Friday, August 14, 2015


Right, here we are on holiday. 

You fly off partly to get away from the day-to-day of fostering, but I'm blogging because it's amazing how hard it is to actually get away from it. This happened yesterday;

Up at 4.00am, to the airport.

Arrived and did what you do; unpack, check fridge for milk, make sure of wi-fi.

Down to the pool.

Youngest foster child made a friend, Sam, and they're still mates, Sam came knocking on our apartment at 8.30am.

It's a child-friendly complex, our third year in a row; multiple lifeguards on the pools, security gates front and back.

Sam's parents came over at the end of the day and introduced themselves. I got talking to the dad Paul, lovely northerner.

He's late thirties, but doesn't work anymore;  Army pension.

Not huge, from what he said I'd guess about £18,000 a year. 

He'd been shot. In Afghanistan. I know he wasn't making that up either, I'll come to that.

Out of the blue he asked me; "I hope you don't mind, but I got the impression that maybe you're looking after one of yours".

I said that was the case. Told him which were ours, which were foster, since he asked. Turned out he knew a bit about these sort of things.

He'd been in care himself.

Wanted to talk about it too, and I was happy with that, a meaningful conversation beats chit-chat any time.

His parents split up when he was eight, he realised later in life that he'd blamed himself.

His mum teetered then went over the edge, Paul and his brothers and sisters were taken into care. 

He said the experience had made it difficult for him to have relationships.

He wasn't Sam's real dad. He'd met Sam's mum when he'd gone back to his parents to convalesce from being shot. She'd just got divorced. They'd been together two years.

By this time the karaoke was full blast so we were holding one of those conversations with short loud sentences, lots of hand gestures, pausing every three minutes to clap someone who'd sung 'My Way'.

He talked about why he joined the army and the lure of danger; and said it probably had to do with his early life.

He asked did I want to feel the bullet hole. He turned his back and pointed just below the nape of his neck. Sure enough there was an indentation you could put your finger in. Wierd. But he was opening up.

The bullet didn't kill him because it caught the top edge of the armour they strap to their back. The armour comes up to the bottom rim of their helmet. If the wearer is looking down at the ground there's a gap, if you're looking upwards there isn't.

Paul said that the Taliban sniper aimed for the gap between the top of the armour and the bottom of the helmet. The sniper who'd tried to kill him missed by half an inch. He wasn't sure if he survived because he'd been looking upwards or because the sniper was off target.

I wondered if he'd got close to wanting to get out of this world. 

Eldest foster child is having a go at karaoke; 'Stuck In The Middle With You". 

Some people think it's sweet a kid singing a Scottish folk song.

Only I know it's because of Reservoir Dogs and the ear scene...

Paul said he wondered from time to time about becoming a foster parent. I told him that one of Blue Sky's top foster carers was a former soldier.

We saw them around the pool again this morning, normal as anything. 

I reminded myself of something my grandad used to say from time to time;

'Hard, being a human being'.


  1. In our limited experience both the Armed Forces and the hospitality sector are favoured routes for children who went through the care system. I think that the accommodation and ready-made friendship groups are a strong attraction.

  2. Interesting (as usual). I'd never thought of that, it makes sense though. Enjoyed the piece in your link. I can guess why Birmingham to Bristol needed breaking up with a kip on your floor.
    Very insighful piece.