Wednesday, December 29, 2021


So, suddenly everyone in the house has gone for making New Year Resolutions.

Eldest foster child started the ball rolling, annoucing that I should lose weight, charming.

Remarks like that are his trademark way of being affectionate, and now that I understand that the barbs aren't nearly so stinging. He starts every day off with a criticism of me. It might be my outfit that looks dated, or the fridge hasn't got what he wants, or the cereal is past it's best before date.

He's always got a point to make at my general expense. I come back with a counter point and we're engaged. Engaged in what he deems banter, and if it makes him feel attached it's fine by me.

So I said I'd make it my resolution to drop ten pounds.

Then I asked him if there was anything about himself he could improve.


That teatime the conversation was a happy jabber as everyone 'helped' everyone else come up with resolutions.

Short story long;

My other half is going to go on less and less about Portsmouth FC.

Youngest foster child is going to hang the bath towels properly after use.

Our two children are going to a) use their own charge lead for their phone and b) when using the last of the juice not leave a teaspoon of juice in the carton and put it back in the fridge rather than use it all and have to dispose of the carton properly.

They all sound piffling, but as the Chinese say, every thousand mile journey begins with a first step.

And eldest foster child?

This was the big one, and it got the longest laugh;

He's going to greet me EVERY morning with;

"Good morning mother dearest I trust you slept the sleep of the righteous, may I say you look a picture today!"

Friday, December 24, 2021


So, this is almost too touching to bear.

My eldest foster child has gone to astonishing lengths to get me the birthday present of my dreams.

This much I know because my partner has had to spill several - but not all of - the beans.

One of the drawbacks of having your birthday close to Christmas is people's confusion about whether to give a joint present or two separate ones, so the first thing eldest did was ask his foster dad for guidance on that one.

Then, when informed it was up to him, he needed to share his plan with someone, like you do, and foster dad was given a skeleton outline of the plan.

It involved sending off for two things one from Amazon the other from a private seller.

Our Alexa told us one moring that a delivery was coming including a picture frame. Eldest's ears pricked up. He muttered something like "Phew", which I was told was due to him sweating on it arriving in time.

Then the postman knocked on the door to deliver a large cardboard tube which eldest came flying down for and disappeared. Cue smug look on the face of my other half.

I asked him "Is this as big a deal as it's looking?"

He replied "I think it is."

I said "Why?"

My other half put a hand on my shoulder.

"D'you remember that training session about anger management?"

Me; "Vaguely, yes."

"The bloke talked about how people bottle up all the bothersome bits of the day; they spill their coffee and laugh about it, the traffic makes them late for work and they get shouted at by the boss and put up with it, their computer erases a load of work and they stay on top. Then they come home, their child slams a door, and then finally the dad erupts and gets violent. They call it the ten dollar slap for a one dollar misdemeanor."

"Yes…" I replied, hesitantly, wondering where this was going. He continued;

"Your birthday present is the opposite of the ten dollar slap"

Me; "Er…."

Then he said; "All the hundreds of times he's felt your love and kindness and everlasting patience, he's never been able to express anything. Now he's reached an age where he wants to bundle all that gratitude into one massive gesture. Namely your birthday present. He's gone miles out of his way, he's really nailed it. It's so incredibly thoughful. And kind."

Like I said, almost too touching to bear.

What is it?

This gift of all gifts?

Dunno, have to wait for my birthday...

Saturday, December 11, 2021


 Every year Blue Sky organise a Christmas lunch for their carers at each of their many offices around the UK.

One's heart goes out the agency's head honchos who dutifully attend every single one. On one ocassion one of them had 2 Christmas lunches in one day, so there to the Vicar of Dibley (UK sit com about lady vicar who accepts invites to 3 Xmas lunches on the same day).

`I remember trying to explain what all the fuss was about to a Muslim fellow-carer one year. You should have seen her face when I recounted the hymn claiming that "Man will live for evermore because of Christmas Day".

Look, it's all a bit silly - yet for many absolutely essential. 

Whether the glow is down to memories of happy childhood Christmases or looking forward to lots of family being together or what, I don't know. Even a cynic like me sheds a tear when the Snowman and the kid lift off for the North Pole.

But back to the fostering Christmas lunch. 

It's always fascinating seeing a roomful of fostering folk. So diverse in every way; singles as well as doubles, all ages, all types of background, veggies and meat eaters, teetotallers and non-teetotallers, all races and creeds etc etc etc.

And, big bonus; one or two carers who have themelves been fostered as children. Now there's a double conversation that has to be had every time.

Some remember dark days. How could they not? They remember the fears and uncertainties, which they sometimes say was - at first - worse than whatever went on at their home.

My first Blue Social Worker, the one who visited us monthly to assess us, he'd been fostered and he only remembered it as happy days. He was fostered by a farmer's wife. He told me she let him drive the land rover on their land when he was just 14 years old and how the kitchen always smelled of fresh baked bread.

Anecdotes are the lifeblood of fostering talk;

One of the loveliest stories I heard at one Christmas lunch was from a carer whose placement - a boy aged 14 - got to go home for Christmas. They drove him to his real home on the Sunday before Christmas Day and were scheduled to pick him up exactly a week later on the 28th. However. On Boxing Day there was someone at the door.

The boy.

He wanted back. Said his home had imploded. Said he knew it would from the off but still wanted to give it a go.

Quick call to Blue Sky (they're open all over Christmas), they called the boy's Local Authority Social Worker and the boy's early return was signed off officially.

The carer filled up in the telling, a mark of how deep fostering can go. The family agreed they felt blessed to have their simple lives so richly celebrated that a child from outside their family longed to be back with them so much he actually trecked the pavement for the best part of two hours to knock on their door and ask for shelter.

All a bit like the Christmas story in a way.  Except they did better than offer him a manger..

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Ho Ho Ho (Not)

 Christmas is increasingly a difficult time for the British and not only for the UK's dwindling band of Christians. The Christmas period affects everyone somehow. And very few people are as affected as children in care.

One 16 year-old girl who came to us was allowed to go home for Christmas Day. The plan was for us to drive her home on Christmas Eve. We bought her a bunch of gifts, wrapped them, put them in a gift bag, and gave them to her as she was going out the door, heading for our car. The drive to her home was an hour, and it was starting to get dark. We had expected her to put the bag alongside her overnight bag, take them to her home, and open her presents on Christmas morning.


She turned around and marched the bag into the kitchen and started opening them. A bottle of Badedas, a Terry's Chocolate Orange. A pair of headphones. A top-up card for her phone. An HMV voucher.

She opened each and every one with great care, smoothing out the wrappings, making the right "Ooooo!" noises each time.

Then she thanked us profusely, got up and took her gifts up to her room, where she left them. And set off for home.

We never asked her why. Her business.

Maybe she couldn't wait (unlikely). Maybe she didn't want to have more and better presents than her sisters who were also going to be at home on Christmas morning (possible). Maybe she wanted to reward us by showing her gratitude with her delight at her gifts (we like this explanation best).

Personally, I've not yet had a child over Christmas who wasn't up for a traditional Western Christmas. It nearly happened once when I agreed to take 3 orphan children refugees from Afghanistan, but they were found a Muslim foster home, for the best.

Every other child I've had started getting anxious-excited on the 1st December.

No matter what their chaos at home, children whose families tried to make any kind of a go of a 'traditional' Christmas will have slightly false memories of good times. Of presents, games, extended family. Some sort of magic.

They'll like as not blank out the disappointments, the tensions and the arguments. Not to mention the drink and whatever else.

More children are taken into care over the Christmas period than at any other time of the year, due largely to the family being cooped up together so that the  simmering angers and petty hostilities boil over.

At the last Blue Sky Christmas lunch I sat next to a young Muslim couple who were in their first year of fostering. They told me they'd respect and engage in all and any festive needs any foster child brought along. They didn't voice any crityicisms about the masses of people who get Western Christmas so badly wrong that it brings about the break-up of families en masse. I suspect none of Islam's significant calendar dates trigger family anguish. 

In fostering we try to do what's right for all the chidren in the house, but it's a balancing act that would go to the top of the bill if there were still such a thing as the circus.

See, speak of 'circus' and I'm right back into remembering the Christmas of my childhood. My mind (just like everyone else whose family did Christmas) fills with stuiff sich as Santa, the tree, the decorations, a chicken in the oven (a chook was a once-a-year treat in our house). Grandad showing up in his best suit, gran wearing her 'pearls'. Piles of presents, Christmas crackers on the table. And on the telly? Billy Smart's Circus.

Of course, if I had a Tardis and went back in person I'd watch myself and realise that the thing I really loved most was that we were all together. No work for dad, no shopping for mum, no school for us kids. No shops open, no cars on the roads.

Christmas can dish up the saddest blow to children in care. Namely; their family is not all together.

We work with our Blue Sky Social Worker to get the gift thing right. But there's so much other stuff.

You do your best, enjoy whatever joy they experience , and look forward to New Year's Eve, because that's easy to get right; they're allowed to stay up until midnight and, y'know what?, that beats most that Christmas has to offer them.

Friday, November 19, 2021


 How many and varied are the jobs of the fosterer…

Here I sit in an armchair in the hall watching over our recently-operated on dog. She's not meant to lick her wound now that the dressing is off but you try telling her that. She wears a collar at night and takes a sedative but in the day the collar drives her crazy so we take it off and simply keep an eye on her, which is time-consuming, but the newly eldest foster child takes his turn when he can.

I describe eldest as "newly eldest" because 18 year-old Ged has left, and being "eldest" again is good for him; this morning he asked how the toaster worked and he used it for the first time.

He also engaged me in one of the friendly arguments that he loves. To the outsider the arguments would sound a bit heated, but we both know they're his substitute for saying 'thanks' to me for being his mum.

He started it by asking me;

"Have you heard of Radiohead?"

I had. Then he asked;

"Who's the best band ever?"

I replied "Maybe The Rolling Stones?"

"The Rolling Stones!?" he incredulated.."You must be (expletive deleted) joking!"

"Well,"  I replied "I think there's general agreement that their mix of R and B with stagecraft has kept them up there for longer than anyone else."

I always quote the Rolling Stones, I quoted them to annoy my parents, now I quote them to annoy my children. 'Annoy' in that friendly way.

Him; "That's not the point. Have you ever listened to OK Computer?"


"It's the best album of all time everybody knows that."

"Well Sergeant Peppers wasn't bad."

The argument went its course, and ended with me being verbally frogmarched in front of the TV to watch a YouTube documentary on OK Computer (a Radiohead album).

The argument ended with me agreeing to download the album onto my phone so that I can sit in the hall a) keeping an eye on the dog b) writing this blog c) Fostering eldest. Fostering by listening to OK Computer. 

OK Computer is described as alternative rock. Not my cup of tea really, I was more Top Of The Pops than Old Grey Whistle Test.

But. When next asked I'll tell eldest something like "WOW!* I was amazed. It's fantastic."

And he'll try to pin me down that it's the best album ever.

Will I agree? I don't think so.

I'll hold out for the GOAT* album is a tie between OK Computer and Abba's Greatest Hits. Which will annoy him and kick off another friendly argument…his way of saying 'thanks for being my mum'.

And my way of saying 'thanks for being my son'.



* "GOAT" - Greatest Of All Time

* "WOW" - A well dated exclamation used by parents to remind youth that we were young once and that our music is better than theirs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021


Ged is now proper gone. He was the soon-to-be 18 year old who came to us for a short spell, and part of our fostering brief was to gear him up for the outside world. Only a short time but even the ones who only stay for a weekend stay in your mind for the rest of your life. I’m not sure if it’s the same the other way round and that we fosterers have as big an impact on them as the young people have on us.

I’ve talked with our Blue Sky Social Workers about how they all stick in my heart and mind, they say it’s a healthy sign of how we try to offer attachment from the get go. 

It’s not a painful thing, quite the opposite. The only ache is that you hope with all your might that they are ok.

With Ged, it’s so far so good. He’s happy with his independence, or at least, if he isn’t he’s not letting on. He’s looking after himself; eating well, not staying late out and partying except ‘weekends and bank holidays’. 

He’d been promised by his somewhat dodgy father a windfall to set himself up on his 18th birthday, which ‘hasn’t happened yet’, but he’s ok financially thanks to a brilliant scheme Blue Sky do.

Basically; they open a savings account for the child and pay into it every month they’re in care. The money comes out of the allowance we fostering folk get for each child. It’s not a vast amount, I don’t even notice it. If I was good with paperwork and spreadsheets I’d know how much it is. But I’m not, so sorry. If you’re interested I’m sure it’s on Blue Sky’s website somewhere.

Ged had been in care for yonks, so he received a decent four figure sum. 

Now, the question you might be asking is this; since there’s usually no contact between Carers and children after a child leaves Care, how come I know all this?

Easy. See, Ged is an adult now and can do what he likes.

So. A few days after he’d been driven off by his SW my phone pinged. It was Ged;

“Have you seen an ear bud?”

“No. Where might it be?”

“Maybe in my bedroom?”

I loved that; “MY BEDROOM

“I’ll have a look”

Obviously I searched high and low, no luck.

I messaged him back;

“Can’t find it. When was the last time you had them both together?”

“Maybe the last night. I fell asleep on the sofa.”

I went and checked down the sides of all the sofa cushions and was about to message him again. But sometimes it’s easier and quicker to chat. So I phoned him, and we spoke. For nearly ten minutes. About everything and nothing. It was wonderful, and I could tell he found it great too.

We haven’t had any contact since, but there’s not a day goes by without me hoping against hope that next time I move a mat or rummage the contents of the fruit bowl where we ‘store’ random objects, I’ll come across the missing ear bud.

What I’d give to be able to phone him and say;

“I’ve found it mate!”

Then a thought flashed into my mind. Maybe he hasn’t lost an ear bud. 

Maybe he just wanted to hear his ‘mum’.

I know she wanted to hear her ‘son’.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021


 They say every cloud has a silver lining.

Not sure if that's applicable to what's been happening in our house this week, but it's fair to say that oftentimes something good comes out of something bad.

Our lovely, gentle, kindly golden retriever dog had an accident. She was 'playing' with a bigger dog on the green when she suddenly let out a spine-chilling shriek and went down. The vet diagnosed a ruptured knee ligament in her left hind leg, but when they x-rayed her it was worse; her whole knee was a mess. Result; an emergency op, then home for complete rest. They recommended she be kept sedated in a cage, but that woudn't work, she still too much of a puppy and easily worked up.

So. We built a confined area about 4 foot by six foot in the hall, right next to the front door so she didn't have far to limp for a pee. The vet gave us antibiotics and painkillers and sedatives but, while the sedatives took the edge off her, there was no way she could be left alone. One of us had to be sitting beside her area all day.

And all night.

(Pic not much cop, dog's lying on her right side, tail to the left, nose towards my hands. Sitter is lying on her right side too.)

It's meant that one of us sits an arm's length from her all day. And one of us sleeps, on sofa cushions, on the hall floor, every night. 

We've got this for 6 to 8 weeks, but hoperfully at the end of it, she'll be almost good as new.

Now, to the positive spin-off;

One of our foster brood is hard pushed to develop any empathy.  Not surprising what with the life the child led before Care, a fear of people and a fear of attachment is bound to happen. We've tried anything and everything to get some warmth and…well to be blunt, some kind of love into the child. 

Can't claim any big success. Yet.

The child does have a soft spot for our dog. But the treatment of the dog has been what the child describes as 'playful'. The dog doesn't seem to mind, which is just as well because no matter how hard we've tried to get a gentler approach such as smoothly stroking her rather than ruffling her about, no avail. The child is always deriding the dog as "Stupid", "Fat" and "Ugly". No prizes for guessing where that sort of talk was learned.

Then, the morning after her op, the child came downstairs to see us flat out next to the dog's area. We were in our PJs and dressing gowns and pretty exhausted, not to mention anxious. 

The child asked what was going on so we explained. Then the child marched off shooting off something unappreciative such as "Well make sure you get it right then!"

But that evening we saw the glimmer of new child. A child who tip-toed thoughtfully towards the dog and placed the palm of the hand on her head, and whispered "Are you alright then? Are you? Good dog…"

Sea change.

And it's not only the dog who's getting a new, softer housemate.

The child seems to be starting to turn the corner with people.

Maybe I'm over-reaching here, but I swear that in the last few days there's been a bit of re-thinking. We're not so bad after all. People don't all suck.

Perhaps the child remembers that for the first few months after coming to us I slept through the night on sofa cushions outside the child's bedroom door to help when night terrors kicked in.

Maybe the child can see, logically, that being kind is a good way to be, and is now faced with squaring up to some monstrous demons that live deep down in the innermost, and will probably always be there.

Can cold logic combat deep-held emotions?

I dunno on that one, who does?

I do know that our lovely dog is on the mend, fingers crossed.

And - perhaps - she isn't the only one on the mend around here.

Sunday, October 31, 2021


 Had a nice fostering-related surprise this week.

Fostering is chock-a-block with nice little surprises.

Surprises such as when you bump into a young person in the street you once fostered. On one amazing ocassion there stood this fine upright chappo with his wife at his side and their baby in a pushchair. He was holding down a good job in construction which his family needed him to do as they were geting ready to buy a flat.

This was a young man who had once been so troubled he spent time in a secure unit. I'll never forget the look of sheer delight on his face when he twigged that it was me and how his step picked up as he came towards me with a smile. Lovely surprise.

This week's surprise came out of the blue.

Out of the Blue Sky actually…

So. We'd had been sent an invite to a Blue Sky lunch they were holding to celebrate their fostering folk who had been with them for a long stretch. Unfortunately we couldn't attend, the venue was a bit too far and that day was already in our diary with a bunch of things - manily fostering things - we simply had to get done.

We recieved emails saying how missed we would be and so forth.

Then the doorbell went. By the time I got to the door the delivery person was scurrying away like they do now, part Covid safety, part because their schedule is so tight I hear they don't take on board liquid for fear of needing a pee, poor people.

Anyhoo it was a sizable package. I called out "Has anybody bought something that's come in a huge great box?"

"Nah" "Nope" "I haven't," etc

I hauled it in and got it onto the kitchen table.

"Wossis then?" Enquired other half.

I replied;

"Better find out." 

So I went at it with the kitchen scissors. Beneath the brown paper wrapper was a brown cardboard box.

Inside the box was…

…a whicker picnic-type hamper.

Inside the hamper was loads of straw and on top of the straw a jar of designer marmelade.

"Ooo!" said other half;

"Free range jam!"

Then he said;

"Wait! What's this monogrammed on the lid…'F and M'…"

Surely not…Fortnum and Masons?

Short story long; it was.

Something I've never owned nor even seen. A bloomin' Fortnum and Mason hamper chock full of top of the range non-perishable foodie goodies. From Blue Sky. To say thanks.

We haven't dared open any of the jars or packets yet, the hamper looks so majestic sat brimful in plain view.

When we do, we know it'll taste wonderful.

Almost as wonderful as the taste of being considered, being thought of, being appreciated.

Friday, October 22, 2021


 Our eldest foster child - not a child at all - is getting ready for the outside world.

He leaves fostering any time soon.

Ged's smart, in a street-wise way. He's only been with us a couple or three months, but he's still our boy. You have no option but to let them into your life from day one. Seeing him go off alone to face his future alone is emotional.

On the surface it seems more emotional for us, his foster family, than him, but I suspect his nonchalance is about acting grown up.

You remember how you fussed first time one of your children went off on their first sleepover? Making up that overnight bag of toothbrush, clean underwear, pyjamas ("I'm not wearing them mum, no-one's going to be in jim jams!") pieces of paper with phone numbers. And so on.

Well, let me tell you getting a child ready for an everlasting sleepover is a site worse.

Luckily his Social Worker has been on hand with the information about what he needs and what he's going to be provided with. Say what you like about the state, our country is magnificent at caring for young people who have problems.

He's been offered accomodation in a sort of sheltered home; a block of single room apartments with communal facilities. He's been guided towards several employment opportunities, and helped with his benefit rights. 

However, the poor lad is still dangling on a thread as to whether or not his estranged father will come through with his verbal promise of providing him with funding. And we have had no option but to find a way to break it to him that he may have to go it alone.

He'll be disappointed as heck, but surely less bamboozled if he has prepared himself it may happen.

The conversations are similar to so many that we fostering folk have with chidren in our care about their real parents.

We try to help looked-after chidren get a bead on reality about what's happened to them but have to tread warily because they don't ever want their parents to be criticised by someone else. One often  finds oneself diplomatically acknowledging that the parents meant well, and had a lot of bad luck, and may well be all the better from having some help with the routine problems that previously they faced alone. 

Only when you've laid the ground can you go into the matter that the children themselves deserve better.

Ged is reluctant to 'split' on his dad. Like many of us, he pictures his dad as somewhat heroic and noble; a victim of circumstances and other people's failures and deception.

I'm pretty certain that his dad is either in prison or spent plenty of time inside. Which can be quite colourful for a lad-about-the-streeets. It beats having a dad who's an IT manager. 

However the question remains; if Ged comes into his windfall, where has the money come from?

Technically and ultimately it's not at all my problem. But.

When one fosters each child who arrives becomes your child the moment they step through the door. It's the only way. You offer attachment and empathy from the get-go. You don't merely care, you also worry, fret and fear for them. You lie awake plotting how to make things as good as they can be for them. You live for the moments when you see them smile where previously they didn't, or hear them singing in their bedroom.

You simply want them to find some peace and ight-heartedness.

I'm gearing up to wondering out loud with Ged if he'd be better off without any apology money from his dad. Even if it materialises.

Got to find the right moment, and the right way of saying;

"You're smart. You've got what it takes to do what everybody does and try to build a good life and living on your own ability and hard work."

Then I know he'll say "Then how come everybody buys a lottery ticket?"

See what I mean about him being smart?

Monday, October 18, 2021


 One eternal dilemma faces most fostering folk at some point.

It's when a foster child says;

"I'll tell you something if you promise not to tell anyone."

I suspect we face this one often and it's forever tricky as so much depends on so many things, not merely what the child wants to tell.

At the crux of the dilemma is this simple fork in the road;

If the child's disclosure has to be reported and the child discovers that you told someone in authority it can damage your relationship to the extent that the child may never tell you anything again, and you may miss out on even more substantial information, which might be a damaging thing for the child.

A lot depends on the child's age and ability to understand if you reply to the request like this;

"I'll respect your privavcy in what you may want to tell me but you must understand that if you tell me something that I'm required to pass on I'll have no option but to tell someone."

If you're not in fostering you might be wondering what these revelations might be, okay;

I've had kids tell me about being asked to do things in their bio home that are breaches of the laws of abuse. Those things simply HAD to be passed on, and when the police visted to collect the allegations from the child that child rightly guessed I had disclosed. In the most startling of such cases I first informed both Social Workers involved who rightly advised me to contact the police officers who were already investigating the child's adult family and needed all possible evidence as the case was heading to court.

Most incidents of this headache aren't so straightforward.

For example, recently a child told me that it upset her that one of her (older) teachers repeatedly told her class to 'pick a partner' for an activity such as walking crocodile down to the public library. The problem lay in the fact that the child had been only recently placed in the school and being new, none of the other children wanted to pick her. To my way of thinking this was completely wrong, the teacher should put in some effort and pair children off so that some positives are had. I spoke to the school and it blew up in my face. The teacher took the child to one side and, rather than apologise, explained the reason for her practice, which, incase you're wondering, was some convoluted argument about children needing to feel comfortable with who their partner was when out in public as there was traffic and other pedestrians to worry about.  

I've got a recent one of these on my hands, they're always tricky. I can't reveal, so I'M not going to say to you "If you promise not to tell…"

It's going to be between me, my kid and one other eprson.

If in doubt ask your SW, and my lovely Blue Sky person has taken control with the usual clear mind, good heart and professional acumen.


Tuesday, October 12, 2021


 Phew, had some loaded days just recently my end. 

It's partly fostering, a job that never sleeps, but also life seems so much busier than I ever remember it. Not for everybody though, it seems.

I'll get to the fostering story in a tick, but first; 

I've just finished reading a newspaper piece about a growing bunch of people who seem to think they're some kind of hero because they've decided to do nothing. Yep, do nothing. Or if they do anything they do as little as possible all the while making out they're busting a gut.

They used to float around the office acting like they were working, but in the new normal they log their laptop onto a YouTube 10 hour video of a blank screen so their boss doesn't get pinged that their device has gone to sleep.

Their philosophy is that you're only here for a short time, make it a good time.


To give their shiftlessness a gleam of honour they fly a rinky-dink banner for their lifestyle, they call themselves...

"Time Millionaires".

One example was of a bloke who used to run a craft wine bar in Sheffield. He worked his fingers to the bone, even missing his mum's 50th birthday, which she'd expected, because he was "busy". He worked 6 days a week from to 1am, then on his day off did the paperwork. He's packed the wine bar in and now runs a pop-up coffee stall which closes at 1.00pm. His profits are down 75% but he's happy because he can get stuck into his passion which is photography.

I guess these Time Millionaires would look at fostering and run a mile. Too much like hard work.

My point is that worthwhile work is vastly more rewarding than meaningless inertia.

When our middle foster son came to us he was in a state. Terrified, haunted, pale and weak. Semi-literate, didn't know what a toothbrush was.

He was proper daunted. 

We stayed up through the night with him for the first few months, easing him in his terrors. We had to absorb a lot of anger, only maybe once or twice letting our own exhaustion get the better and talking back. Our Blue Sky SW said our couple of lapses were understandable if unfortunate but we're only human and she stressed that the child is coming to know we are for the child.

What we didn't get wrong was to pretend we were on the job while really spending the afternoon watching A Place In The Sun while gormlessly re-touching photographs of sunsets.

So; on to this week. The child in question has just had a hectic and anxious time fretting over several things; an assesment at school, a fallout with a friend, a 'which trainers to wear with which top' misery (very real BTW) and…

Whether or not he's picked to play for the school football team.

So; it turns out he got a B+ for the assessment, his friend-falling out is so mended  that he's throwing a 'gathering' (teenspeak for 'party') at our house including the errant friend, and…

He's playing central midfield for the school team.

Now, here's my point; 'Time Millionaires' have  empty wallets compared to fostering folk. The bloke who walked away from his wine bar to run a coffee stall and take up photography is impoverished beyond words compared to your average foster parent.

But I guess at least he'll get to go to his mum's 51st birthday.

We humans are indeed only here for a short time, but is sitting around in trackie bottoms diddling your life away a "good' time?


You want a great time?


Thursday, September 30, 2021


 In fostering little things happen all the time, some of them not good. Even though they're little the not so good things can get to you if you're not on top of your own thinking.

Life is tiring, fostering can be especially tiring. When tired it hurts more if a child is spiky, you notice negative things more easily. You can also completely miss some positives.

We had our Annual Review earlier today, it's where Blue Sky fostering folk get to be quizzed by an independent bod on how things are going. They aren't on your case, if there's any case being made t's that they're kind of on your side. I've always found them helpful.

Today they got my partner and I remembering positives we'd actually missed, even though we were there at the time.

We ended up talking about something that happened quite recently and we hadn't given it enough celebration; It was this;

Our middle foster child is a permanent; never going home. Poor kid is pretty much alone in the world and as such has always been hostile to the whole notion of family and parents. Child has been with us long enough to know what our family is like, namely we're all in it together but a bit splintered at the outer edges - like most if not all families. We've got relatives here there and everwhere, some are close geographically and emotionally, some are far off in every way.

The child has been with us long enough to have got to know almost all of them a bit.

So then, a few days before our review the child blurted out of nowhere;

"Wouldn't it be great if everyone could be together here for Christmas; the whole family?"

I can remember thinking at the time;

"Nice idea soldier, but that ain't never gonna happen."

The child's remark came up at the Review and we dwelt on it. It was a huge remark, but had seemed little at the time.

It was huge for reasons which became obvious once they were spelled back at us. The child had identified themself as family.

Our family. Choild now accepts that WE are their real family.

See, usually fostering is about getting the child back to their real family. That's the normal job. But it's often the case that the child will never go back because the home has either disappeared or will never be safe. The child's placement in fostering becomes 'permanent'. It's a challenging notion for all involved. But our kid has done it.

None of us had any idea when the corner was turned, we probably never will as the child is a private individual and we respect that right. So, us and the Review bod, we moved the conversation on to how important it is for people in fostering to be on the lookout for things to celebrate, not just being alert to things that want fixing.

Probably a good maxim for life in general, not just fostering...

Sunday, September 26, 2021


Someone once wrote;

"Common sense is the most evenly distrubuted commodity on earth, because everyone thinks they have the right amount.."

Common sense is our best freind in fostering. I've talked about it before.

Recently I've been writing up about Ged's journey. He's an older placement, only been with us a short time, who is due to go out into the big wide world any day soon and can't wait.

But there seems to be a potential setback around the corner and as yet social services haven't raised it with him but I suspect he's got wind of it somehow.

The back-story is this; Ged was abandoned by his real father many years ago. The dad wanted nothing to do with Ged and Ged's mother didn't pull any punches that his father was a rotten egg. You can imagine what Ged had to listen to, she had a drugs problem along with plenty other difficulties, so Ged probably heard some pretty searing tirades.

However. The father somehow got word to Ged that he'd opened a savings account for him and he'd have access to it in the form of some sort of 'trust' when he became 'of age'. The arrangement appeared to be that Ged would receive regular tranches from the fund in a way that would maintain the fund so it would get a decent rate of interest.

It's not the first time I've come across chaotic parents offering fantasy futures for their children "once we've sorted ourselves out."

Now that he is nearly of age, there are doubts creeping in as to the truth. Little niggles such as Ged telling his local authority Social Worker that he remembered that his father believed that the age at which a person comes 'of age' is 21 and not 18. This thinking might be in line with different culture - we understand that Ged's father returned to his native country many years ago, possibly to avoid the rap for something.

Equally, the father may have raided the account himself to 'fund a business venture' or something.

That's if the fund exists at all.

Social services have done a fantastic job with Ged but if he discovers there's no money it's going to be us foster parents who'll have the lion's share of helping him manage his huge disappointments. He'll have to be helped to deal with the damage to the image he's built up of his absent dad. Then there's the loss of his anticipated independence if he won't have an unearned income in a few weeks time. 

He'll be upset and may become despondent or angry or both. He might hit the bottle or the weed. He might even be tempted to get an income by doing something illegal or otherwise dangerous - the County Lines problem is getting worse (see earlier blogs about this growing drugs nightmare involving children, or Google it).

Foster parents are used to helping their children deal with disappointing parents and family members. I remember a Contact session once - 'Contact' is where children in care are brought to have a session with significant others - the mother simply didn't show up. We waited nearly the full hour when a message came in. The mother said she couldn't come to Contact because she was having hair extensions done. Another time I took a lad to have Contact with his dad, it was a hot summer's day so I sat in the car and watched them go out into the courtyard on the Contact Centre where there was an all-weather storage crate-full of toys. The dad spent the entire Contact playing with the toys and didn't say a single word to his son who sat along on the swing musing over his bad luck.

We get a lot of quality training at Blue Sky, but it would be impossible for them to cover every base. Time after time the humble foster mum or dad has to conjure up strategies from out of thin air and, although our Social Worker is ready and able to offer support and advice it's down to us, standing in our kitchen, to come uo with the right things to say and do. 

With Ged I'm not going to break any news or hearsay to him. I'll wait until and unless he says or shows he needs an arm round his shoulder.

So I find myself wondering; what if he says something and the answer depends on exactly what he says and how he says it. I have to interpret. We often have to try to feel the moment and read between the lines. Then what if he starts acting differently? I have to judge if it's a conscious attempt to raise a dilemma or maybe he's unaware he's not himself?

Every call is a judgement thing.

The main tool we fostering folk have at our disposal is our own knowledge and experience of the school of hard knocks.

And dear old common sense.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021


 Middle foster child came downstairs in a strop or as my nan used to put it 'with a right cob on'.

He used to be eldest foster child but since the arrival of short-term 17 year old Ged, he's now the middle one.

I heard that PG Wodehouse started a short story with the sentence;

"It is not difficult to discern the difference between a ray of sunshine and a Scotsman with a grievance."

For 'Scotsman" read "Foster Child".

Some of them, they bring a special skill set to the important matter of appearing p****d off, it's practically an art form. Or more like a stage act, in fact.

An episode is often first flagged up by a louder than usual slamming of their bedroom door followed by unusually heavy footsteps coming down the stairs.

You say to yourself; "Here we go…"

You are supposed to look concerned and say;

"Everything alright?" or "What's up? You OK?"

And so you do. They don't just WANT you to inquire, they NEED you to. It's the beginning of the dance which will probably end in them getting ice cream, or a nod that they can stay up late and watch Netflix on Friday night. Or both.

Nobody knows the trouble they've seen, and their lifelong experiences in their bio home has taught them a wealth of survival techniques. They will have watched parents, older household members and family members playing the problem hierachy game and learned the benefits that can be squeezed from things being all wrong.

The problem hierarchy game is where people compete to be the one most under duress.

Of course; many things in foster children's lives ARE all wrong; they had a tough time, their parents parenting was questionable at best, their education chequered. Now they live in a strange house full of of strangers.. and however much we foster parents try, it's wrong.

But they don't present us with these very real wrongs.

When they want a bit of TLC or a metaphorical cuddle it goes a bit like it did with middle child.

He came stomping into the kitchen and made for the larder.

"Oh Jeez! No Salt and Vinegar!"

Then he's off;

"Why are we always out of Salt and Vinegar? It's not that hard is it? To buy crisps? I mean, you guys act like you're all so clever and you've got two cars and wooo you're foster parents, but even a Zombie hamster could get crisps right."

I try to say nothing.

"I mean…crisps! How hard is that?"

I shrug as if to say 'Yeah we're pretty useless…' He goes on;

"I mean, it's like the other day when Jason came round and you gave us chips with the burgers and everyone knows it's fries with burgers, chips go with fish! I was like SO embarrassed. Is that why you get the food all wrong round here. One minute you're trying to make me obese the next you're starving me!"

Jason is his friend who sometimes comes round and they chill. It's uplifting hearing their laughter and mock gee-up banter.


"How was Jason today?"

"Jeez how should I know? He's an idiot. I don't care how he is. If he wants to hang out with Ben Willis' bunch of wallies that's his doom sorted and so what? He was the embarrasment. Not me.""

So we gradually got to the nitty gritty; he and his friend had had a bit of a tizz. 

Apparently over politics. Well, to be precise over whether Boris Johnson is a ****** or not.

They'd fallen out digitally (messages).

It hurts rotten when you're young and finding your way with friendships. We all made plenty of mistakes and thought it was the end of the world.

Children and young people in care are sometimes more clumsy socially than their peers and a bit more desperate to build relationships. 

There's not much we can do there, they are usually best off sorting these spats out themselves, all part of life.

But it's one reason why there's usually a tub of emergency ice-cream in the fridge.

I remember a Blue Sky training session on de-escalation. The trainer said that offering a pleasant distraction, such as going on a bike ride could help the child's anger. One carer was against the idea saying;

"I'm not going to reward bad behaviour by giving them something nice!"

He had missed the point on this one, de-escalation is about distraction, and anyway; kindness is not a 'reward', it should be ever-present. Is sticking a sticking plaster on a wound a 'reward'? 

Bottom line, ice cream works. 

Monday, September 06, 2021


 It's always an upheaval when a foster child leaves. The house is quieter, there's less work to be done and those that are left behind in the home have to re-configure.

Ged is gearing up to fly the nest; he'll be 18 soon and is hungry to put his childhood behind him and stretch his wings. There are so many positives, but you still have to keep an eye out for impending difficulties.

And there is a big one. See, our youngest foster child adores Ged. 

Ged, to him, is everything that I and my other half aren't. Ged is cool, he's a geezer. He knows what today's music is about, he can talk for ever about gaming.

Youngest wants Ged to be his dad - he doesn't say so but it's written all over him. He wants to go with Ged, but hasn't said so. When Ged goes it'll leave a big hole in his heart, and that's in part a healthy, normal and profound thing.


Youngest has experienced endless abandonment in his short life before care. His real father came and went, other 'fathers' came and went. Then his mother overdosed and has never fully recovered. He was fostered initially alongside his sibs (4) but it all got too much for the foster parents and the little mite who came to us was deemed the main fly in the ointment. And boy was he a handful at first.

We set square on keeping him with us partly because of the fear that if we abandoned him back into the system it could be the last straw. Anyway, we haven't yet given up on a child and one gets possesive about a 100% record in anything - mind this is a good obsession.

Blue Sky worked with us shoulder-to-shoulder to help him find a bit of peace; Oppositional Defiance Disorder is a gruelling house guest. But you get what you pay for in fostering, and though the emotional cost to us was steep to begin with, it began paying for itself within a couple of months.

I'm not claiming he's a saint, but he's come on in leaps and bounds, and Ged's arrival gave him the role model he's always craved.

My job in the next few weeks before Ged goes is to talk to my BS social worker about how to play it. Do I ask Ged if he can stay in touch for the sake of the youngest? Do I talk to youngest about it, try to get as much understanding of the coming event as I can? Do I make plans such as a farewell dinner for Ged or play it like it's no big deal?

The probability is that it's going to be tricky - sticky even - and we'll all have to react to however it impacts youngest. 

Oh, and remember to enjoy all the enjoyables such as helping a fine young man enter the world, and appreciating that youngest has learned to attach to a parent figure. Maybe he'll transfer that bonding to us? That would be nice…

But in fostering you never hold your breath..

Thursday, August 26, 2021


 Perhaps the most impacting thing about fostering is the effect it has on the shape of your household.

I'm talking about the shapes the people in your home make between themselves; round the table or sitting in the living room. Time was when people's living room had all the seating facing the fire, the source of warmth and comfort. Then along came the TV and the furniture was re-organised to face the new source of warmth and comfort. Everyone knew where they sat, everyone together.

The thing here is that 'devices' (phones, tablets, laptops) have superceded the TV, and our technology is now a solitary exercise.

Before we started fostering we had a 'normal' home, in the sense that we had a fixed cast list. There was mum, dad, and three children, year in year out. The five of us.

Of course, thinking back, the arrival of each of our three wonderful kids caused a massive change in the shape!

But once we decided "three will do", home life was a matter of us five knocking around each other, breakfast/lunch/tea… outings…family TV... 

 You form a circle, same faces, same lovely people. Same dynamic.

Then, you start fostering. And an unknown squib is thrown into the works. A child who's almost always had a horrible time and needs - and I mean REALLY NEEDS - loving attention.

The home isn't the same circle anymore. When the new child arrives the shape is more more like a figure of 8, with us in one circle of the 8 and the arrival in the other. But the two are joined at the hip and the foster parents have to turn the 8 into an 0.

Take, for example, Sammy. A ten year-old girl who arrived at our house complete with a warning that her father was apoplectic that his two daughters had been taken into care; not because he was concerned about their welfare so much as his self-image as the ultimate perfect male was challenged.

Sammy had lived under a cruel regime since her mother ran away.

I always feel sorry for those men who dress as super heroes to get camera attention about their grievance that the system obstructs fathers from having a just access to their kids. We haven't seen the Fathers For Justice men for a while; they used to stand around on top of famous buildings in their baggy Batman costumes having been advised by their PR people that the costumes would get them space in the newspapers. But I always wondered if really thought of themselves as supermen, and what kind of parenting that mindset would cause.

Sammy's father was probably a narcissist.

Sammy arrived on a freezing afternoon in mid-December. It had been decided that there were risks for her that were different from the risks faced by her older sister, so the sister was allowed to stay with the father, unless things changed.

Sammy was sore about that. No matter how awful home life is, 99% of children in care want to go back.

In the early days Sammy would join us for meals, sit in silence, then scoot back to her room and shut herself in.

We went to work to try to make her feel at home with us, and luckily, Plan A was a fair success, but I'm not sure you could do it nowadays.

What brough her down was the TV. She loved Jerry Springer (today's kids had the same affection for Jeremy Kyle). She would sit in the living room by herself and watch. Once we knew she liked losing herself in the small screen we expanded our watching - family films complete with popcorn, crisps and Fanta. We'd sit together and she began to relax with us, join in conversations about the movie.

It was only a week or two before she would call out from the landing "You wanna watch Jerry Sringer in a minute?" And so I did.

Sammy stayed with us for four months. Not long, but long enough for our family to morph into a six.

We were told her father had been counselled and had agreed to a Social Worker visit once a week to make sure he was sticking to a new self.

Ans, since taking up fostering, our household has a new self too.

Friday, August 20, 2021


There's been a swathe of friendly arguments in our house about Gary Lineker. For those who don't know he was once a brilliant footballer who's re-invented himself as a brilliant broadcaster/entertainer/pundit/social conscience. Well, that's my view. Others in the house think he's re-invented himself as a big-eared millionaire woke.

I annoy the enemy by musing, when faced with a moral choice such as tea or coffee; "What would Gary Lineker do?"

Also in our house we are faced with a proper moral dilemma at the moment.

We have a lad in care with us, I'm calling him Ged, who's not been with us a couple of months and is due to leave fostering soon.

A child of one's own is a child one has tried to guide into adulthood through the years. You hope that you know them and know their needs and how best they might fly the nest. When a young person arrives into your care almost complete and rounded off…there's little you can do to help prepare them, compared to what you want to do.

It's a great big world out there; sometimes cruel and brutal, sometimes sweet as a nut. 

But here's the thing; with one's own children the cord is never cut. They are your children 'til you're no more and amen to that, because they know it and take comfort that they always have you and maybe even your spare bed to fall back on.

My dear old dad, now departed, was never happier than when (with me by now in my forties) he was able to make me a snack of his trade mark cream cracker sandwiches with cheese and Branston or being able to give me a lift somewhere. I loved it too.

You're never alone with a parent or two still breathing.

Children nowadays no longer pack their bags and head off into the blue yonder at 18, if they ever did. What with the cost of buying a home, the state of employment, National Debt at eye watering size - the spin is that the country's swanning it, but doest it feel like it? Then there's the dire zero contracts. 

A huge number of UK children haven't left home.

It's grand that they have that option, despite the occasional frustrations for all concerned.

Ged doesn't have any such safety net.

His dad's a self-confessed no goodster and his mother's with a man who insists her children stay away.

His brothers and sisters, all younger, are scattered through fostering.

My God, you'd think he'd be petrified of that many-headed serpent we call the future.

Seemingly not a bit of it. 

Ged has been tossed in the wind so much of his life it's next to nothing to him to face being tossed around all by himself. He's exhilarated by the prospect of not having to be home by 11.00pm.

He doesn't seem worried that he might end up without a home to be home to by 11.00pm.

So, naturally, I do his worrying for him - with plenty of assists by Blue Sky. Their worrying takes the form of practical support and guidance in what his entitlements and fallbacks will be when he reaches his 18th birthday.

There have been changes in the status of young people in Care when they reach 18. In a nutshell - as I understand it - children in Care are no longer fostered, but can stay on with their foster family until they are 21 under a sort of supported lodgings scheme. I quote;

"These arrangements are known as Staying Put in England, When I’m Ready in Wales and Continuing Care in Scotland. In addition to this, Northern Ireland has its own arrangement for caring for a young person aged 18+ called Going the Extra Mile."

I guess that in many a household where there's a teenager heading for their 18th birthday there are some heavy discussions. In our case with Ged, we've been tooled up by Blue Sky as to the many ways it could work if Ged wanted to stay on.

The thing is he doesn't. He wants to spread his wings. And to be fair, he's hardly going to have time to bond with us and feel like he has a family to fall back on; his placement with us was tailored to preparing him for the world and he knows it and is keen.

How will he manage? Ah, well this is where it gets doubly interesting

Ged believes, and social services say it might be true, that he will come into a bit of money when he's 18. Or maybe when he's 21. He's keeping this information close to his chest and I don't ask about it, it's his business.

The story he's hinted at to various Social Workers and other confidants during his years in care is that someone, probably his untrustworthy father, has put aside some probably ill-gotten gains as a sort of dodgy trust fund for him. Possibly to say sorry for being a rubbish dad.

Do I believe it? I haven't enough to go on. Our Social Worker says that Ged is street-smart enough to know between a concrete promise and hot air, so the chances are it's better than a maybe. The sum is believed to be a solid five-figure amount.

Even if it's true, will it be enough for life out there? What with rent, bills, the inevitable motor bike, not to mention the raves

So, here's where we're heading with him. He's a fine guy. We're intending to tell him that if things go badly there's lots of help available, including this;

He's got my mobile number and he knows not only where we live, but where HE lives if he needs us.

With us.

I didn't have to ask myself; "What would Gary Lineker do?" (Although I reckon he'd do what we're planning to do).

And I won't be asking that question out loud on the matter of Ged, too jokey.

Mind, I may have asked myself; "What would the professional, caring foster mum do?"

Monday, August 16, 2021


 I've been asked for thoughts about fostering teenagers. I'm no expert, but it is a block around which I have been a good many times, and loved (almost) every minute. So here's a few random ones;

* Put up with the fact that they are teenagers. One good way of doing this is to go back over what you were like when you were a teenager. Try to remember the angst, the fears, the frustrations of being treated like an adult when it comes to things like paying full price for a bus ride but being treated like a child with things like being denied a driving licence or a bottle of beer, even though the state says you're old enough to join the army. 

* Don't pretend you understand them even if you do. The only thing a fostered teenager has complete ownership over is who they are, and they don't want you peeking into their soul, it's theirs. If this means acting ignorant of their favourite music and not knowing one Marvel superhero from another, so be it. PS; don't say their music is great either. They'll switch genres in a trice. You're not supposed to like it; stick to telling them how much you like Abba. 

*  There will always be something to worry about with them. We foster carers are lucky because unlike ordinary parents we have specialist advice to go to, namely our Social Worker. Don't ring them up for any old thing, but Blue Sky provides supervision sessions and they're the place to talk over any suspicions about drugs or romantic enterprises or eating concerns.

* Their room will be a mess. It's their mess. They won't mind you clearing away anything mouldy or hazardous, but they'll know to within an inch exactly where their three-day-old socks are; one is under the bed, the other is behind the wardrobe.

* They live their lives by a different clock to the rest of the world. Their day starts at 11.00am or later, and extends to 2.00am at night. It's not any form of defiance, it's to do with circadian rhythms or somesuch. It's a biological fact, as is the biological fact that they will make enough noise sometimes to wake you up. Get earplugs.

* They do not need to eat their vegetables. Their digestive system appears to be able to create all the neccessary vitamins out of a packet of Walkers salt and vinegar. Alternatively, GIVE them an apple, to keep as theirs. Most often, but not always, ownership of the apple means they no longer see it as a threat to their independent choice of food, and it becomes edible. Don't say "Here's an apple for you", instead put a small bowl of fruit in their room; an apple, a banana and an orange. They'll eat them except the orange. Oranges need peeling which is a faff. Also; by refusing the orange they remain in control (they think).

* They won't talk, unless you get them onto a subject they're comfortable with, one they'll know more than you about. They'll possibly know more about fleecing the benefit system, or the best tips for sofa surfing, or how to get off a charge of shoplifting. For many teenagers in care they witnessed at home these matters as representing the badge of adulthood, and they'll open up if they can sound like 'grown-ups'. And indeed, in these respects they are more grown-up than most adults.

*They'll never forget you. Even though they'll hardly say a sentimental thing to your face, many years later they'll  call at your door to say thanks, either metaphorically or literally.  One foster mum I know had this exact thing happen and still fills up when she tells people about it.

Thursday, August 05, 2021


 One of the joys in the first few weeks of a new child arriving is that you get a drip-feed of revealing information from them about themselves and their past history. The revelations help form your way to foster them.

It's not so easy with younger ones. They don't have the mental apparatus to share significant experiences, so you have to watch and listen. With older teenagers it's easier. They talk - once they start to trust you.

Our new placement Ged is a charmer. He's incredibly polite and considerate, so much so that I'm wondering if he has something else going on elsewhere and is storing up favour in case the something else breaks.

I hope that doesn't sound cynical, it's based on hard-won experience and there's no way he'd guess I have that small but real concern in the back of my mind.

I'm now 90% sure the smoke I smelled on him when I picked him up from a late train wasn't tobacco.

Ged has means. He buys classy clothes and train fares are no problem for him. He owns recording and editing equipment for his music which doesn't come cheap. 

My worry is based on an excellent training session I had with a Blue Sky expert on drug use among today's teens. The session was entitled "County Lines".  I hadn't heard of County Lines before. If you have and know all about it forgive me banging on, but a caring concern is in my mind now so I'm going over it again.

"County Lines" is a term for a technique used by drug dealing gangs to escape arrest and prosecution. It works like this; they recruit independent minded teenagers by using older teenagers (16 to18 years old) to dress cool and hang around  outside school gates getting to know the younger (14 to 16 years old) teenagers. They want the loners, the losers; the ones who'll feel emboldened by a cool older dude befriending them. They give them 'free' stuff. Not illegal stuf; maybe an expensive pair of trainers. Then they tell them they can earn good money to pay them back for the 'free' stuff by doing a delivery job for them. 

The delivery involves them crossing a county boundary carrying a package.

The package contains drugs. The reason the youngsters are sent across county lines has to do with the way English police forces are organised. They are set up along county lines. If a crime is committed that has crossed county lines the police paperwork becomes disproportionate and the investigation stagnates. Even if it doesn't, the 'criminal' is a bewildered teenager who doesn't know anything.

So, armed with this training, have I any other reason to harbour a small concern that Ged is behaving less like a foster child and more like the guest from Heaven? 


We were chatting about our respective family histories, I mentioned that I had a distant relative who is  'known to the police' as they say.

Ged trumped me; his dad's in prison.

For drug dealing.