Sunday, 26 March 2017

Lenten Reflections - Part 4















The 2006 Desert Southwest Annual Conference of United Methodists in the USA directed the Conference Board of Church and Society to provide a way to study the issues we face concerning immigration.

As part of this, they went to Mexico to explore, on a personal face-to-face level, what the issues were, what economic pressures the Mexicans faces, how Mexico and the USA were interlocked together, what effect trade deals had on Mexican farming, and all this comes out in their report. Below is the third part.

This was long before today’s troubled issues about immigration, but it opens up some good ethical questions with each section. I’m not giving my opinions; I’m leaving it for the reader to look and make up their own minds.

The Desert Southwest Conference Board of Church and Society
Borderlinks Trip Reflection - Part 3

After our trip to the desert, we visited a casa de huespedes, a hospitality house.

Hospitality houses are inexpensive rooms provided to migrants for one to three nights as they make their preparations to cross the desert. As we entered the courtyard of the rooms, we were an instant attraction.

Many migrants gathered around us as Poncho and our Borderlinks guide explained that we were representatives from the Desert Southwest Conference’s Board of Church and Society, and that we had come seeking to attain a better and more comprehensive understanding the migration issues.

What we experienced immediately were responses filled with anger. The migrants could not understand why we, in the United States, would be so mean and hurtful toward them. They only wanted to come and be productive, helpful people in our country. They could not understand why we would place the kind of restrictions and have the kind of attitudes that we did toward them. We believe their deeper question was, and is, “Why would you treat us as less than people, and why would you cause us to place our lives at risk, when all we want to do is work and contribute to your country?”

After 15-20 minutes much of the tension subsided, and we asked them to tell us a little about themselves and why they were making such a long and dangerous trek. In nearly every case, the reason they were migrating was to earn enough money to provide their families with enough food and adequate shelter, to give those they loved a little higher quality of life. As we listened we realized that they simply were trying to do for those they loved the same things we do for those in our hearts.

One man was leaving a wife and six children behind. There was a 14-year old girl, a 16- year old girl and 16-year old boy as part of the group preparing to cross. Several of us who had daughters that age became very quiet as we thought about our own daughters preparing to make this journey.

We asked if they planned to permanently live in the United States. Approximately 90% of the group shook their heads and responded that they were only going for one to three years.

Poncho then reminded us that because of American policies and actions, many people who simply wanted to come and spend just enough time away from family to earn enough to live a better quality of life decided to stay because it was becoming so hard to make the crossings. So, again, our policies are creating the very scenarios we are trying to prevent.

After about an hour of some very frank, very emotional conversations and the promise that we would take their stories back with us, we closed in prayer. We prayed for the migrants and their safety, we prayed for an end to the policies that created the economic issues that diminished life, and we prayed for the families left behind without a father, mother, daughter, or son.

What do you believe are the economic impacts of these migrants upon our economy?

Do you believe we should revisit our policies in light of the fact that many people simply want to come to our country for limited periods of time to make enough money to bring a better quality of life to their families?

How do we respond to people who want to know why we create and support policies that threaten the lives of others?

Saturday, 25 March 2017

An Act of Terror










For those caught up in the attack, those of us who read it, saw how it unfolded, those who were mained and injured, those who died, and those who mourned, the world changed with the attack on Westminister Bridge. And for some more than others, caught up in the violence, nothing will be the same again.

An Act of Terror

Nothing will ever be the same again
The world fractured and broke apart
Pedestrians left dying, so much pain
Death drives a car, madness to impart

In the beginning, this came to start
A young man, and the mark of Cain
Nothing will ever be the same again
The world fractured and broke apart

The thread is cut, just a broken skein
Sorrow weeps with a broken heart
A crack in time, poor souls depart
Mourn those dead, so cruelly slain
Nothing will ever be the same again

Friday, 24 March 2017

Raise a Glass to Drink to Lost Heritage














Raise a Glass to Drink to Lost Heritage

In 1985, Glenn George, who was then “mine host” at the Old Smugglers Inn at Ouaisne Bay, produced a small booklet called “Jersey Pubs and Inns: A Souvenir Guide to the Local Pubs, Inns and Bars of Character”.

Some of those he described are still around, like the Smugglers itself. Some have changed their name, like L’Auberge du Nord, which is now the Farm House. But others have fallen away, and are either closed or demolished. Here are a few mentioned in the booklet, along with Glenn’s descriptions which bring them vividly back to life.

Of these, the only two I have visited was the Lillie Langtry Bar, which also used to be a favourite watering hole for beer drinking teachers from Victoria College, and the Harvest Barn, which was indeed providing good food at reasonable prices, as Glenn says.














La Folie Inn, South Pier, St Helier

There are few pubs where you can rub shoulders with a French fisherman, talk to a Jersey sailor, and then buy a live crab or lobster to take home for supper. But then locals like La Folie Inn are few and far between.

Tucked away in a sheltered corner of St Helier Harbour this tiny pub oozes character - right from its authentic nautical decor to its authentic nautical clientele.

It's the meeting place for the Harbour folk - the fishermen, seamen, sailors, pilots and dockers. To them, drinking and conversation are a serious business, so you won't find any pub games, television or juke box at La Folie - just good honest company and good honest beer.

The pub has been this way since 1733, and it will take more than the twentieth century to change its habits. It sells beer in a rather unusual way. To make things easier for the many foreign sailors and yachtsmen, all the beers are numbered. You simply order a pint of `Number 3', thus eliminating the language problem.

Outside the Fo'c'sle Bar is the area where the local fishermen sell their catch. It couldn't be fresher. and the range of fish, crabs and lobsters are always well below town prices.














Mermaid Tavern, St Peter

Sitting on the beer patio, looking out over the ornamental lake, it's hard to imagine that the Mermaid Tavern is just a few hundred yards from bustling Jersey airport. True, the illusion is shattered when an occasional jet takes off, but otherwise this tranquil sun trap provides a peaceful and welcome retreat.

Now part of a larger hotel complex, the Tavern dates back to the sixteenth century when it was a typical farm-house. In fact, it still boasts one of the few remaining `Witches' Rests' on its chimney.

Local folklore states that superstitious farmers built these resting places so that any witches flying by on their evil business could sit down and rest their weary broomsticks. By providing them with this welcome relief, the farmer and his family were then left free from any curses.

The main fireplace inside the Tavern is a superb example of granite workmanship, and the hearth is made from an old cider press wheel. Above the fireplace do note the 'genuine' stuffed mermaid in a glass case -apparently caught by local fishermen!

The Mermaid offers quite a range of food - good pub grub in the Tavern itself and a really high-class menu available next door in the Grill Room. 













Lillie Langtry Bar, La Motte Street

This tiny town bar is named after Lillie Langtry, the famous `Jersey Lily', who attained fame and fortune in the late 1800s as an actress, and some notoriety as mistress of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

Born Emilie Le Breton in St Saviour's Parish, Lillie enjoyed success in England and America until she passed away in Monaco in 1929. She is buried locally in St Saviour's Churchyard.

The bar itself is a favourite meeting place for many St Helier businessmen, drawn by the good company and excellent food, enhanced by an Edwardian decor.














The Harvest Barn, Vallee des Vaux

Many years ago the only customers at the Harvest Barn would have been a contented herd of Jersey cows. But following extensive renovations, the granite barn and cowshed were skilfully converted into a thriving pub with several bars and restaurants. Today it enjoys a reputation second to none on the Island.

Rurally situated in the Vallee des Vaux, the Harvest Barn is still only a mile or so from the centre of St Helier. The drive to the pub, along a pleasant winding country road flanked by a stream, is a delight in itself and the pub's two large car parks make life easy for the visiting motorist.

Once at the Barn you have the choice of two low-beamed rustic bars: the appropriately named Granary Bar or the Barn Bar itself, and each of these has a restaurant situated above. Quick service and keen prices are the hallmark of the pub's catering success, and it is possible to have a meal for two, with wine, for under £5. Bar snacks are also available for patrons not wishing to use the fully licensed restaurants.

During the summer months tables and chairs are placed outside in the courtyard, which is a real suntrap. Children are welcome to join their parents in the courtyard or eat in the Restaurants, but don't forget the Chef's day off is Sunday.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Shape of Things to Come













Five people have died and 40 people have been injured in a terror attack near the Houses of Parliament. These kinds of attacks, involving cars and knives, what are seen as "low tech" attacks, seem to be the new way terrorists are unleashing murder on the world. We mourn those who have died, we pray for those injured, and we look for the courage to face a future that is more uncertain, more full of fear.

“the flames are silent,
Peace is violent,
Tears are frozen
’cause massacre was chosen.

~~ 26/11– Mumbai terror attack memories”
― Ankita Singhal


The fundamentalist seeks to bring down a great deal more than buildings. Such people are against, to offer just a brief list, freedom of speech, a multi-party political system, universal adult suffrage, accountable government, Jews, homosexuals, women's rights, pluralism, secularism, short skirts, dancing, beardlessness, evolution theory, sex. There are tyrants, not Muslims.

How to defeat terrorism? Don't be terrorized. Don't let fear rule your life. Even if you are scared.”
― Salman Rushdie, Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
― Nelson Mandela

“I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically the fear of change... I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back....”
― Erica Jong

Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
― Franklin D. Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's First Inaugural

"What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.”
― David Levithan, Love Is the Higher Law

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
-- W.H. Auden

“Just above our terror, the stars painted this story
in perfect silver calligraphy. And our souls, too often
abused by ignorance, covered our eyes with mercy.”
― Aberjhani

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Guernsey Watch













Guernsey Watch

Alderney Transport Links

Looking at the Bailiwick of Guernsey, the news from Alderney is not good. Guernsey Press reports that:

“ALDERNEY’S need for a runway extension has been sidelined, the president of the island’s Chamber of Commerce has said, as he and an Alderney politician said ‘unmanageable’ transport links were making local businesses unsustainable. Alderney States member Louis Jean said transport issues ‘would continue to worsen’ without intervention. ‘Plane fares are rising every year and it is now around £120 just to get to Guernsey, and I believe those increases will continue without bigger planes because of customer resistance and there being less seats available,’ he said”

But a number of residents do not believe that the runway is the cure-all it is suggested, and call for simply making sure the existing one is fit for purpose:

“The misconception that a longer runway will sort out all our problems has wasted 4 years, during which time our runway has been reduced in width to 18 meters and the surface has deteriorated daily as more and more of it is swept up as FOD. The States of Alderney now need to really get behind a push to encourage Guernsey to get on with the essential work of widening back to 23 meters, full resurface, and installation of centre line lighting. More delay and argument over wishful thinking could cost us the whole airport.”

Alvin, another Alderney resident, comments that:

“The repairs to Alderney's runway are indeed essential and that should be immediately carried out. But an extension would be of no benefit. If the runway is repaired, then the airport could accommodate the existing small passenger aircraft that are being operated in the UK... the Islander, Dornier 228, Let 410, Twin Otter etc etc.”

“A runway extension would basically be a complete rebuild of the runway - up to 1200 - 1300 metres could be possible but would need a lot of additional land being purchased, re-alignment of the flight path, new navigational aids and lighting, enlarging and strengthening of the taxiways and aprons, extension and upgrading the terminal and ancillary services, such as security, fire services...  We are talking about almost a brand new airport! Cost? £50 million? £ 80 million? More?? Why?”

“Because whilst the above-listed aircraft can operate into Alderney with its existing runway length, the next step up in passenger aircraft are basically the Saab 340/2000s, ATR 42s and 72s, Dash 8s etc etc. These aircraft take 48 - 78 passengers but need a much longer and stronger runway as well as all the other facilities of a larger airport.”

“And it still would not do any good for Alderney. Back in its heyday, Alderney used to attract 80000 passengers a year, now it has fallen to around 57000. Two daily rotations from Alderney to Guernsey using the smaller ATR42s would give an annual seat capacity of almost 70000! Using ATR72s, then over 100000! Alderney would land up having just two daily flights to Guernsey and none to Southampton, or, if the ATR42s were used, maybe a three times a week route to Southampton. Better for Alderney Airport is just to repair the runway and encourage more flights to more destinations such as a Jersey and a Cherbourg route.”

And another comment:

“I’d love to visit Alderney but for the same money as flying there I could travel to 5-6 other interesting places in Europe. Why isn't any effort being put into a viable ferry service? I assume this has been asked a million times but I can't find many clear answers.”

I personally remember visits to Alderney on the small Condor hydrofoil, which went directly from Jersey, arriving early, leaving late, ideal for a day trip. The Aurigny planes used to have a direct flight to Alderney from Jersey as well, although they were much pricier. I can’t help feeling that the last two comments are right.

Alderney has too narrow a gateway primarily via Guernsey, and opening up air and cheaper sea routes might encourage people to visit, especially day trippers, for whom a boat journey from Guernsey or Jersey would provide a better option. As it stands, those critical links are gradually being eroded, and with the falling population on Alderney – almost certainly because it is almost a transport cul-de-sac – I do wonder how much longer Alderney will be viable as a place to live.

Reciprocal Care Agreement

Guernsey Press reports that:

“WORK to implement a medical insurance scheme to cover Guernsey and Alderney residents visiting the UK has moved one step closer and could be in place by next summer. Employment & Social Security was directed in 2015 to investigate the options for replacing the former reciprocal health agreement, which ended in 2009, with an insurance scheme covering hospital treatment.”

A comment follows:

“Three years from States direction to implementing this scheme. This speaks volumes about the way this island is run. What a shame the island doesn't have a group of people who understand how to implement an insurance scheme such as this”

The Reciprocal Health Agreement came into being in the heyday of Tourism, so that the UK would pay Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man for treating visitors, and in return visitors to the UK would be treated as UK citizens if they required health care.

As tourism declined, those in charge must have been aware that the arrangement was not equitable, but it was an extra boost to the health budgets so they kept quiet about it. Neither Chief Officer Mike Pollard not Minister Stuart Syvret did anything to alter this status quo in Jersey. There was a £3.9 million a year imbalance in the system in Jersey’s favour made it inherently unstable and unsustainable. But action which could have averted the loss of the RHA never took place.

Of course, the UK government woke up to the fact that they were now paying money for almost no return. The Isle of Man, which had an intensive lobby of contacts with Westminster, was able to hang onto its RHA, albeit without any money now changing hands.

Jersey and Guernsey lost theirs on 18th September 2008 after a decision made by Minister for Health, Dawn Primarolo. Health Minister Ben Shenton was surprised by the decision, which suggests that either Ministers were being kept in the dark by their Chief Officer, or they were turning a blind eye to the imbalance in funding.We will probably never know.

In the interim, health insurance was required for trips to the UK, which sometimes was not available or available at a reasonable cost for elderly people wishing to visit their children. In the background, better links were being forged, and credit where it is due, both Senator Sir Philip Bailhache and Senator Philip Ozouf had a great deal to do with that. It was restored on 1 April 2011.

It was realised that Jersey had not the same links which had proven so advantageous to the Isle of Man. While some may criticise Senator Ozouf for the time spent commuting to London, this is an essential strategy which helped the case for reinstating the RHA for Jersey, and also improved Jersey’s financial standing in Parliament.

The new RHA simply had no money passing either way; it was a straight quid pro quo, just as the Isle of Man had successfully negotiated. Obviously, Health Minister Anne Pryke was in on negotiations, but it was the behind the scenes work in the UK which did the trick. 

Guernsey has evidently failed to see this and as a result, they are still without an RHA, which must be something of a nightmare. As one correspondent to the paper wrote:

“The absence of the RHA and the high cost of travel insurance, or indeed the inability to obtain it because of age or medical history, means that no prudent person, unable to afford or obtain insurance, can leave their island. It was one thing to be imprisoned for five years by German occupying forces, quite another to be imprisoned here by our own government. Many would love to be able to visit friends and relatives in the UK or have them visit here, but cannot run the risk.”

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A Digression on Cats












From the Pilot of 1965 comes this rather nice piece by G.R. Balleine. When he was not writing history, he was editor of The Pilot, and in that capacity, he penned both religious pieces, and other odds and ends that seem to have been written as much for his own pleasure and that of the reader than anything else. Here is a piece which has only a marginal connection to Christianity, but it is very interesting.

One thing to note. Cats are not quite as colour blind as he suggests, and don't see the world in shades of grey. Both cats and dogs are partially colorblind. Specifically, due to lack of L-cones they have trouble with differentiating between red, orange, and chartreuse shades, though they can do things like distinguish red and blue and distinguish between the various shades of blue and the like.

However the notion that they were just seeing the world in shades of grey had scientific backing and Balleine, widely read as he was, would have been aware of that. An experiment 1915 at the University of Colorado seemed to demontstrate they they could not see colours, but a retest in the 1960s showed that they could see colour (and were only partially colourblind), but also that colour was not terribly significant for them: colour simply does not really factor into the daily life of a cat

Know Your Pussy
by G.R. Balleine


Who would live in a cat less home? The old ideal of a cosy home was at cat and a fiddle, though today I suppose for the fiddle we would substitute the television.

But there is no real substitute for a cat. Among civilised men cats have always been treated as one of the family, though curiously enough tame cats are never found among savages. But from Ancient Egypt four thousand years ago, where, when the cat died, the whole household shaved off their eyebrow s as a sign of mourning, and the little body was mummified and preserved in a Temple, to modern France, where every door has its chattier, a little opening through which the cat can pass in and out at will, Puss is a personal friend: though we do not all go as far as the person who advertised in a recent paper: "Wanted by a lady for adequate remuneration – a few well-behaved and respectable dressed children to amuse a cat two or three hours it day"

But, though you have kept a cat for years, there are probably things you do not know about it. How many toes has it? Count- and you will find five on the front paws but only four on the back. What colour are its eyelashes? It has not got any. When does a kitten officially become a cat? When it sheds its first teeth, usually when eight months old. How long should your cat live'? Its normal life is from twelve to eighteen years, though some live to be twenty-four. Do you know that tortoise-shells are never males, and orange cats hardly ever females, and white cats generally y deaf? Why does Puss claw the furniture? Because its claws are drawn inside its paws, and, unless it exercises them regularly by thrusting them out against resistance, it becomes lame.

Why does it cat turn round and round before it lies down? Because in its wild state it is a jungle beast- and has to smooth the long grass into a bed, before it can he comfortable, and it has never lost this habit. Why does it cat put up its tail and arch its hack and spit when it is frightened? Because in the jungle every beast is terrified of a serpent and so the cat pretends to be one, and often saves its life.

Why is it almost impossible to teach a cat tricks? Dogs are easily taught to beg, to sham dead, to fetch and carry. But you hardly ever find a performing cat. Again the answer comes from the jungle days. The dog belongs to a stock that has always lived in packs, and obeyed the orders of its leader. By nature it is accustomed to do as it is told: But the wild cat lives by itself, thinks for itself, chooses its own course, and in its absolute independence is more like Man than any other animal. If you want to he friends with a cat you must respect its independence. You can strike a dog and it will fawn at your feet: but it cat never forgets a blow.

Do you know that cats are colour-blind? All colours to them are different shades of grey. But they are very musical. High shrill notes make them nervous: but they adore rich, deep tones, such as those of the cello: and they love a stirring march with a strong bass.

Indeed, almost the only trick that it is easy to teach them is to come for milk, when a certain note is struck on the piano, and to ignore all others.

In many ways a cat's intelligence is very mysterious. It has a strong sense of the difference between right and wrong. If it commits an offence its uneasy conscience gives it away, before its crime is discovered. It has an extra-ordinary sense of time. There are well authenticated cases of cats which, winter and summer (so they cannot depend on the light) never failed to return at ten. And everyone has heard of their amazing sense of direction, how they can be carried a hundred miles in a closed basket to a new house, and yet find their way back to their old home across utterly unknown country.

Do you know that a cat's stomach can only consume half-a-pint of food? So she is a dainty and delicate feeder. Never tempt her to eat more than she needs. More cats die of overfeeding than of starvation. Cats are by nature meat-eaters. So give them all the meat you can. And they simple adore asparagus. Two things are absolutely essential to their health: plenty of clean fresh water and plenty of grass. The latter is nature’s way of enabling them to get rid of the fur that they swallow when they wash.

There is only one thing more essential, and that is lots of love. No cat can keep health without it. It looks to its owner for love and pines when this is lacking. In one of the Apocryphal Gospels the Gospel of the Holy Twelve, we read this story: "As Jesus entered a certain village, he saw a young cat that had none to care for her; and she was hungry and cried. And he took her up and she lay in His Bosom. And, when he came into the village, he set food and drink before her. And some said. This Man careth for all animals. Are they his brothers and sisters?' And he answered 'Yea, and they are your brother and sisters too. Whosoever careth for the least of these doeth it unto me." This Gospel is a late one, and is not thought to have much authority; but this particular story sounds very much like Jesus.





Sunday, 19 March 2017

Lenten Reflections - Part 3

















The 2006 Desert Southwest Annual Conference of United Methodists in the USA directed the Conference Board of Church and Society to provide a way to study the issues we face concerning immigration.

As part of this, they went to Mexico to explore, on a personal face-to-face level, what the issues were, what economic pressures the Mexicans faces, how Mexico and the USA were interlocked together, what effect trade deals had on Mexican farming, and all this comes out in their report. Below is the second part.

This was long before today’s troubled issues about immigration, but it opens up some good ethical questions with each section. I’m not giving my opinions; I’m leaving it for the reader to look and make up their own minds.

I would mention, however, that there already exists a wall and fence (as described here in 2008) long before Trump.

The Desert Southwest Conference Board of Church and Society
Borderlinks Trip Reflection - Part 2


Poncho explained that Altar had also been an agricultural community, but because they were experiencing the same economic difficulties as the rest of those engaged in agriculture, they changed their economic focus to aiding the migrants.

After several hours of dialogue and reflection with Poncho, we took a trip to the desert.

This may not have been as important an experience for a group from Arizona to do as groups from other areas of the country, but it set an important context for the rest of our day. First we were reminded that our country, directly after NAFTA was passed, began a policy of building fences in populated areas, discouraging crossings into this country.

Poncho shared that the perception, believed by many in Mexico, was that it was beyond coincidence that the fences would be built at the same time NAFTA was passed. The construction of these fences at that time implies that many already knew what the impact of NAFTA would be on the Mexican economy.

Secondly, it was our government’s policy that these fences would be a deterrent to migration in several ways.

First, there is the obvious fact that no one could cross at these traditional entry points.

The second rational for these fences was that it would force anyone wanting to enter the United States to do so by crossing in the more remote and dangerous stretches of desert. This policy was passed knowing that people would die in the desert, but the theory was that after several deaths the people would see the hazards involved and would not attempt further crossings in those areas. This obviously did not work as we have seen literally hundreds of deaths in the desert. It was this policy that lead to the organization of groups such as Humane Borders and No More Deaths.

Do you believe we have lost our moral underpinning as a nation when our leaders will formulate and embrace policies knowing that they will result in the deaths of human beings?

What does this show other nations about our national character?

What is our role as the church, when it comes to addressing these policies?

Alex DeToqueville was a French Philosopher who came to this country to study this incredible experiment called America. After observing us his comment was, “What makes America great is the fact that America is good. When America ceases being good, she will cease to be great.” Are we on a journey to a loss of greatness? Why or why not?

Knowing that labels and names have power and shape perceptions of reality, is it fair to look at migrants and instead of labeling them “illegal immigrants” re-name them “economic refugees”?

Does the name “economic refugee” paint a more realistic picture of most migrants?

What connotation does the name “illegal” illicit?

What connotation does the name “refugee” illicit?

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Winter Spell













Winter Spell

Light from lantern, snow gleams bright
Through wardrobe into Narnia’s land
Where the faun, amazed did stand
A daughter of Adam in his sight

Cold the snows,  White Queen’s blight
Comes Empress Jadis, ever so grand
Light from lantern, snow gleams bright
Through wardrobe into Narnia’s land

Betrayed, and cold, children in flight
Towards Cair Paravel, by sea and sand
And Aslan gives them helping hand
And helps to make all Narnia right
Light from lantern, snow gleams bright
Through wardrobe into Narnia’s land


Pirate’s Song















One of my first memories of reading a book which might be considered a "classic" was Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island". The blind man, tap, tap, tapping. The Black Spot. Old Ben Gunn. All the trappings of adventure.

Later I enjoyed Russell Thorndyke's Dr Syn books, with their background in the piracy of Dr Syn, when the meek parson was actually the feared Captain Clegg. And there are also Pirates in Neverland, in Peter Pan, flying to a land of adventure.

There is something romantic about the sea, and about the treasure chest, whether buried on an island, or as in this poem, sunken treasure in Davy Jones' Locker. This poem is more dream than reality: it is like a dream of sailing the seven seas, of finding treasure, and the sheer joy of the wonderful adventure.

Pirate’s Song

I am soaring above in the clouds and the rain
Leaving far behind earthly sorrows and pain
Over the rainbow, spyglass sees a new land
Very lovely, rocky coast, sea and the sand
Every day I awake, and feel here I belong
Yesterday, swept there by currents so strong
Out of the harbour, my ship passes by rocks
Under the ocean, I seek a chest and its locks
Prying it open, I find my treasure inside
At breaking of chains, an opening wide
Time erupts in my joy, opening fate’s door
Reach gold flowing out, that spills on the shore
I soar in the spray, and with seagulls I cry
Comes glorious moment, with joy I do sigh
Inside treasure chest, I plunder with glee
And back to the harbour, to anchor at quay

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Victorian 1983 - Part 1










Today's post comes from a 1983 edition of "The Victorian", a magazine published by Victoria College. I've only met two of the names here - Bob Le Sueur, who was just retiring as teacher, but whose time of retirement has been anything but retiring and low key, and Geoff Hamon.

Bob is a distant relative, whom I've tended to come across occasionally in the past at funerals. I remember him enlivening the tea and biscuits after the funeral of my Great Aunt Eunice Le Marquand many years ago, when the Minister got her name wrong as "Eunice Hannah". "I'm sure I heard a knock from the coffin at that point" he said jovially.

The other is Geoff Hamon, whom I remember we came across on a package holiday in the 1970s to Tunisia, where he asked my father not to make mention of Geoff's profession as Comptroller of Income Tax. That's very understandable: other guests may not be as easy to get to know at a holiday resort if they know you head a tax office!

I have heard of Sir Arthur De La Mare, of course, one of the most distinguished Old Victorians, of whom more can be read at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_de_la_Mare

The Victorian 1983

Association of Old Victorians: O.V.S Here, There and Everywhere
Complied by “Dixie” Landick

In our last edition I appealed for news of OVs. The response has been overwhelming and I wish to thank sincerely all those who have written to me. The volume of mail has, however, produced its own problem! Some letters are brief whilst others run to several pages of fascinating detail. Should I offer the Editor a limited selection on a first-come, first-served basis? This would mean holding back many letters until the next publication in July 1984 or even later. After troubled reflection, I have decided to acknowledge as many letters as possible in this issue by including a totally inadequate reference to each of nearly 50 replies. Writers and readers may rest assured, however, that future editions of 'The Victorian' will contain much of the interesting detail I am obliged to omit from this issue. At all events, this edition spans some OVs from 1908 to 1981, so I hope all readers will find news of someone from their generation at V C J. !

L. A. L.

Brigadier Laurence Owen Clarke was at V.C.J. from 1908-1916. After a distinguished military career he is now living in Devon. Has received The Victorian regularly since 1916. He has a photo of the 1914 O.T.C. camp at Tidworth Pennings on which he "recognises A. T. Pirouet, A. D. Ogilvy. C. E. Gilbert, A. P. Whitley and A. G. Rundle"

Carl T. Quinn-Young, O.B.E., M.A., F.R.G.S. (1912-1922). After a fine academic and sporting record at College, gained an Honours Degree in Physics at Oxford. Was appointed Superintendent of Education in Nigeria (1926) where he served for 30 years. Subsequently, manager and editor of overseas books of Evans' Brothers. Now an octogenarian "with itchy feet" living in retirement in West Sussex.

Major G. E. Field, M.B.E. (1912-1918). Refers to his splendid army career in India, Malaya and Singapore as "undistinguished"! POW for three and a half years. Subsequently worked with Max Factor & Co. Inc. until 1968, when he retired to Bournemouth.

Major-General D. J. Wilson-Haffenden, C.B.E. (1917-1918). Another outstanding military record. Was on the staff of Field Marshal Lord Alexander during the final B.E.F, evacuation from Dunkirk, where he was on the beaches for ten days Subsequently served in Burma and finally in India under Field-Marshal Lord Auchinleck. Now President of the Dunkirk Veterans' Association (Pool of London branch), receiving a warm welcome when he went with his wife on this year's Dunkirk Pilgrimage. Resident in Wimbledon.

W. I. A. Faed (1918-1924). Both this O V. and his brother F. C. Faed were outstanding members of College's cricket eleven in the early 'twenties. He recalls the Elizabeth match when his brother took nine wickets from 26 overs, catching the last man off his own bowling. In the 'away' match, his brother captured six Guernsey wickets for a total of 15 runs in two innings! From 1928 to 1961, managed a tobacco, maize, cattle and poultry farm in Southern Rhodesia. Subsequently moved to Western Australia where he and his wife are breeding Limousin cattle, "whose meat commands premium prices"

Graham M. Moore (1918-1923) has also been living in Western Australia for the last twenty years. In 1923 he joined the Eastern Telegraph Co., now known as Cable and Wireless P.L.C. Was appointed variously to Lisbon, Gibraltar and Alexandria. After spells at Salisbury (Rhodesia) and London, was sent in 1941 to Ascension Island. Was torpedoed en route and, after six days in an open boat, reached land on the Guinea coast, eventually reaching Ascension Island in July! Further
appointments took this much-travelled O.V. back to Rhodesia and then to Bermuda. Durban. Buenos Aires. Rio de Janeiro, Trinidad, Cyprus, Vancouver, Aden and Hong Kong.

Robin Le G. Mauger (1921-1927) has written a most charming letter in which he recalls that, in his school days, he was generally nicknamed 'Fatty' or 'Tubby' because he was 10 stone 10 lbs on entering College and 19 stone 5 lbs. when he left. Robin writes: "Unfortunately, apart from one occasion when I was tug-of-war anchor man for Dunlop. it was considered that other sporting activities were beyond my capabilities " But Robin certainly had other capabilities and, on leaving College, joined the local firm of J. W. Huelin, the timber merchants from which he retired as director in 1971.

Sir Arthur de la Mare, K.C.M.G., K.C.V.O. (1926-1932). It is almost an impertinence to write of the career of such a distinguished O.V. and it would certainly be simpler to refer the reader to "Who's Who". As Sir Arthur has, however, written to me. I am permitted to recall that he entered College in 1926 from Trinity School on a States Scholarship, became the first Dan's Scholar and went on to Cambridge in 1932 on a Major Open Scholarship After his retirement from the Diplomatic Service in 1971 (his last post was H.M. Ambassador to Thailand) he spent some years as Adviser to Massey-Ferguson. the world-wide organisation manufacturing and marketing agricultural machinery. He has been chairman of the Anglo-'Thai Society, the Royal Society for Asian Affairs and is still the dynamic chairman of the Jersey Society in London. Sir Arthur writes that his only criticism of the latter society is that "it has long since forsaken the admonition of its principal founding father that all its transactions should he in Jersey-French!"

William O. Johnson (1923-1927) resides in Chiswick and states briefly that he was in the Metropolitan Police for 25 years. Thereafter, he worked as an investigator for an insurance company and is "now pottering about in an insurance broker's office".

Cecil G. Crill, Commander R.N, Retd. (1926-1933), now resident in Cheshire, writes ". I attended the
O.V. dinner last November after an interval of 45 years - the last one at the Palace Hotel. I might be there for my 50th anniversary of leaving V.C.J. this December I left College at the same time as R G. Scrisen, who died last year, and A. G. Candlin w ho was killed in Burma in 1942 (and whose sister. Marguerite. I married in October 1942). We all had tea with the Headmaster. Mr. J. H. Grummitt. the day we left V C.J.. being the first leavers of his time. I see P. R. d'A. Aplin. who left in 1925 regularly as he lives nearby. He is a descendant of Admiral Philip D’Auvergne. who became temporarily Due de Bouillon and after whom Prince's Tower was named, I understand."

Donald P. Vardon, D.F.C. (1930-1937) writes: "We recently had the pleasure of a visit from Wing Cdr. Alan Nessitt and his wife. We were also visited recently by Denis Clift and his wife who came up from Wiltshire for the day. Denis and I had an enjoyable game of golf at my club at Chipping Norton."

R. W. ('Bob') Le Sueur (1932-1931;) Haying retired in 1981 after 24 scars of teaching at Hautlieu. Bob. who still lives in St. Clement. has written a most amusing and informative letter about a "five-month jaunt to Asia". Look out for a full account in it future edition of The Victorian.' Suffice it to say that Bob's exploits involved hiking. trekking and camping through deserts and over mountain peaks to say nothing of visiting ancient temples and "sensitive- areas in Turkey. Iran and the Middle East (Golan height)s

Geoffrey H. Hamon (1934-1941) Widely known as Jersey's Comptroller of Income Tax. Geoff goes into retirement at the end of this year after 29 years of service in that awesome post. He writes "If I say I have enjoyed the duties. the reaction will be that I am a sadist, but nevertheless it is true that I have found the job quite fascinating as this Island of ours flourished economically under the leadership of the late Cyril Le Marquand to become a leading international finance centre. Geoff was an outstanding games player and gymnast  in his days at VCJ, has always been a prominent OV and sporting enthusiast and I am not at all surprised to hear that he intends to spend an active retirement, continuing his travels abroad with his wife. Pat.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

And so to bed....












And so to bed...

I finish each day, or almost every day, finding some quotation, something that reflects the day, the season, the news, or just my mood. I begin with the words of Samuel Pepys in his diary: "And so to bed." 

Here is a collection of some of my more recent quotations, with pictures especially chosen for this blog.


And so to bed... quote for tonight is from T.S. Eliot:

The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land's edge also, the granite,
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale's backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
Many gods and many voices.












And so to bed... quote for tonight is from William Blake:

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

For all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.













And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Isabel Greenberg:

Winter is the time for stories, staying fast by the glow of fire. And outside, in the darkness, the stars are brighter than you can possibly imagine.












And so to bed... quote for tonight is from G.K. Chesterton ("The Man who was Thursday"):

“There again," said Syme irritably, "what is there poetical about being in revolt? You might as well say that it is poetical to be sea-sick. Being sick is a revolt. Both being sick and being rebellious may be the wholesome thing on certain desperate occasions; but I'm hanged if I can see why they are poetical. Revolt in the abstract is – revolting. It's mere vomiting.”


And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Erich Maria Remarque:

And in the night you realize, when you wake out of a dream, overcome and captivated by the enchantment of visions that crowd in on each other, just how fragile a handhold, how tenuous a boundary separates us from darkness - we are little flames, inadequately sheltered by thin walls from the tempest of dissolution and insensibility in which we flicker and are often all but extinguished.













And so to bed... quote for tonight is from J.B. Priestley:

Just remember this. One Eva Smith has gone — but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our Ives, and what we think and say and do. We don't live alone. We’re members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in tire and blood and anguish.












And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Anne Brontë:

I love the silent hour of night,
For blissful dreams may then arise,
Revealing to my charmed sight
What may not bless my waking eyes.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Registry that Never Took Off











The Parting of the Ways

In 2013, it was envisaged that the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey would create and launch an aircraft registry as a joint venture.

Jersey withdrew from the process in the autumn of 2013 and decided to launch its own aircraft registry during 2014 branded as the ‘ZJ-‘ Jersey Aircraft Registry. Guernsey launched its aircraft registry in December, 2013 branded as the ‘2-REG Channel Islands Aircraft Registry’.

That decision was made by Senator A.J.H. Maclean - The Minister for Economic Development at the time. Jersey decided, in the words of the song, to say "I did it my way".

Giving evident to Scrutiny, Chief Officer Mike King said:

“We are where we are now because we had extremely clear and unambiguous legal advice that the option that we put forward is the option that provides for commercial advantage to be derived by both Islands from a common Channel Island’s registry function. That is not a position, as you can see from the latest communication between ourselves and C. and E., that has been accepted by our colleagues in Guernsey and therefore, regrettably, the Minister has made the decision that we would go our own way.”

Now Jersey has 2 aircraft registered, Guernsey has 147, and the Isle of Man has 932!

What a clever decision to go it alone by the Minister!

Senator Maclean’s Brave New World










The news in 2014...

Jersey has announced that it will formerly launch an aircraft registry in 2014 just three days before Guernsey, its neighbouring Channel Island, registers its first aircraft. Brian Johnson, a consultant at law firm Appleby and the first Director of Civil Aviation for the Isle of Man, has agreed to advise Jersey. Johnson, a veteran of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, was the first employee of the Isle of Man Aircraft Registry and worked hard to make it a success. The Isle of Man has registered more than 600 aircraft.

“It is fantastic news that Brian with his many years of experience in the aviation industry, and especially in the establishment of another very successful registry, Jersey will have an individual with unparalleled expertise to advise on this exciting project,” said Senator Alan Maclean, Jersey’s Minister for Economic Development.”

So why is Mr Johnson also very quiet about matters now? He was vocal about his part in the success of the Isle of Man! But somehow his “unparalleled expertise” does not seem to have provided Jersey with a similar success story. Could he come out of the shadows and at least explain why?

“This is an exciting opportunity for Jersey which will form an incredibly strong additional element to our inward investment strategy. Thanks to its business friendly environment, simple and attractive tax framework and world class professional and financial services infrastructure, Jersey already offers a compelling proposition to individuals and companies looking to relocate or expand their businesses,” said Senator Maclean. “The launch of the Jersey Aircraft Registry will undoubtedly add to Jersey’s overall offering and provide local businesses with significant opportunities, particularly in the fiduciary, legal and financial services arenas.”

Senator Maclean, it should be noted, has recently joined an order of Trappist Monks who keep silence about past shortcomings. A "compelling proposition" failed to compel, and he evidently does not want to revisit past failures, as goodness knows there are enough of them from his time as Minister for Economic Development, and the public might just be leary about re-electing him if they added them up.

The Farnham Air Show













Remember the news that Jersey would have its registry by 2014 – according to Senator Maclean it would “launch an aircraft registry in 2014”. As you can imagine when the States do anything, it takes longer than expected, so it was not until November 2015 that it was launched. As might be expected, the new Minister for Economic Development, Senator Lyndon Farnham, decided to grab a bit of the glory at its launch.

The Minister for Economic Development, Senator Lyndon Farnham, said: “This new registry will be a fantastic opportunity for the Island. We have created the Jersey Aircraft Registry for local service providers to register aircraft, aircraft mortgages and, uniquely, commercial aircraft engine mortgages for clients. This will enable local businesses to broaden their offerings, which already includes the registration of companies, ships and other security interests. Revenue will be created through the fees charged by the Registry, and we hope to see new jobs created in financial, fiduciary and legal services. There is also a longer-term goal of creating roles in technical positions, as we see maintenance and management organisations relocating to Jersey.”

Geoff Cook, CEO of Jersey Finance, was also eager to get in on the act, and said:: “It is always encouraging to see new and exciting opportunities being created for the Island’s finance, fiduciary and legal services. The Jersey Aircraft Registry will certainly add to the island’s overall offering.”











Meanwhile, Chris Kelleher, in charge of Business Development for the JAR stated that: “… the JAR will adopt a competitive scheme of charges and provide customers with an impressive registration turnaround”.

And in case you’ve forgot about Brian Johnson, he was still about, and basking in reflected glory:

Appleby assisted with the establishment of the JAR by advising the States of Jersey on the structure and operation of the registry. Brian Johnson, Director of Operations for Appleby Aviation who also helped establish the successful Isle of Man aircraft registry, said: “We are very proud to have assisted with the establishment of the JAR which we see as an exciting new addition to Jersey’s offering as a highly respected and well-established financial services centre. The JAR will provide the perfect platform for customers around the world seeking an efficient registration of private and corporate high-value jets and helicopters”.

Presumably, they got the bulk of the sum for Specialist Advice and Consultancy which came at a cost of £177,000. Perhaps Appleby Aviation can explain why it failed to be such a "perfect platform", as we have certainly paid them enough in setting it up.

Murray, the Bringer of Bad News












Now the whole thing has gone pear-shaped, Senator Maclean, Brian Johnson, Chris Kelleher (he of the “ impressive registration turnaround”), and Senator Farnham have all joined the Trappist Order of Monks and are keeping silent..

So much for the Ministers, the business case civil servant, the Isle of Man expert, and of course the gung-ho approach of going alone...

Lyndon Farnham, as with the Ice Rink fiasco, has the perfect solution: get out your Assistant Minister to deliver the bad news, and so Murray is again in the limelight. Who better to freeze spending that the ice rink Assistant Minister?

Despite the poor performance of Jersey's registry, the politician in charge of it insists it can be made to work, and they can make back the money spent on setting it up. Assistant Economic Development Minister, Deputy Murray Norton, says he has frozen spending on the project and created a new team of officers to help to create a plan to make the register more successful.

Quite how it is possible to freeze spending, and create a new team is beyond me. I would have thought the new team would have to be paid, and spending would continue. Or are the new team doing this for free? I can understand that fixed regular costs - payments to marketing for instance - can be suspended, but in my accountant's book, "frozen spending" means no spending.

Deputy Murray Norton also said that a "radical" overhaul of the £800,000 project could still make it even more successful than originally predicted.

As the original prediction was way off its mark, it would be truly amazing if this can be done!

Actually, despite the promotional fluff from the Senators and associated individuals, when they spoke to scrutiny in 2013, it was established that even the IOM one took years before it could turn a profit. Jersey was hoping to break even at best for many years.

In the meantime,. Murray has committed himself to an updated business plan to be revealed by the end of May or June this year. Watch the skies! And please let us have the cost of producing this business plan, in terms of time and money, so we can see how much that has cost.

And in conclusion...

My correspondent Adam Gardiner has this to say:

My solution is close it down before it costs us another shed load of money - take it on the chin once more and accept that the States frittered away another £800k on a pie-in-the-sky idea….just like the Hollywood blockbuster that never was, the software company that never was, and subsidising three other businesses who keep a token office in Jersey whilst the real value of their enterprise is enjoyed by Chinese manufacturing and wealth management companies in the Cayman Islands.

While I will always subscribe to the motto ‘he who dares wins’ there is also an adage which says ‘ a fool and his money are soon parted’




Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Tony's Newsround











The Adventures of Boaty McBoatFace

British scientists are about to send a yellow submarine called Boaty McBoatFace to the Antarctic. The underwater robot carries the name that a public poll had suggested should be given to the UK's new £200m polar research vessel.

The Jersey connection is well known. Former BBC Radio Jersey present James Hand suggested the name and it proved incredibly popular. In the event, the polar research was named the RRS Sir David Attenborough, although there was a petition calling for Sir David Attenborough to change his name to Sir Boaty McBoatface "in the interest of democracy and humour"!

But the yellow submarine which travels with the polar research vessel was given the name, and of course it is topping many headlines. There is something very appealing about a yellow submarine of that name, and I’d be very much surprised if toy manufacturers didn’t try to get in on the act, or an author pens booklets by the name.

After all, the BBC is talking in its news reports about the “adventures of Boaty", and the Joey books about the little yellow Aurigny plane proved very popular. A Boaty book could also tell young children about the scientific work the submarine and polar research vessel are doing.










Cycles and Pedestrians

"Police in Jersey are appealing for witnesses after a female pedestrian was hit by two cyclists on Friday morning. The woman was crossing the road from the Route Du Fort car park to Cleveland Road at about 07:45. As she reached the central white line, she was struck by a male cyclist, who, in turn, was then hit by a second cyclist behind him, causing all three to fall to the ground. Police would like to speak to the cyclists involved, a second male who assisted the female up from the ground, and also the female driver of a white van who allowed the pedestrian to cross in front of her van just before the collision." (BBC News)

This incident highlights a perennial problem which Jorren Knibbe, writing in the Guardian, highlights: “a problem can present itself when the cars slow down and you want to get past: in a queue of traffic, should you pass on the left or the right? Or should you not pass at all?”

“The law doesn't provide an answer – there are no binding legal rules on how to pass other traffic on your bike.”

“The code recommends that you overtake where it's safe and legal, and also appears to allow you to undertake if you're in a queue and moving faster than traffic on your right (or if the car you're undertaking is turning right). So, legally speaking, cyclists essentially have a free choice as to how to approach stationary traffic.”

Gwenda Owen, an instructor on the Department for Transport's Bikeability cycle training scheme, proffers this advice:

"It is often better to remain in position in slow moving or stationary traffic, maintaining primary position [the centre of the left-hand lane] when your speed is similar to that of the other traffic. In instances when you decide it is advantageous to filter, then doing so on the right is a good manoeuvre as you are on the outside of cars, where drivers are more likely to see you."

Undertaking, she notes, can cause problems because “it puts you in a position where you are unexpected and cannot easily be seen”.

But what happens when a van slows down to let a pedestrian cross in front of them, and a cyclist overtakes and hits the pedestrian? Perhaps both should be taking care: the pedestrian to look out for the cyclist, and the cyclist to proceed with caution.










Caring about new information?

A further delay to the publication of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry’s final report has created concerns and a sense of unease, the chairwoman of the Jersey Care Leavers Association has said.

The panel initially planned to release its final report by the end of last year, but later announced that this would be postponed until the first quarter of this year. This week they said that the report had been delayed further because new information had been received.

Carrie Modral, chairwoman of the JCLA, said: ‘I have had no concerns before, but I have some slight concerns now. What information have they received at this stage, and where has it come from? It could be a very easily explainable situation, but the panel have been evasive and because of that it is concerning. I want to know what the information is. If it has come from within Jersey, then as an interested party we should be able to see it.’

All existing submissions regarding child care from witnesses and experts in the field have been read into the inquiry and placed on the inquiry website. Are these new documents also going to be made public?















Air Chief Marshalls

A former head of the Royal Air Force will be sworn in as Jersey's Lieutenant Governor this morning. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton will take up the post as the Queen's personal representative for the next five years.

An air chief marshal is equivalent to an admiral in the Royal Navy or a general in the British Army or the Royal Marines.

Sir Stephen Dalton is a former pilot, and it is interesting to note that Air Chief Marshalls seem to be mainly drawn from the ranks of fighter pilots rather than other officer classes.

In his book, “Observers and Navigators: And Other Non-Pilot Aircrew in the RFC, RNAS and RAF” (2015) Wing Commander C.G. Jefford looks at the statistics and sees that:

“Looking a little closer still, we find that, of the total of 108 air officers, all four air chief marshals, six of the seven air marshals and seventeen of the twenty-five air vice-marshals were pilots. Yet forty-two of the seventy-two air commodores were not pilots (thirty—two drawn from branches other than GD plus the ten navigators). “

“In other words, as one climbed the four highest rungs of the RAF's career ladder, the proportion of non-pilots one was likely to encounter fell progressively from 58% to 32% to 14% to zero. It would seem, therefore, that for all practical purposes, the 1962 quotas were still being applied and that ‘comparability’ actually began. and ended. with air commodores — strictly speaking, it did not even begin with air Commodores because pilots were substantially over-represented even at this level.”

“There could be many explanations for this curious situation but it is difficult to dismiss the parallel with 1918 (see page 129). It would seem that pilots still had a natural tendency to favour other pilots and that the pilots who still filled all of the most influential positions in the Air Force, automatically selected others of their kind to succeed them. Intentional or not - because of the self-perpetuating nature of the organisation”

However the institutional bias in promotions, I am sure Sir Stephen Dalton and Lady Dalton will be a great asset to the Island.

But it is interesting to note that his replacement, Air Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford will become Chief of the Air Staff in a shake-up of senior Armed Forces posts, and will be the first non-fighter pilot to hold the job. All of his predecessors have been fighter pilots, and his appointment will be seen as a sign of the shifting nature of the RAF’s work.

And finally... I did like William Bailhache's speech as Bailiff to Sir Stephen:

"I wish you and Lady Dalton the most satisfying and happiest of sorties with us. May the Jersey sun shine warmly on your faces, our gentle breeze at your backs: may our Jersey Royals keep you nourished and the tranquility of our green lanes rise up to greet you!"

Monday, 13 March 2017

Call the Midwife: A Shocking Storyline











A recent “Call the Midwife” saw one of the nuns, after suffering a mental breakdown, being taken into a very grim mental hospital of the kind that was unfortunately prevalent in the 1950s. There, she meets a fellow patient who has a lobotomy, and herself undergoes a course of ECT or electro-convulsive therapy.

Lobotomy, also known as leucotomy, is a neurosurgical operation that involves severing connections in the brain's prefrontal lobe. When used with patients who were violent or suicidal, it was very effective because it effectively destroyed brain tissue and left them husks of the people they once were. The most celebrated fictional story about that is "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

The use of the procedure increased dramatically from the early 1940s and into the 1950s; by 1951, almost 20,000 lobotomies had been performed in the United States alone. Following the introduction of antipsychotic medications in the mid-1950s and under the influence of the anti-psychiatry movement, lobotomies were quickly and almost completely abandoned.

However, Electroconvulsive Therapy is still used to this day!

Most people think that electroshock is completely banned but this is not the case. As of early 2015, Western Australia is the only state with a partial ban, where it is banned on under 14 year olds. In 2013, a complete ban was placed on the use of electroshock for all ages in Sicily and there are various other partial bans around the world.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in 2013 reported to the United Nations on abuse in health care settings. Mr Juan Mendez stated, “States should impose an absolute ban on all forced and non-consensual medical interventions against persons with disabilities, including the non-consensual administration of psychosurgery, electroshock and mind-altering drugs, for both long and short- term application.”

The main side effect is memory loss (which is also common after seizures caused by epilepsy). This is usually short-term, but can be very significant, disabling and long-lasting in some people and is a cause of anxiety

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure, done under general anaesthesia, in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. When used with patients who are distressed, severely depressed or suicidal, it can cause a remission of symptoms, albeit on a temporary basis.

The principal side effect of ECT is memory loss, and of course the cutting out of memory can often help in the short term, as it removes both the immediate emotions and any recent events triggering the patient’s distress. Repeat treatments are often needed, because the treatment is only masking the causes of distress, and not removing them.

The loss of memory itself can be extremely distressing. As one patient recounts:

“As a result of these treatments, the years 1966-1969 are almost a total blank in my mind. In addition, the five years preceding 1966 are severely fragmented and blurred. My entire college education has been wiped out. I have no recollection of ever being at the University of Hartford. I know that I graduated from the institution because of a diploma I have which bears my name, but I do not remember receiving it. It has been ten years since I received electroshock and my memory is still as blank as it was the day I left the hospital. There is nothing temporary about the nature of memory loss due to electroshock. It is permanent, devastating, and irreparable.” (Patel, 1978)

In a court case in 2005, a jury found that a patient had not been informed about risks before undergoing ECT treatment:

“The patient, Peggy S. Salters is a 60 year old former psychiatric nurse. She was subjected to 13 electroshocks within the span of 19 days. The defence expert psychiatrists–one who testified, the other who was not called to testify but was deposed under oath–justified the “treatment” and failure to inform the patient about the risks. The jury found that her loss of 30 years of memory and cognitive impairment–which are demonstrable symptoms of brain damage–was due to ECT.”

ECT causes persistent cognitive impairments and long-term memory loss in 25% – 30% of patients, while its efficacy in relieving depression is admittedly short lived-about four weeks–at most, six months of mood improvement.

When memory loss in patients is relatively minor, it is like forgetting people’s names, or not being able to find their way back to their room, or around their local town, and forgetting their passwords and bank pin number, or how to spell. These usually return over time or if they have been reminded of them.

However some people have found that they had lost memories of important events such as a daughter’s dedication, a surprise birthday party, a holiday, or the birth of a child. Clearly not being able to remember events in their lives could be frustrating and distressing.

These examples are documented, and here are examples of more permanent effects:

“Sue experienced long term “fogginess”, which she was told would go away, but it never cleared. She still has ongoing short-term memory problems, which are getting worse, though she does wonder if this could be related to her chronic fatigue and pains. “

“Albert had ECT in the 1960s and wasn’t aware of the side effects of memory loss until recently. He said he suffered badly with memory loss and he had difficulties using his mind and that affected his life. He thought it was “[him] that was the problem” but now believes it was a side effect of the ECT and has met others who have suffered long term memory loss after having ECT.”

“ Sunil says for him memory loss is the most distressing effect of ECT. On a daily basis his wife tells him about something that has happened in the recent past which he has no memory of. His wife keeps a diary so he can look back at what has happened in the last few weeks. Dafydd’s wife watches repeats of television programmes but has no recollection of having seen them before.”

A 32 year old woman who had received 21 ECT treatments stated 5 years later.

"One of the results of the whole thing is that I have no memory of what happened in the year to year and a half prior to my shock treatments. The doctor assured me that it was going to come back and it never has. I don't remember a bloody thing. I couldn't even find my way around the town I lived in for three years. If I walked into a building I didn't even know where I was. I could barely find my way around my own house. I could sew and knit before. but afterward I could no more comprehend a pattern to sew than the man in the moon."

Dr. Harold Sackeim, a well-known proponent of ECT, produced a study in 2007 study in Neuropsychopharmacology entitled “The Cognitive Effects of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Community Settings, “which concluded: ““this study provides the first evidence in a large, prospective sample that adverse cognitive effects can persist for an extended period.”

The researchers found that modern ECT techniques produce “pronounced slowing of reaction time” and “persisting retrograde amnesia” (the inability to recall events before the onset of amnesia) that continues six-months after treatment.

While ECT may have beneficial effects, for instance in preventing suicide, and easing depression, it is clearly important – as the court case and the studies of patients have demonstrated – that potential ECT recipients be told the truth about the risk of disabling effects – including permanent memory loss and cognitive deficits – so they can make an informed choice.