Week 5 29th March - 4th April
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Monday 22nd

I can't sleep past 4.30am today, so I get up and start in on the weblog.

When day breaks, it's a lovely morning and I go for a run. A beautiful spring morning with all the accoutrements - singing birds, cool air, gorse & blackthorn (sloe) blossom strewn all over the cliffs and a low sun suffusing the scene. What a charmed life I lead - to be playing in the spectacular mountain scenery of Whistler on Saturday and by Monday be taking in the glory of Guernsey's south coast. We tend to take this all so much for granted in Guenrsey. We should stop to remember how lucky we are - and try to preserve our good fortune!

After that it's admin and planning all morning.Photos to develop, letters to post, then the jet-lag hits me. I collapse at 2.15pm and don't surface again until 5.30. Ooops!

Tea and more admin - not particularly exciting, is it? I need a day to re-adjust.

Tuesday 23rd
Primary school hustings. St Andrews school.

Up early again - but not 4.30 this time. Still getting up at 6.15 gives me an hour or two to play with before I have to get head down to St Andrews. I spend the time doing this - writing up my weblog - before going out for a run around the cliffs.

The early birds are really going for it again - there is no shortage of aviary life around here as the almost deafening chorus of song clearly demonstrates! Nice!

Another beautiful morning - a bit of night time chill still persists and the fog-horn is sounding down at the harbour, but the sky is a clear litmus paper pink and blue and the gentle smell of spring is in the air.

The St Andrews hustings was an interesting occasion. 12 of the 13 candidates were present and it was the first time we had all met; only John NcQuaige remains a mystery. When I came into the staff room, everyone came to shake hands. As a new-comer, it was somewhat hard to remember everyone's name, though of course I recognised the standing members.

We filed into the hall and sat at the top table, with our names pinned to the table in front of us.

The rules were: 30 seconds answering the first 3 questions during which time we could also introduce ourselves. Brutal! :-) This was somewhat tricky - especially for blusterers like Mike Tororde - but we all managed one way or another.

The 3 questions were (naturally enough):

I have to admit that I have never thought about nursery schools before, and have considered primary schools to be catered for under the Education Council's plans. Speaking with my mother later, I learn that there is currently no provision for universal nursery school education in Guernsey; instead, primary schools take in pupils a year early in the year in which they turn 5 ("reception"). Nursery school education would begin 2 years earlier, in the year in which the children turn 3.

It seems to me that apart from the social skills and educational case (well made by Cynthia Cormack) for teaching children how to interact and learn, there is a clear economic argument for providing nursery school education 8.30am-6pm in order to allow parents to return to work.

Other (excellent and challenging!) questions we faced included:

Interesting to see how much concern there was over traffic! This is an issue which affects us all - especially children who do not have the benefit of being shielded by a steel cage when they use the roads. They can see that their safety is being compromised for the convenience of the car-user.

Answers were on a voluntary basis thereafter and the children, some of whom were on 4 years old, naturally got a little restless. It was clear that many members of the panel did not know how to address their answers to children but the ones who came across well were:

My performance was OK, perhaps, but I did find it hard to engage the audience. A hard task!

Well organised by Mary Sabire- and obviously apposite - witness the presence of the Guernsey Press and Channel TV! I joked to her later that the St Andrews School hustings plays a similar role to the New Hampshire primaries! :-) On a serious note, though, it's rather clever of her. She is doing an excellent job of making her pupils take an interest in local politics AND she also gets a captive audience of local politicians to take note of the issues that most affect her school and her pupils. Bravo St Andrews!

Voting takes place later on today.

Into town for lunch and I pop in to see James Menhenitt at the Half Moon Cafe and drop off my manifesto, where I bump into Mike Chandler who is scouting for information on the candidates. Good job people like Mr Menhennitt are taking the trouble to try to collate all the info - the States don't take any trouble to do so!

Back on the beat in the afternoon, I walk along the Ruette Rabey and down towards the Ville Amphrey. It seems nearly everyone around here is concerned with traffic and the environment.

Walking down towards "The Colour Labs" around 5pm, I find out part of the reason. The speed of the traffic leaving the labs is quite shocking for such a small lane and, unsurprisingly, many of the local residents mentioned their concerns about the issue. Back to traffic. I think this is one of the issues that affects everyone in the island - a knotty problem, but something must be done. The car population has nearly doubled in the last 20 years, yet people are already saying that "we must accept that the car is here to stay" and that there is nothing we can do. I do not accept this!

Back home around 6pm and a politics free evening with T! Nice!

Wednesday 24th

Up late this morning - I think that's the rest of the jetlag!

Called Mary Sabire at St Andrews primary school to get the results of their poll:

126 voters, 6 spoiled papers

A little disappointing, especially after seeing this photo in The Press :-) :

As predicted, Cynthia, Francis and Aidan did well, though apparently Francis insisted on the polling station using a photo of him with his dog! :-) Bill Bell and Mike Torode came as surprises, but perhaps it was because they were at the beginning and end of the list. I though Janine would have made a better showing - and the 4 votes for the absent John McQuaige show that perhaps some voters had ulterior motives! :-)

Canvassing this afternoon, this time along the Grande Rue all the way from the Last Post to Le Riches. I ask in some of the shops along whether they will put up my poster - many agree without any hesitation. Fantastic! One of the doors I knock on is that of Mr Sloan who is the head of IT at St Sampson school. We talk shop and politics.

There is still so a long way to go, but I have covered all of the area around home between the coast and the Grande Rue. At some point, however, I am sure I will have to give up and just send the rest... not yet though.

Thursday 25th
Canvassing around Le Hurel, Old Mill, Burnt Lane, Longue Rue House

I've got quite a few posters sitting in my box of printed materials so after asking along the Grande Rue yesterday, I have been putting up posters in the windows and cars of anyone who will let me - though not garages. I think perhaps they won't like my policies all that much.

Took to the streets pretty early today - the plan today was to cover the area around the Old Mill and Le Hurel and see how I got on. All went well, though typically, many people were worried about vandalism and out of control youths. There was a particularly nasty incident of a boy being beated with an iron bar very close to the Le Hurel estate last weekend.

What's my answer to all of this? Well, there is no quick fix, apart from an assiduous police response. Obviously, if these kids are breaking the law and terrorising their neighbours, then they need to be stopped. The causes of such anti-social behaviour run deeper, though. They stem from unhappy family lives and recurring educational/disciplinary issues.

How can we address these prolems? Through patience not vengeance. By providing facilities (and supervision!) such as the proposed skate park and basketball courts. By devoting more resources to the education of these kids, not disenfranchising and discarding them. A long, slow remedy - there is no quick fix!

Finished with time to spare, so I head down to Burnt Lane and Longue Rue house between 5 and 8pm. Many of the residents at Longue Rue house are watching Corronation Street (I think) when I call around but show a lot of patience and are very welcoming and supportive. I used to visit one Mr Chalker over 15 years ago when I was in the 6th form at College and it turns out that he is still there - but I don't manage to find him.

The evening brings an unexpected treat - I had plans to visit the Cock and Bull with a couple of friends tonight and have a couple of pints at "Folk Night" - but Cal calls to tell me that there is a Jam tribute band playing at The Doghouse tonight. Fantastic! When I arrive just after 9pm, they are in the middle of their Paul Weller Experience set which is good but, when, after a short break, they launch into "In The City", the crowd goes wild. An excellent, energetic and sweaty evening ensues - only somewhat marred for me and my 3 non-smokering friends by the smoke-infested clothes, hair (and no doubt) lungs. But perhaps it wouldn't be a 70's/80's evening without the pollution! :-)

Friday 26th

Up a bit late after last night. Lovely day today though - perfect for canvassing. I hear on Radio Guernsey that there are some professional dancers in the island for the weekend at that they will be holding a ballroom dancing class tonight at St Martins parish hall. There might even be tango - make a mental note!

I head back to Burnt Lane and down the Rue Maze towards the centre of St Martins. It's evident that there has been quite a lot of infilling in the parish since we were taught that Guernsey was a perfect example of "ribbon development" by Mr Collenette in geography some 20 years ago.

I talk to Mr Fraser the dentist for 10 minutes; he tells me that his daughter is a palliative care consultant in London and I ask him if she will do me the favour of giving me a call to let me have her opinion on euthenasia. I hope she manages to find the time to do so! Across from Mr Fraser's surgery, there is a beautiful tableau of Guernsey cows in front of the old 3rd Guensey HQ, the old barn.

As I near the parish hall, I see Simon Le Page tending to the flower bed on the Rue Maze side. It's a lovely day and I stop to chat for a few minutes. Apparently, last year was a lot of work because they had the double whammy of Floral Guernsey followed quickly by the St Martin's bid for Britain in Bloom. This year's going to be a bit easier.

A lot of photos today, n'est ce pas? Inspired by the sunshine...

I stop for a strawberry milkshake (with ice-cream!) in campaign headquarters - the Croix Guerin tearooms. I bump into Ms Freda Girard - it takes me a while to remember from where, but I soon recall that she was the old lady who had left her handbag on the bus whome S & I met on our round-the-island tour a few weeks ago.

I stop to ponder strategy for a few minutes (ie plan the next bit of my walking route :-) and get a generous top-up from Lindsay before heading down towards the St Martins heartland of La Bellieuse.

Croix Guerin, St Martins Ch, Rue des Caches

From there, it's up to Rue des Caches and on towards the Forest Road. Douzanier Michael Weysom and another ex-douzanier live on the Clos des Caches and we exchange a few words before I hit the road again. On my way down towards the traffic lights, I bump into Bill Bell, who tells me that he's been button-holed by one Mrs James of Gryffindor. She was lovely to me, I tell him. That's one of the few advantages of being a new candidate - people have nothing on you as yet. :-)

It's still a lovely day and I head out for a run around my usual Moulin Huet, Saints, Icart, Le Jaonnet route. Ahh - beautiful Guernsey!

8pm and I turn up and the parish hall for the ball room dancing. We start with the tango! A bit different from that I learnt in Buenos Aires but recognisable. The dancers from England are excellent - I learn that they have previosly won the UK tango category. No wonder they are so smooth!

A few of us adjourn to the Wicked Wolf about 11pm but they shut at 11.45 and we are out in rain. They tell me that they don't have a late licence, but that's wrong isn't it? They can shut at either 11.45 or 12.45 as they see fit, as far as I know.

Saturday 27th

Up rather late and as I'm having breakfast, Janine le Sauvage knocks on my door. She wonders why I'm not out there already, like her. Later, I tell her.

I start again at about 1pm and head along La Route des Cornus where I spot a boy on a bike bravely cycling along at the head of a queue of cars. Good, brave lad!

It seems that the manifestos are dropping through the doors at a steady rate now, all saying "I'm planning to visit everyone but might not get around to it". I wonder how many of them are! Credit to Bill Bell and Janine Le Sauvage who are pounding the streets. Francis Quin cruises past me in his Nissan Patrol and gives me a flash of his lights as I try to stay out of danger, going from one house to the next on the non-pavement side of the road.

Back home along the Rue des Escaliers just in time to see the beginning of the Grand National. Another 5 bites the dust!

A quiet evening with a TV film and a bit of "Call of Duty" on the PC. Somehow it doesn't really grab me, though. I'm a bit disenchanted with WWII games...

Sunday 21st
Palm Sunday

A day of rest from politics - or at least from canvassing!

It's another lovely day and I go for a run before a late breakfast.

The rest of the day is spent catching up with the weblog and writing my 300 word manifesto for the Guernsey Press and my 3 minute manifesto interview with the BBC.

I also find time to email Adam in Whistler about an idea for tourism we were discussing last weekend...

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