I recently passed out between some bins in Wharf Street and woke up slap bang in the middle of the Liberation Day celebrations. Unlike any other Monday I wasn’t shamefully hosed clean by the honoraries, instead I was happy to find my smudged make-up and torn clothes mistaken for somebody dressed up in the make-do spirit of wartime optimism. Back then, it was a virtue to repair scrapes and tears, and do your hair with a potato. We couldn’t buy, so we improvised, which is exactly what I did when I improvised a bed out of some cardboard boxes when none of the taxis would let me buy a lift home.
When she wasn’t defending her career as a black marketeer I always remember my dear Nana telling us how proud she was to have made her wedding dress from old flour sacks, and of building a bicycle from flattened sardine cans and German-language joke books. Of course, as soon as the ships started running again her entire generation couldn’t wait to dump the home-made objects and get their hands on whatever was newly-imported from America. Plastic, nylon, uranium isotopes: if it was mass-produced and modern they thought it was the bee’s knees. It wasn’t until the seventies that hippies brought back the idea of anything being made by hand, but it wasn’t until very recently that smarter hippies had the idea of making money out of “upcycling” discarded crud into cold hard cash. Why buy something new from the shops, when you can pay somebody four or five times as much for a handmade “vintage” version? I got into the spirit with a twelve-pack of craft beer and will soon be hawking the following items in a marketplace near you.
The smell of sea men: driftwood art and furniture
For generations, Jersey folk have lived well on the bounty brought to our shores by the ocean waves. We are a noble tribe of fishermen, scavengers, and accountants, and this spirit is kept alive through the great popularity of nautically-themed home frippery. I’ve “redecorated” the toilets in many an overpriced beachside restaurant, and it’s hard to miss a common aesthetic theme. So, I am thrilled to offer the discerning fund manager a range of fine objects that will sprinkle a little sea salt on their soul. Don’t stop at driftwood picture frames for your tasteful pictures of Corbiere lighthouse – capture the true spirit of the sea with my £2,500 sculpture made from jettisoned bleach bottles, rubber gloves and Norwegian trainers. For the price of a second-hand car I can offer a bespoke armchair fashioned from stinking, barnacle-encrusted lobster pots – you can complement it with this chic coffee table made from a rusted fridge washed up at Portelet. Whether you live in St Brelade’s Bay or the middle of St Lawrence, I guarantee you’ll never be far from the evocative scent of the ocean breeze.
Tinky winky inky pinky: vintage Jersey tattoos
Having tattoos hasn’t been particularly unusual for over a decade now, which means that hip and creative people have had to find new ways to stand out from the crowd. On the mainland this has meant an ironic appropriation of the smudgy skin art enjoyed by merchant sailors and ex-members of Motörhead, but in Jersey this could lead to you being mistaken for an absconding French fisherman and dragged off to slave on a filthy barge in Cherbourg. If you visit my (soon-to-be) fully licensed skin art parlour, you’ll be the talk of the town when I adorn your pale limbs with shaky reproductions of local landmarks I’ve traced from old issues of the JEP. I will do you a picture of the steam clock, perhaps a portrait of a 1960s Parish Constable or honorary policeman. I charge £300 an hour, and have just today finished enhancing a very patriotic MMA fighter with an intimidating back piece depicting former Chief Minister Terry Le Sueur dressed as Sagat from Street Fighter.
Cut from cow cloth: recycled Jersey tea towels
Although Jersey still benefits from a financial “rainy day” fund built up in better economic times, wise forward planning has also left us in possession of a hidden mountain of 80s souvenir tea towels. There are greenhouses piled high with cow, beach and light entertainment themed polycotton rags, and there’s a limit to the amount that can be planted in tourist suitcases whilst they’re browsing the duty-free. My Lithuanian sweatshop (based in Trinity, therefore ‘Genuine Jersey’) has been hard at work recycling these semi-absorbent horrors into sustainable products that you can buy at only a 2000% markup. Humphrey the Lion bed linens would make an ideal wedding gift, and upholstering your furniture with wonky drawings of Mont Orgeil or Alan Whicker will make any home the envy of its guests. You could even insulate your house with a partially-flammable nest of shredded Bergerac. We also considered weaving garish cow-covered yurts for Syrian refugees, but it was felt they’d already suffered enough.
Hardcore shave: sea lettuce beard products
Today’s rugged man is obliged to prepare for an uncertain future by growing a beard so bushy that it can eventually be woven into a rough blanket to protect him from the cold world. Man-o-sphere bloggers inform us that masculinity itself is in crisis now that women are allowed to have jobs and do bicep curls, but at the same time even manly men are buying cosmetic products at a rate that would shame a teenage girl. Apparently men feel better about buying this stuff if it looks handmade and earthy, so why not treat yourself to an £18 pot of goop boiled down from half a metric ton of sea lettuce? Your face will absorb all the staying power of an especially green patch of St Aubin’s Bay – you can promise the beard will be gone by Summer, but come July it’s still there, crusted with sand, smelling like boiled cabbage and scaring off sunbathers.
Fat trucker: Jersey artisan street food
The current British fashion for street food draws mainly from the cuisine of Asia and South America, and for good reason. People in these countries won’t sacrifice a good meal just because they’re in a hurry, and many brits are so bored with Ginster’s pasties that the pop-up restaurateurs can charge £6.50 for a meat sandwich if it comes with an exotic backstory. However I am yet to see any trucks offering authentic Jersey street food, so look out for my new venture at a festival near you. From a lovingly-repurposed prison lorry I’ll be selling bean crock burritos, conger pad Thai and pulled pigeon BBQ – slow cooked for 24 hours in a tangy marinade of Jersey tomatoes and flat Breda. I’ll be channeling the spirit of the old Le Brun’s bakery with an amazing vintage recipe for sourdough cabbage loaf, and will have something for your sweet tooth by wrapping an entire 99 (with flake) inside Jersey wonder batter and deep frying it. Don’t expect much change from a tenner – bon appetit!