Tuesday, 28 February 2017

And so to bed...

I finish each night with a quote on Facebook, and for those who have missed them, here are some recent picks. My rules for choosing them are that they must be short, but not one-liners, and must say something inspiring and joyful, or reflecting the sorrow and pain of the world.

Mainly I choose them because I like them, and I hope you, gentle reader, will like them too. On the blog I've also taken the opportunity to add a few extra pictures of the writers themselves as I think it is rather nice to see the authors as well as their quotes.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Pope Francis:

No family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love.

The family circle is not only open to life by generating it within itself, but also by going forth and spreading life by caring for others and seeking their happiness.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from G.K. Chesterton:

There is one metaphor of which the moderns are very fond; they are always saying, "You can't put the clock back." The simple and obvious answer is "You can." A clock, being a piece of human construction, can be restored by the human finger to any figure or hour. In the same way society, being a piece of human construction, can be reconstructed upon any plan that has ever existed.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Marcus Aurelius:

Do not act as if you had ten thousand years to throw away. Death stands at your elbow. Be good for something while you live and it is in your power.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Carl Sandburg:

I AM the mist, the impalpable mist,
Back of the thing you seek.
My arms are long,
Long as the reach of time and space.
Some toil and toil, believing,
Looking now and again on my face,
Catching a vital, olden glory.
But no one passes me,
I tangle and snare them all.
I am the cause of the Sphinx,
The voiceless, baffled, patient Sphinx.
I was at the first of things,
I will be at the last.
I am the primal mist
And no man passes me;
My long impalpable arms
Bar them all.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Karl Popper:

The history of science, like the history of all human ideas, is a history of irresponsible dreams, of obstinacy, and of error. But science is one of the very few human activities—perhaps the only one — in which errors are systematically criticized and fairly often, in time, corrected. This is why we can say that, in science, we often learn from our mistakes, and why we can speak clearly and sensibly about making progress there.

And so to bed... quote for today is from A.A. Milne:

Christopher Robin is saying his prayers,
"God bless Mummy, I know that's right,
And wasn't it fun in the bath tonight,
The cold's so cold and the hot's so hot.
God bless Daddy, I quite forgot.
Thank you God, for a lovely day,
And what was the other I wanted to say?
I said, 'Bless Daddy', so what could it be?
Now I remember: God bless me".

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from G.K. Chesterton:

Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, "Mr. Wilkinson Still Safe," or "Mr. Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet." They cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complex picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual. However democratic they may be, they are only concerned with the minority.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from George Macdonald:

I have only one foot, but thousands of toes;
My one foot stands, but never goes.
I have many arms, and they’re mighty all;
And hundreds of fingers, large and small.
From the ends of my fingers my beauty grows.
I breathe with my hair, and I drink with my toes.
I grow bigger and bigger about the waist,
And yet I am always very tight laced.
None e’er saw me eat—I’ve no mouth to bite;
Yet I eat all day in the full sunlight.
In the summer with song I shake and quiver,
But in winter I fast and groan and shiver.

And so to bed... quote for tonight comes from Tennyson:

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Rainbow of the Year

From "The Pilot", 1967, I found this rather nice poem by Catherine Giles. If anyone knows anything about her, I'd be most interested to know. I believe she was the wife of Alan Giles, Dean of Jersey from 1959 to 1971.

The Rainbow of the Year
Catherine Giles, Feb 1967

January was white
     The sombre snow-clouds drifting o'er our
Melted. at touch of some magician's wand.
     And in a moment all the air was filled
With myriad flakes, as light as gossamer,
     And white as feathers from an angel's wings.
Beneath the microscope's all-seeing eve
     Each tiny flake resealed within itself.
A fairyland where crystal flowers and stars
     Emerged in lacy gleaming symmetry
Of exquisite design. They floated, swirled
     From heaven in white profusion till the
Itself was as one vast snow-decked fairy land.
     Where root and road. and galley, field and
Were mantled all in white: where every wall
     And every tree's dark gown was ermine-
A strange white hush embraced the sleeping
But. e'er she woke from her soft bosom
A small white flower, the first-born of the snow
     While on the prunus bough not yet in leaf.
White blossoms twinkled like the stars of
     Above a cold World.

          January was white.
But February is yellow. Now the sun:
     Sits higher in the trees. and shines less pale.
From o'er the Western hill a yellow light
     Streams earthward through the lengthening
The snow has `gone: now. from her leafy bed.
     The yellow aconite peeps. starry-eyed.
And Winter jasmine winks his yellow eyes
     Among the evergreens which climb the wall.
In garden borders. greedy sparrows drain
     The crocus goblets of their golden wine:
While. in the fields, the budding daffodils
     Shake out their frilly dresses, and unfold
Their yellow bonnets for another Spring.
          February is yellow.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Should Women become Priests?

The first woman ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion was Florence Li Tim-Oi, who was ordained on 25 January 1944 by Ronald Hall, Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong, in response to the crisis among Anglican Christians in China caused by the Japanese invasion. To avoid controversy, she resigned her licence (though not her priestly orders) after the end of the war. 

In 1975, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) passed enabling legislation for women priests; the first six women priests in the ACC were ordained on November 30, 1976. In 1977, the Anglican Church in New Zealand ordained five female priests. In 1980, the Anglican Church of Kenya agreed in principle that women could be ordained, and that each diocese was to be autonomous in taking up the issue. In 1990, Janet Catterall became the first woman ordained an Anglican priest in Ireland.

But it took until 1992 until the General Synod of the Church of England passed a vote to ordain women; however, it proved controversial. The Act of Synod, passed in 1993, along with further legislation, allowed parishes to not accept ordained women. In 1994 England's first two women priests were ordained. By 2004, one in five priests was a woman.

This article from “The Pilot” was written in 1967, and betrays attitudes that some had are in many ways very patronising towards women.

Even now, today, there are churches in Jersey, such as St Mary, which do not really accept the validity of women priests, and whose congregations have been known to voice that in no uncertain terms. The former Vicar of Gouray, Gavin Ashenden, did not regard women priests as true priest at all.

This has meant that while the Church of England has accepted female Bishops from 2014, and the Isle of Man has passed enabling legislation, Jersey’s Canon law has yet to be revised. It is now 2017, and part of the responsibility for this lack of progress must surely be placed at the door of the departing Dean, Bob Key. While he voted for the change in the English synod, no legislation in the table of legislation before the states regarding the necessary change in Canon law. One cannot help feeling he could have pushed harder.

Perhaps the advent of a new Dean, a new female Rector, and the departure of the hardliner Gavin Ashenden means something can now be done!

Should Women become Priests?
(The Pilot, 1967)

One of the most controversial debates at the coming session of the Church Assembly, which is due to be held from February 3th to 17th, is likely to be the discussion of the Archbishops' Commission's report on "Women and Holy Orders", which was published at the end of 1966. The commission itself made no recommendations on the question of whether women should be ordained to the priesthood, but supporters and opponents of feminine ordination will have full opportunity for airing their views in the Assembly.

As an introduction to the debate we might take a look at some of the arguments on either side mentioned in the report. In the first place it is interesting to note that there seems to be no fundamental theological objection to the ordination of women. Though it is evident that St Paul believed women to be subordinate to men, the report states that "the question whether women may be ordained to the Christian ministry is not one to which the New Testament gives a clear answer."

Those, however, who oppose the ordination of women, think that tradition is a vital factor, and that the exclusion of women from holy orders is part of the traditional nature of the Christian Church.

Other arguments against the ordination of \\omen are psychological and ecumenical. It is considered by some that the difference between the sexes make it inappropriate to have "women ministers, since a woman could hardly fulfil simultaneously her responsibilities as a parish priest and as a married woman. A further psychological point is that, rightly or wrongly, there is a great deal of prejudice against the idea of having women clergy, and some people denounce the suggestion as “disgusting'', "unthinkable" and "revolting''.

On the ecumenical side it is pointed out that only 48 of the 168 member-Churches of the World Council of Churches admit women to the full ministry, and it is argued that the admission of women to the priesthood in the Church of England would strain relationships with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Such arguments are rejected by those who would like to see women in holy orders. On the psychological side they claim that no reason can be put forward to exclude women from the exercise of priesthood solely because they are female, and that temperamentally women are as well fitted as men to be priests".

It is further claimed that the changes in women’s social circumstances in the twentieth century have removed the restrictions which made it impossible for women to be ordained in previous centuries, and that they are needed to renew the Church and fill the vacancies caused by the shortage of men clergy.

These are the opposing views, but a third attitude is also held. This is to the effect that, though there may be no conclusive theological or psychological reasons why women should not be ordained, the experiment is one which should not be made. Those who hold this view think that the ordination of women might set back the cause of Church union, that it would create needless controversy and that it would divert attention from more urgent problems in the Church's life. It is suggested that "to introduce so radical a change in the pattern of the Church's ministry would have far-reaching and unpredictable consequences".

This is a brief outline of some of the arguments and counter-arguments in "Women and Holy Orders", which is published by the Church Information Office, price 10s 6d. It can be seen that there is ample scope for a vigorous debate in the Church Assembly, and even if no conclusion is reached this month it should certainly help us all to make up our minds on the question of whether or not women should be ordained as priests.

Women's World Day of Prayer

The service for 1967 will take place in St Helier's Church at 2.45 p.m. on Friday. 10th February. It is hoped that as many women as possible, of all denominations, will be able to join in this united service of prayer and praise.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Storm Force

As Storm Doris sweeps the land, a look at storms and severe climate events. the unsettled weather we may have caused, and as the Greeks would see it, in our hubris brought down nemesis, the anger of the gods.

Storm Force

The storm swept across the land:
Heavy hail as cast by might hand;
It was the worst storm; the gods wrath
Laid waste the land in its fell path;
And lightning flashing, back and forth,
From south and sweeping to the North;
Anger of the gods destroys so much:
Reaching out to unmake with their touch,
Blowing away people like straw in wind,
Vengeance for the earth, they have sinned,
And despoiled the land and even the air,
And now like dust tossed, they despair;
Thunder tells out of the approaching storm:
Earth warms, rare event becomes the norm;
And it makes my heart beat wildly in the night:
Those strongest gales, ripping with their bite;
Storm winds from the south, cold from north:
The goddess Freya stretches icy hand forth;
And ships at sea are tossed in the great swell,
Till they fear shipwreck, so tolls the sailor’s bell;
I would hurry and find a shelter from this rage:
Across hill and plain, trees and dell, gods rampage;
But within the wind, the storm centre, calm:
The silent voice speaking gentle words of balm;
But the gods have come with fire upon the land,
From the coldest arctic down to desert sand;
For we have sown the wind, reaped the storm:
The storm riders come, winged in blazing form;
Anger is a furious wind, destroying all below:
The air is black with birds, the omen of the crow;
Comes the darkness of the night, a time of gloom:
Wind sweeps across the graveyard and the tomb;
Into the maelstrom, the ships are dragged down,
Into Poseidon’s depths, where seafarers drown;
Now from the wreckage, aftermath, take breath,
And help the wounded, mourn where death
Has reached out in the storm, and taken life;
With fiercest winds, and falling trees, it came:
We heal the land, but it will not be the same;
For the storm has left its wounds, its scars,
Above the broken roof, we see the stars.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Sister Peter

Digging in the records, I came across this nice piece relating to Sister Peter from the 1970s Catholic Herald:

Some of Sister Peter's admirers

Everyone in the parish will be delighted to know that news has been received that Sister Peter has now arrived and settled in at the mission in the Congo.

She left from Le Bourget Airport late on Thursday evening September 27.

Sister Sylvia Bartlett drove her to the airport and saw her off. She had a pleasant flight, but Sister Sylvia was not so lucky, as on her return journey to Amiens, she had a puncture and at fifteen minutes past midnight had to change the tyre on her own, by the light of a torch. Congratulations Sister on being so practical and resourceful, so many of us wouldn't have had a clue how to do it.

We now await news of Sister Peter with eagerness. It was also very gratifying to read in the Evening Post, that the children of Halkett Place Primary School do not intend to forget her and that they have already collected £17 to send her for the mission.

Sister Margaret Bartlett

Many of you who knew Sister Margaret Bartlett will be pleased to know that she is now at La Sainte Union Training College studying for her teaching diploma.

A few weeks ago she was out on teaching practice in a school in Southampton, when a little boy asked her where she came from. She replied `From the Training College'.

`Oh Miss', he said, `What sort of animals do you train there'? Enough said, teachers please note.

A Tribute to Annie Parmeter by Pat Lucas and Sister Peter

I came across Sister Peter because my late partner, Annie Parmeter was very supportive of the work they did in the Congo. This comes from part of the tribute paid to her from Pat Lucas and Sister Peter, and the latter was still supporting work in the Congo:

Even when Annie's health began to deteriorate and she could no longer be an active member of the team her concern for those in greatest need of help never wavered. This was borne out a couple of summers ago on a lovely warm day when Annie had come to see us and we were all enjoying a cake and a cuppa in the garden. The conversation was about the wonderful work which the French Order of Nuns which Sister Peter belongs to was doing in the Congo.

Annie was interested to learn that the African and French Sisters working with the poorest people in several African villages, urgently needed funds to provide clean drinking water, food and medical supplies for those people who turned to them for help. We told her that Sister Marie-Françoise, the newly appointed Superior General of the Order, would soon be going over to the Congo herself to encourage, help and ensure the safe delivery of essential supplies.

Sister Peter explained that sick and dying people including pregnant women often walked for miles to get help from the Sisters. En route they sometimes lost a lot of blood. The great problem was that every bag of blood for transfusion cost approximately £3.50 - a sum of money way beyond the reach of the poorest. For this reason the Sisters were doing their best to raise enough money to buy the blood supplies themselves in order to be able to treat their very sick patients.

Annie was ready to help. That's Annie! Anyone who knew her will recognise the warmth and kindness which prompted her immediate response. A generous donation was made to Sister Peter there and then on the spot. Thank you Annie. We won't forget what you did.

Last Summer when Sister Marie-Françoise came to Jersey she was welcomed by Annie in her home. Sister Marie-Françoise was pleased to be able to thank Annie personally for her kindness. She'd even brought photos of the people of the Congo and the work the Sisters are doing there.

News from Jean Anderson

My final piece is from Jean Anderson, after Sister Peter had just died:

Sad news is always hard to give but we knew that you would want to hear from us straight away that Sister Peter died at 1o'clock this afternoon, Saturday. Her family were around her and we now know that she is out of her pain after a very difficult two weeks following her massive stroke. So many of you phoned asking about her and she was so touched to receive your kind wishes.

It is impossible to say how much Sister Peter has meant to so many people during the course of her life especially to those in greatest need.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Migrants Don’t Need Smart Phones

CNBC reports: "As thousands of refugees and migrants move across Europe, many are making use of technology in order to make their journey safer and share life-or-death information."

I'd recommend reading this about how smart phones can be a real survival kit.

In the meantime, this was sent to me by email, and I think it is worth sharing. 

Migrants Don’t Need Smart Phones

You’re 29 years old with a wife, two children and a job. You have enough money, and can afford a few nice things, and you live in a small house in the city.

Suddenly the political situation in your country changes and a few months later soldiers are gathered in front of your house. And in front of your neighbours’ houses.

They say that if you don’t fight for them, they will shoot you.

Your neighbour refuses.

One shot. That’s it.

You overhear one of the soldiers telling your wife to spread her legs.

Somehow you get rid of the soldiers and spend the night deep in thought.

Suddenly you hear an explosion. Your house no longer has a living room.

You run outside and see that the whole street is destroyed.

Nothing is left standing.

You take your family back into the house, and then you run to your parents' house.

It is no longer there. Nor are your parents.

You look around and find an arm with your Mother’s ring on its finger. You can’t find any other sign of your parents.

"But asylum seekers have so many luxury goods! Smartphones, and designer clothes!"

You immediately forget it. You rush home, and tell your wife to get the children dressed. You grab a small bag, because anything bigger will be impossible to carry for a long time, and in it you pack essentials. Only 2 pieces of clothing each can fit in the bag.

What do you take?

You will probably never see your home country again.

Not your family, not your neighbours, your workmates…

But how can you stay in contact?

You hastily throw your smartphone and the charger in the bag.

Along with the few clothes, some bread and your small daughters favourite teddy.

"They can easily afford to get away. They aren’t poor!"

Because you could see the emergency coming, you have already scraped all your money together.

You managed to save some money because of your well paid job.

The kind people smuggler in the neighbourhood charges 5,000 euros per person.

You have 15,000 euros. With a bit of luck, you’ll all be able to go. If not, you will have to let your wife go.

You love her and pray that you the smugglers will take you all.

By now you are totally wiped out and have nothing else. Just your family and the bag.

The journey to the border takes two weeks on foot.

You are hungry and for the last week have barely eaten. You are weak, as is your wife. But at least the children have enough.

They have cried for the whole 2 weeks.

Half the time you have to carry your younger daughter. She is only 21 months old.

A further 2 weeks and you arrive at the sea.

In the middle of the night you’re loaded onto a ship with other refugees.

You are lucky: your whole family can travel.

The ship is so full that it threatens to capsize. You pray that you don’t drown.

The people around you are crying and screaming.

A few small children have died of thirst.

The smugglers throw them overboard.

Your wife sits, vacantly, in a corner. She hasn’t had anything to drink for 2 days.

When the coast is in sight, you are loaded onto small boats.

Your wife and the younger child are on one, you and your older child are on another.

You are warned to stay silent so that nobody knows you’re there.

Your older daughter understands.

But your younger one in the other boat doesn’t. She doesn’t stop crying.

The other refugees are getting nervous. They demand that your wife keeps the child quiet.

She doesn’t manage it.

One of the men grabs your daughter, rips her away from your wife and throws her overboard.

You jump in after her, but you can’t find her again.

Never again.

In 3 months she would have turned 2 years old.

“Isn’t that enough for you? They still have it too good here and have everything handed to them on a plate?”

You don’t know how you, your wife and your older daughter manage to get to the country that takes you in.

It’s as though everything is all foggy. Your wife hasn’t spoken a word since your daughter died.

Your older daughter hasn’t let go of her sister’s teddy and is totally apathetic.

But you have to keep going. You are just about to arrive at the emergency accommodation.

It is 10pm. A man whose language you don’t understand takes you to a hall with camp beds. There are 500 beds all very close together.

In the hall it’s stuffy and loud.

You try to get your bearings. To understand what the people there want from you.

But in reality you can barely stand up. You nearly wish that they had shot you.

Instead you unpack your meagre possessions:

Two items of clothing each and your smartphone.

Then you spend your first night in a safe country.

The next morning you’re given some clothes.

Among the donated clothes are even branded ‘label’ clothes. And a toy for your daughter.

You are given 140 euros. For the whole month.

"They’re safe here. Therefore they should be happy!"

Outside in the yard, dressed in your new clothes, you hold your smartphone high in the air and hope to have some reception.

You need to know if anyone from your city is still alive.

Then a 'concerned citizen‘ comes by and abuses you.

You don’t know why. You don’t understand “Go back to your own country!"

You understand some things like “smartphone” and “handed everything on a plate.”

Somebody translates it for you.

And now tell me how you feel and what you own?

The answer to both parts of that is “Nothing.”

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Passing the Buck

Passing the Buck

As BBC Radio Jersey asked on Facebook:

“For such a small place, it's not always easy getting around Jersey is it? For a lot of islanders, a solution they've turned to is online - problem is, it could be illegal. So would you rather pay a premium for an official taxi, or do you prefer the unofficial services provided by social media?”

When asked, Jersey Police said  it was out of their jurisdiction and they won't be taking any action, and the BBC should check with the Department of Infrastructure.

Jersey's Department for Infrastructure said it could only regulate registered drivers and could nott control the actions of members of the public, and the BBC should contact the police.

It is a shambles! The poor BBC are going round and round in circles.

Of course it is difficult to prosecute without some kind of entrapment, as money changes hands after a lift, and could be seen as a gift by way of thanks for a free ride.

In 2013, in Guernsey, the police took a more proactive approach. As the Guernsey Press reported:

“POLICE have issued a final warning to illegal taxi services offering lifts over the internet. Officers stopped and warned a series of illegal taxi drivers promoting their services through a particular Facebook page at the weekend.  Traffic Sergeant John Tostevin said they would now continue to monitor the site and had the power to carry out covert operations in the future.”

“Sergeant Tostevin said the perpetrators could face a hefty fine and a year off the roads for providing the illegal service without the relevant insurance. He also warned potential customers against getting into the car of a complete stranger, particularly young women.”

And while this was not wholly successful, they did try again by way of direct warnings handed out in 2014:

 “If you offer lifts for money via social media sites you could be handed a warning letter by police.  In an attempt to crack down on illegal ‘Facebook taxis’, police have said they will be monitoring groups and pages where people advertise the illegal practice.  It is thought that around five to 10 people are operating as unlicensed cabs with around three who are making a living out of it."

"Police were keen to point out that the letters, aimed at educating drivers about the dangers and risk of prosecution, would not be handed out to ‘designated drivers’ who give lifts to friends but they would be given to those putting out general invites and picking up strangers for cash. “

Taxis are considerably more expensive, and of course there lies some of the problem. But they have been Police Checked, have Medicals and are driving vehicles that have been Police checked and are correctly insured. As one individual commented:

“Naturally everybody thinks that it's all the fault of money grabbing taxi drivers. The stark reality of a life behind the wheel is that everyone from the operators (the taxi office) and local authorities, right through to insurance companies all stand there with their hand out. By the time you've paid everything off each week a driver will be looking to earn £300 p/w just to tread water, that's before he/she thinks of keeping a roof over his/her head, or food on the plate. It's very easy to do a fare for a couple of quid more than the price of the fuel, if you're not paying through the nose to keep everything LEGAL.”

A costing done by a Guernsey woman in 2013 (so these figures are behind the times) gives an example of how it works:

“Most drivers will work an evening from, let's say, 18:30ish till 02:30ish = 8hrs at the end of the night we will say has £250 on the meter. Which equates to £1500 per week (allowing them 1 day off) If that person is an owner driver, he then has out of that take, cost of petrol, wear and tear on the car, cost of servicing, Insurances, cost of yearly Taxi licence, medicals, 2 police checks for the car per year, Police check and renewal of PSV every 4 years, Income tax and States Insurance. Having already paid for the car, has to make provision from earnings to replace it, which i think and I know someone will correct me if I am wrong roughly equates to 40 % of their income Leaves them with approx £900 for a 48 hour week, to live on.”

And another writer comments:

“Factor in the absence of sick pay and holiday pay, the insecurity of knowing what your monthly wage is going to be, a seven hour day where 2 or 3 of those hours may be useless as the ranks are empty and there are no bookings, people who are booked are late or don't turn up, unsociable hours if you do want to get the busy, more lucrative times (so forget spending weekend evenings, bank holidays, Christmas & New Years Eve/Day with your families) and you may start to get an idea as to why they're not all queuing up to take 'the knowledge'.”

The police are making a sensible distinction between friends offering lifts to others on a Saturday night if they are out and about not drinking. If they want to contribute a couple of quid to their mate to get home safely to cover costs of petrol, and thank them for the help, that is very different from someone picking up complete strangers, which is a commercial operation, albeit not a legal one.

It is important to point-out that giving lifts for money will breach the conditions of a private motor insurance policy. So if you have an accident, neither driver nor passengers will be covered. [Even carrying freight requires 'hire and reward' type of insurance cover!!] So, in effect, you are driving without insurance.

It's the responsibility of the police to ensure road safety and that people using the roads are insured. This is not about 'stopping people making money off their mates'. It's about people using Facebook to arrange below-taxi-cost lifts to complete strangers.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Age of Anger: A Review

"Oh, tell me who was it first announced, who was it first proclaimed, that man only does nasty things because he does not know his own interests; and that if he were enlightened, if his eyes were opened to his real normal interests, man would at once cease to do nasty things, would at once become good and noble because, being enlightened and understanding his real advantage, he would see his own advantage in the good and nothing else?" (Dostoevsky)

“Just as nations crown their despots in their periods of weakness, so human nature in its periods of weakness craves for despots, more than it ever craved for liberty” (G.K. Chesterton)

The book of the week last week on BBC Radio 4, “Age of Anger” by Pankaj Mishra is an interesting book. It is part history, party social commentary, looking mainly on the cultural changes of the last decade and the toxic politics that we have seen arise from that but at also at the deeper roots behind it.

It looks at the backlash against globalism, and the seductive narrative of progress. The myth of progress, what was termed the “Whig view” of history received its first major setback with the First World War, followed by a period of cautious optimism which received its second setback with the rise of the age of dictators – Spain’s General Franco, Lenin and then Stalin in Russia, Hitler in Germany and Mussolini it Italy. These were the strong leaders, who harnessed technological advances for weapons of terror and conquest.

But in the post-war generation, a sunny optimism began to reassert itself despite the setbacks, with the rapidly changing face of technology, and the advent of a more global economy. Here, an increasing technological obsolescence and throw-away mentality replaced make and mend but was in itself replaced with the vision of the next upgrade.

The momentum, it seemed, even despite the fall of the Twin Towers to Islamic extremism, the bombings in Madrid and London, and the economic shocks on 2008, seemed unstoppable. Despite increased regulation, bankers bounced back, and the bonus culture returned.

And he points how the Berlin wall signified the end of the cold war, and ostensibly an age of hope:

“In the hopeful years that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the universal triumph of liberal capitalism and democracy seemed assured; free markets and human rights would spread around the world and lift billions from poverty and oppression. In many ways, this dream has come true: we live in a vast, homogenous global market, which is more literate, interconnected and prosperous than at any other time in history.”

But as Pankaj Mishra, points out, these visions and the changes they wrought had a downside in a time of uncertainty, and feelings of impotence about politics and economics:

“People in the media, in politics, in business who had let themselves become intoxicated by these visions of universal progress. And I think what we forgot is that this experience of great economic disruptions - people being laid off, jobs disappearing - all this has led to a lot of uncertainty and, indeed, induced feelings of powerlessness amongst lots of people all around the world. “

“I think equality defines the modern world. You know, that is what we all set out to achieve a long time ago. So what we've seen in the last three decades is that, you know, a lot of old hierarchies have been dismantled. Anyone can make it. A slumdog can become a millionaire.”

“You know, that has been that sort of dominant ethic. That has been at least the propaganda that a lot of people have believed in. And when they find their way blocked, the frustration and the rage is infinitely greater than, say, the 1960s or '70s.”

As Isaiah Berlin prophetically noted in 1972:

“Nationalism does not necessarily and exclusively militate in favour of the ruling class. It animates revolts against it, too, for it expresses the inflamed desire of the insufficiently regarded to count for something among the cultures of the world. The brutal and destructive side of modern nationalism needs no stressing in a world torn by its excesses”

And this has led to what Pankaj Mishra calls “the age of anger”, where people are searching for causes, for someone or something to blame. It has no great dictators leading the scapegoating, but this is the time when the mediocre demagogue, voicing the zeitgeist, is most dangerous:

“I think there is a dangerous form of democracy where a people, a community are formed around the idea of exclusion. So I would argue against that kind of democracy or thinking that forming a sovereign people or taking back control by building high walls and by demonizing minorities or immigrants actually is democracy because what it is basically saying - that democracy is only reserved for these people who happen to have a particular skin colour or who happen to have a - or share a particular religion”

“Nationalism,” Mishra writes, “has again become a seductive but treacherous antidote to an experience of disorder and meaninglessness.”

And he sees this in the politics of today:

"Demagogues of all kinds, from Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan to India's Narendra Modi, France's Marine Le Pen and America's Donald Trump, have tapped into the simmering reservoirs of cynicism, boredom and discontent,"

He sees as a false and simplistic theory that which lays the blame for the turmoil of the modern world in a clash of civilisations, between Islam-inspired terrorism and modernity. Rather it is the backlash against modernity which has emerged, in religious forms with Islamic fanaticism in the Middle East, Hindu extremists in India, and Christian fundamentalists in America, but also with a secular form, in which nationalism becomes the new idol, and the remedy against the ills of modernity.

Chesterton noted that: “It is because man has always had the instinct that to isolate a thing was to identify it. The flag only becomes a flag when it is unique; the nation only becomes a nation when it is surrounded”

This ties in with Isaiah Berlin who commented on the origins of nationalism:

“Nationalism, unlike tribal feeling or xenophobia, to which it is related, but with which it is not identical, seems scarcely to have existed in ancient or classical times. There were other foci of collective loyalty. It seems to emerge at the end of the Middle Ages in the West, particularly in France, in the form of the defence of customs and privileges of localities, regions, corporations, and, of course, states, and then of the nation itself, against the encroachment of some external power, Roman law or Papal authority, or against related forms of universalism, Natural law and other claims of supranational authority”

It is defined against what it is not, a revote against the status quo in which, as Berlin notes, “protest against this takes the form sometimes of a nostalgic longing for earlier times, when men were virtuous or happy or free, or dreams of a golden age in the future.”

And this leads to the need to define the other, the outsider, the stranger. As Zack Hunt comments:

“When patriotism becomes an idol, the poor can become our enemies, the alien among us can become someone to be feared and the outcast can become someone we actively seek to marginalize. When patriotism becomes an idol, the ‘other’ whom we despise is the least of these.”

Pankaj Mishra gives no solutions to the emerging patterns of this age of anger, but only a cold and sober warning:

“The unprecedented political, economic and social disorder that accompanied the rise of the industrial capitalist economy in nineteenth century Europe, and led to world wars, totalitarian regimes and genocide in the first half of the twentieth century, is now infecting much vaster regions and bigger populations. Societies organized for the interplay of individual self-interest can collapse into manic tribalism, if not nihilistic violence.”

“Future historians may well see such uncoordinated mayhem as commencing the third — and the longest and strangest - of all world wars - one that approximates, in its ubiquity, a global civil war.”

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Lyndon Farnham Portfolio of Political Expressions

Vote for me: The Estate Agent Pose

Practising the secret "Council of Ministers" handshake

Waiting for that boat to come in

5 hours later... still waiting for that boat to come in!!

Remembering when he was a humble backbencher

Modelling for Rodin's "The Poseur"

Why do people think I sit on the fence?

In front of the latest failure from the States Innovation Fund, plagued by mistakes.

Trying to look like a heavyweight politician

Eventually your boat may come in.... or not!

At the launch of the Rural Economy Strategy. Don't mention Food Security!

Still trying to climb the greasy ladder...!

And I though I'd end on a nice note for Lyndham...

My politics are about hope, health, vigour, vitality and opportunity for all

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Why is the Lectern an Eagle?

From "The Pilot", 1968 comes this:

Some Church Customs Explained
By S.G. Thicknesse

Why is the Lectern an Eagle?

The lectern is an eagle (or sometimes a pelican) because the Christian Church, generally speaking, is no longer afraid of symbolism.

The eagle of the lectern, although it may well include memories of other even more ancient signs, is primarily the eagle which for centuries has connoted St. John the Evangelist.

Even in the early centuries, Christian symbols were in use, despite Tertullian's uncompromising opinion that, ' the law of God, in order to eradicate the material of idolatry, proclaims, “Thou shalt not make any idol adding also, “nor the likeness of anything “over the whole world hath it forbidden such arts to the servants of God.'

Christians from the beginning had made the sign of the cross, first in the air, and then on to walls and tombs and manuscripts. In time of persecution they had scored the catacombs in Rome with the secret symbol of the fish, an acrostic on the name of Jesus. Very early, too, they had taken and used symbolism from the Old and New Testaments to connote the writers of the four gospels.

In the earliest of the illustrations known, in the Lateran Church at Rome, in Milan, and in the church which Paulinus built at Nola, the four rivers of paradise of the Book of Genesis are used to denote St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John.

By t-he sixth century other symbols had tended to become even more favoured. The four beasts of the Revelation, and their prototypes from the vision of Ezekiel, had long been believed to be symbolic of the four Evangelists, and St. Jerome in the fourth century explained the special suitability of each.

St. Matthew, he said was denoted by the third beast which had the face of a man, because he began his gospel with the Lord's human genealogy. St. Mark was denoted by the first beast, which was like a lion, because he testified to the Lord's royal dignity, and at the end of his gospel to the terrible condemnation of unbelievers. St. Luke was denoted by the second beast which was like a calf or an ox, because he dwelt on priest-hood and the sacrifice of Christ.

The fourth beast, St. Jerome said, which was like a flying eagle, denoted St. John, because it was he who contemplated the Lord's divine nature. The idea of the eagle-or, more properly, the griffon, a form of vulture-was very deep and old in many parts of the ancient world. It appeared, for example, with the viper uraeus, as the usual ornament of a divine or royal head-dress in Egypt, and later on the standards of the Roman legions.

Strict Jews had been constantly on the alert against the inroads of strange beasts into Israel, especially of the ox, the lion, the serpent, and the eagle, the darling idols of the teeming pagan world by which they were surrounded. Even the twelve oxen on the molten sea with which Solomon embellished the temple, and the lions round about his throne, were objects of fierce suspicion. Later, a band of zealots threw down the image of a golden eagle which Herod the Great, the half-Jewish half-Arab king, had erected over the great gate of the Temple.

But by the fifth and six centuries after Christ these ancient terrors had been nearly tamed, and Christians with impunity decorated their churches and the furniture in them with lions' heads and doves, with peacocks, fishes and eagles.

It was natural, therefore, when special "lecterns" came to be made to hold the sacred books, which often became too heavy merely to prop on the ambo (the original " pulpit of the reader ") that they should often be decorated with symbols. It was also especially suitable that they should be decorated with the symbols of the Evangelists.

Though lecterns of many patterns made early in England-like the fine wooden one (c. 1450) in Ramsey Church, Huntingdon, or the great brass pelican in Norwich Cathedral-from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, an eagle lectern of wood or brass became very popular in this country.

Like that which Suger, Abbot of St. Denis, made in the middle of the twelfth century, these eagles held the book on their outspread wings, as does a fine early sixteenth-century lectern in St. Stephen's, St. Albans.

It was probably because the eagle could be so well adapted to the purpose of a lectern that it was the symbol of any of the other three, which became so common.

Saturday, 18 February 2017


The recent spate of mists prompted this poem, which also references images from the Doctor Who serial "Full Circle".


The air is suddenly so chilled
A few wisps of mist appear
Until the very air is filled
It is again that time of year

Mistfall over hill and dale
Creeps along the river bank
Hiding track and every trail
Sight ahead just sees a blank

From the lakes, shadows rise
Comes the time of fear so harsh
All around, are haunting cries
Creatures rising from the marsh

Fear the mist, lest we lose our way
As now the terrors this way stray

Friday, 17 February 2017

Gorey in 1953

Today is a brief extract from Stuart Petre Brodie "SPB" Mais's account of a trip to Jersey in 1953. Stuart Petre Brodie "SPB" Mais (1885–1975) was a prolific British author, journalist and broadcaster, and wrote many travel books. Here is a glimpse of Jersey, just post-war, as the tourism industry was starting to take off well, but before the rise of finance.

MONDAY Gorey-La Hougue Bie Eastern Coastline – Part 1

The beds in this hotel are comfortable, there is central heating, and our bedroom faces east so that we get the early morning sun. Owing to the fact that the solitary elderly people who abound in great numbers have large portions of butter and fruit on their tables, I conclude that they are residents who live in Jersey hotels to escape the English income tax.

These elderly people at one end of the scale, and at the other end of the scale the young folk, honeymooning or in gay-time parties, form the large proportion of the guests.

These, together with a fair sprinkling of connoisseurs of drinks of all kinds. Indeed, out of the nature of things, these islands are something of a Mecca to bar-supporters. In our peregrination of the shops yesterday one found numerous shops that combined some other vocation with bright displays of variegated types of liquor that put our more sombre-looking English off-licences to shame. Gin 16s. 6d. per bottle, whisky 19s per bottle, Cointreau 25s., Martini 12s., Dubonnet 11s. 6d., were some of the prices I noticed while Players and other popular brands of cigarettes were 1s.6d. for twenty, with Balkan Sobranies likewise much cheaper.

I have found myself the subject of adverse criticism in some of my books in my eagerness to impart useful information of this character. However, on this occasion I would feel myself guilty of dereliction of duty towards numbers of my readers had I omitted this now. Bass and Worthington incidentally are 8d., and whisky or gin and vermouth 1s. 6d. -first-class hotel prices, at which the profit must be quite considerable. I was glad to find that 1s. and 1s. 3d. was the more usual run of prices for spirits in the average pub.

Licensing hours for sale of alcoholic drink, under the Licensing Jersey Law of 190o are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. in winter and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. in summer on weekdays, with later opening in the morning and a closing break between 1 p.m. and 3.30 P.M. on Sundays. Off-licence sales are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.

The advantages of these liberal arrangements in adding to the enjoyment of the average temperate holiday-maker far outweighs any deleterious atmosphere that may be created by the small minority of all-day sozzlers. Indeed, exhilarated as I was during the succeeding days to find that I could, if I wished, obtain whatever I wished to drink at any hour at reasonable cost, I found our national English custom of afternoon abstinence still lay heavy on me. 

Inner compulsion, inbred through the years, saved me from the sacrilegious act of consuming with anything more innocuous than cups of tea during what for the majority of my active life I have been accustomed to regard as the forbidden hours. I did not take advantage of the liberty accorded to me as frequently as I had expected to. I was not to stay in the Channel Islands long enough to rid myself of this "tabu". 

Looking back over yesterday's impressions of our drive round the west part of the Island, I was most struck by the large proportion of Jersey cows grazing and the number of green fields. All these cows are tethered to stakes in the ground, so closely as only to give them room to lie down. There are very few glass-houses, not nearly as many as I was later to see in Guernsey, but there are plenty of indications of outdoor cultivation of potatoes and tomatoes. Quite large fields were devoted to these. 

I was struck by the prosperous look and dignified appearance of many of the granite farm houses. In their straight sheer outlines they resemble their French opposite numbers more closely than they do the houses of the English countryside; though the small one-storey houses in the more exposed parts convey the atmosphere of the Atlantic coasts of our own larger island.

Here and there one sees the remains of the old cider presses with their large stone wheels and long crankshaft. Cider-making was once a considerable industry, but now the apple orchards have been cut down to make way for the fields of the more profitable potatoes and tomatoes. There are few flowers about in the country districts, other than the bushes of hydrangeas which border certain stretches of the road. 

The Jersey farmer has little time or space to waste on flowers on his valuable plots of land. A curiosity that can be seen to advantage later in the year, however, is the peculiar long-stalked Jersey cabbage, which grows to a height of as much as twelve feet in a long stalk with a sparse collection of leaves on the top. In some places these stalks are hardened, polished and used as walking-sticks.

At St. Peter's we saw an ancient windmill that had been converted into an hotel, but it has not been improved by the addition of a concrete bar.

The coast scenery is everywhere magnificent. There are glorious wide, long and sandy beaches that look hard and perfect for riding which I am told is very popular in the island, though I didn't see a single rider all day.

There are several points about the Royal Court House that I forgot to mention, notably a plaque to "Messire" Walter Ralegh who was Governor of Jersey from 1600 till 1603; also the fact that the Bailiff was dressed in scarlet robes and in front of him stands a singularly magnificent silver gilt Mace that was presented by Charles II in 1663 "as proof of his royal affection towards the island of Jersey, in which he had twice been received in safety when excluded from the remainder of his Dominions".

The flag over the Bailiff's chair is the Banner of Normandy. It is, of course, the basic fact in the history of the Channel Islands that they were first linked to England at the time of the Conquest as part of the Duchy of Normandy.

When Normandy was lost by King John in 1204, they still remained attached to us, but as a direct fief of the English Crown, never subject to the legislation of Parliament.

This was a gusty day and cold but luckily the sun shone for the greater part of it. We caught the 10.30 bus from Snow Hill for Gorey by the eastern coast road, return fare 1s. 3d. each. This journey took half an hour along the coast line first by La Greve d'Azette and Le Croc Point, past a large number of comfortable bungalows overlooking the sea. Then by the broad sandy St. Clement's Bay to La Rocque Point at the south-east corner. It was here that the French landed in their raid under De Rullecourt in 1781 about which I have already said something.

It was no doubt on account of this that there are Martello Towers both here and along the whole length of the sandy Grouville Bay which we then traversed. I was much diverted by the use to which some of these towers had been put. In one case it looked as if a house had been built round it. By the jetty at La Rocque Point I admired the square granite house with its own private tower.

A mile out at sea is the tower known as the Seymour Tower on the islet of L'Avarizon. The land along the road to the landward side was low-lying and mainly occupied by potato fields. So, passing the Royal Grouville golf links between ourselves and the sea, we came within sight of Gorey and its imposing Castle of Mont Orgueil.

This is the most majestic view of the whole island, the natural beauty being set off by the granite castle on the high rock, and below this by the wharf and jetty of the small harbour with its line of a dozen or more continental type houses in their various pastel shades of brown, yellow,. pink and cream. The numerous small boats suggested that this place is a well-frequented yachtsman's paradise. Gorey is a place of enchantment. It is a bright gem set off by excellent sands and a clear blue sea.

Now a delectable small seaside resort, Gorey has, in its time, been quite a place. It is only fifteen miles across to the Cherbourg Peninsula of Normandy, and the hook formed by the castle hill made it the obvious landing-place for boats coming from France.

This gave it importance from the earliest times. This importance was enhanced by its oyster fishing which prospered considerably between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Indeed it is said that at one time oysters were so plentiful in Jersey that they were served free with hotel meals. Many stories are told of the unruly behaviour of the visiting oyster fishermen.

However, by the latter half of the nineteen hundreds, the oyster fisheries had been ruined by over-dredging. For fifty years from 1873 Gorey was connected with St. Helier by the Jersey Eastern Railway, but this was killed by motor bus competition and closed in 1927.

We inspected Rowley's antique shop and then climbed the steep path up to Mont Orgueil Castle. To our dismay we found that it was only open from two o'clock till six and that admission cost a shilling. It stands 310 feet above the sea. 

It is believed to have been first built during the early thirteenth century when John lost Normandy and Jersey became a frontier post. In the fifteenth century it consisted of a Keep, a middle ward and an outer ward surrounded by towers and curtain walls, most of which still remain. At the entrance stands Harliston Tower, built in 1470 by Sir Richard Harliston, the Yorkist Governor of Jersey. 

There are four gateways before the middle ward is reached. The crypt of St. George's Chapel dates from the twelfth century, and in the Keep there is another twelfth-century crypt. The upper battery of the Keep is the Somerset Tower built by the Duke of Somerset between 1549 and 1584.

The castle was besieged in 1373 by Bertrand du Guesclin, Constable of France, but though he captured the outer defences and the castle's water supply he never succeeded in capturing the Keep. In 1460 Margaret of Anjou granted it to France and through the connivance of the Governor it was seized by them and held for six years. It was retaken by Admiral Sir Richard Harliston with the aid of Philip de Carteret, the Seigneur of St. Ouen, after a siege of five and a half months.

In the Civil War it was held for the King by Sir Philip de Carteret's wife, while Sir Philip defended Elizabeth Castle. It was captured in 1651 by Admiral Blake.

William Prynne, the Puritan lawyer, was imprisoned in the castle from 1637 to 1640. The instructions for his treatment as a State Prisoner were rigorous to a degree, but he became a friend of Sir Philip de Carteret who treated him as a guest. After this Cromwell frequently used the Castle as a State prison.

It was the residence of the Governors of the island for about four hundred years.

We walked round the outside of the battlements and saw clearly in front of us the sandy beaches of Normandy and Brittany. 

We then returned to Gorey Harbour and found the Fisherman's Bar of the Dolphin Hotel, an attractive rough granite, small, cosy room decorated with a ship's bell, a ships wheel, and prints of old clipper ships. 

An old man with a white beard wearing a yellow stock asked Jill whether she was wearing the Macmillan tartan and the barman told Imogen that she was wearing the Mackenzie. We all became very Scots and friendly and only just caught our return bus at twelve o'clock. I spent most of the journey back looking for the return tickets without avail and Jill lost one of her black kid gloves.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Standing Orders

THE STATES are asked to decide whether they are of opinion:

(a) that the requirement that Senators and Deputies must be British citizens should be removed;

(b) that candidates for election as Senators or Deputies must have been ordinarily resident in Jersey for at least 5 years in total and for a period of 6 months up to and including the day of the election; and

(c) to request the Privileges and Procedures Committee to bring forward the necessary legislative changes so that the new arrangements take effect in time for the elections due in 2018.

The groundwork for this proposition came in the CPA Benchmarking Survey that was undertaken by a Sub-Committee of the Privileges and Procedures Committee earlier this year, which consisted of Deputy S.M. Bree of St. Clement, Deputy J.M. Maçon of St. Saviour, former Senator Z.A. Cameron, and Montfort Tadier, which suggested that:

“Candidates currently have to be British citizens. Members considered that 5 years’ residency should be sufficient and that the requirement for British Citizenship precluded valuable members of the Portuguese and Polish communities, as well as other nationalities, from entering political life. If Jersey had its own unique nationality, then it would seem sensible to maintain this requirement.”

Jersey politicians have voted against allowing non-British citizens from standing for election in the island. Deputy Montfort Tadier called for a change to the current rules, which stop islanders without a British passport from being part of the States Assembly. His proposition did not get the backing from the majority of politicians though, with only eight members agreeing to the idea.

31 voted against it, while two others abstained from voting.

Interestingly, given his “preamble” about the subcommittee, neither Simon Bree nor Jeremy Macon voted for the proposition.

While he cites other areas where rights have been extended – jury service, the police, voting rights, the elephant in the room was always this:

““In most other jurisdictions there is a nationality requirement for candidates for national parliaments, for example in the United Kingdom and in France.”

In fact, he cannot cite a single case of a country where candidates for election to a parliament or similar body do not have to be citizens of that country – you have to be an Australian citizen to stand in Australia, a German citizen to stand in Germany etc.

There is not a country in the world so far as I know that subscribes to the idea that a foreign national can stand for election to their parliament or national assembly. It is not enough just to be resident, but to have a commitment which comes through naturalisation.

The UK has some peculiarities of its own:

People wishing to stand as an MP must be over 18 years of age, be a British citizen or citizen of a Commonwealth country or the Republic of Ireland"

Lots of legacy stuff - Commonwealth dates from Empire, Republic of Ireland > is a legacy of Ireland being part of Great Britain before splitting off, and also to keep Northern Ireland in the loop.

County council elections in the UK meanwhile have an even wider brief where you must:

"be a British citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of any member state of the European Union" (which of course includes Eire)

There is, however, a caveat on Commonwealth citizens, as the full criteria reads:

“ … a citizen of a commonwealth country who does not require leave to enter or remain in the UK, or has indefinite leave to remain in the UK.”

However, non-British passport holders are likely to have restrictions applied to their stay even if their home country is a member of the commonwealth, and this would in most cases preclude them from being eligible to stand.

For example, New Zealanders most definitely need to apply for a visa for the UK if they intend to stay for more than 3 months or intend to seek work. The same is true vice versa - you need a visa for entry into New Zealand on much the same basis. Hence they would not be able to stand without taking British citizenship.

And even though Adolph Hitler came from Austria, he was awarded German citizenship, a requirement before he could stand for election. It was Feb. 25, 1932 and Hitler had just been naturalized after being appointed as a civil servant in the then-free state of Braunschweig -- a crucial step for the continuation of his political career. This was a precondition for holding political office in the Weimar Republic.

Even dictators need to abide by rules of citizenship before they can run for election!