When I first began writing my autobiography I naturally began at Chapter 1 which is here on my website titled ‘Memoirs of a child in care’.
I wanted my story to be as honest as possible and so one of the first things I needed to do was track down my birth mother which I did to a small flat in Uttoxeter. Bizarrely she had quite a lot of photos dotted around the flat of me as a small platinum haired little boy and pointed at them saying ‘That’s Alan’. However she did have occasional lucid moments and during one of these I asked her why she had put me in a children’s home.
She replied that in those days everything was means tested and that she was only given eight Bob a week (40pence) to keep me. One day she walked into the Social Services office and plonked me on the counter. “I can’t keep him on eight Bob a week, you do it” she said, and walked out.
At the time of that conversation I was in a very different psychological place to where I am now; my sense of humour could be particularly cruel and to laugh at something like that then was a coping mechanism for me.
Naturally these days I wouldn’t see a scenario like that funny at all and as a children’s worker for many years I have often actively prevented adults saying things in front of youngsters that I feel may cause them emotional harm? This ink painting was how I coped with my feelings at that time.