Excerpt: "Speaking for Myself"

Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, shares her life from her childhood on into the courtship with and marriage to one of the most influential men in British politics.

Read an excerpt of Cherie Blair's autobiography below and check out "Good Morning America's" Library by clicking here.

Chapter 1: The Beginning

The story starts in the early 1950s, when two young actors meet on tour in the provinces. As happens in such stories, they fall in love and are soon in the family way. When a daughter is born, they are overjoyed and overwhelmed at the same time. Sadly, the strain

Cherie Blairs memoir, Speaking for Myself

of living in shabby digs, short of money and work, and with a small baby in tow, proves too much. Thus, when their baby is six weeks old, they leave her in the care of the father's parents in Liverpool and go off to the big city to seek their fortune.

The year was 1954, the baby was me, and I never grew tired of hearing how my parents met, of their respective childhoods, and, of course, of how I got my unusual name.

My father, Tony Booth, fell into acting largely by accident. While doing his national service, he conducted a prolonged flirtation with a colonel's wife. As she was heavily into amateur dramatics, he decided that this was the way in. And so the stage was set for the rest of his life. Although he regularly complained that the theater was dominated by gay men, this state of affairs presented him with plenty of opportunities in terms of the ladies.

My mum took her profession a good deal more seriously. One year younger than my father, Joyce Smith had been born and brought up in Ilkeston, a mining village west of Nottingham. Her mother, born Hannah Meer, remains something of an enigma. Beyond her unusual maiden name and the fact that she was a local beauty with lustrous blue-black hair, I know nothing about her. My mum's father, however, was an extraordinary man, totally self-educated. Jack Smith first went down the pit at the age of fourteen as an ordinary miner, but he was soon promoted to shotfirer — first into the mine at the beginning of a shift, armed solely with a miner's lamp. His job was to test for gas. By the end of his career, Jack had made mine manager.

From time to time we would go over to Ilkeston to visit my grandfather, who was still living in the house where my mother had grown up. I remember being terrified of the huge blue scar on his face. If you had an accident down in the pit, he later explained, the wound could never be adequately cleaned of coal dust, which turned the scar tissue blue. Another thing that intrigued me was the huge amount of water he used to wash himself. He no longer worked underground by then, so he had no need to douse himself in this excessive manner, but old habits die hard. The bathroom where Hannah would have scrubbed his back was still downstairs, and the toilet paper was still squares of newspaper on a hook.

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