A Cold Christmas Day In Island Of Jersey
A peep into 1974 I remember it was snowing still. It had snowed for a few days and was thick on the ground.
The streets were icy and slippery and I just didn't want to go out. No matter how much planning and preparing there is always something that is forgotten !
This time it was candles. Not important ! Oh yes ! very important for me on this special Christmas day, all had to be perfect.
I decided to walk the mile or so to the shop on Seele street it would be open, even on Christmas day,it never closed.
I checked the turkey was okay in the oven and paused to take a bite of the freshley baked bread still warm.
I hesitated as a snippet of John and Yoko singing, was echoing through the hallway,tempting me to linger and enjoy the atmosphere of my warm and cosy home ,before it was besieged with my guests.
I walked down the Victorian stairway and sighed inwardly at the prospect of the slippery walk whilst John Lennon was singing the words from one of his songs 'slipping and a sliding.'
I slammed the door and walked past my car in the street, then changed my mind and returned back to the car ,climbed in and turned on the engine ,just as though I had never intended to do anything else.
The shop was open as I knew it would be, luckily, it was empty, except for Three young children, well when I looked again they were mere toddlers.
I brushed the snow off my sheepskin coat then, before closing the shop door, I banged the snow from my warm leather boots on the step then shivered as I took off my gloves to put them safely in my coat pocket.
The snow was inches deep and I wanted to get back to my warm house where all the Christmas cosiness was going on with the wonderful smells of rich food and the wood fire burning brightly in readiness for my guests.
The radio in the shop was playing a medley of Christmas carols and I was half listening to 'away in a manger.'
I purchased my items and caught the shopkeeper giving a funny glance,like beckoning me to be aware of something !
I looked down at the small children huddled together and part of my mind wondered where their parents were ?
I was horrified to realise that they were barefoot and dressed in little skimpy clothing . No coats ! They were probably aged three ,four and five, three little girls in bare feet on the coldest day of the year !
'Where do they live ?' I asked the shopkeeper. He knew them and told me their address. It wasn't far.
Without another thought I grabbed their tiny hands then picked up the smaller two and ushered the five year old into the big warm old Rover car.
They were shivering. I found the house in about ten minutes.
I knocked frantically on the door which was swinging open. I waited ! Nothing !
I looked in the window, it was broken !
Neglected nylon curtains were hanging through the broken glass,now mixed with icicles.
I heard a noise. A young woman carrying a baby appeared in the damp smelling hallway. She just glanced at me and gave the children a welcome home smile just as though everything was normal and correct !
'I brought them home because they had no shoes on in the snow' I said.
Somehow my voice sounded ridiculous. In her world what did snow matter ?
Maybe she was thinking that there were more serious considerations than shoes and snow.
Maybe she had no food for the new baby ! I told her I would bring some shoes for the children and she nodded like she'd heard it all before....
First thing I did on reaching home was to arrange for her door and windows to be repaired and I did take some shoes,clothing and other items.
She didn't take them from me so I just placed them by her feet.
She didn't focus on anything and I was depressed for the whole of christmas. I wondered what she had been and how she had become this shadowy person at such a young age.
This happened in Jersey, Channel Islands. An Island of millionaires,billionaires now!
I have witnessed worse poverty than this in the beautiful island for the wealthy, maybe slightly better today than in the 70s.
I have often wondered what happened to the little family !