In centuries to come, when the last flake of radioactive ash has settled post the inevitable nuclear Armageddon, historians will look back and ask: ‘What started it all? What set Trump off on this terrifying rise to despotic power?’. And one by one they will all come to the same inevitable conclusion. Not money, not greed, not collusion with Russia: no. Rather, the single shot that signaled the start of this apocalypse was the moment that Donald J Trump caught a glimpse of the final frame of 2008 Hedley Le Maistre film Broad Bean Down, in which ‘evil’ Simon Crowcroft stands astride a hill, glowering down over St Helier like a tyrant for all time. Thanks Simon…
Coming back to the real world, in real life the real Connétable Crowcroft is of course the most charming, erudite and personable person you could hope to meet. Today in the Jersey Opera House Studio, the erudition was foregrounded as he took an attentive audience through selections of his poetry, prose and plays from the years.
Who knew he had written so much? Well, many of the people who attended clearly do – fans and literary admirers – but I can’t help but feel his writing ought to be much more widely known. Perhaps his recent win of the inaugural Alan Jones Prize for poetry will go some way to rectifying that. Whilst the parishioners of St Helier may be extremely fortunate to have a literary-minded and thoughtful overseer, you do wonder if the world of poetry is missing out.
Hearing the work read out today was a reminder of what I’ve always liked in Simon’s work – the winding of the personal into the poetic. Words can only be words until they have a personal meaning and become something deeper. It wasn’t in the selection today, but I remember being impressed and moved by poems on the death of his father (in A Texan Urn) at a Plays Rough event some years ago.
Speaking of plays, we were treated to an extract from The Bailiff’s Nose, a humorous play about the life of Sir Walter Raleigh, particularly as it touched upon his involvement with Jersey. I look forward to more Jersey-based plays to follow, especially the work-in-progress he mentioned – The Trial of Major Peirson.
At the end of the hour, finishing off with a reading from his novel in progress, we left satisfied, moved, entertained. I’d urge you to seek out a copy of Simon’s poetry collection Incident in Liberation Square. Just don’t tell Trump.
WORDS: Ben Evans