Rangers 2—0 Celtic.

Rangers 2—0 Celtic.

I was confident about this one. Couldn’t see Celtic getting beaten. I’m daft that way. Our first trophy-less season since 2009-10. All the bad habits we picked up this season are back again. Stephen Welsh after his new contract mistimed his first two challenges. He wiped out Ryan Kent after he turned away from Brown in midfield and drove at the defence. Diego Laxalt was too easily beaten by Joe Aribo and his cross scuffed off Ayer and Steve Davis, who never scorers goals, never gets forward, scored with an overhead kick to put Rangers one up after 19 minutes. Celtic responded with sustained pressure. Edouard had a shot saved a minute later, perhaps he should have scored (how often do we say that?) Christie had a shot saved. Forest wasn’t fit enough for the bench. Christie wasn’t good enough for the team.  McGregor made a run and was unlucky with his shot. Then from a corner on 23 minutes Welsh ghosted in, a tug from Helmand, but from three yards out the ball hit his heel and he should have scored. Should have—could have—epitomised much of Celtic’s season. Ayer missed the rebound. Patterson on the right was perhaps the most attacking player on the pitch in the first half. He created the second goal, jinking to the bye line and cutting the ball back.  Jo-Jo Kenny puts it into his own net. Game over. Kenny is never Celtic class. His loan deal isn’t as big a disaster as Shane Duffy’s because he’s not on massive wages and we didn’t incur a loan fee (at least, I hope not), but the only pass Kenny makes is backwards. Poor. Poor. Poor. Soft centred Celtic concede at every turn of Ryan Kent’s hips.  

Rangers had a few chances in the second half. Kent turned away from Brown and got a shot away. The rebound fell to Morelos who shot straight at Bain. Morelos should have picked up his usual booking for pushing Elyounoussi, just before the Rangers centre-forward was taken off by Gerard.

Celtic should have scored three goals, or more. Patterson gave away the ball to Edouard who jinked inside the box. He laid it off to Elyounoussi, whose first touch was poor and fired the ball off McGregor from eight yards. The rebound fell to Edouard who missed it.

With ten minutes to go, Edouard took a poor free kick, which hit the wall. Griffiths got in front of the defender and was pushed. Penalty and a dog’s chance for Celtic. Griffiths wants to hit it, but Edouard is having none of it. The French man misses. A poor return from him this season. The quicker he goes the better.

Christie who was invisible in this match, was subbed for Griffiths, who had a half-chance in the 92nd minute for a consolation goal. But there’s no consolation here.

Celtic’s season is finished. John Kennedy’s period as interim manager should be coming to an end. All the deadwood and loan players should be sent back—with a no-thankyou note. Everything that could go right has gone right for Rangers this season. And Celtic have done nothing right. No defence for their defence. Missed chances galore. Reserve team players should play the remaining matches, starting against Aberdeen on Wednesday. We need to start preparing for the Champions League qualifiers. Next season begins now.

Edouard should go too. The Frenchman has unfortunately depreciated in value. He missed at least two chances against Rangers at Parkhead. A hat-trick of chances today (including a penalty miss). The list goes on and on of who should go. It’s more difficult to pick who should stay. Build the team around Turnball, that’s obvious.

Ayer embarrassed us the way he went down injured today. Big girl’s blouse springs to mind. That’s an old-fashioned term. But he’s a new-fangled defender at six-foot-five that can’t head a ball and can’t defend. Take the money for him and run.  

A poor Rangers team have the bragging rights. Favourites to win the Scottish cup. But Hibs can beat them. Funny that. Me backing the Edinburgh team.   

Charles Egan (2017) Cold Is the Dawn

When people talk about literary merit, I wander away to the pub to have a pint. Since the pubs are closed, and I get smashed by a snifter of poitin, or indeed three pints, perhaps slightly more (when I’m watching Celtic) I’ll hang about. Literary merit is just a fancy way of asking if you liked the book. I don’t finish books I don’t like. Cold Is the Dawn is 427 pages. So you do the maths of how much I liked it.

If like me, you have a manuscript (or indeed manuscripts) lying about in various stages of distress then you note who publishes them. Cold Is The Dawn is published by SilverWood Books. I had a look at their business model. They help self-publishing authors publish. Something I’ve been thinking about. I know it’s not meant to be funny, but point 11 of Frequently Asked Questions: I’m publishing my book to make a profit—is that a good idea?

https://www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk/faq

You know when Oliver Hardy pokes Stan Laurel in the eye (you need to be a certain age to remember Laurel and Hardy) and stamps on his toe, then they accidentally bump heads with a knocking sound. And then they sing The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, by the trail of the lonesome pine, because it makes more sense than I’m publishing my book to make a profit—is that a good idea?   

I guess a book deal with SilverWood Books costs an author around £10 000. An Unbound Book costs much the same. That’s the market rate if you’ve got that kind of dosh. So Charles Egan invested his cash, put his money down as an investment in literary merit. What did he get for his money?

The cover of a group of miners (if that’s what they are) staring at the camera, with the superimposed image of an older man in a flat bunnet looking on—passable. The white font of white on black for the author’s name and the title of the novel stands out. The reader is told it’s ‘A novel of Irish Exile and the Great Irish Famine’.

The Irish Holocaust interests me, because I’m part Irish and I’m thinking of writing about it. The current population of Ireland is almost five million, with more citizens living in Dublin, than all of the other areas combined.  https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ireland-population/ If we go back to the 1960s the Irish population dipped under three million.

Ian Gibson writes in the foreword The Great Famine, Ireland’s Potato Famine 1845-51, that out of a population of around eight million people, about a million people died, and around another one-and-a-half million emigrated, but there were no exact figures, and this is likely to be an underestimate. Many of the poorest weren’t registered and included in official data. They did not live in Dublin and were wholly dependent on the potato crops.

Charles Egan’s way into carrying the weight of such history is by concentrating on Luke Ryan’s extended family and their fortune in the aftermath of the potato blight. County Mayo, where Michael and Eleanor, Luke’s mum and dad, have a farm and quarry was one of the hardest hit regions in Ireland.

This is home territory, for Luke’s wife Winnie and their son, Liam, before they sail across the Atlantic to join Luke in New York and later Pennsylvania, where the couple starve in the new world.

Luke’s younger brother, Pat, is the bridge to England. Irish farmworkers often made the journey across the water to help harvest crops in England and send money home to pay the rent to rapacious landowners. But Pat returns to Mayo to work compiling reports on the effects of the famine.  This allows the reader to travel with him as he charts the impact of ‘The Exterminator’, Mayo’s largest landlord, Lord Lucan as he cleared the land he owned of tenants.

In the Preface, Egan tells the reader of the Railway’s boom and bust.

‘Of the estimated two hundred thousand navvies working on the railway construction in 1847, one hundred thousand were without work by the middle of 1848. For labour contractors on the railways, many of them Irish, this was an excellent opportunity to exploit hungry Irish workers.’

Egan places his characters in the middle of this moral quagmire. Luke’s aged Uncle Murty Ryan (he’s around my age) works on the construction of the English railroads. But to begin with he works as a clerk. Murty Ryan’s eldest son Danny is a contractor, hiring and firing Irish labour, shipped in directly from the workhouse in Mayo. And shipped back home by Bradford and Liverpool workhouses when they were no longer needed. They regarded Irish people as a pestilence and a plagued nation. But relief efforts were a fraction of the sum spent on The Crimean War.

Egan makes use of news reports to add ballast to his fiction. London, Morning Chronicle in November 1848, for example, reported, as an opinion piece that might  have been written by a Nigel Farage of yesteryear.  ‘We say therefore that we grudge the immense sums which we appear likely that we have to pay this year to Irish Unions very much indeed, because we know that it will be thrown into a bottomless pit, and because we feel that money, thus wasted, would be better in removing them than feeding in idleness the people of Mayo—in getting rid of the burden, than in perpetuating it.’

Murty Ryan’s eldest son, Danny had established a foothold in the railway construction business, before he committed suicide. An Irish man he was an exploiter of his fellow man. Something Murty abhorred. When his youngest son steps into his elder brother’s shoes he proves even more ruthless. He pays them even less than Danny and charges them rent for shacks. He pays them in script that can only be exchanged in company shops. In other words, Murtybeg is a good businessman that exploits needy labour. In modern parlance, he creates jobs for his fellow countrymen.

A subplot involves Murtybeg being played off by Irene, who claimed to be his elder brother’s common-law wife, and therefore in control of the company they created. Murtybeg, being merely a paid employee. He gets an immediate rise in pay of three shillings a week, but his workload increases accordingly. Irish navvies working for the company make do with a shilling a week. Murtybeg is both exploiter and exploited by Irene, but he’s far above the Irish navvy class. He’s almost gentry.  Facing off against Irene to take control of the company Murtybeg seeks legal advice. It’s not Charles Dickens Jarndyce and Jarndyce, (a book I haven’t read) but the way in which it was resolved had me thinking of another novelist. Emile Zola’s La Terre had a woman raped and falling in love with her rapist, which in a different era tied up plot points.

Exploitation takes many forms. Egan’s novel runs on rails and touches on the horrific and short lives that many lived, with children under ten, for example, working in Bradford mills, or pushing coal trucks in the fictional town of Lackan in Pennsylvania, where Luke holes up with Winnie and their child. His novel spans the old world and the new industrial order. It touches on the historical events such as cholera epidemics, fever epidemics, typhus epidemics, repeal of The Corn Laws, the rise in trade union activity, and the search for universal suffrage. The Molly Maguires get a walk on part, as does the less secretive Hibernian associations that tried to the poor Irish, especially those landing in New York harbour and fresh off the boat for exploitation.

Much of the novel relies on conversations between characters to carry the narrative. And like many modern novels can read more like a screenplay. Egan’s problem is characterisation. Luke Ryan, for example, has two lives. One in New York and in Pennsylvania. His backstory about being a gaffer and hated, because he had the power of life and death during an earlier famine, and the rate-funded road-building programme is relevant and stands out. But I couldn’t pick Luke Ryan out in a police line-up. I don’t know what he looks like. His friends and companions, say six in each region are interchangeable doodles. Different clothes, same person. Similarly, major characters such as Pat, Murtybeg, or Murty also carry the weight of another six, sometimes more, minor characters that are also doodles. Egan in going for greater breadth of worlds has given his characters less depth.

Pat, for example, slaps the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle. Carlyle’s eugenic views were on par with ‘The Great Protector’ Oliver Cromwell, who was sure it pleased God that his troops had massacred 3000 men, women and children at Drogheda, with only a handful escaping.  Carlyle may have been in Mayo. Few would argue he needed slapped (add the moron’s moron Donald Trump and Nigel Farage to my list, fling in anyone that identifies as One-NationTory) but Carlyle seems smoke and air, and little of substance.  Where I  overwrite my characters, Egan underwrites.

Charles Egan has tapped into the Irish holocaust and the cultural heritage of The Great Famine at home and abroad. It did change the new worlds. Around 40 million Americans with Irish roots and the current President Joe Biden brings that message home. Capitalism in its rawest form and xenophobia combined. Somehow it seems a familiar tale of rich men and poor men, only one group dying of hunger, labour fodder for the new industrial age. I’m sure with global warming, the worst is yet to come.

Marita Conlon-McKenna (1990 [2017]) Under the Hawthorn Tree.

I’ve been reading about the Irish Famine 1845-51. I’m in the privileged position of never knowing life-threatening hunger. Under the Hawthorn Tree is a children’s book and international bestseller set in 1845—200 000 copies sold in Ireland alone. A book of 150 pages, its simple sentences and style meant I could digest the book in one sitting. I’m looking for markers that make it a success where other fail, something I could make use of.

The cover by Irish artist, PJ Lynch seems bog-standard.  Author’s name in black block on the title page. Name of the story, Under the Hawthorn Tree, in white below it, where green hills meet sky, the orange roof of a white cottage and the twisted branches of (what I suppose is) a hawthorn tree. In the foreground, three children. Eily O’Driscoll, the little mother, on the cusp of adolescence with an arm around her brother Michael aged 12 and wee sister Peggy aged seven.  Covers conform to a certain genre which reassures the reader that when they open then biscuit tin there’ll be biscuits inside. The cover ticks the boxes, without standing out. Below the image of Michael carrying a sack the reader is told (an advertisement) in white font—The bestselling classic trilogy: Children of the Famine.

What draws the younger reader in? In a word, empathy. Each short chapter has a common theme. Chapter 1, for example, ‘Hunger’.

‘Mother was crooning quietly to the baby, Bridget’s eyes were closed and her soft face looked paler than ever as she lay wrapped in Mother’s shawl, her little fist clinging to a piece of long chestnut-coloured hair.’

The same long chestnut hair that Eily has on the cover. An author’s job is to put obstacles in the protagonist’s paths. The Great Famine which killed millions of Irish men, women and children, and caused millions to emigrate or starve to death is no small obstacle, but the history of a nation.’

With the potato famine and hunger, little Bridget dies of fever. She is buried under the hawthorn tree with its connotations of other worlds, but it’s also more practical. They can’t afford a proper funeral. Rent is due on the land and cottage. Mother goes to look for Father, who is working on the Work Relief road-building scheme. The children are left in care of Eily, but they run out of food and are evicted and taken in a group with others to the workhouse.

Eily engineers their escape. She believes their Mother and Father may be dead, and they must find sanctuary. It lies several days walk away, following the river towards their long lost spinster aunts their mum had rhapsodised about, who owned a cake shop in town.

They get food from a Soup Kitchen in Kineen, but that too is dangerous. ‘Soupers’ like the child snatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang want to spirit the children away and convert them into Protestants. Children were still dying from hunger in Protestant and Catholic orphanages in the 1930s. But the battle for souls was genuine, and hunger a weapon mobilised.  

The children show get-up-and-go and Michael somehow catches fish and miraculously kills a baby rabbit by throwing a stone at it. We’ll call that creative licence. The potato crop failed in autumn, but the children travel in sunshine and collect berries and fruit. Young readers expect, despite the difficulties Eily, Michael and Peggy face, they will become better people, and they will make it to a place of safety. And some of the protagonist’s fortitude will rub off on the young reader. The first part of the trilogy does what it says on the cover.

False Confessions, Amazon Prime, 2020, director Katrine Philip.

False Confessions, Amazon Prime, 2020, director Katrine Philip.

Watch False Confessions | Prime Video (amazon.co.uk)

What makes this interesting is we see footage of people who have been accused of heinous crimes—they were later proved to be innocent. We see, for example, police officers interviewing Lorenzo Montoya. He was fourteen-years-old when he walked into the police station 10th January 2000. He was convicted of the murder of Emily Johnson, a 29-year-old teacher at Skinner Middle School, and sentenced to life without parole. In the United States legal system detectives can tell lies in order to gain a conviction. One detective poses as a forensic expert and takes Montoya’s shoe away from the interview room and comes back and says it matched the blood splatter found beside Johnson’s body. Montoya confessed to the murder.

Twenty-two-year-old intern Malthe Thompson was arrested and sent to Riker’s island after he admitted sexually abusing 13 children at a Midtown pre-school in Manhattan. Detectives said they had video evidence of the offences. Thompson said he could not remember sexually abusing these children, but it must be true if they had images. In Denmark, where he was a citizen, police are not allowed to lie to suspects, and they are breaking the law if they do. Thompson died when he was twenty-seven.

Korey Wise was one of five black and Latino teenagers convicted in The Central Park jogging and rape case. I vaguely remembered this (the victim has recently outed herself and wrote a book about her experiences). Justice was swift. Police took in over fourteen suspects. Five of them admitted to the offences. Many of them, like Wise, aged 14-to-16-years old. Wise served thirteen years and eight months of his 6-15 years’ sentence on charges of sexual abuse, assault and riot. A serial rapist admitted to the crime and the boys were exonerated with the help of forensic evidence. They were paid damages.  

As usual, we have the talking heads such as former detectives such as Lieutenant Joseph La Corte who admitted that the way they went about things was simply wrong. That False Confessions weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on. The whole system was corrupt.

In Britain, we know that policemen aren’t meant to lie to suspects, but we know they do. The Guildford Four, for example, didn’t suddenly decide to admit to a pub bombing they’d no knowledge of.

Psychologist, Saul M Kasin (John Jay College of Criminal Justice) offers us clues to why this happens. We all like to think that we’d be the exception to the rule. He cites Milgram’s classic obedience study in which the overwhelming majority of subjects went ahead and tortured those experimented on when commanded by a professorial authority figure. Milgram concluded that given the right conditions American citizens would behave in a similar way to their Nazi counterparts. The moron’s moron ran a larger experiment, when the 45th United States President asked his subjects to believe that the ballot for the 46th Presidential election was rigged, and they should storm the Senate and Congress. Four United States citizens lost their lives.

Kassin suggests that confessions are highly persuasive to jurors, sometimes trumping even forensic evidence at trials. Jurors, quite simply, find it hard to believe that anyone would admit to doing something they didn’t.

Suspects such as Lorenzo Montoya and Korey Wise are often vulnerable. But they believe the opposite to jurors. If they admit their guilt, they’ll get the detectives browbeating them off their back, and then they can go home. I used such a scenario in a novel I’d written years ago. The suspects believe they are innocent and jurors will know they are innocent too. They can’t quite work out why jurors won’t believe them. And jurors can’t understand why they confessed if they were innocent. Common-sense and morality suggests not only would that be wrong, but it would be dumb. Victims of miscarriages are the poorest members of society and have little or no one to speak for them. See, for example, the case of Ruben Carter.

Kassin goes back further to the Salem witch trials of 1692. He looks at the pattern of prevalence and links it to those prisoners like Corey and Montoya who have been imprisoned because of false confections but exonerated through advances in DNA forensic evidence and suggests that figure is around 20% to 25%, but that figure may be higher in capital murder cases. A ball-park figure therefore suggests more than a quarter of those executed did not commit the crime.     

Jeffrey Deskovic, for example, was released from a New York prison on 20th September 2006. He spent 15 years inside for a murder he didn’t commit. ‘I told them what they wanted to hear’, he said. He believed the American criminal justice system would exonerate him. ‘I thought it was all going to be OK in the end’.

Even when jurors know that confessions have been coerced, they don’t believe they’ve been that coerced. They believe in the American justice system too. Detectives can’t tell who the liars are because they too are lying. Judges and jurors side with what they know. And what’s been told them by men in uniform. Nothing new here. Burn the witch. Jail the black man.

Eddie Howe for Celtic?

I always thought Eddie Howe looked like my brother’s son Kevin O’Donnell, but only one of them is Celtic daft. Kevin, no doubt, will be asked to sign autographs soon. The deal isn’t done yet, but I guess we’re about ninety-five percent certain based on recent media coverage that Howe will be the next Celtic manager. It’s not inconceivable that Howe’s first job in charge will be Rangers away at Ibrox in the Scottish Cup.

A few years ago, Howe was touted to be the next England manager. He’d brought Bournemouth up through the English second division and into the Premier League—it’s all about the money. He kept them there for a few years while playing an attractive brand of attacking football. Then there were lots of injuries to key players. I’m not saying I was watching them or him, but on Match of the Day before I fell asleep having drunk three pints (Bournemouth was always last on the programme, or thereabouts) I thought he always seemed one of the good guys. He didn’t rant and waken me up, he kept calm and told it as it was. Even when they were sinking, he was thinking ahead to the next game, the next match.

 Playing the Celtic way. The transition shouldn’t be that hard. We all know where we failed. Defensive shambles. Almost fifty percent of goals lost from free kicks of corners. No one needs reminding Morelos breaking his duck at Parkhead from a corner. Another ball lost in the air and we don’t follow the runner and Morelos scores.

Howe is a bit like Brendan Rodgers. Sport scientists and training sessions mapped out. Opposition scrutinised and video-playback evidence. Inevitably, we’ll get the usual stuff about the playing staff being fitter than before (name your own manager here from Ronny Deila on). The media will make it sound like all the other teams have someone like Jim Baxter sitting on ball, smoking a fag and drinking halfs of whisky, while playing cards with Jimmy Johnstone to decide who has to buy the next round.

Players will be fitter and game smarter. They’ll all know their position. A few wins in and we’ll get the Eddie Howe bounce.

First up, we need to beat Rangers. A Celtic team with Howe in charge will be given time if we lose at Ibrox. I think we can win. Of course, I do. I’m a Celtic fan. But I’m also a believer in luck. Celtic have been unlucky not to win the last two games against Rangers. I know we’ll hear the Rangers’ faithful bemoaning the luck Celtic had when we won the League Cup final with Christopher Julien scoring from an offside position and a world-class performance from loan-keeper Fraser Forster. Our luck was in and now it’s out.

Second up, we need to beat Rangers. Rangers have had a season where everything that can go wrong has gone right. That can’t last. While everything that can go wrong in the Celtic dugout to the players on the pitch has gone wrong. It doesn’t help, of course, wasting £20 million in dud transfers and loan signings. It was no surprise when Kieran Tierney went, which just about balances our outgoings. Just the same as it’ll be no surprise when Odsonne Edouard leaves. We want rid of him pronto. Last year of his contract and he goes for nothing. It’s not been a good season for Edouard. He doesn’t score enough goals for me, or Celtic. A great Celtic striker should hit 40 a season, but I’d settle for 30. 20 goals or less is a very poor return. I don’t think he’s got it in him to make it as a top-class striker, and really, I don’t care, when he’s gone, he’s gone. I wish him well. But Celtic need to cash in now.

Similarly, Kristopher Ajer has been told by his Norwegian coaches, he needs to move to a better league. I agree. Cash in now, he’s overrated.  He’s great on the ball. And I’d keep him. But a Celtic defender also needs to be good in the air, as well as being mobile. Ajer loses too many balls in the air. The up-and-coming Stephen Welsh, is smaller, not as quick and better in the air, but still loses out to big, physical players. Perhaps playing with Julien, he’ll be better. I’m optimistic that way, but my preference would be for someone like Nathan Ake.

The deadwood isn’t just in the team, but loanees. Olivier Ntcham wanted away, he got away, but nobody wants to keep him. Jack Henry, anybody? Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo?

Roy Keane was touted as a favourite for the Celtic managerial post. The job looked his. Irish connections, Celtic background and knows Dermot Desmond. In a Yes or No vote, I voted Yes for Keane. All the usual guff about he would be too hard on the players and you couldn’t do that kind of thing anymore—sheer media shite. Celtic have been rotten this year. Anyone like us that have watched every game know that. Neil Lennon wasn’t too hard on them. He wasn’t too soft on them. We lost too many goals. Missed too many chances and Neil Lennon kept asking for more time, even when it was obvious his time was up.

His backroom staff remain in post. John Kennedy now picks the Celtic team. He’s a bit like when Rangers had Graeme Murty as interim manager before he had a meltdown. Murty was touted as the next great thing, just as Kennedy was favourite to get the Celtic top job. The idea of continuity.

Continuity of losing goals and losing games. Kennedy can leave any time, or he can go back to coaching the Under-23 team. From top to bottom, the rot has set in. I’d rather he wasn’t there, especially as a defensive coach his failings are on the pitch. Great Celtic teams should have players waiting to come through. Like shark’s teeth, when one goes another, like David Turnbull, should be ready to add a bit of bite to the team.

The major problem with Kennedy and Roy Keane to a lesser extent is they’re out of the loop. Eddie Howe with all his training notebooks and analysis of training methods lets him see a broader range of players. You couldn’t for example tell Jock Stein about any up-and- coming player in Scottish football. He already knew and had been to see him. He knew where they’d fit in with the Celtic way. 99.9% didn’t. Eddie Howe will have players in mind that he’ll bring in. I’m guessing that’s how we’ve took so long to announce him as manager. He want’s assurances about how big a budget he’ll have to spend. He’s not going to be a Ronny Deila type manager that had no leverage about who was brought into the club. Most great Celtic player leave. We’re a selling club. I look across at Ibrox and don’t see any of their players as worth buying. And I’m not buying into the media coverage that next year is an interregnum year and if we lose the league it doesn’t matter. One-in-a-row matters as much as ten-in-a-row. We’ve got to start somewhere. Win at Ibrox. Get us into the promised land of football riches, The Champions League. Win the league next year. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Couldn’t be easier, Howe? I’ve already told you.

The Men Who Stare at Goats, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, screenplay by Peter Straughan, adapted from a book by Jon Ronson, and directed by Grant Heslov.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00xhf50/the-men-who-stare-at-goats

In many ways this is George Clooney’s creation. He’s listed as one of the producers. Producers are the guys (and it is usually men) who get the money together to make a movie. Because he’s George Clooney he can do that kind of thing. Other people will fling money at him, because it’s a no-lose situation, a film starring George Clooney is bound to make money, and if it’s any good, it’ll make a lot of money, but the stars need to be aligned.

George Clooney stars with different haircuts and uniforms, but the same sugary smile he’s perfected over the years. His character Lyn Skip Cassady is ex-American army, and there are flashbacks to the time when the US military set up a shadowy organisation to create psychic warriors and conquer hearts and minds by making love, not war. Army maverick Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) led them to places they couldn’t have dreamed. Bridges re-jigs his role as The Dude, but in army military bases.  But The Men Who Stare at Goats is much more fun than The Big Lebowski. I laughed  aloud several times, and that doesn’t usually happen unless an old woman falls in front of a truck after jumping over a skipping rope.

We know all this because Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) tells us about his journey with Cassady on the road to enlightenment in an Iraq that is being liberated or conquered by American troops (depending on your point of view). There’s the realist tone Umberto Eco adopts in his masterpiece Foucault’s Pendulum with the ridiculous rubbing shoulders with reality. Cassady regrets, for example, under military orders letting his ego run wild, staring at a goat and stopping its heart. He admits that it might just have been coincidence, him staring and the bleating animal’s heart stopping, but he doesn’t believe in coincidences.

Cassady’s mission is so hush-hush, he’s not even sure what it is himself. He needs to find his former guru, The Dudeless Bill Django in a desert without road signs. The right road is often the wrong road as they are taken hostage by Islamic fundamentalists. But that’s a mere blip in Cassady’s inner radar, as Bob Wilton makes the inner journey from sceptic to true believer.

Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey) is our Judas and nemesis of free-love and free-wheeling Django and Cassady in the military and world at large. (This was before Spacey was publically shamed, some would see that as proof of the dark side. Other examples being the large numbers of cast members that died in strange circumstance after making The Omen).

Whatever—this is a great and fun movie. George Clooney has never been better as George Clooney, Ewan McGregor even gets in on the act. Well worth watching for Dude-less fans. Try it.

Superhuman: The Invisible Made Visible (2020), written and directed by Caroline Cory

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Superhuman-Invisible-Visible-Corey-Feldman/dp/B08NFDF3CL/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1WB8WK7NZV8V1&dchild=1&keywords=superhuman+the+invisible+made+visible&qid=1616946180&sprefix=superhuman%3A+the+%2Caps%2C182&sr=8-1

Writing a review is straightforward. Beginning, middle and end. Often in the shape of a triangle or baggy diamond—if you get too wordy—before you reach your conclusion. You become an expert in your field with a certain gravitas. The problem here is I can think two (or more things) at once. Cognitive dissonance is a way of life for Catholics, with virgin births, saints, angels and demons, and life ever after. Heaven and hell is up for grabs, literally and metaphorically.

Mr Jordan, my primary seven teacher, for example, told us that a haggis was a wee creature with one leg shorter than another so he could run uphill. He drew what a haggis looked like on the blackboard, and sure enough, one leg was shorter than the other. When I’m up the Old Kilpatrick Hills I still look out for haggis men showing their bum as they run uphill.

Similarly, I remember the clip showing how the Italian spaghetti crop had failed. Sure enough, on Nationwide, they showed stringy bits of pasta falling from the pasta plant. I wasn’t overly concerned, because I’m a potato man. The average potato farmer before the Great Famine ate 14lbs of potatoes a day, but I ate more than that.

Uri Geller said he was taken up in a spaceship, and that allowed him to start clocks and bend spoons. He teleported to every chat show in the world simultaneously and showed how it was done. All over the world we could hear the sound of ticking clocks and spoons went wonky for the Israeli and his followers. He even had a car with spoons attached to show how much money he’d made. Secretly, I knew he’d never be able to keep it clean, because jet wash hadn’t been invented.  Spoon bending didn’t work for me, but that didn’t mean I didn’t believe him. I just was made of the wrong kind of stuff.  

I was an avid reader of books like Colin Wilson’s The Occult. Sure it had me shitting my pants. But there was a bit of envy, I admit that. Nothing would teleport, unless I kicked it with my size ten boots. I couldn’t read people’s thoughts, or get girls to undress by staring at them. Mind-bending just didn’t work for me. And I could only see if I put my specs on. I was familiar with all the hoo-ha. Ironically there’s a film on BBC 2 tonight that encapsulates this theme that I’ll watch and laugh at. Dramatised and directed by George Clooney, based on a book by Jon Ronson, The Men Who Stare at Goats.

It’s utterly ridiculous. Superhuman is filled with marvellous people with shiny white teeth. No fat people. No black people. People with straight hair. People we can trust.

Let’s start with remote viewing. Actress Naomi Grossman gets a few dos and don’ts from a former member of the groups mocked by Ronson and Clooney. She’s able to locate and draw things such as a circus carousel Caroline Cory was seeing and sitting on. Not only is Grossman able to describe these artefacts, she can feel them too, rough or smooth, big or small.

Grossman’s ex-military CIA man is able to tell us the viewers, how during Jimmy Carter’s Presidency they planned to construct bunkers in which to launch IBM missiles at the USSR, but not all would have nuclear missiles. They’d move the silos about to fool the Russians, so they could get first strike (or second strike—which is called the end of the world). But those trained in remote location viewing where able to tell with almost 100% accuracy whether the silos were armed or not. President Carter shelved the plan.

The problem with following this logic is the follow-up experiment in which Cory tried to block where she was, and Grossman was unable to locate her. If such a unit of the American army did exist (and I’m sure it did) then it would have therefore been relatively easy to block remote viewers from other nations viewing something they didn’t want to see. In this case, where’s Wally, with nuclear missiles able to blow up our planet?  

In other experiments Cory is able to change the Ph balance of a substrate. Make it more alkaline by thinking about it, by willing it. A bit like Uri Gellar, but without the spoons. In terms of biochemistry, proof positive of how you think influence how your body reacts. Thinking yourself better, or healthy, works is the message.

Cory also shows telekinesis at work. There’s no Stephen King Carrie moment: she’s not drenched in pig’s blood, nor does she pick up cars and hurl them at those that can’t take a joke, or take no for an answer. Cory simply sets a lightweight arrow inside a glass vacuum spinning. Nothing spectacular, but the fall of how we understand physics works (don’t ask me, I failed first-year secondary school physics).

Actor Corey Feldman gets in on the act. Two voice recorders are placed next to each other. One has the batteries taken out. Yet, information is somehow passed from the voice recorder with batteries to the one with no batteries. A message from the other side, what nineteen century scientists called the ether. It just doesn’t make sense.

These are mere trinkets and tricks (even if they’re not). The finale is spectacular. Children that can read books through blindfolds Run around with blindfolds. Go shopping, blind. Play table-tennis, and other ball games, blind. Truly, a wow moment. Either it’s a setup, or it isn’t. I’m still undecided. Certainly, Caroline Cory has a lot of very beautiful people doing strange things. But that’s not as spectacular as the failed pasta crop, because I love pasta now. One sure thing during Holy Week, as I search for my relic of the one true cross sold to me by a genuine monk, who wouldn’t tell me any lies, Cory’s trinkets are sure to sell like wildfire. I’m sure there’s courses up and running. How not to get to heaven but how to dip your pockets. Catholics, like me, have been schooled in it. Everything miraculous ends in tears or the end of the world. Don’t crucify me for telling me what you already know.

Storyville, Dark Secrets of a Trillion Dollar Island: Garenne, Produced and Directed by Camilla Hall.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000t86z/storyville-dark-secrets-of-a-trillion-dollar-island-garenne

‘The Island of Jersey is a self-governing possession of the British Crown separate from the UK with its own laws, financial rules and Parliament.’

Some of its most influential figures are appointed by the Queen.

When secrets from its past surfaced in 2007 they revealed deep distrust and division between those now running the island, proud of Jersey’s reputation.

And those who saw themselves as underdogs campaigning for change.’

Whose side are you on, the have-nots or the have-yachts? That’s the set-up for this documentary. Let’s deal the money issue first. Jersey launders money. It’s an offshore City of London. A New York Times headline, 6th November 2017 for example showed. ‘After a Tax Crackdown, Apple found a new shelter for its profits. Island of Jersey.’ Leaving billions of dollars untouched by the US government.

Baker McKenzie [Apple, the richest company in the world] asked for assurances that the local political climate would remain friendly. Are there any developments suggesting that the law may change in an unfavourable way in the near future?   

New York Times headline 6th November 2017 shows how this works. Apple decided that its new offshore tax structure should use  Appleby’s office in Jersey. Jersey makes its own laws and is not subject to most European Union legislation, making it a popular tax haven.

John Christensen, Former Economic Advisor to Jersey tells the viewers.  

We can only guess the assets hidden here as half a trillion US dollars. The wealth itself is not in Jersey. There’s very little investment in Jersey. Just wealth that is booked there. But invested elsewhere. Very often in real estate in Britain or Europe or…North America.

Establishing Jersey is a tax-dodgers paradise is the easy part of the narrative. Secrecy is part of the package, but it’s called discretion. Most of Jersey’s 88 000 residents have little or no say in the way the island is governed.

John Chirstensen. One of the things I discovered was the government was captive to the finance industry. They were saying, we want this law. And it would go through parliament on the nod because…

The finance industry loved it. You weren’t going to get challenged. You always had the same people at the top. And those people were very amenable to bringing forward pieces of legislation which they themselves commissioned. [the blank cheque]

Wendy Kinnard, (former Home Affairs Minister). Any small island has to find its niche. We are very reliant on the finance industry, and all that goes with that.

Christensen: that ties in with what we call the Jersey wave. Don’t ask inconvenient questions. These places do not like to have publicity unless it’s favourable publicity.

Wendy Kinnard. My experience, anything to do with finance went to the top of the list in terms of priority. If you take the sex offenders, I began doing some work on that in 1973. I saw 27 drafts turned around in order to try and get this legislation. At the time of Operation Triangle we had no significant pieces of legislation in terms of child protection. Contrasted with financial legislation because our economy is based on financial services

Neil McMurry  (Citizen Journalist) on a boat. ‘This is my escape. I don’t drink. I don’t drug. (I sail). What about the victims and survivors and some say it’s the lucky ones that died. If I had a choice between knowing what I know now. And not knowing, if I could turn the clock back…I wish I could. I wouldn’t want to know what I know.

Graham Powell, Former Chief of Police on Jersey. Many people said don’t take an island job, they always end in tears. Unless you can afford to walk away from it. Well, I could, but didn’t.

I took advice from an old officer. He told me what the politicians expect you to do is lock up the drunks on a Saturday night. Catch a few burglars. Don’t look for trouble.

Lenny Harper, former Deputy Chief of Police, Jersey. Impeccable references from the Met. My first 6 weeks were spent getting to know people. The head of the law department told me he was convinced there was a paedophile ring operating in the island, but he couldn’t get any persecutions.  I examined cold case files. There had already been several trials involving the sexual assault of children and one name kept popping up: Haut de la Garenne children’s home.

Haut de la Garenne. Jersey State Children’s Home 1867-1986. Gurren mean rabbit warren. We had a lot of children living in the home. Not only from Jersey, but Guernsey as well. You had a lot of French immigrants that came to work on the farms. They were poor people as well. They found no accommodation for their children. So they ended up in the Home.

Kevin O’Connell, speaking 2008. Myself and some other lads had broken into a shop and we’d stole some cigarettes and chocolate and some other things. So I was sent to Haut de la Garenne. I was there between 1963-1964.

It was run by a man called Colin Tilbrook. Headmaster, during the 1960s he ran it like an army camp.

He was a very aggressive man. He didn’t speak to you. He shouted at you.

A particular case file in which there were gaps. I was given excuses why that was the case. When we looked into it, those excuses fell apart. That was the real beginning of Operation Rectangle.

The few victims I met totally impressed me with their sincerity.

Marina Cremin. I was born in Jersey to Irish parents. They were from Cork. When I was five I went to Haut de la Garenne.

Cremin: I was terrified that he’d (Tilbrook the headmaster) call me into his little office. Because I knew what he wanted. It wasn’t just myself. He used to call on other children as well. We used to say we’re going to tell somebody. And he used to say, ‘go ahead, nobody is going to believe you’.

Cremin: He would tell me what to do. He would take his belt off and make it do a flicking noise. And he would use that on me if I didn’t do what I was told. He’d always have a pillow under his arm. If you screamed out, he’d put the pillow over your face. And tell you to be quiet.

Chief Constable: Operational officers are saying there is history of abuse. We’re getting snippets of it from other enquiries.

Senator Stuart Syvret (former) Health and Social Services Minster: Jersey is a very small community. He told the chief of police if you don’t do something I’m going to whistle blow. In 2006 word reached me about abuse that was still going on and had been covered up in the past. I began making my own enquires. A failure of the Island’s government and to protect its population. This went back decades and decades. A lot of meetings I was having with survivors was deeply harrowing.

Frank Walker Chief Minister 2005-2008.

I’m a life-long Jersey resident. And I served in Jersey’s government for 18 years. Everybody believes child abuse takes place, but not here, or in a very limited way.

Wendy Kinnard (former Home Affairs Minister). At the time of Operation Rectangle, my role was oversight of the police service. I was in a meeting with the chief and deputy chief of police and when I was briefed about how far they had got in terms of the covert operation, and now they felt other ministers had to be told, in particular, the Chief Minister. And that very soon we would have to make the whole operation public. I did say, they won’t like this one little bit and we could all lose our jobs over this.

Stuart Syvret made an announcement in relation to Child Protection. 16th July 2007: ‘We are failing badly in this area. And I’m probably going to seek to initiate a major independent review of the whole sphere of child welfare and child protection in Jersey.’

Chief Minister found that unacceptable and tabled a motion that they get rid of Syvret.

Syvret: By saying these things I was bullying staff. Pretext of having me sacked.

Chief Constable, Graham Powell: He was thrown out of office and subject to negative briefing in the media. I was horrified and made clear I wasn’t getting involved in this sordid business (of name calling).

Stuart Syvret. There’s a tremendous amount of money here. Wealth. The elite want the status-quo to remain.

Deputy Chief Constable, Lenny Harper. We knew that Stuart had been canvassing public opinion, and we felt we had to go public ourselves. We were completely open with the media and told them we would not tolerate any interference from Jersey politicians.

Syvret: A huge weight lifted from my shoulders.

Graham Powell: I wondered if the phone would ring. Within a week or two we had hundreds of victims coming forward.

Peter Hannaford speaking in 2008. You were subject to constant abuse. It was begun with the rape of older kids. Encouraged by the staff. It was constant, every night. You were scared to go to bed, because you didn’t know if you were going to be the one to get hit or if it’d be someone else.

Carl Denning, speaking in 2008. There was an occasion in the sickbay when I was made to fondle another boy. If you didn’t, you were threatened you wouldn’t come out of there alive.

Jean Neil. Grouville Home for Girls. Speaking in 2017. I was told that anything that happened in the home, you don’t tell anybody else. Because nobody would ever believe you. And if you do let it slip out, the punishment is you will have your tongue cut out. Some of the girls got pregnant. They’d get the baby taken away from them. And my question is, and always has been, where was the authorities and what where they doing?

5th December 2007. Syvret, As senior senator I gave my (Christmas) speech

Voice of Sir Philip Bailhache, Baliff of Jersey1995-2009. Cuts him off.

We have a dysfunctional democracy. The real power sits with Crown appointees.

The Queen appoints: Attorney General (Crown Prosecution), Baliff (Chief Judge and Speaker of Parliament) and Lieutenant Governor.

Speaker controls debates in Parliament. Who can speak. Who can’t speak. What questions can be asked.

Deputy There were also statements from people at the home that children had been dragged from their beds and were never seen again.  

Statements saying staff had chased one child along the corridor that had then leapt out the window. And that child was never seen again.

Then we had a solicitor who approached us who had a client that said he saw a dead body.

I heard a story about dead bodies and rapes and beatings. And I made a disclosure to the police as you’d expect somebody in my position to do.

Chief Constable: We felt we had to search. And ridiculous as it may seem now, we felt that we could do it discretely.

19th February 2008.

Deputy Constable: we put Eddie, the cadaver dog into the ground. He reacted very positively in an area of the home.  Anthropologists should dig at that spot. The next morning I was at home when I got the phone call, a human bone had been found. Forensic anthropologist described as a human skull.

James Perchard, Former Jersey Senator. My family has farmed here for generations. Perhaps even the 12th Century. I honestly knew nothing of the ill-treatment of children. It didn’t get to me.

Neil McMurray, Citizen Journalist. There’s a presumption that anyone living in Jersey is a millionaire. Well, that’s not true. There’s the haves and the have-yachts. There’s a lot of poverty in Jersey. The governments predominantly conservative run by the rich for the rich. So some noise can be made in our Parliament by the socialists. But they’ve got no power. We thought, brilliant. We’ve got a politician that represents us. Stuart. A lot of survivors came forward because of him.

Voice of Sir Philip Bailhache, Baliff of Jersey, unjustified denigration of Jersey is the real scandal.

Group of survivors met outside the home and challenged his statement. Confirmed abuse took place for years.

Sir Philip Bailhache apologised for what he said nine years later, saying his words were ill-chosen.

Neil McMurray I was being fobbed off. Lied to and it was sickening what Sir Philip Bailhache did.  I started blogging. Mainly to ministers the media. Basically, they weren’t replying to me. It was called voice for children.

Sack Walker, reinstate Sylvert.

Brian Flynn former Sun journalist. As an outsider it seemed to me a lot of people didn’t trust the government who were in control and anybody that rocked the boat, anybody that caused problems, wasn’t welcome. If you weren’t among the cabal running the island, you were voiceless. This wasn’t a story that needed to be sensationalised. They were sensational enough and needed to be investigated.

Carrie Modral. Jersey Care Leavers’ Association. Care leavers are adults who lived in children’s homes if not all, or most of their lives. The abuse had been rattling around for years. As individuals they had been shut down. But as a collective group, this was the perfect opportunity to escalate.

Kinnard. There were two camps in how we should deal with Operation Rectangle. Stuart Syvret was very keen that everything should be made public (transparency). And you’d the chief minister and many of the council of ministers who felt it was important to keep the lid on this [important to who and for what reasons?]

The reputation of Jersey should be preserved at all costs. And any negative publicity would likely have a detrimental effect on our economy.

Chief Constable: I was having my ear bent by senior politicians. It wasn’t about who were these people and how can we get their collars felt. That wasn’t the tone of conversation. It was look at all those horrible things newspapers are saying about us. How can we put a stop to all this?

More than 160 people came forward to claim they were abused. Two bodies found.

O’Connell. There was a member of staff that would come for me in the middle of the night, bang my head as we walked along the corridor. He’d take me to the cellar, put me in the bath and sexually abuse me. He’d leave me there after he’d satisfied himself.

Brian Flynn, former Sun journalist. One of the things that came up time after time was Jimmy Saville had visited the Island. Visited the home. Before he was unmasked. What was striking was the vehemence which he denied going to Haut La Garrene.

Cremin: I told the police about Jimmy Saville in 2007. But he denied ever having been at the Home. I said my sister is in a photograph with him.

Christensen (economist) this is the worst kind of public relations disaster. As they say on Jersey, they don’t want to look under that stone. But when the headlines say this is the centre of child abuse, no banks, no accounting firms want to be associated with a place that has a long history of child abuse that has been largely ignored.

It was a byword for cruelty in the 1960s when I was growing up. We were threatened with if you don’t behave we’re sending you to La Garrene.

In 2007 The UK press particularly damning of Jersey and the cover-up.

David Rose, Mail on Sunday. A friend of mine phoned me and said have you heard about these children murdered in a children’s home? Well, there’s a guy in Oxford called Tom Higham who you should talk to, because he’s got some very interesting information. It was later afternoon, and he said come round now, and I did. I went round to his lab. We’ve been trying to tell the police in Jersey this for weeks, but they just won’t listen. They’ve been coming out with all this stuff in the media, and we’ve had enough. It’s time the public learned the truth.

I got Lenny to admit there were people that had reservations.

18th May 2008. Then I did the story that Sunday.

I’d already written a few articles questioning these very heavy moral panic type investigations. Especially in children’s homes and schools. And when the Jersey story started I was immediately very sceptical, thinking really?

eg Bryan Ely, 67, in Dartmoor, alleged to have attacked children.

I should tell you, I’m a Jimmy Saville sceptic too. What I do know is that some to those that claimed to be abused were lying to claim compensation. And I say that without any hesitation. They just made it up.

Headline: It’s official. There was no child abuse in Jersey.

Prof. Tom Higham, Oxford University. We were sent this sample in March 2008. It too probably 40 seconds to realise what I had in my hand. Lenny Harper said it’s the piece of a child’s skull. It’s no such thing. It’s a piece of coconut shell.  

DC. Lenny Harper. Collagen is only found in mammals. There was no trail of testing. The package wasn’t booked in or logged. No control over it, whatsoever. But what we didn’t realise at that stage was that it would be used as a stick to beat us with.

Frank Walker Chief Minister 2005-2008. I think the biggest turning point was the revelation on the Mail on Sunday by David Rose. It was both welcome news and a shock. Then the trust in the police leadership came into question. (Harper and Graham Powell).

What I saw was a fast-moving investigation that involved leads that Harper wasn’t afraid to follow. In real time. It’s easy to say he got them wrong. But he was trying to disseminate the information in a way that signalled to those abused that this time stones weren’t being left unturned.

DC Harper. Rose had this history of being very anti-child abuse.  Cites Lord Jenner’s report, for example, and a witness that admits to lying about a care home boss.

We’ve took over 150 tons of material which is all being itemised. We’ve recovered 65 children’s teeth.

Wendy Kinnard: there was criticism that Harper held up to the media a coin that was a Jersey coin and not an English coin. This again was damaging the reputation of the island. Then I got phone calls from the senior minister saying get rid of Lenny Harper. Take him off the tv screens. He should be removed from even Operation Rectangle. He became the folk demon by those that wanted the child abuse enquiry to go away.

Before I resigned

I’d a difficult time. I did feel very bullied on occasions. Receiving emails from the Chief Minister saying there are calls for your resignation. I felt that I was being put in a position that I was being removed, in the same way Senator Syvret was removed. So I resigned.

I was advised that I should sign over my powers (of oversight to the police and operation Rectangle) to my assistant minister Andrew Lewis. I just felt that I was being absolutely side-lined. Andrew Lewis felt the same way that I did about Chief Constable Powell. That he was doing a good job.

News report. The officer in charge may never know that children here were murdered. Even though they found the partial remains of at least five children. Experts have difficulty dating the teeth and bones aged between four and eleven

The removal of Lenny had to happen. His investigation was out of control.

The detective, who led the enquiry, retires next week (news report). Case unsolved.

31st July 2008. DC Harper. In many ways the community is no different from anywhere else. What has happened doesn’t make Jersey unique or evil. And what has happened, I think the people has responded magnificently.

News report the teeth and bones found here aren’t pieces of evidence. They’re pieces of children. Pieces of vulnerable lives of children whose stories will now never be told.

Chief Constable. Lenny left and David Warcup, his successor and my successor was appointed. Then we had the appointment of Gradwell, who was going to be senior investigating officer. I could see the wolves circling. As long as Wendy Kinnard was there…she fell. I thought you’re on your own now. So as things when they developed didn’t come as a surprise.

David Warcup, Acting Chief of Police. We’ll use every effort to bring this enquiry to a proper conclusion.

Andrew Lewis, Home Affairs Manager (after Kinnard’s resignation).

I was under considerable pressure and from the Chief Minister of the day, Frank Walker. With remarks being thrown around the table from the Council of Minister consistently. ‘You’ve got to get rid of that bloke. You’ve got to sack him’.

Frank Walker Chief Minister 2005-2008. I had no doubt at all Graham Powell had to go. I would have liked him to come out of this with great credit. And he could have done, had he not let Lenny run riot with media briefings.

A legal review found the suspension was flawed and unfair but no part of an attempt to block the investigation.

Graham Powell’s handling of Operation Rectangle was later criticised in a report by another police force.

12th November 2008. David Warcup, Acting Chief of Police The forensic recoveries do not indicate there has been murder of children or other people at La Garrene. Nor do we believe that bodies have been buried, destroyed or hidden.

Mick Gradwell, Senior Investigating Officer. There are no reported people missing. There are no credible allegations of murder. There is no suspect for murder. And there is no specific time period for murder. 170 pieces of bone, which were mainly animal, were found in the area. Three fragments that are possibly human. The biggest piece is 25mm long. 65 teeth found in the floorboards. One elsewhere. These teeth have the appearance of being shed naturally. The officer is about five-foot five tall. It’s not a dungeon and it’s not a cellar.

James Perchard, Former Jersey Senator. There were specialist PR people brought in to help protect Jersey’s image. I suspect that’s what happens when such terrible, terrible news has been made public.

Headlines rebound and reboot. Media: Main witness had a history of psychotic fantasy and alcoholism. 2) Detectives took lavish meals in London restaurant.

Carrie Modral. The media tried to sensationalise what was going on. Then trash what they sensationalised. It wasn’t just one day. It spanned over a couple of weeks. As if this was all premeditated. I was angry with the care leavers, because they thought, right, we’ll never get justice. Everything we were working towards seemed to be sabotaged.

DC Lenny. Graham was suspended. I was side-lined. That was when Neil and Rico came in.

Rico Sorda, Citizen Journalist. It was clear to anyone that Graham Powell was shafted. By the establishment of Jersey, because he had the audacity to let Lenny investigate

The editorials prior to that had praised Lenny and Graham but afterwards Jersey Evening Post headlines ran along the lines of Celebrity Lifestyle of Lenny Harper and his officers. Meals in top-class.

We went up there and filmed them. What difference does it make if you call them cellars or vaults? We measured them –Bob Hill measured them-and they were six-foot deep. There’s certainly enough room down there for a child abuser to do what he wanted.

Neil: Evidence not audited when it left Jersey. How does a piece of skull become a piece of coconut? It came back a different texture, size and colour.

Forensic Anthropologist Report. Since I initially examined the fragment, it had dried out considerably and changed in colour, texture and weight.

Could it have been switched? Nobody answered that question. It was ignored.

Carrie Modral, we called a meeting and invited Mick Gradwell along. He said you better drop your case. None of you are going to get what you want.

We were so angry with his response. We had to ask him to leave. And it wasn’t about a piece of coconut. It was about children being systematically abused. Time after time after time and ignored.

Dannie Jarman (resident) Blanche Pierre Children’s Home. I didn’t want to go through with it in the first place. Then I managed to build up the courage to speak out and come out what had happened. There was evidence there to prove what happened, did happen. A lot of it was never brought up in court.

Houseparents subjected children to physical and sexual abuse.

Neil: I tried asking many questions of our politicians and they ignored me and ignore me. I had to go out and doorstep them. 

Wendy Kinnard. I remained concerned for the victims that were obviously hurting. 11 or 12 cases dropped. On the other hand the attorney general was concerned he didn’t want to take forward prosecutions he wasn’t sure he was going to win.  

Attorney General of Jersey 2000-2009, Sir William Bailhache, revealed there will be no further action against the couple arrested in June as part of the enquiry (Blanche Pierre Children’s Home).

Sir Philip Bailhache Bailiff of Jersey 1995-2009. My brother became Attorney General after me, one remove. And for some that was evidence of corruption. Two brothers in Crown Office and that was ipso facto corrupt.

The reason for this mistrust rested with the police and children’s services and not with his office.

Some pretty middle of the road people convicted of offences, but no one of any stature was ever taken to court. Colin Tilbrook, the pillow man, his step daughter came out and said he raped her when she was ten. He’s dead now. Jimmy Saville dead. Wilfred Krichefski, died in 1974 was a former senator. Jeff Le Marchand. This wasn’t one bad apple.

Operation Rectangle identified 192 victims and 121 living suspects. 30 suspects were already dead.

Eight people were tried in the Jersey courts, with seven successful prosecutions.

 Frank Walker Chief Minister 2005-2008. Sylvert was daily denouncing the service we were providing. That pressure was incredible. To have this constant criticism, at that time.

Sylvet. At a press conference he told me to go and top myself. And at a press conference some months ago he told me to go away and slit my wrists. Now I imagine anyone expressing those views their position as health minister would be untenable.

I said something I shouldn’t have, but under massive provocation. Perhaps I should have punched him. I paid the price politically. I resigned a few months later and didn’t see re-election.

Sylvert. One morning three cars with six policeman drew up outside my house. They arrested me for breaking the data protection law. This was them branding the fist. As they’d made an example of Graham Powell. They wanted to terrify everyone. And make them keep their mouths shut. And their heads down and not rock the boat. My god if these people can do that to a police chief and a senior senator. Then what chance have we got?

Stuart Syvret’s jail terms were as a result of repeatedly failing to comply with court orders to stop publically accusing individuals of serious crimes online.

Two three months periods so far. I fully expect to be jailed again.

Wendy Kinnard. I think the role of the blogs was incredibly significant. Neil’s and Rico Sorda’s blogs. And I don’t think that without them we would have got the care enquiry.

A public enquiry into Jersey care homes was finally scheduled to start in 2014, six years after it was promised.

Carrie Modral, Jersey Care Leavers’Association.  It really was a rollercoster. To have this enquiry up and running. A collective effort of keeping it alive. And that was the main thing. After each government, it died. Keep it in the media, to get where we got. At the beginning it was just La Garrene, but we had to get it to include all, including foster homes.

eg Blanche Pierre Children’s Home. La Preference Children’s home. Heathfield Children’s Home.

4 objectives, i) apology to all those that had suffered as children. (ii) to gain a sense of identity, through records so people knew where exactly they came from. Where they went to. (iii) redress some form of compensation (iv) enquiry into how all these things were allowed to happen.

Marina Cremin visits graveyard. Peter Hannaford (dead) he was in Haut de la Garenne, terribly sexually abused. Nearly every night he was abused. He was such a heavy drinker. It’s just so sad.

Many of the children in the home, committed suicide, or died of drugs or alcohol.  

Carrie Modral, You’ve got victims and survivors. Victims are those that can’t let go. Whether it was ten or fifty years ago, they’re still living it and it’s a living nightmare for them. They’ve got drink addiction, they’ve got drug addiction. They can’t work. They’ve got emotional problems.

Survivors, like myself, who try and get on with their life. And try and not let what happened to you as a child dictate how you live as an adult. You try and rise above it.

Kevin O’Connell. I was too frightened to tell anybody. I spoke about it to my brother. He experience exactly what I went through. And it was just too much. It ended up he hung himself. I firmly believe that was because of the abuse, the sexual abuse. He was only 40.

Carrie Modral. They are not going to get their day in court. But they are going to get their story hear. I believe that is so important. And it had a right for it to be made public as well.

22nd July 2014, Start of the Public Enquiry.

Neil; One adult told how he was raped as an eight-year-old child and his anus bled for days. The care assistant packed it with toilet roll, but they had to take him to hospital.

Frank Walker Chief Minister 2005-2008, did I have a duty to protect Jersey’s reputation? Of course I did. But my prime duty, motivation, was to get at the truth. To protect the children and prosecute the criminals. We had nothing to hide and we wanted everone in Jersey and further afield to know we had nothing to hide.

3rd July 2017, Public Enquiry: Conclusion. Voice of Frances Oldham QC, Enquiry Panel Chair.  We find that there is no doubt that a significant number of children under the care of the state suffered instances of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional neglect. We find it deplorable that the state of Jersey has failed to understand its role as corporate parent. There were no external inspections of children’s homes. Or children’s services. For approxiamately 20 years. No difficult questions asked. This is unacceptable. On the 9th May 2008, Jersey’s Bailiff Philip Ballache made the liberation speech. We cannot accept that he made and I quote, ‘an unformatted juxtaposition of words’. We find the Senator Sylvert highlighted relevant issues about child abuse that needed to be addressed to insure the protection and safety of children in Jersey. We note the suspension of Graham Howe, for alleged past failings. All policing decisions were made conscientiously and properly. We have concluded that there has been no political appetite in Jersey to address social issues regarding the welfare of children.  

Children may still be at risk in Jersey. And children in the care system are not receiving he kind or quality of support they need.

Senator Ian Gorst, Chief Minister.

Too often, children were not believed. Unpalatable truths were swept under the carpet. Because it was the easiest thing to do. I am deeply sorry. We did not do, what we should have done. People cared more for the status-quo, for a quiet life, than for children.

The Panel said Frank Walker and the majority of politicians accepted the Attorney General’s advice not to interfere with the investigation.

It concluded that the removal of Graham Powell and Stuart Syvret was not motivated by a wish to cover up abuse

Neil: it’s still ongoing, because nothing has really changed. If you look at the two camps, those that lost their homes, lost their livelihood for speaking out. Yet those that tried to protect the reputation of Jersey have all done pretty well for themselves. They’ve been decorated by the Queen. What about the people who risked their lives? What about the survivors? Don’t they deserve some kind of recognition?

I Care a Lot, (2020) Amazon, Written by J Blakeson and Directed by J Blakeson

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGyYcHch-ZE

Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) doesn’t lose and she sees two types of people in the world, ‘sharks and prey’. Her prey is old people, and she’s worked out a lucrative gig. She files paper in court and gains court-sanctioned conservatorship. Mostly that applies to older people with dementia that can’t feed themselves or look after themselves. The exception to the rule is Britney Spears who has a court-sanctioned conservatorship order that has lasted thirteen years. It’s a lucrative deal for the right party. Grayson makes sure she is the right party and on the right side of the law.

She has mugshots on her wall of all the old people she cares a lot about. Their assets are her assets. She has a piece of paper that says so. Grayson has it all. Blond hair, big heels, big house, the fast car, the beautiful girlfriend Fran as a junior partner (Eiza González) but it’s never enough, she wants more. When one of her clients dies she mourns, because then she’s got to cash in her chips. Dead clients don’t pay the rent.

When she hears from Dr. Karen Amos (Alicia Witt) who is also in the caring profession about ‘a cherry’ she’s elated. She cuts the doctor in on the deal and offers her crumbs from the cake. That’s not benevolence, but good business sense. A cherry is the right age that God willing will not die within the next few years. Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) has shown a little confusion, but with Amos’s help that can be managed into a major case of dementia that requires 24-hour-care facilities, a nursing home, where nobody asks any questions about anything but money. It’s win-win for Grayson and Fran. Win-win for Amos and Grayson. Win-win for Grayson and the care facility.

Jennifer Peterson has no say in the matter. Her pleas that she can look after herself are laughed off by Grayson. She has two police officers at her back, and she points towards them. And if Peterson has any problems, she reassures her, they can be sorted out later. Grayson’s house is in a prime location. It’s filled with goodies that can easily be converted into cash such as Peterson’s car and furniture. Even more intriguing, Grayson discovers a key to a safety deposit box. She quickly gains access and finds an expensive watch, gold bars, bank notes and hidden diamond, which are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Bingo.

But something doesn’t quite add up. A helpless old woman would need that level of subterfuge or have hidden assets. When Fran runs a few checks, she discovers Jennifer Peterson died of polio when she was a young girl. Peterson like Grayson is not what she seems.

When slick lawyer Dean Ericson (Chris Messina) turns up at Grayson’s office with a suitcase with cash and offers $250 000 and ups it to $500 000 to release Jennifer Peterson from the care facility, with no questions asked, well, it’s stick or twist time. The sensible option would be cash in your chips. But Grayson wants more.

She locks horns with Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage). He’s a feared mafia boss, and a dwarf. I guess the latter is tied in with marketing the film as comedy thriller. It doesn’t add to the story or the cartoon violence that follows. This is capitalism in the raw sold to us as a tit- for-tat Tom and Jerry movie. What is good for Grayson is good for America as her stock rises and she becomes a billionaire on the back on dodgy deals. I Care a Lot plays to the same theme as Gordon Gekko ‘Greed is good’ in Wall Street. It was meant to be ironic, but was taken to heart by the big beasts and drove them to the excess of the 2008 meltdown. I Care a Lot shows a similar direction of travel.  More prophetic and less fun than intended.

Scotland 2—2 Austria

Watching Scotland play is a duty rather than a pleasure. I was brought up in an era when fitba was on the telly you watched it. If Celtic was playing Clydebank at Parkhead I’d go to the game and rush home to see if I was on the telly with the other 17 000 crowd haunting Paradise. I didn’t go very often. Obviously, watching every single game when Scotland played in the World Cup in 1974 and 1978. We beat Brazil and there was that Archie Gemmill goal against Holland when we nearly qualified for the next round. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hLuv5AlXWE

It was great being on the road with Ally’s army. I didn’t go anywhere, but the idea was a good one. I’ve only been to one Scotland game at Hampden. I was accompanying some adults with Learning Disabilities. They were looking at me and I was looking at them. And I know what they were thinking…

Obviously, I’m a Celtic man. So I gave David Marshall the once over. Celtic flung £5 million at a Greek keeper that couldn’t catch a pound coin if you handed it to him. So signing Marshall on a free transfer takes me back to Hampden with those Learning Disability adults. Marshall made a couple of good saves here. But he was at fault for the first goal.  Grillitsch hit it from about 30 yards.  Marshall palmed it to his right. The six-foot-seven Austrian powerhouse, Kalajdzic, swooped and scored from the rebound in the 55th minute. Kalajdzic had another goal disallowed two minutes later for a push on Tierney. Scotland got lucky there, because there was little contact.

Tierney was Scotland’s best player. Captain Andy Robertson plays in front of him. I don’t think that works. Both are full backs. I think it’s either/or, not both. And Tierney is simply better. Celtic rather that wasting £20 million on duds should have kept him for another season. He’s sorely missed.

On the other side of the defence, we had the Belgian phoenix Jack Henry. Playing Henry allowed Clarke to push McTominay into central midfield. The Manchester United played had not a bad game. Henry in comparison is Mr Potato head, six foot five and he can’t head a ball. He’s not one I want to keep at Celtic. But he’s good enough for Scotland. Strangely, a Scotland team without any of the Champion’s players. We even had my namesake, O’Donnell, playing at right back (I’m better than him, but slower, a lot slower, and can’t take shys). O’Donnell proved his worth by taking the free-kick from which Hanley equalised on the 71st minute.

The Austrian backline played high, the ball scooped in behind. The Austrian keeper, Schlager, had the option of coming for the ball but hung back. Hanley didn’t. Schlager also made a basic goal-keeping mistake on the cusp of half-time. He passed the ball to Lyndon Dykes, perhaps time-wasting, knowing Dykes doesn’t score many goals. But Dykes found Christie and the Celtic forward hit the keeper with it. It’s not been a great season for him either. I’ll miss Christie when he leaves Celtic.

I’ll mention Stuart Armstrong because he also played for Celtic. Scotland are good at draws and the game looked to be petering out to a 1—1. Then a nothing ball was thrown into the box and Kalajdzic from the penalty spot, with the ball slightly behind him, powered it into the net. Marshall had no chance with this one.

I didn’t rate Scotland’s chances. With ten minutes to go it looked like another defeat. Armstrong played his part by going off a substitute. This allowed Celtic stalwart McGregor to come on and John McGinn to push forward and play up front with Adams (an Englishman winning his first cap for Scotland).

Kalajdzic’s goal was a beauty. But John McGinn’s was even better. You may remember that Celtic let McGinn go to Aston Villa. And he’s a Celtic die-hard, his grandfather player with Celtic. And I played with his McGinn’s uncle, Johnny Gibbons, in the school team. (I may have peaked too early here). Gibbons’ sister and McGinn’s mother played in the netball team. Some thought that’s where I belonged. The goal McGinn scored was probably offside, but even Scotland needs a bit of luck. Another bog-standard cross into the box. It wasn’t very high. McGinn did an overhead kick and it soared into the corner. The kind of winning goal that you dreamed about when playing school fitba—even though it wasn’t the winning goal. Scotland had to hang on for a draw. I wonder what the odds are for Steve Clarke being the next Celtic manager?

Clarke brought on ex-Rangers player McLean to run about for thirty seconds, which was an improvement on bringing on McBurnie. Next up Israel (again). We play them every second game. That’ll give me a chance to sympathise with El Hamad for not being good enough for Celtic. And to call for Bitton to be give a free transfer. He’s nearly as bad as Henry. If I’ve missed mentioning any Celtic player let me know (James Forrest doesn’t count. And we all know where Griffiths is at, but whose box he’s in is anybody’s guess).