Defending island life

It’s been an interesting month for Emile, what with a new armoured vehicle, election manifestos and VAT-related job losses. And now there’s talk of Sunday shopping coming up again, as he explains to his cousin...

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(Illustration by Peewee)

It’s been an interesting month for Emile, what with a new armoured vehicle, election manifestos and VAT-related job losses. And now there’s talk of Sunday shopping coming up again, as he explains to his cousin...

Cher Eugene,

It’s only a few weeks to go before the election here, Eugene, so I suppose we should be getting all excited, us, eh?

Bert, from L’Ancresse, he says he’s only got nine candidates for seven places in his parish, so down his end of the island it will be about as exciting as watching a limpet on a rock, eh?

The candidates, they’re doing their canvassing and sending round manifestos and all that, them. But do you know, there’s already been complaints to the Press about how the manifestos are too wordy and don’t actually say anything?

That’s ideal States members then, eh, mon viaer?

When you think, it’s funny how they have so much to say in their manifestos, and they spend all that time talking when they’re in the States, but they suddenly go quiet when it comes to answering specific questions. Like the Education over the school grades, and the Environment over planning decisions, eh?

The latest is the police and the Home minister, Eugene. I told you they bought those two armed response cars last year, eh? Well, now they’ve had a Land Rover built specially for Guernsey.

Would you believe it cost £183,000 and it’s armour plated so it can withstand bullets and bombs and rocket attacks? Caw, it’s the next best thing to a bloney tank, eh? There’s a hang of a lot people asking why we need a thing like that in Guernsey and it took days before the police or Home minister came up with a reason. And then they just gave a load of political words, you know the sort of thing – it was part of a strategic incident scenario planning resilience procurement evaluation process, or something like that.

What they really meant was it’s toys for the boys and they’ve got them in the UK so they wanted one in Guernsey, eh?

Then we had the same old story we’ve heard before, about incidents in the UK and how they could happen here. But Bert said they had armoured vehicles in the riots in Northern Ireland and London and it didn’t stop those happening, eh? He said if they’d looked at the last riots in Guernsey, it would probably just need to withstand rotten tomatoes being thrown, eh?

The police were saying how their job is to fight crime and protect the public, but like Bert said, the only people it will protect are the policemen inside it. And I don’t know what happened to all that talk about community policing and coppers on bikes. How’s a thing like that going to stop public toilets getting vandalised, eh?

I said to Bert, it’s a good job the police aren’t in charge of sea fisheries, or the next thing we’d know is they’d be selling that Leopardess and buying HMS Daring, eh?

I still don’t see why we have to copy the UK all the time, Eugene. After all, it’s not as if England does much for Guernsey these days. They’ve even stopped that VAT loophole now, but just for the Channel Islands not for other countries, eh? The States said it was illegal to pick on the Channel Islands and they even went to court to challenge the UK, but that was as much use as throwing tomatoes at a bullet-proof Land Rover, eh?

And now the loophole’s been closed the firms are leaving so there’s people being put out of work. I blame the Commerce and Employment, me. After all, they let those big English firms come here and import CDs and things just so they could sell them back to the UK without VAT, so it’s not surprising the UK got cross, eh? There was one English firm said it was nothing to do with tax and they moved here because Guernsey was a good place for business, but as soon as the VAT loophole closed they moved back to the UK, so it’s bloney obvious, eh?

Bert said it’s happened before when firms say they’re committed to Guernsey and a year later they’re gone.

He said it’s like some of the candidates’ promises before the last election, eh?

That Commerce and Employment one, she said they couldn’t do anything to stop the firms coming here, but I don’t know how hard they tried, them. Perhaps it’s like the population, Eugene. There was a limit put on that five years ago, but it’s gone up ever since, eh? On the Press it said there’s something like 2,000 licences been given out just last year. That’s a hang of a lot of essential workers, mon viaer. Caw, it’s enough to cause a riot, eh?

It’s no wonder the whole island’s getting built up these days – and it’s not just a few pubs being closed and turned into flats, it’s whole breweries now, and that’s on top of big hotels like the Royal and the Savoy. Hang, if it carries on Guernsey from the air will look like one large home for battery chickens, eh?

And the trouble is, the island just gets more like England every day and less like the real Guernsey, eh? Now there’s even Sunday trading being discussed again, because supermarkets realised the day before Christmas Eve is a Sunday and they want to be allowed to open. Bert says one day can’t be that important, but I said he should see some people shopping on the Saturday before a bank holiday – caw, there’s some buy enough to last them through another Occupation, eh?

Talking about shopping, you wouldn’t believe the latest, Eugene.

There’s a group been given permission to set up some tables in the Market Square, so they can sell fresh fruit and vegetables and things, like they do in the farmers’ markets. Now there’s a thing.

I was saying to Bert, I suppose one day it would be nice if they could put a building there for that, eh?

When I saw Jack Torode yesterday he was going on about the election, him. He said before the last election if a candidate promised an increase in population, closed businesses, more unemployment, higher prices on everything, national papers late, Saturday post deliveries stopped, schools worse than the UK, still no decision on zero-10, closed public toilets and armed police vehicles, he wouldn’t have got a lot of votes, eh?

He said he’s going to give a simple test to any candidate who comes to his door. They have to be able to tell the difference between a chancre and a spider, say how to make beanjar and know some swear words in patois. Then he’s going to tell them he wants Guernsey for the Guernseyman and if the UK puts a tax on goods from Guernsey, then we should put a tax on these workers who come off the boat in their white vans, eh?

Caw, who said there wasn’t much excitement over the election, Eugene?

A la perchoine,

Your cousin Emile