Wednesday, June 16, 2021

REMEMBERING GORDON

Gordon Brewster, artist and cartoonist, died on this day in 1946 in my mother's shop, THE GEM, in Howth.

He was trained as an artist at the Metropolitan and he exhibited in the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1916 and 1917. He kept up his painting throughout his life but I have only been able to come up with one example of his fine art.

We are unfortunate to have been deprived of the bulk of his work through fire: first in the destruction of the Royal Hibernian Academy during the 1916 Rising and then through the destruction of what remained after his death by his estranged wife in a bonefire in the back garden of The Grove, where he lived in Sutton.

Gordon at his cartoon workdesk at the Indo

Fortunately his day job turned out to be chief cartoonist for Independent Newspapers and he has left us a collection of some 500 of his original cartoons which have been acquired by the National Library of Ireland and have now been digitised.

I have to record here my appreciation of the library staff, specifically Honora Faul who was responsible for the collection and who gave me access to it pre-digitisation, and Carol Maddock who invited me to do a post on the cartoons for the library's own blog.

In remembering Gordon's death, I thought I'd assemble a series of links to posts I have done on some of the themes that run through the cartoon collection. The collection, between 1922 and 1932, covers only a portion of his cartoon output and the themes reflect this.

Despite the limited period represented in the collection, much of his work remains timeless, and I am currently enjoying playing SNAP on Twitter: when a cartoon by someone else appears I dredge up a Brewster cartoon in response.

I hope you will take time to peruse some of these posts and come to the same conclusion as myself that we are dealing here with a serious artist whose output is informed and nuanced, but not lacking in fun.

Enjoy.

Gordon Brewster - Timeless

Gordon Brewster and the Flu

Gordon Brewster and the 1916 Rising

Gordon Brewster and Censorship

Gordon Brewster and Northern Ireland

Gordon Brewster and Sport

Gordon Brewster and The Grove

Gordon Brewster and Our Oil

Gordon Brewster and the General Election

Gordon Brewster and Gender Equality

Gordon Brewster and the Man on the Bridge

Gordon Brewster and his Martellos

Gordon Brewster and Detail

Gordon Brewster on the Radio

Gordon with children Dolores & Richard c.1939

BLOOMSDAY IN KILLINEY 2021


Photo: Felix Larkin
Click on any image for a larger version

All of James Joyce's fans have the opening scene of ULYSSES embedded in their brain. Its "literary merit" usually overshadows the fact that it is a mockery of HOLY MASS enacted in a FAILED military establishment.

That military establishment is Martello Tower No.11, Dublin South, in Sandycove, later to be known as Joyce's Tower.

The Martello Towers were constructed as a defence against a French invasion which never came. There is only one case on record of a Martello Tower firing on a French frigate and that was in salute rather than in anger.

That Martello was No.7, Dublin South, situated at a serious elevation in Killiney Bay, on Killiney Hill Road, now fully restored, and from where I am broadcasting today.

Before I leave the subject of the two Towers, this Killiney one and the Joyce Tower, I'd like to record a recent find which connects the two Towers.

The Joyce Tower is at a location known as The Forty Foot, named after the 40th Regiment of Foot who are supposed to have garisoned the Tower at some point. Niall O'Donoghue, who has fully restored this Killiney Tower, recently came across a military button in the course of excavations in the tower yard where the piggery and privy used to be situated.


Niall's button is on the left above. The one on the right, a 40th Foot button, is shown for comparison purposes. Clearly the 40th Foot were present at the Killiney Tower at some stage along the way.

Voilà, a further somewhat tenuous connection with James Joyce via the common regiment in both towers.

For almost a decade, Bloomsday has been celebrated at this Killiney Tower and I'm determined to carry on this tradition today, junesixteentwentytwentyone.

I am podcasting or, as Joyce might say today were he still with us, clouding a talk I gave in this Martello Tower on Bloomsday 2018. It is a sort of stretch of the imagination appropriating Joyce to Killiney Bay with a view from Dalkey Island to Bray Head, a Head which, pace ULYSSES, is NOT visible from the Sandycove (Joyce) Tower.

I am however keeping the steal to a minimum - miniscule extracts from ULYSSES raised as flags to introduce elements of the history of Killiney Bay, where I lived for twenty years and the history of which I found fascinating.

Had he wished, Joyce could have found a wealth of material in the Bay to add to his stated challenge to the exegesist professors of the future.

While this podcast will be of particular interest to the inhabitants of Killiney Bay, there are resonances reaching beyond the confines of the Bay to the wider city and the world beyond.


Photo: Sovay Murray



(47 minutes)



And finally, for the hard of hearing, the text of the talk can be read here.

Monday, June 14, 2021

REAL DUBS


I've just been through my copy of this rare publication. If I read it correctly this is just the fourth issue, the original having been published in 1991.

My people are from down the road in James's St. so I'm technically outside the area of coverage of the journal. However, Richmond Barracks is slap bang in the middle of the area and my great grandfather (mother's maternal grandfather) and my grandfather (mother's father) have both been associated with the Barracks in very different capacities. And that is what allowed me to make a contribution to the current issue.

My theme arises from a remark of my mother's that we are real Dubs from way back. However my initial research into my family origins quickly disposed of the mother's aspiration to Dublin royalty. The mother's granny was from King's County (now Laois) and her granda was from Wicklow. So much for real dubs from way back.

But I do have a wider interest in the area.

The first story in the journal that caught my attention was entitled Singing Brothers. My first thought was some guys who sang at parties and the modest way in which the story was told did not contradict that. But a careful reading of the later part of the story revealed that we were talking about the BACHELORS.

I was a big fan of the Bachelors back in the day. I was an even greater fan of them in their earlier manifestation as the Harmonichords. All in all a pleasant surprise.

Of course there is no shortage of talent in the wider area. Brendan Grace from my generation springs to mind and Imelda May from the next, both from just down the road as it were.

Then there were the locally themed Christmas Cards, some examples of which are reproduced in the journal. They look like real quality and it's great to be able to send locally themed cards to those who've moved abroad. That was when we used to send loads of cards at Christmas. I have had the same experience with a different artist in Raheny. Cards like this are a real boost to the community.

Patrick Coombs WWI career in the Royal Navy reminded me of one of my own relations who went down with his ship in the Battle of Jutland. Patrick survived and the journal shows his naval record sheet. I have one such sheet for my own relation and it is invaluable when pieced together with evidence from other sources.

Patriotic Terrace is a name with a ring to it and that too reminded me of something from my own family history. Construction some hundred odd years ago often consisted of isolated terraces which were subsequently integrated into the roads on which they were situated and the names of these terraces often vanished. My grandfather lived on Park View Terrace which was later integrated into Brookfield Road, just like Patriotic Terrace.

I once spent a lot of time looking for Hebron Terrace where a relation had lived. I eventually found it had been integrated into Dolphin's Barn St./Cork St. It had been roughtly opposite Emerald Square, which is still thankfully with us.

Then there's the amazing story about the dedicated female footballer Anne O'Brien.

And an inspirational story about how the locals persuaded Dublin City Council to buy the Kilmainham Mill which is now being preserved and restored.

There's a lot of stuff in this issue, as you will have gathered from the above. I enjoyed reading it all and look forward to the next issue.

But I can't leave without complimenting the publishers on the excellent cover (shown above) which is very well designed and incorporates an appropriate photo from 1932 from the Patrick Nolan collection.

The journal is available in three local shops;
Reflection's hairdressers on Emmet Rd,
The Butcher shop on Bulfin Rd.
Today's Local supermarket, top of Tyrconnell Rd.
Possibly also Dublin Food Co-Op in Kilmainham

Thursday, June 10, 2021

COLM LINCOLN

Colm Lincoln
Click on any image for a larger version

The EBRD Alumni Newsetter just popped into my email inbox. I don't always check it out but today I did. And glad I did. What did I find but a tribute to Colm Lincoln, a former colleague, on his retirement from the Bank as Deputy Secretary General from, Enzo Quattrociocche, a former fellow Board member and current longstanding Secretary General of the Bank.

Colm joined the EBRD before it existed. He was helping Jacques Attali set up the shadow bank after its articles had been agreed in Paris in early 1990, and then the actual bank after its Articles had been ratified by the Member States, EIB and EU (then EC). And, as Enzo says, Colm continued his rise through eminence grise to penultimate eminence as Deputy Secretary General.

I was on the board of the Bank during its first year of existence and Colm was an invaluable contact and support at that time. In fact, Enzo will no doubt be thrilled to hear that Colm and I misspent our evenings on the eve of Board meetings enjoying a spaghetti/pizza and a few gargles of vino and solving not only the problems of the world but those of this new infant on the international development banking scene.

The Bank was cutting edge and Colm was at the edge cutting away.

When I left the Board I was still the EBRD desk officer in the Department of Finance for a further ten years. Colm and I stayed in touch professionaly and, while he helped me in understanding what was going on in the background, I was not always able to help him in his interactions with at least one of our Directors. Directors were nominated by the Minister and I was a mere civil servant.

I was thrilled to read Enzo's appreciation of Colm and can endorse every word of it. Colm was a dedicated, constructive, low key operator in his professional life and a friend outside of that.

Colm, enjoy your retirement; you richly deserve that. You look in fine fettle. I'm sure it's not just the photographer!

And Enzo, I remember one day at a Board meeting when you told me I was among the few people outside of Italy who pronounced your name correctly. And, by the way, do I see you infiltrating our Department of Finance or is Italy awash with Quattrociocches?

Enzo and Colm


Sunday, June 06, 2021

CENSORING EVIL LITERATURE


There I was ploughing through my emails when I saw one from a total stranger. Regan Hutchins was making a radio programme on Irish literary censorship since the foundation of the State and he wanted me to take part in it.

He had seen online a permit I got in 1967 to import banned books and thought it might contribute to a finale in his programme.

Well, you know me and radio. It was not long before Regan turned up on my doorstep with an impressive array of sound recording equipment. He stood in the garden, I stood in the porch, he pointed his big fluffy microphone in my direction and away we went. And then away he went.

Regan Hutchins

Needless to say I was dying to hear the programme and, of course, my bit in it. It went out on Newstalk last Sunday at the unearthly hour of 7am and I have to say it was worth getting out of bed for.

Regan had assembled a magnificently wide variety of contributors, contributing on a wide variety of angles, much of it original material. It is a very engaging programme and really tells you all you ever needed to know about the history of censorship since the foundation of the state and it does this in a most engaging way.

For instance, I never knew that John McGahern cried the whole afternoon on the day he was sacked from his Belgrove teaching job at the behest (on the orders) of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, Dublin's Ayotollah of the day.


Had it been a film or a tv programme I'm sure the above cartoon from Gordon Brewster, from May 1928, would have figured somewhere in it. The cartoon is no exaggeration. You only have to listen to Regan's contributors quoting material to realise how bad it really was.

Total insanity, paranoia, disappointment, sexual repression - a whole textbook of all this stuff. I know all about it. This is the environment I grew up in during the 1940s and 1950s.

We were living in a confessional state where the cleric was king and his lay acolytes were not far behind him. Listening to the programme (3 times up to now) brought me back into this terrifying world where your mother would go to Hell unless Holy Mother Church intercepted her en route.

The whole thing is totally inexplicable to a Millennial (whatever that is). They would no doubt class it with the vampires and other scarey fiction. But, by Christ, it was real to those of us who had to live through it. The pieces are still being picked up by today's society.

Click on image for a larger version

And my import permit? You can read it above. I read it out on air towards the end of the programme.

Link to the Podcast

And just in case you haven't got 50 minutes to spare, silly you, my contributions can be heard in a 4 minute cameo here.

HAPPY LISTENING


Thursday, June 03, 2021

HELICOPTER PILOT

Click on image for a larger version

Based on his stories at our Coláiste Mhuire class reunions I had been enourgaging Frank Russell (An Ruiséalach) to write a book.

Well now he's gone and done it and a fine read it is. It is full of adventure. Well, what else do you expect from an Irish Air Corps helicopter pilot in the Air/Sea Rescue Service who subsequently became an air accident inspector.

And then there is his beloved Blanchardstown ("Blanch") whose history and landscape he brings to life.

Even the book cover which you see above has deep resonances. I have posted about them here.

Frank first flew Alouette helicopters but as they became outdated the Air Corps bought the newer Dauphins. In both cases the helicopters were French. While I had no connections with Frank in his capacity in the air corps, I had a very frustrating connection with the Dauphins in the context of the EMS French Protocol.

Frank recounts how on his first SAR mission in one of the new Dauphins, the radar failed. Fortunately this did not have any bad consequences, but it was a bit much in a new craft. Following an inspection and contact with the manufacturers it turned out that the radar antenna was tilted up and had been incorrectly set in the production process and that was the reason the radar didn't work on the first SAR mission.

This reminded me of an experience of my own in my local library when they first introduced wifi. I complained about the ultra-weak signal to the desk. They claimed that it must have been my computer as the man at the far end of the room was getting perfect reception. When I quizzed the man he confirmed that the library signal was weak and his computer was fitted with some sort of booster as he travelled the country in his job.

Well I eventually convinced the desk to put in a complaint to HQ and some weeks later they told me it had all been fixed by some fellas who came. "Were they here long" I asked "No, just a few minutes". "So what did they do?" I asked. "Well, they just turned the router upside down. It had been incorrectly installed".

Frank has a whole chapter on the 1960 Niemba ambush, on which I posted myself. Frank knew one of the soldiers killed in that ambush. It's very personal.

There are lots of exciting flying tales in this book and some great reminiscences from Frank's youth. It's an absorbing read.

And, a teaser for the sequel? Shortly before the August launch of that first SAR mission there was a different type of first flight for the new Dauphin helicopter and that was to fly the then Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, from his Kinsealy home to his holiday home on Inishvickillaun one of the Blasket Islands.

"However", as Frank says, "that's another story".

Not forgetting that the book also has some fascinating photos, in addition to the one on the cover mentioned above.

The book is printed by Hayes Print in Ennistymon, Co. Clare, and copies can be obtained from the printers. You can contact them on 065-7071125 with your name and address/ credit card details. Cost is €20 +P&P.

I should mention that all the proceeds of this book’s sale will be donated to the LARCC Cancer Support Centre (www.cancersupport.ie) in Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath,of which Frank is a Co-Founder.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

FASTEN YOUR SEAT-BELTS


Some Air-travel Snippets

I suppose that, in ways, one of my most significant air encounters was actually on the ground. The EBRD annual meeting was in St. Petersburg and I booked myself and my Minister, Bertie Ahern, on Aeroflot, the Russian Airline. Well, Aer Lingus didn't have direct flights to there then and still may not have for all I know.

Serious Hell broke out when the Minister's Office copped on to this. The Minister was immediately rebooked onto a "more reliable airline". I knew that Aeroflot internal flights were crashing all over the place but had been assured that international Aerflot was up to international standards.

Anyway I held my own booking on Aeroflot and, after meeting a most interesting Russian lady mathematics professor on the flight, landed safely.

Bertie had a different problem on the ground in St. Petersburg and in Dublin during the meeting.

You can read about it here.

I have to admit to getting a fright on the way home.

There I was in my seat on the plane which was waiting to taxi when the hostess announced that we would be landing in Helsinki in half an hour or an hour or something. As I was going to London and not Helsinki I went straight into panic mode. Out of my seat, up to the lady to inform her I had got on the wrong plane.

I couldn't figure out how that happened but it does sometimes.

Imagine my relief when she told me that we were simply touching down in Helsinki on our flight to London.

Now I said it does happen, and I happen to have personal experience of this.

For about a year, I used to fly regularly to London for meetings of the EBRD Board of Directors.

One time, I was sitting in the plane on the Dublin tarmac waiting to taxi when I struck up conversation with an elderly lady sitting beside me. She told me she was flying over for her daughter's wedding.

"And where in London is your daughter living and getting married?"

"Oh no, she's not getting married in London, she's getting married in Manchester"

"And you're flying to London"

"No, I'm flying to Manchester"

So I called the hostess and the lady was sorted, fortunately before we got the call to begin taxiing.

Another time I was flying, I think, to Budapest and had a chat with a guy who was flying over from London to tune Beethoven's piano, which was to be on display in some celebration/commemoration or other.

You can read about my Budapest adventures here.

Yet another time on the approach to London Heathrow, I saw the same carpark twice from the same low height. On my way off the plane I asked the hostess to compliment the captain on his second approach. She looked a bit startled.

By far the most significant meeting I had on a plane was with Hywel Morris. I was on my way to spend some time with a Welsh-speaking family on a farm at Llwynpiod, near Tregaron in mid-Wales. Hywel worked in RTÉ in the design department.

He persuaded me to come along and look in on the Dublin Welsh Male Voice Choir when I got back. The choir rehearsed in Mr.Quinn's Central Bar in Aungier St.

That was the start of a brief career with the choir in which I ended up singing three of the four parts - not simultaneously - I graduated from top tenor through second tenor and then to my true home, baritone.

I suppose my most unusual flight was being the only passenger on the larger Government jet coming home from Luxembourg after an ECOFIN meeting.

I had been abandoned at the meeting at around 6pm by Bertie and Seán Cromien, and it was looking like I wasn't going to get home that night. There were no direct flights from Luxembourg so I'd have to go through Paris or London and it was getting very late by the time the meeting ended.

Then an angel came along in the person of Pat Hastings, the Department's representative at our Mission to the EU. Pat told me that Joe Walsh, then Minister for Agriculture, had come out in the jet and the plane was going home empty.

He arranged with the Ambassador for me to be taken to the airport in the Ambassador's car in time to catch the plane. I was driven right up to the steps of the plane, was saluted as I boarded and had a magnificent meal on the way home to Baldonnell.

I was a bit mean and decided to ring Seán from the plane to report on the outcome of the meeting, half hoping I'd get him out of bed in revenge for leaving me to make my own way home.

I also rang home, to tell them I'd be home after all, and I spoke to my sons and told them I was flying at 50K feet or something and it was -50 degrees outside. I gather they got some mileage out of that in school the following morning.

I wonder did the flight crew think I was a Minister. I was certainly treated like one.

I'll finish with my most challenging flight ever.

I should explain that when it comes to planes, I was terrified of flying. This arose out of my first flight ever in 1960 when I suddently realised, as the plane sheddered down the runway, that it was heavier than air, just like the No.47A bus, and was unlikely to leave the ground.

Well, against my expectations it did, and eventually rose to quite a height.

That was when I made my mistake. I looked out the window expecting to see the land rushing by underneath. But it wasn't. It was just there, stopped.

My brain immediately told me that if it was stopped, the plane was stopped, and as the plane required significant forward motion to stay in the air, my brain, in an instant, now prepared my body for the great fall to the ground and oblivion.

Though that didn't happen, as you will have gathered from my presence here, that moment never left me. From then on I was terrified of flying but did a lot of it in the course of my work, sometimes waking up sweating in the bed up to a week in advance of the flight.

So you can probably understand how I became a backseat driver on all my subsequent flights. I can, for example tell you when we're over Liverpool on the way to Brussels, without looking out the window or consulting watch or map. I simply got to know that the plane did a wee bank over Liverpool, and of course that in turn reassured me that we were on course.

Well, on one very cold and icy day, I was on a plane approaching Brussels. We had just begun our descent which would mean about fifteen minutes to landing.

So far so good. On course, on time, everything dandy. But as the time passed and the pilot maintained his fairly steep rate of descent for longer than I expected, I began to get a bit nervous. I became convinced that the outside controls had frozen over and that the pilot was no longer able to pull us out of our diving descent.

Once again oblivion beckoned. My nerves were at breaking point, but I didn't pray. This reassured me that my unbelief was total, sincere and well embedded. Little consolation in the circumstances but better than nothing.

Then, suddenly, there was this enormously loud sound of what seemed like us crashing and the plane decompressing all in one short moment.

And despite the shock, and me not yet dead, I didn't pray.

Well the reassurance this time lasted as what I had heard was some sort of coffee machine at the back of the plane imitating a pressure cooker at its moment of truth, and shortly afterwards the pilot gently pulled out of the dive and we landed safely.

So, the moral of the story?

Well, flying can be interesting, stressful and reassuring and, at the same time, good training for the final end of life experience.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

WELE'N SEFYLL

HERE I STAND !
Click on any image for a larger version

I had never heard of Michael Sheen. Ciarán Casey recommended a tweet from Owen Williams which contained an extract from Michael's Raymond Williams Memorial Lecture. The extract was of that part of the lecture where Michael is forcefully pointing out that the EU was not the source of all Wales's ills and that the culprit lay closer to home. The lecture was in 2017, after the Brexit referendum, where the Welsh voted for Brexit, but before the moment of no return for the UK from the insanity of Brexit itself.

What if Michael's lecture, with all its passion, articulateness, and elegance of style, had come before the referendum and gone viral as it deserved to do? Would the Welsh turkeys still have voted for Christmas? Who knows?

Anyway, the extract on its own, was magnificent. So I decided to check out the full lecture, all two hours of it (including the all too brief Q&A).

It is a magnificent analyitical panorama of Welsh history and of the state of the Welsh nation today.

I am not going to try and summarise it here, even if I could. That would be to do it an injustice. But I would advise anyone with an interest in Wales, and Welsh Wales in particular, to set aside the two hours required and to pay attention. It is not just about Wales, though that is the vehicle, it is about the place of community in an increasingly centralising and alienating world.

It is critical in the best sense of the word, and the spirit soars as well as plunging the depths.

Michael Sheen

Instead I will confine myself to some of the resonances with my own experience that I found in the talk.

One of Michael's rhetorical questions in the EU section of the lecture was: Who drowned Capel Celyn? Cofiwch Dryweryn !

This is on a par with the Irish cry which has endured for some 300 years: Cuimhnigh ar Luimneach agus feall na Sasanach. Perfidious Albion.

Michael's reference is to the building of the Tryweryn dam which involved the flooding of a Welsh valley and the eviction of its Welsh speaking community. This piece of cultural vandalism was done in the interest of supplying water to the English city of Liverpool.

The cry of Cofiwch Dryweryn wrenches the gut of every right thinking Welsh Welsh person. I have mentioned the scandal in a blog post here.

Michael tells us about when he found out that, as a Welshman, he was somehow different. This happened after he had emigrated to London to follow a career in acting. It happened in McDonalds when the lady serving him could not understand his request for MILK. We're talking English language here, not Welsh, bar the accent. This was the start of his quest for his identity, though that was a slow burner over the years.

I should make it clear that the English in Wales, as in Ireland, were determined to wipe out the Welsh language and replace it with English. And so far they have nearly succeeded. Once English became the language of success and advancement the process played itself out on its own. It is commonly held that William Morgan's Welsh translation of the bible was the salvation of what there is left of Welsh in Wales.

I came across Welsh Wales's sensitivity to this aspect of English many years ago when I was staying on a farm in Llwynpiod, near Tregaron, attempting to learn a bit of Welsh myself. I have recounted that experience here.

I also had a moment when it appeared that I spoke something less than the Queen's English. It happened in Jersey (CI) in the early 1960's and it really pulled me up short. I have chronicled it here.

Michael makes it clear that all the things the English claimed to be doing in the interest of Wales were actually the opposite. They were using Wales in their own interest, as the Tryweryn example clearly illustrates.

And then there was the 1969 investiture of the Prince of Wales in Caernarfon Castle. Honouring the Welsh? Not a bit of it - undertaken for the convenience of the British government of the day and no doubt welcomed by the Monarchy as the oul bit of pageantry.

A great show was made of showing off Charles's (non-existent) Welshness. He learned the language, aborbed Welsh history, was schooled in Welsh literature and culture, all in advance of the big day. And what for? One day of pageantry and arse-licking by Y Cracach - the Welsh establishment.

So what did the Prince do with all the cultural wealth bestowed on him? Nothing. I repeat, NOTHING. I have documented his subsequent pathetic and hypocritical use of the Welsh language following the Investiture here.

And then the recent TV series The Crown added insult to injury by trying to make Charles out as a sort of Welsh patriot. I have kept an eye on that here.

Perhaps if Charles had had access to Michael's lecture in 1969 it might have ignited some little spark in him of respect towards the people whose "Prince" he claimed to be.

I remember the spirit of that time. I was, briefly, at the "Investiture Eisteddfod" in Flint. It was my first real experience of Welsh Wales and it sparked off an interest which continues to this day.

It seems a little odd to me that Michael did not mention the Eisteddfod, unless I missed it. He certainly didn't labour it.

Now, the Eisteddfod will not of itself save the Welsh language, but in my view it makes an enormous contribution to doing so, and this not just at national level but through its involvement with Welsh speaking communities throughout Wales. Competitions at the National are the pinnacle of a process of competitions at local level in the run up to the Festival. The Eisteddfod itself alternates between North and South Wales and in those towns lucky enough to host the festival there is a two year preparation cycle involving just about everybody in town.

If you want to get a flavour of the breadth and depth of the festival you can check out my report on the historic Eisteddfod in Denbeigh in 2001. The final Welsh cultural glass ceiling shattered in front of thousands of attendees. A moment I will never forget.

Anyway, I digress, and I'm sure you'll be thinking I've forgotten all about Michael in my own self absorption at this stage.

If you want to know why the Welsh voted for Brexit, listen to Michael's lecture in full. It's all relevant - every last bit of it.

Michael is not the first, but he may well be the most eloquent in encapsulating the sweep of Welsh history and the state of the nation today in one panoramic, almost two hour long talk.

I remember the cultural and linguistic excitement in the Wales of the early 1970s. The memories endure particularly in the protest songs of that period.

Huw Jones's Paid Digaloni (Don't Despair) was intended to raise the spirits of those Welsh campaigners encarcerated for their sins. It was also intended to raise spirits generally. A real beauty of a revolutionary song.

Meic Stevens expanded the language campaign into the environment with Mwg a song about pollution. I have the original version where he sings to his own guitar accompaniment but can't find an online version at the moment. There are many inferior versions online, including, sadly, from Meic himself.

And lastly, Dafydd Iwan. Dafydd's songs were not the most sophisticated musically but he hit all the g-spots. Carlo made fun of the Prince. Cân yr Ysgol took a pot at the education system in Welsh Wales. Y Dyn Pwysig had a go at Y Cracach.

But that last mentioned song sort of backfired. In the early 1970s Jac Williams had invited myself and Nora to come and do our Welsh language slide show on the Eisteddfod in Aberystwyth. I thought it would be in the university and was thrillsed but it turned out to be in Jac's house as a pass-the-bucket fundraiser for Plaid Cymru.

Later that night we did the show in Dafydd's house. To the background track of Y Dyn Pwysig, where Dafydd had specifically pilloried those self-important people who join the Welsh Gorsedd, we showed a still of him doing precisely that himself. Didn't go down well

No more divarsion. This is serious stuff. Go listen to Michael. You won't regret it but if you do, it's you and not him, or me.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

CNC


There is a lot of talk these days about the social consequences of the shutting down of Post Offices particularly in the countryside, where they provide not only the regular post office services, but also serve as a social hub for the community.

This reminded me on the extent that the local shop can often play such a role.

Take our shop in the village of Ballybrack, Co. Dublin, in the 1950s and 1960s.

Newspapers & Magazines

We sold newspapers over the counter, which meant that lots of people came into the shop every day to buy one and hopefully something more. The margin on newspapers was very tight and they were a sort of loss leader to attract custom.

Very often more than one person came in at the same time and a conversation would ensue, often around the headlines of the day but equally likely turn into a bitching session about some of the neighbours.

My mother had a golden rule in this regard. Listen and keep your mouth shut. Very wise, and even more particularly so in the location we were in.

Our catchment area was Killiney, Ballybrack and Loughlinstown, which the unwary might not realisse was almost a single genealogical unit. If you were thought to agree that Mrs. Byrne, who was getting an unfavourable mention in the conversation, was a bitch, then you were as likely as not to be accused the next day by her very self of taking sides.

Too much of this and your business goes down the drain. So, along with the necessary commercial stance that "the customer is always right", you learned to keep your mouth shut during such bitching sessions. Nodding the head was also out.

We also delivered newspapers. I had a daily paper round and I think there were at least two others covering different parts of the "parish". Deliveries gave rise to a feature not found in many other shops and not a major feature of shops today - THE SLATE.

People paid for their deliveries at the end of the week when they, or a family member, came into the shop. Now, the slate is a form of credit and is subject to the usual abuse of such a feature, to the detriment of the shopkeeper.

Some people let the bill mount up over a number of weeks. This was taken to extreme when some upmarket magazines were included in the delivery. At the time Ballybrack was moving up the social ladder in certain parts and those who had aspirations to join the nouveau riche but without the means to do so, nevertheless had to keep up appearances. So posh, including household/fashion glossies were ordered, delivered, and often not paid for.

Of course once you have a slate you never know what will end up on it. A particular problem was young people putting items on their parents' slate. This was a dilemma for the shop keeper, who was sometimes criticised for not acceding to the child's request, and other times for letting the child put, say, sweets on the bill. A real necessity here to know your customer.

An interesting side story arose out of our delivering papers. John Barrington had been Lord Mayor of Dublin twice, in 1865 and 1879, but he is equally well known in Joycean circles as the manufacturer of Leopold Bloom's lemon flavoured soap.

Well my great-grandmother was in domestic service in his premises in Parnell St. and married out of there in 1866. Barrington lived in Killiney and my mother ended up delivering papers to one of his descendants in the 1950s (Campanella). Three generations of, interrupted, service.

Appropriately enough, in view of the slate, the shop premises now house the local Credit Union.

Quality Cakes


We also sold cakes, luxury cakes as we called them. They were delivered regularly from the Marie Basquille Bakery in Dún Laoghaire. The above illustration is a bit of an exaggeration as what we sold tended to be the smaller individual cakes such as eclairs though there was nothing stopping an order for a bigger bespoke cake for a special occasion.

It's an unusual name, Basquille. We had Liam in the Department of Finance and I recently came across Andrew who runs a book club (currently online) among the volunteers at the James Joyce Tower in Sandycove.

Argosy Library


And we also had a library. Yes, a library. Argosy library. It was only a stand in the corner of the shop but the van came every month or so and replaced all the books. More administration for the shopkeeper and family. I suppose, on the strength of this, I could add librarian to my CV.

Walkers Christmas List


And then there was Christmas. We had an account with Walkers in Liffey Street and ran a Christmas club where people saved in the run up to Christmas to pay for items they had ordered out of the catalogue. These could vary from board games to bicycles and the child's tractor in the illustration above would not have been out of the question.

The Telephone


There weren't many telephones around in those days but we had one in the shop. The customers could use it once they asked first and paid the requisite charge. This service was provided at marginal cost. The phone did attract a lot of people into the shop and hopefully they bought something while they were there. I used it extensively in the evenings with my friend at the other end as we did our homework together.

The Name

And finally the name. As you can see we had O'Dwyer over the door for much of the time but that's not what was there in the beginning. When we moved to Ballybrack in 1954 the shop was known as the CNC and that's what we had over the door, CNC. Nobody knew what it meant, it had been there so long. The best guess was Cigarettes, Newspapers and Confectionery.

So you can gather from the above that the shop was more than a shop, so to speak, and an integral part of the social fabric of the village.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

I'M A POET?

I was never one for poetry but when I was in school the teacher caught me doing what I thought was a frivolous translation of a French poem. To my surprise he thought it was very good and told me to keep at it.

Now I know that doesn't make me a poet but I just wanted to set the context.

I have dabbled in Limericks and, in my own view, some of them were of a higher standard than what passes for poetry in some quarters, but I am not going to insist on it.

It has, in any event, now become irrelevant as I have just become a published poet.

Admittedly it is only one line, and the "poem" in which it occurs is not the best, despite some very good individual lines. But my one line has been published by no less a group than Poetry Ireland.

The project is called the Poemathon with Older People, and it is designed to capture the thoughts and imaginings of older people right now in society.

You can read about it on their website where there is a link to the full poem (pdf). My line is the second line on page 19.

The line reads: "Another grey hair shed in the departure lounge"

I suppose if I have any claim on poetry it is as a translator. I have published four of my translations on my website.

The first is the poem Aistear (Journey) by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. This came out of a request from my cousin Carmel to translate the poem. She had been given an alternative translation and wanted to compare the two. I was never told where I came in that league.

Next is the poem Fornocht do Chonac Thú by Pádraig Mac Piarais. I came across the original in school and I think it is the nearest thing I'll ever see to a perfect poem. Pearse himself has translated it but more by way of a line by line guide than a poem itself. So I couldn't resist the temptation to have a go at it. It would probably take a Heaney or more to do a proper job on it, as I consider it untranslateable at the end of the day, so I had to take a few liberties with it to try and get the meaning and feel of the poem across.

Then there was Mo Bheirt ar Altram by Aodh Ó Domhnaill, a beautiful tribute by him to his two adopted children. Sinéad Ní Uallacháin gave a beautiful reading of this poem at Aodh's funeral and his French nieces had asked me to translate it for them as their Irish is understandably not up to the task.

And, finally, another of Aodh's poems Nóirín, a charming celebration of the innocence of his then four year old daughter, Nóirín.

I have written some songs, but I'm not sure that they would class as poetry, more likely versification.

The first, written in 1963, has de Gaulle taking a poke at the British, a theme today once more brexiting into topicality. The second is a sort of comic version of an EU Chef de Cabinet written shortly after we joined the EEC. And the third is a day in the life of a conscientious civil servant. All three are in French.

The only one I have "recorded" so far is the Chef de Cabinet. I don't think I'd be wise to apply for a job in Brussels anytime soon!

Monday, March 15, 2021

TRUSTING THE BBC?



The BBC are scheduled to broadcast a programme tonight on the sexual abuse of children and the financial sector in Jersey (CI). I am well familiar with the scene in Jersey and I must say I am surprised that it is the BBC that is airing this programme.

The BBC does not have a good record in this area either in Jersey or in Great Britain, so I will be very interested to see how comprehensively it covers the Jersey situation which has ramifications in all directions. Unfortunately I don't have piped TV and am geo-blocked from watching it on my computer, so I will be relying on the testimony of those whose opinions I trust to fill me in here.

Meanwhile I thought I'd do a sort of a check list of what I would expect to be covered in an objective and trustworthy programme.

From the blurb, it seems the programme is anchored around the efforts of two bloggers to hold the Jersey establishment to account, particularly after most, if not all, of the significant channels of official opposition and investigation had been neutered.

The two bloggers concerned, Neil McMurray and Rico Sorda are simply civilians without any connection to official Jersey or to the "accredited" media. They started blogging on the subject of child abuse in reaction to what was going on on the island and which was not being dealt with. In fact most of it was subject to cover up by the establishment and their minions.

Neil and Rico exposed a lot of stuff to the extent that they were trusted by victims/survivors to the point that material was being leaked to them rather than to the captured media where such material, instead of being published, would be consigned to the waste basket. They have both suffered personally for the stands they have taken, perhaps Rico the more so.

So full credit to them. But there are a host of other characters who have also challenged the establishment but who have been taken out of play by various underhand methods.

I should start with Stuart Syvret. Stuart was the Health Minister early on in the current century. He was receiving complaints from victims and decided to investigate for himself. He has by now a weath of stories of abuse, most of them, I suspect unpublished. At the time he was also blogging on what was going on.

He was sacked, imprisoned at various times on fairly flimsy excuses, and had his blog taken down by Blogger/Google as a result of a disgraceful legal sleight of hand by the administration. He continues to blog via comments on, for example, Neil's blog and, though on the shrill side of late, his content is always to the point. He has been the cause of some landmark legal contortions in the Jersey "justice" system as the establishment have attempted, and succeeded in locking him up regardless of his human rights.

At the same time as Stuart was doing his investigation, the police were doing theirs, oblivious of what Stuart was at. Two policemen in particular deserve great credit for what they did but both suffered for it.

Police Chief, Graham Power, was suspended on the basis of trumped up and wilfully misinterpreted evidence, and he was held in suspension for as long as possible. Suspension, as opposed to sacking, was the chosen option as it did not need the approval of Parliament and he would be still within the polic force and denied all opportunity to put his case in public.

The second policeman (to quote Myles na gCopaleen), was Lenny Harper who had made a lot of enemies when he arrived on the island and confiscated some of their bazookas. Lenny was straight and to the point.

He became senior investigating officer in the police abuse investigation (Operation Rectangle) and suffered and unremitting stream of abuse and obstruction in his efforts to get to the bottom of it. Lenny had retired to Scotland in the latter stages of the investigation and to give you an idea of how much he trusted the administration, he refused to come back to the island to testify at the later "Independent" Jersey "Care" Inquiry as he was convinced that the administration would find some spurious grounds for locking him up.

He did testify and his testimony like that of his Police Chief are more than worth a read. Unfortunately they are no longer online.

That beings me neatly to the administration and their attempts to keep the whole scandal under wraps. They had a plan to sack the Health Minister (Stuart Syvret) in which they attempted to involve the Police Chief and one of his officers. The two officers concerned held their ground.

Anyway, here we have two Home Affairs ministers, Andrew Lewis and Ian le Marquand. Two gobshites if ever there was one. Andrew Lewis, a weak man, was installed in the job to sack the Police Chief and he followed his script, even though it was clear he was not on top of his brief, and subsequently perjured himself over the whole affair. His successor, Ian le Marquand, who gave a good impression of appearing thick, and in my opinion was, got the job of keeping the Police Chief in suspension ad infinitum, while others were being dealt with. And we'll come to those in a minute.

A name you may not hear in the programme is Simon Bellwood one of the first whistleblowers who was hounded out of his job, and maybe off the island for all I know.

Trevor Pitman and his wife Shona Pitman were, at various times, Deputies in the States of Jersey (ie members of parliament). Both did sterling work on behalf of their constituents and were highly respected by those who mattered.

In my view, not shared by everybody, they were set up. The Jersey Evening Post, the island's only newspaper, published a cartoon which inter alia suggested that they were in politics for the money when it was clear to anybody who took the trouble to find out they were not. Trevor, perhaps unwisely as this was Jersey, decided to sue. They then lost what ought to have been an open and shut case and were subsequently bankrupted by the "justice" system.

Bob Hill, a former MET officer, ran a fantastic blog. He championed the cause of HG, an abused woman, gave evidence to the "Care" Inquiry, but sadly suffered a severe stroke and is now out of action.

Philip Sinel a Jersey commercial (non-criminal) lawyer has been the only Jersey lawyer to stand up to the establishment. His evidence to the Inquiry is stunning reading, but can no longer be accessed on line since all the evidence, transcripts and documentation, from the Inquiry has been taken offline.

I would comment here that when it was up online I made extensive use of some evidence in my blogposts. Philip's views and some submissions can still be read on Neil's blog. In one of his cases (fraud) Philip got the run around from the Jersey authorities and had to go to an American court to get justice for his client. Needless to say the authorities in Jersey are out to get him.

Leah McGrath Goodman is a reputable financial journalist and her initial interesst in the island was financial. However, when she got to know about the abuse she campaigned on behalf of the abused and exposed malpractice.

She contemplated writing a book but she diverted her energies into making a film/programme on the island. That, or some form of it, is what will be aired tonight. While intimately involved in the research and filming of the programme, she has not been involved in its sale to the BBC, and did not agree with this. It will be interesting to see how much credit she gets in tonight's programme from the BBC or whether the programme covers the full range of her concerns.

Deputy Mike Higgins is the current thorn in the side of the authorities and he has brought many cases to the floor of the parliament chamber in addition to all of those he has pursued outside of it. The authorities have so far failed to silence him despite attempting to bankrupt him through purposely withholding promised financial support for the air show which he has promoted over the years.

I couldn't leave out Emma Martins, daughter of the finctional "Jersey" Detective Bergerac. She conspired to get Stuarts blog taken down via a show trial where she had trawled the streets to find people prepared to testify against him. Reminded me of Christ and the invitations to the wedding feast in the gospels.

Anyway she managed to assemble a motley crew of the usual suspects, including those rightly denounced by Stuart on his blog, and the job was oxo. The names of Stuart's accusers were not allowed to be published but they eventually appeared in an early day motion (EDM) in the Westminster House of Commons.

She also unsuccessfully attempted to scuttle the publication of the final report of the "Care" Inquiry.

And as for her daddy, John Nettles, the detective in the BBC Bergerac series shot on the island, the BBC crew were shooting the series with the police headquarters based in the infamous home of abuse, Haut de la Garenne, while there were still children on the premises. When this was revealed in more recent times the BBC pulled the rerun of the series in the face of hostile public reaction.

I'll only make one further point about the inquiry. Through careless redaction it actually revealed the name of John Averty whom it had been valliantly trying to protect. John had been accused of the rape of an adult woman.

He was deeply involved with the Jersey Evening Post and was also a part of the Jersey Financial Regulator. He was interviewed by the police as a suspect under caution but that is the last that was heard of it.

I can't leave the subject without drawing attention to the number of strokes connected to the Jersey Inquiry: the person originally picked to chair the inquiry, the publicity officer on the inquiry, one of the witnesses subsequent to him testifying, and one of the witnesses prior to her testifying. All just coincidence I'm sure.

So there are a lot of angles which should be covered by the programme and the above are only a selection of the most obvious.

I look forward to hearing the reports.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

EXPLODING BIRDS

Feeding Seagulls

In the 1950s I was at primary school in Coláiste Mhuire in Parnell Square. My father worked for CIE in Broadstone, a relatively short distance up the road. Andy Kildea, a classmate who lived locally, used to give me a crossbar up to Broadstone at lunchtime where I dined with my father and some of his colleagues.

One day he told me the story about the birds. Apparently some of the youths in the Broadstone area used to feed the birds, seagulls I think, and shortly after the birds took to the air they exploded, just like planes shot down in a dog fight in World War Two.

For a young lad this was an exciting story, only much later to be thought of as cruel and disgusting. I never gave much thought to whether it was true or not. It did seem a bit far fetched.

Until, years later, I discovered carbide. Now, carbide was a chalk like substance that was freely available as it was used to power lamps, including bicycle lamps. My friend Tom Ferris's father had one.

The carbide was in a chamber in the lamp. A little water was added which produced an inflamable gas which was fed to a nozzle and lit. This produced a very strong white light.

And then there was the the carbide bomb.

The bomb made a lot of noise but I don't think it was ever used in any serious demolition work. What we used to do was take a coffee tin and puncture a small hole in the base. We then inserted the carbide and spat on it. The tin lid was put back firmly in place and a respectable interval left before lighting a match at the hole.

A loud bang followed and the tin lid was blown a fair distance down the road.

So what has this got to do with the birds. Well, I am now convinced that the youths put ground carbide into the birds' food and when this then mixed with their digestive juices the gas was produced with the inevitable result – the birds burst in mid air.

Children, as we know, can be very cruel.


Tuesday, February 02, 2021

REDACTION #101

Suspsended Jersey Police Chief Graham Power
Click on any image for a larger version

We see a lot of "redaction" about these days. Perversly, and in a limited way, this may be a good thing. Requests for information from the powers that be were often met in the past with a blank refusal.

Today we have "Freedom of Information" legislation which generally applies to public institutions and which obliges them to provide the citizen with any requested records unless this can be shown to be inappropriate according to a number of strictly defined criteria.

So, in many cases, rather than attempting to justify not providing any of the material requested, resort is had to coughing up a "redacted" version.

I know about all this stuff as I operated the Freedom of Information Act in the Irish Finance Ministry insofar as it applied to my work area.

The term "redacted" was not around in my youth. It simply means "edited". But it sounds sort of authoritative and maybe even respectable. When I was young I had a hankering after journalism and had I followed this up I would have been subject to the "Redacteur en Chef" as the French call him. To me he would have been my editor in chief.

Now, before we go any further I have to introduce you to another term, "jigsaw identification". This applies to a situation where you may have avoided actually naming someone or redacted their name, but the person can nevertheless be identified from various bits of other information which you have neglected to redact but when drawn together can clearly point at that person's identity.

Initial version: Power's published evidence

My example, above, is from a large document published at the time by the "Independent Jersey Care Inquiry". The Inquiry used to publish all the evidence submitted to it in real time. This is an extract from that of the suspended Chief of Police, Graham Power.

I don't want to expand on it here, but Graham was one of the good guys and he was suspended by Jersay's powers that be in their attempt to shut down the earlier police inquiry into child abuse which was a serious embarrassment to them. Just for the record, they succeeded.

In his evidence, Power referred to a well known and powerful member of the Jersey establishment who had been scheduled to be interviewed by the police as a suspect and under caution, in respect of the serial abuse of adult females.

The "Independent" Inquiry, which was tight with the Jersey powers that be, realised they were heading into dangerous territory and decided to redact the person's name. The system was to black out the name and substitute a number, in this case 737. This subsitution would be consistent, always 737, anywhere in the documentation where that name was redacted.

In addition to the name, the Inquiry also redacted information which, in its view, could potentially lead to jigsaw identification. I won't go into it in detail here but the Inquiry, being from outside the island, inadvertently left enough information unredacted for anyone familiar with the Jersey scene to identify the suspect. In this regard I would mention that there is only one daily newspaper in Jersey.

The suspect had one other mention in the document but this was in connection with another issue and was left unredacted.

Lesson #101-1: Know your audience.

Needless to say, once the redacted document was published, speculation on the identity of the redacted person was rife and if became clear to the Inquiry that they had not done a thorough enough job to fool the locals. So they withdrew the document and issued a further redacted version.

Power's evidence, further redactions (yellow highlights)

The new version dealt with the problem of jigsaw identification, but after the horse had already bolted. The relevant additional redaction was to cut out reference to the newspaper, which I have pointed out was a dead jigsaw givaway.

However this time round, the eagle eyed redacteur en chef spotted a reference to the suspect on another page and promptly, and unthinkingly, redacted this. And that was their fatal mistake. The newly redacted reference was to Person 737 but the context was slightly different and, most importantly, it had not been redacted in the previous version where the person was clearly named.

By now associating the previouly published name with a 737 redaction the inquiry was effectively certifying the identity of this person.

Lesson #101 - 2: You only get one shot at this. Do it properly the first time round.

So why am I bothering to raise this sort of stuff now? My example relates to the past in a far away land.

Well, just the other day, Craig Murray was himself on trial, yes trial, for contempt of court in his reporting of the earlier trial of former Scottish First Minisster, Alex Salmond. This was despite the measures he took to avoid jigsaw identification of Salmond's accusers who had the benefit of anonymity.

In passing, the bulk of the Scottish main stream media were clearly in contempt of court by stridently and pruriently amplifying the accusations in a way that in the normal course would have prejudiced Salmond's jury trial. Fortunately the jury nonetheless acquitted Salmond.

As well as defending himself from the accusation of jigsaw identification, Murray also pointed to the contrasting treatment of himself and the main stream media, making the point, with which I strongly agree, that his trial was political, and like that of Julian Assange, was designed to put the fear of God into any potential dissidents, seriously curtail free speech and, paradoxically, freedom of the press.

Lesson #101 - final: Pay attention.

Monday, February 01, 2021

AGITATING ATOMS

Varian Linear Accelerator

Following a brush with this impressive linear accelerator, I have been assured that I am now as radioactive as the cockpit of the Enola Gay.

Cockpit of the Enola Gay

The Enola Gay was the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.

Oddly enough I have actually been in the cockpit of the Enola Gay which is in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

DOUG ROGERS RIP

Doug and Sylvia
at an appropriate location in happier days
Click on any image for a larger version

My acquaintance with Doug dates from after the inauguration of restored Martello Tower No.7 in Killiney in 2008. Initially, I had no idea of the huge amount of research he, and his wife Sylvia, had put into unearthing vast quantities of documentation in the British National Archives at Kew and in many other archives. They also visited many relevant sites in Britain and were responsible for involving Paul Kerrigan and Martin Bibbings in the project. Without their work, there would have been no project.

 I had discovered Major Le Comte de La Chaussée and his survey of Killiney Bay which set the scene for the later building of the Martello Towers in that bay, but it was Doug who set me on the path filling out La Chaussée's role in British attempts to subvert post-revolutionary France and restore the French monarchy. And it was Doug who found La Chaussée's maps which I had been looking for for thirty years. 

And then there was the EU backed Europa Nostra heritage competition which Bill Clements suggested the Tower might enter. The questionnaire was comprehensive and demanding and required input in narrowly specified terms. It took Doug and me, acting as good cop bad cop, to beat Niall over the head to squeeze the information out of him in an acceptable form. The problem was that the way the restoration was done didn't quite fit the required format and Niall had to be "encouraged" to make some rough estimates. The fact that the Tower was shortlisted and got a special mention from the jury is in no small part due to Doug's insistence and cajoling.

  Most recently, despite being very ill Doug agreed to do a commentary for the online Bloomsday 2020 presentation (16 June) at the Tower on the saga of his and Sylvia's research. In the event he was too ill to present it himself and I read his script into the record. I was very pleased to have been able to honour his and Sylvia's research and it now stands as a tribute to Doug. You can access that particular item in the Bloomsday presentation below or just read the text.


Presentation of Doug and Sylvia's research in the 
Bloomsday 2020 event at the Tower

I was thrilled when Doug himself and Sylvia turned up at our Bloomsday Zoom session at midday. This turned into a great conversation though we only had less than a dozen people at it. I'm sort of half sorry I didn't record it, but it was intended as a free flowing conversation and that's what it turned out to be.

Myself & Doug - Xmas 2016
Royal Marine Hotel, Dún Laoghaire

I will always remember Doug as a gentleman, an Englishman with a wry sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye, a natural co-conspirator.

Doug on a lovely birthday few days
in Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

You can read Sylvia's beautiful eulogy of Doug, delivered at his cremation on 1 September 2020, here. There's a lot in it about Doug that I didn't know and I'm very impressed. Clearly, as well as everything else, a very modest man.

You can see Doug's death notice and, if you wish, leave a message of condolence, here.

May he rest in peace.


The Magnificent Martello Tower
No.7 Killiney Bay


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

VOICE FOR CHILDREN

Neil McMurray - Voice for Children

I have just had privilege of interviewing Neil McMurray, one of the hero Jersey bloggers who were blogging for Jersey, as he puts it, and against child abuse and corruption which were rampant on the island. The bloggers effectively functioned as the fourth estate on the island when the main stream media just refused to even pretend to hold the powers that be to account.

The local media (BBC, ITV, Jersey Evening Post) have long lost the trust of the people in their failure to confront the horrendous scandal of institutional child abuse on the island. Instead the people turned to the bloggers. When there was something to be leaked, it was to the bloggers that it was leaked as people knew that the material would otherwise be consigned to the MSM dustbin.

Suspended Police Chief Graham Power
and Children's Home Haut de la Garenne

In this interview Neil gives a concrete example of this in relation to the disgraceful and illegal suspension of the Police Chief in the Establishment's effort to contain the cover up.

The police investigation did not suit the powers that be and they made sure to wind it up at the first opportunity, by suspending the Police Chief and replacing him and the Senior Investigating Officer with more compliant individuals. To this day there are people out there who should have been locked up, to say the least, years ago.


I asked Neil why he prints anonymous comments and got a serious answer. You can see above the annotated bullet that was sent to Trevor Pitman, parliamentarian and blogger, in an attempt to shut him down. The Jersey State later did just that in one of the most devious operations I have seen on the island.

And discover the relevance of my remark that if Jesus came to Jersey he'd end up in Southhampton in his pyjamas.

So lots of exciting, if despicable, things to talk about. Enjoy.






For those not fully up to speed on the Jersey situation or those needing some introduction to the subject matter of the interview, I thought it worthwhile to include some links below. These generally refer to individual matters mentioned in the course of the interview.

Neil's Blog "Voice for Children"

Advocate Philip Sinel's submission to the Carswell REVIEW on governance..

Bloggers, and State Media evidence to the Care Inquiry: TRANSCRIPTS.

Transcripts of the secret States Debate with the "damning" report that Andrew Lewis did(n't) see.

Also mentioned in the video was the interim defence case of the former Chief Police Officer Graham Power QPM that has been buried by the State Media.

Bloggers being EXCLUDED, from media room at care Inquiry.

Discredited, and disgraced, ITV/CTV was not EXCLUDED.

This is a LINK to an exclusive interview with former Deputy Shona Pitman, whom I have referred to in my comment below @21 January 2021 at 19:45

This is a general link to Neil's blog which will bring up his latest post and allow you to explore the blog.

My blog "Introducing Jersey"

This post will give you a sense of the background as I set it out in November 2012.

This post refers to the German occupation of the Channel islands (2940-45) and the position of individual bloggers as of 2016.

This is the story of the lady known as HG and the churchwarden, referred to in the interview.

This is the story of the Police Chief and his suspension. It draws on, and links to, the transcript of his oral hearing and his written submission of evidence. These documents are no longer available.

My criticism and expectations of the report of the Care Inquiry.

The contents of the Care Inquiry Report and more.

The chief troll referred to in the interview and his comments.

Criticism of the Inquiry's website, the taking down of material, the partial restoration of the site in low security mode and confined to official documents such as the report but leaving the oral hearings transcripts and evidence submitted still offline.

One law for them & another for us - or - A Jersey Cow Ate my Homework.

This is a general link to my "Introducing Jersey" blog, which will bring up the latest post and allow you to explore the blog.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

HET VLAKKE LAND

Albert Folens in class


I have been thinking a lot about Albert Folens lately.

He was my first French teacher in Coláiste Mhuire in the 1950s

I didn't know then that he was actually Flemish and had worked for the Germans during WWII. Mind you, it didn't freak me out in the least when I found out. There is an honourable tradition in this country of seeking the aid of England's enemies in the national cause, Roger Casement being the most prominent example which springs to mind in this decade of commemorations. Folens's actions were undertaken in the interest of his native Flanders.

Folens was badly treated by the Belgian state, which was on an orgy of revenge after the war.

He had the good luck to be taken in by the Christian Brothers here and he taught me French. He was an excellent French teacher.

He was also very entrepreneurial and set up his own publishing company which brought us many precious school texts and filled some of the disgraceful gaps in the provision of these texts.

After his death (2003) he was traduced, in an RTÉ series Hidden Nazis (2007), and he would have been all the more so but for the intervention of the courts. This was a shameful episode in the history of the national broadcaster which today is sadly forgotten.

We are often treated to counterfactuals in history - the what if? For example, what if the Third Reich had occupied Britain. Would nobody have collaborated with the invaders? How would we remember that period today in the pantheon of empire?

Well, we actually have a good example, Jersey in the Channel Islands. On Britain's doorstep, a crown dependency directly subject to the English monarch, it was occupied from 1940 until the liberation in 1945.

The islanders were left to their own devices by the British and had to live as best they could under Nazi rule. That is a long, and in parts a deeply shameful, story but it is not for today.

One of the most controversial aspects of collaboration was the authorities drawing up a list of Jewish residents for the Germans, resulting in deportations to concentration camps and deaths.

So, after the war, did the British have their own mini-Nuremberg to deal with this? Not a bit of it, they knighted the island's bailiff, Alexander Coutanche, and tried desperately to forget the whole thing.

Ireland was nominally neutral during the WWII. There was a strong element of pro-German feeling among the population but we were never put to the ultimate test.

Anyway, I was just thinking of how unjustly Albert Folens had been treated and that there are likely no memorials or tributes anywhere to this Flemish patriot.

And here we are, trying to come to terms with one of the most difficult decades in our history, to the point even of commemorating the enemy.

Just sayin'.

You can check out my 2007 post on the RTÉ saga here.