Let’s find a gym for Mont à l’Abbé

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With all those millions sloshing about, I would hope – although given track records I’m not holding my breath – that up in the roof space of the old Jesuit college there might well be a small office with a sign on the door saying ‘Brains Department’.

Therein, if my hopes have been realised, there will be a small group of experts who, bearing in mind the old rule that any action invariably brings with it one or more consequences, will be employed to work out what will happen if a well-used area is temporarily taken over for another purpose.

To a simple country boy like me, that means that if a school gymnasium is pressed into service as an assembly room and dining room then the inevitable consequence is that a new area has to be found for the room’s original purpose – that being a gymnasium.

It doesn’t need me to tell the majority of people here that Mont à l’Abbé School is a very special place. Nor indeed do the majority of people whose lives have been touched by that special place since Marjorie Abbott and a host of like-minded people got the ball rolling over four decades ago need reminding that the generations of young people in its gym club have brought international recognition to themselves, their school and the Island.

In short, they are a credit to everyone and I find it utterly amazing – not to mention more than a little outrageous – that no one, be it the aforementioned Brains Department or anyone else for that matter, seems to have had the half ounce of good sense to realise that if a rebuilding programme lasting two years was going to put the gym virtually out of bounds to its members then a temporary new home was going to be required for that period of time.

So perhaps instead of getting experts over from everyone knows where to tell Jersey teachers to ignore teaching pupils about their local heritage, the powers that be up there could spend an hour or so looking at the many and various gymnasium facilities they have under their huge umbrella and help these wonderful young ambassadors continue bringing the sort of credit that they do on this small community until their own building work is completed.

Having mentioned heritage, I can’t let the opportunity pass without raising both eyebrows in wonder at the near farcical situation the Jersey Heritage Trust appears to have got itself into over what to people like me is the relatively simple job of getting people to and from Elizabeth Castle irrespective of tidal conditions.

As The Reader will recall, I am not averse to waging the occasional two-bob bit with Honest Nev whenever I feel the odds are appropriate. With that in mind, I’d probably stick my neck out and increase the stake to at least half-a-crown that the bright spark who decided – in effect, because I can’t recall the exact details – that Puddleducks, which used to run the service, was no longer fit for purpose is at present wishing that a big hole would appear in the sand a couple of hundred yards from West Park so that he or she could jump into it in shame.

That lot in the Big House huff and puff about accountability and exercising prudence when spending our money – for the umpteenth time I repeat that the States don’t have money of their own, they spend ours – so where is the Member who is going to propose a good, old-fashioned Committee of Inquiry into this fiasco?

Those on such a committee should ask just two questions. Why was the contract with Puddleducks not renewed but awarded to the very appropriately named Pure Adventure – and a profitable venture it seems to have turned out to be – and what were the circumstances which led to what amounts to a half million pound pay off being given to an outfit which, it appears, manifestly failed to provide the service it had presumably contracted to provide?

Once again, I am not holding my breath in the hope of any realistic action but what’s half a million quid if you say it quick?

And finally . . .

I know they’re very busy, what with one thing and another, but the other morning I spent a miserable couple of hours in the metropolis – not, on this occasion, being dragged kicking and screaming from shop to shop with Herself but killing time between two appointments I couldn’t get out of – and at no time did I even glimpse a police officer, although on two occasions I heard sirens wailing in the distance so I presume someone from the emergency services was out and about.

I mention this because I read that an elderly lady had her purse snatched near the Broad Street post office the day before – at 10.30 am, according to the report – while the week before a group of what can only be described as low life apparently thought it great fun to swear and spit at staff and customers in a shop just up the road in Queen Street, this time at between 11.30 am and 12.30 pm.

No doubt those who make a study of these things – usually at considerable expense, it should be said – will argue that me not seeing a police officer during two hours in town and two objectionable and, certainly to the victims, frightening experiences are totally unconnected. I wonder what the average Jersey Evening Post reader has to say about that?

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