Friday, 30 September 2016

Our Lady of Czestochowa Queen of Poland

From the Catholic Herald 1973, comes this piece. The picture is now in St Matthew's Catholic Church, in St Lawrence, as the old St Mary and St Peter's Church was demolished.

Art historian Robert Maniura looked at this picture and showed it to be not an icon in the Orthodox Christian tradition (and certainly not, as tradition has it, painted by St. Luke in the Holy Land) but rather a thirteenth-century western product, perhaps Italian, possibly based on an eastern model, and deriving  from motifs which may have spread ultimately from Mount Athos.

Sue Monk Kidd notes that:

“There are hundreds of these images of dark-skinned Black Madonnas in Europe, and they are some of the most ancient images we have of Mary. The most well known is probably aOur Lady of Czestochow in Poland. Many of them are in great Gothic cathedrals, like Chartres, France, often in the crypts.”

I found a rather nice poem by Jamie Naylor, which although it takes the myths about the picture literally, conveys the way in which the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochow in Poland became a centre of pilgrimage and devotion.

They journey with hope
of a blessing, a healing, a miracle of sorts
for they have heard the stories told of old.

No longer following the magi's silver star,
they trod a narrow but worn path
to the gates of Our Lady at Jasna Gora,
where the Madonna, luminous in her ebony blush,
holy babe in arms, hangs like Venus in the summer sky
above the horizon of the altar.

For centuries she watched like a gentle cloud
over the sorrowful people of the Polish lands
whose faith lifted in the little cathedral like gauzy curls of smoke
rising from tapers in prayerful hands,
burnishing mother and child in a rich sable patina,
the color of autumn's last leaves-
their halos still glistening gold.

As we enter, the sanctuary sparkles
with candles, like a sea of stars on a moonless night,
held by the faithful spilling from the filled pews, singing praises
in many languages with
one voice, one sight.

Just a tourist, I suddenly feel like a dilettante as I see the devotion
and expectation, like children on Christmas morning, in their eyes.
The emerging intensity startles my daughter Emilee, still young-
she has never seen such need,
such pleading, such pain,
such adoration.

It is said that Mary and Jesus were painted by Saint Luke himself,
only a season after the child become man hung on the cross,
as he sat at the bench of cedar wood
carved by the carpenter's hand.

And while he painted the woman in life, they say
she spoke a wonderful tale, of a birth in a stable,
of hosts of angels, of wise men, of shepherds, of Gabriel.

"Alleluia, alleluia, to the Mother and her Lamb,"
"Czerna Madonna," "Schwarze Madonna," "Beautiful Black Madonna."

The song ascends with fervor beyond the rafters
in the graceful wooden chapel
and we also are carried up with the wonder of Mother and Child.

Only then do we notice the mountain of crutches discarded in the corner.

Our Lady of Czestochowa Queen of Poland
from The Catholic Herald

The memorial picture hanging in St. Mary and St. Peter's Church.

At a time when Czestochowa was still a medieval town, there stood on a nearby hill a wooden church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was to this place in 1384 that Prince Wladyslaw Opolski brought a painting of the Mother of God which had already been recognized as miraculous, and presented it to the Pauline Fathers whom he had brought two years previously to found a monastery at this spot.

The fame of the Virgin of Jasna Gora (the Shining Mountain) spread far and wide. After the victory of Czestochowa, John Casimir, at Lwow (1656) placed himself and his entire kingdom under Our Lady's protection. Polish kings came to pay her homage, calling her Queen of the Universe and Queen of Poland.

The painting, encased in a triple embellished ebony frame is covered with an ornate dress studded with precious stones and two cold crowns given by Pope Pius X. According to a legend this picture was painted by St. Luke on Cypress wood in Nazareth and taken by the Empress Helena from Jerusalem to Byzantium, whence it was taken to Poland.

There is a tradition which tells us what happened when soldiers broke into the church. One of them struck the picture with a whip, and immediately weals appeared on the Virgin's face.

A copy of this picture hangs in St. Mary and St. Peter's Church, and the brass inscription tells its own story:

With thought turned towards their beloved country
During their stay in this hospitable Island
Here in this church sought the consolation,
Committed themselves to the care
of-Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of the Polish Crown.-

Polish Soldiers. Jersey A.D.1947

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Jersey Sport: The Figures

Jersey Sport: The Figures

I see that Jersey Sport Shadow Board (JSSB are suggesting a new Quango be set up to hive off Sports from the States. Their recommendation says:

“It is proposed that a fully independent, non-remunerated Board be created to develop the strategy and oversee the implementation of Jersey Sport’s activities:”

It might be remembered that the same happened with the States of Jersey Innovation Board, proposed and accepted by the States by Senator Alan Maclean as Minister for EDD. Once accepted, however, the hours – small as were – required some kind of remuneration.

“In order to retain and attract the appropriate calibre of Advisory Board member with the skills and expertise for these critical roles, some level of remuneration acknowledging the commitment is required”

Isn’t it amazing that people of very high calibre work in an honorary capacity for charities or on Parish committees but don’t ask to be paid, but somehow Quango members, for far less hours, need payment? I find it rather depressing, to be frank that there are not enough qualified islanders who have a decent sense of civic duty and would do this without payment. But we seem to live in an age where civic duty is in short supply.

In the end the board received £50,000 per annum. I think we need some cast iron guarantees that the Minister will not come back to the States once the establishment of the Quango has been agreed, and suddenly say that more funding – an “honorarium” is needed.

The recommendations of the Shadow Sports body also mention “CEO recruitment”:

“It is recommended that a competitive recruitment exercise be undertaken simultaneously both on and off island, in order to find a shortlist of high quality candidates likely to be interested in taking on such a challenge.”

“Arrangements are put in hand by EDTSC for the immediate recruitment of a Chief Executive Officer Designate who would become the CEO of Jersey Sport as soon as possible after the setting up of the entity. The JSSB will be closely involved in the recruitment process which will be overseen by Jersey Appointments Commission.”

Try as I may, I have not come across any figure given for this. Will it be more than a Chief Officer might expect? If the States of Jersey Development Company is anything to go by, removal from the States bodies responsible for setting pay and giving that into the hands of an independent committee is a recipe for paying more. And this, also, is not for a Chief Officer with other responsibilities apart from Sport, but for a CEO whose sole responsibility is sport!

As this means staff reductions, existing staff may be taken on board, but it is very unclear on what terms and arrangements, or whether they will have to reapply for their jobs – as happened with Visit Jersey:

“Within the current staff of the EDTSC Sport Development Team, there are appropriately qualified and experienced individuals capable of filling most senior roles proposed within the recommended organisational structure for Jersey Sport. It is important that the new structure, plus the opportunities that it provides individuals, are effectively communicated to existing staff, via open forums and individual meetings, in such a way that they will consider transferring to Jersey Sport, in order that their experience and skills are not lost.”

“The JSSB therefore recommends that the transfer take place by adopting the ‘Transition Model’ arrangements. Under such a scenario, Jersey Sport would make a financial contribution to transferring staff, allowing them to make their own future pensions arrangements and this has been factored into work undertaken to scope future employment Terms and Conditions.”

“The JSSB proposals put forward are - based upon discussions with States HR - the ability for the new organisation to create its own T&C’s adopting a private sector approach, somewhat different to those currently enjoyed by the existing staff as employees of the States of Jersey. This would mean staff effectively giving up States T&C’s under the ‘Transition Model’, where a transfer payment would be made to those employees who wished to transfer and were successful at interview.”

Note the weasel words “successful at interview” which are slipped in at the end. At a stroke, this gets rid of staff considered to be “dead wood”, changes the pension arrangements so that the States no longer has to fund that, or holiday pay or sickness. Instead staff will be able “to make their own pension arrangements”.

Now it is true that States departments do carry “dead wood” in staff who are not competent, and have security of tenure by virtue of being in the public sector, but this seems a very sly way of dealing with the matter; it is underhand and lacks moral integrity.

“Jersey Sport’s aim will be to pay market rates and provide good terms and conditions of employment. Similarly, it will be the philosophy of the organisation to reward individuals or teams on the achievement of their personal and collective targets and objectives. The aim is to ensure that Jersey Sport is constructed as a high performing organisation. The values set out earlier in the Report will be those expected of all future employees and along with those of openness and transparency, need to be instilled from top to bottom in the people who work for Jersey Sport.”

“It is therefore important that the JSSB continue to work with both the Department and States HR to ensure that the future of existing staff becomes ‘the number one priority’ in any proposed transfer and then implement a process and programme designed to enable a smooth transition for those individuals wishing to join the new organisation, under an internal ‘priority recruitment’ process, that allows them a period of initial exclusivity.”

This looks very like the Visit Jersey transition rather than Andium Homes where the staff were pretty well all taken over. What exactly are “market rates” for a Sports body like this? The Shadow Board’s document is very shadowy about any exact figures. It looks good on paper, but without some detailed figures, it is marketing fluff.

Going back to the CEO, we read this:

“The JSSB is aware that it needs to attract the right calibre of person to ensure success and it therefore needs to have a fair and competitive remuneration package that will encourage people from both the private and public sectors to join it.””

Which is? No figures are given, but expect the “right calibre” of person to be paid more than a State’s Chief Officer. In the meantime, an “Interim Director” is required:

“The level of detailed work required finalising the Jersey Sport proposal and the management of the whole change process requires a highly skilled and dedicated individual who has experience in the transfer of roles and responsibilities from a government department to an independently functioning entity.””

This is very much the Visit Jersey model.

Staff and CEO costs come to a figure of £710,000. But there is no split giving any indication of where the CEO sits with this:

“The budgeted figure for the CEO is a total employment cost and includes salary, a possible housing allowance if the successful candidate needs to be relocated, as well as the scope for a bonus based on performance and a pension allowance rather than the provision of an occupational pension scheme. The remaining staff costs are based on an estimate of future requirements and have included an evaluation of the current EDTSC Sport Development provision.

And they will need their own premises, properly kitted out:

“The existing EDTSC Sport Development team are currently occupying offices at Fort Regent. In terms of minimising initial costs and allowing the new CEO an opportunity to appraise longer term accommodation needs, it is proposed that the new organisation continue to be accommodated by the States of Jersey, but at a different location in order to avoid external impressions of ‘nothing has changed but the name’.”

“The pressure on Jersey Sport’s operating budget at its outset means that it will require the provision of premises rent free from States of Jersey until the end of 2018.”

And more costs, more costs:

“In addition to providing payment to the Transition Director there is a requirement for other funds to be potentially available to assist the overall objective. Specialist consultancy would be utilised for advice as to how Jersey Sport should market itself or could generate future income. “

“Legal and Professional costs alongside Recruitment fees are directly related to the practical reality of setting up the company and recruiting the CEO Designate and potentially other key roles.”

This is the timetable:

  • Create a detailed project plan to enable the implementation of Jersey Sport by 3rd April 2017;
  • Work closely with the current Community Sport Development team, the Jersey Sport Shadow Board, and stakeholders;
  • Practically implement the changes identified in ‘Sport Report’ – the plan for transition;
  • Provide financial clarity to proposals;
  • Support the CEO Designate when he/she is appointed;
  • Take lead responsibility for legacy issues allowing the CEO Designate to concentrate on forward strategic plans;
  • Research and recommend additional concepts or fundraising opportunities for Jersey Sport

If I was setting up a new business, providing financial clarity would be at the heart of the proposals, and the first thing the bank would want to see. With the States bankrolling the Quango, this is well down the list.

My recommendation: tell the Shadow Board to provide some financial clarity up front with their detailed project plan. How can it be detailed if it doesn’t have a detailed budget? It is like deciding what you want in a new house, and then after you have the plans passed, looking to see how much it will actually cost

All we have by way of costs at the moment are:

CEO and staffing £710,000

Capital Costs: Refurbishment of new premises for Jersey Sport £50,000

Purchase of IT equipment £30,000

And why on earth can’t they use the premises at Fort Regent, and make it the heart of Island Sport. 

In these times of economic austerity, the Shadow board seem to have deliberately gone for a flashy expensive newly branded Quango in new premises. Can we afford its proposals? Perhaps we can but that all important “financial clarity” should be there before proposals are approved, even in principle.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Labour Moses and his promised land

The Labour Moses and his promised land

Jeremy Corbyn’s endorsement in the recent elections as leader of the Labour party has been claimed as a victory for democracy. It is certainly a victory for a particular movement within the Labour party, the party within the party that is called “Momentum”.

Both parallels and differences have been drawn between Momentum and the infiltration in the 1980s of the party by the “Militant Tendency”. The main difference is one of ideology: Militant was a covert group with a Trotskiest ideology, which bound its members together. Moment is not an external ideology but a grouping of the far left activists within the Labour party.

But it is still a forceful and cohesive group within the party. While to date the group has been run by four interim staff, Momentum now wants to hire eight permanent employees including a national coordinator, press officer and social media manger. Salaries are forecast to total £243,000 a year.

Labour has, of course, always been a coalition movement; all major political parties are. The difference in the current situation is that the membership no longer represents a broad range of views as much as it did ten years ago; it has shifted markedly to the left, who have been organised under the Momentum umbrella in a way that the right of the party has not.

This is why we see the right in such disarray. Their base is being cut away from under them, as the appeal of the party to the left grows, and membership is, after all, cheap. Instead of constituencies which have grown organically over the decades, this is a new phenomenon, and one they are ill-equipped to deal with.

The last time the left had such great dominance over the labour party was in the 1980s, and it is instructive to see that while the democratic card is played to effect, so is the resurgence of the threat in that decade of deselection for MPs who do not tow the activists line.

The case of Reg Prentice is instructive in that regard, in that in 1976, he was deselected by his Constituency Labour Party. Despite support of the labour old guard members against new activists, Reg Prentice made the decision, on deselection, to join the Conservatives, betraying the very members who had supported him and even fought in the Courts.

“The End of Parliamentary Socialism: From New Left to New Labour” by Leo Panitch and Colin Leys explains how the change came about in his constituency:

“The Newham North East constituency party epitomised the type of moribund party that had been brought to life in the early 1970s by new activists with higher education who were part of the growing non-manual population in the area”

These education middle class activists made inroads against the old labour membership and took control of the General Management Committee of the local party. The old guard were used to keeping matters ticking over, and most of the membership in the locality was not active, providing ripe pickings for the activists. 

There were over 1,000 members of the Labour party in that constituency, but (as is common with most societies) only a small number took an active role in the committee meetings. As Paul McCormick showed in "Enemies of Democracy", that situation meant that the activist has an advantage in steering the party their way.

“None of the twenty-nine delegates to the GMC (General Management Committee) that voted to deselect Prentice even belonged to CLPD at the time, and only four (none of them in a leading position) were Young Socialists who were supporters of Militant. Of the nineteen GMC delegates who supported Prentice, on the other hand, all but four were retired manual trade unionists, who were increasingly atypical within the community.”

As Geoff Horn noted: “Meetings were presided over by long-standing ward officers and were a relatively gentle affair, conducted in a rather apolitical atmosphere. The main focus was in maintaining party cohesion and comradery through an extensive diary of social and fund-raising events. “

All this was to change, and instead of maintaining links with the wider community, the activists moved the focus of the party to the left, and looked to pull the strings of MPs to make them effectively puppets of their views; described in religious terms, they might be described as moving the party from a broad church to an intellectually rigid fundamentalism.

The landscape of the 1980s saw a reaction against the Wilson and Callaghan governments by the activists, who were wanted a far more left wing agenda, and saw the previous Prime Ministers as having sold out for political power.

The result was the election of Michael Foot as Party Leader, very popular within the party and with the unions, just as Jeremy Corbyn had been, but not as popular within Labour MPs. Nationalisation, unilateral nuclear disarmament and a raft of other issues not unlike those espoused by Jeremy Corbyn were popular with the activists within the party, but not with the electorate as a whole.

Instead of the reassuring genial tones of Harold Wilson, or the avuncular Jim Callaghan, a majority of the electorate saw a party increasing moving away from the issues that concerned them, and away from the political centre, and a much less reassuring image emerged.

What Wilson realised so clearly was that the Labour party needed to appeal to that political centre, that the party faithful would vote for you anyway, but there had to be sufficient appeal to non-party members. Under Foot, the activists pressed on with pressure on the more recalcitrant MPs, and some stayed within the Party, some left to form the Social Democrats.

Neil Kinnock took steps to tame the wilder excesses of the activists, and produced a filmic party political broadcast in an attempt to shift the party back more towards a centre appeal. He failed, but he laid the groundwork for Tony Blair’s rebranding of Labour as “New Labour” and a move towards the centre, at a time when the Conservatives were facing divisions between left and right within their own party over Europe. By 1997, the Conservatives had run out of steam under the tired managerial style of John Major, and the result was a landslide for the more centrist vision of New Labour.

But the left remained within the party, most notably with John Prescott, as Blair also realised the left needed to be part of the new government. Blair retained centre stage through two successive election victories after that.

But reaction was setting in. On the one hand, David Cameron reclaimed more of the centre than Gordon Brown, while Labour began to shift leftwards under Ed Milliband. Under Jeremy Corbyn the move has been even more marked, and while there can be little doubt that Corbyn is popular among the party faithful, and particular the Momentum group which coheres about his particular political ideology, it remains to be seen how electable that position is.

Like the Labour Party under Michael Foot, they are ashamed of the previous Prime Ministers and regard them as compromising their ideals for the sake of political power. And yet it was Blair who won power after the party had decades in the political wilderness. It was not Michael Foot, whose agenda most resembles that of Corbyn.

Labour needs 104 seats in England and Wales and 40% of the vote in order to win. Because of the first past the post system, most seats are fairly fixed in allegiances so it is the marginals which make the difference. In the marginals, four out every five of the extra votes must come from those who voted Conservative last time.

Will they support Corbyn and his particular brand of Labour? Will they support re-nationalization of the railways and energy companies, confiscatory taxation, price and rent controls, maximum wage, unilateral disarmament, and a massive shift of power away from individuals and the private sector and back to central state control?

The past of history of the Labour party in the 1980s makes such a sea change seem unlikely. As Daniel Allington wrote:

“Today, as Labour leader, Corbyn is himself the biggest obstacle to a Labour government: a man who actually doesn’t care what proportion of the public votes for the Labour Party as long as his faction is in control of it.”

The modern activists are youngsters who never lived through the wilderness of the Foot and Kinnock years, who never saw the disasters that that fervent left wing agenda caused to the Labour parties chances of electoral success. I lived through that turmoil and damage to the electability of Labour, and I was disappointed that there really was little choice for the British public, no opposition strong enough to take upon Margaret Thatcher and win.

But Theresa May is no Thatcher, and the Conservative Party is still in internal turmoil from the results of the referendum. It would be a tragedy if Jeremy Corbyn, in search of the promised land flowing with milk and honey, and only seeking to appeal to his own activists, led the Labour party off to spend forty years in the electoral wilderness.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The States Live Televised

For the first time today, the sitting of the States Chamber has been televised both as live streaming and as a view again for 6 months from the live date. This means that not just tone of voice can be seen, but also all the mannerisms and body language and how the States conducts its business.

It is a major educational tool, but one thing which is missing is a floor plan of where the Constables, Senators and Deputies sit - do they have chosen places which they retain for the duration of the States until the election? I know the different classes of members have their own "benches" but within that, how do they choose where to sit? Do existing members keep priority over new members? 

A floor plan would also answer questions on absence. Who is missing from the place beside Senator Gorst or Senator Green? Or is it that the reduction of Senators from 12 to 8 has left gaps in the benches and these are in fact spaces resulting from that change in the composition of the Assembly? That's my guess.

I noticed that Deputy Tadier slipped out for a brief comfort break, but it was very brief, as he was very soon back again.

The other interesting thing to watch is the dynamics of States members when they are not speaking. Some just sit and look ahead, or look down, but others are chatting, or reacting by expression and gestures to the speakers.

In the instance above while Rod Bryans is speaking, Deputy Lewis and Labey exchange notes. 

And for the fashion conscious trivia brigade, of course, what ties are the men wearing - red for Reform, blue and striped for Rod Bryans, and what outfits do the ladies sport? Sarah Ferguson, by the way, is no longer wearing "election pink". All the couteur can now be seen, as well as the honorable member in the background who appears to be taking a brief nap.

All told, this is good for democracy, as it demystifies the workings of the States Assembly, but also can be a useful tool for educating the public into how members deport themselves. 

There is a lot of courtesy evident in this first broadcast, and it will be interesting to see how matters change as we approach elections in 18 months time.

One final comment - the low placement of the microphones mean that most members seem to have to stoop a bit when they speak in order for their voices to be picked up. It would have been interesting to see Roy Le Herrisier speaking; one imagines that the former Deputy, well known for his booming delivery, had no problems on that score. 

The States of Jersey is committed to providing Islanders with an open and accessible decision-making process and, with this objective in mind, meetings of the States Assembly will be webcast. A webcast is a transmission of audio and video over the internet. Video cameras in the States Chamber will capture the live information and through the use of your Internet connection you can view the meetings from the comfort of your own home. You will be able to see how decisions which affect you and your Island are reached, without having to attend the States Chamber in person.

Recent and upcoming webcasts are displayed to the right of this page. To view, click on the title and the webcast will begin automatically.

All webcast meetings will also be held in an online archive and can be accessed at any time by clicking on the webcast library tab above. 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Brown Study

There is an old saying “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” The ever helpful Quote Investigator website tracks the import of the saying, even if not the same words, down to the 12th-century Islamic philosopher Maimonides, when he was writing about eight degrees in the duty of charity. In 1826 an explication of the eighth degree was published in a journal called “The Religious Intelligencer”

“Lastly, the eighth and the most meritorious of all, is to anticipate charity by preventing poverty, namely, to assist the reduced brother, either by a considerable gift or loan of money, or by teaching him a trade, or by putting him in the way of business, so that he may earn an honest livelihood and not be forced to the dreadful alternative of holding up his hand for charity. . .”

But it was the popular novelist Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, daughter of writer William Makepeace Thackeray who said the modern form:

‘He certainly doesn’t practise his precepts, but I suppose the Patron meant that if you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn. “

A variant came in 1945 in a Wisconsin newspaper. The writer was a public health nurse, and she labelled the expression “an old Indian proverb”: 7

“In every public health program the aim is not only to perform a given service but to teach the individual positive attitudes toward health which will benefit him throughout life. The purpose is well stated in an old Indian proverb.”

The truth of these maxims is very much evident in today’s “Brown Study”, my ocassional look at Gordon Brown’s work and speeches as UN Special Envoy for Global Education, and the issues he raises. He writes that “education is the greatest anti-poverty investment we can make and with infant mortality among educated mothers half the rate of the uneducated, one of the most impactful health interventions.”

And this is surely true, and detailed in his speech on how overseas aid can help this objective if it is not just the “begging bowl” for urgent relief for humanitarian disasters, necessary though that is, but a more permanent footing in which we help people to help themselves.

Britain’s spending on aid isn’t too generous. It’s a drop in the ocean
by Gordon Brown

We live in a world where critics talk of “bloated” international aid budgets, and yet our generosity barely reaches a growing inequality problem, one that is rapidly coming home to haunt us.

Half of all children born this year will leave school without even the most basic of qualifications. Even by 2030, the UN deadline for delivering universal primary and secondary education, more than 800 million of the world’s 1.6 billion school-age children will not attain the literary, numeracy and computational skills they will need to get jobs.

Among them are refugee children who will never enter a classroom, child labourers denied the chance to go to school, young girls forced into early marriage and yet more girls denied an education simply because of their gender. To their number is added the millions more in classrooms today who are failing to learn because education standards are so pitifully low and teachers are undervalued.

A global education timebomb is ticking. The civil rights struggle of our times is not defined by marches on Washington, by anti-apartheid boycotts or by a looming wall to tear down. Today’s struggle is defined by the betrayal of the opportunities of half an entire generation – and their growing anger and discontent at their fate.

While western countries spend at least $100,000 (£75,000) over a child’s education life cycle from three to 16, the typical low-income country spends a hundred times less – just $1,000. In Somalia and the Central African Republic, this figure is a meagre $320 per student.

And when all the world’s aid spent on education is brought together, – from individual country donors like DFID, USAID and the EU and from the World Bank and international institutions – its cumulative worth is just $18 per pupil in low-income countries and even less – just $14 per pupil – in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the poorest countries committed to modernising their schools are still receiving woefully low levels of aid. Togo, a much improved performer, receives just $7 per pupil. Even the harshest critic of aid must acknowledge the impossibility of building a meaningful transformation in education on a fiscal foundation barely able to cover the cost of one textbook per child.

We talk of creating a world defined by equality of opportunity with no cap on ambition, no ceiling on talent and no barrier to potential. But while around 80% of today’s Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and Singaporean primary school children will go on to attend university, less than 5% of their counterparts in African countries such as Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo will do so at any time in the foreseeable future. The dividing line could not be more clear. More than your ability or effort, where you were born – and who you were born to – determines the inequalities you suffer.

Our failure to act will mean more Arab springs, more Occupy movements, more “We are the 99%” protests as, through social media, young people in Asia Africa and the Middle East become increasingly aware of the yawning gap between the opportunities the world promised and what has been delivered. And our inaction will encourage extremists who stand ready to exploit children’s discontent and use our failure as a pulpit from which they can allege coexistence is impossible.

No country that invests and is prepared to modernise and reform should be allowed to fail to deliver universal rights to education for a lack of funds. So on 18 September, the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity – which has brought together presidents, prime ministers, chief executives and education leaders with the support of the Norwegian PM – will set out the first global education budget, detailing the benefits and the costs of delivering the largest expansion of educational opportunity in modern history and outlining the reforms in international architecture needed to achieve this vision.

Around the turn of the century education was 13% of all international development aid. Today it is just 10%, while global health has seen its share rise from 15% to 18%. And so we need to mobilise the same visionary zeal that inspired a concerted global effort to eradicate polio, tuberculosis and malaria to make ours the first generation where every child goes to school.

Delivering on this is of urgent concern to those children in greatest need – the global cohort of 30 million displaced children (among them an ever-growing segment, 2m, made refugees by the Syrian civil war). For the out-of-school children among their ranks, the great barrier to an education is not so much a lack of teachers or schools but, as to its credit the UK government has recognised, a lack of funding.

So as two refugee summits convene at the UN general assembly, we propose that by the end of 2017, every Syrian child refugee should have a place in school as a first step to ensuring schooling for every displaced child. To fund this, a begging bowl circulated years into the crisis must now be replaced by guaranteed provision available at the outset.

The dividends will be profound. Education is the greatest anti-poverty investment we can make and with infant mortality among educated mothers half the rate of the uneducated, one of the most impactful health interventions. Our estimate is that, if our recommendations are accepted, GDP per capita in low-income countries will be 70% higher in 2050, and poverty 20% lower.

Seventy years ago, international cooperation and statesmanship brought forth the Marshall plan to rebuild broken-down countries, the World Bank and the IMF to finance their reconstruction and the United Nations to secure the rights of their citizens. This was a time of enlightened self-interest, a time when the world saw a positive-sum pathway to improving the human condition. In 2016, when what is at stake is not just the security of millions but also the sacred belief in equality of opportunity, we are challenged to do even more. In the past we developed only some of the talents of all the world’s children. It is now urgent that we develop all of the talents of all of them.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

In Lighter Vein: Answers To Correspondents

From the 1971 Pilot comes this short humorous piece! As a suitable picture, I thought the Archdeacon, Bishop and Chaplain from the Cathedral of St Oggs would fit the bill!

In Lighter Vein: Answers To Correspondents
by the Revd. P. H. Francis. M.A.

Enquirer: No. An epistle is not the wile of an apostle. It is a letter written by an apostle.

Churchgoer: Yes. The clerical collar originally was a halo. It gradually slipped down, and is now worn around the neck instead of' above the head.

Sportsman: Your theory that the disciplies played cricket in their spare time is based on an incorrect translation of the text. "Peter stood up before the eleven and was bold". Some people think it was "and was bowled". The text "Rachel came out with a full pitcher" may prove that the wives of the Patriarchs played cricket. We have not been able to find this text.

Students: You cannot find reference to early trigonometry in the words. "This wicked generation looketh for a sign". You have been misled by the similar pronunciation of' sign and sine. There are no references to sines, cosines, or tangent: in the bible.

Henpecked: We are interested in your notion that because horses are stopped by saying Wo' to them, the word Woman is really composed of the two words Wo and Man. and came into use because women always stop their husbands going to football matches and doing things the way they want to do. We have suffered in this way.

Young clergyman: It was unlawful by Canon 74 for Anglican clergymen to wear light coloured socks or fancy night caps. But this law has been omitted from the new Canons published in 1964 and 1969. You are therefore now free to wear hideously coloured socks. They can be bought at most hosiery shops. Night caps might have to be specially ordered.

Hopeful: The singing of hymns during church services is illegal, but a common practice. It is however doubtful if you would get a divorce on the grounds that two hymns were sung during the marriage service. But it might be worth trying.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

A Dream of Yesterday

The following poem is based on a dream. Annie's birthday is October 1st. She died on the 13th October 2009. I don't often write poems based on dreams, but this was very vivid, and I hadn't dreamed of Annie for ages although I think of her often. To dream of her was both joyful and bitter sweet.

A Dream of Yesterday

The sky was dark, clouds wreathed the moon
And last night I dreamed of Annie, once again
The time is approaching now, that time so soon
The mountains in the distance, rocks of pain

I did not think why she was there, and alive
Dreaming, nothing questioned, all is real
A land where the past remains to survive
Where the sleeping mind can softly heal

She seemed much younger; I do recall
Almost as if it was the very day we met
And there was no barrier, no final wall
A very comfort when troubles so beset

Last night I dreamed of Annie, in my sleep
And waking, I remember, and I weep

Friday, 23 September 2016

Revolution Club News

Centenier Don Filleul at "The Rev"

From the Catholic Herald 1973 comes this story. If anyone has any memories of the "Revolution Club", please let me know and I can add them her, or if you recognise any of the youngsters in the photo.

Lots of people remember this fondly, and one of my correspondents informs me that the boys in the photo were (but not necessarily in that order as in the photo): Shane Perrier, Travis Olver, Tony Robson, Dave O'Brian and Steve Philpott.

Another correspondent remembers Father Isherwood and Sister Angela from those days at "The Rev" as it was popularly called. She writes:

"Father Isherwood was the main force behind the "Rev" this picture [below] was published in the July 1973 Catholic Record on the occasion of the re-opening of the renovated club.. sadly it is a little grainy. I have a few others of the coffee bar area equally grainy..."

"Father Isherwood RIP was a 'modern' priest and quite trendy and rebellious in his ways.. He was a lovely man... It was him that kept the 'Rev' going in the early days when every one was trying to close it down!"

Father Isherwood

Revolution Club News

Ii is good to make front page news in the local press, especially when there's a photo, and they say nice things about us! Our photo, taken by David Fry, and the block kindly supplied by courtesy of the J.E.P. shows Centenier Don Filleul on his pre-election rounds making social contact with some of the many teenagers who frequent the Club.

As usual, during the summer holidays, we opened up an extra night and did our part in catering for the Island's youth. We are happy to report that more regular contact is being established between the Club members and the police forces, both uniformed and honorary. When the neighbours we a police car parked outside the Club, it does not mean that we have trouble, it just means it couple of officers are probably `inside' having a coffee and a chat (public relations kind!) with the members.

With a regular 250 plus attendance when we open at the week end, we always look forward to welcoming new helpers. If you are between 18 and 81 and are interested in finding out how a well run (no lynching) youth club runs, why not come along  some time between 8 to 10.30 on a Saturday or 8 to 10 p.m. on a Sunday. If you're really ventures some you may even go up to the discotheque and experience a sensation that has to be seen (and felt) to be believed!

We offer one of our Leaders, Frank Marquer and his family, our deepest sympathy on the death of his wife Mary. Although she has been virtually bed-bound for a long time she was very interested in the working of the Club, and didcome down on several occasions, and while at home did sterling work in keeping our filing system in order.

We've had a phone installed! For the use of club members (and parishioners) we've installed a phone in the passage way just outside the coffee bar door. Our number is Central 31904 and is manned during club hours.

Life Boat Appeal: Recent activities of the Jersey Life Boat and her crew have been in the news, as has the appeal for a new, faster life boat. The club has joined in the appeal by sending off a cheque for £50 to the Fund. 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

La Route des Champs

La Route des Champs

For some time now I’ve been looking at speed limits on La Route des Champs in St Brelade.

In 2011, I noted how the consultation on speed limits by TTS didn’t really seem to be looking at inconsistencies with the speed limits.

“What really will improve matters, however, is common sense. The tiny twisting back hill, for example, beside St Brelade's Church, is at the end of a 20 mph zone, and the sign cheerfully says the speed limit for the hill is 40 mph, which obviously would only be safe to a lunatic. This is not an isolated example, but the consultation, with its emphasis on "standardisation", seems to think that making it (presumably) 35 mph would be better!”

I also noted one feature that was problematic with Departmental consultations:

“One thing I noticed where it differs from a Scrutiny review is that the Scrutiny Panel has transcripts of all hearings, and all the written submissions available to read in their entirely. The Transport and Technical Services reports, by contrast, pick and quote only those bits of the consultation submissions that they choose to do so, and do not, as far as I am aware, list the people who have made submissions.”

“This means, on the one hand, that one has no idea where the bulk of the submissions are coming from - the general public, the road lobby, environmentalists, etc and secondly, that those submissions quoted - only in part - for the report - don't show their total context, so that any substantive arguments are reduced to sound-bite quotes, which is rather like those people who cite verses from the Bible in isolation, with no details being given on the context, but which is used to support their case. “

In fact, the consultation by Education on Les Quennevais School (promoted by Education Minister Rod Bryans) last year shows that this can be achieved. It was one in which all submissions were put online and available as a printed copy, only redacted to remove names of those submitting to comply with Data Protection requirements. But a holistic and complete picture was given and showed best practice for future.

Since that my submission in 2011, further reductions in speed have been put in place across the Parish of St Brelade. The whole of the road to Portelet and Noirmont is 30 mph, other areas have been reduced to 20 mph, and the whole of Route Orange has been reduced to 30 mph. That’s a large, wide road, with lots of visibility. The start of La Route des Champs, past the curtain shop, is windy and narrows, with poor visibility, and yet the speed limit on there is 40 mph! That disparity often astounds people, and demonstrates, I believe, why we need a rationalisation of speed limits to ensure consistency and common sense.

So what has happened with La Route des Champs? The Minutes of the Roads Committee (very helpfully supplied to me by Constable Steve Pallett) show that after concerns were raised by a local resident. On Friday 11th May 2007, it was decided at that meeting to implement a ‘ 20mph speed limit from its junction with La Route des Camps /La Route du Sud to its existing 20mph speed limit at Le Mont es Croix.

However no further action was taken of that decision by the previous Constable in consideration that such action would have required both Parish and wider public consultation and would have ultimately required the approval of the TTS Minister at the time (Deputy Guy de Faye). This would have been a lengthy process taking 9 months or more and would not have been considered in isolation. Such a change could have been considered during other speed limit changes during 2011 but was not included.

A petition from residents was made in 2014 to introduce speed bumps to slow traffic. I am not in favour of that for a variety of reasons. While it may slow some traffic, research shows that speed bumps can produce substantial driver discomfort, damage to vehicle suspension, and even loss of control if encountered at too high a speed.

The alternative design, speed humps can make the work of winter maintenance vehicles more difficult and can slow emergency vehicle response speeds. Research shows that speed humps can slow down emergency responders by 6 to 11 seconds, which can be a critical few seconds, especially if there is more than one. Series of traffic delay devices turn seconds of delay into minutes, as vehicles fail to regain cruising speed between the devices. Moreover, the sensitive equipment and injured victims transported by these ambulances requires drivers to slow almost to a stop to negotiate the devices safely.

A study by scientist Ronald Bowman showed that even minor delay to emergency response by calming devices imposed far greater risk on the community than vehicles, speeding or not. Bowman’s analysis, based on the curve of survivability for victims of cardiac arrest and severe trauma (AHA) has been verified by professional mathematicians.

Other factors against the continual change in engine note when vehicles negotiate the bumps that itself can become a source of irritation for residents. Noise levels increase at the bump due to rapid deceleration and noise of the vehicle going over the bump. Researchers of one study estimated that the undulation of cars passing over the speed bumps increased the volume of car noise by 10 to 20 decibels, and for trucks even more.

There are also the resulting problems and additional costs caused when utilities need to dig up the road.

Returning to the petition by residents, these were noted in the minutes of 23rd December 2014 and culminated in the decision to install signage on the 24th September 2015. This signage includes slow signs painted on the road, and two signs warning drivers that the road is about to narrow.

However this is not the end of the story. Constable Steve Pallett informs me that the Parish Roads Committee are in the process of reviewing all the speed limits in the Parish and are due to consult more widely in the Parish very shortly. This will include a Parish Assembly for sign off .This review will include reducing Rue des Camps to a 30mph speed limit in line with criteria set by the Department of Infrastructure.

This is excellent news, and I look forward to the consultation being announced in the near future, perhaps also via the Parish Magazine La Baguette which is an excellent conduit for Parish news stories and consultations, and was used to great effect for the Les Quennevais School consultation.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Geography of Alderney – Part 2

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 it his has shaped their subsequent history, so it is a bit different from the general guidebook.

The Geography of Alderney – Part 2

Although the coast certainly affords the principal objects of interest in Alderney, there are other not trifling matters on the plateau. The town itself is pretty much what might be expected from the circumstances of its origin and growth. A vast multitude of new, small, plain houses, covers the part looking towards the new harbour. There is nothing either in their design or execution, that requires a single remark. There are few public buildings except the new church, and not one of them exhibits anything but the worst style and most vulgar taste, if we except an Independent chapel, now being built, which is creditable, even elegant.

The new parish church, however, forms a marked exception. Placed unfortunately in a depression, and not on the top of the high ground, the massive early English style selected prevents it from being favourably seen, except from one or two points, not easily reached. Thus its noble and severe proportions, instead of being felt as elements of strength and beauty, as they would have been, had the building occupied a commanding position on so small an island in an open sea, now communicate an opposite impression, and some of the best parts of the design cannot be at all appreciated.

Still it is a remarkable building, and does great credit to its eminent designer, Mr. Gilbert Scott. The walls are of island sand-stone, with quoins of Caen stone—a selection much to be regretted, as this latter stone is eminently ill adapted for outdoor work, in such a climate as that of Alderney. Accordingly, although not constructed more than fifteen years, all the faces of these stones on west and south-west exposures, are scaling and falling away.

Except the doors, which want size and importance, and the windows, which, oven for the style, seem extremely narrow, the exterior of this fine church must be regarded as satisfactory, if we exclude from consideration the unfortunate want of adaptation of the building to its site. Within, few modern churches could be pointed out, which show better taste and feeling for the sacred purpose of their construction. Everything here harmonises, and even the smallness of the windows is not objectionable, so soft and well arranged is the light.

A beautiful circular apse, at the extremity of the choir, forms a proper finish, and is connected with the building by an arch of exquisite proportions. The roof is simple and effective, not at all prominent, rather original and very ingenious, while there reigns throughout a mixture of order and variety that cannot but please the most fastidious taste.

The church is a worthy memorial of the family of Le Mesurier, long the hereditary governors of the island; and was erected, with that intention, by the son of the last of the hereditary governors, Lieut. General Le Mesurier.

An extremely fine portrait and good picture, said to be by Opie, representing this active and energetic officer, is suspended in the Court house. It is a picture, remarkable as well for its drawing as its colouring; evidently true to nature, and rendering, without flattery, the higher qualities of the intellect; and this in a manner rarely seen in English art.

Outside the town, and in the open country, away from the cliff, there is not much in Alderney that is interesting to the general tourist. The geologist will find some remarks that may be worth attention, in the chapter devoted to that subject; and, the antiquarian, if also a geologist, may study to advantage a number of supposed cromlechs, which, in comparatively recent times, seem to have been far more perfect than they now are.

In one part of the island, near Fort Touraille l[ater to be re-named Fort Albert following the death of the Prince Consort] , called les Rockers, a common is strewn with a vast multitude of round blocks of granite. These have not really been water-worn, as might besupposed. Similar blocks exist in great abundance, just below the surface. Those standing alone on the surface are probably in situ; but, where several are near together, especially if arranged in any order or heaped one upon another, they have, perhaps, been removed a short distance.

There are few trees in Alderney, except in the two or three small valleys opening to the sea, on the side facing the Channel. Over the whole of the plateau, the land is naked, and divided into long, narrow strips by a few boundary marks; or, at the most, by low stone fences. Near the edge, the ground is usually uncultivated, and is often not very easy to walk upon, as it slopes rapidly, and terminates abruptly in steep and dangerous cliffs.

Alderney is amply supplied with water, obtained from wells in most parts of the island, and from a few small running streams. The water is of good quality.

From Alderney, towards the west, there extend several groups of islands and rocks, with two intervening channels of moderate width and small depth. About a mile from the south-western part of Alderney, but leaving a safe passage of not more than a few hundred yards, extends a large shoal, from which rise several islands and rocks. This shoal is about two and a-half miles from north-east to south-west, and a mile and a-half wide.


The nearest islands, called the Burhou Islands, are almost flat, and of considerable size. One of them is nearly half a mile in length. They are all uninhabited; but a house has been erected on the largest islet, to shelter fishermen and others, who may be driven to land there by stress of weather. The shape of this land is broken and rather picturesque; and a multitude of small rocks run out, at low water, making the length, at such times, nearly three times as great as at high water.

The passage between Alderney and the Burhou shoal, is called the "Passe au Singe," Anglicised into "the Swinge." It is always dangerous, and often unapproachable; and, in the narrowest part, there is barely ten fathoms of water. It is funnel shaped, widest towards the north-east. The width is least between the Burhou Islands and the rocky bay included in that part of Alderney extending from Mont Torgee to the Clonque.

A second similar range of low islets extends behind. Other rocks are continued, at intervals, until we reach the singular and picturesque islet, called Ortach. This rocky mass, well shown in the engraving at the end of this chapter, from a sketch taken about three miles to the south-east, is about sixty feet in height; and is a striking object from the south, being seen, in clear weather, at a distance of upwards of twelve miles. Towards the south, it goes down vertically into the sea to a depth of sixty or seventy feet; but, on the west side, a ledge of rock runs out from it, at a depth of fourteen feet below low water. Not far from it to the south-east, is a concealed rock, called the " Pierre au Vraic," over which the water dashes and foams incessantly, even in the calmest weather.

Between the Burhou islands and Ortach rock, and the rocks farther westward, there is a passage called the Passe d'Ortach, wider and deeper than the Swinge, but even more dangerous, owing to the peculiar set of the tides. This passage separates the shoal already described from the group of rocks terminating with the Casquets.

The latter rocks are very important, from their position in the Channel. They are nearly midway between England and France; and rise abruptly out of deep water, in the direct line of a ship's course advancing up channel, whether from the Atlantic, the Bay of Biscay, or St. George's Channel.

The Casquets group of rocks is about a mile and a-half in length, from west to east, and about half a mile across. The northern islet, which is of conical form, and bears the light towers, is about 100 feet above high water spring tide; the southern islet is much lower, and flat-topped. They both rise rom a mass of rock uncovered at low water, from which rise six other large rocks. To the east the mass extends for some distance, terminating abruply in a large rock, named Cottette Point.

The light-houses are three in number, each having a catoptric light of the first order, revolving, and eclipsed at intervals of twenty seconds. The height of the lights above high water is 113 feet. The lights are visible at sea to a distance of fifteen miles in clear weather. They are seen perfectly in ordinary weather from the high ground of Guernsey, at a distance of twenty miles. A bell is sounded in foggy weather.

The first effective lights at the Casquets were placed in 1790, preceding which date there had been for about eighty years a partial light, at first merely of burning coals, and afterwards oil lights, in a copper frame. Many wrecks are recorded to have taken place upon them before this time.

In spite of the remarkable and distinctive character of the triple light, a Russian man-of-war was lost on the rocks in the beginning of the present century. The circumstances of the wreck are worthy of note. It is supposed that the ship first made the Casquets in coming up channel, so as to keep two in one, retaining this position till she came abreast of the rock. On then opening the third light the pilot discovered his error, and endeavouring to extricate the ship, actually fell into the destruction that had by accident been avoided.

Several banks, some rocks that occasionally appear above water, and some banks of sunken rocks, rising out of deep water to within a few fathoms of the surface, surround the Casquets. These produce a swell and disturbance of the sea at all times, which render the whole group very difficult and dangerous to approach. A little to the north-east of the eastern rocks are the "Pommier" banks, covered with only three or four fathoms water.

There are two landing-places for boats on the Casquets; but there is rarely a possibility of using them, owing to the incessant swell and frequent breaking of large waves. The two landing-places are hardly ever accessible at the same time. The provisions and oil are supplied monthly from Guernsey; but it is always thought right that three months' provision should be kept on the rock. Fish and lobsters are caught around and on the rocks. Water is saved from the rain in cisterns, and there is or was a small spring.*

About a mile and a-half from the Casquets to the S.S.W., is a singular bank of coarse sand, nearly three and a-half miles in length, by half a mile wide, the top of which is more than ten fathoms below the surface, but is a steep ridge, narrow at the top, and bearing about S.S.E. This is generally described as the Casquets' middle or S.S.W. bank, and there is reason to suppose that this direction may have applied to it at the time of Admiral White's survey, although it is now not only very much smaller in extent, but altogether different in position. This ridge is probably one of the results of the peculiar course of the tides, part of the tidal wave sweeping between Jersey and Guernsey, and so through the Swinge and Ortach passage, while another part coasts the island of Guernsey, passing outside the Casquets.

About five miles due south of the island of Alderney, is a very extensive bank and shoal, measuring about seven miles by two, and covered by only ten feet water at the lowest tides. It lies in a direct line between the Race of Alderney, and the entrance to the great Russel. This is the Banc du Schole. It is shifting and very dangerous, as the sea breaks on all parts of it. It is composed of sand, gravel, and shells. It appears to be broadening.

The projecting line of rock extending from the coast of France, near Cherbourg, to the Casquets, may therefore be regarded as a kind of natural gigantic breakwater, forming the northern arm of the great hay in which the main groups of the Channel Islands are contained.

If the sea-bottom, which is in very few parts so much as twenty fathoms deep, were elevated a hundred and twenty feet, the island of Alderney, the Burhou and Ortach group, and the Casquets, would be connected by low land, and form a narrow island about twelve miles long. The eastern extremity of this island would approach within a few miles the coast of France, and it would range nearly parallel to the south coast of England, between Weymouth and the Isle of Wight. Each extremity would rise three or four hundred feet above the sea level, and a hill of similar elevation would be seen about midway, but with these exceptions the land would be low, irregular, and rocky, not unlike the northern parts of Guernsey and Alderney.

Taking, however, the land at the level at which we now find it, this large island is reduced to a multitude of rocks and a few small islands, the fragments of a more extensive district.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Muhammadan Bean: Radio Review

The Muhammadan Bean: The Secret History of Islam and Coffee

“I shall mention in passing just one example of a gift from the Arabs that I for one am rather grateful for: coffee -- especially as it was originally banned in Europe as a 'Muslim drink.” ― Jim Al-Khalili

On of the things I love about Radio 4 is its variety. Book of the Week, In our Time, Just a Minute, Afternoon Play are just a few of the delights that await the listener.

Recently I have just been listening to a fascinating Radio 4 documentary about coffee and Islam about which I knew nothing, and speaking to friends, they were in as complete ignorance as I was. This is the summary of the programme:

“It is the second most traded commodity or planet and second only to water as the most consumed beverage. Coffee is the liquid fuel that makes the world go round. Yet, few coffee drinkers realize that they really owe a debt of gratitude to Islamic civilization for truly discovering, cultivating and popularizing coffee. From its very origins, Muslim saints, traders, entrepreneurs and sultans have been at the very heart of coffee's incredible history. In this entertaining and interactive presentation, journalist, activist and coffee obsessive Abdul-Rehman Malik will lead us on a journey from the zawiyas of Yemen to the alleyways of Mecca, from the grand cafes of Istanbul to cobblestones of mercantile London. “

This was a fascinating programme. I never realise that coffee originated in the regions of Yemen and Ethiopia. This was about coffees little know story about its Islamic roots.

There is a wonderful apocryphal tale about the discovery of coffee, dating from around 1671, which is almost certainly false, but it is a great story:

“A 9th-century Ethiopian goat-herder, Kaldi, noticed the energizing effects when his flock nibbled on the bright red berries of a certain bush, chewed on the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to a monk in a nearby monastery. But the monk disapproved of their use and threw them into the fire, from which an enticing aroma billowed, causing other monks to come and investigate. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up, and dissolved in hot water, yielding the world's first cup of coffee.”

In fact, the first recorded mention of coffee comes in the middle of the 15th century, in Yemen's Sufi monasteries. Coffee was being exported from Ethiopia to Yemen, where the traders began to cultivate the bean. The Sufis used coffee as a way of energising themselves during their nocturnal devotions.

Although coffee is now produced in hot climates like Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, Vietnam and Indonesia, it is not a product of the New World but of the old. And by 1414, it was known in Mecca and in the early 1500s was spreading to Egypt from the Yemeni port of Mocha.

As its popularity grew, coffeehouses specializing in the new drink began to spring up in all the major cities of the Muslim world: Cairo, Istanbul, Damascus, and Baghdad.

Ibn 'Abd al-Ghaffa describes dervish meetings in Cairo in the 16th century:

“They drank coffee every Monday and Friday eve, putting it in a large vessel made of red clay. Their leader ladled it out with a small dipper and gave it to them to drink, passing it to the right, while they recited one of their usual formulas, mostly ‘La illaha il'Allah...’”

John McHugo notes that: “Coffee houses were a new institution in which men met together to talk, listen to poets and play games like chess and backgammon. They became a focus for intellectual life and could be seen as an implicit rival to the mosque as a meeting place.”

As Abdul Malik points out, it was so popular that it was even drunk in the Sacred Mosque of Mecca itself, until the religious authorities issued a fatwa against it in the 16th century:

“With no pubs and inns in sight, coffeehouses would bring about a social revolution within the Islamic world. They were the very first spaces where people of all social classes could come together to discuss news and gossip. Consequently, the drink was persecuted by those in authority.”

But this could not stamp out coffee. All attempts at banning coffee failed even when it involved the death penalty during the reign of Murad IV (1623-40). Religious scholars eventually came to a pragmatic consensus that coffee was, in principle, permissible.

In Europe, coffee was at first denounced as the “Muslim drink” by Catholic authorities but was still made inroads against that tide. As Gregory Elder explains:

“It was Italian merchants who visited the Middle East who brought coffee back to the Christian world, first to Venice and then to other cities. Some Italian religious authorities were suspicious of the Muslim drink. One opponent called coffee the "bitter invention of Satan" and another called it the ‘wine of Araby.’ But in 1600, the matter was taken to the Vatican for resolution. Pope Clement VIII decided to sample a cup before ruling on the matter and pronounced it good.”

According to legend, the Pope sipped the steaming cup of coffee and pronounced: “This devil’s drink is delicious. We should cheat the devil by baptizing it.”!

Shortly thereafter, coffee became all the rage in Italy, and from there spread by other merchants to Germany, Holland and England.”

Abdul Malik found the site of London's very first coffee house and explained how coffee took the capital by storm, leading to a backlash from those who despised the drink they labelled an "abominable, heathenish liquid" and a "bitter Muhammedan gruel".

London historian Dr Matthew Green explains how it came to London and why there was such a backlash::

“Every time you sip a cup of coffee in London, you are participating in a ritual that stretches back 360 years to a muddy churchyard in the heart of the City. London’s first coffeehouse (or rather, coffee stall) was opened by an eccentric Greek named Pasqua Roseé in 1652. While a servant for a British Levant merchant in Smyrna, Turkey, Roseé developed a taste for the exotic Turkish drink and decided to import it to London. People from all walks of life swarmed to his business to meet, greet, drink, think, write, gossip and jest, all fuelled by coffee.”

“Pasqua sold over 600 dishes of coffee a day. Worse still, coffee came to be portrayed as an antidote to drunkenness, violence and lust; providing a catalyst for pure thought, sophistication and wit”

But attempts were made by Charles II to crush them; as places where politics might be discussed, they could be seen as fermenting non-alcoholic sedition:

“By 1663 there were 82 coffeehouses within the old Roman walls of the City. They arose from the ashes of the Great Fire and went on to survive Charles II’s attempt to crush them in 1675. It concerned the king that for a measly one-penny entrance fee anyone could discuss politics freely.”

“By the dawn of the eighteenth century, contemporaries counted over 3,000 coffeehouses in London although 21st-century historians place the figure closer to 550.”

From Ethiopia and Yemen to conquer the Islamic world, and then Europe and the world, the story of coffee is a truly fascinating one, and thanks to this Radio 4 documentary, I feel that I am not quote so ignorant on the subject as I have been before. When I sip my coffee at lunchtime in the cafe, I will remember a debt to those Sufi mystics of long ago and raise a cup to them.

And I'll finish with an extract from Agatha Christie's short story The Harlequin Tea Set, which always captures for me, something of the essence of coffee:

"They have some special Turkish coffee here," said Mr. Quin. "Really good of its kind. Everything else is, as you have guessed, rather unpalatable. But one can always have a cup of Turkish coffee, can one not? Let us have one because I suppose you will soon have to get on with your pilgrimage, or whatever it is."

The Turkish coffee was brought in little cups of oriental pattern. Ali placed them with a smile and departed. Mr. Satterthwaite sipped approvingly.

"As sweet as love, as black as night and as hot as hell. That is the old Arab phrase, isn't it?"

Harley smiled over his shoulder and nodded.

Monday, 19 September 2016

La Baguette - Volunteers needed at Parish Hall Today and Tomorrow

The St Brelade's Bay Parish magazine is just about ready for distribution, after it has been helped on its way by volunteers.

We have a core of regular volunteers, but could really do with more. If you have the time, please try and pop to the Parish Hall at St Brelade today (Monday) or tomorrow Tuesday, any time from 3.00 pm to 9.00 pm. Even an hour's help would be most welcome.

Tea and coffee and biscuits are available!

The process involves folding the magazines in half, ready for putting in plastic sleeves. Once we have them all folded, we also insert any advertising flyers to go out with them, and then "stuff" them into plastic self-sealing sleeves. They are put in large plastic boxes ready to take to Jersey Post for distribution.

Every household in St Brelade receives a copy of La Baguette, so that is a lot of copies of the magazine, which is why we are looking for volunteers to help. St. Brelade has approximately 4,600 households!

Please come along and help - even half an hour would be helpful!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Simon Whom He Surnamed Peter - Part 28

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

by G.R. Balleine

The following Notes are not exhaustive studies of disputed questions. They merely indicate why, where scholars disagree, the author has adopted one view and not another.


Some say one year (from Passover A.D. Z9 to Passover A.D 30); others say over two. Everything turns on a disputed text in the Fourth Gospel. The Synoptists give little help; but all the events they record could have happened in a single year. The Fourth Evangelist, however, has a definite timetable, based on the Jewish Feasts; and, as no one can suspect this of theological bias, it can be accepted as accurate. Ignoring for a moment the disputed verse, it runs:

16 April, A.D. 29 Passover (ii. 13).
May. `A Feast of the Jews', probably Pentecost (v. I).
October. Tabernacles (vii. 2).
December. Dedication (x. 22).
5 April, A.D. 30. Passover (xi. 5 5).

This would give a one-year ministry. But, when describing the Feeding of the Five Thousand, the Gospel, as we have it, inserts (vi. 4), `Now the Passover, a Feast of the Jews was nigh'.

This puts another Passover half-way between the other two, and would make the Ministry last two years. But Hort, our greatest authority on New Testament readings, believes that the words `the Passover' were a mistaken note inserted by some copyist, and that the text should run, `the Feast of the Jews was nigh', which would then be the Tabernacles mentioned in vii. 2. This question cannot be settled decisively; but modern scholars consider the shorter period the more probable.


In `Matthew' Peter's assertion that Jesus was the Messiah is followed by warm praise, `No human being revealed this to you, but My Father', and three tremendous promises-'Rock you are, and on this rock I will build My Church'; `I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven'; `Whatever you forbid, Heaven will forbid, and whatever you allow, Heaven will allow'. Mark and Luke record Peter's confession; but say nothing of these promises. `John' too does not mention them. Did Jesus really make them?

If He did, they were obviously of immense importance. Why then did Mark, Peter's own disciple, suppress them? Did Q, which Luke had before him, also remain silent? Moreover, if the Primacy was given to Peter in the hearing of all the Twelve, why later do we find them quarrelling as to who was the greatest (Mark ix. 34, Lk. xxii. 24), and James and John asking for the highest places in the Kingdom (Mark X. 37)? In fact Mark and Luke flatly contradict `Matthew'. Instead of being pleased at Peter's confession, Jesus was annoyed. The Greek word epetimesen, here translated, `He charged them' (viii. 30), properly means, `He rebuked', as it is translated elsewhere: Jesus `rebuked the wind' (Mark iv. 39), `rebuked Peter' (viii. 33), `rebuked the foul spirit' (ix. z 5).

`Matthew', the Antioch Gospel (see Note M), contains traditions about Peter unknown to the other Evangelists, e.g. the walking on the water and the coin in the fish's mouth, which were probably stories current in that city. And the Three Promises may be an expression of Antioch's enthusiasm for its first Bishop. To Antioch he seemed the rock on which the Church was built, the holder of the keys of the Kingdom, the lawgiver, whose decisions would never be questioned in Heaven. And in time they came to believe that Jesus had promised this.

The first promise was suggested by the nickname, which Jesus undoubtedly gave him, `Simon He surnamed Peter' (Mark iii. i6). But it seems unlikely that He was thinking of his character when He gave it. Chapter V mentions other possibilities. `Rock' implies firmness, fixedness, absolute stability.

But with all his virtues this was not one of Peter's characteristics. Streeter even calls him a `wobbler'. In Gethsemane he is three times ordered to watch, and three times falls asleep. One moment he boasts about going with Christ to prison and death. The same night he swears, `I do not know the Man'. At Antioch he first shares meals with the Gentiles, then swings to the other side. Jesus was too good a judge of character to call such vacillation rocklike.


Luke and `Matthew' incorporate in their Gospels the greater part of Mark; but each also adds long reports of the teaching of Jesus. In 200 verses these agree so closely, indeed they are often verbatim, that it is obvious that both are quoting the same document.

Scholars have named this Q from the German word quelle, which means `source'. Q is lost, but much of it survives in `Matthew' and Luke.

Q must be later than 69, the date when the son of Barachiah was murdered (Matt. xxiii. 35; Lk. xi. 51), unless this verse is an interpolation; but Q may have Apostolic authority behind it.

About 120 Papias wrote, `Matthew composed the Logia in Hebrew, and everyone interpreted them as he could.' Logia means `sayings'. So Matthew the Apostle apparently took notes of his Master's sermons, and recorded them in Hebrew or Aramaic. Later the author of Q may have translated these into Greek. 

If the author of our First Gospel was known to have based his book on Q's translation of Matthew's Logia, this would explain how Matthew's name became attached to his book. `Matthew,' says Moffatt, `was too obscure an Apostle to be associated by later tradition with a Gospel, unless there was good ground for it.'