Tuesday, 31 July 2018

A Review of Mama Mia: Here we go again




















A Review of Mama Mia: Here we go again

Carla "Campbell" (Gina Lollobrigida) is an Italian woman who - during the American occupation of Italy - slept with three American GIs in the course of 10 days, Cpl. Phil Newman (Phil Silvers), Lt. Justin Young (Peter Lawford), and Sgt. Walter Braddock (Telly Savalas). By the time she discovers she is pregnant, all three have moved on, and she, uncertain of which is the father, convinces each of the three (who are unaware of the existence of the other two) to support "his" daughter Gia financially.

And of course now the three men are coming back for a reunion... and which one is the father?

That’s the plot of the movie “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell” (1968). If that may seem familiar, it is because it was virtually the same plot as “Mamma Mia!” - a single mother trying to hide three potential fathers from the daughter she’s raised alone, honestly unaware of which man is the real parent. It was a shameless steal.

Some elements are different. It was not in the war, but in her student days after graduation that Donna meets the three men, but elements of the plot are the same. And it does work very well.

The reuniting of the girls from the Dynamos bandmates, wisecracking author Rosie Mulligan and wealthy multiple divorcée Tanya Chesham-Leigh, and the arrival of the three possible fathers, and the daughter’s own romance are all done very well leading to a lovely wedding sequence at a chapel at the top of a Greek island.

So what about “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”, the sequel? Unlike many sequels it does not suffer from trying to do the same kind of plot again. Instead of an old plot revamped, we actually have something new.

In this case, there is little of two of the fathers (Stellan Skarsgård, Colin Firth), and Pierce Brosnan doesn’t sing that much (which is a relief!) – although he does supply some rather tender fatherly love - and virtually just a cameo from Meryl Streep, along with another cameo from Cher.

But this is a story with perhaps even more heart to it than the first. I don’t think it gives much away that is not apparent in the opening five minutes to say that, in the present, Meryl Streep’s Donna has died – we don’t know how. And the current day of the movie is to do with her daughter re-opening the hotel her mother founded, as a tribute and memorial to her, and coming to terms with her grief. Indeed, the present is both about looking to future hope, and coping with past grief.

But alongside the present grief, is the past joy, as we are taken on the journey of the young Donna, graduating from Oxford, setting off to find herself (and in three men’s beds on the way) before ending up on the Greek island we know and love so well from the first film, and the backdrop from the present.

This intercutting of past and present provides the emotional core of the film and I have to say it ends with a real tear-jerker as we see Donna in the church for the baptism of her own daughter, alone apart from the supportive Island community (and she has only one friendly inn-keeper woman at the birth earlier), and her daughter’s own child’s baptism. I won’t give away too many more spoilers except to say it is a moment to keep the tissues to hand.

But along the journey, there is a lot of wild and lively spirits, some really good musical dance numbers to Abba songs, and a great deal of humour – including some rather rude but wickedly funny lines! There was laughter in the cinema, and not just from me! (It’s always worrying when I am the only one laughing at a film, as I did during the more ridiculous parts of “The Exorcist”)

Lily James as Young Donna just shines as we follow her journey, but she is matched well in the present by Amanda Seyfried as Sophie Sheridan, Donna’s 25-year-old daughter.

There’s a lot of fun in seeing the younger counterparts to Donna and the Dynamos, and the actors playing the younger parts of the three “fathers”. Hugh Skinner, as the young Colin Firth may be the most familiar face as interne Will from W1A, the spoof about the BBC, but all three acquit themselves very well (and it has to be said are better singers than their elder counterparts).

The ABBA team themselves have cameos, Björn Ulvaeus as an Oxford professor and Benny Andersson as "Waterloo" piano player.

Julie Walters provides some wonderful physical comedy with her dancing sequences, while there’s a rather nice and amusing cameo from Celia Imre at the Oxford sequence.

But even the smaller parts are memorable. Maria Vacratsis as Sofia, a local who owns the bar and shack which eventually becomes Donna's home is a wonderful part. She is supportive of Donna because Donna has “a heart” and took care of her horse in a storm, and Sophia delivers Sophie.

And of course there are the wonderful ABBA songs, mostly well known ones – although there are some lesser known ones - "Kisses of Fire", "Andante, Andante” and “The Day Before You Came". These are still lovely songs, and it is perhaps good to be reminded that while not everything ABBA wrote and performed became a hit, there is still some very good material there.

It ends with a show stopping all cast present, all dressed up in suitably ABBA style wear, of Super Trouper, a fun show stopping finale... or is it? Wait until the end credits roll, and you’ll be treated to just a small but very funny vignette.

This is a film which comes after the 2008 movie – ten years in the making – and goodness how grizzled and elderly Pierce Brosnan is, and even Colin Firth is showing his age. Mind you, I look a lot older two, and like the Swedish character Bill Anderson, have lost rather a lot of hair on top over the decade!

Would I recommend it? Definitely – and I would also say that alongside the froth of some of the fun big musical numbers, there’s also an emotional heart which is actually stronger than the original.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Walking into Trouble: Shared Spaces and the Blind













Blind pedestrian: ‘I am blind. Not knowing the difference between the place where I’m safe and the bit where I can be killed is scary!’

The recent Holmes report notes that:

“Shared space schemes remove regulations and features such as kerbs, road surface markings, traffic signs and controlled crossings. The number of shared space schemes is increasing, with many local authorities planning new schemes, despite the inherent difficulties”

There is no single definition of “shared space” but Government guidance defines it as:

‘A street or place designed to improve pedestrian movement and comfort by reducing the dominance of motor vehicles and enabling all users to share the space rather than follow the clearly defined rules implied by more conventional designs.’ (Department for Transport, 2011).

The same document continues to define sharing as:

‘The ability and willingness of pedestrians, facilitated by the sympathetic behaviour of motorists and others to move freely around the street and use parts of it that, in a more conventional layout, would be considered largely dedicated to vehicular use.’

The Holmes report used a self-selecting online survey, which is always problematic statistically. What it can throw up, however, are experiences of people to shared space and potential hazards and dangers.

An example is that quoted above, and another is this from another blind user:

“…for people with no sight like myself they are a death trap. I cannot express how terrible they are and how they make me feel so angry; to think all the people responsible for them expect us to use it when we cannot see. I use the one in Leek with my husband and never on my own.”

And another noted

“As I have a guide dog he finds it impossible to find the correct crossing points”

Mike Dun, who is a strong champion for the disabled said that:

“All public spaces should be designed from the disabled persons needs perspective. Granite cobbles or settes have no place in such schemes as they are unsuitable for many users. Changes in level should be clearly indicated and all signs and markings need to be obvious and easy to understand. The mixing of cyclists with pedestrians should so far as possible be avoided. There are far too many obstacles – ‘A’ frame signs, flower tubs, random bollards and other street "furniture" in pedestrian priority areas - but an absence of essential signs for "toilets" or other directional information in an accessible format”

One respondent said that shared spaces were statistically safer and then commented that:

“So you're suggesting that by pandering to the needs of the few you are willing to expose the majority to greater risk?”

I think that was an ill-judged and thoughtless comment.

On the contrary, the sighted can manage any space with a fair degree of acuity, but it is those most discriminated against who need to be helped not hinderd:

Many blind people use kerbs as an essential navigational tool. One man wrote about the:

“Difficulty in navigating due to absence of any clear indicator such as a kerb. Feeling of insecurity. Wished that I wasn't there.”

Another blind user with the same problem would not use the space alone:

“I could not use the shared space safely as there was no definition of a kerb to tell me where the pavement started or ended. I would not be able to use them on my own.”

A guide dog owner wrote that:

“It was horrific as I couldn't work out where the safest place for me to walk was. I also needed to be on the other side of the space numerous times and more than once had a close shave with cars and cyclists.”

The Guide Dogs for the Blind has a section on shared spaces;

https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/how-you-can-help/campaigning/shared-surfaces/

The shared surface concept is intended to be a way to provide:

  • an attractive street environment with slower traffic 
  • less street clutter 
  • a people friendly space 

"Guide Dogs has been campaigning against the use of shared surface streets as part of our Streets Ahead campaign, supported by organisations representing disabled people across the disability sector, older people and other groups."

"Shared surface streets are dangerous for people with sight loss, who rely upon the presence of the kerb to know they are on the pavement and not in the road. "

It lists “Key concerns for people with sight loss:”

  • You have to make eye contact: Pedestrians, motorists and cyclists have to make eye contact to decide who moves first. This obviously compromises the safety, independence and confidence of blind and partially sighted people. 
  • People rely on the kerb: Blind and partially sighted people, particularly guide dog owners and long cane users, use the kerb as a navigation tool to know where they are in a street. 
As a result, it notes that many people with sight loss, disabled and elderly people have said that they feel unable to use the shared surface street in their town. People with learning difficulties, people who are deaf or hearing impaired, older people and young children can also experience difficulty with shared surface streets.

Guide Dogs has done in-depth research into the problems of shared surface streets and potential ways forward looking at "The impact of shared surface streets and shared use pedestrian/cycle paths on the mobility and independence of blind and partially sighted people."

This report provides opinions on shared surfaces from a survey of 500 people with sight loss. And it has this note on "Accidents and near misses on shared surface streets". Not one was enthusiastic about shared spaces or thought they were a good idea - but then they have to live with the consequences of the street planners decisions! 

"In terms of accidents and near misses, relatively small numbers of respondents with experience of shared surfaces had actually had an accident on shared surface streets (7%). However 42% of respondents had had a near miss – meaning that around half of the respondents who had experience of shared surface streets had had an accident or a near miss on one. "

"15% of these accidents/near misses were reported, 5% required medical attention. The vast majority of those who had had an accident or a near miss on a shared surface street (85%) felt it had affected their confidence to some degree." 

Transport for All's Trustee Patrick Robert, who is a guide dog user, recently revealed that he was knocked down twice by cyclists, using shared spaces.

And the Guide Dog's report concludes

"In order to make streets and pedestrian environments safer and more inclusive, it is important that the concerns which blind and partially sighted people have revealed in this research report are addressed. The requirements and experiences of all people, including those who are blind and partially sighted, need to be considered by those responsible for their design, development and management; and in government policy and guidance which influences this."

Quite frankly, shared space was motivated with the best of intentions, but put in place as much for ideological reasons as safety ones. Statistically, I am told by one correspondent, shared spaces are safer than other kinds of crossing, but while those statistics may apply to the entire population, they do not apply to the blind or partially sighted.

Rob Imrie, writing in Urban Studies on Shared Spaces noted that " Data from a study of English local authorities show that the diverse needs of vision-impaired people are barely recognised or given a platform to influence shared space policy."

The new discrimination law should mandate the Department of Infrastructure and the Parishes to ensure that is unlawful for public authorities, including highways authorities, to discriminate in the exercise of a public function. They also have a duty to make reasonable adjustments including changing practices, policies and procedures which have a discriminating effect and to take reasonable steps to enable disabled people to avoid substantial disadvantages caused by physical features. None of this seems to have been done with regard to shared spaces.

Tunnell Street now has plenty of signage and a zebra crossing, which has improved matters for sighted people. It is not so apparent it has been made safer for blind people. Has the Parish asked blind people for their opinion? Have they tested the road surface with those who cannot see or who are only very partially sighted?

The UCU notes that authorities should:

“Work with blind and partially sighted people to assess existing shared spaces on grounds of safety. Where safety issues are identified, mitigating measures need to be taken including the reintroduction of kerbs and crossings”

References
https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/media/1974/1253_tns_impact_report_executive_summary_gd_2010.pdf
https://www.guidedogs.org.uk/media/1975/1253_tns_impact_report_for_guide_dogs_2010.pdf
https://www.theihe.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Unity-Law-Shared-Spaces-Report-v41.pdf
https://www.theihe.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Holmes-Report-on-Shared-Space-.pdf
https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/8143/Shared-space-how-safe-is-it/pdf/shared_space.pdf
http://www.transportforall.org.uk/about/news/petition-against-shared-space-signed-by-50-organisations

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Signs and Wonders












Signs and Wonders 

Acts 2:20 says “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.”

Revelation 6:12: ““And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood”

It’s a form of picture language called apocalyptic, and unfortunately down the centuries it has been read by very prosaic people in very literal ways, and not as intended, as a kind of poetic form.

So a nuclear war has been a popular theme, particularly with American fundamentalists of the 20th century, who saw this as a literal description of an atomic war.

It is like the blood moon of Friday, which also has people referencing these texts and saying that is what is being described.

But they’ve got everything topsy-turvy: the texts are using real and strange phenomena – earthquakes, solar eclipses, lunar eclipses – to describe the magnitude of the changes they want to convey.

By way of illustration, we can talk about an event as producing a “seismic change” or “earth shattering”, and we can talk about an event which “eclipses” what has gone before. We are using the images as metaphors to awaken the imagination, to provide something to convey the magnitude of the changes we are describing.

The biblical texts do the same, but the trouble is when they are read by people who actually have little or no imagination. But fortunately there are people who still have that sixth sense – the sense of wonder and imagination.

At Le Hocq on Friday night, and at Noirmont, hundreds of Islanders flocked to see the moon rising. All that is an astronomical phenomena and you could probably see better pictures of it online. Why go out? Why the clouds wait for hours until – fortunately – moved off and we could see the moon, for the most part blood red, with just a thin crescent of white.

There were telescopes at Le Hocq, and they were also able to see Jupiter and its moons, white pinpricks of light like diamonds in the sky, and the rings of Saturn. Again, you can get better pictures online from space probes, but people still come to see for themselves a much more grainy image.

Human beings have, I believe, an innate sense of wonder. We see the moon rising red, and we know what causes it, but it still fires our imagination. We see these rare events and wonder. They may have no deep significance about the end of the world, or any astrological import, but what they do is to allow us to see ourselves.

Just as the moons light, disrupted, turns red as only some light reflects through the atmosphere, so our imagination and sense of wonder is quickened and awakened in a way that happens with no other species on the planet.

And it is that imagination and sense of wonder which makes us want to know more about the world and the universe, even when there is no material gain to be doing so. If we lose that, and just become self-centred, narrow minded materialists, we will have truly  lost our soul.




Saturday, 28 July 2018

Desolation














This was one of those peculiar poems which started on another track and then went off down its own path. It was going to be a variant of "The Road Less Travelled" and then become a kind of alternative timeline poem. I wasn't sure what the city was - an old city, and I had various names in mind - Babylon, Jerusalem, London, Rome, Tanelorn - but in the end I left it unknown, for any city you care to imagine.

The pattern of stanzas, by the way, follows a well known hymn - "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken", and to some extent it is a dark mirror of that hymn, a prophetic blast against triumphalism.

Desolation

Listen, the softest word is spoken
Of a turning on that other road
Crumbling, fragmented, broken
To ruins desolate, lost abode

Once a mighty empire founded
Of peace, calm and sweet repose
Until one say it came surrounded
Army of fell warriors, deadly foes

Time has flown away like waters
Wearing away in river’s groove
Generations, all sons and daughters
Time comes take, to all remove

The once mighty flowing river
Dry banks, and thirst to assuage
Once was life, now death the giver
Falling, breaking, every age

Fleeting clouds, white and hovering
Thunder, cloud, and fire appear
In their glory, in their covering
Change and decay is very near

Armies marching under banner
Light by night and shade by day,
On to fight, so cold their manner
Footsteps on destructions way

Now besieged, eternal city
Dancing in the burning flame
Crying out for desperate pity
Glory falling in her name

Reflections are the saddest pleasures,
Of all past city’s pomp and show;
Justice, peace are lasting treasures
That is truth that all should know.

Friday, 27 July 2018

This is Jersey - 1979 - Part 2

From 1979 comes this holiday guide - "This is Jersey". This is a flat brochure which is larger that the later glossy designs, and it doesn't have nearly as many pages - 16 double sided in all, including front and back covers.

It does provide a very interesting snapshot of the tourism scene in 1979, just as it was more or less at its peak, just before Bergerac launched, and before the package tour market and cheap holiday destinations abroad made Jersey's prices suddenly more expensive and the bottom fell out of the market.

Tourism is today rebuilding a new approach geared to the lifestyle of the modern tourist. It still has plenty to offer, but the old style of tourism probably won't sell today. But here's a chance to capture that flavour.













WELCOME TO JERSEY, the largest of the Channel Islands, where life is fast enough to be fun, but so delightfully different.

It is no misnomer to call Jersey a "Paradise Island" and any visitor can be sure that his or her delight
is just around the corner. But which corner!

"This is Jersey" has been prepared as a free souvenir guide with the object of helping every visitor to get the very best out of this 45 square mile holiday haunt.

The magazine has been clearly divided into various sections containing a mine of information which can add to your holiday enjoyment.

Each advertiser has been given a reference letter and number, which can be cross-checked on the map, St. Helier, or on the Island map.

You'll find that Jersey has friendly but independant inhabitants, its own customs, traditions and way of life.


It's these factors that make Jersey so popular with holiday-makers. Welcome to their number!












The guide has some nice scenic photos.













It is interesting to see that the castle was floodlit back in 1979 together with the harbour also lit up, although floodlighting the castle alone goes back at least to the 1950s, as this image from a 1953 postcard I found shows.
















The "useful information" is interesting, as most banks now also open on Saturday mornings, and some also have late closing on Fridays.














The initial series of Condor ferries were all hydrofoil passenger only ferries, with the exception of Condor 6 which was a passenger only catamaran. The ships began in service in 1964, and the one in this picture would have been either Condor 3, April 1974-1979, Condor 4, June 1974-1990, or Condor 5 (1976-April 1992). The final hydrofoil was Condor 7 (1985-1993).






Just as the Premium Bonds had "Ernie", the Channel Island Lottery had its own computer "Fred". I've note been able to find what that stood for, but my guess is "Fairly Reliable Electronic Device".

The Channel Islands Lottery was founded in 1975 with the merger of the Jersey Lottery and the Guernsey Lottery. The Jersey Lottery was established in 1966 and the Guernsey Lottery in 1971. The game is the oldest lottery in the British Isles, beating Ireland (1987) and the United Kingdom

Jersey's share of the profits from the lottery were initially used to finance the transformation of Fort Regent into a sports and entertainment complex. On the completion of that project, the States of Jersey agreed that the Jersey part of the profits from the Channel Islands Lottery should be applied to charitable purposes, through the Association of Jersey Charities.

In 1999, the Gambling Committee reported:

"After over 32 years of service, Super Fred retired, his services no longer being required. He performed his very last Lottery Draw on 15th January by undertaking the last of the pure drawn prize Draws. His sadness was evident as with great enthusiasm he drew his last prizes."

"Rumour had it that he has pledged always to be on hand should the community ever require the services of this ‘superhero’ again. From his retirement home somewhere on the south coast of Jersey, he now reflects on a lifetime of giving money away to thousands upon thousands of happy winners, not to mention raising over £2.5 million for good causes. The computer was re-programmed to undertake the Double Chance Draws which drew initially only three prizes. "

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Heatwave Europe: The New Normal?
















They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this picture sums up the difference between 1976 and 2018.

As Meteorologist Simon Lee tweeted:

The big difference between the heatwaves of 1976 and 2018.

June 1976: the UK was one of the warmest places relative to normal across the globe, with most areas cooler than average.

June 2018: the UK was just another warm blob in a mostly warmer than normal world.


And you can see that in the picture. On the right is a red blob, mostly over the UK, while on the left, the heat suffuses all across Europe and North America.

As Adam Vaughan,  reported:

"A stationary high-pressure weather system has left the UK and much of continental Europe sweltering. Iceland, by contrast, has been hit with clouds and storms that would normally come further south."

Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University suggested that the jet stream, which is driven by collisions between cold air coming south and warm air moving north, was regularly stalling as a result of accelerated warming in the Arctic.

Back in March and April, this had the opposite effect, keeping cold air, snow and freezing conditions persisting over the Northern hemisphere

It seems that the result of blocking patterns is long term extreme weather events, such as prolonged periods of cold or heat. A major block can produce long stretches of blazing heat in the summer or bitter cold in the winter.

A recent peer-reviewed paper on "Warm Arctic episodes linked with increased frequency of extreme winter weather in the United States" states that:

"Anthropogenic global warming is widely expected to increase certain types of weather extremes, including more intense and frequent heat waves and droughts as well as heavy precipitation events. ...Over the past two to three decades, the increase in extreme weather has included more (not fewer) severe cold-air outbreaks and heavy snowfalls observed both in North America and Eurasia."

And the Independent warns: "Amid the chaos, a stark message is emerging, that this is the “new normal” and from this point on we can only expect heatwaves to get worse."

Previously climate change only focused on an average trend in increasing global temperatures, but the recent extreme weather events this year and last have shown that the average is in fact a very poor indicator, as it smooths out the extremes. The world has on average warmed by around 1C since the 19th century, but the intensity of extreme weather events suggests that figure tells only a small part of the story.

Just as the increase in severe gales means greater propensity for flooding - as more are likely to coincide with high tidal conditions, so the increase in severe weather events such as the current heatwave means that our lives will be considerably more stressed by the effort of coping in an increasingly hostile environment.

As Matthew Huber, professor of earth and atmospheric science at Purdue University comments:

“Whole countries would intermittently be subject to severe heat stress requiring large-scale adaptation efforts. One can imagine that such efforts, for example the wider adoption of air conditioning, would cause the power requirements to soar, and the affordability of such approaches is in question for much of the Third World that would bear the brunt of these impacts. In addition, the livestock on which we rely would still be exposed, and it would make any form of outside work hazardous.”

We have cause to be alarmed.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Faldouet Dolmen: The Investigation of 1869



Faldouet Dolmen has been in the news recently because of damage caused by large numbers of tourists visiting the site, and damaging some of the surrounding earth banks. It is to be hoped that signage as well as barriers will alert tourists as to the important nature of the whole site, and not just the stones themselves, as the earth surrounding it has been shaped and contoured and would have formed part of the whole structure.

So what is a dolmen?

Wikipedia notes that :”A dolmen is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of two or more vertical megaliths supporting a large flat horizontal capstone or "table". Most date from the early Neolithic (4000–3000 BC) and were sometimes covered with earth or smaller stones to form a tumulus.”

However, the identification of dolmens as burial sites has come to be questionable with recently scholarly research, which comes to quite a different interpretation.

With the dolmens, as Mark Patton has pointed out, the human remains found are few in number, and sometimes non-existent. This is also the case in Brittany, where animal bones can be found, and not human bones, suggesting that these "passage graves" were never intended for burials, and certainly not for burials of chieftains. On the most prominent Jersey site, he comments: “the bones are scattered in the passage and chamber with no apparent organisation, as at La Hougue Bie, Jersey”

So if these sites were not tombs, what were they for? Mark Patton suggest that a useful analogy is that of churches and cathedrals. He argues: "If one were to excavate Westminster Abbey, one would find human bones, as in most cathedrals and churches, yet Westminster Abbey, although it contains burials, would not in itself be described as a tomb or mausoleum", and suggests that we look at the dolmens in this light.

And taking a Jersey case in example, there are burials within the Town Church of St Helier, most notably the bones of Major Pierson have been found there, but no one would be correct in assuming the church was merely a burial site.

The alignment of Faldouet, in particular, with the spring equinox suggests it was part calendar, part focus for seasonal rituals, and of course the Neolithic peoples were settled farmers, for whom seasons would play a major part.

One thing the early guide books call it, and it is not, is a Druid’s Temple. The druids belong to the Iron age, thousands of years after the time of the Neolithic farmers, and there is no evidence they existed in Jersey.

One of the earliest mentions I have found of Faldouet Dolmen comes from 1869, in which it is confusingly referred to as a “Cromlech”. Now in Wales, a Cromlech is a megalithic tomb consisting of a large flat stone laid on upright ones – what we would call a dolmen, so this fits. In Brittany, however, it is a circle of standing stones such as we see at Ville es Nouaux.

The Journal of the Ethnological Society of London, Volume 1, May 1869

Some excavations have lately been made by the Rev. Frederick Porter, in a cromlech in the Island of Jersey, known by the name of the Druids' Temple or Polgulaye, at Faldouet. It is situated on a plateau immediately over Gorey and Ann Port, and is described by Falle, in his History of Jersey.

The following account of the excavations is given by Mr. Porter in the Jersey Times of the 8th February, 1869 :—

When I first saw the cromlech I found it had been partly opened, but there was still much to explore. On inquiry, I ascertained that some thirty years previously the then proprietor of the soil cleared away the western part of the mound and opened the primary and some other cists; he appeared to have but little idea of what he was to find, and probably looked for other things than prehistoric relics.

The cromlech is placed east and west longitudinally. The west contains the primary cist, the east end is the entrance and in ordinary cases is left open. An area or nave joins the primary cist, having on each side a succession of cists, and this area comes into contact on each side with the avenue or parallelith forming the entrance.

The cromlech becomes narrower and depressed as it proceeds east; but it does not appear to have had ever more than one transverse block to cover it in. The primary cist is a fine specimen of Celtic architecture. It consists of five upright stones in contact placed in a circular form, four of which support the transverse block of immense weight; the fifth and central stone does not reach the capstone by a few inches, but the whole form a complete barrier to ingress from the west.

I commenced operations by cutting a trench on the east part of the mound, which I thought would strike the entrance to the cromlech. Soon I came upon a wall which seemed to me to close in the entrance. Breaking through this, I came to a second and third, running in a south-westerly direction, and one in a northwesterly.

The three walls sprung from the outer upright stones at the entrance (north and south respectively), admitted full ingress to the cromlech, and are circular and concentric. The outer wall blocked up the entrance from the east; the stones of the walls are well laid, having no mortar or cement to bind them; the outer wall is upright, but the inner incline inward from their base, and all have a support of rubble.

The walls vary in height from two feet to three, and are separated from each other some three or four feet. Betwixt the inner and second wall on the south side, and not far from the entrance to the cromlech, are four upright stones, looking very much like the remains of a peristalith of a date anterior to the walls.

I have been informed that in clearing away the mound on the west front, portions of walls were discovered, and this confirms me in my ideas that the walls I discovered were continuous. The labour of opening this cromlech has been considerable, for it was covered in with rubble and rough stones.

Through this the surface water readily percolated, and no doubt thoroughly decomposed many of the deposits. Some skulls found were so decayed as to render it impossible to determine their type. I found human remains interred in all the forms I have described, also small deposits of charcoal, layers of limpet shells and shingle; a great quantity of fragments of pottery, some fine, some coarse, heaped together as if by design; a small quantity of split flints of no definite form, but no urns or implements, domestic or warlike.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

The States in 1988 – Part 1

















The States in 1988 – Part 1

It is interesting to look back at the States of 1988, thirty years ago! Today’s States sits between about 30 to around 60 times a year. Back in 1988, they only sat 28 times in a year, and had reached a maximum for the decade of 38 in 1987 – a rare event!

The first sitting was 19th January, 1988.

New JEC Substations

Notable was the granting of leases to the JEC for electric substations:

“as recommended by the Public Works Committee, the leasing to The Jersey Electricity Company Limited of sites for electricity sub-stations at the Central Market and the Minden Place Multi-Storey Car Park, for a period of 99 years, commencing 25th December, 1987, at an annual rent of £1 for each site, with all payments commuted forward to the inception of the agreement, and the granting, free of charge, to the company of any servitudes required for high tension cables, with each side being responsible for the payment of its own legal fees”

St Helier was expanding, and the demand for electricity was also growing, hence the need for more substations. There are now almost 800 substations in the Island.

Currently a new sub-station is taking place at the start of the inner road to ensure sufficient supply to the West of Town. April 2018 saw the installation of the two Italian-mantactured transformers at the new £17m primary substation St Helier West being constructed on the disused Westmount quarry site.

New Toilets at La Haule.

A new toilet block was also to be built at La Haule:

“the Public Works Committee had accepted the lowest of five tenders, namely that submitted by B. & C. Contractors Limited in the sum of £47,412.68 in a contract period of 20 weeks for the construction of public toilets at La Haule, St. Brelade”

That’s about £127,000 in today’s money!

Referendum: testing the water

With no firm date for debate, Senator John Rothwell lodged Referendum: introduction of legislation. P.15/87. It seems nothing came of that. Back in 1988, there was no appetite for asking the people what they thought!

The Figures that Don’t Add Up

Meanwhile there were major problems at Highlands, prompting the setting up of the “Highlands College lecturers: Committee of Inquiry”

THE STATES, adopting a Proposition of the Education Committee –

(a) appointed a Committee of Inquiry under Article 30 of the States of Jersey Law, 1966 –

(i) to inquire into allegations of misuse of public resources, and other malpractices, by Highlands College lecturers engaged in public business activities; and

(ii) in so doing, to consider the need to regulate the private business activities of teachers and lecturers employed by the Education Committee; and to report thereon to the States; and

b) agreed that the Committee so appointed should be designated a Committee of Inquiry for the purposes of Articles 41 to 46 inclusive and Article 49 of the said Law.

Senator Pierre François Horsfall was appointed as President of the Committee of Inquiry into allegations of malpractices by Highlands College lecturers engaged in public business activities, with fellow members Senator Betty Brooke, Deputy Edgar John Becquet of Trinity and Deputy Graham Huelin of St. Brelade.

Help for the Mentally Handicapped.
More was starting finally to be done for those who needed support because of varying degrees of mental handicap.

THE STATES, adopting a Proposition of the Public Health Committee – approved the purchase of a property for the development of a community home for people with a mental handicap subject to the Finance and Economics Committee’s approval of the price and the Island Development Committee’s approval of the use of the site.

Monday, 23 July 2018

The Perils of Short Term Memory



















The Perils of Short Term Memory 

Senator Kristina Moore has recenty attacked John le Fondre’s ability as Chief Minister. She said: ‘I want to hear from a leader with a plan. There was a clear lack of leadership demonstrated [at the Scrutiny hearing]. The Assembly went through a process to choose a new Chief Minister that clearly demonstrated they want to see a change in style. But we’re over 30 days in and the Chief Minister clearly doesn’t have a plan. You would hope that a new leader would understand the importance of hitting the ground running and taking on such a leadership role with a plan to execute. I wasn’t filled with confidence.’

Senator Le Fondre in the meantime replied that:

‘Just over a month after this government was formed, we are making good progress on developing the details of our common strategic policy. I want to see the Council of Ministers having robust discussions at an early stage so we can base our decisions on facts, evidence and advice. We will be presenting our Strategic Plan to the States Assembly, as required, on 4 October, for consideration by Members and Islanders.’

So let’s cast out minds back, and see a few things in perspective.

Even despite a summer recess, John Le Fondre will be filing his Strategic Plan to the states on 4th October. Given the elections for Chief Minister and Scrutiny took out most of May, we can count June, July, August, September for early October. That’s about four months for a government newly formed, with a new Chief Minister and a lot of other Ministers and Assistant Ministers new to their roles.

Ian Gorst was elected Chief Minister for a second term in 2014, with a considerable number of Ministers or Assistant Ministers who had previous experience. There was a short Christmas recess, and the Draft Strategic Plan 2015-2018 was logged on 6 March 2015 (for debate in April that year).

Again, not counting November, in which Ian Gorst and other posts were elected, that gives December, January, February for early March. That’s three months for a government with the same Chief Minister as before, and many more Ministers or Assistant Ministers now moved up to Ministers to get their plan in.

So much for “the importance of hitting the ground running and taking on such a leadership role with a plan to execute”.

And she was there as Minister for Home Affairs.

Now if John Le Fondre takes one month more than his predecessor it is hardly surprising considering the seismic shift that had taken place in the make up of the Council of Ministers. But it is notable that a Chief Minister, coming into his second term of office, took three months before a Strategic Plan was produced. Kristina Moore seems somehow to have amnesia about that!

Meanwhile with regard to her Scrutiny Panel’s questions for Susie Pinel, Kristina Moore commented that:

“I am sure we will have a very different person. The role of Treasury Minister is an important one around the Council of Ministers’ table. I expect the hearing to be more focused and constructive. Deputy Pinel got to grips with the technical aspects as Social Security Minister and displayed a strong understanding, so I am sure she will have a good grasp of the technical aspects of being Treasury Minister.”

Or could it be that Susie Pinel is one of her chums from the last Council of Ministers?

Lest that seem too poorly evidenced, it is instructive to see what happened with Russell Labey’s proposition to allow the Inspector wider terms of reference that confining him to the current hospital site. It was supported by 34, and opposed by 7, with only 1 abstaining, and 7 absentees.and Ian Gorst out of the Island on Brexit business.

Going by the tendencies in the past, this would almost have certainly been blocked and not supported by the Council of Ministers en block. That didn’t happen this time. But among the 7 voting contre were:

Senator Lyndon Farnham Contre
Senator Kristina Moore Contre
Deputy Susie Pinel Contre
Deputy Stephen Luce Contre

Those are the remaining “rump” of the last Council of Ministers still remaining in the States, which is certainly an interesting coincidence. Whether it is more remains to be seen in future votes. Watch this space!

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Faith of Our Fathers – Part 8












The local historian G.R. Balleine was also a clergyman, and in 1940, at the outbreak of the Second World War, he penned a series of 52 lessons around the Apostle’s Creed. Balleine being first a foremost a historian, there’s a lot of history there that I’ve never come across before, and I have studied church history quite a lot.

He’s also master of the pithy anecdote or illustration to bring something to life, which is why Frank Falle says the original history, flowing freely, is a better book to read that its more worthy revisions. Joan Stevens was a fair historian, but she could not write nearly as well as Balleine, who has an almost intimate chatty style.

The last paragraph I think rather dates the piece - while exorting social reform, Balleine also exorts foreign missions (a very Kipling like imperialist idea ("lesser breeds") which had been rightly abandoned between 1942 to 1963 by Max Warree of CMS. And there is also the reference to Temperance Reform, although it could be argued that governments concerns about a society where alcohol is too freely available and alcoholism is a major problem, is picking up on some of the same concerns.

I’m hoping to put some or all of this book online on Sundays.

Faith of Our Fathers – Part 7
By GR Balleine

LESSON VI.

The Christship of Jesus

Christ

PASSAGE TO BE READ : St. Mark viii. 27-30.

TEXT TO BE LEARNT : "We believe and are sure that Thou art the Christ "(St. John vi. 69).

AIM : To lead the children to look forward to the coining of Christ's Kingdom.

HYMNS : " Thy Kingdom come," and " Hail to the Lord's Anointed."

APPARATUS : Picture of St. Peter's Confession.

HOMEWORK: Make a list of of ways in which life would be different, if we were living in Christ's Kingdom.

THOUGHT FOR TEACHERS : The name " Christian " labels us as men who believe in a Messiah, in Someone Who is able to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.- C. Jones.

1. ART THOU THE CHRIST? (Luke xxii. 67.)

(a) When our Lord was a Baby, Joseph and Mary gave Him the Name of Jesus. This was His only Name through His boyhood and early manhood. But, after He began to preach, his disciples added a title to His Name, and called Him Jesus Christ.

In the ancient world, titles general came after, not before, a name. Caesar, for example, means Emperor so, when a man was made Emperor, he added it to his name, e.g. Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Tiberius Caesar. In the East to-day, where we speak of General Gordon, an Egyptian says Gordon Pasha ; where we speak of Mr Jones, an Indian says Jones Sahib. Remember that Christ was never our Lord's Name. It was a title that His disciples gave Him.

(b) What did that title mean ? " Christos " is the Greek word for the Hebrew title "Messiah." So, when the disciples called our Lord " Christ," they really called Him the Messiah. This was the name that the Jews had given to the great Deliverer Whom they expected to appear. For centuries they had served and worshipped the one true God, yet for centuries they had been crushed and persecuted by the heathen. They felt thatt this kind of thing could not go on for ever. Sooner or later God must vindicate His honour, reward the Jews for their faithfulness, and punish the heathen for their blasphemies.

Prophet after prophet had encouraged them to believe this. How exactly this would happen, they were not quite so certain. Some thought that there would be a great war in which the Jews would conquer the world. Others expected a sudden supernatural upheaval in which God would destroy the heathen. But all agreed that nothing could happen, till the right Leader came, a descendant of King David, Who would lead them to victory, and organize the new Kingdom of God. And they gave to this long-expected Liberator-Who-was-to-come the name of the Messiah or the Christ, Hebrew and Greek words which meant the Anointed One.

(c) For many generations every one had been wondering when this Christ would appear. "I know," said the Samaritan woman at the well, "that Messiah cometh, which is called the Christ. When He is come, He will declare unto us all things " (John iv. 25). Old Simeon believed that he would not die until " he had seen the Christ " (Luke ii. 26). When the Baptist began to preach, " all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ" (Luke iii. 15) ; but " he confessed, I am not the Christ " (John i. 20).

As soon as Jesus began His ministry a hot discussion arose as to whether He was the Messiah. Some said, " When the Christ cometh, will He do more miracles than those which this Man hath done ? " (John vii. 31). But others asked, " Shall the Christ come out of Galilee ? " (John vii. 41). Eventually the mass of the people decided that He was not the Messiah. He was so utterly unlike the kind of Christ that they had been taught to expect. They said He was a Prophet, perhaps even the great Prophet who was to prepare the way for the Messiah, but certainly not the Messiah Himself.

If any were still inclined to play with this idea in their minds, the Rulers threatened to excommunicate them. " The Jews agreed that, if any man did confess that He was the Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue " (John ix. 22). And Jesus did not undeceive them. It would have been too dangerous. If He had declared Himself the Christ, half Galilee would have sprung to arms and begun to massacre the Romans.

II. THOU ART THE CHRIST (Mark viii. 29).

(a) His disciples, however, felt sure that He was the Christ. The first time St. Andrew met Him, lie went to fetch his brother saying, " We have found the Messiah, that is to say the Christ " (John i. 41).

Stronger and stronger the conviction grew in their minds, though Jesus Himself apparently never said anything about it. At last one day He asked them, saying, " Who say ye that I am ? " Peter unhesitatingly declared, " Thou art the Christ." (Read Passage.)

Jesus did not contradict him. On the contrary He replied, " Blessed art thou, Simon, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in Heaven " (Matt. xvi. 17). Yet even then " He charged His disciples that they After His should tell no man that He was the Christ " (Matt. xvi. 20).

(b) After his resurrection this became one of the earliest articles in the Church’s Creed and one of the constant topics of the Apostles' preaching. St. Paul at Corinth " testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ " (Acts xviii. 15). At Thessalonica he declared, " This Jesus Whom I preach unto you is the Christ " (Acts xvii. 3). St. John indignantly (1 John ii). asked, " Who is a liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ ? "

[Of course, no sane teacher will hurl all these texts at unoffending children's heads. They are quoted for the teacher's own instruction, to make quite clear that " Christ " is not a meaningless surname, but a title with a very important controversial doctrinal significance.

For the children teachers will draw a vivid picture of every one discussing whether Jesus was the Messiah : the people eventually deciding No : but the disciples deciding Yes, and going out to preach their faith with passionate enthusiasm.]

III. WHAT THE CHRISTSHIP MEANS FOR US.

(a) What has all this to do with us ? To a Jew no doubt it was very interesting to know that Jesus was the Messiah Whom his nation had expected so long, but has this any message for us, who have learnt to call him by far higher titles, " God's only Son," " our Lord " ?

(b) If Jesus claimed to be the Messiah Whom the prophets foresaw, it means that, in general outline at any rate, all that they foretold of the Messiah may be expected to come true of Jesus. First and foremost the Messiah was to triumph and to reign. In many ways Jesus appeared to fail. The multitudes deserted Him. His own disciples forsook Him. He was crucified. Even today the greater part of the world is nonChristian. His enemies seem stronger than His friends. When we sing " Jesus shall reign where'er the sun doth its successive courses run," we get that hope largely from Old Testament pictures of the Messiah.

(c) The Messiah was to reign in this world, not in some future Heaven beyond the skies. This is important. People sometimes talk as though our Lord simply came to die in order that His people might be happy in Heaven. He Himself clearly believed that He was the promised Christ, Who was to establish a Kingdom of Heaven in this world. It gives us a wonderful hope for the future. Evil will not always flourish.

This poor old world of ours will some day see the prophets' hope fulfilled ; a Kingdom of Righteousness, where tyranny, injustice and wrong shall cease and men shall do right out of love for their righteous King ; a Kingdom of Peace, where men shall beat their swords into pruning hooks and shall learn war no more ; a Kingdom of Joy, where life shall no longer be full of grief and pain : "The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy." "He shall reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet."

(d) But we must not fall into the Jewish mistake, and think only of a Deliverer Who will do something for us. We believe in a Deliverer Who wants to do something in us and through us ; not merely to change our surroundings, but to change ourselves. Christ must first reign in our hearts, before He can reign in the world. His will and not our own must rule our lives. The Kingdom must first come in us; then it must come through us. It will not come, as the Jews expected and some Second Adventists still expect, by any supernatural upheaval, but by the steady faithful work of those who accept Jesus as King.

We must throw more and more strength into the work of Foreign Missions, till all nations bow before Him. We must make stronger and stronger the work of His Church at home, till every stubborn and frivolous life acknowledges Jesus as King. We must help every movement, e.g. Temperance Reform, Social Reform, that makes it easier for people to be good and lessens temptation. It is sheer hypocrisy to say in the Creed that we believe in Jesus as the Christ, unless we are trying in every way to hasten His Messianic Kingdom.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

In Time of Drought












We are now officially in a time of drought, but rain is promised. That is the subject of this topical poem.

In Time of Drought

Dry and dusty is the earth
Cloudless ever are the skies
Land is awaiting for rebirth
Withering the flower lies

Hot and humid is each hour
Even warm thoughout the night
Hill and vale and tree and flower
Dying now in strong sunlight

Rain I crave, and rain I love
Small white cloud as if a child
Joined with others, more above
Pray for rainfall wet and mild

The living waters, life divine
Rain is falling, freely given
Random motion, not design
Yet still feels as tears forgiven.

Friday, 20 July 2018

This is Jersey - 1979 - Part 1

From 1979 comes this holiday guide - "This is Jersey". This is a flat brochure which is larger that the later glossy designs, and it doesn't have nearly as many pages - 16 double sided in all, including front and back covers.

It does provide a very interesting snapshot of the tourism scene in 1979, just as it was more or less at its peak, just before Bergerac launched, and before the package tour market and cheap holiday destinations abroad made Jersey's prices suddenly more expensive and the bottom fell out of the market.

Tourism is today rebuilding a new approach geared to the lifestyle of the modern tourist. It still has plenty to offer, but the old style of tourism probably won't sell today. But here's a chance to capture that flavour.



May I, as President of the Jersey Hotel Guest House Association welcome you to the Island of Jersey where hope you will spend one of the most enjoyable holidays of your life. We, in the Association endeavour to see, that our guests receive only the very best of service coupled with friendly hospitality. We trust this will be to your liking and we shall have the pleasure of welcoming you back on many future occasions.
Mark Cliveley

Notice the brightly coloured brochure, and the advert for Mary Ann! Mary Ann is still brewed, by the Liberation Group at Longueville but back in the 1970s it was at Ann Street Brewery in St Helier.




I remember going to the Hotel de La Plage for New Years Eve in my late teens on several occasions with my parents and sister, the Miles family and their son Nigel - David Miles was chief accountant for the Seymour Group, and the Binnington family (Bernard and Betty and their children. Food and cabaret were the order of the evening, with often a very bad impressionist. It would end with the conga at Midnight through to the table laden with desert.

Another commentator who worked there around this time said:

"I worked there as a commis chef back in 1978 for the season it was a great place to work with all the chefs and staff , the kitchen was modern and good to work in plus you got good staff accommodation, I seemed to spend all my free time on the beach , shopping , or clubbing not a bad life for a young lad."

In the late 1980s, the Seymour group planned at extension to the Portelet Hotel

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when the decline in tourism began, although a significant pointer would be the Seymour hotel groups plans for a large new hotel at Portelet in the 1980s. The was a large groundswell of local feeling that this would have a detrimental visual impact upon Portelet bay, but eventually planning permission was granted. By that time, however, the Seymour group had decided that the decline in the tourism market meant that the project was no longer viable, and decided not to go ahead with the building.

Of the five hotels which formed part of the Seymour Group, only the Pomme d'Or and the flagship Merton Hotel remain. The others have been turned into flats. La Plage is now converted to Residence de la Plage, effectively flats.The last of the others to go was the Portelet Hotel which was knocked down last year to make way for flats.





The Caribbean bar has long since gone, with the closure of the La Plage Hotel, and Bodi and his Wunderbar German nights no longer feature at the Pomme D'Or Hotel.

German nights' were a popular form of entertainment for both tourists and locals in Jersey the 1970's - and the Pomme D'Or in particular used to feature an 'oom-pa-pa' Bierkeller-style singalong evening, featuring a German singer/accordionist called Bodi



In the mid-1970s Mascot coaches were offering a variety of two-hour morning tours for 65p and 3¼-hour afternoon tours with a stop for tea at 75p. Three-hour evening coastal tours were 70p for adults and 35p for children and there were also nightly coaches to Crazy Nites and other cabaret entertainment, as well as day-trips to France in the Trois Leopards.

Later on Seymour Hotels sold Mascot Motors to Jersey Motor Transport to concentrate on their core hotel business

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Drought and Jersey Water

Helier Smith, chief executive of Jersey Water














BBC news reported this story:

There is an "absolute drought" in Jersey after 15 days of no "measurable rainfall", according to meteorologists. Jersey Met Office said the last measurable rainfall - more than 1mm - in the largest Channel Island was on 2 July when 2.8mm of rain was recorded.

The dry spell is due to end on Thursday with thundery showers forecast. This is the 125th time the island has been in an absolute drought since records began in 1894 with the longest period lasting 39 days in 1976.

A Jersey Water spokesman said a hosepipe ban was unlikely as reservoirs were 83% full, with enough water to last three months. 


The Island is certainly in a better position that it was several years ago in the history book about Jersey Water, which mentioned that the population had actually exceeded the water supply in any prolonged drought.

The reasons can be read in their 2017 Annual Report and Accounts, which is very informative:

Operationally, 2017 was a successful year. We saw consumption of water fall by 3.2%, principally due to a reduction in leakage of approximately 14% on the prior year.

In 2017, we invested a total of £3,275k (2016: £4,589k) in our capital expenditure programme which included laying 2.1km of replacement mains, installing 1.9km of new mains extensions, investing £475k in water quality improvement and resource initiatives and adding 303 connections to the network.

We continue to invest in our infrastructure and 2018 will see the development of a live distribution network model that will, over time, enable the use of technology to manage leakage, pressures and water quality throughout our 580km of pipework.


So we can see from the above that the Company adopts a number of pro-active strategies to reduce the demand for water including Island-wide metering, pressure reduction, leakage control and mains renewals.

Metering makes people think twice about consuming water for watering gardens or washing cars too often.

And the £6.6 million upgrade of the desalination plant has meant that it has increased the capacity of the plant from 6.4Ml/day to 10.8Ml/day and improving the energy efficiency by 36%. It is still expensive to run, but can now produce more water at less expense. That is now approximately half of daily demand.

We all complain about the roads dug up, but old pipework can decay and is more prone to leakages. There is a complex network carrying the water supply around the Island and the renewal of mains involves the replacement of old, end of life, unlined cast iron or galvanised iron pipework, and related service connections where appropriate

As an example, 835 metres of main along Rue de La Baie in St Brelade’s bay was replaced last year - the original dating back to 1900! There was also the replacement of 303 metres of pipe laid in 1903 feeding Seaton Place and the renewal of 138 metres of main feeding Old Road Gorey (originally laid in 1959).

A Public Utility for the Public

One of the reasons for the success of the company is the States of Jersey majority shareholder having 83.33% of voting rights. As we have seen in the UK, where private companies run the water networks, the shareholders – and returns to shareholders – can often be prioritised at the expense of the consumer.

As the Guardian reported in May 2017:

“Fears of a drought are rising after an exceptionally dry spell and water companies are asking customers to save water, but the vast amount of water that leaks from company pipes every day has not fallen for at least four years.”

“Furthermore, many companies in the parched south and east of England have been set leak reduction targets for 2020 of zero or even targets that could allow leakages to increase. Critics blame a system where it is “cheaper to drain a river dry than fix a leak” and say it is unfair to place the water saving burden on customers while 20% of all water leaks out before it even reaches homes.”

Against that while Jersey Water has to make a profit and pay dividends to shareholders, it also can used a goodly amount of those profits to reinvest for the long term, something UK Water Companies are singularly poor at doing. Leaks have been reduced across England and Wales by only 5% over the past 13 years.

As the report states:

“We are a long term business. To be successful we must maintain our performance over generations. This means not taking short cuts, making the appropriate long term investment decisions and maintaining our assets to a high standard.”

Not only is the company investing in replacing ancient mains, they are also bringing in new technology for detecting leaks more efficiently.

In 2017, the Company commissioned the development of a live distribution network management system. The system will allow the distribution network to be monitored in real time to allow operatives to understand pressures, flows, the age of water in the mains and numerous other parameters. The system will facilitate the modelling of effects of changes to the network on water quality, pressure and quality of service. The system will be developed in phases over the coming years to add functionality in stages.

In conclusion, we have a first class Water company.

And of the future...

We should not be complacent – although the desalination plant has increased daily capacity, there is still only a limited amount of water available.

Climate change suggests weather patterns where there are periods of prolonged rainfall and periods of prolonged drought. Chemicals can suddenly put reservoirs temporarily out of action. Val de la Mare was Val de la Mare was closed for five months in 2016. All of these can restrict water capacity.

And as the population grows, the demand for water also grows., putting yet more pressure on the infrastructure, which is something often overlooked in discussions on net inward migration.

But Jersey Water are actively planning for the long term, and our future water supplies, I am inclined to believe, are in safe hands.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The People’s Park and the JEP

The 70th Anniversary of Liberation Day
Like the first, this took place in the People's Park
















The People’s Park is back in the frame as a possible site for the new hospital, but note the word “possible”. If the site not been reconsidered when other sites that had been considered and discarded under Andrew Green’s oversight, it would seem very strange. It needs to be considered – so that it can be ruled out properly.

Of course it might be still the best choice, but the political dimension needs also to be considered. It would be a brave Minister who tried to push that through, especially as the balance of the States has altered, and the five strong Reform members would almost certainly vote against.

There’s some strange reporting from the JEP. It reports of Jackie Hilton that:

“The former Deputy for St Helier No 3/4 led the Save People’s Park campaign in 2016 when it emerged as the Council of Ministers’ preferred site for the new hospital.”

Really? Wasn’t Christian May, the chairman of Save People's Park? As I recall his 2016 bi-election campaign said: “I am not afraid to stand up to power, as I did by successfully leading the ‘Save People’s Park’ campaign.” Why haven’t they asked him for his opinion? Is it because as a civil servant involved in the Island’s Brexit team, he is essentially muted? It is still no reason to distort history and airbrush his involvement away!

That's not to take away Deputy Hilton's part, but Christian May was the leading figure, and the JEP just doesn't mention him at all. Elephants can remember, they say, but the JEP cannot.

As in fact may be remembered, after protests and a petition, Senator Green was faced with a proposition from Constable Simon Crowcroft for the States to rule out the People’s Park, upon which he withdrew the People’s Park as a hospital site. In a face saving exercise, he said he was listening to the people, whereas in fact, he was counting votes in the States, and emails telling him of opposition. Rather than face a crushing defeat, he took the Town Park off the table of hospital sites, and caved in – not to public demand – but to the promised voting preferences of his fellow States members against it.

It is interesting that in the last election, only one candidate said they thought the Town Park was a good idea, and that they endorsed it, and would have supported Senator Green in the States. That was Deputy Susie Pinel, and it says a lot that a Deputy from outside St Helier should not be concerned with how the residents of St Helier think of the matter.

Is this Jersey’s equivalent of the West Lothian question? That is whether rural members of the States, who are overrepresented anyway in apportionment, should have the ability to make decisions which affect St Helier, where over a third of the Island lives? It would not be perhaps so pertinent if St Helier was fairly represented in the States.

The JEP makes a lot of its survey of readers, which has picked “the People’s Park” but a careful look at how they gleaned the result shows that it was a typical self-selecting survey. These are invariably biased and do not reflect the true state of affairs.

Rather than letting readers select themselves, even a smaller sample at random of 500 people out and about on the streets of St Helier would provide more information. It would still be deficient – it would not take account of different demographics, and the people who lived and worked outside of St Helier, but it would still be more representative.

Self-selecting samples can look impressive, as they may have larger numbers than a random sample, but it is severely deficient. In most instances, self-selection will lead to biased data, as the respondents who choose to participate will not well represent the entire target population. A key objective of doing surveys is to measure empirical regularities in a population by sampling a much smaller number of entities that represent the whole target population.

I remember when there was a decision to be made on a bridge across to the Waterfront, which would have spanned three lanes of traffic. A phone survey – taking numbers at random – was used. I know because I was one of those polled. Now, of course, when most people have mobiles, and not everyone is listed in a phone book, that would be much harder to do and be representative, but it was not a bad way of randomising the sample.

I rather like the acronym for one self-selecting sample. A self-selected listener opinion poll, also called SLOP, is an unscientific poll that is conducted by broadcast media (television stations and radio stations) to engage their audiences by providing them an opportunity to register their opinion about some topic that the station believes has current news value.

Like the self-selected listener opinion poll, this JEP poll is sloppy too!

What is New in Our Solar System - Talk Tonight


Monday, 16 July 2018

On the Box

On the Box



















The first UK police drama with a woman inspector, “The Gentle Touch” has been showing from the start. I’ve tried a few episodes but can’t really get into it. It has crimes, and some good actors, but it doesn’t seem to really have much of a firm identity as yet. 




















That’s not the case with Juliet Bravo, in which the Yorkshire location and people play a great part, or even with “The Bill” which is set in a fairly identifiable London milieu. 




















Back in the old days, Edgar Lustgarten was presenting “Scotland Yard” and a later series “The Scales of Justice”. Short little 30 minute dramas, they are masterpieces of concision which still stand up well today. And “Scales of Justice” has a very catchy theme tune from “The Tornadoes”, which the credits tell me, was released on Decca records. 



The Tornados were an English instrumental group of the 1960s that acted as backing group for many of record producer Joe Meek's productions and also for singer Billy Fury. They enjoyed several chart hits in their own right, including the UK and U.S. No. 1 "Telstar" (named after the satellite and composed and produced by Meek), the first U.S. No. 1 single by a British group. 

But who remembers them now? 




















I managed to catch up with “Star Trek: Into Darkness”. A lot of very interesting nods to “Space Seed” and “The Wrath of Khan” with this time Spock rather than Kirk doing the scream “Khaaan!!”. It was as enjoyable as the first series, and the ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch makes for a good villain, but it seemed just a little bit too CGI heavy as bits of the Enterprise are blown apart, and people fall screaming. Chris Pine reprises his role as Captain James T. Kirk, with Zachary Quinto as Spock, but while this Kirk is as headstrong as the original Shatner version, he doesn’t have close ups guerning to camera at all.



On the documentary front, BBC Four’s documentary about Nokia was fascinating:

“Once upon a time there was a large Finnish company that manufactured the world's best and most innovative mobile phones. Nokia's annual budget was larger than that of the government of Finland and everyone who worked there shared in the windfall. But global domination cost the company its pioneering spirit and quantity gradually took over from quality, with new phone models being churned out by the dozen. Market share eroded, until in 2016, mobile phone production in Finland ceased.”

“The Rise and Fall of Nokia is a wry morality tale for our times, told by those that lived and worked through the rollercoaster years in a company that dominated a nation.”

Apple’s iPhone with touch screen technology was a game changer, and then the rise of the cloned systems using Android operating system – and Samsung - was the final nail in the coffin.

As Himanshu commented:

“First, Nokia tried to compete by simply adding touch to the legacy Symbian - a patch that failed to deliver the fluid user experience of its rivals at the time. Then the switch to Windows Phone was announced way before there was actual hardware ready - a move that Elop hoped will boost developer interest, but ended up mostly killing Symbian sales 7 months before Nokia had an alternative to offer. Two mistakes of that magnitude, combined with the great delay in jumping to touchscreen were enough to cost the company's dominant position in the quickly moving market”



It is a fascinating story of how an up to date technology became overtaken and made obsolete.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

What is a Perpetual Curate?



















From "The Pilot", 1969, comes this, an interesting historical ramble.

The Revd Charles Dodgson was perpetual curate of All Saints’ Church, Daresbury in Cheshire. He was the father of C.L.Dodgson, otherwise known as Lewis Carroll.

Perpetual curacies had long been liable to remain poorly paid and inadequately housed relative to other full incumbencies of the Church of England, even when augmented from Queen Anne's Bounty; consequently the Perpetual Curate commonly features in mid-Victorian literary culture as a figure endeavouring to maintain the social standing of beneficed clergyman, but whose family aspirations (especially marital) were being frustrated by constricted financial expectations; most notably in The Perpetual Curate by Mrs Oliphant, and in The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope.

While not a "perpetual curate", the Minister of St Paul's Church in Jersey comes under a similar system, appointed and chosen by members of the lay congregation.

Some Church Customs Explained
By S.G. Thicknesse

What is a Perpetual Curate?


Most of the old churches of England were built by laymen, who endowed them with freehold land also sufficient for a graveyard, and sometimes for a parsonage house, and for a plot-the glebe-by which the rector could maintain himself for ever.

In addition, from the earliest centuries the parishioners brought annually to the tithe barn, or other convenient place, the tenth part of the yearly increment of their land, stock, and personal skill for the maintenance of their church and the clerk, or person, in holy orders who held it.

The right of nominating and presenting such a person to the living was clearly a valuable one. It was often handed down from father to son in the family of the original benefactor, or added to the dowry of a daughter, or sold, or given away as a pious act to a monastic foundation. Especially after the twelfth century it proved a very small step for such recipients to use their right to present to a living, if they were a monastic or other religious corporation, to nominate themselves to it in perpetuity.

By this legal fiction they were able to appropriate to the use of the house at least the valuable `great tithes' of the parish, those of corn, hay, grain, and wood, leaving the others, on other crops, on stock, and on personal skill, with freehold in church, etc., to the substitute whom they nominated-the vicar.

At the Dissolution such appropriated rectories, and the rights that went with them, in many cases fell into the hands of lay-men, the `gray coat parsons', where it still sometimes remains. Before the Reformation there were many spectacular cases of laymen holding clerical benefices, even bishoprics.

His Eminence Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York, Abbot of St. Albans, and Bishop of Durham, secured for his natural son four archdeaconries, a deanery, five prebends and two rectories, and only failed to get him accepted as his successor in the fabulously rich see of Durham, although the young Thomas was not yet in priest's orders.

After the Reformation, however, if allowance is made for monastic wealth that came back into lay hands, the number of laymen living on what had been clerical benefits was greater than ever before.

Where such layman swallowed, impropriated, the vicarage tithes of the living, as well as the rectorial, the parson instituted to its shorn freehold was, and is, called a perpetual curate. He holds, as does every rector or vicar, a benefice and cure, or care, of souls. Rectors and vicars are also `curates'. Any unbeneficed clergyman who assists them, whether he be priest or deacon, is an assistant curate.

Before the middle of the nineteenth century it was quite often this assistant curate alone who was left to look after the parish. Realistic England therefore tended to drop the word `assistant' from his title.

Although there are far more parochial benefices in England than benefices of other types, there are also others, as for example those attached to cathedrals and collegiate churches. Some of these were served before the Reformation by monks, as at Durham, or by canons living together under a rule, as at Salisbury, but where such foundations survived they became `secular' at the dissolution.

A dean, for example, holds a cathedral benefice; so do those canons residentiary who have definite full-time or periodic duties to perform in the cathedral or collegiate church. The subdean is often a beneficed canon, as is also a precentor. The latter, the leader of the music, as his Latin name implies, traditionally holds the stall opposite and corresponding to that of the dean.

Between them they have supplied the names of the sides of the choir-decani, the side of the dean (decanus: originally a man set over ten); and cantoris, that of the precantor.

At first such beneficed canons were called prebendaries. This was because, about the tenth century, they tired of living together under a common roof and split up among themselves the prebend, the revenues of the foundation.

To-day, on the contrary, a prebendary, as at St. Paul's, tends to be an honorary, not a beneficed canon. Among the rights which he enjoys is a seat on the cathedral chapter.