Where’s Che Guevara?
My last 2012 blog from St Helena so I need to keep you up to date with events on the South Atlantic isle.
Well, the weather reminds me very much of summer in England. A glorious, blue-sky day with a wonderfully comfortable temperature brings us out in our summer best – both clothing and temperamentally. We look forward to the summer and have a notion of what the next few months are going to be like. Only to be confounded by the reality of tomorrow – cloud, a very gentle shower and only the merest glimpse of blue sky. ‘This is the worst summer since, well I don’t know when…’ – sound familiar. Truth be told, the summer has been a bit of a disappointment so far – at least its warm but the absence of blue skies and moaning about it being too warm is getting to be regular.
What is strange for someone from the Northern Hemisphere is to be told that it’s not typical Christmas weather yet – of course not, it’s not gloomy, grey, damp and cold – with perhaps the promise of snow. Like most of the world, my view of Christmas has been formed, not by my own experience, but the faux reality of Charles Dickens and Hollywood – with all the trimmings of Christmas cards and Christmas songs. We try dreadfully hard to summon up this notion of Christmas – for months on end. The street decorations are up in Main Street and on houses across the island – snowmen, winter scenes and Santa with his sleigh are everywhere to be seen. Robins are everywhere with their proud red breasts – I don’t know what the wirebird would do if it actually come up against one of these bright but bossy creatures.
I must say, as one who doesn’t look forward especially to the festive season, that Jamestown at night looks and feels seasonal – in a southern hemisphere way. Wednesday evening’s festival of light was bright, lively and vivacious and reminds us of that complex and curious cultural heritage of the island – UK with more than a slice of African spice.
Tuesday evening saw the last of the radio broadcasts from yours truly and Jean for, when I return to the island in January, the radio station will be no more. It seems rather sad but, I guess, time must move on even out here. We’ve had great fun and we have developed a small but loyal following.
A few blogs ago I mentioned the political background to the island. Well, things are still simmering with one of the island’s newspapers having a real go this week and promoting the division between SH Government (SHG) and the interests of islanders. One of the realities is that SHG is a democratic reality of sorts with a council elected by Saints on the electoral roll. However, turnouts at recent elections have been dreadfully low and reflect a belief (in my opinion) that the Council is mainly a rubber stamp mechanism for the executive arm of the government. The vast majority of people working in the government are, of course, Saints whilst most of the key roles are held by UK-based ex-pats. The newspaper this week is vitriolic in its criticism of named government officials – all of whom, the paper claims, doing jobs that Saints could do, far more efficiently and at a fraction of the cost. There is no political opposition and it seems, increasingly that this role is being taken on by (frequently un-named) writers to the local press. What is their point – it’s not clear to me – as it seems to be based on sharp criticism but without a view of what should be in its place. The criticism is more open, sharp and personal and I can’t see things improving in the near future.
My case is packed and, in a couple of hours, I am due to embark for a 5-day cruise on the RMS to St Helena. I’m looking forward very much to a couple of weeks with family and friends (with snow, sleighs and Bing Crosby of course!). I shall be returning for my last few weeks (my contract, not my life, I trust) in the New Year and will continue my messages from the island – who knows, revolution may be in the air – but I think that is most unlikely
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