With all due respect, ma'am


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Oceans and Seas » Atlantic » Saint Helena
October 7th 2012
Published: October 7th 2012
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With all due respect, Ma’am



If you have given any thought to your South Atlantic correspondent, you might have imagined him sitting in the shade of a banyan tree, wearing a strong fedora and sipping long gin and tonics to keep cool. Well, it hasn’t been quite like that – the weather has been damp, cloudy and cool for the past three months and, looking out of my window this Sunday morning, today doesn’t look set to be the first day of spring. Apparently there is a distinction to be made between a ‘tropical island’ and ‘an island in the tropics’. You will undoubted know which of these categories Saint Helena comfortably sits in. When I write ‘damp, cloudy and cool’ I might have written ‘wet, foggy and cold’ for, during the last couple of weeks, the weather has been rather bleak. On 2 days this week the low cloud was so completely encompassing that, from the verandah at Harford School, it looked as though the whole of Sugar Loaf Ridge, Flagstaff, Knotty Ridge and the Barn (massive hills all over 2000’ high) had been erased as it looked as if I were staring into grey and blank horizon. Well, winter officially ended on 21st September; so I’m looking forward to a change soon as those sweltering days with blue skies that welcomed me to the island in April seem something of a distant memory.



Well, what news? On a personal front I have continued with the skittles, music programme and ballroom dancing. The skittles season is just about over, with just the knock out competition to keep us going on those late Monday evenings. You might recall that my team, ‘The Alcometers’, had something of a sticky start to the season. Indeed, we confounded the views of all commentators on the sport (I think that is probably just me) by continuing in that absurd vein of form as we have an immaculate record for the season:

The final league standings show this:


<table class="MsoNormalTable" style="border-collapse: collapse; border: none; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-yfti-tbllook: 1184; mso-padding-alt: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-border-insideh: .5pt solid windowtext; mso-border-insidev: .5pt solid windowtext;" border="1" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"><tbody><tr><td style="width: 60.8pt; border: solid windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
Team</td><td style="width: 60.8pt; border: solid windowtext 1.0pt; border-left: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
Played</td><td style="width: 60.8pt; border: solid windowtext 1.0pt; border-left: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
Won</td><td style="width: 60.85pt; border: solid windowtext 1.0pt; border-left: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
Tied</td><td style="width: 60.85pt; border: solid windowtext 1.0pt; border-left: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
Lost</td><td style="width: 60.85pt; border: solid windowtext 1.0pt; border-left: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
Points</td><td style="width: 60.85pt; border: solid windowtext 1.0pt; border-left: none; mso-border-left-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
P/F</td></tr><tr><td style="width: 60.8pt; border: solid windowtext 1.0pt; border-top: none; mso-border-top-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
Alcometers</td><td style="width: 60.8pt; border-top: none; border-left: none; border-bottom: solid windowtext 1.0pt; border-right: solid windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-top-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-left-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
14</td><td style="width: 60.8pt; border-top: none; border-left: none; border-bottom: solid windowtext 1.0pt; border-right: solid windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-top-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-left-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
0</td><td style="width: 60.85pt; border-top: none; border-left: none; border-bottom: solid windowtext 1.0pt; border-right: solid windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-top-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-left-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
0</td><td style="width: 60.85pt; border-top: none; border-left: none; border-bottom: solid windowtext 1.0pt; border-right: solid windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-top-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-left-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
14</td><td style="width: 60.85pt; border-top: none; border-left: none; border-bottom: solid windowtext 1.0pt; border-right: solid windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-top-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-left-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
0</td><td style="width: 60.85pt; border-top: none; border-left: none; border-bottom: solid windowtext 1.0pt; border-right: solid windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-top-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-left-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; mso-border-alt: solid windowtext .5pt; padding: 0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;" valign="top" width="61">
6639</td></tr></tbody></table>
Now I don’t know what ‘P/F’ stands for but, clearly, it’s better to have a higher ‘P/F’ than a lower P/F. Actually, the Hazards who are just above us in the table with 4 victories have a lower ‘P/F’ than we do, so there might be some opportunity for greater success next season. Well, who knows, we might emerge as knock-out champions!



The game of skittles – as you will well know – is an extremely simple game as nothing changes. The alley remains constant in length, the 9 skittles stand in exactly the same and correct positions, the pink balls are the same ones that were used last time, weather conditions scarcely make a difference in the sheltered alley – so why can’t we get good scores every throw. I sometimes think that some of my team mates might not quite see the end of the alley or, if they do, might see rows of dancing skittles that are difficult to aim at. Concluding this section on my sporting activity I will quote from this week’s ‘The Sentinel’, “In the second match, Who Cares …… beat Alcometers with Mike Theobalds top scoring with 58’. Now, you probably read about this in The Times, The Daily Telegraph or The Sun – but just in case the news hasn’t travelled so far and so fast, I thought it best to keep you informed.



Now, for news of my broadcasting career – I continue with my Tuesday stint of supporting Mike Dean with the Pop Goes Classic’ programme where we cleverly intertwine pop with classical music – hence the witty title of the programme. The station that we broadcast on is Radio St Helena that is winding its way down to closure at Christmas – to be taken over by the young and thrusting St Helena Broadcasting (guarantee) Corporation Ltd that, as you will remember is planning to open 3 FM radio stations to compliment its newspaper arm of its operations (The Sentinel). However, this is emerging as a (if not the) political and personal story of the island. In the UK the Leveson enquiry has been digging into dirty trick stories and will, presumably, come up with some recommendations about official means to secure press standards through a code of conduct. Here on St Helena (remember, a population of 4000 only) there are 2 media organizations – the afore-mentioned SHBC that has received funding to establish a modern service to match the anticipated post-airport island re-generation and, secondly, the ‘Independent’/St Helena FM organization headed by Swedish ex patriot Mike Olsen. Now, Mike has always enjoyed the reputation of being a thorn in the flesh of anything that could loosely be described as being the ‘establishment, if not the unofficial opposition to the non-political party elected Council.



This week, things have stepped up. Mike Olsen and his gang of correspondents have made an indirect (but incredibly unsubtle) association between the amount of money being used to set up SHBC and the limited amount of money being made available to the hospital and the ‘unprecedented’ number of deaths that have been recorded this year. We are asked, I suggest, to draw a line that will join this subsidy to causation of deaths – some dodgy statistics I would guess. Alongside this there is the editorial in ‘The Sentinel’ that suggests that someone out there (and ‘out there’ on St Helena is not very big) is causing some difficulties with the editor writing about ‘a most disturbing character assassination attempt on me’ which has ‘left me sick to my stomach’. The editor is now ‘questioning himself on whether the whole venture is worth the personal sacrifice’. Watch this space. This little island surrounded by the South Atlantic has its own political dimension – small in scale but, apparently equally venal to that in the UK.



I won’t go into the details of the Traditional Industries Campaign’ except to say that it is a well organized campaign to resurrect interest and ambition (particularly amongst the youth) in the traditional industries that are modernizing and will continue to be the main economic thrust of the island’s regeneration. The opening of the campaign was slick, well organized and full of pace – T-shirts, wrist-bands, balloons, slide shows and music interspersed by a number of (fortunately) brief speeches. The central speech, of course, was given by the Governor who in, conclusion, drew from somewhere on his person a large framed photograph of the Queen that he wished to present to the school. The frame had been especially made by an island craftsman who had used some local wood – hence the TIC connection. This was introduced with some style with the expectation that someone (the headteacher, one presumes) would climb the stage and gratefully receive this good (if rather stern image of Her Majesty). We waited, and nothing happened. No one climbed the stage and the Governor was left standing with the Queen fiercely looking on at her island’s representative. Seconds of silence passed, still no movement. Left to his own devices, the Governor then propped the framed photograph up against the legs of a table on the stage – every new person giving a presentation seemed to give the table a nudge as she/he walked on the wooden stage. I hoped upon hope (as I saw a witty TV sketch in the story) that eventually the photograph would slide or drop to the stage but unfortunately, much like the Alcometers skittles campaign, we were all left rather disappointed.

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7th October 2012

Broken silence
Good to hear your news. You'd been so quiet that I thought Di had spirited your laptop back to Blightly! We await the next episode of Radio Wars with eager anticipation.

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