In the third installment of Martha Long's real-life account of abuse, deprivation and cruelty at the hands of her parents and the establishment, Martha is now sixteen, her time at the convent school is up. In "Ma, It's a Cauld Aul Night and I'm Lookin for a Bed", she leads us through her first months of freedom. With no friends or family to act as a safety net, Martha leaves the convent wearing a new set of clothes the nuns bought her, a suitcase with a second set of old clothes 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. Having been trained to work as a domestic by the nuns in the convent, Martha finds work as a skivvy, but finds that low pay and little free time is all she gets for her endeavors. This does not deter Martha. 'Life is a bowl of cherries!' she likes to think when the going is good. But further heartache awaits as people turn her away and predators await in the shadows.
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