Her husband – known to me for not being able to hold his drink, though I knew little else about him – had come home three sheets to the wind and started thumping seven kinds out of her. She managed to run out of the house, get in a taxi and arrived on our doorstep battered and bruised and crying her eyes out.
To cut a long story short, the beatings had happened before and she’d gone back on what I later discovered were the customary promises these thugs make.
He was full of contrition and apologies but almost inevitably these last about as long as it takes for the wind to change direction.
He rang our place the following day and I managed to persuade her not to talk to him.
A few days later she went to England to stay with relatives and, to her credit, she later divorced him and is now very happily married to someone else.
Not surprisingly, the events of that somewhat traumatic weekend were recalled last week when I read that the Jersey Women’s Refuge is facing a funding crisis because the donations which keep it going have fallen by 80 per cent.
For those who know nothing of the Refuge’s work, it provides a safe haven which offers women and their children who suffer from domestic violence and abuse on a 24 hours a day basis.
Herself and I know two women who have been helped by the staff there and they will be forever grateful for the assistance and advice that they received.
Unfortunately, grateful thanks are not enough and it came as no surprise to me to read the online reaction to this story.
The funding suggestions ranged from stopping a certain Senator’s salary – there are days when I’d dock the wages of more than one of that lot, given the chance – to stopping our government funding for things like useless granite directional signs that mean nothing other than to those who, seeing that there were a few quid left over in that particular budget, approved them.
Other ideas from where money could be diverted included cycle paths, road resurfacing and what one contributor described as an un-needed town park.
I must confess that I have no bright ideas on this score and, sadly, magic wands and money trees are few and far between.
However, one of the old lads down at the pub suggested that it should be down to those whose actions are at the very core of the refuge’s existence. Those who dish out the domestic violence and abuse should , he said, be forced to contribute towards its running costs.
The extent of the crisis facing the Women’s Refuge is awesome by any standards. They receive an annual grant of £150,000 from Health and Social Services but it costs well over twice that to run the place. In terms which simple country boys like me can understand, this means that every single week of the year they have to raise not far short of £3,700 in addition to their States grant. This is an awful lot of money.
It’s all too easy to point fingers at that lot in the Big House and tell them to find the money. The way they operate, that means that they will either tell the Health Minister to find it from her budget – in other words another service that department provides will be removed or cut – or they’ll do the same to another department.
That mindset will not change until someone has the bottle to order a root and branch review of the whole shooting match. Every single thing that government does with our money should be looked at because don’t forget, they have no cash of their own – they always use ours.
That review should determine what should be funded wholly by the government, be it granite mile stones, the provision of mains drains or whatever, and what should not. Until that happens we will continue to have battles over things like school milk and providing a safe haven for abused women and their children.
In the meantime, if readers see a bucket being passed around in town in aid of this most worthwhile of causes, drop what you can afford into it. It will make you feel so much better.
I am grateful to Henry Legg, president and founder of the Sixth-Form Debating Society, for both reading this column and telling me of the society’s existence.
That said, I question his assertion that our lot in the Big House could learn from their confreres in the ‘English Parliament’, a reference, I assume, to the House of Commons and its upper Chamber, both of which combine to make the United Kingdom’s Parliament.
For all their faults, our elected representatives appear to have more control over their own salaries and expenses than do British politicians and that is to their credit.
Secondly, most of the government decisions in that country are taken by ministers, often unelected and therefore unaccountable, and generally speaking it is only when the ruling party agrees that time is allocated to debate important issues.
At least here in Jersey most of the important decisions are taken in the Big House, and, I would argue, a larger percentage of the public is aware of what is being done in their name than is the case in Britain, even if they don’t always approve.
I prefer our system, for all its faults.
And finally, I see that Len Norman wants St Clement to twin with Cancale, famous for its oysters.
If he was thinking what I suspect he was thinking, then he should forget it. It’s an old wives’ tale and nothing more.