Authors: Joan Jonker
Try a Little
Copyright © 1998 Joan Jonker
The right of Joan Jonker to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.
First published as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2012
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library
eISBN: 978 0 7553 9028 1
HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
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Joan Jonker was born and bred in Liverpool. Her childhood was a time of love and laughter with her two sisters, a brother, a caring but gambling father and an indomitable mother who was always getting them out of scrapes. Then came the Second World War when she met and fell in love with her husband, Tony. For twenty-three years, Joan campaigned tirelessly on behalf of victims of violence, and it was during this time that she turned to writing fiction. Sadly, after a brave battle against illness, Joan died in February 2006. Her best-selling Liverpool sagas will continue to enthral readers throughout the world.
Joan Jonker’s previous novels, several of which feature the unforgettable duo Molly and Nellie, have won millions of adoring fans:
‘Wonderful … the characters are so real I feel I am there in Liverpool with them’ Athena Tooze, Brooklyn, New York
‘I enjoy your books for they bring back memories of my younger days’ Frances Hassett, Brixham, Devon
‘Thanks for all the good reads’ Phyllis Portock, Walsall
‘I love your books, Joan, they bring back such happy memories’ J. Mullett, Lancashire
‘I’m an ardent fan, Joan, an avid reader of your books. As an old Liverpudlian, I appreciate the humour. Thank you for so many happy hours’ Mrs L. Broomhead, Liverpool
Also by Joan Jonker
When One Door Closes
Man Of The House
Home Is Where The Heart Is
The Pride Of Polly Perkins
Sadie Was A Lady
Walking My Baby Back Home
Try A Little Tenderness
Stay As Sweet As You Are
Dream A Little Dream
Many A Tear Has To Fall
Taking A Chance On Love
Strolling With The One I Love
When Wishes Come True
The Girl From Number 22
One Rainy Day
Featuring Molly Bennett and Nellie McDonough
Stay In Your Own Back Yard
Last Tram To Lime Street
Sweet Rosie O’Grady
Down Our Street
After The Dance Is Over
The Sunshine Of Your Smile
Three Little Words
I’ll Be Your Sweetheart
Victims Of Violence
To my Down’s Syndrome son, Philip, who is the nicest person I know.
He knows not greed or envy, speaks ill of no one and walks away from raised voices. He enjoys life and appreciates everything. With his ever-ready smile he is a joy to know and I love the bones of him. If there were more people like Philip, wouldn’t the world be a better place?
Come with me back in time to the mid-1930s and meet the Nightingale family. Stan and Mary and their two daughters, Laura and Jenny. Both girls are beautiful to look at, but as different in nature as chalk and cheese. And meet their friends and neighbours, the Hanleys and the Moynihans. Bring these characters together and you have a recipe for fun and laughter all the way. There may be the odd tear of sadness, because that’s life. But mostly the tears rolling down your cheeks will be tears of laughter. I hope you enjoy meeting my new friends.
‘I want me skipping-rope back, Laura, yer’ve had it for ages and it’s not fair because it was my birthday present.’
‘Oh, stop yer moaning.’ Laura Nightingale threw her sister Jenny a dirty look. ‘Me mam said yer had to give me a go.’
‘Yeah, but she didn’t mean yer could keep it all to yerself.’ Jenny stamped her foot in indignation at the injustice of it. At twelve years of age, she was eighteen months younger than her sister and always came off worse when it came to sharing. ‘When you got a book for yer birthday, yer wouldn’t even read me a story from it, never mind let me read it.’
‘That’s ’cos I didn’t want yer to get dirty marks on it.’ Laura was skipping with her arms crossed and jumping on one foot. It wasn’t often she got the chance to skip with a proper skipping-rope. Usually it was a piece of clothes-line, but this one had real wooden handles painted in a bright red. ‘I’ll swap yer me book for yer rope.’
‘No! The book’s all torn now, I don’t want it.’ Jenny could see her sister had no intention of relinquishing the rope until she got fed up with it. ‘I’m going to tell me mam if yer don’t give it to me
Laura smirked and kept on skipping. ‘Go and tell her, I don’t care.’
Near to tears, Jenny ran into the house. She found her mother in the kitchen putting some clothes through the mangle. ‘Mam, our Laura won’t give me back me skipping-rope. I haven’t even had a turn, and it’s my birthday present.’
Mary Nightingale sighed as she rubbed her wet hands down the front of her pinny. Mother and daughter were as alike as two peas in a pod. Both were slim, with pale golden hair, a fair complexion and vivid blue eyes. They had the same nature, too. Kind, easygoing and with a sense of humour that brought a ready smile to their faces.
‘She’s a selfish article, our Laura. She thinks the world revolves around her and what she wants.’ Mary made her way to the front door. ‘It’s about time she learned there are other people beside herself.’
When Laura saw her mother, she laughed. ‘Went crying to her mammy, did she? She’s like a flippin’ baby.’
‘Give her the rope, Laura, it’s her birthday present.’
‘I’ll give it to her in a minute, when I’ve had a go skipping backwards.’ There was a brazen look on Laura’s face. ‘Just a couple more minutes.’
‘Yer heard what I said.’ Mary was trying to contain her rising temper. ‘Give it to her now or I’ll give yer a clip around the ears.’
Still the girl went on skipping as though daring her mother to carry out her threat. ‘I said in a minute.’
Mary stepped forward and caught the rope in mid-flight. ‘Do as ye’re told and hand it over.’
‘I won’t, not until I’m ready.’ When she felt her mother tugging at the rope, Laura gripped it tight and refused to let go. And all the while she had a smirk on her face. With her dark hair, greeny-hazel eyes and swarthy complexion, there was no resemblance between her and the woman with whom she was having a tug of war. And the war wasn’t about the rope, it was about her getting her own way, showing who was the boss.
Mary could no longer stand the insolence and delivered a stinging smack to the side of her daughter’s face. ‘You asked for that, you impudent, selfish madam. Don’t yer ever dare answer me back like that again.’ She pulled the rope which was now hanging loose and passed it to Jenny. ‘Here
yer are, sunshine, and don’t let her take it off yer again.’
Laura looked stunned as she held a hand to her cheek. ‘You just wait until me dad gets in, he’ll have something to say about this. Yer’ll be sorry.’
‘I warned yer dad twelve years ago that he was spoiling yer and making a rod for his own back. The trouble is, he’s made one for my back as well. And everybody else that has to put up with yer selfishness and insolence.’ With that Mary turned her back and went into the house. She knew there’d be a row when Stan came in, he wouldn’t take her side, never did. But there was only so much a mother could take from a child who was out of hand, and she’d taken enough. They had two daughters and they should be treated equally. But they weren’t, not by their father. Laura could do no wrong in his eyes, he thought the sun shone out of her backside. She lied herself out of trouble, always laying the blame at her sister’s door. If there was a fight, it was always Jenny who started it. If anything went missing, it was Jenny who’d taken it. And Stan fell for it every time, believing her without question.
Mary put her hip to the side of the mangle and pushed it back into the corner of the tiny kitchen of the two-up-two-down house that had been her home since the day she married, fifteen years ago. She loved her husband, and they’d been happy, until favouritism had reared its ugly head and blighted that happiness. She’d tried to reason with Stan when Laura started getting out of hand, but he wouldn’t listen. He couldn’t see further than the end of his nose where she was concerned. Poor Jenny didn’t get a look in. Although she was the youngest, she was the one who was sent to the corner shop for his five Woodbines when Laura didn’t feel like going. She was the one sent down the yard for a shovelful of coal because Laura didn’t like the cold. Yet she never complained. She did everything she was asked, because from the time she could toddle she realised her sister was more special to her father than she was. But in
the last year she’d begun to rebel against the unfairness and was fighting back.
Mary lifted the lid off the pan of stew and sniffed up in appreciation. ‘That should put a lining on their tummies.’ She spoke aloud to the empty room. ‘I’ll set the table and then call the girls in.’
She was laying the knives and forks out when her husband came in, his face red with anger. ‘Have you just slapped our Laura for nothing?’
‘No, I have not slapped our Laura for nothing.’ Mary sighed as she shook her head. ‘I slapped her for giving me cheek and for not doing as she was told.’
‘Yer made a holy show of her in front of the whole street, that’s what yer did. And all over a bleedin’ skipping-rope.’
Her anger high, Mary’s answer was sharp. ‘I think yer should get yer facts straight, Stan Nightingale. And yer won’t get them straight off that wayward daughter of ours. Huh! In front of the whole street, was it? I didn’t see anyone around, but if there was then they’d have heard her giving her mother cheek, the hard-faced little faggot. And the bleedin’ skipping-rope ye’re talking about was Jenny’s birthday present! She wasn’t even allowed to get her hands on it because of your darling Laura. Or had yer forgotten it was Jenny’s birthday? Mind you, it wouldn’t surprise me. There are times when I think yer’ve forgotten yer’ve even got another daughter, all the notice yer take of her.’
‘Well, I don’t want yer hittin’ her no more.’ Stan hung his peaked cap on the nail behind the kitchen door. ‘If there’s any telling-off to do, I’ll do it.’
He was about to walk away when Mary grabbed his arm and spun him around. ‘You tell our Laura off! That’s a good one, that is. I’ve never known yer raise yer voice to her, nor yer hand, more’s the pity. A few smacks when she was younger would have put her on the straight and narrow, taught her right from wrong. But it’s too late now, she’s set in her ways, lying, cheating and bloody selfish. Yer’ll live to
rue the day, Stan Nightingale, mark my words. She’ll bring trouble to this door, and it’ll all be your fault.’