WRITING the first column of the new year is a task I rarely look forward to, simply because there’s not usually a great deal which merits inclusion in this weekly offering.
But a few things spring to mind which are worthy of note. Firstly, the prolonged stormy weather last week, which made me, and I’m sure others, appreciate the sterling efforts of all those who dealt with – and are still dealing with – damage to infrastructure and cancelled sailings, as well as traffic jams and empty supermarket shelves.
As the JEP’s leading article pointed out last week, we are often quick to criticise, but those who just got on with the job, however stressful, without complaint, deserve our thanks and a pat on the back.
Also deserving of recognition are the recipients of the New Year gongs – I was glad to see that residents of this ancient possession of the Crown had not been forgotten, even if the news embargo on the announcement seemed to have been 24 hours later in Jersey than the rest of the country.
The honours, traditionally announced on New Year’s Eve and again in the summer to coincide with the Queen’s official birthday in June, are given to people from all walks of life and all sections of society who have made a difference to their community.
So this bolshie little crapaud would like to offer sincere congratulations to the two Islanders honoured this time – businessman Philip Gower, who has helped vulnerable children through his charitable trust, and Stuart Elliott, who has spent more than half his life as the Jersey’s bomb disposal officer – as well as music teacher and former Islander Sandra Booer, who was recognised for her work in Dartford, running five choirs that hold concerts to raise money for charity.
Other than that, not a lot for this scribe to get motivated about. Even Gulliver Gull seems to be behaving, and certainly there are no verified reports that he’s done a runner from the Minquiers and, as I write, is high-tailing it back to his home patch at the L’Etacq end of St Ouen’s Bay, where no doubt there will be no shortage of idiots willing to endanger the features of unsuspecting beach walkers by feeding the thing, thus guaranteeing that the bird associates humans with a good meal, and behaves accordingly. It’s at times like this that I suggest to Herself that a bit of fresh air will do us good and, without waiting for a decent argument as to why that’s not the case – usually because she wants to watch Gone With the Wind for the umpteenth time – I’ve got the passion wagon in the drive ready for the off.
There was a slight variation of the usual theme last week because Herself put her foot down and insisted on driving – a small price to pay in exchange for getting out in the hope of finding something reasonably inspirational to offer an observation on. The reward didn’t take long arriving.
She drove straight out of town and along St Clement’s Coast Road, and it was her idea to slow down just past La Rocque Harbour. It was there, The Reader may well recall, that I referred some months ago to a block of flats called Le Boulevard, which I’d heard was owned by that lot in the Big House – on behalf of the rest of us, I stress – which was being used to accommodate senior medical and nursing staff who, at the time were under notice to leave their homes because the powers that be, in their infinite wisdom, had decided to flog off this particular family asset, as evidenced by the estate agents’ boards outside the place.
But last week all signs that the place was on the market had gone. That said, given our elected representatives’ reluctance to even enter the spirit of freedom of information, let alone adhere to the ‘there will be a presumption of openness’ ethos when it comes to telling Joe Public what they are absolutely entitled to know, why is it that that there’s not even the slightest element of surprise in the fact that the great unwashed – those of us who shell out thousands in taxes to keep the hired help (and their political bosses, to a lesser extent) extremely well fed and watered – are never ever told what is being done on our behalf, and why?
I don’t much like repeating rumour but there are occasions when the reluctance of the hired help and our politicians to even answer the most simple questions sometimes leaves columnists with precious little in the way of alternatives. When last I referred to this property and posed those questions, I received a letter from someone who appeared to know what they were talking about.
The gist of it was that Le Boulevard was yet another bequest from a public-spirited and benevolent resident – my informant even suggested that it was none other than Harold Le Seelleur, who gave valuable real estate in Oxford Road to the Island, only for that lot in the Big House to sit on their hands for years, to their everlasting shame.
Perhaps now someone will give us some answers.
And finally… I love firework displays but my sympathy is with the parents of youngsters who needed the display very early on Christmas morning like they needed a hole in the head. Selfish is the word which springs immediately to mind.