaries. Peter had eighteen months or more in which to rebuild the Church.

One picturesque idea must be dropped. Films have shown Peter and his flock burrowing like rabbits down a maze of underground tunnels to hold their services. The catacombs are one of the sights of Rome, five hundred miles of narrow tunnels lined with tiers of tombs. But most of these were made in the fourth century. It is doubtful whether any existed in the days of Peter, and, if they did, they were burial places, not places of worship. In Rome, as in Jerusalem, Christians worshipped in private houses.

Three miles out of Rome on the Appian Way near the present Church of St. Sebastian are ruins of a tiny chapel, on the walls of which some fifth-century visitor scratched Domus Petri (the home of Peter). He probably had before him the Latin inscription, which we know Pope Damasus placed on one of the buildings in this group. His tablet has disappeared; but a seventh-century pilgrim copied it:

"You who are seeking the names of Peter and also Paul, Know that it was here that these Saints once dwelt."

This evidence is late, and sounds improbable. Why should Peter live so far out of Rome, and next door to a large police station, which would make it impossible for Christians to resort to him for services? Its very improbability, however, suggests that some truth may lie behind the tradition, and we know from Juvenal that there was a Jewish settlement here. There are ruins of a Roman villa behind this little chapel. Was the owner a Christian? Had he once received Paul as a guest? And when the hunt for Peter grew hot, had he hidden him in one of his outbuildings, on the site of which the Domus Petri Chapel was later built?

But for most of the time Peter must have lived inside the city. Two churches claim to stand on the site of houses in which he stayed, St. Pudenziana on the site of the house of the Senator Pudens (Pudenziana was his daughter), and St. Prisca on that of the house of Prisca and Aquila; but in neither case does the claim stand close scrutiny.

Somewhere, however, he must have found a large room in which he could meet the Brethren, and here he gathered round him a group of helpers-Silvanus, an old friend whom he had known in Jerusalem, Linus, whom he is said to have chosen as his successor, Clement, who was made the hero of the Clementine Romances, and Marcus (`Marcus, my son,' Peter calls him') the author of our earliest Gospel, Peter's interpreter when talking to Latin-speaking Romans.

It is generally assumed that this Marcus was the John Mark, of whom we read in Acts. But Marcus was a very common name, and there are grounds for thinking that Marcus of Rome and John Mark of Jerusalem were different persons.

Thanks to Marcus we can listen to fragments of Peter's Roman sermons, for early authorities agree that Mark's Gospel was based on his memories of Peter's teaching. Papias said about 140, `Marcus, Peter's interpreter, wrote accurately all he could remember.' Irenaeus about 186 said, `After the death of Peter and Paul, Marcus, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, transmitted to us in writing what Peter preached.' And Jerome said, `Marcus, the interpreter of the Apostle, did not himself see the Lord, but narrated faithfully those things which he heard his master preach.'

So by his help we can picture the old Apostle telling his flock, who were daily in danger of martyrdom, how Jesus had foreseen their troubles: `Brother will betray brother to death, and fathers their children. The whole world will hate you.' `Anyone who wants to follow Me must be ready to shoulder his cross and carry it to the place of execution.' `Anyone who tries to save his life will lose it.'

But He had added, `He who holds out to the end, he will be saved.' This was the teaching that inspired those words, quoted in II Timothy: `If we die with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.'

From time to time we seem to catch glimpses of current events in Rome. The story of the tribute-money sums up Peter's policy towards Nero, `Give Caesar what is due to Caesar and God what is due to God.' The rebuke to John for checking someone who was working in Christ's Name, `because he followeth not us', was perhaps a warning against the jealousies that had proved so fatal in Rome.

The many stories of conflict with the Pharisees suggest that the Jews in Rome were proving antagonistic. But on the diet laws Peter had evidently changed his mind since his Antioch days. When reporting Christ's saying, `Nothing that enters a man from without can defile him'-persons cannot be defiled by things-Marcus's comment is, `By saying this He pronounced all food to be clean.'

Peter's sermons were unlike those of Paul. Paul had never known Jesus. So his teaching was largely doctrinal, dealing with deep, abstract ideas, election, redemption, sanctification.

Peter talked about the Jesus of History, the Friend he had known in Galilee. Acts says that Peter told Cornelius how `God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power, and He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by demons. They hanged Him on a cross and killed Him; but on the third day God raised Him again.' That is almost an exact summary of Mark's Gospel. Peter's constant aim was to make everyone feel how wonderful was this strong Son of God. Nothing evil could stand against Him. Those who fell beneath His spell renounced all to follow Him.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

The Midnight Garden

My poem for today takes for its inspiration "Tom's Midnight Garden" by Philippa Pearce, and for no other reason that I was pondering late last night, around 12, what to write, and noticed the moon outside the clouds, shining down on the houses. I thought of when I recalled myself that those houses were open fields, and that of course made me think of the book.

The Midnight Garden

Time flows like many grains of sand
I walk the green and pleasant land
And contemplate the shore and sea
These are my core, the heart of me
And when I think back upon my time
I hear the Grandfather clock’s chime
The sound of thirteen strokes one night
And the opening door into moonlight
The garden, Victorian splendour, there
I walk out slowly, hesitate in fear
And see the orchard’s blossom white
I marvel at this strange world’s sight
Another time, another place, I came
And nothing is ever quite the same
The housing estate all gone away
As dew evaporates at dawn of day
And far to the river, meadows green
Shadows of houses not built, unseen
This is the world before, my yesterday
And I long to walk the path that way
Down to the river bank, the willow tree
But time is pressing, time to go back
To world that wonders now does lack
And so back inside that open door
In memory alive, of all I saw
Such the joys of childhood long ago
But time’s sediment in the river flow
Lays down the present on the past
Nothing is the same, at the last
The door closes, the thunder growls
Against window pane, a gale howls
And the clock strikes, this time one
And so to dreams, my tale is done

Friday, 19 August 2016

Roman Channel Islands

There was an interesting new story in Guernsey Press this week:

ARCHAEOLOGISTS from Alderney, Guernsey and the UK have uncovered 25ft of Roman wall at the Channel Islands’ oldest building. Built to protect ships moored in Longis Bay, which it overlooks, the nunnery contains the best preserved Roman small fort in the UK. A team of 12 have been working at a 10-day dig there, peeling back the earth to uncover the secrets of the building, which has been continuously occupied since the 4th Century AD.

Dr Jason Monaghan, head of Heritage Services in Guernsey, said: they had embarked on the dig to find the west wall of the Roman tower. ‘We have found the west wall of the tower – 25 Roman feet of that, so that’s pretty exciting.'

When I was growing up, the connection with Rome to the Channel Islands seemed tenuous at least. There was very little evidence of Romans in Jersey apart from the St Lawrence Pillar and the remains of a temple at the Pinnacle - there is much more now. Our view of the Channel Islands has changed; it clearly was a fully integrated part of the Roman Empire, even in Jersey, which had no natural deep harbour.

Notably, in 2010, the JEP reported on a dig of a building and skeletons of the Roman era, attached to Grouville Church:

‘Archaeologists have made what could be the first ever discovery of Roman dwellings in the Island. They describe the finds as “very significant”. Evidence of Roman life has been uncovered at Grouville Church, with a search in the building’s cellar unearthing items of pottery that could date back almost 2,000 years, as well as ancient skeletons and the remnants of Roman roof tiles.‘The latest find could be the first example of a Roman dwelling to be discovered in Jersey.‘Two particularly old skeletons were uncovered, together with significant Roman pottery remains, including part of an amphora of a style not made after 261 AD, pieces of roof tile and some Samian pottery, which was produced in Gaul from about 60 AD.’

Guernsey was more on a trade route, and had a deep water harbour. The name "Castel" of one Parish suggested "Castra", the Roman word for a fort. Excavations in St Peter Port near the old market have confirmed that the Romans used the island as a trading base and probably stayed here for around 250 years. A 3rd century Gallo-Roman shipwreck was discovered in the mouth of the harbour in 1982.

The route was called the Antonine Itinerary. It states that a ship leaving Vectis (Isle of Wight) on its way to Gaul passes a number of islands before it reaches Uxantis (Ushant or Ouessant): among them are Riduna, Sarnia and Caeasarea. Riduna, the first mentioned, has been suggested to be Alderney; Sarnia, Guernsey; and Caesarea, Jersey. But is this right? The next island visible from a vessel after Riduna-Alderney is Sark – and there is an unarguable similarity in the sound of ‘Sarnia’ and ‘Sark’. That would make Guernsey ‘Lesia’, and Jersey, the island next in the list after Lesia, ‘Andium’. And Lesia also features in the Life of St Sampson, who certainly visited Guernsey.

Going back to the Guernsey excavations, BBC news also reported on the earlier finds in 2010:

Dr Jason Monaghan, Guernsey Museums director, said: "In 2009 we proved there was a Roman building inside the Nunnery and began to suspect this was a tower as all the northern English forts have a tower in the middle.

"In 2010 we went back specifically looking to prove there was a tower there - and 'wow' is there a tower. The walls are 2.8m (9ft) thick, we don't know how high it was, but it would have been a very big structure - it's as thick as Hadrian's Wall. The tower was found to be about 18 sq m. (58 sq ft). He said the team dug down to prove the outside walls were also Roman before doing the same for the gateway”

"It's in an extremely good state of preservation... it's better preserved than all the other small Roman forts in Britain. It's in a better state than what they call the Saxon shore forts off southern England, it's in better nick than most of Hadrian's Wall.”

And in Teaching Through Nature, there is a very full piece by Dr Monahan entitled "Ridunda: Alderney in the Roman Empire" which sets out both the Alderney finds, and the bigger picture of the Roman Channel Islands.

Ridunda: Alderney in the Roman Empire
by Dr Jason Monaghan

Alderney was part of the Roman Empire for over 400 years. It was one of the islands called the Insulae Lenuri and was known as Riduna. Not much was known about Romans in the Channel Islands until the 1980’s when Roman buildings were found in St Peter Port and a shipwreck was raised from its harbour. At least four more Roman shipwrecks are now suspected around Guernsey. Jersey also had the remains of a small temple

The Romans commanded by Julius Caesar conquered the nearby coasts of Gaul in 56BC. Guernsey may already have been friendly to the Romans before this as ships had been stopping there carrying Roman pottery and wine possibly as early as 120 BC. Guernsey was on the route taken by merchant ships sailing up the Atlantic Coast of Gaul and into the Channel. Most would have avoided Jersey as it did not have a good harbour and was ‘in the corner’ surrounded by dangerous reefs. Alderney’s rocks and currents were also to be avoided. Ancient sailors however liked to sail in sight of land so it is likely they would have used Alderney as a navigation point when sailing north from Guernsey, or south out of the Channel.

Roman objects found in the islands came from modern France, Germany, Britain, Spain, Italy, North Africa and Palestine. Trade goods included olive oil and fish sauce carried in amphorae (large jars). Each style of amphora came from a different region and experts have worked out what many of them carried.

Remains of Roman buildings have been found two metres under the sand at Longis Common. Longis was a natural harbour and seems to have been the main settlement in Roman times. It is possible that a whole village is buried under the sand at Longis. Roman graves called ‘cists’ were found eroding out of the sand-dunes on the top of the beach before the Germans built their sea wall. Roman roof tile is also found on the beach. It is possible that the Channel Islands were governed from the Roman town of Constantia (modern Coutances).

A Roman small fort was built at the Nunnery to guard the harbour at Longis. The fort was probably built in the middle of the fourth century, but there may have been an earlier building on the same site. It is the best surviving small fort in Britain, with the walls still standing up to 5m high. It is approximately 40 metres square with walls up to 2m thick. It has rounded corners with semi-circular bastions that may have been designed to carry bolt-shooting catapults (ballistae). Originally it had a massive square tower in the centre, with walls 2.8 metres thick.

The Nunnery was probably a base for the Roman navy, which would have mounted patrols against pirates and raiders to stop them sailing through the Race. It was built at a dangerous time for Rome when ‘barbarian’ tribes were attacking from the direction of Germany and the North Sea. The Romans used small fast warships called ‘picti’ which were painted blue to hide them while hunting pirates. The Nunnery also stopped the pirates themselves using Alderney as their base. The Nunnery would have come under the command of a Roman general known as the Duke of Armorica (dux tractus Armoricani et Nervicani).

In AD 410 the Romans abandoned Britain and in AD 486 the Franks defeated the Roman armies and took control of Gaul. We do not know exactly when, but at some time between AD 400 and AD 500, Alderney ceased to be controlled by Rome.