Blowing in the wind farm

Electricity shares, fog and the refilled model yacht pond are all big news to Emile, as he keeps his cousin up to date on the comings and goings of island life...

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(Illustration by Peewee)

Cher Eugene,

I LIKED your last letter, mon vieux, it made me laugh, eh?

We’ve had all sorts of weather on this side of the world as well, us. Every day it’s been something different. It’s what Jack calls States members’ weather: it can’t make up its mind, eh?

We had fog the other week, so we didn’t get any English papers or mail for three days. The trouble is, the local mail kept coming – and all I seem to get these days is bills. I suppose that’s one thing when the post office stop delivering on Saturdays, it will be an extra day off from all the bills, eh?

And the bloney electric bills, they’re going up again, Eugene. I don’t see we’re getting anything for the extra money, us. I mean, the lights don’t burn any brighter, eh? I suppose it’s the Electric making up the money they lost on the shares they bought. They spent £250,000 buying shares in a green energy company, but now they’ve sold them they won’t say whether they made a profit or not. It’s easy to tell, mind. I mean, they were pleased to announce how clever they were when they bought them, so if they’d made a profit they’d be shouting it from the rooftops and announcing it in the Press, like that chief minister when he goes to a meeting and shakes hands with someone important, eh?

There’s a few people saying the Electric is owned by the States, so if they’ve lost money the public have got a right to know. Then again, the States wouldn’t say with the fishermen’s compensation or firefighters’ dispute, so I suppose the Electric don’t see any difference, eh? I heard some States members saying the Public Accounts and Scrutiny committees should find out, but they haven’t got any power to make the Electric board tell them, so it’s a scrutiny committee without any teeth. I don’t suppose it’s the same, threatening a company with a nasty suck, eh?

It hasn’t stopped that Commerce department looking at alternative energy, mind, but I don’t know if they’re making any better use of our money, Eugene. All they’ve done so far is produce a report saying a wind farm will work if it’s put two miles out to sea off Cobo. But that’s one of the best views in the island, so even our planners wouldn’t allow that, would they? Jack Torode said it’s not a shed or a granite wall so he wouldn’t put it past them. He said it would blow any fog away, but he couldn’t see people would want to sit and have a drink and look at a wind farm. It could blow the froth off their beer as well, eh?

Talking about fog, we had flights grounded the other week even though the weather was clear, because the Jersey radar went down. It said on the Press the States are spending money on a new radar for Guernsey, but it won’t make any difference because Jersey will still be in charge of our airspace, so if theirs breaks down again flights will be disrupted even though we’ve got our own. That’s not much of an investment either then, eh? When I told Jack, he was more concerned about this new Guernsey phone book that’s going to have Jersey numbers in. He was saying we’re supposed to be saving resources, so when his arrives he’s going to take the Jersey section straight for recycling, then it can be sent back to Jersey and put in their incinerator, eh?

He’s still upset about the TV licence, him, because the Crapauds have all these extra things but we still have to pay the same. And do you know, the States never passed the law to allow all the licence increases over the last few years, so we’ve been paying too much, us? Now they’ve made a retrospective law to make it legal going back in time, otherwise they’d have to give us a refund. And like Jack says, the chance of the States giving anything back to the taxpayer is about as likely as Rene giving his prize back at the meat draw, eh?

I always thought retrospective legislation was a bad thing, Eugene, but now they’ve done it, I wonder if they’ll apply it when they finally decide on a corporate rate of tax, so the big banks and companies will have to pay for the last few years after all. That should fill the black hole in one go, eh? And where will it end, mon vieux? Hang, perhaps we could have retrospective voting if we don’t like who they choose to be ministers after the next election, eh?

And I told you about that potato peel pie film, Eugene? It looks like some of it might be made in Guernsey after all, because the Commerce and Employment persuaded private people and firms to give about £250,000 to help with the cost. That’s the same amount the Electric spent and it would probably have been a better investment, eh? But I was thinking, me, the States have got this rainy day fund for when something turns up they didn’t expect. Well, the chance of a Hollywood film with world- famous actors being based in Guernsey wasn’t expected, so I don’t see why they can’t use some of that, them. It wouldn’t take much out of the fund and it would be a better use than helping big banks and companies avoid tax, eh?

Jack said he’s never read the book, him, but it could be worth millions in advertising and better still it will be one in the eye for the Crapauds and their Bergerac as well, eh?

Anyway, I need to finish this letter now, because the bus will be here soon. By the time I write my next letter we’re supposed to have a new bus service, but I haven’t heard much about it, Eugene. All I’ve heard is the Education saying they won’t guarantee a bus for schoolchildren who live within a mile of their school. Caw, if they used the same rule for civil servants they could scrap that car park to Sir Charles Frossard House and let the civil servants walk from the Albert Pier like everyone else, eh? When you think, we used to walk farther than that to school, us. And you remember, when we were older we used to walk all the way home from Town. And sometimes that was even longer because it wasn’t always in a straight line, eh?

Anyway, I’m off to the model yacht pond to have a look now it’s been refilled. Some of the model boats they build these days are amazing, mon vieux. Jack said he couldn’t build one like that, him, but he could try building a model wind farm instead, eh?

I’ll write again soon,

A la perchoine,

Your cousin Emile