In September I spoke aboutJersey: Secrets of the Sea at the Jersey Festival of Words at the Library in St Helier. This is my fourth time speaking at the Festival, and it’s always a pleasure to be part of such a high-profile event that is doing so much to put Jersey on the cultural map.
My talk focused on the compelling life story of T.B. Davis – the poor Victorian boy who was chastised for stealing chestnuts in the grounds of a grand house. He vowed one day to return and tear that house down stone by stone, brick by brick. In the end, the prophecy was fulfilled. He went on to earn a fortune in Africa, yet all the money in the world was not enough to spare him from the tragedy of the twentieth century. Today the grounds of that long-forgotten house are Howard Davis Park, named in honour of his son who fell in the Great War.
I was delighted by the enthusiastic reception to the talk and it’s great to see audiences enjoying some of the most evocative and moving true stories from Jersey’s past.
I also reprised the Titanic story from Jersey: Secrets of the Sea – White Star, Blue Iceberg – for charity at the Lounge for Macmillan on Burrard Street. This is an amazing venue – it’s where Big Maggy’s bike and coffee shop used to be. Featuring neon decor and stylish interior design it is a perfect community arts venue – and all for an exceptionally good cause. You can find out more about Jersey Macmillan here and I highly recommend dropping by the Lounge for coffee and cake!
I am looking forward to returning to Jersey Arts Centre this year for the 2018 Jersey Festival of Words. It’s a splendid programme, and as ever Pippa and team have assembled a fine montage of authors, writers and artists.
This year I am giving an exclusive preview of my forthcoming book on Jersey’s rich maritime history. I will be reading a segment on RMS Titanic, telling the stories of two survivors: the Jersey millionairess who slept in first-class luxury, and the Quartermaster from St Ouen who saw the blue iceberg with his own eyes. The colour is not poetic licence: “It was not white, as I expected to see an iceberg. It was a kind of a dark-blue. It was not white”, he would later report to the US Senate Inquiry.
Here is the publicity blurb for the talk, which is at 2.30pm on Saturday 29th September at Jersey Arts Centre. You can buy tickets here for the princely sum of £5 each. I will also be discussing the talk on BBC Radio Jersey later this week.
WHITE STAR, BLUE ICEBERG: JERSEY SEA STORIES
The story of Jersey is shaped by its encircling sea. Paul Darroch, author of Jersey: The Hidden Histories, will be bringing our compelling maritime history to life in an exclusive reading from his forthcoming book.
He tells of the turbulent waters that swept away the doomed manor of La Brecquette, and drowned the flower of English royalty in the White Ship. He also recounts the astonishing story of Miss Louisa Journeaux, whose Sunday night rowing escapade in St Helier’s harbour ended far across the ocean in Canada.
Jersey mariners occupied a ring-side seat at some of the defining events of maritime history; captaining the Cutty Sark, commanding the clash of arms at Jutland; and entering the bridge of RMS Titanic at the fatal moment of impact with the blue iceberg on April 14, 1912.
This isthe story of an Island forged by the seas, set at the crossroads of maritime history, and told through the stories of the Jersey seafarers who made it.