Our friend Emile has water on the brain and money on his mind – and, ultimately, where it’s gone. In this letter to his cousin, he fills him in on the floods, Island Hospital and the latest exploits of the States...
I suppose you’re coming into summer now on your side of the world, mon viaer.
Caw, we’re still waiting for ours to start here, eh? You wouldn’t believe the amount of rain we’ve had, Eugene. The flowers to my side gate, they’re so flooded I might as well grow rice next year, me.
Just let the water board try and tell us they need to put up their prices, that’s all I can say, eh?
They even had floods to the Lower Pollet again, with all the rain. It included an insurance company this time, so I hope they were covered by a policy and not just by water, eh? Perhaps they had to claim against themselves, mon viaer. And one of the nightclubs, it had a special dance floor with lights in it and that got flooded as well. I said to Jack, if the water got in the electrics there’d be some pretty impressive dancing, eh? I suppose they could have added some washing-up liquid and turned it into one of those foam parties.
I don’t suppose that series about the island’s hospital is on television over there, mon viaer, but everyone’s asking when they did the filming, because it shows us bathed in sunshine and surrounded by clear azure seas. It makes Rocquaine look like the Caribbean, eh? And there’s hardly any traffic.
Jack said it must be like those photographs of models in the fashion magazines: they airbrush out all the bits that don’t look so good. Like States members when they’re asked how they’ve stuck to their manifestos, eh?
We even had two or three days of fog, with flights cancelled and no mail or papers. That didn’t stop these ministers going away to the UK party conferences, mind. And they came back all pleased, them, because the UK politicians said they respected Guernsey as a finance centre. Caw, I don’t see that means much, Eugene, they’ll still attack the island when it suits.
They’re as good as Guernsey deputies when it comes to keeping promises, eh?
When you think, all these new deputies said they were going to get things moving, and that Financial Transformation Programme would change everything and control what the States spends. But all that’s been transformed so far is £2.6m. into thin air, eh?
Talking of that, I don’t know if you heard, mon viaer, but the police in England had a tip-off about the stolen money and they raided someone’s house in the UK, eh?
They took some Guernsey police with them, but when they broke in no one was there.
Jack said they should have known it would go wrong. After all, the last time they broke down a door and raided a flat, they had the wrong address, eh?
And that Treasury one, he still won’t say how the money went missing, mon viaer. All he’s done is set up loads of reviews and get in UK consultants, so that will just cost more money and take more time. Perhaps he’s hoping people will forget and it will go the same way as the drugs from the court house and the money from the Customs, eh?
Jack was saying it’s just like the old States, employing consultants to do work locals could do in half the time and for half the money. It’s the States’ way of putting things off, because then they review the consultant’s report and get someone to review the review and it just goes round in circles. It must be a habit they pick up from driving round the island’s roads, eh?
And I don’t know what happened to all these promises about protecting the Guernsey way of life, mon viaer, because now they’re wasting time going over Sunday trading again and there’s some even agreeing with these company directors who want to bring in more people, so the population will go up even more.
They say they need to import expertise, otherwise there won’t be enough people paying taxes to keep the old age pensioners. But like Jack said, there’s locals who can do the jobs just as well, but they can’t afford to live here any more because the big firms have pushed the prices up. He said half the companies don’t pay tax anyway and if more people come the money they generate will be needed to provide services for the increased population, so it won’t make any difference, eh? It’s going round in circles again, mon viaer.
And you remember, there was a limit put on the population years ago? That seems to have gone the same way as the £2.6m., Eugene. And now this new States is going to debate the population all over again, so they can put the limit up even more I suppose. I’ve said before, there’ll be people clinging to the edge of the island if they keep going, them. They don’t seem to realise it’s only a small place and it’s already bloney full, eh?
Now they’re looking at building more houses to the Saltpans and La Ramee and that, and that new Commerce and Employment one, he’s even on about filling in Belle Greve Bay again.
But that’s been done before, so that’s another circle, eh? I said to Jack, it’s a good job they’ve done all the filming for that Island Hospital, because in a few years’ time it would just show a lot of reclaimed land covered with concrete and glass, with a flooded L’Ancresse Common and no green fields left. Mind you, Jack says with the way the dairy industry’s going that won’t matter, because the only cows left will be those painted fibreglass ones, eh?
I know I’m getting old, me, but I’m not the only one who says Guernsey’s not what she used to be. You remember, there was a time when you went to collect someone to the airport and you’d know half the people getting off the flight, eh? And you’d never get down the High Street if you stopped to chat to all the people you knew. But if you go to Town these days, it seems to me you’d be hard pushed to find anyone local, Eugene. I was saying to Jack, if you stopped someone to talk about mending the lights to the greenhouse, they’d probably think you needed an electrician. Or if you asked them if they’d ever been winkling, they’d think you were talking about defrauding the States out of £2.6m., eh?
Anyhow, I’d better finish this now because it’s getting dark. It’s next week we put the clocks back here, us, and I was thinking, me, I wonder if that Treasury minister wishes he could put the clock back, to before the money went missing?
Or perhaps before he decided to stand for election, eh?
A la perchoine,
Your cousin Emile