Authors: Jacqueline Wilson
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Epub ISBN 9781409096399
LITTLE DARLINGS A DOUBLEDAY BOOK 978 0 385 61443 6
Published in Great Britain by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House Children's Books A Random House Group company
This edition published 2010
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Text copyright Â© Jacqueline Wilson, 2010 Illustrations copyright Â© Nick Sharratt, 2010
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For Lisa and Millie
Also available by Jacqueline Wilson
Published in Corgi Pups, for beginner readers:
THE DINOSAUR'S PACKED LUNCH
THE MONSTER STORY-TELLER
Published in Young Corgi, for newly confident readers:
Available from Doubleday/Corgi Yearling Books:
THE BED AND BREAKFAST STAR
THE CAT MUMMY
THE DARE GAME
THE DIAMOND GIRLS
DOUBLE ACT (PLAY EDITION)
THE ILLUSTRATED MUM
THE LOTTIE PROJECT
MY SECRET DIARY
MY SISTER JODIE
STARRING TRACY BEAKER
THE STORY OF TRACY BEAKER
THE SUITCASE KID
THE WORRY WEBSITE
THE JACQUELINE WILSON COLLECTION
THE STORY OF TRACY BEAKER
THE BED AND BREAKFAST STAR
JACQUELINE WILSON'S DOUBLE-DECKER
JACQUELINE WILSON'S SUPERSTARS
THE SUIT CASE KID
THE LOTTIE PROJECT
Available from Doubleday/Corgi Books, for older readers:
GIRLS IN LOVE
GIRLS UNDER PRESSURE
GIRLS OUT LATE
GIRLS IN TEARS
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Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you
.Â .Â .'
I wriggle up from under my old teddy-bear duvet and prop myself on my elbows.
âHappy birthday, dear
, happy birthday to you!'
Mum takes hold of the duvet, trying to work the two big bears' mouths like puppets, doing growly bear âhappy birthdays'. She's played this game with me ever since I can remember. I suppose I'm way too old for it now I'm eleven, but never mind, it's only Mum and me.
âThank you, Pinky, thank you, Bluey,' I say, giving each duvet bear a kiss.
I know they're not very exciting names, but I christened them when I was only two or three. âAnd thank you, Mum.'
I put my arms round her and hug her close. She feels so skinny I'm scared of snapping her in half. She doesn't diet, she just doesn't find time to eat very much. Now we've moved to Bilefield she's got
jobs: she has her cleaning job at the university early in the morning, then she does her home-helping all day, and then Friday and Saturday and Sunday nights she's started working the evening shift at the Dog and Fox, only that's our secret, because she has to leave me on my own when she's down the pub.
I don't mind one little bit. She leaves me pizzas and oven chips, and any fool can heat them up, I can watch whatever telly I want or play all my secret games, and when I go to bed Mum's always left me a little scribbled note. Sometimes it's a
Danny Kilman quiz â complete the last line of the chorus, silly stuff like that. Sometimes it's a message:
Night-night, my best girl. Sleep tight and hope the bugs don't bite
We really did have bed bugs once, when we lived on the Latchford Estate. Mum let this friend of hers and her two kids from the balcony above live at our flat for a couple of weeks after the friend left her husband, and they must have brought them with them. They moved on, but their bugs stayed â awful little black wriggly things. Mum used to catch them with a bar of carbolic soap and she'd scrub and scrub the mattress, but they kept on wriggling. So eventually we gave up on the mattress altogether and hauled it in and out of the lift and lumbered it to the waste ground behind the dustbins where everyone dumps their rubbish.
Mum went down to the Social and begged for a new mattress. It was, like, well, you live on the Latchford Estate so you're the pits. We can't help it if you're dirty, we can't go providing you with new mattresses every five minutes. So Mum said stuff them and we made do without a mattress for months, huddled up together on the sofa cushions with Mum's duvet underneath us and my teddy duvet on top. I quite liked cuddling up together but it hurt Mum's back.
I think that was the main reason she took up with Steve. We went and lived in his posh house and he bought us all sorts of stuff. He didn't just buy us both a mattress, he bought us brand-new beds. Their bed was a really fancy four-poster bed just like in a fairy story. My bed was just ordinary. Mum wanted to get me a pretty new pillowcase-and-duvet set. She had one all picked out with white lace and embroidered pink rosebuds. I'd have loved it, but I didn't want to have to fawn all over Steve, so I said I wanted to stick to my old teddy duvet. And I was glad I did. When Mum and Steve were in their fancy bed, I could curl up in mine with Pinky one side of me, Bluey the other, and we'd go into the woods and have picnics, just like that silly old song.
I often don't sleep very well, and while Steve was around I couldn't climb in beside Mum, so I had a
of picnics with Pinky and Bluey. Sometimes on really bad nights we'd scoot off on holiday together, flying off to different foreign lands, sightseeing and swimming and sunbathing. I don't play all that silly kid stuff now, of course. Well, not often. And Steve's history, and his fancy house and his four-poster bed.
He started slapping Mum about and she put up with it for a bit, but then he started on me, and she
wasn't having that. So we did a runner, Mum and me, with two suitcases stuffed with our clothes and my duvet and Mum's make-up and our little CD player and all Mum's Danny Kilman albums and her big Danny scrapbook. We couldn't literally run with those cases â we could barely
We ended up in a refuge where all the little kids kept crying and the big kids were fighting and one of the women tried to nick all our Danny stuff. Mum didn't half clobber her when she caught her â my little mum against this huge hippo of a woman, a good twenty stone â but
messes with Mum's Danny Kilman collection. Then we got rehoused on another rubbish estate not much better than Latchford, but Mum said she'd learned her lesson, she wasn't getting mixed up with any other bloke now, not even if he lived in Buckingham Palace.
She tried to make our new flat into a proper home, painting all the walls different bright colours and making proper flowery-patterned curtains for our windows â though it was so damp the ceiling went black with mould no matter how many times she painted it and the curtains were wringing wet with condensation every morning.
But then we got our lucky break! One of Mum's
special regulars, Harry Benson, a dear old gent she cleaned for on Thursday mornings, got pneumonia and went into hospital and died. Mum was sad because she'd loved old Harry. She'd nip out to the shops for him several times a week, buying his
and his Players and a pint of milk and a packet of his favourite Jammy Dodgers, and sometimes she'd put a bet on for him down the bookies. He must have been grateful because he left her all his savings in his will.