Guernsey Press

OPINION: Living in interesting times

Horace Camp reflects on the past year and sets out his hopes for the next


WELL, that’s 2021 just about over then. It has been another of those interesting years the old Chinese proverb never fails to remind us of. From a personal point of view it hasn’t been too bad at all, but I can understand the frustrations felt by many as the Covid pandemic journeyed through its second year and tomorrow will enter its third.

One of the good things about Covid is that it has given the conspiracy theorists reason to renew their tinfoil hats and post enormous amounts of new twaddle on social media sites. At first I was glad we’d moved away from the same old same old, but lately I have grown very bored with the whole subject.

Let’s hope that 2022 will provide us with a great new topic to occupy the minds of possibly well-meaning people who will then stop peddling the nonsense that snake oil salesmen have charmed them to believe.

Also in 2022 I hope local politics will get an injection of fun. Odds are against it given that we have to continue with the current lot, who are not exactly a laugh a minute. I know it’s a serious business, but there’s no law that says you can’t crack a smile from time to time and make politics less depressing.

I’m certainly crossing my fingers hoping that Deputy Inder’s New Year resolution will be to resign as the Assembly’s official harbinger of doom and have a go at being a cheeky chappie always ready with an inspiring quip and never one to put anyone down.

I’m not going to be too political today, because Covid pretty much dominates and everything else is fluff. But I do have to mention the brave effort being made by our one-man opposition, Deputy Gavin St Pier. It’s often said that if you want something done, ask a busy man. But now we have learned what happens when a workaholic with a good and sharp brain is given no actual tasks to do.

He could, and probably should, be tidying his attic but he is a man of great integrity who believes that because he has been elected by the people he has to devote his allotted time to serving us. This is unlike some other big-beasts-without-a-job who prefer to keep their head down and do nothing rash that will reduce the odds of re-election in years to come.

It’s just unfortunate that he has become our Sir Keir Starmer, whose main job is to undermine Boris Johnson. I applaud our Gavin for focusing more on challenging policies and omissions than garden drinks parties. Although he did of course try to hold the chief minister’s feet to the flames over Farmhousegate. Perhaps in 2022 he will spend more time in his attic and be less of a thorn in the side of an Assembly which hasn’t learnt that there is no I in team.

I had an excellent family Christmas. It was a close-run thing, with one family member taking Covid isolation to the wire. And though it won’t seem much to you, dear reader, the very fact that I left my house on Christmas Day to spend it in another was quite a leap forward for me. Let’s hope 2022 will give me the strength to actually meet a non-family member.

Here now I take time to remind us all that for those who lost loved ones this year that Christmas is one of the toughest post-bereavement ‘firsts’. The other firsts are New Year, birthdays, wedding anniversaries and other important events. The bitter sweetness can be overwhelming and my heart goes out to each of you in this position at this festive time of year.

As I write this on Tuesday, I am absolutely bowled over by getting a shout out in the Guernsey Press from the chief minister. A bit of a curate’s egg in praise, but warm enough to tickle my already mighty ego. I was a little concerned that a secret I have tried to keep under wraps for all my adult life has been revealed. Yes, I am a distant relative of Foxy Ferbrache, but I trust no one will hold it against me.

Deputy Ferbrache was inspired by my last column, which was mostly about future predictions being most unlikely to occur, to set out a few future predictions for Guernsey. And I have to say that but for the obvious bit of politicking about ‘sympathetically developing our eastern seafront’ I think most of his generic predictions will come to pass.

I believe that what he was trying to convey was that the spirit of Guernsey was pretty much the same in the 1950s as it is now and there is no reason to assume it will not be the same in the 2080s. Things will be different, the economy will be different, but the people of Guernsey will ensure that this island remains a ‘bastion of decency, calmness and integrity’.

We have a long history of adapting to change. Just look around and see the remnants of the many essential past industries that came and went. But we carry on. And we will continue to carry on as long as there is still a Sarnian to draw a breath. I back Guernsey and I will always back Guernsey, despite the worst efforts of the States of Guernsey and the short-termism that seems to be the way of the world these days.

Tomorrow we start another year – and we start it from a good position financially and with a strong community which has held together well despite the last two exceptional years of a type I would never have expected to see in my lifetime.

In 2022 I want our politicians to stop sniping and to focus on this island’s future.

The battle we need to fight and win is the one that will make Guernsey an even more attractive place for our youngsters to live and work. And even though I didn’t vote for him, I have faith in Deputy Ferbrache’s dedication to and love for this island. He can do it if he puts his mind to it.

And he has skin in the game. Hell, he owns a good chunk of the place.

Happy and prosperous new year, everyone.