What was not surprising was the response of Islanders in the hours and days that followed.
Jersey people have, deservedly, acquired something of a reputation for their immediate and overwhelming generosity to those less fortunate than themselves, as the response to the Asian tsunami and the Kashmiri earthquake in terms of aid, both financial and human, demonstrated – and this was no exception.
Donations of food – from the Co-Op, a company that is truly a part of the local community – and clothing, furniture, toys and all those other items that people who have suddenly been made homeless might require; and the rapid response of our politicians and parish officials to render any help they could, as well as the numerous examples of physical support, like the lady who happened to be driving past when the fire was at its height, and stopped to help, and was still there, comforting the victims, hours later – all this was absolutely typical of the way that we Islanders respond to others in times of need.
In our daily lives, I suppose we tend just to get on with what we have to do, for our famlies and colleagues and friends, but the great thing about we Jersey folk – and I include all who live here, not just those who were born here – is that we are not so insular (and, as Islanders, we have undoubtedly been labelled as such from time to time) that we cannot see the bigger picture, and do something to assist.
While it will certainly take some time for the unfortunate people who lost so much to return to ‘normal’ life, if they can, I’m certain that assistance and support for them will continue. This is one of those times when I am very proud of my fellow Islanders.
MY interest was caught by the headline in Friday’s EP that read ‘How to keep Jersey a special place in 2035’. The article was about the conclusion reached by the Prime Minister and his mates on the Council of Ministers and it painted a rather depressing picture, to me at any rate, of how they envisaged Jersey would be in 2035.
We – or rather you, since it’s probable that I won’t be around to see it, even if I’m completely pickled in Normandy apple juice – can look forward to paying more taxes and rubbing shoulders with around another 15,000 inhabitants, if my calculations on the old abacus are correct, – who will be living in getting on for 10,000 more homes (without damaging the remaining green fields – and who knows how many of those will still exist by then?) and, to add insult to injury, those in work will be expected to continue working for an extra few years so they can pay extra social security and income tax to keep the ageing population.
What is even more worrying is that the Chief Minister’s hired help seemed to think it was all very positive, and that a £140 million black hole – now where have we heard that term before? – would be no problem to fill.
The so-called black hole of recent months seems to have fallen from the forefront of local news because now we are all paying GST it’s all rosy – despite the fact that, as I mentioned last week, everyone is paying a darned sight more than 3% extra on everything – but Mr Ogley has discovered an even bigger black hole for the people of Jersey to fall into if we don’t do as those in power tell us.
Another thing that concerns me about the report on 2035 is the comment that the new Council of Ministers, whoever they will be, are being advised to ‘investigate ways to develop the finance industry so that more people are employed in high-value sectors to increase productivity’.
What that means, in my opinion (and Herself frequently comments, usually under her breath, about my opinions) is that the gap between the haves and have-nots will by then have become a great chasm, and those who have not fallen into it will long since have left their Island home because none of the ordinary Joes will be able to afford any sort of reasonable living standard.
It has been said, by those who know better than I, that the economy needs to be strengthened by supporting the other industries in the Island and not just the finance sector – and that makes sense to me because, with this so-called credit crunch now biting harder every day, who’s to say that the finance industry will even have survived until 2035?
And finally . . . I have received a letter from the Reverend John Ouless (now there’s a good old crapaud name), who now lives in Northampton.
I mentioned snipe in a recent article, and he comments that no one outside the Island knows the name when it applies to the fish, though the bird variety of snipe is well enough known. He adds that he thinks Jersey is probably the only place that the snipe is better known by its proper name of garfish.
My mate who moved to the northern isle some decades ago reckons they are known as orfi by the older generation while the more modern lot call them long-nose – a simple expression for simple people, some might say.
The Reverend recalls, as a youngster some 70 years ago, fishing for snipe with a rod and line baited with mackerel, at La Rosiere, which is where the Waterworks company now has its desalination plant, and he also recalls lines – trot lines – being laid in the rocks at Corbiere from which he caught conger and, on one occasion, octopus.
In wonderful clear handwriting, which is completely unlike my usual scrawl – he also recalls the 1936 fire at the railway terminus in St Aubin, (part of which is now St Brelade’s parish hall) which led, in due course, to the demise of the Jersey Western Railway.
Reverend Ouless was the Ministre Disservant in six Jersey parishes, between 1989 and 2001 and tells me he is still at it and has now clocked up an impressive 58 years in the ministry following five years war service in the RAF.
Not bad for an old lad of 85.