Just One More Day: A Memoir

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9780099598749: Just One More Day: A Memoir

In 1960s Bristol, a family is overshadowed by tragedy While Susan, a typically feisty seven-year-old, is busy being brave, her mother, Eddress, is struggling for courage. Though bound by an indestructible love, their journey through a world that is darkening with tragedy is fraught with the kind of misunderstandings that bring as much laughter as pain, and as many dreams as nightmares. How does a child cope when faced with a wall of adult secrets? What does a mother do when her biggest fear starts to become a reality? Because it's the Sixties, and because it's shameful to own up to feelings, Eddress tries to deny the truth, while Susan creates a world that will never allow her mother to leave. Set in a world where a fridge is a luxury, cars have starting handles, and where bingo and coupons bring in the little extras, Just One More Day is a deeply moving true-life account, told by mother and daughter, of how the spectre of death moved into their family, and how hard they tried to pretend it wasn't there.

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About the Author:

Susan Lewis is the bestselling author of thirty-two novels. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol. Having resided in France for many years she now lives in Gloucestershire. Her website address is www.susanlewis.com. Susan is a supporter of the childhood bereavement charity, Winston's Wish: www.winstonswish.org.uk and of the breast cancer charity, BUST: www.bustbristol.co.uk

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

Susan

I'm very brave. No-one else knows I'm being brave, because I haven't told them. It's a secret - between me and my dad.

I'm sitting at my desk now, in my classroom, watching the teacher chalk things up on the blackboard. It's something about poetry, but I'm not really paying attention, which would make Daddy cross, because he loves poems. I've got a lot to think about though, because it's not always easy being brave, and I have to make sure I'm doing it right.

As I think about it, I stare up at the big, oblong window with twelve square panes, where I can only see milkcoloured sky outside. If I stood on a chair to look I'd see the library next door, Warmley Hill and the petrol station opposite where my friends and I sometimes sneak into the ladies' toilets to play doctors and nurses. But that's another secret and I'm definitely never going to tell anyone about that - not even Daddy. And if Mummy ever found out I know she'd tell the police, because she already nearly did once. That was when she caught me and my friend Janet in the garden, pulling down our swimming costumes to show the boys our chests. We were so scared when Mummy came storming out of the house, telling us we were wicked and that she was taking us to the police, that we ran and hid in Mr Weiner's shed.SINGING THE WALLS Mummy wouldn't look for us there, because Mr Weiner's German and Mummy doesn't have anything to do with him because she still hasn't forgiven him for the war. Daddy has, but Daddy forgives everyone for everything.

Today my hair is in plaits with two white bows at the end of each one. Grown-ups are always going on about my hair, saying how lovely it is, all thick and red and curly, but it's all right for them, they don't have to put up with Mummy's brushing every morning, or the horrid, smelly boys in my class who call me Ginger and pull it. Granny told me once that Mummy, whose hair is the exact same colour (I bet Granny never used to be so mean with a brush when Mummy was little), used to beat people up if they called her Ginger, or worse, Ginge. I've never done that, but I do get really angry, especially on the days when Mummy forces my hair up into a high-topped ponytail that the boys keep swinging on, then running away before I can punch their noses.

I've got freckles too. I hate them. But even worse are the glasses I have to wear. As if they don't make me look stupid enough, the right lens since I was six (I'm seven now) has been covered up with a white patch to make my left eye see properly. It doesn't though, so I have to keep peering over the top so I can read my books and watch the telly. When Mummy spots me she puts her fingers under my chin and tilts my head up again. She's very strict and won't ever let me take them off. But even she laughed when we first got them from the optician. I was sulking and wanted to cry because I knew already how stupid I was going to feel in them, and how much fun everyone was going to poke at me. Then the optician gave us a pair of round National Health frames, which came for free, and when I put them on Mummy split her sides laughing. I love it when Mummy laughs, because it always makes me laugh too.

I think I'm being quite brave at the moment, because I don't mind that Mummy won't be there when I get home after school. The first time she wasn't there I was more frightened than when Daddy took us across the Clifton Suspension Bridge and we looked all the way down at the river. I was little then and hid behind Daddy's legs. I still don't like looking down when I'm high up, and I don't really like it when Mummy's not there, but I'm being brave, so I won't cry. I expect Gary will though. He's my brother, who's four years younger than me, which makes him only three, so he's allowed to cry. If I feel like crying too, I'll wait till I'm on my own so no-one will see, because I don't want Daddy to know I'm afraid in case it makes him afraid too. You see, it's all right to be scared of the dark, and of spiders and witches and things, and to make Daddy sit at the bottom of the stairs singing and telling his silly jokes while I go to the toilet, but it's not all right to be scared about Mummy not being there, because that's just silly when we know she's coming back.

Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark -
Brandy for the Parson
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

The teacher's reciting my favourite poem now. I recite it to Granny sometimes, though I keep forgetting bits, which makes her chuckle and then she hugs me to her chest, which is like a great big fluffy pillow. Granny is Mummy's mummy and is very old and lives in a house full of ornaments and photographs and bottles of stout that she likes to drink. She plays bingo a lot too, either at the Regal in Staple Hill, or the Vandyke in Fishponds, or near us, at the Made-for-Ever youth club. When she goes there Mummy usually goes with her, and if it's Saturday, and I've been good, they take me for the first session, and let me have my own card to cross off the numbers. I won a pound once, but I can't remember what I did with it now. After the first session Daddy comes to pick me up and take me home to bed. Later, Mummy and Granny walk back to our house, then Daddy drives Granny home in his blue Morris car.

Daddy doesn't like bingo very much. Or telly. He prefers books, which he reads under a lamp in the front room, while Mummy watches her favourite programmes all snuggled up by the fire in the dining room. It's lovely snuggling up with her, but she doesn't let me stay up very late. I have to go to bed earlier than everyone else on our street, probably than everyone in the whole wide world, which is horrible, because in the summer I can still hear my friends playing outside. But Mummy won't give in. She's really strict, and sometimes I don't like her very much. She makes me want to go and live on an island where no grown-ups are allowed, and children can do anything they want whenever they want. Daddy read me a story about it once, and I've always remembered it, because that's where I'm going to go if I ever run away. My dad's the best story-reader in all the world. He sits out on the landing every night, between my and Gary's bedrooms, and tells us all about Alice, or Pooh, or Brer Rabbit, or my absolute favourite, Naughty Amelia Jane. I want to be like her, but Mummy wouldn't put up with it.

Five and twenty ponies
Trotting through the dark -
Brandy for the Parson
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Mummy's going to miss Coronation Street tonight. She hates missing it, and never does, unless she has to go away, like now. I wonder if there are tellies where she is. Children aren't allowed in, so I don't know. Usually, Gary and I go to Granny's while Daddy visits her. Sometimes I go with Daddy, but I have to wait outside in the car.

It's half past three now, because Mr Dobbs, the headmaster, is ringing the bell, which echoes up and down the corridors, and we all stand up to say 'goodnight' to Mrs Taylor, our teacher, which seems a bit silly when it's not night at all.

Me and Sophie (she's my new best friend) go to get our coats from the cloakroom, and even though it's going to be May next week, it's still a bit cold outside, so we make sure all our buttons are done up. Then, with our satchels strapped across us, we join the crowd gathering round the lollipop lady who's always there to see us across the road.

'Got any money for sweets?' Sophie asks me. 'I spent all mine on tuck.'

'My dad gave me tuppence this morning,' I tell her. 'I've still got a penny ha'penny left.'

'Hey, it's Ginge with the one eye!' Kelvin Milton shouts, and he pulls so hard on one of my plaits that I scream and try to bash him with my fists. I always miss though, because he's too fast.

'Cry baby, cry baby!' two more boys start singing. Then some girls chime in, 'Cry baby! Cry baby! Susan's a baby.'

'One-eyed monster, you mean,' someone else shouts.

'Ginger biscuit.'

Sophie puts her arm round me, but I push her off.

'I hate you!' I scream at the grinning Kelvin Milton. 'I'm going to tell my mum about you.'

Kelvin merely pokes out his tongue and waggles his hands either side of his head. He looks like a cabbage flapping its leaves.

'Come on, come on,' the lollipop lady shouts. 'I can't hold the traffic all day.'

Sophie links my arm as we cross over. 'It's all right, they're just stupid,' she says. 'Let's go in the shop and get some sweets.'

I can't find my clean hanky so I dry my eyes with my coat sleeve. I hate Kelvin Milton so much that I'm going to think of something really evil and nasty to do to him. If I was a witch I'd turn him into a slug, then my brother would eat him, because my brother eats slugs. Or he did once, before Mummy snatched it away then stuck her fingers down his throat to make him sick.

The queue inside the corner tuck shop isn't very long, and no-one horrid is in there, because the horrid children never have any money. I just hope they're not waiting outside to steal our sweets. As we move up the queue Sophie and I greedily eye all the jars, mouths watering. What shall we have? A sherbert dip? A lucky bag? A packet of Smith's crisps with a little blue bag of salt? Apenny-ha'penny would buy us three sticks of red liquorice, or six fruit salad chews, three white chocolate mice or six mojos. We end up getting four mojos, and two aniseed twists, which are Sophie's favourites. Even though Sophie's parents are rich, I don't mind paying for her, because she shared her potato puffs and Wagon Wheel with me at playtime.

She lives in a really big house with a tower and a weathercock on the top, and hundreds of rooms which are great for hide-and-seek, but I'm a bit nervous of the secret passageways and trapdoors under the rugs. If one of them opens up I could b...

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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 201 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In 1960s Bristol, a family is overshadowed by tragedy While Susan, a typically feisty seven-year-old, is busy being brave, her mother, Eddress, is struggling for courage. Though bound by an indestructible love, their journey through a world that is darkening with tragedy is fraught with the kind of misunderstandings that bring as much laughter as pain, and as many dreams as nightmares. How does a child cope when faced with a wall of adult secrets? What does a mother do when her biggest fear starts to become a reality? Because it s the Sixties, and because it s shameful to own up to feelings, Eddress tries to deny the truth, while Susan creates a world that will never allow her mother to leave. Set in a world where a fridge is a luxury, cars have starting handles, and where bingo and coupons bring in the little extras, Just One More Day is a deeply moving true-life account, told by mother and daughter, of how the spectre of death moved into their family, and how hard they tried to pretend it wasn t there. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099598749

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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 201 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In 1960s Bristol, a family is overshadowed by tragedy While Susan, a typically feisty seven-year-old, is busy being brave, her mother, Eddress, is struggling for courage. Though bound by an indestructible love, their journey through a world that is darkening with tragedy is fraught with the kind of misunderstandings that bring as much laughter as pain, and as many dreams as nightmares. How does a child cope when faced with a wall of adult secrets? What does a mother do when her biggest fear starts to become a reality? Because it s the Sixties, and because it s shameful to own up to feelings, Eddress tries to deny the truth, while Susan creates a world that will never allow her mother to leave. Set in a world where a fridge is a luxury, cars have starting handles, and where bingo and coupons bring in the little extras, Just One More Day is a deeply moving true-life account, told by mother and daughter, of how the spectre of death moved into their family, and how hard they tried to pretend it wasn t there. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099598749

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Book Description Cornerstone. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Just One More Day: A Memoir, Susan Lewis, In 1960s Bristol, a family is overshadowed by tragedy While Susan, a typically feisty seven-year-old, is busy being brave, her mother, Eddress, is struggling for courage. Though bound by an indestructible love, their journey through a world that is darkening with tragedy is fraught with the kind of misunderstandings that bring as much laughter as pain, and as many dreams as nightmares. How does a child cope when faced with a wall of adult secrets? What does a mother do when her biggest fear starts to become a reality? Because it's the Sixties, and because it's shameful to own up to feelings, Eddress tries to deny the truth, while Susan creates a world that will never allow her mother to leave. Set in a world where a fridge is a luxury, cars have starting handles, and where bingo and coupons bring in the little extras, Just One More Day is a deeply moving true-life account, told by mother and daughter, of how the spectre of death moved into their family, and how hard they tried to pretend it wasn't there. Bookseller Inventory # B9780099598749

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Book Description Arrow Books Ltd, 2014. Book Condition: New. In 1960s Bristol, a family is overshadowed by tragedy While Susan, a typically feisty seven-year-old, is busy being brave, her mother is struggling for courage. Though bound by an indestructible love, their journey through a world that is darkening with tragedy is fraught with the kind of misunderstandings that bring as much laughter as pain. Num Pages: 384 pages. BIC Classification: 1DBKEWS; 3JJPK; BM. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 200 x 129 x 24. Weight in Grams: 276. . 2014. Paperback. . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099598749

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Book Description Arrow Books Ltd. Book Condition: New. In 1960s Bristol, a family is overshadowed by tragedy While Susan, a typically feisty seven-year-old, is busy being brave, her mother is struggling for courage. Though bound by an indestructible love, their journey through a world that is darkening with tragedy is fraught with the kind of misunderstandings that bring as much laughter as pain. Num Pages: 384 pages. BIC Classification: 1DBKEWS; 3JJPK; BM. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 200 x 129 x 24. Weight in Grams: 276. . 2014. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780099598749

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