Saturday, 14 May 2022


This poem explores the themes of parting via the metaphor of a train station: the terminus, either for lives or to new hope, and I make no apology for linking the closing meditation on death to the ancient myth that a death is a new star in the sky. 

Yes, it is a myth, but what it represents is an idea of change and persistence, and that in this myth, the stars become a conduit to enable us to remember the dead. 

The function of mythology is not to be literal and appeal to the mind, but to reach the heart, in a way like music does, that cannot be properly put into words except imperfectly, and in this case, enable us to  come to terms with loss and grief. Stars are symbols of light in darkness.


It’s the end of the line, say goodbye:
Partings are always sad, we may cry;
Sadness at the station, departing train:
Soldiers for the war, the mud, the rain;
Trenches await, but sweetheart kiss,
Sorrows of times lost, times to miss;
Another train leaves, children wave,
Parents telling them to always be brave:
They would not meet again, for death
In the gas chambers comes, breath
Cut short by poison; yet the transport,
However much it failed and fell short,
Saved children from that holocaust:
Kindertransport, those who crossed,
To safer lands, new hope, new life,
Away from the horrors of that strife;
And to stay and fight, or time to flee;
Today the choice again: the refugee,
Leaving possessions, exploding shells,
Of an invasion: cities to ruined hells;
But other partings closer, the loss
Of a loved one, taking up that cross:
Pain of parting, the infirmity of age,
Or dying remote, alone, off-stage;
Quiet lives, sometimes in despair:
A sudden loss too great to bare;
And terminus: the end of a line:
Remember in tears, that is fine;
And go out from that dark station,
Passing generation after generation;
Sunset comes, nightfall, but there
Appearing stars shine, light up the air;
And new stars are born every night:
And there is the mourned in sight,
In reminders: light in dark places,
As we remember beloved faces:
Now shining brightly so far above,
A sign of hope, and a sign of love.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

1066-1966 Archery Tournament: Jersey versus France

1066-1966 Archery Tournament
By Marcel Le Masson

JERSEY AND ITS connections with Normandy are well known, concrete proof of this was found when the Jersey Archery Society paid their first visit to ‘Valognes’, a small town situated close by Cherbourg in the centre of the Normandy countryside, that Valognes suffered badly when the allied forces landed on the nearby coast is clearly marked by the almost newly built Town Centre, a focal point being the clean stone of the not yet completed church contrasting against the darker older buildings which form a shopping centre round a neat and tidy kept square.

The Jersey party of ten archers led by Honorary Secretary Roy Moody, travelled by air to Dinard then using three cars drove via St. Malo and Avranche straight up the peninsular at speeds unusual to Jersey drivers used to the forty mile limit, the complete drive was accomplished in a little under three hours. Upon arrival at Valognes the party were welcomed by Monsieur Jacques Daubuch, President of the town’s Archery Society and Chamber of Commerce the body responsible for sponsoring the tournament.

After spending a very comfortable night at the Agriculture Hotel the party awakened to find the main streets of the town sprouting gaily decorated poles that marked the route of the May Queen procession to take place later in the day. In the meantime a group of French Horn Blowers dressed in hunting colours visited almost every street corner and played their fanfares.

Archery ranges had been set up at the Bourgneuf Municipal Stadium de Valognes, the first shoot was against local French archers and teams from other areas including Monsieur C. Boulanger seven times champion of all France and winner of this tournament, each member paired with an opposite then shot forty arrows at fifty metres, a distance not normally used by the Jersey archers.

Scoring was by number of hits, so close grouping counted heavily, rafter a number of sighting shots the Jersey archers settled down and soon began to make an impression of their French hosts.

A very highly regarded personage at the celebrations was Monsieur De Brerill, Minister of State without portfolio who arrived with an escort of smart white helmeted outriders and convoy of fast Citron State Saloons, Monsieur De Brerill played an important part in the independence negotiations with Algeria.

At the now crowded stadium the procession disbanded; here, on a special stage, the bands, dancers, singers and French horn blowers entertained the capacity audience whilst the archers in colourful green, red and black mediaeval- style jerkins shot with friendly competition against each other in a balloon shoot.

The amazing accuracy of the shots brought gasps of amazement and surprise from the audience numbering well over three thousand.

All too soon the afternoon entertainment came to a close, but competition for the Jersey archers continued when they tried their hands in the dogem cars at the fair going full swing during the evening.

A return visit from Valogne by the French archers has been suggested next September. After such a successful visit the Jersey Archery Society has forged very strong links with a town steeped in the history of 1066 and all that.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Crocs and Daisies

A blatant reference to Lewis Carrol's famous nonsense poem! But something silly yet a homage seemed appropriate! And following it, a little bit of fun in a short poem about Medusa.

Crocs and Daisies

Crocs on the grass, but is that right?
Shouldn’t they have teeth to bite?
How doth the little crocodile, they say
Neatly spreads his claws, in hunt for prey
Then what about the daisies? But
When gently smiling jaws snap shut,
After a grin so nice and full of cheer,
It’s pushing up the daisies, dear!


On meeting Medusa face to face
Seeing her snake-like writhing hair
I thought, dear me, so little grace
So she fixed me with a stony stare

Thursday, 5 May 2022

A Jersey Success Story: Briggs of St Ouen

From Jersey Life, 1966

A Jersey Success Story: Briggs of St Ouen

IF VARIETY is truly the spice of life Mr. Neville Briggs can surely claim to have experienced his fair share He has been a hairdresser, wartime soldier, van driver, potato packer in a local store, restaurant manager, guest house proprietor with his wife and, again in partnership with his wife, a successful shopkeeper in St. Ouen.

The name ‘Briggs of St. Ouen’ is a familiar one in the North West of the island and not only in the North West, the shop is a familiar sight to all ,who pass along the main road from Beaumont to Plémont for it has an attractive and ‘go ahead appearance. Many will remember that some 11 or 12 years ago there was a semi derelict shop on the site but all that has changed and the premises are now a store of which anyone can be proud. All this was not achieved in a day, much hard work, much thought and not a little heartache must have gone into it but now Mr. and Mrs. Briggs are reaping the reward of their work and their faith in themselves and their ability.

It all started back in 1947 when Mr. Briggs, after army service in Africa was demobbed and came to Jersey for a holiday; he had been apprenticed in gent’s hairdressing in his youth and, liking the island, decided to stay here and took a job in hairdressing. He later became a van driver on country delivery to meet people and gain a knowledge of the island, a knowledge which has stood him in good stead.

In 1950 he managed a St. Helier restaurant, gaining more varied experience and a year later he met and married his wife. ‘We managed a five-day honeymoon in Guernsey but have not had a holiday since’ he recalls.

In 1953 the couple took a small guest house in St. Ouen and while helping his wife to run it Mr. Briggs realised that there was no gent’s hairdresser in that part of the island and deciding to put his experience in that field to practical use, opened a salon in an annexe to the guest house opening in the evening between 7.30 and 11 o’clock, he also took an agency for Semtex household tiles and for a short spell worked in a potato store. 

In 1956 shop premises became available at Haut du Marais, the shop had been empty for some time and the adjoining house needed a great deal of work done to it but Mr. and Mrs. Briggs seized the opportunity offered them and having sold the guest house, with the help of a close friend acquired the Haut du Marais property.

They converted the existing shop into two shops and established the hairdressing business in one of them; Mrs. Briggs hit upon the idea of opening the second shop as a small draper’s shop selling wool and baby wear realising there was a potential in the country for an establishment of that sort.

After a year the chance came to open a sub-Post Office—there had been one at the old shop some time before—and this opportunity was grasped. The shop was altered to incorporate the post office, a new wing being built and at the same time the drapery department was extended.

The property had been in a very dilapidated condition but by dint of hard work on the part of Mr. Briggs this was gradually put right; the couple suffered severe flooding three times before the States Main Roads Department put in an extra drain to take off the flood water, that was only one of the obstacles which they had to surmount but sheer grit and determination pulled them through and gradually more space was made available to take more departments. Whilst running the shop Mrs. Briggs also managed to raise her three children, Peter, Jane and Sarah, making most of their clothes herself.

And so the venture prospered, Mr. and Mrs. Briggs were accepted in the parish and came to make many friends amongst their fellow parishioners—they had proved themselves and in any country parish the world over that means a great deal.

After ten years of trading they decided in 1966 that extensive alterations were required to project a more modern image and to display goods to ‘even better advantage and so the present shop was born. The store now included the Post Office, departments for the sale of toys, haberdashery and wool, hardware, baby wear, men’s wear, children’s and girls’ wear and a 12 ft. display stand for greetings cards for every possible occasion by the firm of Forget me Not, a facility which is greatly appreciated by the customers at the store.

As Mr. Briggs now has less time for active participation in the hairdressing section, this part of the business is under the capable direction of Mr. Les Edwards, who has been with Mr. and Mrs. Briggs for the past four or five years. Although the store has been modernized, it has not lost that personal touch. Mr. and Mrs. Briggs are always available to help and advise customers with their purchases. They both like St. Ouen and its people very much indeed, ‘They have been good friends and loyal customers to us’ remarked Mr. and Mrs. Briggs.

This is a success story, success which is richly deserved by this still young couple who have had the grit and determination themselves, city folk in a Jersey country parish, to establish a flourishing store where nothing like it had existed before. That it is a flourishing concern is evinced by the extensions which have been added and by the fact that whatever time of day one passes there are always cars on the car park. Perhaps within the next year or two Mr. and Mrs. Briggs will be able to enjoy that holiday which they have not been able to take all these years.

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Beltane Daybreak

Beltane Daybreak

Rejoice in the glory
Of this rising sun
Light breaks like victory
Over dark has won

Druids in bright raiment
Celebrate this day
Raising high their staffs
Singing forth this lay

At a dolmen, meet us
Here is sacred tomb
Ancestors to greet us
Scatter fear and gloom

Beltane fires with gladness
Chanters here do sing
Circle round the fires
Beltane blessings bring

Friday, 29 April 2022

Jersey Rugby Club Wild West Evening 1966

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5

Picture 6

This one, also in my personal collection, features my father, Ray Bellows, next to Don Bradbury, a friend of his.

And one extra I found at home:

Sunday, 24 April 2022

The New Hospital: Collateral Damage and the Lie about Warwick Farm

The Lie About Warwick Farm

Below is a letter from Alastair Layzell which was posted on the Jersey Action group and which highlights the disasters of the processing of the new hospital. 

But I would like to look at another aspect of it - site selection.

When the Gloucester Street site was first suggested, Warwick Farm was off limits. The Government had approved it for use under lease as a hemp farm shortly before the sites were being assessed, and we were told in no uncertain terms that the lease could not be broken. So when Overdale was on the list of sites, the shortlist again excluded Warwick farm.

Fast forward to 2022, and we are told St Helier can get extra green space with a new park there, and lo and behold, the lease can be broken! My question is this: if the lease can be broken for a new park, why can't it be broken for a new hospital?

The site is ideal. Virtually no buildings, so no messy and costly demolition and removal of asbestos, and far cheaper. On a large main road, so no need for extra road widening schemes. On a main road, and therefore capable of good connections to electrical and sewage facilities. So why not? We were told the lease could not be broken. And now, the government, the same government that excluded it from the shortlist that gave us Overdale, has said the lease - which could not be broken - can be broken!

A foolish inconsistency, wrote Emmerson, is the hobgoblin of little minds. But a massive inconsistency like that is the remit of cheats and liars.

A building which will cause enormous collateral damage
by Alastair Layzell

It looks as if the fate of Jersey’s new hospital will be decided not on conventional planning grounds but by weighing up the ‘Balance of Harms

‘‘ The landmark idea was a theme peddled throughout the week. I sensed that the government had been forced to go down this road by an incident on the second day of the inquiry when their landscape architect, attempting to be helpful, produced four images of the hospital that had not been seen before. There were gasps from those attending the inquiry as they appeared on the screen. - Says former Planning Committee chairman Alastair Layzell

WHEN it opened in 1937 the terminal at Jersey Airport was a wonder – and controversial. Controversial because it had run far over budget; originally estimated at £30,000, the final cost was £127,000. A wonder, because it was the largest building in Jersey. Fast-forward 85 years and we may now be given a building which will be the biggest structure in the Island, in the most prominent position imaginable. One which will make the 1937 Airport building look like a matchbox.

The new hospital is the equivalent of eight Cyril Le Marquand Houses assembled on top of this small island we call home. At its highest points it is over 100ft tall. At 70,000 square feet, it is a monster.

At the planning inquiry, to which I and others gave evidence, the government attempted to make size a virtue. On the last day, in her summing up, the English barrister representing the government rested its case on three main planks. First, clinical need and urgency. Secondly, the suitability of Overdale – the Bridging Island Plan contains a policy which specifically earmarks the site for our new hospital (it does, but any application still has to comply with the general design policies of the plan). Thirdly, this has been designed to be a ‘public landmark’ and ‘one of which Jersey can be proud’.

The landmark idea was a theme peddled throughout the week. I sensed that the government had been forced to go down this road by an incident on the second day of the inquiry when their landscape architect, attempting to be helpful, produced four images of the hospital that had not been seen before. There were gasps from those attending the inquiry as they appeared on the screen. One of them is reproduced here. It speaks for itself.

So, if it happens, the hospital will take the ‘biggest building’ title, but it will also enter the record books as the development which does the most collateral damage. As I told the inquiry, it is not just Overdale and its immediate surrounds which will be affected. The associated works will gobble up agricultural fields opposite the site to make way for a multi-storey car park.

They will loom over the Mont à l’Abbé cemeteries and the Jewish Cemetery, the earliest Jewish burial ground in Jersey.

The People’s Park, site of post-Liberation Day parades, will be reduced to accommodate the new road network. The setting of Peirson Road, one of the finest rows of intact late-19th-century houses in the Island, will be damaged forever. And part of historic Westmount, where Major Francis Peirson rallied his troops for the last land battle on British soil, is to be dynamited for a new highway.

All that, plus the demolition of 13 houses, some of them newly built, two of them listed.

The list of collateral damage is very long, and unprecedented, and the arguments on this point were well made to the inspector at the planning inquiry. But I am increasingly convinced that the fate of this behemoth will turn not on what we would recognise as conventional planning grounds but on the concept of ‘community benefit’. 

The inspector devoted two hours to this on the last day and called the session ‘Planning Balance’. I prefer to call it the ‘Balance of Harms’. This is a point on which arguments have been less well made and not so widely aired. Yet, it is almost certainly the prime issue the Environment Minister will have to consider when the inspector delivers his report on 13 May.

In the planning inquiry, there was some common ground between the applicant and the Planning Department. They agreed that a building of the size of the proposed hospital contravenes almost every relevant policy in the Bridging Island Plan. If the inquiry reaches the same conclusion, and the inspector recommends the application be rejected, the minister can either agree with, and uphold, that recommendation, or he can disagree and allow the project to proceed. If he allows it, he will have to rely upon the concept of ‘Community Benefit’. In other words, he recognises that the hospital and all its enabling works will seriously damage the appearance of our Island – as judged against the government’s own Island Plan – but the need for it, and the urgency, means that such damage can be justified.

The expression ‘Community Benefit’ appears throughout the Bridging Island Plan. So does the phrase ‘Public Policy Objective’. At the planning inquiry I gave the example of a pair of scales with the new hospital building (which, in terms of appearance, any reasonable person would label a ‘disbenefit’) in one … and community benefit (a modern hospital to replace our ageing health provision, a replacement which clinicians and Islanders believe is long overdue) in the other. But I think the matter is more complicated than that. To the first scale must be added all the other disbenefits which flow from allowing the hospital building: the serious damage to other community benefits and public-policy objectives to which we are signed up. Some of these have been agreed by the States, some speak to common sense.

For instance, tourism is certainly a public-policy initiative. The hospital will be the first thing visitors see as they arrive by air or by sea; I suspect the building will be visible from the Minquiers. It will challenge the setting of tourism assets such ‘ as St Aubin and its bay, and Elizabeth Castle. It will destroy the view looking east from Noirmont. Holidaymakers who stand there may wonder at the huge hospital and then gaze on the coast of France – and wish they were there, instead. This is the ‘intervisibility’ which was discussed at the inquiry; the idea that some of our most precious bits of heritage are visible from each other and from Overdale.

Heritage is an important public-policy objective in its own right, even if Jersey came to it later than elsewhere. The island is a signatory to the Granada Convention and to the Valletta Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe.

Last year, the Council of Ministers agreed new strategies for arts and heritage.

Of what they called ‘A 20-year vision for the heritage sector’, the council said: ‘The Heritage Strategy provides a framework which aims to help Islanders understand, value and enjoy Jersey’s unique and precious heritage assets, as well as ensuring that government can fulfil its obligations to protect and manage the Island’s heritage assets as per the international treaties to which we belong.’ The government was no doubt influenced by a survey undertaken by Jersey Heritage in 2016 which included the words (in the section covering environmental impact): ‘Heritage is a tangible part of Jersey’s distinctive and special identity, underpinning local character and generating a sense of place’ – 88% of local people agreed that heritage ‘plays an important role in modern society’ and 93% felt it is important ‘to conserve Jersey’s historic buildings to pass on to future generations’.

I take that to include the settings of those buildings.

Into the ‘harm’ scale must surely go the lives of the hundreds of people whose surroundings will be changed forever, either as neighbours to a hulking building or as residents whose outlook has changed from park to busy highway network with all its associated paraphernalia. Add to them the many for whom quiet reflection at the final resting-place of loved ones will now be spent in the precincts of a busy and noisy general hospital – alive, and illuminated, day and night.

Then there is the ability to enjoy parks – which can certainly be defined as a ‘community benefit’. The enjoyment of the People’s Park, Westmount Gardens and Victoria Park will undoubtedly be affected by the development associated with the new hospital.

Finally, put into the harm scale the irreparable damage to planning in general.

The Bridging Island Plan will lack credibility.
A dangerous precedent will be set.
Senior planning officers, who advised strongly against the scheme, will be demoralised.

Islanders will, justifiably, lose confidence in the planning system; they will feel that the Government of Jersey has been allowed to do something they would never be allowed to do. The single act of approving this building will undo all the good work of successive planning committees and ministers who worked to give the environment the attention it deserves (and which had been sadly lacking), notably the committee led by the late Nigel Quérée from 1996–2002. Approving a scheme which is so careless of all that work will, in my view, do enduring, harm to the credibility of the government and the States.

Suddenly, the scales are tipping alarmingly and the single community benefit of having a new hospital – arguably a great benefit when viewed in isolation – is being outweighed by the severe damage to a string of other community benefits we hold dear, and to the bond of trust between people and the body politic.

States Members voted for Overdale, though they did so in the face of repeated advice that it was unsuitable. They specifically ruled out reworking Gloucester Street or having a two-centre hospital. But that was before they saw the detailed plans for Overdale, before they saw the collateral damage, and before they knew that the Government’s own senior planners had advised the hospital development team that the hospital would break the rules; advice which was all but ignored. Now, States Members must realise that this hospital building will do irreparable damage to the appearance of island.
If the application is rejected, there may be a call for a different type of inquiry: one charged with determining how we got into this muddle.

If not an inquiry, certainly a series of investigative articles setting out the whole story. It is in the nature of drawn-out projects like these that the nuances of decision-taking are lost on the public. Islanders lead busy lives. It has fallen to a few dedicated souls to try to document the full saga. I have just finished re-reading The Final Days by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the minutely detailed record of Richard Nixon’s last weeks before his resignation in 1974. The two Washington Post reporters realised that, although their heroic reporting of Watergate had achieved its aim, much had been overlooked.
So, they went back to interview the major players. It took a year.

Overdale is not Watergate, but the principle of thoughtful and unhurried analysis applies equally to both and might allow us, here in Jersey, to improve our political processes. For instance, who knew that on the long road to Overdale the Chief Minister held a series of meetings with backbenchers to take their views on the site for the new hospital? This was in 2019. The general view of States Members was that the Island Plan was inhibiting the process and that there were ‘ways to work around the plan’. Some even ‘voiced the need to change legislation to enable the planning process/public interest test to be smoother/quicker.’ In other words, Government should be allowed to change the rules to suit itself.
How refreshing, then, to discover that the current Health Minister held a different view. In response to a report of the Hospital Policy Development Board, he wrote: ‘There is a sense amongst board members that planning should be subservient to health and, indeed, this aspiration is recorded in bold print in the report.

The fact of the matter is that planning is not subservient to health and was not in 2012. Government has to comply with the requirements of the Island Plan in just the same way as citizens. Some States Members may wish to formulate special rules for government projects, but these do not yet exist.’
I could not have put it better myself.

" The hospital will be the first thing visitors see as they arrive by air or by sea; I suspect the building will be visible from the Minquiers. It will challenge the setting of tourism assets such as St Aubin and its bay, and Elizabeth Castle. It will destroy the view looking east from Noirmont. Holidaymakers who stand there may wonder at the huge hospital and then gaze on the coast of France – and wish they were there, instead.