Big in the Bailiwicks


Well just Alderney so far, which is in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, but we’re on our way. The trip to Fort Clonque – a mid-nineteenth century British coastal battery connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway – was a resounding success. Eleven of us, connected to one degree or another through Oxford’s famous Catweazle Club, flew out there at the beginning of October to enjoy some sea, sand and songwriting, and to play a gig at the Campania, a pub in the main town, St Anne.

The gig went down well and was a good chance to meet some locals, who were friendly and welcoming, if slightly bemused by our performances. But we were also charmed by the lanscape, some of it picturesue like the craggy cliffs and beautiful white beaches, some of it post agri-industrial like the abandoned farm machinery, steam cranes and water pumps, and the extensive Second World War coastal fortifications.

By day three I’d developed a minor obsession with the German Fire Direction Post (pictured above). This three storey semicircular reinforced concrete tower, also known as Marine Peilstand Drei or MP3, looks out from atop the Mannez Quarry to the North and East.

Derelict farm machinery south of Airport

Bibette Head resistance nest 2

Alderney Railway steam crane at Mannez Quarry

Its purpose, as the name suggests, was to direct fire from coastal batteries towards invading ships in the English Channel (though the invasion never came).

I decided to write a song featuring the fortifications as a central theme and therefore attemped to visit as many bunkers as possible in the course of my research.

Here’s what I came up with:

MP3 (Marine Peilstand Drei)
We embraced in the embrasure of the German Fire Direction Post
And you looked like a heavenly ghost in the pale green light of my wind-up torch.

We kissed in the concrete casement for a 105 mil gun and you looked pretty stunned.
Enfiladed by the moon on the wave crests, your hair shone like an angel’s nest.

We made out in a minefield, fucked in a flak battery
But we argued in an armoured cupola.
Then you sulked in a searchlight shelter by the sea.

You said that things couldn’t go on, from a resistance point up at Fort Clonque.
And you looked like you’d seen an apparition
But I said there was more to life than defensive positions.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.