Lotto el blotto? £1m draw suspended after countdown clock jams on ‘9 Days to Go’
Impassioned appeals for calm as syndicate infighting threatens to curdle upcoming Pride of Jersey awards
Minsters and police are calling for islanders to show restraint, after St Helier’s iconic countdown timer malfunctioned at some point between midnight yesterday and 07:28 this morning, when Brian Clovesfoot, an employee with the Hire Shop at Normans, first raised the alarm.
‘I always get in early so I can get a cup of tea.’ Brian explained. ‘I went outside for a smoke, and just had this weird feeling in my gut.’ ‘It didn’t seem real when I first looked at it. I checked the numbers, and just did a double-take. I checked them again. And again. And just stood there. Numb. I then telephoned my wife to tell her what had happened. She didn’t believe it…. thought I was pulling her leg. Everything then just seemed to go into a blur. The next thing I know, she’s standing alongside me in her dressing gown. We checked the numbers together. She telephoned her sister to tell her what had happened. None of it seemed real. We finally just clicked into action; and it was then that we made the call to the authorities.'
Within minutes, officials from Jersey’s gaming commission were on the scene, along with States’ representatives and scaffold contractors, as well as the Health and Safety Executive, who immediately fenced off a one hundred square metre exclusion zone, and began giving out high-vis jackets, ear plugs and welding masks. And as word spread, police were forced to implement traffic diversions and temporary road blocks, as commuters and pedestrians attempting to get a look at the faulty time-piece, quickly choked the harbour front and weighbridge area, causing tailbacks that were reported as far east as the Bagot Inn, and westwards, as far as the former shell garden in St Brelade.
Despite the clock itself, which was manufactured by Seiko, having counted down to the start dates of many of Jersey’s most beloved events: including the Swimarathon, The Island Games, The Jersey Style Awards, and the summer reopening of Fish ‘n Beads, there have been scarcely any public displays of sentimentality reported toward it, as calls for a root-and-branch review of the island's countdown mechanisms have intensified across many of the island's parishes.
‘The contract should have been put out to tender years ago’ explained Cynthea Pierson, owner of Spunky Mutz dog groomers, who called us whilst caught-up in traffic congestion at Green Island. ‘What’s going to happen the next time this occurs?!’ she asked. ‘I’m fed up with the same old company having a monopoly on our countdown. This is not a game.’
Along with electronic and computer science experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - who have already made shore, Jersey welcomed to the island this afternoon, celebrated chronology professor, Dr. Hans Stüch, from Geneva University, who will be leading the effort to restore the equipment. We caught up with him in the arrivals department at the airport.
‘Despite the fact this clock is no longer ticking’ Dr Stüch explained, ‘this is a race against time, in the most literal of sense of the term. You do understand?’ he asked.
We assure Dr Stüch that we do, and ask what chances he placed on the Lottery going ahead as planned. But before he can answer, he is bundled by minders into the back of an awaiting Toyota Prius, before roaring off in the direction of the Mermaid Inn.
Gina Kershaw, events manager at the Royal Yacht, where the prize-draw is scheduled to take place on September 7th, this afternoon added to the gravity of the situation. ‘We can’t possibly delay’ she explained. ‘We’ve got DJ Fingerslips on the Saturday, the Rotary Club for Bridge on Sunday, and some charity do for Russian dwarf ponies on the Monday.’ She sighed. ‘There’s something happening on Tuesday too’ she said, ‘a netball team, I think. God help us’
A giant tarpaulin was this evening being fixed into position over the screen: weatherproofing the equipment, and allowing experts to work on it through the night. It is hoped also that the sheet will deter would-be visitors from attempting to view the clock, thus further compromising the island's already faltering transport network.