Week 7 12th - 18th April
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Monday 12th
Easter Monday

Another day of rest! :-) Aaah!

Tuesday 13th

Today: down Les Merriennes, up Steam Mill Lane, down St Peter's Valley, Havilland Vale and along Les Hubits de Haut.

There weren't too many people in along Les Merriennes, disappointingly. Time is running short and there probably won't be time to back-track.

Stopped in to Cathy Best's jewellers and started getting a bit peckish when I arrived at Douit de la Porte. Gave my campaign manager a call and she stopped off to drop off a Senner's cornish pasty for me. I spotted her coming along the road as I was talking to Mrs Waterman who kindly offered me a seat with a view and a cup of tea for lunch. :-)

Interesting to talk to Mrs Travers at Honeysuckle Farm and later to Tom Lees, Mr & Mrs Coles and Mr Palmer along Les Hubits de Haut. Plenty of ideas and encouragement from all quarters.

I'm hoping to finish St Martins by the end of the week, so 8 hours on the streets today - get home exhausted...

Wednesday 14th

A beautiful day! In the words of the master, God is in his heaven and all is right with the world.

There is also light at the end of the walking the parish tunnel. I think I can finish off St Martins by friday evening and concentrate on St Andrews Sat-Tues. Not a lot, perhaps, but I thought I had better focus on home first. I have learnt a lot from this experience, not least about the various inhabitants and districts of St Martins. It's quite surprising how each little bit seems to have its own character.


Sam

You may have noticed that the weblog is getting a bit more succinct. That's because it's quite a time-consuming thing to do, especially if you leave it for more than 24 hours and end up having to do 3 days at once, as I'm doing now. I'll have try to keep it shorter...

I work my way along Les Traudes and spend an interesting 10 minutes with Sam Clapp listening to some of his stories of his time working in in the house as Greffier. After that, today is finishing off around Les Hubits and Blanche Pierre Lane then along the Fort Rd towards Les Riches.

Francis Quin, Janine Le Sauvage and Bill Bell are all out today and at the Ambassador Hotel, I'm their 4th visitor. Interesting to see that all the old hands are the ones putting in the biggest effort - at least in this part of the district!

There are some stunning properties along the Fort Rd. Sort of semi- urban. Town-house-ish sort of places. Most of the people along here seem to have English surnames, with some notable exceptions - like Peter de Sausmarez! :-)

Hustings is looming - tomorrow night is the big one. Even though politics isn't nearly as combative here as it is in the UK, I can't help being a bit nervous. I have been trying to prune the 5 minute speech which I wrote for the mock hustings down to 2 minutes for tomorrow. The chairman is Dudley Jehan and he has informed us all how strict he is planning to be with timings.

Down to the Captains to meet Aidan only to find Francis Quin there holding court in, as he calls it, "The Quin Arms". Which is a bit of a cheek! I've been going in there for the last 18 years too! He tells me that John Gollop is running a book on the election - and that he thinks I might just sneak in at 6th place. Sounds good, if somewhat less than a glorious victory, to me!

Thursday 15th
Hustings - St Martins School - 7pm

Another lovely day on the roads. The weather is making this a real pleasure, though I can't help noticing that I've made a serious impact on what was once a very nice pair of shoes! :-)

Today I start along Le Vallon and around to Le Mont Durand (the lesser known one!). It's a beautiful day and the view from the cliffs is spectacular. One family house in particular is set in such a beautiful spot - and it's not one of these designed, spotless mansions. It's got a boat and surfboards in the garden and a bit dog. Nice - friendly. Sadly, the surf vote has already been cast by post.

Lunch sees me popping out to pick up a comfortable chair on which to sit whilst I write my weblog. Aaah - that's better!

La Route des Blanches - heading towards Jerbourg from Le Riches in the afternoon (there is some inconsiderate driving along here! not through malice, but through thoughtlessness.) and down Les Maindoneaux which is altogether more peaceful. Everyone seems friendly and there is a lovely relaxed summer atmosphere growing.

I finish at the top of Calais Lane and head back home, unknowingly leaving my (important!) house list on a garden wall. Ooops! I have to confess that I drive back to pick it up after having a cup of tea and a slice of gauche. Lazy, but it's the hustings tonight!

When I get back again, there is only time to dust off my best suit polish my shoes and put the finishing touches to my speech which ends up running 10 seconds longer than the 2 minute limit. I don't feel particularly hungry... :-)

I pick up a bag full of manifestos, check my flies and head out to walk down to St Martins school...

I was surprised not to be as nervous as I had thought I would be. That's not to say that I actually enjoyed the experience, but it wasn't quite the ordeal I had expected. Thanks to Anne Robilliard, though, for her mock hustings a few weeks back. They at least gave me an idea of what to expect.

Prior to the meeting, all the candidates were gathered for the first time for a short briefing by Dudley Jehan. He had arranged the running order very fairly and promised to be strict about the time limit. My speech would run a little over the 2 minutes allowed, but nothing could be done now.

We walked into the hall and assumed our seats - in alphabetical order. I was to the right of the chair and (I noticed) I could see Dudley's list of running order. The thing I feared most was having to answer a difficult question first, without the benefit of even a couple of minutes thinking time. Perhaps rather cheekily, I sneaked a peek and noticed that I would have to answer question 6 first.

The hall was packed to the gunnels - at least 300 people! By the time we started at 7 sharp, as well as the sitting electors, there was a sizeable mob in the hallway and a few voters enjoying the balmy evening air and sunshine in the playground and listening through the open windows and doors.

Speeches came first and I had been drawn to answer last. 13th. So there was quite a wait. The new candidates had prepared speeches of one kind or another - the old hands just winged it! I suppose they are used to that kind of thing.

When Mike Torode, the old blusterer sounded up, Dudley forgot to press start on his timer and I felt obliged to give him a little nudge to remind him. :-)

Mine went OK - and, I think, was better structured than many. Also, benefitting from being last, I got a boost from the final round of applause effect. :-) 45 minutes on the clock and 1hr, 45min remaining. Crikey! Questions next...

The first question was, predicatbly, about euthanasia. There was an audible groan but I wasn't worried - hardly a googlie to open the bowling! There was an almost universal unequivocal rejection by the candidates. It won't happen in Guernsey and has already become a tired issue.

We proceeded at top speed - about 12 minutes of answers per question. Questions about: housing for young Guerns, a nasty one from Talmai Morgan about the evolution of the finance industry (which was surely a personal test!) and, sixth, the question I would have to answer first. I leant forward to pay attention...

Dudley had selected a real old Guernsey gent out in the playground, attired in his Guernsey and a navy blue fisherman's cap. He leant in the window and asked: "Wot dos the panel think about the issue of paid parkin?" Ah - home turf! I answered clearly, but perhaps not on top form. Seems I had made it!

Perhaps the only notable event after that was the moment when a tall member of the audience at the back of the hall leant on a light switch and switched off the stage lights. Phew! Pity they insisted on turning them back on - I kind of liked it like that. A bit more informal.

At about 9p, time seemed to take on a whole sluggish new nature - which I'm sure Albert Einstein would have made something of. A whole new aspect of time dilation, perhaps. My attention started to drift a little, and the whole thing got a little sticky. The last question came as something of a relief and I could only regret that I had had to answer rather seriously. Perhaps they could have arranged a nice, light-hearted little number from some stooge in the audience to round off proceeding, a la BBC's "Question Time".

IMHO, those who came off best were:

Good efforts from all the rest, perhaps with the exception of John McQuaige's t-shirt - not such a good idea for the electorate of the South East!

Ideas for next time:

Aidan, his sister/chauffeur, Laura and I retired to the Captains for a well deserved drink. Francis Quin and John Cleal were down there too. Aaah. A pint of bitter and, to relax, a nice long chat... about politics! Surely the curse of the politician - being unable to stop talking about it!

Friday 16th

Head out towards Jerbourg, feeling a lot more relaxed than of late! I head down Calais Lane. Everyone is in, it seems, many more people are smiling this morning, having seen me last night, and many more people want to chat.

As I round the corner, I meet a 12 year old girl I had bumped into the day before at the top of the road. She cycles along the road - looking out for traffic, I hope!

As I say hello, a car hoves into view containing what appears to be a couple of gangsters & a moll travelling incognito. As they hove closer, I recognise my boardin buddy, Major G. Excellent - he is over to say a fond farewell to Gsy before heading off to take up a very high powered executive position on the pioneering shores of Canada.

It turns out that he and his girlfriend and friend R are heading up to the Auberge at Jerbourg for lunch. I can't resist the invitation and spend another 40 minutes before pedalling off for what turns out to be a 2 hour lunch. Lovely sunny day, good food and a glass or two - or was it 3? - of wine. :-)

The doors seem to be going even more slowly when I get back to Calais Lane. The first is with a rather charming lady who was at the hustings last night, listening to my prognostications on the benefits of smoke-free pubs and restaurants. She herself is an unrepentant smoker. :-) After a while, the weather starts to look a bit more gloomy and I realise that I probably won't be able to finish off Jerbourg, as planned, today.

Aidan is in touch during the day to ask whether I would like to take out an advert in The Press. The price fluctuates for a couple of hours but I finally plump for a few column inches at 70.

By 5.30 there is a regular downpour underway, I take refuge under a leylandi hedge and I call for the marines. Get me out of here!

A quite evening materialises. My cousin is visiting and, after t him back to his hotel around 10pm, I drop into the Venture Inn to catch up with my Canadian Holiday Boarding Buddies. This means that my plans to catch up with the weblog are postponed a little...

Saturday 17th
Back to Jerbourg Meet T for lunch Mr Chilcott Tyre for bike Evening out with Marco

The plan was to start early and get Jerbourg done before lunch and carry on with as much of Le Brigade Rd and Bailiff's Cross Road as possible in the afternoon...

So it was a partial success. I managed to reach the L'Auberge by lunchtime and headed down to Jerbourg to meet T for lunch. Without waxing all poetic on you, I can tell you that the combination of the cool breeze, panoramic view and warm spring sunshine combined to make one glad to be a Guern. All this accompanied by a cuppa tea, sarnies and a pork pie, sitting on a south-facing bench. 10/10!

T went for a walk whilst I back-tracked to finish off the road. When I had reached the end of La Moye, I would be finished on the roads of St Martins. My last house was Paul Chilcott's Les Pres de Jerbourg which I reached about 3.30pm. I suppose we chatted for half an hour. I was enjoying the sense of achievement at having visited nearly every house on the electoral role and Mr Chilcott regaled me with tales of the IDC. It seems he has some experience. No time now but I make a mental note to visit his open garden later in the season.

By the time I had bought a new tyre for my bike (worn out, like my shoes), got home, had a cup of tea and a look at the map and walking list, it was getting on for 5pm so I postponed the start of St Andrews until tomorrow.

Evening spent with Major G and his friends in the Cock & Bull. Not a half-measure of a leaving do...

Sunday 18th

... which was reflected in my general health and well-being the next day. In fact, so much for the plan to start on St Andrews this morning! As it happens, it was raining, so I felt justified in spending a couple of hours over lunch visiting people who had helped me out one way or another over the last few weeks, including the Fallas and their entertaining kids, Ben Morgan and family and Alice from the BBC.

In the middle of which, I had an interview with Rosie Alsopp from The Guernsey Press. All fired up with ideas, I let her have it with both barrels. She was trying to paint me as an anti-car fanatic so I had to correct her, but gave her my theory about the small cars for young drivers - in which she didn't seem particularly interested! :-) In fact, the thrust of her argument was "the experience of the younger candidates", to be published on the day after the election. I kept firing it at her a la Jimmy Rabbitte in The Commitments, to what effect, I have yet to learn!

After that, I put in a solid hour and a half in the April showers along Le Brigade Rd, to kick off my St Andrews campaign. It seems at first glance that the people here are more inquisitive that the St Martins crowd, less enthusiastic. Perhaps it the fact that they feel rather under threat of being overwhelmed by their larger neighbour, perhaps it was the wet weather, perhaps it was my ragged hangover and bicycle-in-the-rain appearance. :-)

An educated friend of mine is a keen croquet player and we had made a tentative plan to play later this afternoon. When we confirmed our plans, the sun was shining; by the time we arrived at Sausmarez Pk and set up the pitch, it was looking a bit less inviting, after 6 hoops we were sheltering under a tree, drinking beer, eating the last of my Canadian Beef Jerky and speculating about how long the current downpour would last. But finish it did - giving J the opportunity, despite a last-ditch fight back, to beat me 18-11.

Admin in the eveing - trying to catch up with the weblog as usual! Gotta love it! It probably averages out at about a hour per day. I really don't know whether it'll be sustainable if I get in... I have also had a lot of mickey taking from distant friends who have been used to a more amusing and perhaps more racey style in my previous writings. Who is the audience of this diary? Perhaps I should aim to recount only one incident a day but make it interesting...

Still, even facts are interesting in retrospect - and you can't complain about the photos!

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