Read Cross Your Heart, Connie Pickles Online

Authors: Sabine Durrant

Tags: #General, #Fiction, #Humorous stories, #Juvenile Fiction, #England, #Children's Books - Young Adult Fiction, #Children: Young Adult (Gr. 7-9), #Family & Relationships, #Social Issues, #Parenting, #Teenage girls, #Family, #Mothers and daughters, #Girls & Women, #Social Issues - General, #Friendship, #Family - General, #Social Issues - Adolescence, #Adolescence, #Emotions & Feelings, #Social Issues - Emotions & Feelings, #Diaries, #Diary fiction, #Motherhood

Cross Your Heart, Connie Pickles

BOOK: Cross Your Heart, Connie Pickles
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PUFFIN BOOKS

Welcome to the very private notebook of Constance de Bellechasse. Also known as Connie Pickles. Please, please don’t read this without the permission of its owner. Especially if you are its owner’s mother, little brother or sister, or if you are William. Or Jack. Or Mr Spence. Constance de Bellechasse accepts NO responsibility for any embarrassment, blushing or crossness resulting from reading this notebook!

Signed: Connie Pickles

Books by Sabine Durrant

CROSS YOUR HEART, CONNIE PICKLES

For adults

THE GREAT INDOORS

HAVING IT AND EATING IT

PUFFIN

PUFFIN BOOKS

Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

www.penguin.com

First published 2005
3

Copyright © Sabine Durrant, 2005
All rights reserved

The moral right of the author has been asserted

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-0-14-192176-1

For my friend Hilary

Sunday 9 February

The roof, midnight

I’ve just written
my name on the outside of this book and I wish I hadn’t. It’s midnight and I was feeling all romantic and blustery, and now I feel cross. Connie Pickles is NOT how I see myself. Constance de Bellechasse is how I see myself. It’s a good thing I’m writing this in the open air, and very high up, or I’d feel quite cast down.

I’m on the roof, you see. It’s freezing and I should be in bed, but I couldn’t sleep and I hate wasting time. I’m wearing my striped men’s pyjamas, two jumpers, my dressing gown and a pair of socks, so I’m quite warm. There are clouds wisping across the dark sky, tangerine from the street lights. The moon is right above my head – it’s a sort of semicircle, but it’s tipped on its side and if it wasn’t for the wind and the weird orange clouds blowing against it, you might think it would lose its balance altogether.

I’m not going to lose my balance. Or throw myself off. Don’t worry. I’m always on the roof, so I’m used to it. It’s my favourite place in the whole world. You can see all the gardens of the houses in our street laid out in little rows, and the gardens of the street that backs on to ours. You can even see my friend William’s window if you
crane
. I’m always telling him he should climb out too, but his roof hasn’t got a flat bit and he says he’s not breaking his neck just to wave to me, thank you very much. It’s not dangerous my end, but you have to be careful. The only tricky thing is getting here. You have to climb on the bed and then bend and jump up at the same time. You can’t overshoot, but sometimes I scrape my back on the window frame. In summer too, it can get really hot because it’s asphalt. Tonight it’s cool and soft like the skin of an apple.

Oh, there you go. I’m doing it again. I’m trying to be all poetic. And I’ve vowed not to; this delicious new diary is to have none of that. The thing is I’m not poetic. Or romantic. Or, much as I’d like to be, French. De Bellechasse is only my mother’s maiden name. And Connie is what everybody calls me. Not Constance. Just plain, dowdy, clumsy Connie. As for France, I’ve only ever been there once, on the school trip to Boulogne. And that was only for a day.

I’m Connie Pickles and that’s that.

Or is it?

Because something BIG hit me this evening. I’ve been reading this book called
The Blessing
by Nancy Mitford and there’s this small boy in it who decides to take his mother’s life in hand. Well, it set me thinking, and when I went down for supper – cheese on toast (again) – and Marie and Cyril wouldn’t go to bed, charging around like bulls in a… well, in a small rented house, and there was Mother in her threadbare black suit, flicking through a six-month-old French
Vogue
someone left on the Tube, looking vague and fragile and tired, it made me think. Just because I’m only fourteen, it doesn’t mean I can’t make things happen.

My dream used to be to reunite her with her parents, my grandparents, les de Bellechasses. They’re French and very grand. But they cut her off when she met my father, who was a penniless actor/pizza delivery man. He died and now she won’t speak to them. She never opens their letters. And she gets so cross when I ask her about them… So no, I think it will have to be something else. I think it will have to be a New Man.

It would be OK if I could trust her to find someone for herself, but she can’t. She works in a lingerie shop to make ends meet – which they don’t
quite
– and a bra shop, no matter how royally appointed, is not the best venue for meeting men. Also she has terrible taste. My father was very handsome. And Mother assures me he was a brilliant actor. But I can’t help wondering – if he was such a brilliant actor, what was he doing delivering pizzas on the night he died? As for her second husband, Jack, sweetie that he is – and I know Marie and Cyril adore him – he’s just not reliable.

The moon has gone behind a cloud. And I just yawned, which is a giveaway. I’m going to climb into bed now. The thing is not to worry about how things are, but to bring about change. That’s why I’ve started this notebook, this beautiful notebook with its crisp pages and delicious smell – I bought it on that trip to Boulogne (I love stationery) – although there are still some pages left in the old one. This notebook is a book with a purpose. With serious intent. It is a campaign diary. I hereby declare my resolution to put our lives in order, to find Mother a man. Requirements: 1) Money. 2) Experience of small children. 3) French connections.

Constance de Bellechasse… oh, all right, Connie Pickles is on the case.

BOOK: Cross Your Heart, Connie Pickles
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