Tape-recorders, fun runs and old postcards


Pub-skeptics  make light of other people’s memories. They make requent references to tape-recorders and assert that most people think memory is like a tape-recorder.

They like to inform the public that memory actually does not work like a tape-recorder – it is “constructed”.

This is an interesting suggestion.  Especially seeing as pub-skeptics tend to be sceptical of the social sciences.

For those who are interested, here is some social science blurb of my own:-

  • Memory construction is influenced by politics and power.

  • The more power that a body has in a specific context, the more likely it is to be handled with respect

  • The more power that a body has in a specific context, the more likely that its claims will be accepted as “true”

  • It is easier to find forensic evidence that confirms the memory of the those with power than those without

  • Forensic evidence from people and organisations with power is handled with greater care than evidence from people with less power

Here are some examples of this:-

The handling of legal documents

In the inqiuiry into abuse in care homes in Jersey, witness statements were handled with more or less care according to the status of the person to whom the documents refer to. A commentator wrote that all documents relating to such an inquiry should be handleled

” with the utmost care and take all of the obvious precautions”

However this did not happen and statement from witnesses were not sent by registered mail. Instead a:

“200-page draft witness statement – from one of the core witnesses – whose knowledge is so extensive – was simply shoved into an envelope and posted” (1)

Documentation of time spent in care

If people spent time in the British Care System before a certain date they may have very little physical evidence of their childhood. If they were abused in the Care System then they may have nothing other than their own testimony to prove it.

Adequate records do not seem to have been kept ( or have been destroyed ) by individuals or organisations with authority.


That’s why it is fascinating when a little scraps of everyday life can confirm the memory of those who are otherwise not believed. For example, a postcard, a ticket to an event or a faded photograph.

For example, in 20008 Jimmy Savile denied ever having visited the Children’s home Haut de la Garenne in Jersey ( according to The Sun he paid the Jersey Government £50,000 to be excluded from an inquiry into the home ) (2).

Then another ex care home resident of this home produced a slip of paper for a fun-run signed by Savile. (3) He had been there after all!



Another example is a postcard that has been found by a person who was at a childrens´ home in Islington in the 1970’s. The postcard was sent by him to his family from Jersey when he was five hears old. However his file from Islington Social Services makes no mention him ever being in Jersey.
What other little scraps of paper are out there? That can help confirm the memory of those who are dis-empowered?


(1) Syvret, Stuart. Formal Submission to the Jersey Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst . 21th October, 2014. http://freespeechoffshore.nl/stuartsyvretblog/resign-jerseys-child-abuse-public-inquiry/
(2) Goslett, Miles. `Savile in £50,000 bribe to stop child abuse rap` The Sun. October 2014.
(3) ITV News. Evidence Jimmy Savile was in Jersey in 1976, despite his denial . 9 December 2014. http://www.itv.com/news/channel/update/2014-12-09/evidence-jimmy-saville-was-in-jersey-in-1976-despite-his-denial/
(4) Johnson, Andrew `Postcards that link Islington care home children to scene of notorious Jersey sex abuse` . Islington Tribune. 3 Oktober, 2014

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