Thursday, 14 December 2017

A Century in Advertising - Part 12

A Century in Advertising - Part 12

My look at some of the advertisements and products of yesteryear. Some weird and whacky, some surprisingly still around today. Here are their stories.

1933 - ACME Beer

When I think of ACME, I always think of that fake company which sells gadgets to Wile E Coyote in his elaborate attempt to catch the Road Runner. But in fact there really was an ACME company producing beer.

The Acme Brewery of San Francisco was established in 1907 by Leopold Schmidt, owner of the Olympia Brewing Company of Tumwater

The aftermath of the April 18, 1906, fire and earthquake left San Francisco with few operating breweries, and a beer shortage soon followed. A $1,000,000 order was then placed with Schmidt's Bellingham Bay Brewery for beer to be shipped to the city. His Olympia Beer Company had been spared from the catastrophe and production had already ramped up at its Tumwater plant in order to meet the higher demand. Schmidt seized this opportunity for capturing market share, and set out to build his own brewery there in the City.

To oversee this new construction project Schmidt called upon William Schuldt, who was in management at his Oregon plant, the Salem Brewery Ass'n. In addition to Schuldt, a brewer that had recently joined the Salem organization, J.P. Rettenmayer, also went to SF. There the two men supervised the $100,000 plant project, and became principals in the new company.

The Acme Brewery was incorporated on April 11, 1907, with Leopold F. Schmidt, president; William Schuldt, secretary and manager; and Jacob P. Rettenmayer, treasurer. J.P. was also Acme's first brewmaster.

Acme issued numerous advertising pieces in the '30s & '40s, however very few items have survived from the 13 year period prior to Prohibition. Beer was outlawed along with other alcoholic drinks. The ACME company turned to other products, and it is at this time I like to think they manufactured fantastic gadgets for the coyote!

The ad shown above is one of the ads that set the whole west coast talking about Acme, weeks before Prohibition was ended, on April 7, 1933.

1934 - Electric Perm

This closely resembles something from James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein.

From the photo essay on 'Permanent Waves' "The hair above has been wet with alkaline solution wound tight around rods then covered with electrically-heated clamps. The solution opens the hairs sealy surface permitting steam produced by hot clamps on damp hair to penetrate the cells."

The technology at the time was not always successful. One report says this of the electric perm:

“A little girl I know emerged from a $5.00 permanent with a head that resembled that of a native of the Congo. Fortunately, she was supremely satisfied and just child enough for its tousled outline not to prove unbecoming. But the tragedy it might have been if it had chanced to alight on an older and more serious head as it might very easily have done ! And that is why I strongly urge a preliminary test.”

1935 - Butlins

Butlins (also Butlin's) is a chain of large holiday camps in the United Kingdom. Butlins was founded by Billy Butlin to provide affordable holidays for ordinary British families.

Billy Butlin's inspiration for his holiday camp empire came from an unhappy holiday on Barry Island in his youth, when he had been locked out of his bed and breakfast accommodation all day by his landlady, which was normal practice at the time.

Between 1936 and 1966, ten camps were built, including one in Ireland and one in the Bahamas. In the 1970s and 1980s, Butlins also operated numerous large hotels, including one in Spain, a number of smaller holiday parks in England and France, and a revolving restaurant in the Post Office Tower in London.

The holiday camp at Portelet in Jersey was founded by Nigel Oxenden, and passed to his daughter, Joy, who eventually sold it to holiday camp magnate Sir Billy Butlin. However, it never became an official part of the Butlin holiday camp chain.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Anticipating Christmas

Anticipating Christmas

One of my favourite passages is that of G.K. Chesterton on anticipating Christmas too soon. It is a masterpiece of humour and description, and fizzes with the fun of Chesterton in full flow.

"There is no more dangerous or disgusting habit than that of celebrating Christmas before it comes, as I am doing in this article. It is the very essence of a festival that it breaks upon one brilliantly and abruptly, that at one moment the great day is not and the next moment the great day is. Up to a certain specific instant you are feeling ordinary and sad; for it is only Wednesday. At the next moment your heart leaps up and your soul and body dance together like lovers; for in one burst and blaze it has become Thursday. I am assuming (of course) that you are a worshipper of Thor, and that you celebrate his day once a week, possibly with human sacrifice."

"If, on the other hand, you are a modern Christian Englishman, you hail (of course) with the same explosion of gaiety the appearance of the English Sunday. But I say that whatever the day is that is to you festive or symbolic, it is essential that there should be a quite clear black line between it and the time going before. And all the old wholesome customs in connection with Christmas were to the effect that one should not touch or see or know or speak of something before the actual coming of Christmas Day. Thus, for instance, children were never given their presents until the actual coming of the appointed hour. The presents were kept tied up in brown paper parcels, out of which an arm of a doll or the leg of a donkey sometimes accidentally stuck."

"I wish this principle were adopted in respect of modern Christmas ceremonies and publications. Especially it ought to be observed in connection with what are called the Christmas numbers of magazines. The editors of the magazines bring out their Christmas numbers so long before the time that the reader is more likely to be still lamenting for the turkey of last year than to have seriously settled down to a solid anticipation of the turkey which is to come. Christmas numbers of magazines ought to be tied up in brown paper and kept for Christmas Day. On consideration, I should favour the editors being tied up in brown paper. Whether the leg or arm of an editor should ever be allowed to protrude I leave to individual choice."

And he goes on to look at how the more puritanican look down on the riotous nature of the Christmas festivities, whether puritans or freethinkers:

"Let us be consistent, therefore, about Christmas, and either keep customs or not keep them. If you do not like sentiment and symbolism, you do not like Christmas; go away and celebrate something else; I should suggest the birthday of Mr. McCabe. No doubt you could have a sort of scientific Christmas with a hygienic pudding and highly instructive presents stuffed into a Jaeger stocking; go and have it then. "

"If you like those things, doubtless you are a good sort of fellow, and your intentions are excellent. I have no doubt that you are really interested in humanity; but I cannot think that humanity will ever be much interested in you."

"Humanity is unhygienic from its very nature and beginning. It is so much an exception in Nature that the laws of Nature really mean nothing to it. Now Christmas is attacked also on the humanitarian ground. Ouida called it a feast of slaughter and gluttony. ."

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: A Review

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a classic tale by C.S. Lewis, and at the Jersey Arts Centre it is brought to life through clever use of minimalist sets and costumes, inviting the audience to suspend belief and enter this magical world of the imagination. This production uses the dramatisation by Adrian Mitchel with music by Shaun Savey and has five members of the Jersey Arts Centre youtheatre, three from their Junior Drama group, and six adult actors.

It is the story which charms, and all the actors playing their parts do so wonderfully. The children playing the Pevensie children are all brilliant, but particular mention must go to Kate Meadows who shines as Lucy. I have rarely seen a performance so naturalistic and captivating in such a young actor.

It is through her that the audience are drawn into Narnia, and her meeting with Mr Tumnus the Faun (played by Wayne Stewart) is delightful. Their duet “Always Winter Now” is heartfelt and lovely.

Without giving away too much, the sets have four large wooden rectangular containers with doors, which are variously shifted round the stage. The back of some are painted with trees, while the one which functions as “The Wardrobe” has a lion’s face on it, and they all have doors which can be opened. Inside each is a small set to be drawn out – the wardrobe contains fur coats, of course, while another contains Mr Tumnus cave, complete with table, tea pot, cakes and chairs to be taken out. Inside another is the Beaver’s home, and inside another the White Witch’s Throne. This is a wonderfully ingenuous way of opening up the sets. It is a clever artifice of theatre which gives just enough of a hook to draw the audience's imagination in.

The other children – Mac Galvin as Edmund, Lily-Mae Fry as Susan, and Xander Meadows as Peter are also extremely good. Lily-Mae Fry is perhaps the hardest part, as Susan is the least realised of the characters in Narnia, but she plays her part well.

Edmund of course is a plum role, as he has run the full gamut from being sneaky and lying about Narnia to a full blown traitor, and yet part of his story is also redemption and sorrow and mending broken relationships with his siblings. Mac Galvin does this very well.

Peter’s part is more heroic and also a more physical role, and Xander Meadows plays the part well. The battle with the wolf – Peter Jones as Maugrim in a rasping scenery chewing role – is well choreographed and looks natural.

Not quite so natural is Mr Beaver (played by Nick Carver) getting fish for the children to eat (I won't give away spoilers) and Mrs Beaver (Jenny McCarthy) to cook. It’s very funny though. Indeed the two have a wonderful comic rapport throughout, and “Swiggle Down the Lot” is a rousing musical hall style song.

A number of parts are doubled up – Peter Jones also doubles as Father Christmas – and while some of the doubling is easy to spot, this wasn’t. He turns in a completely different performance from the rasping and threatening Maugrim and had I not the benefit of the cast list, I would not have known it was him. His outfit as Father Christmas is interesting, with traditional red and white and hint of green, but drawing perhaps more on the Dutch roots of Sinter-Claus than the Americanised Coca-Cola image. “Christmas is here at last”, with Father Christmas and the company is very much a song for this season, highlighting that this is a play for the Christmas season.

At the heart of Narnia is Aslan, and in Jyothi Nayar we have Aslan played by a woman. Actually a female Aslan works very well, and the way she plays the part conveys both the strength of the Lion but also a kind of stranger otherness. This is not just any old lion, this lion is the true ruler of Narnia, in contrast to Jadis as the false Queen. There is real power in her performance.

The quest to find Aslan takes the children and the Beavers to the stone table, and others of the company join them there in the song “Come to the table”, which is replete with implicit overtones of Holy Communion, the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, for like an altar it is a stone table, where all are welcomed.

All who love living
come to the table.
All who love loving
come to the table.
All who love Aslan
come to the table.
There's plenty of room
At the table for all.

By contrast the White Witch and her creatures take Aslan when he has given his life for that of Edmund, so that the Deep Magic may not be broken, they sing “Come to the Carnival”, which is full of menace, and a direct counterpoint to the festivity of Aslan's table. This is a carnival of monsters, and it ends in Aslan's death.

Come to the Carnival
Come to the Feast
Come to the Taunting
Of the Royal Beast

Nicole Twinam excels as the White Witch, seductive in the song “Turkish Delight” as she enchants Edmund, and angry and powerful when she turns a woodland crowd to stone. And she manages just to hit the right note with her laugh, which sounds thoroughly evil.

The adaptation is an abbreviation of the book – how could it not be at around 1 hour 45 minutes? – but manages to capture all the right parts of the story, including the humour, present in the books but so sadly lacking in the movie. There are also nods to "The Magician's Nephew", mention of a painting of a winged horse flying across a landscape of hills and valleys, and Professor Kirke (one of several distinctive roles played by Hettie Duncan) mentioning his childhood friend from that story, Polly Plummer..

This is a play of great warmth, ending in the finale song “Long Live”, of which the final stanza is:

Long live the children
and the professor.
Long live adventures
and hearts so true.
Long live the music,
long live the magic
and long live the land
of Narnia too.

And at this point “Lucy” comes across the stage and gives a copy of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe to a little girl in the audience, and the rest of the cast come forward to shake hands with some of those in the first two rows and wish us happy Christmas. It was magic indeed.

Mrs Beaver and Mr Beaver

Monday, 11 December 2017

Election Line-Up

Election Line-Up

In a shock public announcement at the Constable’s Soiree at St Brelade, Constable Steve Pallett said that he would not be standing for re-election as Constable but would still seek to be engaged in local politics. The likelihood is that he would try for Senator. Who will stand for Constable? At least one candidate is almost certain but I won’t mention them by name until they declare themselves. It may be that the early announcement is to give time for other candidates to come forward.

John Refault is definitely retiring as Constable of St Peter. St Peter’s is very much a divided Parish between newcomers who have settled in the last 20 years or so, often in housing developments close to the Parish hall, and long standing families who resent them. A contested election is on the cards.

Will Kristina Moore remain as Deputy or try for Senator? Rumour has it that she might, as well as some other sitting Deputies. It is a truism that a Senator has no longer term of office, and no more votes in the house than a Deputy or Constable, but it is also extremely unlikely that a Chief Minister would be chosen from ether of the other ranks.

Ian Gorst has yet to decide whether he will stand again. This may depend on whether his amanuensis, Paul Routier is standing.

The JEP list of 22 September 2017 had the following sitting members intending to stand for the assembly, but as events have shown, evidently not necessarily in their current seats. It is possible that other may throw their hats in the Senatorial ring.

St John Constable Chris Taylor
St Mary Constable Juliette Gallichan
St Brelade Constable Steve Pallett
St Saviour Constable Sadie Rennard
Grouville Constable John Le Maistre

St Helier District 2 Deputy Sam Mézec
Grouville Deputy Carolyn Labey
St Helier District 1 Deputy Judy Martin
St Helier District 3/4 Deputy Richard Rondel
St Ouen Deputy Richard Renouf
St Helier District 3/4 Deputy Jackie Hilton
St Saviour District 1 Deputy Jeremy Maçon
St Mary Deputy David Johnson
St Brelade District 2 Deputy Graham Truscott
St Helier District 1 Deputy Russell Labey

Of the sitting Senators, Senator Ozouf is clearly vulnerable over the States Innovation fund, and the tardiness over repayment of expenses accrued by himself on his States credit card. According to Bailiwick Express, he was finally issued with an invoice by the States for up to £11,455, four months after he was first asked to repay the money, and only then promptly repaid the sums.  While technically he did nothing wrong, the Express noted that he paid no interest on the delayed payment. Rumour has it that he may be looking to take over Terry Macdonald’s seat in St Saviour if Terry retires, coming in as a Deputy.

Also in St Saviour, I would think that Louise Doublet is vulnerable because of her continual absence from the States - a look at her voting record or rather lack thereof - does not make pretty reading. Will Rob Duhamel try to come back? I think he could stand a chance.

Senator Andrew Green is clearly vulnerable over the hospital. First he went for the People's Park, then backed down, ruled out the Waterfront locations - it is rumoured after political pressure was put to drop those sites - and came up with a close to current site option whose scale on computer generated mock ups seem to bear little resemblance to the actual size, and asked for compulsory purchase of buildings before plans have been approved. And the decision to move catering off site far out to St Peter seems daft when the States must own property closer to hand. Given the post of Health Minister as a safe pair of hands, he is in desperate need of political life support.

Lyndon Farnham's track record has not been too brilliant. Rapped over his part in the States Innovation Fund, he has also failed dismally in managing to ensure that Condor provide a reliable service to the Channel Islands. He's very good at saying words to the effect that "this isn't good enough" but poor at doing anything about it - the electorate may decide likewise. His radio interview blaming Guernsey for no inter-island service and saying that the timetable was proceeding as plan when his Guernsey counterpart thinks otherwise suggests someone who has not forged good lines of communication with Guernsey.

Meanwhile Alan Maclean, in charge of the Island's finances, is managing to find extra money in the pot - as with the surprise increase in student grants. The Treasury Minister is always in the advantageous position of being able to effectively bribe the electorate, but has rather mismanaged hospital funding plans - first Ben Shenton, and now Philip Ozouf have both come up with better strategies. The failure to sort out hospital financing, highlighted by a letter from senior clinicians, highlights the fact that he has withdrawn and amended proposals, causing further delay in a badly needed project.

However he is one of those politicians who are naturally lucky, and have a smooth tongue, as evidenced by the fact that the electorate never seemed to take into account his £200,000 fantasy film grant, or for that matter locking the island in the current contract with Condor due to the haste in which the deal was signed off.

Having done well in Trinity in the last Senatorial bi-election – where he topped the Parish – Hugh Raymond may well return to topple Deputy Anne Pryke, whose Ministerial post has become increasingly a sinecure since the last election, with most of the old Housing Department staff transferred to Andium Homes and any administration done on an ad hoc basis by officials seconded from the Chief Minister’s Office.

It is not yet known whether Murray Norton will stand again in St Brelade No 1, but John Young is back on the Jersey scene, and may well contest that seat.

Deputy Eddie Noel is leaving the States, so it is again almost certain there will be a contest in St Lawrence.

There might also be a Constable’s election.  Constable Deidre Mezbourian is vulnerable over her handling of the extension to St Lawrence’s Church. St Lawrence Parishioners have invoked an old law to force a parish assembly and vote on the £80,000 plans to build a new toilet near the entrance of their 800-year old parish church. But she took legal advice and rejected holding an assembly. It is not a question of who is right here, it is a perception of being high-handed in her dealing with the matter that makes her vulnerable.

I hear reports that at least two other sitting Constables are vulnerable to being contested as they have upset Parishioners. Simon Crowcroft, with his recent windfall on rates, and agreement that the States pay rates, as well as an extension to Millennium Park, is sitting pretty. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Coming of Christmas – Part 2

I found a nice second hand book on Christmas Traditions from 1931 at the Guide Dogs for the Blind biggest book sale, and as Christmas approaches, thought it might be interesting to share it with my readers. Although it dates from 193, the author was well-informed and a good deal of his history, which is judicious on matters of ignorance, stands up well with modern scholarship.

The Coming of Christmas – Part 2
by William Muir Auld

In so far as devotional interest ranged back over the earthly life of Jesus, during the first two hundred years, it tended to stop short at His Baptism, as if the prescriptive Gospel were St. Mark, which begins the story of the Son of God at this point. The occurrence by the Jordan, with its wonderful accompaniments, was considered of supreme importance in the career of the Messiah and around it a feast grew up called Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ's glory, on January 6.

The origins of this festival are exceedingly obscure. It is first heard of in connection with certain Basilidian heretics in the second century; but by the fourth century it has found a place in the larger Church, "in the East, in Gaul and probably also in northern Italy." Owing to the extreme vagueness of the term Epiphany it is impossible to tell what its first significance may have been, or even all that entered into it at any time.

Some writers call attention to a mystery-religion celebration of the birth of the on from the Virgin Kore, which took place on the eve of January 5-6, and suggest that Epiphany may have been created by certain Gnostics as a kind of rival festival. But this, while alluring to the historical imagination, means little more than chasing the subject into an underworld of uncertainty with nothing better than analogical speculation to guide the footsteps.

That Epiphany stood related in some way to the Baptism of Jesus admits of no doubt. But why, it is natural to ask, should this particular experience have been singled out for preeminent recognition?

There is a reasonable answer to this question. In the early Church the belief was not uncommon that Christ was not born divine, but attained to that dignity and power when He was thirty years old, by virtue of the descent upon Him of the Holy Spirit at Baptism. To those who held these views Epiphany would be the annual commemoration of the deification, or the apotheosis, of Christ, when the voice from heaven said, "Thou art my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased," or as some old readings phrased it, "This day have I begotten Thee": in other words, the festival of His spiritual birthday.

But in the Churches of Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch, both Arian and Orthodox, at the beginning of the fourth century, it was quite definitely a joint commemoration of the Baptism of the Saviour and of His Birth in the flesh. In the Jerusalem Church it appears to have had mainly a Bethlehem significance. As far, then, as the East is concerned the Holy Nativity, or Christmas as we would now say, was first widely observed on January 6 in the festival called Epiphany, and, of course, in a manner distinctly spiritual and religious.

It would be interesting to know how matters fared in these respects with the Christians in Rome; but the whole situation is extremely cloudy. Some think that there December 25 was always the recognized date of the Saviour’s Birth, while others again do not.

Kirsopp Lake, who surveys the whole field with impartial critical skill, will only say: "It is certain that in the East January 6 was the feast of the Nativity, as well as that of the Baptism, and it is probable, though not quite so certain, that the same is true of the West."' The evidence is of that elusive sort which hardly permits of historians being positive either one way or the other.

At all events, some- where in the middle of the fourth century, a day, which may or may not be entirely new, destined to be famous thereafter as Christmas, namely December 25, was formally set aside by the Church in Rome for the observance of the physical Birth of Christ.

The festival may have been in existence as early as 336; "but farther back than that it cannot be traced."

Since by no stretch of imagination can the choice of the day be ascribed to a reliable tradition, why the Church fastened upon it raises an interesting subject; and many points of view are possible. Some have professed to see a well conceived ecclesiastical plan to supplant sooner or later January 1 by the Birthday of Christ as the beginning of the civil year.

This may be so; certainly the Church long fostered this ambition; though its efforts were never crowned with complete and permanent success. Doctrinal matters undoubtedly played their part. As theological thought attained greater clarity and definiteness the notion that Jesus became divine at His Baptism was regarded as heretical.

Other vagrant fancies required to be combated. By certain sects it was maintained that Jesus, as He appeared among men, was a mere phantasm and had never been born at all. The new festival served to counteract these irregularities of belief, first by emphasizing the Saviour’s actual Birth in the flesh; and second by asserting that His divinity, as well as His humanity, potentially at least, were as real in the manger as at any later period of His life and ministry. 

It is pleasant to think that the children were not without a share in the creation of Christmas. The practice of infant baptism had now become almost universal. This somewhat belated recognition of their place in the life and privileges of the Church found its appropriate counterpart in the festal celebration of their Lord.

But there were other reasons, doubtless, which led churchmen to set covetous eyes upon the day. The selection may be seen as a phase of the stern struggle of the Church with the enveloping paganism. According to the Roman calendar, inaugurated by Julius Caesar in 707 A.U.C., or 45 B.C., December 25 marked the winter solstice when the mighty parent of fertility, having reached its lowest point in the heavens, began again to rise over the world with renewed power and splendour. Among Romans this was known as the Brumalia, but what festive significance attached to it at first is not clear. 

Under the Empire, however, heathendom everywhere tended more and more to focus its devotion on the source of all light and life. Nor were the Emperors, particularly in the third century, slow to capitalize this tendency of thought in the interests of their ideas of absolutism in the state. "The great temple of the Sun," writes Samuel Dill, "which Aurelian, the son of a priestess of the deity, founded on the Campus Martius, with its high pontiffs and stately ritual, did honour not only to the great lord of the heavenly spheres, but to the monarch who was the august image of his power upon earth and who was endued with his special grace."

Under this Emperor (270-275), December 25, when the world annually hovering on the brink of darkness and desolation was saved by the resurgent sun, acquired a new significance. It was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. Aurelian had faithful successors in Diocletian, in Constantine the Great before his conversion to the religion of the Cross, and also in Julian, that ill-starred champion of solar paganism.

In themselves, however, the cult of the Sun and the worship of the Emperor were not supremely well suited to the needs of the common religious instinct. But what they lacked was amply supplied by Mithraism in its mystical doctrines, its meaningful rites, its ties of brotherhood and its promise of immortality. This strange Eastern faith, whose god Mithra was identified with the Unconquered Sun, long proved the most formidable rival of Christianity. Considering its rapid spread throughout the length and breadth of the Empire, and its strong appeal to the minds of intelligent men, the opinion has been hazarded that, "if the Christian Church had been stricken with some mortal weakness, Mithraism might have become the religion of the western world."

But Christ was destined to conquer Mithra; and the victory was to be complete, even to the appropriation of his birthday. Vicisti Galilee-thou hast conquered, O Galilean!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Moments of Transition

Inspired by feeling very cold, I had no idea where this poem was going when it began. Watch out for neighbours, near and far, who need your help.

Moments of Transition

The time of cold, of snow and ice:
Freezing wind grips lungs in vice;
But stars shone out, bright, clear,
Glittering, angelic, do not fear;
Cold comfort to those who toil
In winter snow, on hardened soil;
Shepherds on the cold hill side
Watch their flocks, and they abide,
As fast falls flakes upon the land;
Cold the grip of Grey King’s hand:
The old lane, the branches bare;
Light the candle, now to prayer,
Within the chapel, bare and cold,
And frosty winters seen of old:
Chanting at night, pray for dead,
And give us all our daily bread,
Lest we perish as leaves that fall;
Old lady wrapped in winter shawl,
Seeks warmth from flame and fire;
But only dying embers in the grate:
When morning comes, it is too late;
Moments of transition, passing by,
A final breath, a heartfelt sigh;
Alone, alone, no neighbour here:
No eye to see, no listening ear;
How sad to be alone and die,
As dawn is breaking over sky.

Friday, 8 December 2017

St Thomas' Fallen Women's Refuge

St Thomas' Fallen Women's Refuge

Registers: 1886- 1914

The term fallen woman was used to describe a woman who has "lost her innocence", and fallen from the grace of God. In 19th-century Britain especially, the meaning came to be closely associated with the loss or surrender of a woman's chastity outside of marriage.

The Jersey Care Inquiry highlights an organisation which has almost vanished from the historical record – the “St Thomas Fallen Woman’s Refuge”. They certainly called a spade a spade when deciding the name of that institution which immediately judges those who go there.

Tony Le Sueur, in his part of submission to the Inquiry on historical care homes in Jersey, notes that:

The only known provision that appears to have some relevance to the Inquiry may be the St Thomas' Fallen Woman's Refuge, which is believed to have existed at 20 La Chasse, St Helier. Very little is known of the origin or operation of this home.

The only records seen are two Admission Registers that were apparently located in 1989 in the basement when the property became a States of Jersey provision. The Admission Registers commence with an admission on October 25th 1886 and make clear that the residents were young, single, mothers with their babies, whom the Refuge sought to support whilst the mother determined whether to give up her child for adoption, as evidenced. Many were subsequently adopted.

The St Thomas' Fallen Woman's Refuge is believed to have become Elizabeth House in 1949 when it was taken over by the Elizabeth House Committee (a newly constituted 'Committee of the States') which had been formed by an Act of the States of Jersey on 18th October 1949. As far as can be established from records, its remit remained much the same as before.

When the inquiry examined Tony Le Sueur, a bit more detail is gleaned.

And then under "Other" you deal with the St Thomas' Fallen Women's Refuge and you say that very little is known of the origin or operation of this home, and you deal there with the two admissions registers that you have seen.

Q: If we could have up on screen please TLS6 {EE000044} Just going over the page -- it is not terribly easy to read on the screen. Are you able to help us please by reference to what's on the screen? We have the entry here, 1898; does this come actually from the admissions register itself?

A. It does.

Q. And presumably the name in the top left corner?

A. That's correct.

Q. Then on the right-hand side do you see there a description of the person involved?

A. Yes.

Q. Are you able to read that out for us? It isn't terribly clear on the screen.

A. It says: "An inebriate brought by ..." 2 I can't read that part. It speaks about the period in which she has been a widow, has been a cook. She 4 says she has acquired the habit of drinking while in Jersey.

Q. It may say "intoxication", but it isn't very clear, is it?

A. No.

Q. That is an entry in relation to an individual person –

A. Yes.

Q. -- and then do we see on the left October 1898: "Left the home, it is hoped to return to her relatives."

A. That's correct.

Q. In relation to the admissions register that you have seen, again is this a typical example or an atypical example?

A. I think it is unusual in that this is clearly an older lady in particular circumstances. A lot of the records that I have seen and that I had researched historically have been young women who were placed there to have a child and the support is with the child, and the reference to what happens at the end often references both the mother and the baby and very often they are separated and the baby is sent somewhere for adoption.

Q. And just for the record, what I should have asked you is on the top section we have the date 1898 and then we have the redacted name, the blacked out name, and just under that the letters "42". Is it your understanding that that was the age of the woman at the time?

A. Yes.

Q. Thank you.

A: On looking at the records, the admissions that would have come through St Thomas' Fallen Women's Refuge that later became Elizabeth House, the nature of those arrangements were that the Refuge and Elizabeth House helped the young mother to make a decision about whether she could look after her child and a lot of those children were regarded as illegitimate.

Unfortunately these bare bones are all we have about St Thomas' Fallen Women's Refuge. We don't know how it was founded, or who was in charge.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

The Lifeboat Saga: More Comments

The Lifeboat Saga: More Comments

According the ITV, "Jersey's newly formed independent lifeboat service say they could be up and running in as little as four weeks."

My friend Adam Gardiner has posed some rather good questions about the proposed Independent Lifeboat - see below. So far, it seems there is nothing substantial on the table. For the moment all we seem to have are talking-shop meetings and no concrete business plans. 

This blog is about raising awareness of issues which need to be considered if an Independent Lifeboat is to be feasible. It is not taking sides. It is setting out facts and asking questions.

Regarding finances, one would expect some kind of financial structure, such as a trust with trustees to be set up. Nothing seems to have been mentioned in any kind of detail about this, but it is surely a prerequisite before fund raising. Banks tend to be rather fussy about just opening up bank accounts nowadays and require proper due diligence to be completed first. 

The independent lifeboats in Southport come under the umbrella of management by the Southport Rescue Trust. There is mention that "a charity will be set up next month"  but no details at any meetings of its constitution.

Southport is a limited company, registered with the UK Charities Commission (Jersey has its own Commissioner) and files public accounts. The charity's trustees are also the directors for the purposes of company law. Has anyone looked into the detail for something similar for Jersey? Nothing has been reported so far as I can see.

Some mention has been made about chartering a boat, but that still leaves unresolved the matter of insurance (see below).

John Refault made the suggestion that the States could lease the existing boat, and it come under the umbrella of the Coastguard, being manned by the old crew. While that seems like a good suggestion, keeping the crew and RNLI at arm’s length, it fails to address the issue that part of the issues with Andy Hibbs arose from a dispute with the Coastguard and salvage. It also fails to address insurance, unless he proposes the States underwrites that, in which case some figures again would need to be forthcoming.

Minister Steve Luce has said: ‘Let me be very clear. The States are backing anybody who is prepared to come forward at the quickest possible moment with a lifeboat and a crew, the right kit and licences, everything that is required by the Harbourmaster.”

He has also said: “This will include regular inspections of equipment and vessels, and ensuring that all members of the crew have the required training. The rules that apply to the institution will equally apply to an independent boat. It’s not going to be possible in this day and age to just take a boat to sea and operate it without the proper training, without the proper checks and balances.”

So there would be a chain of command under the Harbourmaster who has, as he states, “the legal responsibility to coordinate search-and-rescue operations in Jersey’s territorial waters. “

Andy Hibbs, meanwhile, is on record as stating that: “We are sorry that it has come to this but it is not of our making. This was all started from one harbourmaster and his assistant.”

How then can John Refault’s suggestion come to fruition when there is not just a dispute between Andy Hibbs and the RNLI, but also with the Harbourmaster (according to Mr Hibbs)?

Meanwhile the RNLI has said that the former crew of the George Sullivan lifeboat would be "welcome" to return, if "collaborative working practices" are kept to.

It would be useful to have exactly what is meant by that spelt out in more detail, but clearly an olive branch is being waved.

An independent review is also something which is badly needed, as a lack of information and the conspiracy theories that engenders (as well as quite probably some clashes of personalities) needs to be addressed once and for one. For once, I find myself in agreement with Gino Risoli on the lack of transparency.

If small island communities become divided on issues, this can escalate very rapidly to a point where confrontation seems the only option. This is not good for Jersey.

Questions raised by Adam Gardiner


Who will be meeting the cost of the charter? Even a small boat let alone a specialist one, is not cheap to charter. I assume they also mean a dry charter (i.e. no crew or insurance provided) as they will crew and insure themselves – just as happens with aircraft. A dry charter will certainly reduce costs, but a boat of this kind would still run to £1,000’s per week, yet unlike an airplane it is not commercially operated and can therefore recover its charter cost.


So what about insurance? The boat is designed to go into high risk situations where not only the boat and crew is at risk, but also those it may be called upon to rescue – public liability indemnity. The premiums cannot be insignificant. Further, will any underwriter take on the risk of such a boat if it does not yet have a ‘home – a trust or other legal instrument?

Insurance is always specific to risk, that is what risk assessors do and underwriters count upon to protect their 'investment'. Therefore any insurance could not be some sort of global policy in this instance, but one specially drawn for the boat and its intended operations. One may even need to consider whether or not anyone may even want to underwrite the risk on a £2.5m vessel crewed by now unregulated volunteers whose purpose is to enter into hazardous situations.

The RNLI will however have a consolidated policy for all its boats and crews - another reason why they need to ensure all volunteer crews are trained and must comply with all RNLI regulations and standards. Apart from the Cister Lifeboat, ALL independent stations in the UK operate inshore RIBS which have lower insurance premiums.


Would it get permissions? Deployment would fall under the control of Coastguard, Harbourmaster and Ports of Jersey. It would also need to operate within their regulations and that of the law. Given that Andy Hibbs has castigated all three, there may be some difficulties in sorting out protocols for deploying a freelance service. There are also several side issues, like having access to SAR telecommunications (TETR) and other emergency services coms networks.

Stationing the Boat

Where would the boat be stationed? It has already been strongly advised that there are no readily available moorings in St. Helier harbour. That does not leave much in the way of alternatives. St. Aubin is tidal so that is out and St. Catherine’s doesn’t have a jetty – has a lifeboat anyway and too far out of St. Helier to affect an emergency launch. All other harbours are either tidal or too small. They may consider a beach launch but that would require planning consent and more. This would need to be resolved.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

A Century in Advertising - Part 11

A Century in Advertising - Part 11

My look at some of the advertisements and products of yesteryear. Some weird and whacky, some surprisingly still around today. Here are their stories.

1930 - PEP Vitamins

Pep was a brand of whole-wheat breakfast cereal produced by the Kellogg Company, and introduced in 1923. Pep was a long-running rival to Wheaties, and also the sponsor of Mutual Radio's The Adventures of Superman radio series. One of Pep's advertising slogans was "the Sunshine cereal".

The blogger Zim has this to say about the advert:

Often listed under “Sexist Ads of the Past,” this 1930s Kellogg’s PEP cereal advertisement sure does speak about time in which it was created. In 1938, the Kellogg’s Company introduced several new innovations including Kellogg’s PEP cereal. According to Kellogg’s, PEP was the “first cereal fortified with vitamins B and D through the ‘spray’ method, marking the beginning of the cereal industry’s food fortification processes.”

The two-part advertisement features a husband and wife who are depicted in a photograph and a smaller cartoon. The larger photograph shows the husband dressed in suit as if just returning from work. The women, clothed in traditional housewife attire (dress, heels, apron and feather duster), is embraced by her husband as he exclaims, “So the harder a wife works, the cuter she looks!”

1931 - Milky Way

The Milky Way bar is a chocolate-covered candy bar manufactured and distributed by the Mars confectionery company. The American version of the Milky Way bar is made of chocolate-malt nougat topped with caramel and covered with milk chocolate and sold as the Mars bar everywhere else.

Jeff Wells has this to say on the product:

It isn’t named after our galaxy!

The Milky Way bar is actually named after malted milk, a popular drink around the time it was first released, in 1923. Started as an infant formula in the late 1800s, malted milk was prized for its taste and reputed health qualities, and became a key ingredient in the malted milkshake, or “malt.” Eager to capitalize on its popularity, Milky Way’s early ads claimed the candy bar had “more malted milk content than a soda fountain double malted milk!”

To produce a giant candy bar for cheap, Mars filled his Milky Way with mostly nougat, which was (and pretty much still is) just eggs, sugar, and air. Over time, the company added in more caramel, and today Milky Way’s gooey, stringy caramel filling is a major selling point.

1932 - Filmo

Filmo is a series of 16-mm and 8-mm movie equipment made by the Bell & Howell Company. The line included cameras, projectors and accessories.

The Filmo camera series started with the 1923 Filmo 70, beginning a series of models built on the same basic body that was to continued for more than half a century. It was based on Bell & Howell's brilliantly designed 1917 prototype for a 17.5mm camera intended for amateur use.

All models had spring driven motors that had to be wound up using a crank or large key attached to the side. A fully wound camera would allow one to shoot for 35 to 40 seconds at 24fps

By 1983, Bell & Howell would be out of the photographic business entirely. The Filmo product line would be purchased by Alan Gordon Enterprises, one of the foremost dealers for the camera and moved to California.


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Is Jersey Law a Gold Mine?

There is an expression that “the law is an ass”, but reading the recent JEP front page article, it would seem more that the law is a gold mine!

The report says that:

“ISLANDERS need far greater protection from lawyers charging extortionate fees, according to a legal costs expert who discovered that a Jersey advocate was charging £1,015 an hour.”

The advocate in question is not mentioned by name, which is as it should be, as it would be a breach of privacy were he or she to be named, but they seem remarkably reticent in coming forward to say who they are. I imagine there will be quote a lot of speculation, especially among law firms, as to who it might be.

The JEP also has this to note:

“The JEP has been shown a copy of the bill in question, which clearly shows that the hourly figure charged was £1,015.16 – or £17 a minute. “

It also reports that:

“Neville Benbow, the chief executive of the Jersey Law Society, said that clients could ask for the charges to be examined by an independent review board, but that third parties did not need to be engaged for a review to take place. He added that suggestions that law firms charged more than £1,000 an hour was ‘totally incorrect’.”

Clearly, Mr Benbow needs to find out the facts before he makes statements using phrases such as “totally incorrect”.

The JEP actually shows part of the invoice which confirms that their story is correct. It really does not do much for the credibility the Jersey Law Society much good if their Chief Executive makes statements which are soundly contradicted by documented evidence.

It is worth looking further afield. The Guardian in February 2016 noted that:

“Partners at top City law firms are charging clients more than £1,000 an hour, according to a Conservative thinktank which condemns fee rises for restricting access to justice. ‘The hourly rates for a partner at a top London firm now exceed £1,000 – the highest level ever recorded,’ the CPS [Centre for Policy Studies] report states. ‘In nominal terms the top City of London law firms charge almost the same amount per hour as their American legal cousins except that the UK firms charge their clients in sterling.’

It goes on to add that: “Those seeking to comply with UK legal procedure are forced to pay extremely high costs to do so – high enough to restrict access to law, particularly for smaller business clients for whom bills can be prohibitive.”

It comes perhaps as no surprise that Jim Diamond is the author of the CPS report. What is interesting, but not reported are some of the explanations he considers:

“The primary cause of the escalation in rates can be attributed to the increasing complexity of the UK tax and legal systems. The Hong Kong tax code, for example, widely considered the most effective in the world, is 276 pages long. The British tax code, which has more than trebled in size since 1997, is currently over 22,000 pages long.”

Then he considers transparency over costs:

“The lack of transparency on legal costs allows top law firms virtual control over their prices. Transparent pricing is vital for a marketplace to function fairly and efficiently. Yet it does not exist within the market for UK commercial law. Average hourly rates for commercial legal services are not published online.”

“Transparent pricing is vital for a marketplace to function fairly and efficiently. Yet it does not exist within the market for top commercial law firms. Average hourly rates for law firms are not published online (although smaller English legal practices do often publish their hourly rates).”

And lastly, he suggests that the basis of hourly costs is a system which rewards inefficiency:

“Hourly rates are inefficient, opaque and encourage inefficiency. Other top corporate industry charges by results, not hour.”

The report also shows that hourly rates for partners at leading commercial law firms have risen in real terms from a high point in £598 in 2003 to at least £775 an hour in 2016, with with some lawyers – the real outliers - charging £1,000 an hour

And this brings us to the nub of the issue. We have no idea what rates different legal practices charge, and without that, we cannot see what the average charge is, or whether the charges are skewed by some very high charging lawyers, and a median might be a better measure of spread.

That is something which is the case both in London, as in the 2016 report, and in the recent Jersey report. The lack of transparency means we do not know what the usual fee that you and I might expect to pay, or for that matter if any matters, such as making a will, come in at fixed costs.

The Jersey Law Society itself says:

“In Jersey, there is no fee schedule for legal services, and the Law Society of Jersey has no authority to control what lawyers charge.”

From Neil Benbow’s rather ill-advised remarks – it is always better not to make statements without checking the evidence giving rise to a news story – it is certainly likely that the rate in question is something of an outlier since he was not aware of it.

I’ve made a cursory glance at different websites, and some are more transparent that others. Some do not provide charge out rates, while others do.

Le Gallais and Luce, for example has hourly rates:

Partner/Consultant: £375.00 (non Court), £400.00 (Court)
Senior Associate £310.00 (non Court) £320.00 (Court)
Associate £275.00 (non Court) £300.00 (Court)
Legal Assistant £180.00 (non Court) £230.00 (Court)
Secretary £125.00 (non Court)

That is a far cry from over £1,000 an hour!

As a different example, Mourant Ozannes doesn’t have any schedules of costs but states that:

“At Mourant Ozannes we know how important it is to keep the costs of moving under control. We offer the opportunity for clients to meet with us free of charge for an initial consultation to discuss what is involved in the transaction and to provide a preliminary indication as to costs and things to look out for. We also provide a draft statement at the outset of the transaction clearly setting out these costs in order to ensure that there are no nasty shocks along the way. This is just one example of our commitment to keeping clients fully appraised at all times, whether in relation to fees or the progress of the transaction generally.”

It is certainly clear that the figure of £1,015 an hour, while it makes a good story – lawyers are not the most beloved of professionals, and Dante puts a good many in Hell – and invites anger – is actually rather meaningless, as it is so devoid of context. Is it a wild outlier or close to the median? In the absence of more facts, there is no way to tell.

It just goes to show that it is not wise to take headlines at face value.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Update on Temporary Building at Beauport

April 2016

December 2017

In April 2016, I posted a piece on my blog about these buildings, and was effectively told in a rather forceful email that it was misleading, and to take it down. Instead, I changed it to reflect the new information, which was that the structures on the headland of Beauport were "temporary site sheds built on scaffolding" being used for restoration work.

I would be interested in knowing anything more about what is happening, because the scaffolding surrounding them seems to have been removed, and they are still there, appearing to be much more permanent. 

Some details on the restoration work would be very useful, and why these structures are still there, and if I can get anything official, or anyone else knows anything, I'll post up a follow up. This is just highlighting the matter that I need more information, and I am not making any suppositions, so it doesn't need any strident emails.

In the meantime, below is my original piece, and above are photos taken in April 2016 and December 2017, so that readers can see for themselves what it looks like. I think more information is in the public interest, as it is clearly visible across Beauport Bay.

Posting from April 2016

I originally posted this as "unplanned building at Beauport", mainly because there was a planning application (see details below) which was withdrawn.

I've since been informed that " the buildings are temporary site sheds built on scaffolding" and are there for restoration work on existing buildings. This is from a trustworthy source, and I apologise for the mistake, which was made mainly because there did not seem to be any public details of that restoration, and to the distant eye, it does look like some kind of development.

I'm leaving the photos up, so that anyone who also thinks there is a development taking place, will be able to read that there is not, and what is really happening. It is good that the new owner is undertaking restoration work.

In fact, Chris on Facebook says:

"This was reply from planning ..... Just checked it out with Historic Environment Team and Compliance. It is just for a site cabin as one of the buildings are being restored. The application was withdrawn so nothing approved. They've had daily checks from our team so we're comfortable everything is within the rules."

The original story in the JEP can be read here:

Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Coming of Christmas – Part 1

Dionysius Exiguus

I found a nice second hand book on Christmas Traditions from 1931 at the Guide Dogs for the Blind biggest book sale, and as Christmas approaches, thought it might be interesting to share it with my readers. Although it dates from 193, the author was well-informed and a good deal of his history, which is judicious on matters of ignorance, stands up well with modern scholarship.

The Coming of Christmas – Part 1
by William Muir Auld

Christmas as almost everyone knows is the annual festival of the Birth of Jesus Christ the Founder of Christianity; but not so many are aware that the traditional date of this important event, 1 A.D., stands greatly in need of correction.

The mode of reckoning time "by the year of our Lord," now well-nigh universal in the modern world, was originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus, who lived in Rome during the first half of the sixth century. Before his day, and until the new system of chronology won general acceptance, happenings were recorded in various ways. Some Church historians took the birth of Abraham as a convenient starting point; others, more commonly those in the West, computed from the founding of the City of Rome (ab urbe condita or anno urbis condite), usually designated by the initial letters A.U.C.

Dionysius made his New Era to begin on the first day of January in the seven hundred fifty-third year from the building of Rome; because in that year he supposed Christ to have been born. Whenever in his writings he desired to indicate the number of years which had elapsed since the Advent of the Saviour he employed the phrase Anno Domini; and through him it became current.

His calculations were adopted with little or no inquiry until the sixteenth century. Since then they have been shown to be wrong by several years. It has proved, however, much easier to detect the error of the learned monk than to correct it; for there is no certain way of arriving at the truth. The Gospels afford practically no decisive assistance.

The most useful hint occurs in St. Matthew where it is stated that "Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King." According to the best authorities this monarch died a short time before the Jewish Passover 750 A.U.C.

It will be evident at once that Dionysius in assigning the Birth of Christ to 753 A.U.C. placed it at least three years too late. Following the slender suggestion of the sacred Evangelist it ought to antedate the death of Herod; but to what point anterior to that occurrence it should be carried no one can say. Some are disposed to place the Nativity of Christ within the years 748 and 747 A.U.C., that is 5 and 6 B.C.; though others are led by their investigations as far back as 8 B.C.

A similar uncertainty exists in regard to the season of the year to which the epoch-making Birth belongs. In the early Church this provided a fascinating subject for the ingenious mind. Unfettered by any authentic tradition speculation assumed the most fantastic forms. Working with an abstract plan of the ages writers strove to show when they thought the Saviour of the world ought to have been born, striking often a peculiar preference for the twenty-fifth day, though not always agreeing in their choice of a month.

But, as has often been pointed out, there is no month in the calendar to which even "respectable authorities" at one time and another have not been disposed to refer the sacred Birth. The world will never know when that Babe first opened His eyes, whether in the radiant morn of spring, the meridian splendour of summer, the evening glory of autumn, or the bleak midnight of winter. It may be true that Rome would not order a census to be taken, as the Gospels suggest, at the worst possible period for travel, and perhaps truer still that the incident of the shepherds watching over their flocks by night on the plains of Bethlehem calls for a milder time than the inclement month of December; yet immemorial tradition has now irrevocably rooted the Holy Nativity, and with singular propriety, in the heart of the cold, dark season of the year.

As John Milton wrote, so the world is content to think:

It was the winter wild,
While the heaven-born child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies.

It is interesting to observe that the process of festival creation in the Christian Church, which dates almost from its inception, began at the end of Christ's life and ministry and slowly worked back to the beginning; so that an observance of His Nativity was comparatively late in making its appearance.

As for the first believers they had not the slightest interest in anything of the kind. They looked forward and upward, seldom, if ever, backward. For them the past contained no treasure that the present did not hold in far richer degree; and the future was bright with all-engrossing promise. Hope in the Lord's imminent return from heaven in great power and glory was the flame that fired their devotion, especially when wrapt away from the world in hours of secret fellowship.

At such times, when concordant hearts yearned for the grand denouement, all retrospect was precluded, and even a song of Bethlehem, had it been thought of, would have struck a jarring note.

The thrill of anticipation found more natural expression in impatient invitatories flung by eager voices toward the dark and silent sky: Let Grace come and let the world pass away!
Hosanna to the God of David, Marana that Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!

Even in much later times when Christians learned to look back as well as forward, and began to estimate aright the historic treasures of the Son of Man, they had small concern in a Nativity Festival.

While profoundly interested in the Man Christ Jesus, their thought and affection did not as yet include the Child Jesus. Though speculation might run high concerning the Natal Day of the Saviour, that did not mean any deep human appreciation of the Birth in the stable at Bethlehem, nor any great desire to feast it. In fact the very idea of such a celebration appeared to many highly repugnant. It looked too much like regarding their divine Redeemer after the manner of an earthly potentate.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

December Days

December Days

Cold as ice, the North Wind blows
Like a knife, cuts through the land
On the heights, there will be snows
Chills the dog walkers on the sands

Jack Frost drawing on window pane
Blades of grass are crisp and white
Weather today: hail, sleet and rain
A pale moon in a freezing night

Snug beside a fire, crackling, warm
Hail battering down upon the tiles
Best keep inside, outside the storm
North wind brings a time of trials

December came so cold this year
The leafless trees are so austere

Friday, 1 December 2017

Jersey Our Island: The Years of Darkness – Part 3

Published in 1950, this is an interesting snapshot of the Island and its customs as it was in the immediate post-war period, and not without humour. Most guide books of the time give the tourist information, or give the impressions of an outsider to the Island, but this is in "inside view", which is rarer.

Jersey Our Island: The Years of Darkness – Part 3
by Sidney Bisson

The food situation was fortunately no worse than the previous winter. More British planes were seen around the coasts. The Germans were concentrating on defence works and exercises, as if they expected an invasion. `After Africa, Europe,' was the watchword as winter gave way to spring. Europe it was, but not till the following July, and then only Sicily. Italy was a long way from Jersey, and yet another winter had to be faced with less food and no coal. There was no appreciable change in the issue of rationed foodstuffs, but `extras' were scarcer and dearer, and black market prices beyond the reach of the average income.

The weekly ration at this period was 31 pints of milk, 41 1b. of bread, 5 lb. of potatoes, 6 oz. of breakfast meal, 4 oz. of meat, 3 oz. of sugar, 2 oz. of butter, and 2 oz. of salt. Except for butter and meat, which were more plentiful in 1940, these figures had remained fairly constant since the beginning of the occupation. There had been no tea since November, 1941. There was no cheese, bacon, jam, soap, flour, or cooking fats.. Nor were there any goods available on `points.' Practically all the housewife could buy to supplement her rations, unless she dealt in the black market, was vegetables. And even those were often under the counter. When anything else was available, it was usually distributed as an addition to the weekly ration. Here are some samples of additional rations issued in the winter of 1943. They do not amount to much.

Oct. 11: 100 saccharine tablets; 4 oz. margarine; matches.

Oct. 18: 8 oz. macaroni.

Oct. 25: 1 tablet toilet soap.

Nov. 1: Nothing.

Nov. 8: 1 piece of household soap.

Nov. 15: 3 oz. cheese; matches.

Nov. 22: 8 oz. ersatz coffee.

Nov. 29: 8 oz. macaroni.

Coal was issued again in December. One hundredweight for each household, to be followed by two hundredweight in January and February. The wood ration averaged a little over a hundred- weight a month. Gas was cut off for a portion of each day. The consumption of electricity was limited to four units a week. In spite of these hardships, accentuated by an unusually cold February, optimism was greater than at any time during the occupation.

As the days lengthened, more and more allied aircraft were seen flying over the island. The sounds of heavy bombing were heard from the French coast. The Germans tightened up the Curfew regulations and held large-scale anti- invasion manoeuvres. Even the German war commentaries published in the local press admitted that the allied invasion was imminent and discussed when and where it would take place. Was it a coincidence that a local dramatic society timed its production of Dangerous Corner to start on June 5th

The next morning it was obvious that something unusual was afoot. Planes passed continually over the island and the German A.A. defences went into action. Troops appeared in the streets in battle order. Public utility concerns were guarded, telephone exchanges taken over. It was a great day for the owners of hidden wireless sets, who took every opportunity to spread the news that everyone had waited so long to hear. But the Germans made no attempt to disguise the situation. That evening's paper carried a proclamation, in English and German, announcing that `Germany's enemy is on the point of attacking French soil,' and gave a report of the fighting in Normandy.

Excitement grew as the allies approached Carteret, which is only fifteen miles from Jersey. Allied planes and naval units scoured local waters for German E-boats and supply barges, which had a habit of sheltering there. A number were sunk or damaged. At night fires could be seen along the French coast. The thunder of explosions shook the houses.

Yet beneath all the excitement and anticipation of relief ran an undercurrent of apprehension. Supplies from France were virtually cut off, and the Germans seemed determined to defend the island if it were attacked. The civilian population received instructions on what to do if fighting spread to the island. Civilian first-aid posts were established, arrangements were made for billeting those whose homes might be destroyed, an emergency ration was issued in case the normal distribution system broke down.

With the fall of St. Malo the noise of battle died away. Fighting had spread to Belgium and Holland. The population relaxed in an uneasy calm a calm that could only have one meaning, too terrible to speculate upon. They were like the airman stranded in the desert who has watched the relief planes circle ever nearer and nearer to him, then, when it seemed inevitable that they should see him, give up the search and fly away. And another winter was approaching.

Already at the beginning of September the Gas Company had exhausted its stock of coal, and the supply of gas had to be discontinued. Bakers' ovens, fed with wood, were turned into communal cookers. To cook at home one used a mixture of tar and sawdust. The minute rations of sugar and salt ceased in November. After January there was no more butter. Electricity, already restricted to 21 units a week for each household, was cut off altogether. The bread ration was reduced to two pounds until the middle of February when the supply of flour gave out. Seven ounces of breakfast meal (consisting mainly of oat and barley f l our) and ten pounds of potatoes a week kept the islanders from starvation that and the Red Cross parcels.

All through the autumn negotiations had been proceeding through the German authorities and the Protecting Power for the supply of essential commodities to the civilian population. In November the Germans announced that the negotiations had been successful, but it was not until December 31st that the Vega arrived from Lisbon with a cargo of Red Cross parcels, similar to those distributed to prisoners of war in Germany. Their value was more than dietetic. From that day hope revived. The bitterness born of despair was gradually to fade. Even in the dark breadless weeks of February and March there was comfort in the thought that the Vega would return with a cargo of flour. In the flush of victorious progress the islands had not been forgotten.

Those stories about allied leaders studying a map at the Peace Conference and suddenly remembering that the Channel Island: had never been relieved lost all their point. And if the end was not clearly in sight (for the Germans still claimed that their V weapons would stem the flood), help encouraged hope of deliverance.

The end was curious. V.E. Day was celebrated under the nose of the Germans, for the formal surrender of the island and arrival of British troops did not take place till the following morning. Great crowds assembled to hear the Prime Minister's speech from loudspeakers that had been hurriedly erected in the streets of the town. When it was over Union jacks were hoisted from the public buildings and the crowds sang `God Save the King.' The Germans, still nominally in charge, looked sadly on.

That night a Jerseyman who had heard Mr. Churchill announce our dear Channel Islands will be freed today' walked out of his house just before midnight to see if there was any sign of British warships in the bay. There was nothing but darkness and the sea. As lie retraced his steps he became aware that someone was following him. Thinking it was a neighbour who had had the same idea as himself, lie waited at his gate to exchange a greeting. The footsteps stopped.

No doubt some night prowler up to no good. He went in and bolted the door. A few minutes later there was a knock. A call at that time of night could only mean one thing Gestapo. Instinctively he grabbed his wireless set to push it back under the floorboard where it had lived these last three years. Then lie stopped. Had not Mr. Churchill said that lie would be free today? And that was already yesterday. To hell with the Gestapo.

He picked up a candle and went to the door. In the flickering light he could make out the uniform of a German officer. There was something in his hand that looked like a revolver. He took a step back. The German came in and shut the door. Then the light steadied to reveal that he was holding out not a revolver but a fine pair of binoculars. In excellent English he offered to exchange them for a cigarette.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

40 years of Voyaging - Part 3

This is my last look at the Voyager Program, probably the most ambitious of its kind. Other probes have been sent to explore the solar system, but none has had the vast scope of the Voyagers in its wide-ranging travels.

The Voyager Program was similar to the Planetary Grand Tour planned during the late 1960s and early 70s. The Grand Tour would take advantage of an alignment of the outer planets discovered by Gary Flandro, an aerospace engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This alignment, which occurs once every 175 years, would occur in the late 1970s and make it possible to use gravitational assists to explore Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Limited funding ended the Grand Tour program, but elements were incorporated into the Voyager Program, which fulfilled many of the flyby objectives of the Grand Tour except a visit to Pluto.

Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers

Carl Sagan insisted that Voyager 1 turn its camera toward Earth registering the smallness of our world against the vastness of space, the "pale blue dot" picture. Sagan's eloquent lines, as he reflected upon our planet -"everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives ... on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."

As for the future, it is expected that in the year 40,272 AD, Voyager 1 will come within 1.7 light years of an obscure star in the constellation Ursa Minor (the Little Bear or Little Dipper). 

And in about 40,000 years, Voyager 2 will come within about 1.7 light years of a star called Ross 248, a small star in the constellation of Andromeda.

And finally, Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist, California Institute of Technology, holds a model of NASA’s Voyager spacecraft during a news conference to discuss the Voyager 1 spacecraft officially venturing into interstellar space. Now 81, in 1972,  he became project scientist for the planet-hopping Voyager mission.