I’ve spent the weekend on Sark, a 3 mile long Channel Island lying off the coast of Guernsey. It feels a bit like Cornwall/Britanny with lovely wild flowers and gorse. And a bit olde worlde, with horse drawn carriages and tea rooms serving scones.
The island is politically independent of the UK and ruled by the smallest self-governing (and somewhat feudal) parliament in Europe. Residents elect representatives to the “Chief Pleas”. A notice outside their Parliament read “This notice records that Mr. xxx has been put on the black list AT HIS OWN REQUEST. Licensed premises are reminded that it is illegal to serve alcohol to those on the black list.” There are no cars allowed on the island, and the National Health Service does not reach there, although there is an ambulance pulled by a tractor.
The Barclay brothers, who own about a third of Sark, live on Brecqhou (an adjoining island which may or may not come under Sark’s jurisdiction) in a house-cum-castle and have been trying to reform the governance of Sark, causing local consternation. On the day we were there there was a competition to design scarecrows looking like nursery rhymes. I met the judge of the 29 entries who had just seen the entry for Tweedledum and Tweedledee – looking suspiciously like the Barclay brothers, but very professionally done. She didn’t know whether to rule it out as inappropriate, or give it a prize. I left her hoping to find three better scarecrows so that she didn’t have to face that dilemma.