Author: MacVeigh (James)
Year: 1982
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Edition Details: 1st Edn.
Book Condition: F/Vg+
ISBN: 022401997X
Price: 5.00
Hardback. The story of Graham Gaskin's life at the hands of the social services is shocking, thought-provoking and heart-rending. At the age of nine months, Graham is placed in the care of the Liverpool City Council because his mother has thrown herself from the stern of the Wallasey ferryboat. He is the youngest of 3 children handed over to the local authority by a father who cannot find room for them. When Graham is 4, the social services decide to move him away from his first surrogate mother and, thereafter, he never stops moving. He is passed from foster parents who throw bucket of cold water on him when he is naughty to others who shut him out of their family life altogether, feed him their leftovers and expect him to search for receipts on the supermarket floor to inflate their demands on social services for his keep. He becomes tough as a tot and the first time Graham runs away he is 6yrs old. Though his father eventually houses his brother an sister, he closes his door to Graham because of truancy from school. Sometimes Graham sleeps in empty boxes behind Tesco's, as he will frequently in later years. At 9 he feels part of a community for the first time in his life at a psychiatric hospital where there is not a single other child. When psychologists decide he is of above average intelligence and has no serious personality disorder, he is wrenched from the hospital and although he pleads with his father to take him home, he is delivered to Blatchwick, a strictly regimented school for orphans. Here Graham comes up against a more thorough-going sadist than he is to meet at any remand home or borstal that lies ahead. At 10 he does the impossible and escapes, heading straight back to Liverpool. It is a pattern that establishes itself for years to come. Escape, the run from authorities, sleeping rough, capture, return to another form of prison. The fact that he has done nothing wrong makes him rebellious. Eventually Graham resorts to petty theft to prolong his time on the run. Approved schools become remand homes which eventually become borstals, and this book is, among other things, an account of British prisons not quickly to be forgotten. What is most striking throughout this mesmerising and horrific story is the spirit of a boy which refuses to be broken. Graham managed to lay hands on his social services file and took it to the offices of the 'Liverpool Echo' where he at last found allies who could help him fight back. His action for damages against the social services was begun soon after that. 261pp. 8vo. h/back. F. in Vg+ dw.


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