Barclays take their ball away

It's not sulking, but it was their game and the people of Sark refused to play nicely
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The Independent Online

Once upon a time, there was an island in the Channel called Sark. The people who lived there were moderately happy, for they did not have cars and rode around on tractors instead. Nor were they in the vanguard of progressive thinking, either, not being noted for their belief in democratic systems and accountability.

Nextdoor to this island, only a stone's throw away, was another one just 1,200 yards long. It was called Brecqhou, and, one day, two brothers came to live there. They were very rich and they started to buy things on the bigger island. Soon they owned two hotels, a restaurant, shops, and an estate agent's. And, on the smaller island, they created their own kingdom and built a castle. It was very big and had turrets and battlements and walls nearly five feet thick.

But, unusually for people who live in big castles, they didn't like feudalism. That, they said, was what was wrong with the bigger island, what with its Chief Pleas, and Seneschal, and the Seigneur. They also had a thing called male primogeniture, which meant any property passed down to sons, not daughters. The brothers did not like this, because they had a daughter/niece, and did not want the laws of Sark, which also applied to Brecqhou, stopping her getting her divvy when they passed away.

So the brothers went to war. Not with bows and arrows or the cannons on their battlements, but with their favourite weapon: lawsuits. And, after a battle, they won. Their daughter/niece could inherit her share. But did the brothers and the bigger island live happily ever after? No. For Sark was still not democratic. But finally, last week, it had its first proper elections. The only trouble was, the brothers did not like the result, which meant modernisation on Sark would not go as fast as they wanted. So, on Friday, they started to shut down the things they had bought on the big island, with the result that up to 100 people of Sark could have no job to go to in their tractors.

Of course, this all sounds like a fairy story. But it isn't. After all, what could this saga of the twins in their big castle possibly have to do with the Brothers Grimm?

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