Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Golden Handshakes and Consultants

Annie Hacker: Reform the Civil Service. 
Jim Hacker: Impossible. Catch 22. 
Annie Hacker: Why? Jim Hacker: Supposing I suggested 50 terrific reforms, who would have to implement them? 
(BOTH): The Civil Service.
-- Yes Minister

Christopher Davey points out that despite assurances in the past, Chief Officers who leave early still seem to be getting a golden handshake, let it not be forgotten, in addition to a gold-plated public sector pension. How can there be any real controls on public sector spending when this still goes on is questionable.

The other matter both letter writers question is the expert team brought in to tackle "slimming down the civil service". The usual end result of this is cuts to front-line services, bringing outrage from the public. In recent years, police and fire services, for example, have seen a reduction in front-line staff. We never hear about the middle-management in these reductions. So let us hope this may result in something better that easy targets.

Kevin Keen, while wishing this team well, acknowledges they have an uphill struggle. He notes that "Ten years ago, I spent my summer working voluntarily on recommendations for saving public money, which I submitted to the Chief Minister: they were not well received." That would be Frank Walker, in 2007, just to provide clarity.

He also mentions his recent contract: "In 2015, I spent a brief period in Cyril Le Marquand House being paid to advise on public sector reform - I have to say that was probably the most depressing period of my working life, and I admit, an abject failure."

And let us not also forget this from 2010: "The man employed by the States to save the Island money is being paid nearly £1,000 a day and is staying at one of the most luxurious Island hotels, the JEP can reveal."

Senator Ozouf employed temporary Treasurer of the States Hugh McGarel-Groves on the grounds that he was needed to sort out problems with the public expenditure. But if the problems had been there under Terry Le Sueur's watch, why did he do nothing about it? And what came of any suggestions from Hugh McGarel-Groves?

A golden goodbye
From Christopher Davey.

FORGIVE me if my ageing memory has led me astray, but were we not assured, following the outcry created by the half-million.-pound golden handshake paid to Bill Ogley for his requesting an early stand-down from his post as chief executive, that such largesse would never, ever happen again?

Further, as we understood it, was not the current incumbent, as part of his remit, given the unenviable task of slimming down our civil service? After an initial burst of enthusiasm he, predictably, seems to have given up. You report that he too is now leaving early and, amazingly, he is being rewarded with the equivalent of a golden handshake of some £70,000 plus.

Further still, recognising the intractability of the task, the new man, wisely, is bringing across with him four dynamic consultants, who will be paid eye-watering daily sums - plus expenses for the six month tenure that has been assessed they will need to sort the problem.

As taxpayers, may we wonder, following the said UK consultants' specific recommendations being routinely ignored, what bonuses they will have had written into their contracts to cheer up their (early) return home?

Victor Meldrew moments? Or just the Jersey Way?

From Brian Bisson.

SO we have a new States chief executive, Charlie Parker, complete with eye watering salary, who even before he has found his office, let alone put his feet under his desk, has decided to bring to the island a team of top consultants, for `about six months' to put things right!

The cost to the taxpayer is more than £624,000. How many individuals' tax returns will be required to pay this expense alone? Mr Parker has rapidly got accustomed to the `Jersey Way' of spending taxpayers' money.

How Chief Minister Ian Gorst can link this to the Jersey Child Care inquiry is beyond me. Was this a unilateral decision on his part, or did it have the backing of the full Council of Ministers?

I hope that Mr Parker comes to the conclusion, sooner rather than later, that this island cannot afford a Council of Ministers who repeatedly raise more and more taxes from the working population, and island businesses alike - taxes which are stunting growth and holding back the economy.

I hope he discovers that politicians who govern and make policies based on ego and wish lists that this Island cannot afford are dangerous men. Generations to come will be saddled with debt bringing severe austerity and high taxes.

I hope that next year's election will bring forward some candidates who will put the people of the island first, ensure that policies are based on common sense, are affordable, prudent and ensure that we live within our means at all times.
Finally, congratulations to the Infrastructure Department on the completion of the St Peter's cycling and pedestrian pathway. I hope they will turn their attention to the Island's roads, which are a disgrace. A patchwork of repairs with large surface cracks appearing everywhere, the roads have been neglected for far too long. The work to resurface the roads will take years and cost millions

The time to start is now. One harsh winter and there will be potholes every few feet.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Pink is for boys?

A June 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw's Infants' Department said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

A blog by Grammarly notes that:

"Gender identification by colours began in the 19th century in the Western world. Before this, pink and blue did not hold any gender specific connotations and there are numerous examples of men wearing pink outfits and girls wearing blue; one French author, Xavier de Maistre in his work, A Journey Around My Room published in 1794, even recommended that men choose to paint their rooms pink and white to improve the mood."

The reasons are obscure, but Lauren Sadler suggests cultural influences of the day:

“Throughout the 19th century, children of both sexes were dressed in long white gowns. When gendered palettes came into vogue in the first two decades of the 20th century, boys were assigned pink and girls blue. This was a nod to symbolism that associated red with manliness; pink was considered its kid-friendly shade. Blue was the colour of the Virgin Mary's veil and connoted femininity”

Fashion scholar Valerie Steele notes that: "In the 18th century, it was perfectly masculine for a man to wear a pink silk suit with floral embroidery. Pink was considered slightly masculine as a diminutive of red, which was thought to be a warlike colour"

And this is still the case, when towards the end of the 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, Jay shows up to lunch with his mistress and her husband in a pink suit.

In a recent 2006 movie, costume designer Catherine Martin says she based the suit worn by Jay on the pink seersucker of the day, traditionally worn by the hired help, but which some of the wealthy New Yorkers decided was comfortable for summer.

In 1927, Time magazine printed a chart highlighting gender-appropriate colours for girls and boys according to leading U.S. retailers. Filene’s (in Boston), Best & Co. (in New York City), Halle’s (in Cleveland), and Marshall Field (in Chicago) all advised parents to dress boys in pink and girls in blue.

This article was inspired by news of the birth of a daughter to Princess Astrid of Belgium, who had decorated the cradle in pink, the traditional colour for boys in that country. And blue was still a “girl” colour in Switzerland.

Jo Paoletti in her book Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America, says that pink denoted health, as in the phrase “in the pink”: She says that “Young men and women might wear pink clothing; old men and women did not.”

"Pink and blue were suggested as interchangeable, gender-neutral nursery colours,' appearing together in many of the clothes and furnishings found in the baby's room"

The change seems to have happened sometime in the 1930s, driven by American manufacturers and retailers, and pushed hugely after the second world war, so that by the 1950s, pink for girls, blue for boys was firmly established as “traditional” although of course it was nothing of the kind!

As Paoletti notes, in 1927, colour preferences in shops in major US cities had 6 favouring pink for boys, blue for girls, and only 4 favouring the reverse.

The Taylor survey of its New York area customers in 1937 revealed that about three-quarters of them believed that pink was for girls and blue for boys, and the rest preferred the reverse.”

Paoletti comments that: “By the 1950s, pink was strongly associated with femininity. However, that connection was neither universal nor rigid; boys could still wear pink dress shirts and have pink frosting on their birthday cakes without risking gender confusion or public censure, and girls wore many colours besides pink”

But matters were becoming more rigid. In1959, the New York Times quoted a children's clothing buyer: "A mother will allow her girl to wear blue, but daddy will never permit his son to wear pink."

There were certainly commercial pressures. Paoletti notes that: “The more baby clothing could be designed for an individual child—and sex was the easiest and most obvious way to distinguish babies—the harder it would be for parents to hand down clothing from one child to the next, and the more clothing they would have to buy as their families grew.”

But the change was still gradual and there was never a point when there was a sudden break with the past, but just gradually, over decades, the colour reversal took place.

This become the norm, and so entrenched, that the cultural memory of the reverse became forgotten, and it was firmly believed that this was the “traditional” colour coding for boys and girls.

But as Jo Paoletti notes, "the conventions of 2010 are nearly the reverse of those in 1890"


Sunday, 29 October 2017

Meek and Mild?

This stained glass window in Grouville Church portrays a Christ who is anything but meek and mild! Anachronistically, he also holds a bible.

Meek and Mild?
From “The Pilot”, 1978

Hymn writers have a lot to answer for. Few of them are, or would even claim to be, theologians; and yet for the "man in the pew" the impact of the oft-repeated aphorisms contained in many of the best loved, is far more important in his religious thinking than the sermons he hears or the articles he reads.

Neither are hymn writers, with some notable exceptions, inspired or inspiring poets, and what theology they do express is all too often twisted by the exigencies of versifying, and more particularly of rhyme.

All of which perhaps explains why many of us have grown up with a most unrealistic, not to say stunted, view of the central figures of the Gospel story; Jesus, the Christ, and Mary, His Mother.

Gentle Jesus?

It is most unfortunate that the word "child" should so often in our hymnody have been made to rhyme with “mild". How many tough 10-year-old boys, forced to sing of "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild", have decided irrevocably that here is no hero to inspire by his example or lead into the way of truth? Who has not winced, or "tuned out" at the implications of the adjuration "Christian children all must be Mild, obedient good as He."?

Years ago a wise priest, setting up in his church what was then the "in" thing - a Children's Corner - searched for months before he found a picture of Jesus that would convey to the children who looked at it, something of the virility, the toughness of body and emotion, the dynamic personality of the Son of Man. He was one after all of compelling leadership, who gathered around him tough fishermen and hard-headed businessmen, as well as the thinkers and the devout; and who in his own person led them, in the face of all opposition and through the gate of suffering to turn the world upside down for him.

Basically, there's nothing wrong with the word "mild", a good Old English derivative meaning originally "gracious".

Perhaps it is the impact of the sickly advertisement on TV for "mild green Fairy liquid" that makes it nowadays so singularly unappropriate to the physically hardy, emotionally rock-like and spiritually dynamic figure that emerges from the pages of scripture. "Gracious" yes; "soft, calm, gentle and conciliatory, lacking in energy or vivacity" (as the modem dictionary defines the word) - one very much doubts it.

Mary, Full of Grace

And girls and women, too, need some more realistic picture than that of "Mary ... that mother mild", if they are to find in her the inspiration of their womanhood. And here not only the hymn-writers but the painters have let their emotions over-run their judgement. It was surely no pallid girl, looking as if she could not say "boo" to a goose, who took up God's challenge and sent back the message "Be it unto me according to Thy word".

Even from the start she must have realised the rough road that she was being called upon to follow. Only a strong healthy girl with great faith and fortitude could have survived the ordeals of the long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the birth in the stable and the flight into Egypt. The sword that pierced the side of her son on Calvary must have been foreshadowed again and again in her own experience (as indeed Simeon foretold).

She suffered all the usual anguish borne by a mother of an individualistic, strong-minded powerful personality, driven by a deep purpose in life to endanger his health and his life, again and again. And to watch any crucifixion, let alone that of your son, called for immeasurable reserves of faith and courage and endurance.

Mary was indeed gracious, "full of grace", but never "tame or feeble", to use another dictionary definition.

So we should be grateful to Zepherelli, who in his TV Life of Jesus did something to wipe away the unrealistic images of earlier painters and hymn-writers, and showed us a son of man born of a virgin Mary, credible in human terms and a great credit to their Creator whose divinity they so fully and richly incarnated.

Lady Day

March 25 is by the tradition of the Church called "Lady Day" and celebrates the Annunciation to Mary of her great opportunity and the overture to the drama of Salvation. But let us not overlook the words of Mary Coleridge:

"Mother of God! no Lady Thou,
Common woman of common earth.
`Our Lady' ladies call thee now,
But Christ was never of gentle birth-
A common man of common earth."
And between them, in God, they redeemed the world.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

All Soul's Night

All Soul's Night

Mist among gravestones, moonlit night
All Hallow’s Eve, the pumpkin’s ripe
The wizard puffing on his pipe
Shadow of wings against the night

Shades of the departed, out of sight
Mourning the dead, tears now wipe
Mist among gravestones, moonlit night
All Hallow’s Eve, the pumpkin’s ripe

Light in the darkness, the lantern bright
Held high by Hermit, flickering stripe
The veil is thin, the moment ripe
All shall be well, they whisper, quiet
Mist among gravestones, moonlit night

Friday, 27 October 2017

Jersey Our Island: Methodists, Mermaids and Music – Part 4

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

Jersey Our Island: Methodists, Mermaids and Music – Part 4
by Sidney Bisson

I was more successful with Godfrey's stone circle, which he claims to have been a witches' meeting place. It lies just outside the castle gateway, but even a drunken witch could have drawn a better circle, and I have never heard it suggested that the witches' brew was an intoxicating form of liquor. 

Whatever the stones may be, I doubt if they have any archaeological or necromantic significance. Mrs. Hawkes certainly does not mention them in her comprehensive survey of Jersey's prehistoric monuments.' 1 The Archaeology of the Channel Islands. Vol. II. The Bailiwick of Jersey, by Jacquetta Hawkes. 

In a field bordering the road that leads to L'Etacq I came across another group of stones which seems to be unrecorded by the archaeologists. Though possibly a natural feature, they look for all the world like the remaining uprights of a megalithic structure. Unfortunately the site was overgrown with gorse, and I had to balance the doubtful glory of an archaeological discovery against certain tears and scratches. I might have risked the scratches, but as D. claims all my surplus clothing coupons I took another look at my trousers before venturing among the prickles. Regretfully I decided that they were not nearly ready to be reduced to gardening status, so I passed on.

From near this point a path strikes across Les Landes towards the cliffs, beyond which the huge mass of granite known as the Pinnacle Rock rises a hundred and sixty feet from the sea. Impressive enough as a natural monument, the Pinnacle is doubly interesting by reason of the discoveries that have recently been made at its foot. 

The narrow strip that connects the Pinnacle with the mainland seems a curious place to choose for a habitation, but inhabited it was, and possibly for a very long period judging by the different types of pottery that have been dug up. Two stone ramparts which were uncovered at the same time probably give us the clue. Extending right across the col, they would make a small protected area, with the Pinnacle itself and the steep sides of the col for its other boundaries. 

In times when life was comparatively insecure this must have been billed by prehistoric house agents as a highly desirable and easily defended residence. What is not so clear is the purpose of the rectangular `house' of which the stone foundations lie just outside the enclosure. It looks like Roman work, but as there are no other Roman remains in Jersey with which it might be connected, its purpose must remain a mystery.

At the point where the road from Grosnez turns to go down to L'Etacq I stopped again to admire a view. Not rocky cliffs this time, but the gigantic gentle curve of the west coast. As fat as La Pulente a narrowing belt of silvery sand separates the sea from the land. Then the cliffs start again to form the south-west corner of the island.

This is the area of blown sand. At the L'Etacq end man has controlled it with a network of walls and hedges. Some of the earliest potatoes are grown here, and already they have been dug up and replaced by rows of little sticks. If you look closer you can see that at the foot of each stick is a tiny tomato plant. On a sunny day the heat on the sand is incredible and there is no means of irrigation. You would think that the plants would wither away under these conditions, yet in a couple of months you will come back and find that the first tomatoes are being picked.

At the other end of the bay the sand is not confined to the low coastal plain. It has piled up in the corner up to the level of the 250-foot plateau, and in one place extends a mile and a half inland. There is no cultivation here. In the years between the two great wars man tried to assert his superiority by dotting the narrow plain with little wooden bungalows. Everyone who could afford it, and some who couldn't, had some kind of pied-a-terre along the bay.

Starting as part of the town dweller's urge for a foothold in the country where he could spend a weekend in peace, the movement became so popular that it defeated its own object. St. Ouen's Bay became noisier than the town. Most of the original squatters sold out and started a fresh search for solitude. The newcomers did not want solitude. They wanted to race their motor-bikes and sports cars up and down the beach, to turn on their portable wireless sets and dance, to take off most of their clothes and sun-bathe. That was the only way they could think of to `get away from the neighbours' and shake off the last shreds of Victorian `respectability' which still clung hard to island life.

Today no trace of this hectic relaxation remains. Either for strategic reasons or because they were short of fuel, the Germans pulled down nearly every wooden hut in the bay. Gaiety and ugliness have gone; romance and beauty have returned. One wonders if the present generation still feels the urge to express its desire for freedom in this way. Or is modern life unconventional enough to make this kind of `escape-weekending' unnecessary? 

The boom in holiday camps suggests that perhaps we have not got as far as we thought in ridding ourselves of the inhibitions that caused the bungalow town to flourish. `Mother of Six' still writes indignant complaints to the local paper about young people who `parade the town in scanty garments.' In the next issue `Pro Bono Publico' thunders against those who `spoil our beautiful bays with holiday camps and unsightly huts.' Can't you see, dear `Mother of Six,' that it's because you won't let your children walk about the town in bathing costumes and sunbathe in the front garden that they will want to build an `unsightly hut' when they grow up, where they can enjoy a little freedom away from your over-anxious mind

Shorn of its bungalows, St. Ouen's Bay is one of the most romantic places in the island. Not colourfully and fairily romantic like the north coast, some people find it a desolate and dreary waste. But there is romance of another order that comes when you tramp the hill paths amongst the sand dunes on a day of high winds. You swallow it with great gulps of salty air. It bites into your flesh with particles of blown sand. It shouts aloud. Sounds most uncomfortable e All right. Let's leave it at that. You will probably find it desolate and dreary. 

As a corrective come with me to L'Etacq, where the bus will be waiting to take me home. There used to be two hotels here. The Germans gutted them both. They burrowed under the pyramid of rock that is supposed to give the place its name (though to derive L'Etacq from le tas the heap is not very sound philology) and stuck guns into its sides. They built fortifications on the rocky beach ...

Yet Romance rears its head again in the midst of desolation. It is always somewhere round the corner in Jersey if your eyes are open and your heart attuned. Can you look at the shell of that old cottage without a flutter? Its stone walls and high pitched roof still stand as proudly as on the day in 1743 when some local fisherman first displayed it to his bride. There is no doubt about the date. You can still see it on the lintel with the bride and bridegroom's initials linked by a heart.

1743  FHB ELGL

A lovely custom, this, of perpetuating in stone the date when you first set up housekeeping. You can still find examples of it on many an old granite house in Jersey.

One wonders if FHB and ELGL expected to raise a family. For there is only one living room in the cottage, with a single window, a narrow doorway, and an enormous fireplace.The room at the other end must have been where FHB kept his boat and nets. It has a wide entrance and no window. Was the bride a little disappointed, perhaps, to find that the commemorative stone had been placed over this entrance instead of over the front door?

Across the road a bare-chested Hercules is spreading seaweed on his tiny plot. I ask him if the cottage has a story. No, he knows nothing about it. It has always been there, always been empty, as long as he can remember.

There is no one else to ask, and the bus, with its two other passengers, is waiting. Some day I must remember to ask Godfrey. 

Thursday, 26 October 2017

And so to bed

And so to bed... another selection of poems from Facebook, last thing at night.

And so to bed... quote for tonight's rather wild night is from Dallas Kenmare Browne Kelsey:

I knew how the trees would change, the air grow misted and chill;
I felt the gold twilight under the trees, the smell of earth-mould and crushed acorns,
and last of all, I knew, the leaves of the fig-tree would turn gold and fall slowly, one by one,
(always the falling of the fig-leaves is heavy with infinite melancholy—)
then one day a great gale would come thundering through the trees,
strip the last leaves from the poplars, and leave the landscape bare.

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is from Ovid:

Gods of the sea and sky – since what is left but prayer? –
don’t shatter the ribs of our storm-tossed ship.
Often when one god presses, another brings help.
Fierce Neptune often challenged the cunning Ulysses:
Minerva often saved him from her uncle.
And however different I am from them,
who denies a power to me, against the angry god?
and won’t let my prayers reach the gods.

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

Did you ever watch a great wave shoot into a winding passage amongst rocks? If you ever did, you would see that the water rushed every way at once, some of it even turning back and opposing the rest; greater confusion you might see nowhere except in a crowd of frightened people. Well, the wind was like that, except that it went much faster, and therefore was much wilder, and twisted and shot and curled and dodged and clashed and raved ten times more madly than anything else in creation except human passions.

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is from Norton Juster:

Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Ernest Dowson:

Pale amber sunlight falls across
The reddening October trees,
That hardly sway before a breeze
As soft as summer: summer's loss
Seems little, dear! on days like these.
Let misty autumn be our part!
The twilight of the year is sweet:
Where shadow and the darkness meet
Our love, a twilight of the heart
Eludes a little time's deceit.

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

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

A Century in Advertising - Part 6

A Century in Advertising - Part 6

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

1916 - Horlicks

Horlicks is a malted milk hot drink developed by founders James and William Horlick.

In the initial stage of manufacturing, milled malted barley and wheat flour are mashed together in hot water where the starch is converted into sugars. To this sugar solution dairy powders are added. The water content is then evaporated to form a syrup that is dried in vacuum band driers to form a cake. This cake is milled into the finished powder.

1869: William Horlick from Ruardean, Gloucestershire emigrated to the United States.

1873: James Horlick, a pharmacist, joined his brother, William, in the US and together they founded the company J & W Horlicks in Chicago to manufacture a patented malted milk drink as an artificial infant food.

1875: Business moved to larger premises at Racine, Wisconsin, with an abundant supply of spring water.

1883: US patent 278,967 granted to William for first malted milk drink mixing powder with hot water.

1909–1910: Horlicks became popular as a provision for North Pole and South Pole expeditions by Robert Peary, Roald Amundsen, and Robert Falcon Scott

1914: James made a baronet. World War I saw extensive use of Horlicks drink at home and at the front, as can be seen in this 1916 advertisement.

1917 - Reduce your Flesh

Jeanne Walter patented a rubber bandage in 1904. The following year she invented a two-piece rubber suit of undergarments designed to retain perspiration and heat for therapeutic purposes. By 1909 this had developed into a severe-looking full-body garment that was supposed to compress all your extra flesh down into a svelte figure

Walter’s range grew to include specialised garments for different parts of the body – a brassiere to reduce large busts, leg wraps to create slender ankles and a beer-gut minimiser for men. Those with a double chin could try the Chin and Neck Reducer, to be worn for a few hours daily in the privacy of one’s own home.

Walter’s 1909 patent presented the garments simply as foundation wear for holding in the flesh, but later advertising also capitalised on the sweatiness of the rubber and claimed that this would actively result in weight loss.

1918 - Men's Underwear

Long underwear, also called long johns or thermal underwear, is a style of two-piece underwear with long legs and long sleeves that is normally worn during cold weather. It is commonly worn by people under their clothes in cold countries.

Long johns were first introduced into England in the 17th century, but they did not become popular as sleepwear until the 18th century. They were supposedly called long johns after a famous knife fighter who fought in long underwear. They were first used as loungewear but then later became popular as sleepwear.

As this 1918 advertisement from Harrods shows, in an age without central heating systems, they were popular as much among the richer as the poorer classes, although of course posh long-johns would be made of silk.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Some Notes on Asian Hornets

Some Notes on Asian Hornets

According to the Wedderspoon website, one of the reasons we may be seeing more Asian Hornets is because of climate change and habitat loss:

“The Asian Giant Hornets are also experiencing a population decline, although it is not as steady as the decline in bee population. The hornets are facing deforestation in their native areas. Due to habitat loss and climate change, they are forced to move elsewhere such as regions in Europe and neighbours of the Eastern Asia region.”(1)

The website says that there is only one known predator of the species:

“The European Honey Buzzard is the only known predator of Asian Giant Hornets (aside from humans), and they are armed with sting-resistant feathers that protect them from the attacks of their prey. In fact, the feathers have a natural repellant that lessens the risk of being swarmed by the hornets. Unlike other members in the honey buzzard family (including the Barred and Crested honey buzzards), the European Honey Buzzard feeds specifically on the larvae and honey of Asian Giant Hornets. “(1)

Wildlife in France reports that:

“The Honey Buzzard, despite its name, is not related to the true buzzards in the genus Buteo, but is closer to the kites in the genus Perninae. Unlike the Common Buzzard it is a migratory species and spends the winter period from September / October until April in Africa.” (2)

Looking to the Channel Island Bird Website, we find

Honey-buzzard (Pernis apivorus)

Jersey Rare spring and scarce autumn migrant. First recorded 1940, now annual. Guernsey Scarce annual migrant, first record 4/6/1989. Alderney Occasional summer visitor and migrant.

The 2004 review mentioned

“Spring migration is all but over now, with little in the way of new birds this week. Two Honey Buzzards were reported, one over the Zoo on the 11th and the other over Red Houses on the 13th.”

“Another fine day today, with a north-easterly breeze that brought a Honey Buzzard to the Island late this afternoon, picture here flying over Red Houses as it looked for a suitable roost site for the night.”

2017 seems to show more sightings:

“A Honey Buzzard was seen over Les Chenes Farm at Trinity.” (September 2017)

“Despite the wind, there was a little movement at Noirmont with a Honey Buzzard” (September 2017)

“On the east side of the Island, a Honey Buzzard was at La Coupe early on” (September 2017)

“Visible migration at Noirmont staggered along this morning in the fresh wind. The highlights were 3 Honey Buzzards, seen singly and including the juvenile of recent days.” (September 2017)

“There were some more hints of Autumn migration getting underway at Noirmont this morning. An adult Honey Buzzard which flew out from trees there may well have been the unidentified raptor seen there three days earlier.” (August 2017)

“A Honey Buzzard was flying to the West of Sorel around 11 o'clock. Under the usual mob pressure, it headed West along the coast.” (April 2017)

Wildlife in France notes that:

“Honey Buzzard, Pernis apivorus will rip apart perhaps a 100 or more wasp nests during the summer months to feed both themselves and their young with the larvae, and the Bee-eater Merops apiaster will also take large numbers of wasps and hornets among other insects to feed themselves and their young.” (3)

Living Magazine France also notes that:

“There is some hope that they will adapt to preying on the Asian Hornet nests that are increasingly to be seen hanging in the trees throughout the region.”(4)

Nurturing Nature indicates this has promise:

“Recently in France, a honey buzzard was seen attacking and destroying an Asian hornets nest” (5)

It also notes that

“The parasitoid Conops vesiclaris has been shown to parasitise queen Asian hornets in France by French researchers. I have watched Conopid flies as they literally fly towards and slam into flying bumblebee workers and even target them when they have landed on flowers to forage. Job done, egg laid into their host abdomen.” (5)

In conclusion, apart from destroying nests, the best hope for reducing the Asian hornets, especially in remoter locations, is by a predator such as the Honey Buzzard. While the parasitoid Conops vesiclaris flies can destroy hornets they might also attack bumblebees, so care would need to be taken before introducing them into a fragile ecosystem.


(1) https://wedderspoonblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/asian-giant-hornets-our-bees/
(2) http://www.wildlifeinfrance.com/honey-buzzard-pernis-apivorus-bondree-apivore-in-france.html
(3) http://wild-life-in-france.blogspot.com/2013/11/poor-year-for-wasps-and-hornets.html
(4) http://www.livingmagazine.fr/sw-france-information/wildlife-poitou-charentes/entry/sw-france-information/wildlife-poitou-charentes.html/honey-buzzard-south-west-france.html
(5) http://nurturing-nature.co.uk/wildlife-garden-videos/asian-hornets-a-threat-to-solitary-bees-or-bumblebees/

Monday, 23 October 2017

Memories of Elections Past

Memories of Elections Past

States members tend to waffle on, but amidst all the dross is some genuine gold. In this case, a trip down memory lane with Russell Labey, during a debate on one of his propositions.

The proposition will soon be forgotten, but the historical ramble deserves to be preserved and hence is on this blog. Yes, it was a digression, but rather a good one, as he paints a vivid picture of elections in days long ago.

Our family were also supporters of Bernard Binnington. Born in 1930, Bernard's registration card shows that he was also present at the Chelsea Hotel during the Occupation.

I remember when he was standing as a mere Deputy in the 1970s. His election HQ was the Chelsea Hotel, owned by the three brothers Binnington, and now long demolished and replaced by Spectrum flats. The hotel was started by his grandmother and has been run by the family ever since. It is a hotel that opened at Easter, full, and closed in October, full, and then re-opened in January for the stamping of the car road tax documents.

Memories of Elections Past
By Russell Labey

I may have only been a politician for 3 years, but I have been involved in Jersey politics - and this is going to age me - for over 40 years, because my dad, Roy Labey, would invariably run the campaigns in Grouville for his chosen senatorial candidate and I, from a very early primary school age, would go and canvass with him.

I remember putting the leaflets through the doors; I can remember the colours of Bernard Binnington were yellow and green. I remember that because he supported him.

Then in my early teens I supported Corrie Stein when she stood for Deputy in Grouville. That was seismic. I remember I painted all her banners: “Vote Corrie Stein” and the colours there were pink and purple. I remember it as if it were yesterday.

That campaign was the first time I got my hands, or my seat, in the radio van and was able to use the megaphone going around the Parish encouraging people to vote. Members might be unsurprised to learn that I took that role like a duck to water. I have to say, I was quite good at it.

I was used by other people in subsequent campaigns around and about in the radio van with the megaphone, including the lovely late Anne Perchard in St. Martin, a very tight race. I remember going around the Montford Estate right up until polls were closing, trying to get people out to vote.

The next day I went to my school, Victoria College, and in my year, I suppose about 5 of us would have been up late that previous night in the whole year, 5 of us, most of us probably farmers’ sons.

I also remember vividly too the Channels T.V. (Television) debates, hustings debates, hosted originally by John Rothwell, before he became a Senator in this House, and then presided over by Alastair Layzell, both of whom were quite brilliant as inquisitors. They used to opt out of the network and have these debates among usually about 10 senatorial candidates and it could be make, or break.

People were broken in those, because they did not have answers to either Alastair Layzell or John Rothwell’s questions. I look back at all that and I ask myself: how have things got better now, where we are with the senatorial race, for example?

Of course things have, in some ways, the initiatives of the Greffe, the social media, et cetera. But in many ways they have not got better, they have got worse. We still have the Parish Hall hustings for the senatorial race and instead of the more manageable 10, maybe a dozen candidates, now you have got up to 28 and they are squeezed into those stages on the Parish Halls and they get to do 3 minutes, their first 3 minutes, many of them make the mistake and go through their past C.V. (curriculum vitae) for 3 minutes; big error, if I may give that tip to any prospective senatorial candidate: you want to give your vision for the future, no one is interested in your past.  Then they get to answer questions, if they are lucky, 3 questions per session, 2 minutes each.


If Russell had checked regarding the 1948 elections, he would have seen that although there are complaints such as his nowadays about the large number of candidates standing for election as Senator, in 1948, at the first Senatorial election, there were 18 candidates nominated for 12 seats.

It is also notable that even back in 1948, there were at least two candidates who were prepared to stand as Senator without having prior experience of being in the States.

What is interesting is that not all of the 18 candidates turned up to each parish meeting, which would be almost unthinkable nowadays. At St John's Parish, for example, only 10 candidates addressed the public, in St Clements, only 11, and St Saviour, only 10 again.

Maybe that is something we need to revisit.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Still Small Voice

The Still Small Voice

"Go out and stand before me on top of the mountain," the LORD said to him. Then the LORD passed by and sent a furious wind that split the hills and shattered the rocks---but the LORD was not in the wind. The wind stopped blowing, and then there was an earthquake---but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire---but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the soft whisper of a voice. When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, "Elijah, what are you doing here?"

The story of Elijah at Hebron is a fascinating one. Elijah has just defeated the priests of Baal in a contest on Mount Carmel, where they work themselves into a frenzy but no fire comes. Elijah prays and a fire appears and consumes the sacrifice. But far from victory, he is hounded by the Queen, his arrest is ordered, and he takes refuge in a cave on Mount Horeb.

In Greek mythology, the god Aiolos was the king of the winds. He was appointed by Zeus to guard the storm winds which he kept locked away inside the floating island of Aeolia, releasing them at the request of the gods to wreak their havoc. Poseidon, as well as the god of the sea, was known for causing major catastrophic events, such as floods and  earthquakes, seen as signs of his wrath. Hephaestus was the god of fire and volcanoes.

The Greeks were not alone. Most of the ancient mythologies of gods and goddesses have similar analogues. The wrath of the gods and goddesses was to be avoided, and it was best not to anger them. Rituals and sacrifices could placate them.

By contrast, in this story, quite deliberately, God is not found in the violent savagery of nature, rending the land, but in the silence afterwards, the soft whisper of the voice. 

The story of Elijah is an attack on those who see the hand of deity, even the Jewish God, in the power of nature. That, the text indicates, is a form of idolatry, of giving over power to things which are outside out control; of trying to make sense of what may often seem random and senseless by putting it into a framework where we can control it by our understanding - by somehow placating the deity by prayers or fasts or sacrifices.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks comments on how the story negates the triumphalistic tone of the earlier part of the story:

“In effect, God was saying to Elijah: false prophets believe in power. At Mount Carmel you showed that I am a greater power. You defeated idolatry on its own terms. That may be fine for those tempted by idolatry, but that is not who I am. The supreme power cares for the powerless. The creator of life loves life. The voice that summoned the universe into being is still and small, hardly louder than a whisper. To hear God you have to listen.”

“God is not in the fire, or the whirlwind, or the earthquake. Zealotry wins the battle but not the war. It creates fear, not love. It risks desecrating the very cause it seeks to sanctify. Faith speaks in an altogether different voice, urging us, in Robert Kennedy’s fine phrase, to ‘tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world’.”

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Cider Days

Where would Autumn be without the cider making at Hamptonne...?

From October 2004, comes this poem, which was runner up in the poetry competition (adult class) held that year for poems about cider and apples.

Cider Days

Sing we a song of the harvest home
Of maidens fair, and lads who roam
Sing of dalliance, should they meet.
Quaff of our cider, the finest, sweet.

This is the time of our cider making
Cabbage loaf, Wonders, all for baking
Sing in the farmyard, take the apple
While lad and maiden in lusty grapple.

The farm horse turns the cider crusher
Apples crunched, no fair smell sweeter
Sing now of the old farm days of clover
While lad and maiden, now rollover.

More apples to fetch from orchard now
Heave carts and barrows past the cow
Pick the apples, some to eat and savour
This year, the maiden is now in labour.

With some for bake, and some for crumble
This is our Jersey apple, so very humble
But best of all, drink upon cider days
While nearby mother with baby plays.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Jersey Our Island: Methodists, Mermaids and Music – Part 3

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

Jersey Our Island: Methodists, Mermaids and Music – Part 3
by Sidney Bisson

In 1787 John Wesley braved the Channel in `a small sloop' to encourage his followers in Guernsey and Jersey. Possibly out of respect for his grey hairs (he was eighty-four at the time) the opponents of Methodism held their hand at his meetings. He preached to large crowds without interruption, with Brackenbury acting as interpreter. What is even more surprising is that Dr. Coke, who also visited Jersey to further the Methodist cause, was invited by the Rector to preach in the Parish Church of St. Helier. And in 1791 Jersey sent a Methodist missionary to France.

Just when it seemed that the worst of the opposition had been overcome, a new reign of terror started. The Methodists had not objected to compulsory militia service, but now a system of weekly drills on Sundays was introduced, which they regarded as a profanation of the Sabbath. 

When they asked to be excused, the authorities replied that absentees would be fined or imprisoned. Dozens of Methodists refused to pay fines and were sent to gaol. But they could not be kept there indefinitely at the public expense, so the States passed a law inflicting the penalty of deportation on those who refused to do full military service and hurriedly sent it to George III for confirmation. Meanwhile the holding of Methodist services was prohibited and the English minister was expelled.

The progress of Methodism in Jersey might have been very different had it not been for a curious circumstance. In spite of their scruples, the Methodist community had responded to an appeal by Pitt and collected a sum of money towards the expenses of England's war with France. This the States had refused to accept, and it was now decided to use it to fight for freedom of worship. Legal advice was taken, and a deputation headed by Dr. Coke was received by the King in Council. George III not only refused to sanction the proposed new law but emphasised his displeasure by forwarding his veto to the Governor by the hand of Coke. After this, the persecutions gradually ceased. 

It seems odd to find the Methodists building the first of their many chapels in this remote corner of the island. St. Ouen's has a local reputation perhaps undeserved for being the most backward of the twelve parishes, and the old-fashioned St. Ouennais is always a figure of fun in the island's literature. But it was not the central body of Methodists that decided to build a chapel here. The land was presented by a supporter in the parish and the cost of the building defrayed by a district subscription. Within the next few years we find the same thing happening in many parts of the island, each district building its own chapel as funds permitted, usually on land donated by a member. It may have been just luck that the St. Ouennais acquired their plot before any of their fellow members. With the steady growth of Methodism the chapel soon had to be enlarged and later replaced by the present enormous stucco building. Granite would have blended better with the bleak surroundings.

A winding lane bounded by dry walls leads to the twin manor houses of Vinchelez. The dry wall is a particular feature of the Jersey roadside. It is usually backed and often overtopped by a great bank of earth. Monotony is avoided by varied treatment. Here the banks are carpeted with grass. A little further on, trees planted on them meet to form a leafy tunnel. Round the corner grass verges give the narrow lane an air of splendid dignity. Everywhere wild flowers and ferns abound in the crevices between the stones.

The fief of Vinchelez was originally one of the largest in the island. Its division led indirectly to a protracted quarrel between the Dumaresqs and the de Carterets, Seigneurs of St. Ouen, whose arms may be seen one above the other over the old arched gateway of Vinchelez de Bas. The Dumaresqs, who held this manor by direct inheritance, also laid claim to Vinchelez de Haut.

The de Carterets disputed this on the strength of a deed of gift executed by Katherine de Vinchelez in favour of her godson, Richard de Carteret. First the Dumaresqs, then Richard, obtained possession of Vinchelez de Haut. But even his marriage to one of the Dumaresq daughters did not effect a settlement, and the feud was kept up by their children. Eventually, a hundred years later, both sides agreed to arbitration. As a result the status quo was to be maintained. But not for long. The male line of the Dumaresqs becoming extinct, the property passed to a daughter. Mindful of grandfather Richard's example, one of the young de Carterets promptly married her, giving his family the final triumph of seeing the two fiefs re-united.

Both houses are delightfully situated in wooded hollows separated by the famous Vinchelez Lane. In the days of horse- drawn `excursion cars' (before holiday makers demanded bays!) this had the reputation of being Jersey's loveliest beauty spot. Another lane on the west side of Vinchelez de Bas leads to what the Ordnance Survey map calls a tumulus. All I found was a wilderness of gorse, but it was worth walking down the lane for the lovely unspoilt view that presented itself at the end. If you admire rugged cliff scenery the north coast of the island is always attractive from any point of view. To-day, from this spot, the attraction was overpowering.

It is not so much the combination of colours as the living texture beneath them that takes the breath away. The blue of the sea, calm yet incessantly restless; the cliffs, in contrast, brown and solid. Above them a shaggy green fleece of gorse and bracken, shot with threads of gold. It is a Fairyland beauty that makes me feel like an intruder. At any moment I expect to see a mermaid swim out of her cave and sit on a rock to comb her golden hair. That is all it needs to complete the picture. 

I turned my back at last and walked towards Grosnez, turning aside at Portinfer to peep at St. George's Church. It is obviously a modern building, and of such a frigid appearance that I was not tempted to go inside. Children going home from school chattered to one another in English, I noticed, unlike their parents working in the fields who still prefer to gossip in Jersey-French. I spoke to one of the little boys in our native language and was met with a blank stare. Not many of the new generation are bi-lingual like their fathers. Incidentally, apart from a couple of middle-aged women on bicycles, these were the only human beings I met in the course of my five-mile walk. And they say that Jersey is overcrowded in summer !

There are some very attractive farmhouses in this neighbour- hood, some of great age, judging by the thickness of their walls. Honeysuckle, hydrangeas, fuchsias, and rambler roses riot in their gardens. But here and there a farm has tried to modernise itself by putting on a face of stucco, and only succeeded in looking hideously out of place.

As I approached Grosnez the road seemed to be getting wilder. Gorse and bracken topped the dry walls instead of grass and trees. Then of a sudden came a field of oats surrounded by a straggly privet hedge growing behind a granite wall. The illusion of wildness was shattered. But only for a moment. Passing between two sturdy farmhouses, the last outposts of civilisation, I came on the open plateau of Les Landes, where not a tree or a wall stand to break the winds that blow in from the North Atlantic.

A rough path through the low gorse and heather leads to Grosnez Castle the castle without a history. It was almost certainly built in the early part of the fourteenth century, when Jersey was a tempting hunting ground for French marauders. Two hundred years later, on Leland's map of the Channel Islands, it is already marked as a ruin (castrum Grosnes dirutum).

Arguments have been advanced to show that it was demolished during Du Guesclin's raid on the island in 1373, yet there is a strong tradition that Philip de Carteret held out for a time in Grosnez when the French captured Jersey in 1461. Even the evidence of Leland's map is not conclusive, for Jersey's leading military historian (Major N. V. L. Rybot) recently had an en- largement made of the drawing of the castle on Popinjay's `Platte' of 1563, which clearly shows the towers to be still standing. Only a single pointed gateway of weatherworn granite stands today, overlooking what is left of the moat. Behind it can be traced the foundations of the original walls.

St. Maglorius (locally known as St. Mannelier) is traditionally supposed to have landed here in the sixth century and built a monastery. He could hardly have chosen a more difficult place, even for an unopposed landing. On three sides of the castle site the cliffs slope steeply down to the sea, two hundred feet below. The east side is a perpendicular mass of rock, like the wall of some mediaeval cathedral, complete with natural gargoyles over- hanging. And was it my imagination or was it really the sound of joyful music coming from within?

It could hardly be the cri de la mer, which the fishermen will tell you can be heard in these parts when a storm is brewing. For that must be a mournful sound. Imagine forty families ready to embark for a fresh life in a new land. They have been chosen by Helier de Carteret, Seigneur of St. Ouen, to go to Sark, which Queen Elizabeth has given him authority to colonise. For the older people sadness in breaking off old ties is mingled with hope of better days. For the children the sea journey is the first step in a glorious adventure. It is also, alas, the last. A sudden storm, and one of the ships, the one which carries most of the children, is blown on to the Pierres de Lecq, one of the three reefs which guard the northern approach to the island. All the children perished. It is their plaintive drowning cries that can be heard at the approach of stormy weather.

This wild remote spot is certainly one to stir the imagination, but I must admit I was considerably shaken when the sounds grew so loud that there was no possibility of a mistake. It was an organ. I was wondering whether the sun had been too much for me when the melody changed to one I knew. There is a holiday camp at Plemont, about a mile away. It must have been its loudspeakers and no ghostly agency that wafted the sounds of `I'll close my eyes and make believe it's you' over the still waters.

The chief attraction at Plemont unless you find a holiday camp an attraction lies in a series of lofty caves. The largest is said to be a hundred and fifty yards long and a hundred feet high, Dut I did not feel inclined to brave the loudspeakers merely to check the guide-book's measurements.

Of greater interest, though less accessible, is the Cotte a la Chevre, a cave on a narrow headland between Ple'mont and Grosnez. This cave is not, as might be expected, at sea level, but a quarter of the way up the cliff, indicating that the level of the land must have been at some time about sixty feet lower than at present. Here, thousands of years ago, a family of the stone age had its home and hunted mammoth and reindeer. The jawbone of a deer was found during excavations, as well as a considerable quantity of flint implements.

According to Godfrey a spring near here was the mediaeval forerunner of television. When the new moon fell on a Sunday you came to the spring at dusk and bathed your eyes with its waters. Such were its magical properties that it gave you the power to see through the thickest stone wall. But only for a limited period. When the moon started to wane the power left you, and you had to wait for another Sunday new moon before being able to satisfy your Nosy-Parkerish instincts.

I suspect the story is one of Godfrey's inventions. I should have suspected him of inventing the spring too, if it were not marked on the map. There even seems to be more than one spring, for the map maker has written Fontaines Martin in the plural. But a diligent search failed to find even one. Perhaps they bubble up unseen beneath the gorse, waiting to be re-discovered by some government `snooper' who fancies the island for a holiday.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

And so to bed...

And so to bed... another collection of quotations from late at night.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Clement Attlee:

I stand here with this experience of Government to reaffirm my faith in democratic Socialism. We will never sacrifice the liberties won by our forefathers. It is social democracy which can set us free from the tyranny of economic power and preserve us, too, from the dangers of the absolute power of the State.

No one realises more clearly than I do that we have a long way to go yet to reach the Britain of our dreams and the world of our desires, and we believe that we shall get from all the people of this land hard work and courage to take us through the years ahead. For that hard work men and women need the inspiration of a great ideal. We are not ashamed to proclaim ourselves a party of ideal­ists inspired by a living faith in freedom, democracy, and social justice.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Rabbi Jay Michaelson:

Sadness is not an expression of the heart to be discarded in favor of those which are better. To believe that everything happens as it must is not to be fatalistic and cowed; it is not to believe everything happens for the best; it is to understand that sadness is part of the unfolding of the God Process. Praise God with it.

Even that which is not, apparently, for our best may be turned to an instrument of praise. Not by denying its painfulness, but by deeply seeing this soul, in this body, at this moment, as manifesting the unfolding of the One. The pain is real, and it is God.

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

Coming and going by the dance, I see
That what I am not is a part of me.
Dancing is all that I can ever trust,
The dance is all I am, the rest is dust.
I will believe my bones and live by what
Will go on dancing when my bones are not.

And so to bed.. quote for tonight is from Ovid:

Gods of the sea and sky – since what is left but prayer? –
don’t shatter the ribs of our storm-tossed ship.
Often when one god presses, another brings help.
Fierce Neptune often challenged the cunning Ulysses:
Minerva often saved him from her uncle.
And however different I am from them,
who denies a power to me, against the angry god?
and won’t let my prayers reach the gods.

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

Loud are the bells of Norwich and the people come and go
Here by the Tower of Julian I tell them what I know.
Ring out! The bells of Norwich,
and let the winter come and go.
All shall be well again, I know.

Love, like the yellow daffodil, is coming through the snow.
Love, like the yellow daffodil, it touches all I know.

Ring out, the bells of Norwich,
and let the winter come and go!
All shall be well again, I know.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

A Century in Advertising - Part 5

A Century in Advertising - Part 5

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

1913- Wrigley's Gum

The William Wrigley Jr. Company, known as the Wrigley Company, is an American chewing gum company founded on April 1, 1891, by William Wrigley Jr..It is currently the largest manufacturer and marketer of chewing gum in the world.

In 1892, Wrigley Jr. began packaging chewing gum with each can of baking powder. The chewing gum eventually became more popular than the baking powder and Wrigley's reoriented the company to produce the gum.

The company currently sells its products in more than 180 countries and districts, maintains operations in over 50 countries, and has 21 production facilities in 14 countries including the United States, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, China, India, Japan, Kenya, Taiwan, and Australia.

1914 - Ambulance

Only a month before the First World War began, British Red Cross volunteers were in full training mode. Their first aid skills were improving by the day. They were learning all kinds of practical tasks that would come in handy, from fire safety at field hospitals to cooking for invalids. Whole communities joined in to help, both volunteering and fundraising – and even animals were made to do their bit.

Simmons and Co of 1, 3, 5, & 7 Tanner Street, London S.E.1 produced mostly prams, but also turned their hand to a hand-drawn ambulance for the Great War.

1915 - Travel Advert

This poster showing children at play in a spring landscape. This was a British propaganda advertisement showing how the war was beginning to impact on ordinary people's lives.

Before World War One people who could afford it enjoyed holidays, but during the war with every effort needed to win the war it became unpatriotic to take long holidays, though people still took day trips to the seaside or into the country if possible.

This poster from 1915 encouraged families to visit the countryside with the message: 'Why bother about the Germans invading the country? Invade it yourself by underground and motor-bus.'

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Abortion Law in Jersey: A Brief Historical Sketch

UK Statistics

Last night, BBC2 had a documentary debate on abortion, "Abortion the Trial" which still remains a controversial subject. I thought it might be helpful to piece together the changes in Jersey law regarding abortion, and set them out below.

I have no idea what happened before the abortion law was introduced in Jersey, but I suspect abortions took place off Island. The 1993 debate mentions that the law "clarify and amend the existing customary law on abortion" which suggests some kind of law was in place. A newpaper report of 1995 (The Independent) reports a Guernsey resident saying: "I had to go to Brighton for the abortion. There were three other girls from Jersey and Guernsey there at the same time.

Abortion Law in Jersey: A Brief Historical Sketch

In 1993, the President of the Public Health Committee said that:

“Members will recall that the Public Health Committee, in its Five Year Policy Report which was approved by this House on 25th August last year, stated that it intended to present to the States a discussion paper to open up public debate on the implications of introducing an abortion law in Jersey, having regard to the fact that over 300 Jersey residents obtained abortions in England each year.”

A report was presented later that year, and the first steps towards change in abortion law came in 1994, where the States voted by 36 to 14 for an Abortion Law Reform proposition. The Minutes say that:

THE STATES, adopting the proposition, as amended -

(1) agreed, in principle, to enact a Law on Abortion which would - (a) clarify and amend the existing customary law on abortion to permit the termination of pregnancy within statutorily defined circumstances by registered medical practitioners;

(b) legalise the termination of pregnancy without limit of time when two approved registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the termination is immediately necessary to save the life, or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health, of the pregnant woman;

(c) legalise the termination of pregnancy before the end of the 24th week of gestation when in the opinion of two approved registered medical practitioners there exists, at the time of diagnosis, a substantial risk that the foetus will suffer from a grave abnormality;

(d) legalise the termination of pregnancy before the end of the 10th week of gestation when, in the sole opinion of the pregnant woman, her condition causes her distress and she is ordinarily resident in the Island or has been continuously resident in the Island for a minimum period of three calendar months immediately preceding the date of termination of the pregnancy;

(e) make statutory provision for any person to refuse to participate in treatment authorised by either or both of sub-paragraphs (c) and (d) if that person has a conscientious objection thereto;

(f) make statutory provision for subordinate legislation to be enacted to provide for -

(i) control to be exercised over registered medical practitioners approved for the purpose of offering treatment for the termination of pregnancy;
(ii) the licensing of counsellors;
(iii) the licensing of premises wh ere treatment for the termination of pregnancy may be carried out;
(iv) control of any charges which may be authorised at or by public or licensed private establishments or approved registered medical practitioners for the provision of treatment for the termination of pregnancy;
(v) the formal notification of all pregnancy terminations without identification of the woman;

However, nothing seems to have happened until 1997, when the law was revised with the Termination of Pregnancy (Jersey) Law 1997:

This gave firm grounds for termination of a pregnancy:

1. Article 2(1) – being that the termination is immediately necessary to save the life of the women.

2. Article 2(2)(a) – being that the termination is necessary to save the life of the women or to prevent grave permanent injury to her physical or mental health.

3. Article 2(2)(c) – being that the woman’s condition causes her distress, that the woman fulfils the residency requirements in the 1997 Law, that the pregnancy has not exceeded its12th week and that the requirements for consultation in the 1997 Law have been complied with.

In that same year, Deputy Alastair John Layzell of St. Brelade asked the Connétable of St. Saviour, Jack Roche, President of the Health and Social Services Committee, citing an article in the Jersey Law Review, whether “there is effectively abortion on demand in Jersey?”

This elicited the following points in reply:

“Terminating a pregnancy is a medical procedure, and as such is subject to the same checks and controls as any other medical procedure.A doctor will only carry out a termination if, after full discussion and appropriate counselling, he considers it is in the best interests of his patient. The Law does not override the professional and ethical duties of the medical practitioner. No doctor is obliged by the Law or by my Committee to carry out a termination of pregnancy.”

“In 1995, 67 terminations of pregnancy were carried out in the General Hospital and in 1996, 90 terminations were carried out in the General Hospital.”

“If I may, sir, I would refer members to the opinion of the then Attorney General which I quoted at that time. In simple terms, an abortion was permissible if carried out in good faith to save the life of the mother or when the continuance of the pregnancy would make the woman a physical or mental wreck. I am advised the terminations that took place in 1995 and 1996 were carried out on those grounds.”

In June 2003 the Island's Ethics Committee considered a paper presented by consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Neil MacLachlan on the subject and agreed that the law as currently drawn was "ethically unacceptable".

In 2004, in answer to a question by Deputy David Crespel, the following information was given.

"Young women under the age of 16 are given termination related advice and treatment in accordance with the Termination of Pregnancy (Jersey) Law 1997."

"There are no age restrictions, if the girl is competent and able to understand the implications of the procedure – in other words, is ‘Gillick-competent’, as outlined above. No termination has been carried out in Jersey on young women under the age of 14 years since 1997 when the Termination of Pregnancy (Jersey) Law 1997 came into force."

"(c) Article 3 of the Termination of Pregnancy (Jersey) Law 1997 states that the medical practitioner must provide written information about the counselling services available. (This is not a pre-requisite in the UK.) All women attending for termination are offered the opportunity to see a counsellor at the outpatients clinic, and are offered counselling after the (termination) surgery if they so wish. For young women under the age of 16 counselling is mandatory."

"In Jersey terminations are only available, under normal conditions, until the 12th week of pregnancy."

"In extreme cases, when continuing with the pregnancy puts the mother’s life in danger or there’s serious foetal abnormality, islanders can have the procedure up until 24 weeks."

A revision to the law in 2005 brought by Minister of Health Stuart Syvret addressed some of these deficiencies. It noted that:

“The Committee deems it reasonable for a pregnant woman and her family to wish to avoid having a child with a serious handicap. In most other jurisdictions in the developed world, the termination of pregnancy for a serious handicap is lawful. In these other jurisdictions it is the pregnant woman with her family who – with guidance and counselling – has the right to choose whether to terminate the pregnancy or not. To use the legal test of ‘an exceedingly poor quality of life’ is deemed by the Committee to be impracticable and unworkable when one has to draw the line as to what is reasonable, what is ethical, and what is lawful. “

“However, it is important to state that in articulating these matters it does not follow that people with such disabilities should not be respected nor does it follow that people with these disabilities lead lives of diminished value or worth. Some women will be content to continue with their pregnancy notwithstanding an adverse diagnosis. That is their choice. It is contended here that it is that choice – the pregnant woman’s choice – which should determine what must happen if her foetus is diagnosed as having a serious handicap.”

The position at that point was to shunt part of the problem across to the UK and Senator Syvret's amendment changed that.

“Put plainly, women who are at high risk of or are diagnosed as carrying a foetus with a serious handicap have their pregnancies terminated in other jurisdictions if they are more than 12 weeks into their pregnancy. Those who have the personal means to pay privately can, and do, travel abroad."

"Faced with the prospect of a two-tier service – in other words, a service for those who can afford to pay for their own travel and treatment, and no service for those who cannot afford to pay – the Department of Health and Social Services makes funds available to those who lack their own means to be able to travel elsewhere. This simply cannot be the right way of managing the termination of pregnancy for the women of Jersey.”