No doubt the even more abrasive politicians of the 21st century would have used phrases such as ‘intellectually bankrupt’ or ‘how many times does he need watering every day’ but such is the way in which that lot in the Big House (and some of those anxious for a seat on the gravy train) have ‘progressed’ over the years.
It used to be said that when some of the Members voted, they had three options – pour, contre and la meme, the latter in the case of country parish Deputies meaning the same as the Constable.
It was decided that this was far too complex for some of them and, as technology progressed – faster, it seems, than the development of that section of the brain responsible for linking the thought process with manual dexterity – push button voting became the next giant leap in making things less complex for those pulling down eight hundred quid a week or so.
Well, we all know what happened the other day when one Alan Maclean, the Minister in charge of the economic development of this place in the middle of the biggest recession since Noah was a boy, apparently got his backside and his elbow in a right twist, shuffled the papers on his desk and, hey presto, a ring binder – whatever that might be when it’s out alone on a wet Wednesday – hit the wrong button and we’re all ten million quid light.
Still, it’s nice to know that something in the Big House has got a mind of its own, even if it is only a ring binder.
As it is, the ten million is apparently going towards a town park – the same one that was promised as a Millennium gift from the people of Jersey to the people of Jersey – so I suppose the long suffering taxpayers, who have been waiting a decade for a bit of green space at that end of town so that they can get a bit of respite from the speed and greed which seems to dominate every other corner of the place, will be well satisfied.
So should all the other taxpayers feel grateful because Senator Maclean’s ring binder might well have decided to vote in favour of something far more expensive, so let’s thank heaven for small mercies.
The Jersey Green Room Club’s scriptwriter for this year’s panto has no shortage of material now.
On a more sombre note, I was saddened to read of the death of Antony Messervy, a man people like me would describe as one of the old school of Jersey lawyers, as well as being one of that same school of Jersey gentlemen.
Unfailingly courteous, I can see him now leaving his chambers – I think they were at 23 Hill Street, certainly somewhere thereabouts – with his advocate’s gown slung over one shoulder, a clutch of papers under his arm and puffing away at a cigarette.
When I was a youngster we lived not that far from a farm. In those days most farms had cattle – in many cases it was sensibly written into the lease that this was a must in order that the landlord’s fields were properly rotated and not hammered to death with spuds followed by caulis followed by spuds, and so on – and I remember this lad a bit bigger than me seeing me playing in the lane and asking me if I’d ever seen ‘a cow operated on’.
He said he was Antony Messervy and he explained that his father, veterinary surgeon Albert Messervy (later professor at Bristol University and after that president of the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society) was about to perform surgery on an animal at the nearby farm.
I’d never met him before but followed him, slightly queasy about watching an animal being cut open but excited all the same. Mr Messervy acted as though he always had an audience of two schoolboys – one of which he’d never clapped eyes on before – and explained the procedure as he went along.
I stood there fascinated and watched as, after he’d made an incision in the cow’s side, he took what appeared to be a large magnet from his bag and ran it up and down the outside of what I would describe as the animal’s stomach.
As the magnet approached the incision, he called me over – ‘come here, boy’ – and told me to hold out my hand. I obeyed, albeit with trepidation, and the next minute he took his hand from inside the incision and thrust a metal wire tie, still with its label attached, into my shaking little mitt.
As he later explained, once he had shown me how to stitch the incision, the wire tie and label came from a sack of dairy nuts and had obviously found its way into the cow’s feeding bucket and thereafter into its stomach.
I must have been about ten at the time and although I’ve never seen another operation, the events of that particular day have stayed with me ever since. Antony Messervy, at his father’s bidding, took me the 50 yards or so to my home and as he left became the first person (to the best of my recollection) ever to shake hands with me.
I’m glad to say we remembered each other into manhood and that same unfailing courtesy – along with smiling recollections of ‘seeing a cow operated on’ – remained with him. A nice man.
And finally … one day Simon Crowcroft will learn that the way to get his ideas approved at parish assemblies is to pack the place with cronies. That’s how the old boys used to do it.