Thursday, 31 August 2017

And so to bed

A few more "And so to bed" quotes with pictures.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Bryan Stevenson:

We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others.

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

The glass candle is meant to represent truth and learning, rare and beautiful and fragile things. It is made in the shape of a candle to remind us that a maester must cast light wherever he serve, and it is a sharp to remind us that knowledge can be dangerous.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Robert G. Ingersoll:

Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word; but in the night of death hope sees a star and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is from Stig Dagerman:

One day a year let’s all pretend
that death is tucked up, fast asleep.
That no lives meet a tragic end,
no dreams are shattered on the cheap.
The world’s at peace, there are no wars,
we hug our friend, our former foe.

No beggars die outside locked doors,
all cells are empty on death row.
Nobody’s stabbed, nobody’s shot,
no car runs over someone’s friend.
This can’t be true! – Well, maybe not.
All I’m saying is: let’s pretend.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Stanley Kubrick:

If you really want to communicate something, even if it’s just an emotion or an attitude, let alone an idea, the least effective and least enjoyable way is directly. It only goes in about an inch. But if you can get people to the point where they have to think a moment what it is you’re getting at, and then discover it, the thrill of discovery goes right through the heart.

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

I hate it when I sneeze, these days,
It lifts my fringe, my curls, my greys;
It blasts my ears and rattles my head,
But at least it gets me out of bed.

I hate it when I cough, these days,
It hurts my chest, my eyes o'erglaze;
It's hard to breathe, I feel like dead,
I think I'd rather sneeze instead.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Moonshine Noire:

It was one of those sweltering summer days in which the air itself seems to decline as a haze suffocates the outside world. It is painfully bright whether you are looking up at that ball of burning hydrogen or down at its vivid reflection on sheer pavement.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Alfred Tennyson:

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.
And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Ecstasy in Perspective

The Dangers

The drug MDMA, popularly known as “ecstasy” is extremely lethal in its forms on the street. As reported in Metro:

“Several people have been taken to hospital over a ‘potentially lethal’ batch of MDMA. Police warned that a bad batch of the drug has been circulating in Jersey. In a message posted on the States of Jersey Police’s Facebook page, a spokesman said: ‘We have been made aware of a potentially lethal drug, believed to be MDMA or ecstasy circulating in the Island after a number of young persons have been admitted to hospital this weekend. ‘Please remember not only are these drugs illegal, they can cause serious illness or even death.”

It is a drug which either in a pure form taken as a recreational drug or as so often is the case, adulterated, causes death. Cornwall news recently noted that:

“A heartbroken family is warning of the dangers of taking drugs after the death of a young woman who believed she had taken ecstasy. Amy Vigus collapsed after returning home from two days in London. She died the same day, August 21, in a hospital intensive care unit due to a reaction to what she believed was the popular party drug.”

The website Noisepm.Com explains the dangers very well:

“Basically, almost half of ecstasy pills that you will see are cut with adulterants in some way. Unless you have a pill-testing kit handy, there is no way to know what is really in a drug marketed as ecstasy or ‘molly.’”

“Pure ecstasy would contain a single ingredient: MDMA. But unfortunately, anything that is not pure can include hazardous chemical components, some of which can be deadly.”

“It’s important to note that even users who ingested pure MDMA experienced adverse effects of the drug, such as nausea, chills, seizures and loss of consciousness.”

The Benefits (under controlled medical supervision)

However, there is always a danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Unsupervised, often adulterated, there is no doubt that MDMA is a killer.

But the last four years have seen new research that it could in fact have major benefits – provided it is given under medical supervision, with the right dosage, as part of a therapeutic treatment – when more conventional treatments fail.

The Charleston Gazette, 2014, has an article on “Exploring MDMA as Healing Stress Reliever”. It notes that:

“MDMA has been banned by the federal government since 1985 as a dangerous recreational drug with no medical value. But interest is rising in its potential to help people suffering from psychiatric or emotional problems.”

“A series of clinical trials approved by federal drug authorities is now under way to see if the drug's ability to strip away defensiveness and increase trust can boost the effectiveness of psychotherapy.”

“One of the key studies focuses on MDMA's effect on military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.”

And it could also be used for other stress disorders:

“In 2004, South Carolina psychiatrist Michael Mithoefer launched a clinical trial involving 20 patients suffering from PTSD - mostly female victims of sexual violence who had unsuccessfully tried other therapies. Ten of the 12 who received MDMA during two sessions improved so much that they no longer qualified for a PTSD diagnosis.”

This was also reported in “MDMA: A Healer? Nonprofit Navigates Politics, Science to Put Drug in Clinical Use” in the : Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of 2014.

“The Santa-Cruz-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies is making serious headway toward bending the boundaries of modern medicine. In several federally-approved clinical trials, the group is effectively treating psychiatric disorders - notably post-traumatic stress disorder - with MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy.”

“‘It permits the possibility of cures, whereas current psychiatric medications are about minimally reducing symptoms,’ said Rick Doblin, the Harvard-educated founder and executive director of MAPS.”

“The early returns are more than positive. Studies are showing MDMA several times more effective than either the antidepressants Zoloft or Paxil at treating PTSD. And unlike those medicines, patients do not need to keep taking the drug to see the benefits - MDMA seems to permanently restructure a patient's relationship to trauma.”

A more recent article was “MDMA Making a Comeback: The Love Drug Explored as PTSD Treatment” in Clinical Psychiatry News:

“MDMA's comeback as a potentially valuable medication in psychiatry can be traced to the first report of the drug's impressive success when used as an adjunct to psychotherapy in a randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study. Michael C. Mithoefer, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in South Carolina, and his co investigators stunned the psychiatric world by reporting that 10 of 12 patients with chronic PTSD refractory to both medications and psychotherapy showed significant clinical improvement in response to just two sessions of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy supplementing a more conventional course of psychotherapy.”

“Moreover, the benefits proved durable: In a subsequent paper, the investigators reported the clinical benefit of this two-dose treatment program persisted at a mean 3.8 years of follow-up and no safety concerns had been seen”

“This study, which eventually drew the attention of military veterans' groups with political clout, proved hugely influential, especially since PTSD is so common and often is highly treatment resistant.”

What seems to happen in such cases is that MDMA actually helps with the extinction of fear memories by the way in which it reacts inside the brain.

“Dr. Nutt and his co investigators performed the first whole-brain study of the effects of MDMA using functional MRI. This double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study in healthy volunteers used measurements obtained through arterial spin labelling and analysis of blood oxygen level-dependent resting state functional connectivity.”

“Matthias E. Liechti, MD, head of the psychopharmacology research unit at the University of Basel, explained that at present Switzerland is the only country in the world where it's legal to prescribe MDMA. Ditto LSD. Psychiatrists can do so on a case-by-case basis outside of a clinical trial setting in patients with treatment-resistant PTSD or anxiety disorders.”

“‘Luckily, the effects of MDMA wear off quickly, and when it's used with psychotherapy we may be giving only one or two doses in a lifetime, so it shouldn't be a concern,’ he said.”

And there may be other benefits. A study reported in the Pasadena Star-News indicates that MDMA may also help dispel anxiety in autistic people

“Dr. Charles Grob, a psychiatrist at Harbor-UCLA and investigator at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, or LA BioMed, was the first to win approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration to begin clinical trials of MDMA. Since he began the testing about 20 years ago, he has found that the drug may be helpful to adults grappling with symptoms from varying degrees of autism.”

"The question is: 'Can we re-engage this area in a responsible, objective way to explore methods of a treatment?' " Grob said. "But to do so in a responsible way, unlike what happened in the '60s."

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

A Below Average Earnings Report

A Below Average Earnings Report

The latest earnings data for Jersey, released today, show a huge pay disparity between sectors. On average, those working in the finance industry in June earned £600-a-week more than workers in hotels, restaurants and bars. After inflation, average pay across the board rose by just 0.1%.

As always the statistics release concentrate on the arithmetic mean, a wage statistic largely discarded in the UK, in Europe, and even in Guernsey because wage distributions are skewed, meaning that a relatively small number of high earners distort the overall picture.

“average weekly earnings in Jersey were 2.6% higher than in June 2016”

They note that:

“median average weekly earnings of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees was £570 per week”


“ mean average weekly earnings of full-time equivalent employees was £730 per week”

It can be seen from this how the results are skewed quite dramatically – there is £160 difference per week between median pay and mean average pay.

The mean or average is very sensitive to outliers, or abnormally low or high values, while medians are much less affected by outliers.

As Darrell Huff notes in "How to Lie from Statistics", it is important to used median for skewed distributions:

"When you are told that something is an average you still don't know very much about it unless you can find out which of the common kinds of average it is - mean, median, or mode."

"The £10,000 figure I used when I wanted a big one is a mean, the arithmetic average of the incomes of all the families in the neighbourhood. You get it by adding up all the incomes and dividing by the number there are. The smaller figure is a median, and so it tells you that half the families in question have more than £2,000 a year and half have less."

"One kind of average is as good as another for describing the heights of men, but for describing their pocketbooks it is not. If you should list the annual incomes of all the families in a given city you might find that they ranged from not much to perhaps £20,000 or so, and you might find a few very large ones. More than nine-five per cent of the incomes would be under £5,000, putting them way over towards the left-hand side of the curve. Instead of being symmetrical, like a bell, it would be skewed. Its shape would be a little like that of a child's slide, the ladder rising sharply to a peak, the working part sloping gradually down. The mean would be quite a distance from the median. "

But Jersey statistics united stresses that

“A median average cannot be calculated from the company-level data collected for the Index of Average Earnings, since this requires earnings at an individual employee level.”

Jersey uses a sampling method, which cannot do this.

Guernsey, of course, simply uses the Social Security figures to get the median earnings at an individual employee level, because as long as the median is below the upper threshold for maximum social security, the figures will still get you the median. They have been doing this for years, and I only found out when I attended a presentation and was flabbergasted to see them using medians when the Jersey statistics unit assured me it was not possible.

Their reports note this:

“Earnings data is recorded by the Social Security Department each quarter and is used to calculate median earnings of employees. The median is the middle value when data are sorted into numerical order. It is a measure of earnings from primary employment, unadjusted for the number of hours worked i.e. the level can be impacted both by changes in the number of hours worked and rates of pay.”

“The data used in this bulletin are supplied by the Social Security Department and include all employed people in the Bailiwick (excluding Sark) earning over the lower earnings limit.”

So the Guernsey reports are full of details about median wages, which are much more informative that Jersey, all of which use the mean, and are therefore subject to distorting effects from hgh earners.

Guernsey also notes that:

“nominal median earnings increased by 2.3% between the year ending December 2015 and the year ending December 2016, from £30,953 to £31,656”

And they also look at quartile earnings, which provide a very useful measure of how wages are spread and how they vary:

“Using four quarter averages, the lower quartile earnings increased by 3.0% between the years ending 31st December 2015 and 31st December 2016, whilst the upper quartile earnings increased by 2.4%.

The lower quartile comes to £21,848 per annum, while the upper is £46,616 per annum.

They also have a table showing “the median, lower and upper quartile earnings of all employees by age group”

“The highest median earnings (£37,180) occurred in the 40-44 age group. The lowest median earnings were in the youngest and oldest age groups, at £15,990 and £18,850 respectively.”

Why can’t we have such detailed statistics rather than ones skewed by still using the average mean for wages?

Like standard deviation, mean is very sensitive to the most abnormal of values, particularly very high values. Why would one use a measure for what people “typically” earn, that is so strongly affected by atypical salaries?

Time for change?

Monday, 28 August 2017

In the Place de La Bastille

Something easy today as I have a bad cough and a heavy head!

On July 14, 1789, a Parisian mob broke down the gates of the ancient fortress known as the Bastille, marking a flashpoint at the beginning of the French Revolution.

This is G.K. Chesterton's comment on the fall of the Bastille, and what it was signified when architecture is destroyed; he makes some interesting points about ideology and architecture. What would he have to say about our modern finance centre, with its blank cube like structures, I wonder. He might well say that it reflects a society which has lost any strong self-image, in which the elements of buildings are reduced to the simplest and the blandest forms. Functionality has replaced aesthetics. It is hard to imagine the Jersey International Finance Centre ever being preserved as a heritage site, even in a hundred years.

In the Place de La Bastille
by G.K. Chesterton

The destruction of the Bastille was not a reform; it was something more important than a reform. It was an iconoclasm; it was the breaking of a stone image. The people saw the building like a giant looking at them with a score of eyes, and they struck at it as at a carved fact.

For of all the shapes in which that immense illusion called materialism can terrify the soul, perhaps the most oppressive are big buildings. Man feels like a fly, an accident, in the thing he has himself made. It requires a violent effort of the spirit to remember that man made this confounding thing and man could unmake it.

Therefore the mere act of the ragged people in the street taking and destroying a huge public building has a spiritual, a ritual meaning far beyond its immediate political results. It is a religious service. If, for instance, the Socialists were numerous or courageous enough to capture and smash up the Bank of England, you might argue for ever about the inutility of the act, and how it really did not touch the root of the economic problem in the correct manner. But mankind would never forget it. It would change the world.

Architecture is a very good test of the true strength of a society, for the most valuable things in a human state are the irrevocable things—marriage, for instance. And architecture approaches nearer than any other art to being irrevocable, because it is so difficult to get rid of. You can turn a picture with its face to the wall; it would be a nuisance to turn that Roman cathedral with its face to the wall.

You can tear a poem to pieces; it is only in moments of very sincere emotion that you tear a town-hall to pieces. A building is akin to dogma; it is insolent, like a dogma. Whether or no it is permanent, it claims permanence like a dogma.

People ask why we have no typical architecture of the modern world, like impressionism in painting. Surely it is obviously because we have not enough dogmas; we cannot bear to see anything in the sky that is solid and enduring, anything in the sky that does not change like the clouds of the sky. But along with this decision which is involved in creating a building, there goes a quite similar decision in the more delightful task of smashing one. The two of necessity go together.

In few places have so many fine public buildings been set up as here in Paris, and in few places have so many been destroyed. When people have finally got into the horrible habit of preserving buildings, they have got out of the habit of building them. And in London one mingles, as it were, one's tears because so few are pulled down.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Exceptional Hats?

From "The Pilot", 1967, comes this, an interesting historical ramble.

Some Church Customs Explained
By S.G. Thicknesse

Exceptional Hats?

A early as the fourth century A.D., bishops in the West tended to appear in hats on ceremonial occasions, but the best authorities deny that they ever went into church in them until centuries later.

When Pope Constantine [not to be confused with the Emperor Constantine] made a State entry into Constantinople at the beginning of the eighth century he wore a tiara-perhaps an elaboration of the classic wreath or crown. But usually bishops were likely to wear a form of the `phrygian cap'. It would be quite natural for this helmet-like cap to be made of white stuff, sometimes stiffened to make it stand up. Its name in Greek was mitra.

But the evidence is that for many centuries people would have been exceedingly shocked if a bishop had gone into church with his head in any such covering.

There almost sounds still a breath of scandal in the seventh century exclamation of the historian Simeon, Archbishop of Thessalonica: `Every bishop and priest of the East, with the exception of the Patriarch of Alexandria, says Mass with his head bare '

Indeed when as late as the tenth and eleventh century in the West (but not till the sixteenth century in the East) it began to be not unheard - of for a bishop to appear even inside the church in his mitre, it seems as - though this procedure had started through frailty or absentmindedness. 

It may well have been a rather old Bishop of Rome who in the tenth century first went on into St. Peter's in the mitre which he had always worn in procession to the great door. But the innovation, once made, became customary in Rome.

Like the fabled garter of the Countess of Salisbury which Edward III raised to be the emblem of the most coveted order of knighthood, the wearing of a mitre in church, because it had become a peculiarity of the Bishop of Rome, became a dignity to be sought and granted elsewhere as a special favour.

Three years before William of Normandy invaded England, Pope Alexander II even honoured Abbot Egelsinus of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, by making him the first abbot ever to be granted a mitre.

Soon the novelty wore off and mitres turned conventional. They therefore had to vie with one another in magnificence. Since all the other bishops in Western Christendom had adopted liturgical mitres, the Pope differentiated his, first by the single encircling crown, then in the thirteenth century by a second, and finally in the fourteenth by a third. 

The Bishop of Durham encircled his mitre with a ducal coronet when it surmounted the armorial bearings of his see.

John Peckham, Archbishop of Canterbury, although he was a Franciscan, paid £174 4s. 1d. for his mitre in the thirteenth century (at a time when an ox could be bought for thirteen shillings, 104 eggs for eightpence, and a blacksmith might make eight shillings per month), although, in the fourteenth, Bishop John Drokensford of Bath and Wells gave only £23 6s. 8d. for two. Abbot Thomas Delamare in the brass in St. Albans Abbey wears a fine example of a great mitre of his time.

With bishops so lordly, and mitres a symbol of their mightiness spiritual and temporal, it is not at all surprising that clerics of every grade should also expect to appear in church in a version of the distinctive caps which they customarily wore out of doors. These had been a form of skull cap (specially welcome to the shaven crowns of mediaeval clerks) which had taken the place of the old hood of the rough cloak known as the `birrus'. Perhaps their Italian name biretta or beretta was thence derived.

These soft caps in time had become slightly higher, being easily pinched into dents by the hand that removed or replaced them. Then these dents, either three or four, became formalized, as they are to-day. Despite prohibitions, in England made as late as the thirteenth century, clergy of all ranks in time managed to keep on their birettas in church.

Indeed, a little later, noblemen and others generally were also keeping on their peculiar hats, and did so intermittently, in England, till the early nineteenth century.

But a memory remains even to-day, wherever mitres or birettas are still worn, of the compromise with primitive custom which their introduction signified. A bishop or priest by formal rubric discards the head covering at prayer. He wears it only when he is processing, when he is seated, or, like the judge who puts on the black cap to pronounce sentence, when he exercises spiritual jurisdiction.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

The Nightingale

One from my "back catalogue", this was written on the 15th June 2005.

The Nightingale
(based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen)

Sweet was the song, in the dawn
The Emperor strolling on his lawn
Heard the nightingale, wished then
That the singing would go on again
Never ending, and so he was sent
An artificial bird, marvel of orient
Springs and cogs and sapphire eyes
Fashioned by men of cunning, wise
And the nightingale, she went away
In sorrow, not heard by night or day
While the other lay on a silk cushion
The real bird was exiled to far horizon
Banished from all the realm and land
To the farthest shores of distant sand
But then the mechanism broke one day
Cogs worn out, it could no more play
And now there was no bird to sing
No more the living, vibrant, wing. 

For five long years, there was no song
Deepest sorrow on land for great wrong
The Emperor fell ill, so cold and pale
Death came to him who had been hale
Standing before, wearing a gold crown
Holding sword, arrayed in purple gown
Strange faces came in sight, some kind
But some grim, hideous, faces maligned
The Emperors’ good and evil deeds in part
Come now that Death sitting on his heart
But at the height of distress, a song came
Beautiful singing, hope and joy proclaim
The strange shapes grew faint, faded now
Still the nightingale sang, to life endow
Death floated like a cold mist, gone away
The Emperor weeping tears, began to pray
Gave thanks for nightingale, a bird in sight
And its melody of life, of breath, of light.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Beautiful Britain - The Smaller Channel Islands - Part 2

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 - The Smaller Channel Islands - Part 2: Sark, Herm, etc.


To Sark we come at last in our long exploration of the Channel Islands, and for Sark we may well be content to have waited patiently, and to have wandered far. For this, by universal acclamation, is certainly the gem of the whole group.

Already we have often seen it in the distance-a long, level line of cliff (save where broken by the Coupee)-from the north coast of Jersey, or from the piers at St. Peter Port. Now, as we approach it more closely, threading the narrow strait between Herm and Jethou, and doubling the cliffs of Little Sark, at the south corner of the island, this hitherto unbroken, monotonous wall begins to resolve itself into an infinity of broken cliffs and promontories, isolating and half concealing a thousand fairy-like bays.

Surely nowhere else is another coast like this - everywhere so irregular in its general trend and outline - everywhere so deeply bitten into by the mordant unrest of the sea. Sark, we have said already, is little else than coast ; and certainly it is the coast which first arrests and charms us, and the coast which lingers last and most clearly in our memory, when other impressions begin to be obliterated, or vanish altogether in the steady lapse of years.

Not a yard of this gracious girdle of cliff is monotonous, or repeats itself, or is even grim (as parts of the coast of Alderney are grim), or is relatively less interesting, or less beautiful, or dull; everywhere and always it is singularly lovely, and everywhere and always at the same high pitch.

There is really very little to be said about Sark, except that the whole island is beautiful throughout : there is nothing to be gained by giving a long catalogue of successive promontories, caves, and bays. It was thus that Olivia made a schedule of her beauty-" item, two lips indifferent red ; item, two grey eyes, with lids to them ; item, one neck, one chin, and so forth "-and at the end of the inventory we have no better picture of the real Olivia than before she was thus appraised in detail.

The Colonization of Sark

The history of Sark, for so small an island, is unusually interesting, and in some respects instructive. It is set out by Miss Carey in an interesting chapter, and some of its episodes may be summarized here.

Sark, like its sister islands, must have been occupied by neolithic man, for the remains of two poor dolmens still exist in the island, and formerly, no doubt, there were very many more. St. Magloire, in the sixth century, built a chapel and founded a small monastery in the island, but apparently he found it unpopulated when first he arrived.

In the middle of the fourteenth century the island was inhabited by a crew of lawless wreckers, who were a menace to the navigation of the whole Manche. The merchants of Rye and Winchelsea then put their heads together, and agreed to do by subtlety what they could not effect by force.

Landing on Sark with an armed force must well-nigh have been impossible, till Helier de Carteret cut his tunnel through the rocks, when he colonized the island in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The merchants, accordingly, constructed a piece of strategy that may well have been borrowed from the Trojan horse, but in that case was certainly invested with much ingenious detail of its own.

The story is told by Sir Walter Raleigh in his History of the World, though, as Miss Carey points out, he post-dates the incident by some 100 years, and describes it as having occurred to the crew of a Flemish ship.

"Yet by the industry of a gentleman of the Netherlands [the island] was in this sort regained. He anchored in the Road with one Ship, and, pretending the death of his Merchant, he besought the French that they might bury their Merchant in hallowed Ground, and in the Chapel of that Isle Whereto (with Condition that they should not come ashore with any Weapon, not so much as with a Knife), the French yielded."

"Then did the Flemings put a coffin into their Boat, not filled with a Dead Carcass, but with Swords, Targets, and Harquebuzes. The French received them at their Landing, and, searching everyone of them so narrowly as they could not hide a Penknife, gave them leave to draw their Coffin up the Rocks with great difficulty . The Flemings on the Land, when they had carried their Coffin into the Chapel, shut the Door to them, and, taking their Weapons out of the Coffin, set upon the French."'

The final settlement of Sark - which the French call Serq - dates only from the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when Helier de Carteret established himself on the then deserted island, and planted there forty families, whom he brought from his native Jersey. He also built a church, and instituted a Presbyterian Vicar, Cosme Brevint-being himself a Presbyterian-who continued to hold office till his death in 1576, being one who spared, or flattered, no one, " great or small, in his reprehensions."

It is rightly said that the constitution of Sark is still largely feudal in character. The land is parcelled out into the original forty holdings, and some of these are said still to be held by descendants of the original holders. The lord of the island is still the Seigneur, though the lordship has passed from the hands of the de Carterets-it is said that they were compelled to part with it by reason of their lavish expenditure on the thankless Stuart cause.

In the so-called " Battery " at the back of the Manor-House is one of the old guns that were given by Elizabeth to Helier de Carteret. It is inscribed, " Don de Sa Majeste la Royne Elizabeth, au Seigneur de Serq, A.D. 1572."

Of the smaller islands of the Norman archipelago only a word or two need be added here. Roughly halfway between Sark and Guernsey, and separated from each other by a narrow passage that is difficult to navigate by reason of its hidden rocks and surging tides, are the small twin islands of Jethou and Herm.

The latter is now occupied by a German Prince [Prince Blücher], the great-grandson of the famous Prussian leader, the exact place of whose meeting with Wellington after the field of Waterloo - whether at Belle Alliance, or farther along the road towards Genappe-has often been made the topic of historical discussion, and is anyhow the subject of a well-known picture.

Jethou is considerably the smaller of the two, and is principally devoted to the purpose of a rabbit- warren. In Herm are some remains of the old Chapel of St. Tugual, incorporated with the outbuildings of the present manor-house. Previous to 1770 Herm was inhabited by deer ; and Mr. Bicknell tells us that they used to take advantage of the tide to swim over to the Vale in Guernsey to feed, returning on the next tide." Certainly it is lucky that there are now no deer in Herm, since they would not find much pasture now at Vale.

Jethou and Herm belong to Guernsey, and once, no doubt, were physically parts of it. As seen from St. Peter Port, with Sark dimly descried on the distant horizon, they still contribute largely to Guernsey's most charming seascape. Alderney and Sark, again, have each their attendant isle. Jersey alone, though the biggest of them all, is a planet without a satellite.

The islet peculiar to Sark is Brecqhou, or the Ile des Marchants, which lies off its west coast, and is separated from it by the narrow Gouliot Strait, only a few hundred yards wide. Though measuring more than seventy acres, and possessed of a small landing-place, it is at present as innocent of human habitation as was Sark itself immediately before the coming of Helier de Carteret.

Burhou is situated at a considerably greater distance to the north-west of Alderney, from which it is separated by the never-resting Swinge. This is, perhaps, the least visited among all the lesser islands, as is Alderney itself among the major four.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

And so to bed

And so to bed... and a few more quotes with pictures and photos.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Charlotte Eriksson:

I woke up early and took the first train to take me away from the city. The noise and all its people. I was alone on the train and had no idea where I was going, and that’s why I went there.

Two hours later we arrived in a small town, one of those towns with one single coffee shop and where everyone knows each other’s name. I walked for a while until I found the water, the most peaceful place I know.

There I sat and stayed the whole day, with nothing and everything on my mind, cleaning my head. Silence, I learned, is some times the most beautiful sound.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Abhijit Naskar:

A person may hold his own beliefs and creeds to be dearest, and nourish them with all his might, but the moment he starts preaching the exclusive greatness and dominance over all other systems of beliefs and creeds, the world begins to plunge into a death trap.

And so to bed... quote for tonight from Abraham Lincoln:

As a nation, we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal, except negroes.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.' When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty – to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

And so to bed... quote for today is from Madeleine L'Engle:

At Tara in this fateful hour,
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness:
All these I place,
By God's almighty help and grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness!

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Mary Oliver:

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Brian Cox:

Life, just like the stars, the planets and the galaxies, is just a temporary structure on the long road from order to disorder. But that doesn't make us insignificant, because we are the Cosmos made conscious. Life is the means by which the universe understands itself. And for me, our true significance lies in our ability to understand and explore this beautiful universe.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from James Hilton:

When you grow older you miss that eagerness; life may be happy, you may have health and wealth and love and success, but the odds are that you never look forward as you once did to a single golden day. You never count the hours to it, you never see some moment ahead beckoning like a goddess across a fourth dimension.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Brown Study

There is a 10-page briefing dated 24 September 1996 prepared for a meeting between the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and the Australian Select Committee on Child Migrants on 1 October 1996 when John Major was Prime Minister,

It’s a pretty appalling document, as it totally repudiates all responsibility for the forced immigration of children to Australia and Canada.

"It is important to resist the temptation to apply modern standards and values when considering a policy that dates back more than a century. The government does not, therefore, consider itself in any way responsible for the proportionately small number of cases in which the scheme failed to live up to its objective."

"The schemes were sanctioned by parliament under successive governments, none of which dealt directly with individual cases. The government does not, therefore, consider itself in any way responsible for the proportionately small number of cases in which the scheme failed to live up to its objective. Furthermore, as regards any former child migrants visiting the UK to contact their families, the normal social security rules will apply to them."

Fortunately much of that changed when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister. He was Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010 and under his leadership, the first steps were taken to address the terrible wrongs that had been done to children.

Giving evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Brown said the mass transportation of 130,000 British children overseas between the 1940s and 70s amounted to “government-enforced trafficking”.

Here is part of his submission to the Inquiry,

Forced child migrant schemes were 'government-induced trafficking'

It came to me as an issue in 2007 to 2010. There had been a Health Committee Inquiry in 1998 and a report had been done, but it was only in these years, these later years, that I came to be told of the scale of the problem -- 130,000 child migrants -- the huge violation of human rights, and we were dealing here with the loss of identity, the loss of family, the loss of a sense of belonging; something equivalent, you might say, to a modern form of government-induced trafficking. We knew then it had gone on for many decades unchecked and had continued until the 1970s. But all of this was not known to me, as Chancellor or as Prime Minister, until it was brought to my attention in detail after I became Prime Minister.

I think we have got to divide this into two separate issues. The first was just what I mentioned: the urgent desire to secure an apology and some form of family, you know -- people coming together as families again, family restitution, if you like, for the remaining persons who had been child migrants who had never been in touch with their family, who didn't know, in some cases, what family existed, and this was the pressing issue.

It is only after 2010 that I have become aware -- and I wrote to the inquiry about this -- of both the existence of a high level of abuse, that this happened in a number of countries, that it happened in some cases in Britain before the children left the country, in some cases it appears it happened during the time that they were in transit to the new country, and this opened a completely new dimension to this whole issue that we were not aware of -- perhaps should have been, but were as serious, and perhaps more serious, about the individuals concerned is not dealt with in the apology.

In my view, it leads to the question of whether the duty of care that the government or successive governments should have had in relation to these children was properly transacted; whether, of course, in the countries to which they went the authorities should be held responsible; and it does for me raise the issue of compensation.

In 2010, the issue was restoring family links. That was the central thing before large numbers of people who were very old eventually died: they wanted to be reunited with their families. The money was made available so they could be reunited with their families.

The issue at that time was not compensation; the issue was reuniting families. The issue now, I am afraid, because of the evidence we now have, and I hope that you will be able to draw more of it together to get some more dimensions of the scale of the problem, the issue is whether the duty of care that the United Kingdom Government did have a responsibility for people who had been born in Britain that we had sent abroad as a country, whether that duty of care was carried out, and, if not -- which I believe it to be the case, and you are dealing particularly with people who were not aware of -- before 2010, and it is a different order of problem.

The focus was on the families being reunited. The injury was the violation of the human rights of these children who had been denied a proper identity, denied a family life, denied a sense of belonging. These terrible violations of human rights. That was the focus. That is why the issue was a family restoration fund, and perhaps not other things that you might think might have been discussed at the time, like individual compensation. The issue was, how quickly could we get the families to be reunited, given all the difficulties of the information being found and then the journeys being conducted, and then the cost of doing so, some people having to come with carers, for example.

So giving compensation at that time was not as relevant as making available all the costs for a family to be reunited with travel, carers sometimes, other expenses involved for people to meet together. So that is what the issue was.

So the apology of 2010, I want you to be clear, dealt with only half of the story. I personally added a reference when I spoke to the migrants in 2010, February, to what I said were stories that I had been given of sexual abuse, but I had no evidence of any standing that I could go on, but I did add it because I was worried that this may be something that should have been dealt with at a later stage.

But it is only since 2010 that someone like me has become aware of both the scale, the geographical scope and the long lastingness of this problem of abuse, undetected, unchecked, unreported on.

Now, you, as an inquiry, must look at why people like me were never told, why departments in government may have had some information but it wasn't transmitted, but you are dealing with a completely different order of problem that the apology does not cover in 2010, which I believe you have now got to look at, and it raises for me issues about the duty of care.

The first issue about people being transmitted to other countries -- transported against their will and without their proper knowledge of what was happening is dealt with in the apology, but the second issue that is those who were abused, and what compensation should be provided, and I hope that you will bring a government minister to this inquiry to answer why, now that evidence has been made available after 2010, the government has not changed its position on this issue, because I believe it should and they should be offered compensation and a scheme should be drawn up to make that possible.

You know that in Australia that is now being done and you know in Northern Ireland it has been recommended. I think you now have a duty to look at those people who were abused and what can be done. I have a duty, and others have a duty, to look at all the child migrants and to see, even in cases where there was not sexual abuse proven, even in these cases, whether the duty of care was.

I did met Kevin Barron, chair of the Health Select Committee, a couple of years before the apology, and there may have been other people there at this meeting. Again, I think we have to be clear that the emphasis was almost entirely about reuniting families and about an apology. I think I do answer in detail there what I recall of that. 

I think it should be emphasised to the inquiry that what the Child Migrants Trust was asking for, what Kevin Barron was asking for, what previous Health Select Committees were emphasising, what the Department of Health was focusing on, was both an apology and money to be provided so that families could be reunited urgently, because I think there are now only 2,000 child migrants who are said to be alive. The figure would have been higher in 2008/2009, but it was urgent that these families had the chance to be reunited and that was an expensive thing to do and money should be provided.

I think you have to remember, there were 130,000 children who had been migrated. We were dealing with this huge number of people who had never had any satisfactory redress simply for this act of removal.

That was obviously the main emphasis of what we were discussing, and whether we could reunite the families.

It is very difficult, I think, now, given what we know about both the scale and the existence of sexual abuse, to think of these conversations being almost exclusively about the migration issue. But that was what people were concerned about, and that is what people wanted redress for.

If I may say so, the issue is not what I knew, because I knew very little and was given very little information on this. As I said, myself, I added this reference in 2010. The issue is what was known within the civil service or what was known with reports that were coming from Australia and elsewhere that was not disclosed to ministers or was not thought to be important enough to be raised as a public issue, and

I think that's where your inquiry may pay some dividend in examining this. I know you had the Department of Health yesterday, but I can't help you as much on this as perhaps some of the officials who were dealing with these issues at the desk at the time.

The idea of giving a national apology came out of discussions, obviously, with the Department of Health and my discussions with Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister of Australia. The first time that I saw this, I felt we had to do something that was very different from what had previously been done. Some things come to you as papers and you look at them and say, "Well, we will deal with that. We will deal with that".

When I first realised the numbers involved and what had actually happened, this violation of human rights, which, as I say, was a government-enforced form of human trafficking, I knew immediately that we had to do something.

Then we had to look at what could be done and, therefore, there was a discussion about an apology, there was a discussion about the family restoration fund, there was a discussion about what else could be considered. But I certainly made the decision that we had to do something significant. But it was, I have got to emphasise, on the issue of forced migration.

The Australian Government were thinking of a more general apology for abuse, if I remember rightly. They had also dealt with the problem of the minorities in Australia, the Aborigines, Aboriginals, and how they had dealt badly with them in the past. So Australia wanted to move, and so did we.

Kevin Rudd and I had very good relationships. We had talked about it quite a lot at meetings we had had, about how we would go about this. Eventually, our apology came after theirs, but it was no more significant, I think, because it was us, Britain, who had been responsible for initiating this policy of sending people abroad and it was us who had continued with this policy despite the evidence that it was – it should have been changed.

I cannot emphasise enough that I do not believe that we would be sitting here today looking at this particular aspect of abuse had it not been for the work of Margaret Humphreys and the Child Migrants Trust and for the fact that Select Committees had been prepared to look at this when there were other issues that they could have looked at at the time.

So we do owe a debt of gratitude that this came to people like me who had to make a decision because of the work that they had done in making us aware of this.

I just want to emphasise this: I obviously was in touch with the Child Migrants Trust during the period before 2010 and, when I made the apology in 2010, I consulted them and in fact I feel that I probably added the words about sexual abuse having talked briefly to Margaret Humphreys. I can't remember exactly all the detail of that.

But it was the Child Migrants Trust and Margaret Humphreys who alerted me after 2010, not before, but after 2010, that there was a different dimension to this, and that's why I wrote to the chairman of the inquiry and that's why I raised the issue that I felt that this issue had not been properly dealt with, that the inquiry and the apology -- sorry, the apology was only half the story and that we had to delve into what had really happened and we had to consider what we did about what was a failure in the duty of care.

Of course the major failure is in Australia and in Canada and in other places where the abuse actually happened. But it was a failure generally of the duty of care on the part of us in sending people without knowing and following and monitoring what had happened to them, and, of course, I then found that there were cases of abuse within Britain before these children had been sent abroad, and I think you have now got detail of that, and I have read stories that have been given to me by migrants on this, and of course there was an issue about sometimes the children in transit, that there were questions to be asked and answered about that.

So my dealings with the Child Migrants Trust were almost entirely before 2010 and the department on the issue of forced migration. It is since 2010 that I and others, I believe, have been aware -- made aware of the scale of the problem that we are now discussing in this inquiry, and it is to your credit that you are looking at this in detail, but I do think you have a duty to delve into where the failures were in government, but also you have got to consider, in my view -- and I make this as a plea to you -- a scheme of redress that should be available to all those who were abused. But in my view, probably because the duty of care was not carried out properly, it should be available to all the remaining child migrants who are still alive.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Fun With Intelligence Tests 2

These come from an extremely old compendium of games that I've had for many years. I've hidden the answers on another blog page - there's a link at the bottom of this one.

Fun With Intelligence Tests 2

HAVE you ever tried any Intelligence Tests? Here are some to play with. No doubt you are an intelligent person, but what sort of intelligent person are you? Are you quick in the uptake?

Can you reason? Can you perceive what is relevant and what irrelevant? Have you a sense of logic? Here is your chance to find out.



A DELIGHTFUL and wholly unexpected thing happened to me the other day. It happened in this way.

Walking down Regent Street, I heard someone say: " Good heavens ! There's old Puffin !

" Hullo, hullo, hullo, little girl ! And what is your name ? "

I turned round. It was an old Oxford friend of mine. We had not met, nor heard anything of one another, for over twenty years.

Naturally we stopped and exchanged our news. " I'm married," my friend said. " Are you? And have you any family? This is my youngest daughter."

I shook hands with the child-a solemn, self-possessed little thing, I should judge about eight years old.

" And what is your name? " I asked her.

" Rachel."

" Rachel," said I. " That is nice ! The same name as your mother's."

Now how did I know that ?


" LET'S HAVE a bicycle race," suggested Walter to Dick.

" Good idea," said Dick. " Except, of course, that we've only the one bicycle."

"I know," said Walter.. "But I've thought out a plan for getting round that difficulty. The road between Fairfield and Stonehurst is perfectly level, and it has a good surface all the way. Moreover there are milestones all the way along. So I suggest that one of us should ride the bike from-say-the first milestone to the fifth ; the other from the fifth milestone to the tenth. Then we'll take our respective times with a stop-watch."

" Okay," said Dick.

The " race ", however, was a failure. Can you detect the flaw in Walter's plan ?

Potted Personalities

RHYMED clues are given to the identity of famous men and women.

This Dictator began
His career as a " Parliament man
But the " Rump "
Gave him the hump.

Though not a success with his cakes
(He landed himself " in the gravy ")
As King, he made few mistakes-
And he founded the British navy !

In his garden, a falling apple
Attracted the notice of a mathematician,.
And he sat him down to grapple
With the cosmic force that keeps things in position.

Among English kings, Richard the Second
One of the least glorious is reckoned ;
He received an unpleasant jolt
From the leader of a Peasants' Revolt.

A workhouse boy escaped the " horrid grind "
Of poverty. He did some great things. E.g.
He went to a " dark continent " to find
A living stone ; and found him-at Ujiji.

Answers at:

Monday, 21 August 2017

Careless Explanations in a Post-Truth World

Careless Explanations in a Post-Truth World

Donald Trump is the leading exponent of “post-truth” politics—a reliance on assertions that “feel true” but have no basis in fact. Two pieces in the JEP have both argued that it doesn’t matter if politicians make statements that are untrue, as long as they end up with good results. Matters of what’s true and what’s false are irrelevant.

In his letter to the JEP, Gerard Baudains tells us that “Deputy Andrew Lewis stepped into the breach. I am no fan of his but nevertheless he grasped the situation and came to the conclusion that Lenny Harper, the investigating officer was essentially out of his depth and the only person who could control him was the Chief of Police, Mr Power. And as a result, Mr Power had to be suspended. Which the minister duly did.”

He concludes by saying: “I was there and I didn’t feel misled”.

Well if that is how he understood the debate, either he had not been paying attention, or his memory of events today is widely astray.

Graham Power was suspended in November 2008. Lenny Harper retired in August 2008, long before that.

Gerard Baudin’s explanation of how he remembers events plays fast and loose with time, because quite how suspending Mr Power in November could control Mr Harper, who had retired three months earlier, is beyond me!

I could not help but be reminded of an episode of “Yes Prime Minister”, where a comment is made of an individual that "Passage of time and separation from official records have perhaps clouded his memory.”

He concludes by saying: “I was there and I didn’t feel misled”. It is unfortunately more like, “I was there and I can’t remember it accurately at all.”

His error over time is duplicated in the article by John Boothman, where defending Andrew Lewis in the JEP.

Mr Boothman remarks that “The decisions to remove Mr Harper from leadership of Operation Rectangle and to suspend Mr Power, were vindicated by the Met Report”.

Graham Power was suspended in November 2008. Lenny Harper retired in August 2008, long before that.

There was no “decision to remove Mr Harper”. He retired. Mr Boothman also, it seems, suffers from this carelessness with events.

“Deputy Lewis did not say explicitly that he had read the Met report, whatever those listening at the time may have assumed.”

The transcript of the debate accurately records Mr Lewis as saying that: “I have read an alarming report from the Metropolitan Police which led me to this decision in the first place.”

How much more explicit do you want?

For someone defending someone else on the grounds that they did not intend to mislead, coming out with sloppy misleading statements themselves does not do Mr Lewis any favours. Mr Boothman clearly had not bothered to do his homework and check basic facts.

It seems that in their haste to put pen to paper, both Mr Baudains and Mr Boothman assume that if they make statements, they will be taken as true, regardless of the facts of the matter.

Whether they indented to mislead is something on which I am not going to speculate. But let us hope the public is not so easily deceived by these falsehoods.

“An imprecise answer with negligible consequences” says Mr Boothman. But playing fast and loose with matters of truth has a corrosive effect on democracy. In fact, this answer had clear consequences: it underpinned the rationale to suspend Mr Power.

As John Arundel Barnes says in his book: “A Pack of Lies: Towards a Sociology of Lying”:

“A politician who is seen to have lied is less likely to be believed the next time he or she tells the truth.”

The electorate has little enough trust in politicians. Let’s not make matters worse!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Never a Hat?

From "The Pilot", 1967, comes this, an interesting historical ramble.

Some Church Customs Explained
By S.G. Thicknesse

Never a Hat?

IN Jerusalem to-day, as in all places the world over where there are strict Muslims or strict Jews, men cover their heads when they pray, as they do when they eat or appear in public. There seems anciently to have been a different custom among the Jews: for example, Samson seems to have gone bareheaded and so, to his cost, did Absalom.

By the time of Christ, however, the other custom had become established, and it was understood that men covered their heads in order to show their humility and reverence before God. Their hair had in some sense become sacred, as it still is among Oriental peoples. It was something to be especially respected as a token that man had been made in the image of God. For a Jew to swear by his head or by his hair was a solemn oath; for a Jew to appear uncovered was a shame.

Probably Westerners rather vaguely think that all Christian men worship bare-headed, following St. Paul's ruling in his First Epistle to the Corinthians (ch. xi). But in fact there seems to have been neither this revolutionary intent nor effect in St. Paul's letter. St. Paul seems to have made not a general ruling but the notable decision that it was proper for Christians to follow the honourably accepted local custom in such matters as dress.

He therefore expected that Corinthian Christian men should go to church bare-headed, as they went elsewhere.

Certainly St. Paul has been taken in this sense. So, for example, converted Jews in Palestine through the first centuries kept strictly to every tittle of the Jewish law and custom, including the covering of the head. Similarly, Christian Arabs in Jordan to-day wear their head- coverings in church, though without the encircling cord, as they do as a sign of respect in everyday life.

Equally in the matter of the veiling of women, St. Paul was commending and confirming the best local customs.

It was not only deeply shocking to honourable Jews but also to honourable Greeks and Romans, that women should go bare-headed. It appears that some of the women converts at Corinth, inhabitants of the most important city of Greece under the Roman Empire, had misinterpreted St. Paul's teaching that `in Christ there can be no male or female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus'.

By copying the bare heads of the men, these women had been urging a revolution in social as well as in spiritual status, and it was to them that St. Paul addressed his arguments, justifying the honourable local customs for them as well as for the men.

Later in the West, Tertullian commented that a Christian prayed with bare head as he had no need to conceal a blush because of his prayers, unlike the heathen who, he insinuated, certainly needed to be hidden by their head-gear. St. Cyprian in Africa repeated the same argument.

Yet although it had become the custom for Christian men to appear in church uncovered-a custom strengthened by a different practice among lively pagans-some head-dresses were, in time, to appear on the heads of Christian men at worship. As soon as Christianity spread into the cold countries and, farther south, the old imperial provinces forgot their ancient austerity, Christians, like their neighbours, adopted the variety of hats suited to their rank.

Gradually these hats began to make their appearance, at first on notable heads, in church. So, from the tenth century, some bishops wore mitres in church on ceremonial occasions. Soon clerical head-dress in general became so varied and profuse that rules had to be made about it.

The Gregorian sacramentary, for instance, noted that no cleric should appear in church with a covered head `unless he have an infirmity'. It has been argued from the text that this applied only to the season of Lent.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Bells of Lundy

This poem sequence was inspired by listening to writer and poet Gwyneth Lewis experiences  in  the Radio 4 documentary "A Voyage to Lundy", in particular when she describes the Church and the bells.

With the Atlantic Ocean to the West, and the Bristol Channel to the East, Lundy lies eleven miles from the nearest mainland off North Devon. The Island is three miles long and half a mile wide, and covers 1,100 acres.

The current church of St Helen’s built by the Revd Hudson Grosett Heaven has been a notable feature of the Lundy skyline since 1897, but the history of Christianity on the island dates back as early as the 6th century.

The population of the island at the time was around 60 and was often swelled by visiting seamen, which explains its size. It is built using granite from the island and other materials brought in from Ilfracombe. Lundy became known as the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’.

There were eight bells. But the fittings for the eight church bells quickly corroded and the bells were taken down from the tower in the early 20th century. In 1994 they were restored and continue to attract many groups of visiting bellringers to Lundy. Two more bells were added in 2004.

But the original eight each had a unique inscription, and this poem is built around those inscriptions.

The Bells of Lundy

The Bell says: “I warn that the hour has now come for prayers”

Venus fading in the dawning day
Sunrise on sail in the Fastnet race
The bell calls for the hour to pray
Take shelter under wings of grace

The Bell says: “We all sing the praises of God”

Ding dong, hear this merrily on high
Across the years, the bell does ring
Praise to the Lord of the sea and sky
Come weary traveller, come and sing

The Bell says: “HGH, the Vicar, had us brought into being”

Reverend HG Heaven wanted bells
Sounding across the sea and spray
Heard on beach, and in sea shells
A call to worship, a time to pray

The Bell says: “Charles Carr & Co. made us AD 1897”

Hot iron in foundry cooling down
Across the sea, the bell rings out
For those in peril, lest they drown
Safer passage through tidal doubt

The Bell says: “When rung confusedly we announce dangers”

The storm bell sounds, thunder roars
The wind is rising, the gales severe
Batten down hatches, keep in doors
The bell says have hope, never fear

The Bell says: “When rung backwards we signify fires”

Lightning streaking across the sky
Burning the land with deadly hand
Sailing ships blaze with St Elmo’s fire
Bell calls to judgement on the land

The Bell says: “Rung in the right way we proclaim joys”

The bell rings out on Easter morn
An end to darkness, time of trial
The empty grave,a golden dawn
Joy to the world, and Lundy Isle

The Bell says: “I say farewell to the departing souls”

Abide with me, setting of the sun
Darkness of death, liminal space
All passion spent, all things done
Lundy Isle bell: threshold of grace

Friday, 18 August 2017

Beautiful Britain - The Smaller Channel Islands - Part 1

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 - The Smaller Channel Islands - Part 1: Alderney

Hitherto, in dealing with the two larger of the Channel Islands, we have found their claims to natural beauty in their coasts.

The interior of Jersey is no doubt pleasant, with its lush-green valleys running north and south, with its quiet little villages, and with its never-ending potato-fields. The interior of Guernsey, on the other hand, is frankly hideous, save here and there a cottage, or a picturesque old farm, hidden in the folding of some safely secluded dell.

But in both cases alike the real distinction of the island is limited to cliffs that for warmth of colour and strangeness of contortion can surely be paralleled in Cornwall alone. Sark, on the contrary, is almost wholly coast ; the interior in comparison is a negligible quantity ! And almost as much may be said of Alderney.

Both these islands are exceedingly small-Sark being only a trifle more than three miles in length, and about one and three-quarters of a mile in breadth (measuring, not precisely from east to west, but at right angles to the axis) ; and Alderney being about three and a half miles in length, from north-east to south-west, and one and a quarter miles in breadth.

Alderney is undoubtedly the less beautiful of the two, and is probably by far the least frequently visited of all the different members of the Norman archipelago. The voyage from St. Peter Port, in a very small boat, and made only two or three times in a week, is dreaded, and not without reason, by those for whom rough seas have no welcome.

Alderney, again, is the least foreign of the Channel Islands in local colour, though nearest France in situation ; and here the old Norman patois has been entirely replaced by English. It possesses in its capital, St. Anne, a small, old-fashioned country town that is wholly without parallel anywhere else in the islands. The harbour is at Braye, a short mile north from the centre of the town; and the visitor, in strong contrast with what happens at Sark, is landed in the least romantic corner of the island.

Of the old church nothing now remains but a picturesque tower, and even this does not seem to be medieval. The new church was erected from designs by Sir Gilbert Scott, and is, perhaps, the most striking modern building in the Channel Islands.

The interior of Alderney, or Aurigny, to use the French form - Her crew hath seen Castile's black fleet, beyond Aurigny's isle- is strongly individualized, and rather wild and remote. One feels at once that this little island has a flavour of its own-a state of things no longer felt among the villadom and glass-houses of Guernsey.

The strength of Alderney, however, lies chiefly in its west and south coasts ; no one would visit the island except to visit these, or unless one happened to be an enthusiast for the world's neglected and inaccessible spots. I do not know how far the barbarous quarrying that was projected some six or seven years ago on the south side of the island has since been carried out, or how far it has injured the amenities of the coast.

Anyhow, the Two Sisters, towards the south-west corner of the island, are hardly to be rivalled in their splintered grandeur, even in Jersey or Sark.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

And so to bed

And so to bed... another selection of quotes.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from William Shakespeare

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,
Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,
And Time, that gave, doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,
Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow.
And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

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

As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a Den, and I laid me down in that place to sleep: and, as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. I looked, and saw him open the book, and read therein; and, as he read, he wept, and trembled; and, not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, "What shall I do?"

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Bre McDaniel, The Tears of St Lawrence:

he was burned to death on a gridiron for the way he saw
all the criminals whose crime is being poor and staying alive,
defied the emperor whose every word was law
the tears of st lawrence are lighting up the sky
and the jewels of cornelia are standing by her side
three days left before he died
hid everything among the crippled and the blind,
stepped right up to the judge, his hands in cuffs
said, "these are the riches of the church and you look poor to us,"

the tears of st lawrence are lighting up the sky
and the jewels of cornelia are standing by her side
these are the treasures

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Elizabeth Enright:

Did you know that a bee dies after he stings you? And that there's a star called Aldebaran? And that around the tenth of August, any year, you can look up in the sky at night and see dozens and dozens of shooting stars?

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Michelle Cuevas:

Found in trees. Sometimes also in old silent movie theaters, seaside zoos, magic shops, hat shops, time-travel shops, topiary gardens, cowboy boots, castle turrets, comet museums, dog pounds, mermaid ponds, dragon lairs, library stacks (the ones in the back), piles of leaves, piles of pancakes, the belly of a fiddle, the bell of a flower, or in the company of wild herds of typewriters.
But mostly in trees.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Jodi Picoult (and reflects the weather outside):

It's raining... the kind of rain that comes down so heavy it sounds like the shower's running, even when you've turned it off. The kind of rain that makes you think of dams and flash floods, arks. The kind of rain that tells you to crawl back into bed, where the sheets haven't lost your body heat, to pretend that the clock is five minutes earlier than it really is.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Richard Adams (Watership Down):

Human beings say, "It never rains but it pours." This is not very apt, for it frequently does rain without pouring. The rabbits' proverb is better expressed. They say, "One cloud feels lonely": and indeed it is true that the sky will soon be overcast."

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

I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer -- and what trees and seasons smelled like -- how people looked and walked and smelled even. The memory of odours is very rich.

And to to bed... quote for tonight is from C.S Lewis:

Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’ in the woods of our experience.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from the Menologium:

And [after the feast of St James] after seven nights
of summer's brightness Weed-month slips
into the dwellings; everywhere August brings
to peoples of the earth Lammas Day. So autumn comes,
after that number of nights but one [i.e. on August 7],
bright, laden with fruits. Plenty is revealed,
beautiful upon the earth.