Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dressing up

Last month 'Anonymous' commented, a propos of the fining of 2 Parish Deputies, and the absence of any public comments from the Town Hall about it, "Its all very well dressing up in the fancy red gown but your job has its unpleasant duties too." Well, thanks for that - who would have guessed that the constable's job is not entirely a bed of roses!

Actually there're loads of pleasant duties involved in my job, but dressing up is not one of them, especially for the pilgrimage from the Town Church to the Hermitage beyond Elizabeth Castle which this year takes place on Sunday 19th July. The St Helier pilgrimage is quite short, as pilgrimages go, and takes about half an hour depending on how fast you walk. But if you have to dress up in heavy robes, as a lot of the pilgrims do, it is quite hard work. The members of the Church wear their cassocks, and the Dean of Jersey who leads the procession through town and out across the causeway to the Castle, has to don his ornate surplice. I am expected to wear the red robe that has been worn by St Helier constables for about a century, together with the chain of office made of gold – these are quite heavy too, on top of a suit – and I’m sure I’m not the only constable who has asked himself why we celebrate the life of St Helier in the middle of the summer!

Then there's Minden Day, which this year takes place on Sunday 2nd August, and commemorates the 250th Anniversary of the Battle of Minden - it's usually pretty baking hot for that one, too, which takes place, surprisingly enough, in Minden Place.

Most of other occasions when I wear the robe and chain of office centre on ceremonies for past and serving members of the armed forces at the Cenotaph. Several - the D Day ceremony, Armed Forces Day, the launch of the Poppy Appeal, and Remembrance Sunday - are followed by a reception in the Assembly Room, and we also host receptions for visiting regiments and crews of naval vessels. On such occasions I am happy to take the extra trouble to dress up out of respect for the servicemen and women who are present, and feel that it's a privilege to meet them, to listen to their stories and to acknowledge their courage and spirit of self-sacrifice.