Ma now im goin up in the.., p.1

Ma, Now I'm Goin Up in the World, page 1


Ma, Now I'm Goin Up in the World

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Ma, Now I'm Goin Up in the World

  Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes

  Ma, I’m Gettin Meself a New Mammy

  Ma, It’s a Cold Aul Night and I’m Lookin for a Bed


  Martha Long

  This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licenced or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

  Epub ISBN: 9781780574042

  Version 1.0

  This edition, 2011

  Copyright © Martha Long, 2010

  All rights reserved

  The moral right of the author has been asserted

  First published in Great Britain in 2010 by



  7 Albany Street

  Edinburgh EH1 3UG

  ISBN 9781845967031

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any

  form or by any other means without permission in writing from

  the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief

  passages in connection with a review written for insertion

  in a magazine, newspaper or broadcast

  The author has made every effort to clear all copyright permissions, but where this has not been possible and amendments are required, the publisher will be pleased to make any necessary arrangements at the earliest opportunity.

  This book is a work of non-fiction based on the life, experiences and recollections of the author. In some cases, names of people, places, dates, sequences or the detail of events have been changed to protect the privacy of others. The author has stated to the publishers that, except in such respects, not affecting the substantial accuracy of the work, the contents of this book are true

  A catalogue record for this book is available

  from the British Library

  1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2



  Through those dark lonely days of my early childhood, when I tried to find something to hang on to, your lovely kind face appeared in my mind’s eye. Then I would remember. You reached out the hand of comfort, soothing my mother as she sat weeping and desolate, crying for the want of a bit of human kindness, someone who cared whether she lived or died, a little shelter from the elements, a bed to lie down for a bit of comfort.

  I stood watching, feeling very afraid. Trying to make sense of why my world was such a frightening place. Then you turned your attention on me, making me feel safe for a while with your tender loving care.

  You filled my empty belly with a hot meal, covered me tenderly with a blanket as I lay dozing on your bed, listening to your gentle voice as you quietly murmured words of comfort to my mother.

  You are my earliest memory of kindness, showing me the world can be a kind place. The few early treasured memories of a world that brought mostly pain. That great gift you had, Ellen, of a big heart, filled with kindness and gentleness, left a tremendous impression on me.

  I always promised myself one day we would meet again. I wanted you to hear me say, ‘Thank you, Ellen. Your kindness to me and my mother stayed with me all the days of my life.’ Now, my deepest regret is I never found you again. I was too late. You were gone. Taken much too soon to your eternal rest.

  When I did catch up, I heard you had searched for my mother, then later for me, in the hopes you would both meet again. It broke my heart. Yet, every now and then, your gentle face will appear in my mind’s eye. It is then, somehow, I sense your presence is close by, particularly when I am most in need. You are letting me know I am not alone. Just like that time so long ago when me and the ma were lost in an uncaring world.

  My deepest sympathy to your family, Ellen. They know who they are. May you rest in peace.

  To the lovely Sangita. Thank you, Sangita. I am so very honoured by your tribute. Truly, it has meant the world to me. You are a very special lady.

  To Bill, my publisher, without whom these chronicles marking my early life may never have seen the light of day. They perhaps may have lain in some dark hidden drawer, gathering dust as its edges curled, growing yellow through the long mists of time, making a meal for the bookworms.

  To my editor, the lovely Ailsa Bathgate, whose eagle eye misses nothing, brooks no nonsense and sends me smartly packing back from the path where I am quite happily treading, but understood only by me and God, and the brightest of all bright editors! Ailsa!!

  Last but not least, our faithful little mongrel, half-Tibetan, half-Yorkshire terrier. You were only a little ball of fluff, but you strutted your stuff, parading the length and breadth of the garden, watching and seeing off cats and rats and foxes three times the size of yourself! From your six inches off the ground, you were master of all you surveyed. Oh! We miss you terribly! Sometimes, in the quiet still of the dead of night, your ghostly bark can still be heard. Now you rest in a sunny spot in your beloved garden, under the shade of your favourite tree.

  Lynkey, February 1997 – February 2010


  * * *

  I sat in the bath up to me neck in hot water. Ooh, lovely! That’s one of the great things about this place – they never spare the hot water. No, I would be lost without it. I grabbed up the big bar of carbolic soap slipping around the bath. Got it! Pity, I thought, holding it up to examine it. It’s only really for scrubbing the floors. That will take half me skin off! I managed to rob that out of the cleaner’s bucket when she wasn’t looking.

  Right! Beggars can’t be choosers! I rubbed it into me washcloth until I was satisfied, then lifted me leg to give it a good wash. ‘Ohhhh! Grafton Street’s a wonderland! DERE’S MAGIC IN DE AIR!’

  I suddenly felt a draught and whipped me head around. An old woman came wandering in, looking at me confused.

  ‘Where’s Dickie? Where’s me husband?’ she moaned, sounding like she was near to crying.

  ‘Eh? Oh, he’s gone next door. Close the door quick, Missus! I’m getting an awful draught here.’

  ‘Wha? I want Dickie!’

  ‘Mrs Kelly! What are you doing out of bed? Get back quickly before Sister catches you.’

  ‘Nooo! Let me go!’

  The nurse tried wrestling the old woman out the door, but she was having none of it.

  ‘You have to stay in bed! Now come on like a good girl . . . Who are you?’ she suddenly asked, letting go of the woman’s arm and coming at me.

  Oh, Jaysus! I’m done for. I hid me face, ducking me head under the water. Then lifted it back, nearly suffocating. I let the wet hair streel around me face, hoping to hide it. I couldn’t hear her right with all the water rolling around in me ears.

  ‘What’s this?’ she roared, whipping me head around and pointing at me suitcase standing up against the wall. ‘Are you a new patient?’

  ‘Eh, yeah.’

  ‘What’s going on here? Wait a minute! You’re that young one going around eating up all the patients’ dinners, causing mayhem!’

  ‘No, I most certainly am not!’ I snorted, lifting me face and looking at her squarely in the eyes. ‘I’m a hospital visitor. I come here visiting the poor patients who have no visitors whatsoever. And furthermore, they are always delighted to see me!’

  ‘Yes! At lunchtime, when they are having their dinner, which you sit eating!

  ‘EXCUSE ME! I’m only helping them out! They don’t want it, and it’s a sin to be wasting good food.’

  ‘I . . . this . . .’ she said, lost for words, with her head whipped around making her hat spin, and her eyes crossed in her head. She was outa breath from trying to understand all the confusion.

  ‘Look!’ I said, snorting air up through me nose, hoping the bit of air would make me brain think, then getting on with me washing, playing for time.

  ‘How did you get in past the porters’ desk?’ she asked, trying to keep her voice calm. Then she suddenly let rip, before I could get a word out, ‘You know full well you are barred from entering this hospital, Miss! Your antics are well recorded. You even had the cheek to make yourself right at home one night in an empty annexe right next door to the morgue! The porter went down with a corpse and had to hunt you out! You gave the poor man the fright of his life!’

  ‘Well, the dead don’t need it!’ I shouted. ‘But I did!’ I said, thumping me chest.

  ‘This is preposterous! It is an absolute outrage!’

  ‘Excuse me! I did no such thi—’ I said, getting ready to deny everything else, before she opened her mouth again.

  ‘This is not a hotel,’ she interrupted.

  ‘Well, really!’ I gasped, sounding just like Sister Eleanor. Hoping to make meself sound respectable.

  ‘Not to mention it is not even visiting time!’ she spluttered, gasping for the want of a bit of air, with her face turning purple from all her outrage, as she calls it.

  Suddenly I heard a man’s voice whistling. I looked over, seeing a porter stopping his whistling, leaning his head down to get a good look at me through the open door. His mouth looked like he was blowing something and his eyes leapt outa the back of his head he was so intent at getting a good look at me. He even forgot about the patient moaning on the trolley that he was supposed to be pushing.

  I let out a scream, grabbing me washcloth to hide meself. ‘Aaaahhh! Nurse! Ye’re lettin that man look in at me!’

  ‘What?’ she screamed, sending the door flying shut with a bang.

  ‘Ooooh!’ a voice moaned. Then the door whipped open again.

  ‘Staff Nurse! Have you seen Mrs Kelly? She’s gone missing.’ Then the young nurse’s eyes peeled on me, hoping to see I might be Missus Kelly. ‘Doctor’s on his rounds!’ she gasped.

  ‘What?’ Staff Nurse puffed, whipping her head around in even more confusion. ‘She was here a minute ago! Ohhhh! This is too much, Nurse! Can you not keep your eye on the patients even for one minute?’

  ‘But, Staff Nurse, I was taking temperatures!’

  ‘Stop prattling, girl, and go and find her! Quickly!’

  I watched as they flew out the door with their heads going in one direction and their bodies in another, not able to decide which way to go first. Then they crashed into each other as the staff nurse made back in for me.

  ‘Oh, for heaven’s sake, Nurse! Pull yourself together! Go that way!’ she pointed, waving her arm down the passage. Then she leapt back into me. ‘Out, you! And if I see sight or hair of you again you will be in major trouble. Very big trouble,’ she snorted, rattling her head like mad, making the cap shake as if she was having some kind of a fit.

  ‘Certainly! I have no intention of staying here to be insulted!’ I snorted back.

  I shuffled me way down O’Connell Street, then stopped, trying to get a look at meself in a big plate-glass shop window. Me hair was standing up in all directions. Jaysus! The state of me! I thought, gaping at meself. I plastered it down with me two hands, yawning the face offa meself. Ohhh! Me neck. Me bloody neck! I have a crick in it. I walked on, rubbing it. That’s the last time I am ever sleeping in a confessional box. I woke up in the middle of the night gasping for me life. The bloody air was all gone! I nearly suffocated meself. Then when I pushed open the door, crawling out of the box, I got an awful, terrible fright. I even started screaming me head off for all I was worth. It was the sudden shock of seeing all them statues staring down at me, an me still half asleep. I didn’t recognise them for a minute, with their faces all lit up and their eyes glowing red in the dark. Jaysus! I didn’t know what I was looking at! There they were, all standing up in the dark corners of the church, with the little red lights burning underneath, making me think they were a load of ghosts coming to get me. Gawd, Mammy! I’m still not the better of that! I thought, giving a shiver at the memory. That must have come outa me sleeping in the empty room next to the morgue. Never again!

  I looked back, throwing me eye up at Cleary’s clock, seeing the time was ten to eleven. Right! Just in nice time. I turned left, heading down Abbey Street, then crossed the road to the hotel. I peeked in the door, seeing the aul fella, the porter. He was stretched in his chair at the desk, scratching himself. Then he picked his nose, looking at his finger to see what he got. Ah, bloody hell! I have no chance getting past him! Think, Martha.

  I straightened meself, getting ready, then moseyed in, sliding past the desk. I held me breath and kept one eye on him. I had just made it to the stairs, with one foot on the step, when I heard the roar.

  ‘Eh! EXCUSE ME! Where do you think you’re goin?’

  I took in a big breath, letting it out, saying, ‘Oh, I’m all right thanks, Mister! I’m, eh, just heading up the stairs!’

  ‘I can see that! But wha business have ye in comin in here?’ he barked, waving his hand around the place and landing it on his hips. ‘You’re no payin guest! I don’t know wha yer game is, but ye can take yerself and yer bloody suitcase!’ he said, waving his finger down at me suitcase and twisting his nose outa shape like he was getting a bad smell from it.

  ‘Eh, excuse me, Mister! You are barking up the wrong tree if you think I’m only here to get up to no good! I’ll have you know I am looking for me granny. Where is she?’ I roared.

  ‘Wha in the name a Jaysus are ye on about? There’s no granny of yours staying here!’ he said, slamming his fists on his hips.

  ‘What! Then you must be blind, Mister! She came in here to use the toilet an she hasn’t come back. So would ye mind goin an lookin for her!’ I snorted, losing me rag.

  ‘Listen!’ he barked, shaking his head, with the pockmarked face on him turning red. ‘Don’t come in here tellin me my job! I am sittin at tha desk since half past eight this mornin!’ he roared, bending his back and head, pointing in at the desk like he was bowing to it. ‘An nobody, but NOBODY, has got past me fittin tha description. Now get out before I call the manager. You have no rights te be comin in here unless ye’re a payin patron!’

  ‘Right! But at least go and check the toilet! She could be lying in there now, dead. Dead as a stone corpse!’

  ‘I will do no such thing. Eh, wha are ye talkin about? Stone corpse?! Wha the hell is tha, I ask you?’

  I thought for a minute, hearing the words again. Then roared, ‘You know what I mean! Stone dead!’ I shouted, annoyed at making a fool outa meself.

  He let a big breath outa his nose, shaking his head at me, then asked me patiently, ‘Now, are ye goin to leave peacefully, or do I have to call the guards to remove you?’

  ‘Huh! Bloody aul culchie! Only an aul culchie would be fond a callin the coppers!’ I roared, knowing that insult would get a rise outa him.

  ‘Get out! Before I raise me boot and send you flyin out tha door!’ he roared, making to grab a hold of me.

  I ducked under his arm, making to fly out the door, and went headlong straight into a man coming in wearing a long check apron, carrying a big tray of sausages and black and white puddings and chops. The lot went up into the air, and as I skated over the sausages, me eye lit on them for a minute! No good. They’re raw! Then I was out the door like greased lightning.

  ‘You whore’s melt!’ the sausage man roared.

  ‘I’ll fuckin brain you if I ever get me hands on ye again!’ roared the porter as I looked back.

  Then I shot me head forward just in time to see the bus barrelling down on me. I s
topped dead, frozen for one second, doing a see-saw, rocking on me feet. Back? No! I leapt forward, tearing for the footpath. Made it! Phew! Nearly got me last gasp there!

  The bus driver lashed open his little side window, roaring his head off at me, ‘Get off the road, you stupid, dirty-looking pile a shite!’

  ‘Ah, go on now,’ I said, grinning and lifting me chin slowly. ‘Ye’re just jealous cos ye look like the back a yer bus! But that’s a grand horn ye have there. Did you gerrit for yer birthday?’ Then I turned tail and headed back up to Cleary’s, making me getaway.

  I better get meself a squirt of scent. It doesn’t look like I’m going to be getting a bath today. Pity! I liked that place. The hotel bathrooms were nice and handy to get at. Just up the stairs and along the corridor. And it even had a thing on the bath for holding me soap and washcloth and Palmolive shampoo. Yeah! And I could take hours if I wanted, with nobody to bother me. Hmm, I had all me comfort there. Pity I couldn’t get in today. I was looking forward to using me nice clean fresh towels I managed to grab off the nurse’s trolley before I got thrown out.

  I wandered back out of Cleary’s smelling of Lavender Water. I sniffed the air, that’s a bit strong. I put too much on. You can smell me a mile away. I stood looking up and down. It was drizzling down with the rain. And the wind blew me coat up around me legs. I pulled the collar of me coat up. Brrr! It’s bloody freezing. I looked up at the clock. Half past twelve. Time for din-dins up at the hospital. Wonder what they’re getting to eat for the dinner today? Never mind. I better keep me nose outa there for a while. Pity! Poor Arabella, Lady Arabella. She will miss me today. The poor thing gets no visitors. Imagine! Ending up in a paupers’ hospital, left lying, dumped in a ward with no one to care whether she lived or died, and she the daughter of an ‘aristocrat’, as she called it. Her family owned half of the best parts of Dublin city in the old days!

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