Four is the luckiest number. Born on fourth of April, 1942. Fourth of five children. Four hundred thousand euros from the sale of the house. Four sausages for lunch today. Four had always been lucky for her. Her da had given her a four-leaf clover, dried between the pages of a book, when she was four years old. She’d had her son on the fourth of March. He’d been her fourth baby, the only one who stuck.
Fifteen is not a good number. Left school at fifteen. Hated school. Married Jim on fifteenth of July. Married life, from then onwards, until he died. Moved to Sheldon Lodge on the fifteenth of December. Room number fifteen. No, fifteen is definitely not a lucky number.
Evie was deep in thought when Mrs Lofthouse spoke to her. Mrs Lofthouse spoke for the second time, and the third, more loudly and with slow emphasis.
‘Evelyn. Your son is coming to see you today. Brendan? He is coming to see you.’
Evie blinked. She put on her best confused look and stared directly back.
‘I’ll just give your hair a bit of a tidy up. Brendan will be here at four.’
‘Brendan – and his wife Maura. Lovely couple, Evelyn.’
Evie pulled a face. Maura was always stiff, polite, putting on a pretence of wifely perfection. Evie didn’t feel she knew her well at all, even after almost twenty years. Maura was humourless, starchy. She reminded her of the nuns at school, who insisted she must be called Evelyn and not her preferred abbreviation. She’d decided at four years old that ‘Evie’ was so much nicer, cheekier: it suited her much better than the more formal version. Evie was a chirpy name.
Maura could do with being chirpier, she thought.
You can pre-order A Grand Old Time from Amazon from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 3rd May.