In this latest instalment of Martha Long's real-life account of abuse, deprivation and cruelty at the hands of her mother's partner and the establishment, Martha is now 16 and her time at the convent school is up. In "Ma, It's a Cold Aul Night an I'm Lookin for a Bed", she leads us through her first months of freedom. With no home to go to, Martha leaves the convent carrying her suitcase and a burning ambition to shake off her impoverished past. Hungry to become a person who will blend in with the middle classes, Martha yearns to be accepted as someone who can be loved, respected, and one day have a home of her own where she will be safe. But this is 1960s Dublin, where poverty is rife and the Church works together with the Irish government to keep the poor and the ignorant in their place. Martha first finds work as a home help with a loving, lively family, which leads her to a job in a shop, an Italian fish and chip cafe, then as a skivvy in a miserable household where she is reminded of the terror Jackser brought into her life.
Chance meetings with brothers and old friends from the convent lift Martha's spirits, but soon she is back on the streets searching for work and a warm bed to call her own. Martha is not often deterred when fate deals her a blow. 'Life is a bowl of cherries!' she reasons. But heartache awaits as people turn her away and predators lurk in the shadows. 
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