Life is like a piano. The white keys represent happiness, the black
keys show sadness; and as I’ve travelled life's journey I'm so
thankful that the black keys make music too.
She was 44 when she took me, a very damaged 7 year old, out of care
and in 1962 that took some balls. Social Services in the North East
in those days were a disgrace, I don't think I ever saw the same
social worker twice in years and their main agenda was to put
foster parents through as many indignities as they could with
weapons ranging from criticising the contents of the pantry to
openly suggesting there may be a better placement for the child
Not surprising that as an adult when I requested my case notes
from Durham Social Services the hapless authority couldn't find
them and so from where I'm sitting nothing much has changed -
has it Durham?
If readers (or Durham Social Services) detect a note of anger
here they're right. Having worked in Social Services for the past
28 years they're welcome have a master class course from me any
time on the importance of keeping good professional case notes,
writing them knowing that the child is entitled to see them and
respecting the incredible people that become foster parents.
She was 56 when she died of cancer of the larynx by which time
I was an 18 year old in the Royal Navy; they flew me home from
Mombasa and for the next 17 years I made an annual pilgrimage
to the cemetery to see the book of remembrance in its little glass
box. I'm nearly 59 now and have already outlived my incredible
foster Mam who passed away 40 years ago on 27 February 1974 -
that same parent who put up with the criticism, sarcasm and
interrogation of the social services; the same social services who
had the audacity to suggest I would be better placed with other
As an artist I believe every picture tells a story and the three
photos I've chosen for this post show my own personal journey; I
suppose you could say they show my life. They show (1) me before
I was placed in foster care (2) as a young adult in the RN after
12 years with my foster Mam and then finally (3) as I am today.
To imagine what picture 3 would look like had picture 2 been
different is unthinkable.
On Thursday 27 February 2014 I will again make my pilgrimage to
the cemetery to view the book of remembrance and say thank you
with love to my remarkable Mam.