Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Breastfeeding: Separating Myths from Facts

Breastfeeding: Separating Myths from Facts

BBC Radio Jersey says:

“Jersey's Home Affairs Minister Kristina Moore has been appointed the island's breastfeeding champion. The recently published Health and Nutrition strategy highlighted breastfeeding as an important way of preventing obesity in children.”

But actually the evidence is very uncertain on any direct link. This is because of a problem in statistics known as “confounding”. Attempts have been made to try and bypass the problems in studies, but there is no clear way of showing that they do.

The website Pmean explains exactly what confounding means in statistics:

“Residual confounding occurs when a confounding variable is measured imperfectly or with some error and the adjustment using this imperfect measure does not completely remove the effect of the confounding variable. An example appears in Chen et al (1999). It turns out that women who smoke during pregnancy have a decreased risk of having a Down syndrome birth. This is puzzling, as smoking is not often thought of as a good thing to do. Should we ask women to start smoking during pregnancy?”

“It turns out that there is a relationship between age and smoking during pregnancy, with younger women being more likely to indulge in this bad habit. Younger women are also less likely to give birth to a child with Down syndrome. When you adjust the model relating smoking and Down syndrome for the important covariate of age, then the effect of smoking disappears. But when you make the adjustment using a binary variable (age<35 age="" years="">=35 years), the protective effect of smoking appears to remain. This is an example of residual confounding.”

The effects of confounding of this nature is most clearly stated in the WHO publication “Long-term effects of breastfeeding: A Systematic Review” by Bernardo L. Horta, MD, PhD and Cesar G. Victora, MD, PhD.

“Residual confounding is another issue that should be addressed, because most studies were carried out in high-income countries where breastfeeding tends to be more common among the better off and more educated mothers. In these societies, overweight and obesity tend to be more prevalent among the poor, and even studies that adjusted for several socioeconomic variables may still be affected by residual confounding.”

“Attempting to elucidate this possibility, Brion et al compared the effects of breastfeeding on body mass index in two settings with different socioeconomic confounding structures. In England, a developed country setting, breastfeeding was protective against overweight, but in Brazil, where breastfeeding does not show a clear social gradient, no such effect was evident.”

“This was confirmed by the negative findings of the COHORTS collaboration from low and middle-income countries . Therefore, residual confounding by socioeconomic status is an issue that should be taken into consideration in the assessment of causality. By the same token, we observed that studies with tighter control of confounding (socioeconomic factors, birth weight or gestational age, and parental anthropometry) reported smaller benefits of breastfeeding.

“Our conclusion is that the meta-analysis of higher-quality studies suggests a small reduction, of about 10%, in the prevalence of overweight or obesity in children exposed to longer durations of breastfeeding.”

“Nevertheless, it is not possible to completely rule out residual confounding because in most study settings breastfeeding duration was higher in families where the parents were more educated and had higher income levels.”

Another source of “proof” is by what are called “meta-analyses” which seek to try an collate all the publications and data published on a subject such as breast-feed. Meta-analysis is the statistical procedure which combines data from multiple studies. This has been used also to link breastfeeding with obesity, but it also contains problems. The Journal on Nutrition notes that there are several drawbacks that limit the validity of meta-analyses of observational studies on associations of breastfeeding and body composition in childhood:

1) Publication bias: Studies with significant results may be more likely to be published than studies without significant results. This may also bias the results from meta-analyses.

2) Potential heterogeneity between studies: Individual studies may differ largely from each other with respect to the study population or confounders considered, which complicates approaches to provide a summary estimate.

3) Residual confounding: Breastfeeding is associated with other factors that can influence a child's weight status, such as maternal BMI, maternal education, smoking during pregnancy, or other habits that may not be able to be comprehensively assessed in epidemiologic studies. However, a failure to adjust for these factors may result in spurious associations, which may also contribute to a bias in meta-analyses.

It concludes that:

“Observational studies (and related meta-analyses) may suffer from a publication bias or residual confounding. Interventional studies that randomly assign breastfeeding itself are not feasible, whereas interventional studies that randomly assign a breastfeeding promotion would require enormously large sample sizes.”

And notes that:

“Whether or not breastfeeding also has a weak positive effect on body composition may be an interesting question, but this does not necessarily need to be answered to recommend breastfeeding to mothers of newborns. With respect to the avoidance of childhood overweight, strategies aimed at eating or activity habits may be more promising than a breastfeeding promotion.”

Mainly Personal

If there was a causal mechanism linking breastmilk with obesity, what could it be?

Feldman-Winter says it may be that both breastfeeding — with the baby attached to mom’s breast — and the breast milk that may be important in influencing babies’ weight. In suckling, it’s the baby that dictates how much he drinks, whereas with bottle-feeding, whether it’s breast milk or formula, it’s mom that tends to determine when baby has had enough. “A baby who is breastfeeding at the breast will suckle, and some of that time will be spent in nutritive suckling and some of that time in getting nourishment, but a lot of the time babies are suckling at the breast in a non-nutritive way and really self regulating the amount of calories they take in,” she says.

“Breast milk provides your baby with food that is easy to digest and very nutritious, and your child helps decide how much to eat and when to eat it. Both the breast milk itself and the way your baby feeds help him or her to develop healthy eating patterns. Breastfed babies seem to be better able to regulate their food intake and thus are at lower risk for obesity.”

That’s very interesting because in the case of one of my sons, he was unable to take milk from breastfeeding, and was noted down as potential having a “failure to thrive”. A bottle regime, where the amount consumed along with date and time was suggested by the resident hospital head paediatrician, Dr Spratt, as the average could be carefully noted, along with the total amount consumed. So in this case, the determination of how much to drink did not work, and a bottle was the sufficient remedy. Part of the problem is with “failure to thrive” is that the mother may well feel that her child was satisfied with the feedings.

Having looked at this, I notice some other cases, not many, but still significant, in which this has happened. With my son, the preventative measures were in place early, but this is not always the case.

One mother reported that:

“My fourth baby ended up hospitalized for failure to thrive and required a nasogastric tube to feed her. Despite constant breastfeeding, excellent milk supply and milk transfer, she never gained enough weight and then began losing weight. She was born weighing 8 pounds and when admitted to the hospital she weighed 9 pounds, 5 ounces.”

“I worked in labor and delivery and postpartum units as a tech and then a registered nurse for 6 years at a BFHI designated hospital and I was so indoctrinated by “Breast is Best” that I truly believed “a hungry baby wouldn’t starve” and every mother can exclusively breastfeed, including me.

“Elena’s doctors ordered her to begin feedings with a 24 calorie formula for the first creecy2months and then she was fed a 22 calorie formula to help her gain enough catch-up weight. We were able to remove her feeding tube after a month when she began to gain weight and thrive and eventually she was transitioned to a regular 20 calorie formula.”

As Dr.Shannon Kelleher, a human milk researcher (“Biological underpinnings of breastfeeding challenges: the role of genetics, diet, and environment on lactation physiology”, 2016) noted:

“If you think about it, when you’re breastfeeding you have no idea how much milk you are producing or if the composition is optimal and as long as your baby isn’t overtly ill, you assume that everything is working well. But is it?”

“It is estimated that the prevalence of women who overtly fail to produce enough milk may be as high as 10–15%  and can quickly lead to hypernatremia (high blood sodium levels)  nutritional deficiencies, or failure to thrive;”

“It is estimated that approximately 10-15% of women suffer from overt lactation failure. This is different from what I consider ‘breast milk insufficiency’. When I talk about ‘breast milk insufficiency’” I’m referring to the inability to make enough milk of optimal quality to feed the baby.”

“A woman’s genetics is very important to providing enough zinc to breast milk. Others have shown that genetic variation in the vitamin D receptor affects milk calcium levels, and that genetic variation in genes that produce fatty acids, alter the fatty acid composition of human milk.”

Monday, 24 July 2017

Brown Study

My very occasional look at the speeches of Gordon Brown, and in this one, he addresses the issue of the way in which Britain is divided into a poor North and a rich South.

Extracts from Gordon Brown’s speech to the Fabian Society, delivered on 3 November 2016:

I want to suggest today that there is now an overwhelming case for a UK-wide people’s constitutional convention, mandated with setting a roadmap towards a more federal constitution that empowers all of the nations and regions.

The convention would focus on the areas of concern to people right across the country – jobs, the economy and standards of living – and then ask what constitutional settlement can best meet their needs and aspirations.

We need wholesale reform because today the United Kingdom appears united in name only.

Politically, the strains of Brexit are already showing, as different nations, regions, sectors and companies desperately seek their own opt-outs from a hard Brexit and call for their own à la carte version of Brexit.

Economically, the vote on June 23 revealed that Britain is becoming two nations divided – a highly-prosperous South East and a permanently struggling North – with London effectively decoupling from the economy of the rest of the UK.

Lying behind the popular revolt are huge structural inequalities that the current Government has failed to address.

Sadly, the post-referendum optimism felt by Leave voters in the North whose rebellion gave Leave a majority will be short-lived. The reality is that the North is more dependent on trade with Europe than the South – for example, 58 per cent of goods exports in the North East go to the EU compared to 39 per cent of London’s goods exports – and we could see discontent turn into anger as standards of living fall faster and jobs start to go.

It is clear that the UK, in its present form, is not working for everyone. To prevent the harmful divisions that now exist from deepening, we need to reimagine the United Kingdom for new times.

Two Nations Divided

The referendum on June 23 entailed a revolt of Britain’s regions – driven by deep-seated resentments based on very real inequalities they suffer.

Northern unemployment rates – 6.8 per cent in the North East – are almost twice as high as in the South – 3.7 per cent in the South East.

Last year, the number of workforce jobs in the North East fell by 40,000 and rose by only 1,000 in the North West. In comparison, London and the South East saw an increase of 277,000 jobs.

Since 2010, the North East with four per cent of the population and three per cent of the country’s Gross Value Added secured only two per cent of the new jobs. The North West with 11 per cent of the population and nine per cent of the GVA secured only seven per cent of the new jobs. And Yorkshire and Humberside with eight per cent of the population and 6.5 per cent of the GVA secured only six per cent of the new jobs. By contrast, London and the South East with 26.8 per cent of the population has 37.7 per cent of the GVA and secured 39 per cent of the new jobs. In fact, half of the new jobs created since 2010 went to London, the South East and the East.

According to a recent path-breaking study by Professor Philip McCann, UK regional inequalities in income are now amongst the largest in Europe. Professor McCann shows that the average household adjusted disposable income is almost 60 per cent higher in Greater London than in many regions of England as well as Wales and Northern Ireland. In fact, gross disposable household incomes per head in the North of England, Wales and Northern Ireland hover at around £15,000 – almost unchanged since 2010 – while in inner London it is £23,600, as inter regional inequalities rise.

According to the most recent data, published in December 2015, more than half of the UK population live in regions whose GVA per capita averaged below £22,335. Meanwhile there are areas of London – Inner London, West – which, with a GVA per head of £135,000, are richer than any comparable part of mainland Europe. In comparison, GVA per head in Tees Valley and Durham is £17,055 and in West Wales and the Valleys it is £15,745. Digging further down, we can see that GVA per head in the Gwent Valley, at £13,417, is 54 per cent of the UK average and 10 per cent of Inner London, West.

The North of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, according to the latest OECD data, have GDP per capita levels lower than Mississippi and West Virginia, two states seen to have long-term intractable economic difficulties. The latest Eurostat data, published in February, 2016, shows that the Welsh Valleys and Tees Valleys have GDP per capita levels, expressed in Purchasing Power Standard, which are 75 per cent of the EU average: respectively 69 per cent and 74 per cent. This places these two UK areas below Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia – as well as parts of Poland, southern Italy and the former East Germany – in terms of GDP (PPS) per capita levels. The greatest variation in GDP per inhabitant in Europe is to be found in the UK.

These economic and social inequalities which distort the UK not only reflect an increased polarisation between the core of the UK – London and South East – and the periphery, but also something much more fundamentally problematic from a governance perspective. Professor McCann argues that London’s economy has virtually decoupled from that of the rest of the UK. This is not just because it is primarily a financial services capital focused on its global role, but because few benefits other than tax revenues flow to the regions from London’s success. Professor McCann shows there is little spill-over, from London, in jobs, in the diffusion of technology, in businesses relocating or in Northern businesses servicing the wealthier South-East economy. In other words, policy actions which enhance London’s economy do little or nothing to strengthen the economies of the rest of the UK.

The divide has not only grown – it is growing and it will continue to grow. Yet there is nothing in current government policy that will narrow that divide or even stem its rise. The Northern Powerhouse has obscured a cut in regional aid from £3.3billion a year over the period 2000-10 to two-thirds of this level over the past six years. This is despite the fact that the Regional Development Agencies established by the Labour Government delivered a regional GVA increase by £4.50 for every £1 spent and job creation in areas that traditionally trailed behind, such as Yorkshire and Wales, outperformed the national average. As much as 76 per cent of Government and Research Council research and development spending is in the southern third of the country and only seven per cent in the North of England. And historic gaps in infrastructure spending are only set to widen over the next few years: transport infrastructure spending per head is £1,900 per annum in London between now and 2020-21 but less than £300 in the North East.

We know also that regional inequalities will only worsen if we continue to centralise decision-making on the basis of a hub and spoke approach – with everything from transport to infrastructure centralised in and flowing out of London in the hope that London’s benefits will eventually come to the regions.

The Case for a UK-Wide Constitutional Convention

The centralist constitution that evolved during the first Industrial Revolution, which was led from the North and served the UK in the days of Empire, does not suit the new world. Quite simply the British constitution can no longer meet the needs and aspirations of all of the British people in a world where the regions and nations need to have the power, status and resources to realise their potential.

But a rewriting of the constitution will help London, too. A London-centric view of the United Kingdom no longer works even for the capital – as it struggles with congestion, overheating, high house prices and poor housing supply, while the regions face depopulation, forced emigration, high structural unemployment and deprivation. A balanced approach to regional economic development is in the interests of not just the North and the regions but London and the whole country.

A people’s convention is the starting point if we are to give fairness, hope and opportunity to the regions. The convention is also needed if we are to satisfactorily resolve the question of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland’s role in the UK. Yet there is another conclusive reason why the Convention is needed. When Brussels repatriates its powers to Westminster and Whitehall, Britain will become an even more centralised country. Instead of repatriating powers over regional policy, agriculture, fisheries and social funds to London, we should instead devolve them to the regions and nations of the UK.

The regions and nations need the power to innovate, to form partnerships and to co-ordinate activities between regional borders. In short, to get the balance right between the autonomy that communities desire and the co-operation and sharing they need. The convention should consider placing bottom-up economic power in the hands of the regions, including the devolution of regional policy from London. And there is also a case for reforming the House of Lords into a Senate of the Nations and Regions.

Seven proposals for a post-Brexit UK Constitution

Today I want to outline seven potential reforms that should be examined by the constitutional convention.

First, the constitutional convention should consider the repatriation of powers from Brussels not to Whitehall or Westminster but to the regions and nations of the United Kingdom. Specifically, we should devolve powers over regional policy, agriculture, fisheries and social funds to the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies, the new City Mayors and local authorities.

Second, we should consider the case for devolving further powers from the UK to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in light of the Brexit vote. For instance, as the UK will no longer be part of the EU Social Chapter – and the Tories threaten to abandon workers’ rights – employment law could come within the ambit of the Scottish Parliament.

Third, there is an argument for creating areas of co-decision making between the four nations on a number of fundamental issues. This would ensure that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could not be forced out of the European Convention on Human Rights against their will. We should agree that if England wishes to leave the ECHR, Scotland should have the ability either to veto that decision or to remain part of it. This would involve recognition that some policy areas should be considered neither fully devolved nor fully reserved, but in fact shared between central and devolved government.

Fourth, the constitutional convention should examine the merits of giving Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions the power to directly negotiate with the EU and to determine what type of presence they will have in Brussels. In the case of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, negotiations could cover the Erasmus program; access to EU research funding for universities; and co-operation on policing, such as the European Arrest Warrant.

Fifth, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions should have new powers to develop an international presence in respect of their devolved powers. This would enable the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies to sign up to agreements with international bodies where their responsibilities are affected.

Sixth, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions need a new financial settlement arising from Brexit. This would not obviate the Barnett Formula for the nations and would also mean new money for the regions. The new financial settlement could potentially devolve £2-3billion of the £4billion spent annually by the European Union in the UK.

Seventh – and finally – there is a strong case for the convention going further and codifying the division of powers between the centre of UK and Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions. It should also consider replacing the unelected House of Lords with an elected Senate of the Nations and Regions.

But the starting point – and the initiative I am personally putting forward today in the hope my party will support it – is to secure a UK-wide constitutional convention.

The government should be asked by the Labour opposition to sponsor a convention. If they fail to respond – as happened in Scotland in 1989 – then Labour and the other political parties should come behind a convention with a remit to engage people outside traditional political parties.

The constitutional convention presents an opportunity for Scotland

Scottish politics is now nothing more than a battleground. And as the stalemate between the extremes of the SNP and the Tories continues, Scotland risks not just a groundhog day but a groundhog decade.

The SNP Government in Edinburgh wants our country to be in Europe but not in Britain, while the Conservative Government at Westminster wants us to be in Britain but not in Europe.

In the 2014 independence referendum, the SNP proposed to break the political union but made a virtue of keeping most of the economic union. They favoured being part of the UK single market and the UK single currency, with Alex Salmond even suggesting he would agree a fiscal pact with the UK. Now they are preparing to abandon the UK single market, despite the fact it takes 64 per cent of our exports, preferring the European single market which takes only 15 per cent of our exports. They are prepared to put at risk Scotland’s £48.5billion of trade with the UK, which helps create one million Scottish jobs, and risk a hard border with England, focusing on trade less important – the £11.6billion with mainland Europe and worth only a quarter the number of jobs.

The Conservatives also embrace a more extreme position. Their Scottish leadership is simply toeing the hardline Theresa May policy that would simply exclude Scotland from European single market membership without any plan to repatriate powers now held in Brussels to Scotland or to give the Scottish Parliament some form of international presence in Europe. The Conservatives should be arguing for new thinking on powers over agriculture, fisheries, regional policy and environmental policy and even potentially powers over VAT being devolved from Brussels to Edinburgh, but instead they would take powers now held in Brussels to London and centralise more decision making in Whitehall.

I believe the time has come to reframe the debate and show that there IS an option for Scotland that is far more in tune with meeting our need for jobs, better public services, more fairness and more security and one that is capable of commanding the support of around 80 per cent of the Scottish people.

This means understanding what can unite Yes and No voters in both ideals and objectives – and seeing whether and how these ideals and objectives can be reflected in a fresh post-Brexit constitutional settlement. And I believe the Scottish people can find common purpose in shaping a structure of government that advances social justice.

There is in my view a fairer, more positive and more federal way forward that the overwhelming majority of Scots can support.


The United Kingdom needs new answers for a new age of globalisation.

If we are to meet and master the global challenges ahead we need to get the balance right between the autonomy people desire and the cooperation we need.

We should begin with a constitution that empowers the UK’s nations and regions. Instead of frustrating their potential, we should help the nations and regions realise it and give them the power to do so.

The alternative is a Britain that looks in on itself without the means to bridge its divisions and to bring people together.It is time to build a fairer, more federal Britain – a Britain we can all believe in.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Why a Ring for Bishops.?

From "The Pilot", 1968 comes this, an interesting historical ramble.

Some Church Customs Explained

By S.G. Thicknesse

Why a Ring for Bishops?

Among the collection of ancient and mediaeval rings in Room 29 of the Victoria and Albert Museum, is a strange gold one as long as a brooch, with diamond-shaped alternating with circular panels, and each panel stamped with a letter. It is the ring of Alhstan, Bishop of Sherborne, 824-867, and bears his name.

In the first two or three centuries strict Christians seem not to have worn rings; but gradually, as the bishops began to be men of importance, they began to wear signet rings, as did men of note in the Roman Empire. This was partly because an increasing number of things needed to be marked with a recognizable and authoritative seal.

By the seventh century the ring of a bishop had assumed a dual importance, as a king's ring also had. It was at once (with the pastoral staff) the sign of his office, with which he had been invested at his consecration, and his official seal, which he set to the business of his diocese and the affairs of his growing estates. By the tenth century the bishop had become a magnate, a lord at once spiritual and temporal.

For two hundred years ecclesiastical and lay powers-popes and kings-were to struggle over the right to give the bishop his ring. The Pope claimed that the ring was the seal of a bishop's spiritual office for which he was chosen and consecrated by the Church. The king claimed that since the bishop was also a great lay lord, often a royal official, he must be chosen first by him, and receive the ring as a token of royal investiture and loyalty.

In the twelfth century a compromise was reached (in England between Henry I and Archbishop Anselm) and the ring was blessed and put by the Church on the finger of the bishop-elect whom the Church had accepted and the king had nominated.

In the centuries after this shadow victory, mystical importance began to be attached to the bishop's ring, which was often made of very costly and elaborate materials. This made it an object of attack by Reformers and Puritans, and though a ring is now worn by most of the bishops, there is no mention of it in the `Form for the Ordering of Bishops' in the Elizabethan Prayer Book.

The ring had become the symbol of the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit. It was worn on the index finger of the right hand, the middle of the three fingers a bishop raised in blessing, `the finger of God' and the finger of discretion and silence, a symbol of the episcopal claim to reveal or seal up the mysteries of God. 

Or it was worn on the fourth finger of the right hand, as a sign of spiritual marriage with the Church, or, alternatively, as a sign that the bishop was the representative of Christ, whose spouse and Body the Church was. But thirteenth-century critics thought it necessary to remind the bishop that he was not himself Lord, but shepherd.

Saturday, 22 July 2017


This week is a poem from my "back catalogue", written on 9th June 2005. The tragedy is that the world it describes could be the world today. Over ten years have passed since I wrote those lines, and we seem no nearer to finding any solutions to the misery and suffering which human beings inflict upon fellow human beings.


Just glimpses and fragments here
Of a wounded world, of despair
And time ticks on, it is not fair. 

Just for a moment, the building
Jagged edges, windows broken,
And time ticks on, alarms ring. 

Just for a second, images floated
Walls covered grey, dust coated
And time ticks on, ending noted. 

Just a warning, of empty shells
Once the way we built our hells
And time ticks on, to final bells. 

Just for a moment, this is to be
Will it be always? we shall see.
And time ticks on, none can flee.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Beautiful Britain - Jersey - Part 5

My history for the next few weeks will come from “The Channel Islands” by Joseph E Morris, B.A., published by London, Adam and Charles Black, 1911. It is fascinating because, firstly, it is a guidebook from 1911, depicting a Jersey before the Great War erupted across Europe, and secondly because it is very much an outsider looking in, and making very personal observations mingled with the history.

Beautiful Britain - Jersey - Part 5

Other Antiquities

The walk across the south coast of Jersey, from Mont Orgueil to the Corbiere, taking the train for the four dull miles, where there is nothing to see, between St. Helier and St. Aubin, will probably almost exhaust, except for the archeologist of the Dry-as-Dust school, the artificial attractions of the island of Jersey.

Of course, there are other antiquities to see : St. Ouen's Manor, for example, now recently restored, and the ancient house of the Carterets ; the cromlechs at Gorey and the Couperon ; and the seven old churches that we have not yet visited.

But when we have seen the wall-paintings at St. Brelade's and St. Clement's ; have inspected Elizabeth Castle, and the curious font at Prince's Tower ; and, above all, have made every stick and stone of Mont Orgueil our own treasured possession, it will be time for most of us to turn our attention, less to the artificial attractions of Jersey, than to its wonderful natural beauties.

The North Coast of Jersey

It is lucky that these lie mostly on the north coast, which is well out of reach of St. Helier. It would be sad indeed if this silent succession of bays, stretching in stern sublimity from Grosnez Point to the long useless breakwater on the south of Fliquet Bay, were infested with tea-gardens, and boarding-houses, and villas.

For this twelve miles of coast is both wholly unspoilt, and one of the loveliest imaginable. Brakes, no doubt, in the season, with their hordes of jolly trippers, invade for a few hours the sacred silences of Greve de Lecq and Rozel Bay. These, however, are limited to definite times and places; nor will it be hard for the quiet lover of Nature to evade their unwelcome gaieties.

Every inch of this glorious stretch of coast should be walked over, if possible ; should often be revisited ; and should be lingered over lovingly. Where else have these rose-red cliffs a counterpart, jutting out into the bluest, or most emerald, of seas, and haunted by myriads of clanging sea-fowl, unless it be on the borders of lost Lyonesse ? Waters that rest on a granite bed are always of amazing translucency -

Pleased to watch the waters sleep,
Round Iona green and deep

and those that never rest round the igneous cliffs of Jersey are no exception to this beautiful rule.

Here and there, of course, the explorer will come across some special point of interest, though the coast, to be enjoyed at its best, must always be enjoyed as a whole. At Greve de Lecq is a cave to visit which thoroughly entails some very rough scrambling, and some rather giddy climbing up an almost vertical cliff.

Less than two miles to the east, as the crow flies-it adds to the distance enormously to follow all the sinuosities of this deeply indented coast-is the Creux-du-Vis, or Devil's Hole - one of those strange, roofless caverns, connecting with the sea by a tunnel through which the tide ebbs and flows, but set back some little distance from the margin of the cliff, that are found again in Sark, in the Creux Derrible and Pot.

In many respects they resemble the famous " pot-holes " that occur in the mountain limestone of the Craven district in North-West Yorkshire, though their origin, it is clear, is wholly different.

Creux, of course, is connected with the French creuser, to dig ; and " derrible," which has nothing whatever to do with " terrible," is an old Norman word, unknown to modern French, that really expresses the same idea

“Cavite d'un rocher formee par un eboulement de terre, attenant a un precipice."

Creux is used again of artificial cromlechs. East of the Creux-du-Vis is the Mouriers Waterfall, where a little stream leaps down the rocks into the sea. The path along the cliff is rather giddy, and those who take it must remember that a slip may be followed by fatal consequences, like the accident that happened to Mrs. Guille, in 1871, at the Gouffre, in Guernsey.

The steep grass slopes in spring are plentifully sprinkled with the dainty yellow blossoms of the little wild narcissus.

Beyond Sorel Point comes suddenly the deep hollow of La Houle, guarded by granite cliffs of sheer sublimity; and beyond this, in long succession, round innumerable intervening points, come Mourier, and Bonne Nuit, and Giffard, and Bouley, and Rozel, and Fliquet Bays.

A week may well be spent, and more than a week, in leisurely exploration of this gloriously broken coast. Or the visitor who has less energy, or is weary of much scrambling, may sit here day after day in the sunshine, on promontory or cliff, watching the blind wave " at its never-ending business of feeling round its ocean hall."

There are less pleasant ways than this of spending a summer holiday for those whose brains are fagged by weeks of dull work in London. And always across the water, far-seen on the dim horizon, are the faint grey lines of the Cotentin, and the cliffs of fairy-like Sark.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

And so to bed...

I usually finish my day by putting up a quotation on Facebook, prefixed by the phrase used by Samuel Pepys in his diaries, "and so to bed...". Here is a selection of recent ones.

And so to bed...

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from John Clare:

July the month of summers prime
Again resumes her busy time
Scythes tinkle in each grassy dell
Where solitude was wont to dwell
And meadows they are mad with noise
Of laughing maids and shouting boys
Making up the withering hay
With merry hearts as light as play

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is from Eugene Field:

All good and true book-lovers practice the pleasing and improving avocation of reading in bed ... No book can be appreciated until it has been slept with and dreamed over.

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is from Terry Pratchet:

What have I always believed?

That on the whole, and by and large, if a man lived properly, not according to what any priests said, but according to what seemed decent and honest inside, then it would, at the end, more or less, turn out all right.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Alex Haditaghi:

Truth is like a bright full moon in a dark country sky. Powerful, bright and undeniable. Lies are like clouds that continually try to cover that moon. Sometimes they might be able to cover the moon, but only temporarily. The truth will always outshine the clouds.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Fyodor Dostoyevsky:

Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Krista Tippett:

Truth can be told in an instant, forgiveness can be offered spontaneously, but reconciliation is the work of lifetimes and generation

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Christopher Hitchens:

“Nihil humanum a me alienum puto, said the Roman poet Terence: 'Nothing human is alien to me.' The slogan of the old Immigration and Naturalization Service could have been the reverse: To us, no aliens are human.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Jackson Burnett:

A thousand years from now nobody is going to know that you or I ever lived. The cynic is right, but lazy. He says ‘You live, you die and nothing you do will ever make a difference.’ But as long as I live, I’m going to be like Beethoven and shake my fist at fate and try to do something for those who live here now and who knows how far into the future that will go. If I accomplish nothing more than making my arm sore, at least I will be satisfied that I have lived.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Richelle E. Goodrich:

Death lurks in the shadows, just out of view.

Those who know Death take the knowledge of his shadowed face with them to wherever it is he leads our dearly departed by the hand. All who are left behind must wait their turn to glance into the eyes of the one who will close our mouths forever.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Tahereh Mafi:

The moon is a loyal companion.

It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human.

Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Air Pollution and Sunken Roads

Air Pollution and Sunken Roads

Ryan Morrison, BBC News Online, reports on a recent study on the tunnel under Fort Regent:

“Pedestrians and cyclists should limit how much time they spend in Jersey's tunnel and drivers should keep their windows closed, that's the advice from Jersey's environment department. It comes after an air quality test found the quality at peak time was poor with the amount of pollution up to seven times higher than nearby Snow Hill.”

But the Waterfront Masterplan, as originally devised back in 2008, contains the following statement: “If we can lower the road the town will seamlessly integrate with the Waterfront ”. As anyone can see, traffic still  moves along the Esplanade, to Sand Street, to Conway Street, and the plans never addressed this fissure in the so-called "seamless integration". 

Alan Maclean, back in 2008 before the Senatorial elections, waxed lyrical about this:

"The practical and economic case for sinking the road will join the Waterfront to the town and produce the funds to regenerate St Helier."

Paul Routier also bought into the fantasy of a sunken road:

"The current plans have raised the bar to a high level in that they have a real feel of quality and vision. The sinking of the road does make sense, both practically and financially, because it creates greater accessability across the whole Waterfront and optimises the available space. "

Peter Troy was more cautious:

"I have no objection to sinking the road, but we must ensure air extractors with filters remove carbon monoxide build-up. Why TTS have never fitted extractors to the Tunnel is mystifying, as its air quality is appalling."

Ian le Marquand, also a candidate for Senator in late 2008, expressed doubts about this:

"The sinking of the main road is estimated to cost £45 million, which is a lot of money. I doubt whether the States would have agreed to this cost if it had not been packaged as part of the overall deal with Harcourt, which gives the States £50 million.”

But what I always could see from the start was problem with air quality. The underpass, as anyone notices at rush hour, is full of slow moving traffic, but the fumes dissipate in the air. If there is a large segment of road underground, what on earth will the air quality be like there?

Some move towards an answer came in a reply by the Minister for Planning and Environment, Senator Freddie Cohen, in a question asked in the States on 16 April 2008 by Constable Phil Rondel, partly at my instigation.

Question: With regard to the proposed sunken road at the Esplanade Quarter, would the Minister advise whether the annual maintenance and running cost of the fume extraction equipment is budgeted for within the suggested £500,000 annual spend, and would he further advise whether the fumes will be filtered before release into the atmosphere and, if so, the annual cost of so doing? Would the Minister further advise precisely where, and what height, the fumes will be released?

Answer: The estimated energy and routine maintenance costs for the tunnel ventilation plant are included in the suggested figure of £500,000 per annum for the total operating costs for the tunnel. There are no plans to filter the air exhausted from the tunnel. The pollution extract system will move the air through the tunnel prior to it being discharged at the tunnel portals. The air will not be filtered prior to discharge.

The sunken road, however, seems to have vanished from the Waterfront, which seems to have been taken on board by WEB and then SOJDC more as a vague guide, to be discarded at will.

As Brian McCarthy noted in 2015

“The Masterplan that was approved by the States in 2008 provides for 388 residential units, 65 self-catering apartments, a substantial winter garden, a boutique hotel, 54,000 sq. ft. of retail space, public open spaces and a new underground road. How and why are these aspects now missing from the Jersey International Finance Centre proposals?”

“The new two-way vehicular access road, from the back of the cinema building to the existing car park runs directly across the route of the Masterplan’s sunken road / roundabout and the proposals would therefore appear to conflict with each other. Can the plans for the underground proposals, their delivery and their cost be fully explained?”

It is clear from the air quality reports regarding the tunnel that the air quality fume extraction system posited for the sunken road would have to be exceptionally good, and yet no technical specifications have ever existed of this wonderful and remarkable system.

And the cost of £500,000 per annum, probably in today’s terms, £750,000, is a cost the Island just cannot afford.

Isn’t it about time to be honest and admit the new development bears little or no resemblance to that originally passed by the States in 2008, and scrap the sunken road?

Is the Council of Ministers so scared of halting the Finance Centre development that as an act of collective cowardice, collective irresponsibility, they will not revisit the plans and take out what was even in the heyday of 2008, a fantasy conjured up by Hopkins Architects, which should never have seen the light of day? 

And how will they manage to sink the road with office blocks already in place? The original plans had the road at the start, because you build over it, and there are no issues with subsidence caused by heavy buildings already in place.

It is time to sink the notion of a sunken road once and for all!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Obesity: It's not just diet.

BBC Radio Jersey reports that:

A food and nutrition strategy is being launched in Jersey today by the States. The strategy includes plans for sugar taxes, free school meals and new rules for fast food sites. Poor eating habits in Jersey could be costing the health service more than £40m a year, health experts believe. The States of Jersey is launching a new diet and nutrition strategy and experts are warning of the consequences of a bad diet.

There are four pieces of evidence that seem to support this view that eating is the root cause:

  1. Food prices have fallen substantially over the past 30 years;
  2. Real food expenditure (the amount we spend on food, accounting for inflation) has increased;
  3. Expenditure on some types of calorie dense foods, such as fast food, eating out, ready meals, confectionery, and soft drinks has increased; and
  4. There has been a sizeable increase in calories available, according to aggregate data on food available for human consumption (the total amount of food produced, including imports and excluding exports, minus food used for animal feed, agriculture, industrial uses, and waste)
And yet as BBC Radio 4’s Analysis explained, the big picture regarding food is far from the simplistic one about poor eating habits. In fact as the graph above shows, calorie input has steadily gone down over the past 30 years.

In the programme, “Is Work too Easy?”, Michael Blastland asked if it's desk-bound work, rather than over-eating, which is making more and more of us obese.

“He hears about remarkable research which, despite received wisdom, suggests that people in the UK have reduced their calorie intake. However, they are expending far less physical energy, particularly because of new patterns of work which now require little if any bodily exertion. Michael examines projects to change individual behaviour such as corporate wellness programmes and altering office layouts - but finds it's going to be a tough sell.”

The main research in question is a robust study, carried out by Dr Melanie Luhrmann from the Department of Economics along with Professor Rachel Griffith and Dr Rodrigo Lluberas of Royal Holloway.

It has revealed the surprising fact that while obesity rates have almost trebled, our actual calorie intake has fallen by around 20 per cent compared to 30 years ago.

In their paper, entitled Gluttony and sloth, Rachel Griffith and Melanie Lührmann examined the statistical evidence two different ways, and both came to the same result.

They note that “Surprisingly, we find that total calories purchased have declined substantially over the last three decades. We distinguish two periods: 1980-2007, when food prices were falling; and after the Great Recession (2008-2013), when food prices increased worldwide and real incomes fell for many people. Table 1 (see top of this blog) shows the continuous decline in mean calorie levels regardless of food price changes. In the paper we show that this decline is not just occurring at the mean, but also across the distribution.”

And they note that in fact the shift away from often fattening homemade food of past decades has actually moved towards more expensive food which we eat less of. Although there is a tendency to eat more pre-packed food, home cooking was not necessarily less calorific.

“One important reason for this decline in calories, contemporaneous with a rise in real expenditure, is that households have shifted away from homemade food, and toward market-produced food (for example by shifting from food at home towards eating out), which is more expensive. The other reason is that there has been a decline in the purchase of some high calorie foods for consumption at home, such as red meat, full fat milk, butter, and jams, and this more than compensates for the increase in calories from foods and drinks outside the home.”

And they comment:

“This leads to a puzzle: if people are buying fewer calories, and so presumably consuming fewer calories, how do we explain the rise in obesity? Weight gain arises from a caloric imbalance; that is, when more energy is consumed than expended. If there has been a decline in total calories purchased over the past 30 years, could an even greater decrease in levels of physical activity explain the rise in obesity?”

And indeed this is where the cause comes in.

Dr Melanie Luhrmann says: "Our research shows that decisions over work and food demand are related. First of all, because individuals that work substitute more towards market-produced food, for example, towards processed foods and eating out. Secondly, weight gain arises from a caloric imbalance, meaning if more energy is consumed than expended. Hence, both calories and physical activity are important in explaining the rise in obesity. People have adjusted their calories downwards, but not enough to make up for the sizable decline in physical activity. Part of this decline comes from reduced activity at work. So we should take into account the link between work and calories when evaluating policy interventions aimed at reducing obesity."

They look at the data from the Labour Force Survey, a nationally representative survey of individual work patterns. This shows that there have been significant changes to the nature of work. England has seen a marked shift over the last thirty years towards less strenuous and more sedentary occupations. In particular, there has been a substantial shift towards sedentary service sector jobs.

“The fraction of men working in strenuous occupations has declined by 8% from 1981-2009, and those working in sedentary jobs has increased by over 11%. For females the decline in strenuous occupations is over 13%, with an increase in both moderately strenuous and sedentary jobs.”

“The change in work patterns has had a big impact, because work accounts for a large share of people's time. In addition, labour supply behaviour has also changed, with different trends for males and females. Female labour force participation amongst 25-64 years olds has increased from 55% to 69% between 1980 and 2009, with particularly strong increases among younger women (aged 25-39)”

Statistics show that adults of working age may spend as much as 50% of their waking hours in the work environment. So occupational physical activity is a potential determinant of total daily energy expenditure. It has been found that professional and white collar workers have taken less steps (measured by pedometer) and have lower volumes of occupational physical activity than blue collar workers.

And there is also what they call “slothing at home”:

“Over time, working women have increased time in market work, and so have reduced the time they spend on other activities from 60% to 54%. They have also reduced the amount of time in strenuous domestic work by 4 percentage points. On average, house work is more strenuous than the kind of market work that women were doing in the labour market, so this led to an overall reduction in the strenuousness of life.”

“Men have reduced the time they spend at market work over the last 30 years. While they increased the time they spend doing housework by a small amount, they switched from strenuous housework activities like maintenance and DIY to less strenuous ones like child care and shopping.”

Children, likewise, can be seen to have substituted a lot of physical activity for sedentary ones, with the rise of smart phones and electronic games.

What implications does this research have for policy? They conclude that it does not mean that we should abandon policies that target food spending or calories, such as the recent introduction of a tax on sugary drinks.

But we should note that leisure time activity may be unlikely to contribute sufficient energy expenditure to prevent increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity, as it is actually of short duration compared to the day at work.

This is because are eating too much given their low (and declining) level of physical activity at work and at home.

Looking at work and the systemic changes which have taken place in the workplace must form part of any holistic strategy, but as yet the studies are relatively new of how our bodies have adapated to a world in which work is actually too easy - from a physical point of view.

They conclude their study by saying:

“It does mean that physical activity and calories are linked in potentially complex ways, and it is important to better understand this and the implications it has on people's behaviour in order to inform policy.”


Monday, 17 July 2017

Shifting sands and Doctor Who

Like shifting sands, assumptions that underlie a culture change as it moves through time. The change can happen so slowly it is hard to perceive, in individual minds adjusting, children accepting and rejecting their parents’ paradigms, understanding and disseminating ideas and assumptions, a sand dune moving grain by grain in the winds of change. After a while, if we are able to compare the present with past horizons, we can see the contours of the landscape are entirely rent.
--- Emma Restall Orr

And so breaking news has come of a female Doctor Who in the form of Jodie Whittaker.

My point of view is perhaps more detached than many, either fulsome in praise, or as you might expect from Ian Levine, shouting in anger.

That’s because my Hartnell, from the ages of 6 to 9, growing up, from the first, was William Hartnell. I watched him battle the Daleks, as well as all manner of other strange creatures, and he was Doctor Who, this wonderful, eccentric old man, who was the one fixed point. Susan left, then Ian and Barbara. New companions came and went, but the Doctor remained the same.

Until suddenly, he mutters, at the end of the encounter with the Cybermen, “this old body of mine is wearing a bit thin”, and collapses, and the screen flares, and suddenly there is this younger, shorter, darker haired stranger on the floor.

And yet, I think I liked this new Doctor from the first. I had vivid memories of his first Dalek story, of Polly about to be turned into a fish creature, and suddenly, he was very much the Doctor. Cleverly, his first outing had two familiar companions and Daleks.

But I could still revisit William Hartnell of course in those wonderful early novelisations published in hardback by Frederick Mueller – Dr Who and the Zarbi by Bill Strutton (much better than the TV serial), Dr Who and the Crusade by David Whitaker, (it may have been purely history, but it was Dr Who!), and my Armada paperback of “Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks” by David Whitaker again, priced 2 shillings and six pence, and the first Doctor Who Annual, probably written by Whitaker because the prose was so good.

And yet Troughton was my Doctor – the Monster Doctor – where there were Cybermen returning to scare you (behind the sofa, of course), Ice Warriors, Yeti, a Sea Weed creature, more Daleks, and finally the War Games with the Time Lords, and the end of his time.

But it was even more than today, a great chance the producers took. If the public had rejected Troughton’s Doctor, there would be no more Doctor Who. They had toyed with other ways of doing it – the Doctor becomes invisible in the Toymaker, and reappears with a different appearance, but pulled back at the last minute. It was a massive gamble: a change of lead actor.

And yet it worked, and set the template for the future.

And in time, Jon Pertwee became my Doctor, and Tom Baker, and Peter Davison, and Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann, and then it died, until it was reborn in 2005.

This too is a different step like that of 1966, a change of gender for the Doctor, but I don’t think it is such a change now as that first change. For one thing, the climate is perhaps right now for a female Doctor, just as we had a female Master – Missy. Doctor, is however, a gender neutral term.

I still remember when there were the first TV police shows – Policewoman in the USA, Juliet Bravo and the Gentle Touch in the UK, which seemed groundbreaking, but now we would not think twice about a woman taking the lead in a police procedural or detective series. It no longer seems unusual.

The same is true of female newsreaders. Goodness, what a fuss was made when Angela Rippon and Anna Ford began on the main new channels – BBC’s 9 pm news, ITN’s News at Ten. Would we really bat an eyelid if we turned on the news today and it was a woman reading it, rather than a man. Of course, not, because society has changed. We have female news readers now, but it is no longer groundbreaking.

When women priests came in the Church of England, the Vicar of Dibley on TV addressed the groundbreaking move. But we have many women priests now, and even women Bishops, and outside a few conservative factions, it is now acceptable. The appointment of a woman Rector for St John was greeted with delight, and not with raised eyebrows.

A female Doctor Who is perhaps groundbreaking in some respects, but I’d venture to suggest that it is not as groundbreaking as it would have been back in the 1980s. In a way, the shifting sands have moved so much over the past decades, that far from being groundbreaking, it is almost a case of saying that the time is surely right for such a move, if not overdue.

[Incidentally first Script Editor, David Whitaker - one "t" - is not related to Jodie Whittaker, but it's a rather pleasing synergy]

Sunday, 16 July 2017

What are Rubrics?

From "The Pilot", 1968 comes this, an interesting historical ramble.

Some Church Customs Explained
By S.G. Thicknesse

What are Rubrics?

In England, ever since the Reformation, rubrics have I been rules for the ordering of divine service which have behind them the force not only of ecclesiastical but also of civil authority. The detailed directions in the Prayer Book, sometimes still in the red lettering which gave them their name, but usually now in italics, can in fact bring bishops and clergy into the dock as law-breakers.

The Act of Uniformity, which can be read at the beginning of every Prayer Book, recalls by the severity of its penalties the store which Elizabeth and her Ministers set on the acceptance of a unified order and form. This, it was hoped, would put an end to those religious confusions and controversies of the Reformation which had brought such terrifying political disruption in their train.

But even in nineteenth-century England, when the political significance of religious uniformity was relatively small, clergymen were convicted and penalized for practices not authorized by rubric. So, for example, in 1868 the Reverend John Purchas was convicted in the Arches Court of Canterbury among other things for standing with his back to the people when consecrating the Elements. The judgment was upheld by the Privy Council, and when Purchas neither paid the costs, amounting to £2,096 14s. 10d., nor discontinued any of the practices which had been declared illegal, he was suspended for a year from the discharge of his clerical office.

Directions and titles written in red had, according to the Latin poet Juvenal, been customary in the old Roman law books. But very few, if any, of such rubrics appeared in the earliest service books of the Church. (Pliny says that this red colour-ruber-first got its name from a coloured earth which carpenters used, to mark their wood for the cutting.)

Of two of the earliest surviving missals, for example, the sacramentary of Leo and the Gelasian sacramentary, both of which belong to the fifth century, the first contains no rubrics at all. A French missal of the sixth century contains eight rubrics, and an Irish one of the ninth, two, in the vernacular.

Collections of rubrics were made separately in special books, under such titles as Ordo, Directory or Ceremonial. Copies of these compilations were made with not less painstaking devotion than were copies of the Offices themselves, of which Charlemagne's scholar, the Yorkshireman Alcuin, reminds us.

Part of the prologue to his Sacramentary runs: `And we pray you to copy it again so diligently as to its text that it comfort the ears of the learned and allow not any of the simpler sort to go astray. For it will be no avail, as saith blessed St. Jerome, to have made correction in a book, unless the corrected reading be preserved by the diligent care of the bookkeepers . . .'

Bishops and abbots themselves used to check the final versions of the scribes in the mediaeval scriptoria. The multiplication of such books, however, and the hardening of local traditions meant that a variety both of ritual practices and of forms of prayer became common in different areas. 

St. Augustine complained of this in the sixth century, and in the eighth, in Gaul, every priest was required to describe -his own practice in writing, and to present this libellus ordinis to the bishop in Lent for approbation. In England there grew up a Salisbury (Sarum) Use, a Hereford Use, a Use of Bangor and of York and of Lincoln.

As ecclesiastical authority became more centralized - largely a matter of the roads having become safer - such local differences began to be attacked. One way of procuring uniform practice was for the Pope to authorize a collection of rubrics which he believed to be based on the best and most primitive traditions. Such a collection was the Ordo Romanus.

Another way was for him to authorize the appearance of the most important of these rubrics in the Missal itself. This he did not do until the end of the fifteenth century. Then, despite the strong opinion of many ecclesiasts that rubrics were not a matter for the laity, Burcard, Master of the Ceremonies under Innocent VIII and Alexander VI, published together the order and the ceremonial directions of the Mass in a Pontifical. This, from then on, was the glass of fashion and the mould of form.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Time for Change

A new Doctor Who coming, and we find out this Sunday. And the swansong of Peter Capaldi's Doctor at Christmas. This poem is about final endings. Of death, and looking back at the end of life. It's time for change.

Time for Change

Time for change, and everything ends
Time to let go, say goodbyes, depart
Rest at last, for the old beating heart
Farewells, last rites, making amends

Life is like a path of twists and bends
And so little time, yesterday the start
Time for change, and everything ends
Time to let go, say goodbyes, depart

Farewell, lovely world, goodbye friends
In sadness and joy, make our work of art
A venture in which we have taken part
Now comes death, and what transcends
Time for change, and everything ends

Friday, 14 July 2017

Beautiful Britain - Jersey - Part 4

My history for the next few weeks will come from “The Channel Islands” by Joseph E Morris, B.A., published by London, Adam and Charles Black, 1911. It is fascinating because, firstly, it is a guidebook from 1911, depicting a Jersey before the Great War erupted across Europe, and secondly because it is very much an outsider looking in, and making very personal observations mingled with the history.

Beautiful Britain - Jersey - Part 4

Mystery of James de la Cloche

St. Helier, we have hinted, is a somewhat tedious town ; by which we mean only that the place contains few objects of special interest, and is a trifle too large and urban for so very small an island

No doubt some of its aspects are agreeable enough. The parish church is a restored building of small architectural interest, but contains the grave of the gallant Major Pierson, who fell in Jersey, in 1781, in the conflict with the French in the Royal Square. His adversary, Rullecourt, who also perished, is buried on the north of the churchyard.

Rullecourt landed to the east of St. Helier during the night of January 5, and took the town by a sudden assault. The Governor, Major Moses Corbet, was captured in his bed; and was forced to sign a capitulation, as well as an order to Major Pierson to surrender the troops in his charge. Pierson, however, charged the enemy in the Royal Square, where they had barricaded themselves, and fell at the first assault. Undeterred by the loss of their leader, the Jersey soldiers and militia-men continued fighting, and cleared the French from the town.

St. Helier possesses yet other claims to historical distinction, in the mystery of James de la Cloche. This last was the eldest illegitimate son of Charles II., and is known to have been a Jerseyman. His story has recently attracted much attention ; and Mr. Andrew Lang, in his Valet's Tragedy, once even went so far as to suggest that de la Cloche was “The Man with the Iron Mask."

This theory he afterwards abandoned; but it is still stoutly maintained by Miss Edith Carey in her beautiful volume on the Channel Islands.

It is remarkable, indeed, that James de la Cloche disappears finally from history after November 16, 1668, whilst "The Man with the Iron Mask" makes his first appearance on the scene on July 19, 1669. De la Cloche may also, when in London, have easily learned secrets from his father, as to Romish plots, that imperilled the crown of Charles II., and may well have caused anxiety to Louis XIV.

"Doubts," says Miss Carey, " may be cast on a theory which involves an apparently affectionate father consigning his son to a living tomb, and a King of France spending money and trouble to keep a King of England's secret. But in reply it must be urged that Charles's conduct is consistent with all we read in history respecting his cowardly selfishness.

In reply to complaints made to him of Lauderdale's cruelty in Scotland, he said : ` I perceive that Lauderdale has been guilty of many bad things against the people of Scotland, but I cannot find out that he has acted against my interests.' "

Charles' headquarters, when a boy in Jersey, were in Elizabeth Castle, whither he was sent by his father for greater safety in 1646. Later in the same year he left for Fontainebleau, but returned to the Channel Islands in September, 1649.

In the meanwhile the elder Charles had perished on the scaffold at Whitehall ; and Jersey, unlike Guernsey, still loyalist to the core, was one of the few places - Pontefract Castle, in Yorkshire, was another - where his son was immediately proclaimed as King, on February 17, 1649.

Elizabeth Castle itself is another of those picturesque places of semi-insulation that are not uncommon among historical sites-Holy Island, and the two Mounts St. Michael, are other famous examples. At time of low water it is picturesquely approached by a rough and rocky causeway across the sands ; but the building itself has been greatly altered, and presents very little archeological interest.

From St. Helier westward, round the half- moon curve of St. Aubin Bay, past West Park, Millbrook, and Beaumont, is now largely a crescent of continuous houses. St. Aubin's itself is a picturesque little watering-place,  with far greater natural advantages than its bigger neighbour.

Immediately to the south of the town begins at once the fine, red line of granite cliffs, which, turning definitely westward at Noirmont Point, continues, past Portelet and St. Brelade's Bays, to the south-west corner of the island at Corbiere Point.

Portelet Bay is a charming recess, with the rocky little Ile au Guerdain in its centre. On the summit of this last is Janvrin's Tower. It is said that Philippe Janvrin, returning home from Nantes, then desolated with plague, was forced to undergo quarantine in this bay in 1721 ; and that here the poor wretch died within actual sight of home, but without ever exchanging a word with his wife and children. He was buried at first in the Ile au Guerdain, but afterwards removed to St. Brelade's churchyard.

St. Brelade's Bay

St. Brelade's Bay, nearly two miles across, if we measure from Le Fret to La Moye Point, is perhaps the most gracious on the Jersey coast. The church has a very picturesque outline, with a saddle-backed tower like that of St. Sampson's, in Guernsey.

It was admirably restored a few years ago, when the plaster was stripped from the vaulted roof that is common to most old churches in the Channel Islands, and is probably analogous to the vaulted roofs of the fortified churches of Pembrokeshire. Mr. Bicknell, however, is wrong in saying that the interior walls . . . look very dignified in their original condition."

Nothing is more certain than that medieval churches-at any rate in cases where the walls are of rubble masonry were plastered, and commonly covered with wall-paintings. Such plastering and old wall-painting may still be found at St. Brelade's in the Chapelle es Pecheurs, or Fishermen's Chapel, that remains in the parish churchyard.

These, according to Mr. Keyser, represent parts of two Dooms or Final Judgments, Our Lord before Herod, an Annunciation, the Assumption of the Virgin, and the Offering of the Magi.

They probably date from the fifteenth century, and the attendant makes them visible by the simple expedient of throwing the light on them with a mirror. The existence of this old chapel side by side with the parish church - the same thing seems formerly to have happened at Grouville - is a subject of curious inquiry.

Chantrey chapels were sometimes built in churchyards - there is still a fourteenth-century example at Carew, in Pembrokeshire, and there was formerly one at Newdigate, in Surrey - but these would be generally of later date ; whereas the Fishermen's Chapel is supposed to date from quite the beginning of the twelfth century.

In the grounds of the St. Brelade's Hotel is an ancient cross of the kind that is stated by Mr. Bicknell formerly to have " stood at nearly every place where four cross roads met in the island."

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Marine Activity: Laws but no Policing

AN investigation is continuing after a jet skier suffered a serious leg injury following a collision with a speedboat in St Brelade’s Bay on Sunday afternoon.

I was down there on Friday.

St Brelade’s Bay on Friday evening, around 5 pm, was full of people paddling, swimmers, boats meandering along, and all kinds of water craft. The photo above shows what I believe was some kind of Jet Ski, and as you can see from the photo, it was going extremely fast. I know it was going fast because I missed it with my camera on some shots because it was hard to track it at that speed.

At the speed I saw this going, it only needs two craft travelling at speed, and perhaps making a turn to go back across the bay for a nasty accident to happen, as indeed happened on Sunday. We don't know at the moment whether the speed boat crossed the path of the jet ski or vice versa, but if what I observed on Friday is any indication, it is no surprise that occurred.

It has also been noted by Jono Stevenson that there is lack of marked areas in the bay - an area to which motor craft should be confined, like they do at La Haule. There are red flags placed at either side of the safe bathing zone, but that alone does not denote that pleasure craft cannot enter. It is recipe for an accident.

I asked my friend Adam Gardiner what legislation is in place to help make the area safe? He provided this note.

Safety Regulations in St Brelade's Bay
By Adam Gardiner

There are speed limits and in fact a whole set of laws that specifically govern beaches and inshore maritime activity in general. They are policed, or supposed to be, by several agencies too.

As far as beaches go there are three. EDD, Honorary/States Police and the Harbour Office.
The relevant regulation for beaches: https://www.jerseylaw.je/laws/revised/Pages/22.600.25.aspx

Up to a few years ago, the beaches were routinely ‘patrolled’ on summer weekends by enforcement officers attached to Jersey Tourism which was then a part of EDD - a pro-active approach. Apart from policing the beaches they also reported dangerous waterborne activity to the Harbour Office who would deploy a ‘marine officer’ or the coastguard service, who (if you can recall) were often seen around towing an inflatable.

Marine activity is governed by more than one law with local regulations attached to various bays. In St. Brelade Bay there is a 5 knot restrictions to boats, jet skis and other motorised craft with 200m of the shoreline - the shoreline being the point at which the sea and open beach meet which can obviously change with the tide.

For all practical purposes that 200m has been defined under local regulations as a line across the bay from La Cotte Point and Grosse Tête – a large sea stack in Beauport Bay - the low water mean in the bay.

But as you witnessed that is not generally observed….but not policed either. The relevant laws come under Boats and Surf-riding (Control) (Jersey) Regulations 1969 Read more at http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2017/07/11/jet-ski-crash-whats-the-law/#783HBuW02QlYkJve.99https://www.jerseylaw.je/laws/superseded/Pages/2006/19.060.30.aspx 

Further information can also be found at https://www.jerseylaw.je/laws/revised/Pages/19.060.30.aspx

Jersey Ports have issued a resume of safety advice and legal obigations taken from those laws and regulations: http://www.ports.je/SiteCollectionDocuments/ID%20Personal%20Watercraft%20Use%2020130902KW.pdf

However, with cutbacks and successive reviews of manpower, policing has become entirely reactive - hence predictable that incidents will and do occur. The mentality of beach users and increasingly those engaged in water sports and activities is utterly amazing - and all too often aggressive and confrontational when police or other authorities arrive through complaints - ‘spoiling our fun’. They are both oblivious to and in denial of acting dangerously.

Worryingly, the Lifeguards seem reluctant to report poor and dangerous behaviour and certainly not to the Honorary or Centenier as here is no route of liaison. The lifeguards themselves have no policing powers whatsoever. If and when they do call in another authority that will generally be the Harbour Office who govern their activities. The Harbour Office are similarly reluctant to prosecute - probably because they do not have the resources. It’s therefore a situation that invites bad behaviour.

As always, it will take an incident to get the authorities to sit up and take notice that in the summer our beaches need to be policed and regulations enforced if necessary - but will probably become a sad fact that won’t actually happen once this story drops from the news and premier beaches such as St. Brelade’s Bay will remain a dangerous playground.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

As I Please: Function and Reward

Function and Reward

While I don’t agree with everything Orwell says, I have always been struck by his tale of travelling on a liner to Burma. He tells the story so:

”One day, for some reason, I came up from lunch early. The deck was empty except for the fair-haired quartermaster, who was scurrying like a rat long the side of the deck-houses, with something partially concealed between his monstrous hands. I had just time to see what it was before he shot past me and vanished into a doorway. It was a pie dish containing a half-eaten baked custard pudding.”

“At once glance I took in the situation—indeed, the man’s air of guilt made it unmistakable. The pudding was a left-over from one of the passengers’ tables. It had been illicitly given to him by a steward, and he was carrying it off to the seamen’s quarters to devour it at leisure. “

“Across more than twenty years I can still faintly feel the shock of astonishment that I felt at that moment. It took me some time to see the incident in all its bearings: but do I seem to exaggerate when I say that this sudden revelation of the gap between function and reward—the revelation that a highly-skilled craftsman, who might literally hold all our lives in his hands, was glad to steal scraps of food from our table—taught me more than I could have learned from half a dozen Socialist pamphlets?”

It always amazes me that the way professions are valued often seems topsy-turvey.

As we have seen in the recent election in the UK, nurses pay is poor, and some even have to resort to food banks, and yet bankers who engage in “casino banking” make hundreds of thousands in bonuses.

Ann Lee notes that:

"It does not make sense that most artists, teachers, and doctors - those who deliver the greatest value to society - are the least paid individuals, while investment bankers and speculators who earn the most amount of money are adding minimal value to society at best, and at worst, destroying value."

The Wire has an article by Devinder Sharma this year which looks at the contrast between rich corporations and poor farmers in India. The place is India, but the place could be everywhere.

“The Gujarat government gave a loan of Rs 558.58 crore to the Tatas to set up the Nano plant at Sanand, near Ahmedabad. The Gujarat government has acknowledged that the massive loan was given at an interest of 0.1%, to be paid back in 20 years. In other words, this huge loan was virtually an interest free long term loan. In another case, Steel tycoon, Laxmi Narain Mittal, was given Rs 1,200 crore by the Punjab government to invest in the Bathinda refinery. He also got the loan at a 0.1% rate of interest.”

“On the other hand, if an extremely poor woman in a village wants to buy a goat worth Rs 5,000, she goes to a micro-finance institute (MFI), which provides her a loan at an interest rate of 24% to 36% or even more. This paltry loan has to be returned at weekly intervals. This poor woman is also an entrepreneur and wants to sustain her livelihood rearing a goat, the milk of which she can sell. Millions of livelihoods can potentially be sustained if banks were to provide loans like the ones the Tatas and Mittal received, for poor entrepreneurs.”

And concludes:

“What needs to be seriously considered is that a terrible agrarian crisis is being allowed to prevail, primarily because of systemic efforts to keep farmers impoverished. By denying farmers the right price for their produce, the credit policy too is designed wrongly so that it benefits the rich at the cost of farmers and the rural poor. But will the banks accept their fault and redesign the credit policies? The rich corporates will continue to get tax incentives and massive subsidies in the name of incentives for growth.”

But without farmers, how would the CEOs of the rich corporations survive?

What we really need is what E.F. Schumacher called "Economics as if People Mattered".