Posts Tagged ‘Foster care’

Jack has turned out to be my bezzy mate in loads of ways (well, not forgetting Regal of course!) You wouldn’t believe he was only five. He’s dead funny, and makes me laugh even when I’m feeling sad.  I hate it when me ma doesn’t come home from the boozer, or there’s nothing for Jack to eat in the cupboard, ’cause I’m terrified that social services will come and take him into care and leave me on my own.   Or even worse than that, I’m afraid they’ll put me into care instead, and leave Jack with Binny and me ma – who’d take care of him then?

It’s my job to look after him.. and if that means getting out of this shit hole of a house and away from Binny and me ma… that’s what we’ll do.

I'll see you all right, Jack.

I’ll see you all right, Jack

Photo by Jilly Gardiner

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Half Cormorant - half mythical bird!

Half Cormorant – half mythical bird! Photo by Jilly Gardiner

I never did hand Jack into the cop shop!  How could I be the one who put him in foster care?  The poor kid would probably end up like me – I don’t want to be responsible for that!  So we had an agreement; me and me ma….   She’d be around for him in the daytime while I was at school, and I’d look after him at night while she went the boozer.    Binny was around sometimes, but was always slagging off Jack’s ma for being put in the slammer for robbing frozen chickens from Iceland (the shop, not the country!).   Me ma told me that Jack’s ma was caught with a chicken in each bra cup, and only got found out because one of the frozen chickens dropped out as she left the shop and broke three of her toes (so she couldn’t leg it from security!).   All I could think about was how big her knockers must have been to have a full chicken in each bra cup! Wish I’d been there!

Anyway, It turned out that Jack’s ma was on probation for when she got caught robbing wallets off her punters while they slept.. so they sent her straight back to the slammer after the frozen chicken incident.  Binny was well pissed off that it meant HE had to be responsible for Jack, so he did hardly nothing for him – that’s where I come in.

Me and Jack, we’ve got dead close in the past few months.. he’s like my brother.  Now the weather’s getting better I take him fishing down the dock, and we share pie and chips at our chippy.   Every Saturday I still work on The Butty Van with Pete at Greaty Market… Jack comes too.  Pete’s dead sound and lets Jack use his mobile phone to play games on while I’m serving hot dogs with extra onions and cups of tea.  Then Pete gives me and Jack some top scran which we stuff in until our bellies nearly burst.

Jack keeps asking me about the Liverbirds on top of the Liverbuildings, and why they don’t fly away… so I make up  loads of stories about them.    They say that Liverpool would fall into the sea if the Liverbirds flew away…. so I tell Jack stories about the time when the Liverbirds flew away and the city collapsed into the Mersey.   He cried for hours when I told him about how everyone in Liverpool nearly drowned.  I felt so guilty that I told him that the Liverbirds had flown to every country and city around the world, but had come home to Liverpool because they couldn’t find anywhere better.   So everybody in Liverpool was saved, and didn’t drown – and they all lived happily ever after.    That made Jack dry his tears and smile again.

Yep…. everything’s going good! That might be ’cause I turned fifteen the other day – and my luck’s changing… no prezzies though.    Penny Salerno has started looking at me again, even smiling sometimes! She’s still not letting me walk her home from school yet though, but I’m working on it.   Anthony and Susan still have me round for my tea twice a week, and they let Jack come too!   And me and Jack go to Ray’s house every Sunday and take my dog Regal for a dead long walk.  Ray says Regal crashes out for about 24 hours after I’ve walked him on Sundays…. He’s a card that dog!

And today the sun was shining (a bit)… A good feeling! I’m happy….. me and Jack and the people of Liverpool are happy, ’cause the Liverbirds are sitting pretty on top of the Liverbuildings, watching over us all!

Three Days I was lying in that hospital bed…Three days! And it was the best three days I’ve had in ages! Nurses giving me dinner, helping me out of the bed to go for a waz, and all the tele I could watch on a screen above the bed. You were supposed to pay for the tele, but as they couldn’t get hold of me ma for three days they clubbed to together and paid for the service. I could even press a button which made the bed go up and down… People slag off the National Health Service, but I couldn’t fault it! It was a million times better than being at home.

The Bizzies came round to ask about the attack. I decided to tell them that I didn’t know who the lads were who I got a beating from, and that I didn’t see their faces, and I couldn’t tell their ages. I made that decision ’cause I knew the lads were something to do with Penny Salerno’s cousins, and thought it might be best to deal with them myself.

I’d been in Whiston hospital for three nights when me ma turned up. I wasn’t pleased to see her, and she was well put out that she had to get the bus up to the hozzy. She came in the ward all crying and giving me cuddles, saying she’d been dead worried about me. But as soon as the nurse wasn’t looking she was in my face telling me I’m a selfish little bastard, and if it wasn’t for social services on her back she’d have left me there longer ’cause she’s a busy woman, and she’ll lose money over this. I don’t know what money she’s on about, ’cause she doesn’t even work.

In front of the nurses me ma gave me a plazzy bag with clothes in, saying she’d brought me fresh clothes to go home in. I emptied the bag on the bed.. it was a pair of my dirty jeans, a teeshirt and a pair of undies. The teeshirt wasn’t mine, and the undies defo weren’t mine, but at least they were clean.
Then a woman in a suit came in and asked if she could have a word with me alone. Me ma smiled at her and then called back to me as she was leaving the ward, ‘I’ll be waiting right outside for you son, and I’ll cook your favourite for tea tonight when we get home’.
Favourite? I haven’t got a favourite.. she doesn’t bleedin’ cook! Then I realised what she was up to.. this posh looking woman was from social services. She asked me how my home life was, and if I was being looked after properly.  At first I wanted to say that my homelife was shite, and that if a cold, dark house, with no food in the cupboards, and a mother who takes root in the pub is being looked after properly, then I’m doing just great. But I knew that if I told the truth I’d be back in care again.. and I hated that even more than having to look after myself at home.  And who’d look out for me ma if I wasn’t around? I’m sure she’d be dead by now if I didn’t check up on her. So I said everything’s fine.

The hozzy said to me ma that they wouldn’t let me go unless I was going in a car or a taxi, ’cause I was still in a lot of pain with my ribs, and my eyes looked like I’d made an enemy of Tyson.  Me ma told them that we were getting a taxi.  She lied.  We walked down to the bus stop and I had to stand in pain as I waited for the bus.  She was well pissed off that she had to pay the busfare for me, but  I was popping pills the hozzy had given me to ease the pain in my ribs, so I just kept quiet.

When I got home I had to go and lie down ’cause my ribs were in bulk and I was hoping I’d sleep so it would ease the pain.  After about an hour of drifting in and out of sleep, and hallucinating about Penny Salerno kissing my swollen face (and then heading down towards my painful ribs), I woke up ’cause I could hear crying.   I eased myself off the bed and went onto the landing.

At first I thought I was still dreaming – maybe the painkillers were too strong.  But there, sitting on the stairs was a kid.  He couldn’t have been more than three.  He was staring at the front door and quietly crying for his dad.  I walked down the stairs and stood in front of him – he stopped crying when he saw me.

‘Hello! Who are you?’ I said dead gently.  The kid had dirty trails down his face from the tears, and looked suspicious of me.   I checked the house, but there was no sign of anyone.

I went up to my room, took some stash from my secret savings (which I got for Chrimbo off Anthony), and I put my hand out for the kid to take hold of.  This was an emergency and so I could use my stash.  The kid held my hand tightly and didn’t say a word as I lead him out of the house and down the road to the sit-in chippy.   We sat in there with a minced beef pie and chips each, and two cokes,  and the kid scoffed the lot without speaking a word.   I didn’t have a clue who this kid was, but it warmed my heart to see him scoffing like that.  I have to say, my pie and chips tasted so good, I treated myself to a pickled egg and one for the kid (the kid didn’t want one, so I had two).

 

 

By early May me ma was hardly ever in, and when she was she was so off her head that she could hardly speak.  It hurt so much at first, but I had this other life;   a fantastic life where I walked Penny Salerno home from school every night, and then I’d go for tea round to Anthony and Susan’s house.  Anthony was Boss.   I’d never have been able to survive on the food in our cupboard at home…. a jar of mouldy piccalilli and a tin of sliced peaches (which had been there since I’d come back to live with me ma from the foster parents).

I can touch the light, and it feels dead good! Photo by Jilly Gardiner

Anthony could sense things weren’t going well in our house, so Susan was making dead gorgeous scran every night, and then washing and drying my school clothes for me to take home for the next day.   Susan had even gone out and bought me a pack of new white school shirts from Next!

I was feeling dead smart when I’d walk Penny home from school.   Then on Saturdays I’d fish on the dock, and Sundays I’d go to Ray’s at tea time to walk our Regal, and they’d always give me a load of ham and tomato butties and trifle for afters……   Yeah life was fantastic!

I just dreaded nine o’clock at night when I’d go home, put the key in the door and not be sure what I’d find.   It was mostly a relief when me ma wasn’t in; but if she was I was terrified to find what state she might be in.    One night I found her lying draped over a tipped up chair in the kitchen – puke all over the floor, and a cup smashed to pieces with her still holding on to the handle (with nothing else attached).

Sometimes Binny was there… sometimes he wasn’t.  He was always in the same state as me ma if he was there.  I reckon neither of them ever noticed me come in… I wondered if me ma remembered I lived there at all.   I’d just go to my room and lock the door, lie on the bed and surround myself with National Geographic mags.  Then before I went to sleep I’d think about my walk home with the gorgeous Penny Salerno, and her smile….. thinking of her always relaxed me (worked me up in a good way, but made me feel relaxed and content).

The less I was seeing of my ma, the more I could pretend everything was brilliant.

Now I’ve made the decision… I’m feeling a lot more positive about everything.  Yes.. a new year, a new start!   I’m going to find my family!!

I mean.. who the f$ck am I?  I don’t know nothing about my background.    Me ma won’t tell me nothing.   The most I know about me dad is that he’s in Manchester Prison doing time for murder, and that he’s from Haiti.   And that’s the most me ma will tell me….And I don’t even know if that’s the truth!    The only other family I know I have is me ma’s sister who lives in Huyton– and they hate each other’s guts, so I haven’t seen her since before I went into care the first time (when I was about four).   Me ma and her sister were put into care when they were little, so they’ve never really known their ma.

Huyton railway station

Image by Secret Pilgrim via Flickr

So I reckon me dad is the way to go.. especially as I’ve never been to Manchester before, never mind the prison.  And I’ve defo never been to Haiti… and that sounds a lot more interesting than Huyton, earthquake or no earthquake! Besides, I’ve already been to Huyton when I played a footy match there with our school last year (we won 3-0).

I mean, me ma might be lying.. me dad might only be in prison for fraud or speeding or something – but she’s probably just told me it’s murder so I never try to get in touch with him.  I bet he’s wondered why I’ve never gone to see him… I bet he’s not half has bad as what me ma makes out.

I’m going to go the library tomorrow and find out more about Haiti, so when I go and see me dad he’ll be dead impressed that I know so much about his home country – then I bet me nan and granddad and all my cousins will be begging me to go over and live with them in a house by the beach, where we can watch the sea without going outside the gate, and we don’t need to wear coats in the winter.  I am feeling SO excited now…. Cant wait!

The Cmaj chord in guitar, with bass in G

Image via Wikipedia

I noticed the old guitar leaning against the wall in the livingroom when I got in from walking Regal.   I’ve never had a go at a guitar before, so thought I’d give it a go.    I checked the house first, just to make sure Bubonic Binny wasn’t in, and then I sat on the settee and put the guitar on my knee.  Bit awkward on how to hold my hands at first, but I soon got used to it.   I must have sat there for about an hour trying to get a tune from it.. the top of my fingers were killing me!   I thought I’d better not stay there playing for too long, ’cause if Binny caught me he’d turn my guts into guitar strings! I’m going to get a book from somewhere to learn how to play.  How cool it would be to just sit there on the dock and play Beatles songs! I could even make loads of money busking – I’ve got the face for busking!   And Penny Salerno would think I was dead cool (not that I fancy her or nothing!).

 

I sat on a bench on the dock after school.. it was raining.  Not proper rain, but wet rain.. you know what I mean?  That damp stuff that fools you into thinking it’s not raining until it’s too late!

Liverpool Docks - Photo by Jilly Gardiner

I watched this seagull strutting up and down in front of me.. looking at me with its one eye on the side of its head (it did have two eyes though!).   It must have thought I had food on me…. I didn’t.    I had a ciggy – just one, and even that was damp where I’d had it stuck behind my ear.

I watched the seagull as I tried to light my ciggy, but I felt  dead guilty that I had no food for it.

I thought about when I was dead young, and I went to Seaforth with me ma.  I don’t know how old I was, but I can’t have been more than four… I went into care for the first time when I was nearly five.

This day in Seaforth was when me ma was light and happy.   She had time for me, and she’d laugh loads.    I remember we had these homemade butties with us.  We fed a bit of them to the seagulls on the seafront, and they wolfed the lot.    Me ma giggled, especially when the seagull tried to take the butty right out of her hand!  It made me giggle too.  I remember her throwing her arms around me and giggling.. pretending she was scared of the seagull.

Me ma was someone else then…. I hardly know her now.  She’s not just older and skinnier, but she’s not that same ma I knew then.

God I miss her so much.

I had this ginormous smile on my face when I was walking home from school this afternoon.  I kept trying to make it go away but it kept coming back.. I couldn’t control it.   I was in a good mood going to school this morning for two reasons….. one was because Liverpool had won 2 – 0 on Saturday, and the other was because Binny hadn’t been around for days.    Then to top off the huge smile I had spread across my face this afternoon, was that Penny Salerno in our class had walked half way home with me tonight.   I was dead made up that her house wasn’t by mine though – I couldn’t have let her see where I lived.

Penny is 13 like me.  She’s got this dark brown hair that sits on her shoulders, and eyes so brown that you can hardly see the black circle in the middle.   Not that I fancy her or nothing!   She’s just a girl who smiled at me twice today, and then caught me up on the way home to walk with me.  She’s got dead white teeth though… perfect as well.   She’s quiet in class, but she’s one of those girls that everyone likes.  And half the lads fancy her.   I DON’T fancy her though!  She’s just a girl who wanted to walk home with me…..  THAT’S all!

Anyway.. I realised that I had my jumper on inside out when she pulled on the tag at the back, which supposed to be on the inside.  I felt like a right knob!  But I didn’t want to take it off and turn it the other way, ’cause it would mean she’d see the state of my shirt underneath.   I’d been wearing it for a week.    Not that I’m lazy, but our washing machine doesn’t work and Binny’s  socks and undies have been hanging in our bathroom for a week.   How can washed socks still stink? It’s a wonder they didn’t walk out of our bathroom  all by themselves.  I needed to wash my clothes in that bathroom sink, but I didn’t want to go in there for longer than I had to, so I’ve been putting it off.   But Binny’s been missing for days, I can tell even me ma doesn’t know where he’s gone.    I’m secretly hoping that he’s fallen off the end of the pier while he’s been stoned.  But I just bet my luck wouldn’t stretch that far.

Getting back to Penny… she’s all right she is.    Asked me loads of questions about my life and family and stuff.  I didn’t really answer them though..      Well what could I say really??  ‘Hello Penny, I’m  Tommy… let me tell you a bit about myself: My dad’s doing life in Strangeways for murder, me ma’s an alchy… her fella’s a junky… I have to cover my ears with my pillow every night so I can’t hear them sh*ggin’.  My dog got put up for adoption, and I’ve had more foster parents than you’ve had hot dinners!’.     Yes she’d be dead impressed with that wouldn’t she?!!! NOT.

Binny's fate (hopefully!) - Photo by Jilly Gardiner

So instead I just smiled and kept asking her the same questions she was asking me.   She’s got an older brother, aged 17.  He’s doing his A-Levels, but then he wants to go and study in Milan, as that’s where a lot of her family are from.   How cool is that!   I knew I liked the Italians!

She’s all right she is.

When the time came for her to walk the other way to her home , I was a bit disappointed, so I kept her talking about her family a bit more.  Her ma’s a dressmaker and her dad’s a plumber.  I nearly laughed out loud when she said her dad’s a plumber…  wasn’t that what Super Mario was? An Italian Plumber!  I thought it was dead funny, but I kept it to myself.   I couldn’t think of anything to ask her in the end, so I just said ‘see you’ and walked away.  I didn’t even look back, just in case she caught me looking.   Maybe I should have asked her if she wanted me to walk her home or something.. but I think she’d have thought I was coming on strong.  So I just played it cool.

Penny’s all right she is..

Our Daily Challenge - Doors

Image by JaseCurtis via Flickr

I picked Regal up and took him for a walk.  I usually go there about 3 times in the week to walk him.. then I  take him for a dead long walk on Sundays – all over South Liverpool, depending on the weather.   If it’s raining, Regal’s foster parents let me stay in their house instead.   They make me tea, and let me sit on the couch with Regal cuddled next to me.   I always wish it would rain when I go to see Regal.

Regal is the only thing in my life I can really trust.  He might not live with me anymore, but I’m over there by his furry side loads.   And his foster parents say he sits by the front door at about 4 in the afternoon, waiting for me to come and see him.  I love him so much.

Binny’s well got his slippers under the table in our house again now – not that he wears slippers… just manky, stinking,  socks.   I hate me ma for letting him in.   I wish I had somewhere else to live, but I want me ma to come with me.

I stay away in the evenings, or sit in my bedroom.   I unscrewed one of the locks on the toilet door in school, and put it on my bedroom door to keep bubonic Binny scum out.  But I won’t take Regal back there – I just can’t chance it.

I’m going to wait until Binny’s gone…  and he WILL  be gone… Then Regal can have a life with me again.

King's Dock, Liverpool - Photo by Jilly Gardiner

I sat by the side of the Mersey for about an hour,  just watching that blue school  jumper floating on the ripples.   I was trying not to think about me ma.. it was just making me feel dead sick and really angry!  Why couldn’t she just love me like normal mothers loved their kids!

I know now that she was just priming me up, so I’d say the things the social worker wanted to hear.

A lot of stuff went through my head while I sat there on the dockside staring at the blue school jumper floating in the Mersey.   One of the things that went through my mind was that I wished I hadn’ t threw it in there in the first place!   It’s the only one I had, and there was no chance on this earth that me ma would get me another one! 

After I’d calmed down a bit, I decided to try and fish it out!    I took a walk onto Wapping Road and  managed to get hold of a long piece of plastic piping where the workmen were doing some repairs.   When they were busy working in the hole in the road, I nabbed it quick and walked on like I’d done nothing.  Well there seemed to be loads to go round… and my need was greater than theirs!    Somehow though, they clocked me.. started shouting.. ‘Oi, you  thieving little bastard!’  

I didn’t look back; just started running.   Have you tried running with a long piece of plastic piping?   It doesn’t work! Not when you’re only five-feet-four!   I was tripping over it as I ran.  But I managed to get back on the dock in the end without falling flat on my face.

When I got back to the dockside, I noticed the school jumper was slightly closer to the shore now, but it was starting to sink.. Not good!   I leaned out and tried to reach it with the pipe, but it was still slightly out of arms reach.    I knelt down really close to the edge and leaned out as far as I possible could… that’s it… just a bit more…

… The next second I was over the edge and was taking in pints of that not so fine tasting Mersey water!  I came up to the surface and gasped for air.    I hadn’t been prepared for that.    I looked to the dockside, and there were two workmen standing there pointing and laughing!   They’d followed me from Wapping Road when I robbed the pipe, and gave me a nudge into the water!   I grabbed the blue school jumper and swam to the side, but it was too steep.    The workmen were still laughing. ‘That’ll teach you, you little bastard’!

‘I can’t get out!’ I shouted.   They must have had a heart somewhere, ‘cause they did put their hand out and help me ashore in the end.    They took their bit of pipe back, and went on their way.. still laughing.     I was soaked and freezing, but at least I had  the blue school jumper back.   

If I ended up back in foster care, what would happen to me ma?   She’d die from the whiskey I reckon… it’s more tempting than the devil.

I sat for the next hour on the dockside trying to think how I could get home for 4 o’clock looking like I’d just come from double maths at school, and not looking like I was the creature from the black lagoon who had just crawled out of the stinking swamp…