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My National Children's Home File
Part One - Philip - ''A strange child''
THEIR HISTORY OF ME or 44783 as I am also known.
Clicking on this link will take you to part II - The story of my life in care.
If you were in care at any branch of the NCH, this group might be of interest.
The NCH will still have your file, if you would to see it.
Action for Children
THE NCH RECORDS
In the 1960s Highfield, the Harpenden Branch of the NCH in Hertfordshire, contained twenty flats each with eight to eleven children of mixed ages of both boys & girls in a family group, they were looked after by either a Sister or Houseparent.
Highfield, Harpenden Reunion
The Next Reunion should be mid 2015
EACH YEAR A REUNION OF EX CHILDREN AND STAFF OF THE NCH IS HELD in JULY
The next one will be on the first Saturday in July at the main Watford office.
If you are not on the mailing list for the normal invatation for the Invite for the Reunion
Please contact Action for Children on
0300 123 2112
Philip A Strange Child
The text part of this site on my life up to the age of eleven and my NCH File, have now been published as a book.
By Philip J. Howard.
"Philip had not shown any unusual behaviour, although he is the only coloured boy in the school."
THE CHILDREN IN CARE As it might be unkind to name other children who have also been in care at the same time as myself, and who have now started new and productive lives.
The copyright of this work is claimed by the author Philip J Howard. Please feel free to copy, save, and use any of the items on this page for non-monetary gain. Items found on this site that are claimed by third parties as their copyright, I am not able to give free use of, but otherwise the site is for your full use and enjoyment. A link or reference to this site would be most welcome for any items that you use, but it is not a requirement.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
December 1964 - January 1965. 7years 11months to 8 years 1 month
My mother was returing to London to look after her sick parents. At 7 years of age, I was now going to be a problem.
1. 27.01.65 Letter to Uncle from Governor of the National Children''s Home Harpenden, asking for an appointment regarding Philip.
2. 01.02.65 Note from NCH regarding a visit to the Uncle.
3. 02.02.65. Letter to Uncle from Child Care Officer.
I am writing to ask if I can see you and your sister-in-law on Tuesday morning February 9th, regarding your admission enquiry.
4. 03.02.65 Letter to the NCH at Harpenden from the Uncle.
Thank you for your letter. It will be quite convenient for you to see me on Feb 9th, but as my sister-in-law (the mother) is working in the Isle of Wight, it will be rather difficult for her to be here, if that is all right with you may I suggest 11.30 as a suitable time. If there is anything else you wish to know in the meantime, my wife is at home until 1pm each day, and will be pleased to help in any way she can.
5. 10.02.65 Note from Governor of Harpenden.
I had a long talk with the uncle and aunt of the boy. The uncle mentioned that he needed to be disciplined as he could be rather badly behaved.
Visited The Uncle 09.02.65. The mother is due in London in a week’s time, with her son Philip. She will telephone or write, and I will write full report after seeing them. At present she is living on Isle of Wight. Philip is 8 years old and is half Indian.
MY ANSWER. The visit by the Governor and the Child Care Officer to my aunt and uncle seemed to seal my fate. It appears to have been mentioned by him that I needed to be disciplined. I was not really a wild boy, but I was most happy on my own or with just a couple of friends; large group activities were never to my liking.
If the comment that I needed discipline had not been mentioned, I might not have been allocated to the flat, that to nearly every child in the Home was one of the least appealing flats in the Home owing to the Sister’s strict but fair regime. The Sister in charge was not unkind in any way, but having possibly the most experience in years over every other member of the staff in looking after boys, her method of upbringing would be the nearest I would get to a father figure for discipline. To give me a title of ‘half Indian’ is not really correct as my father came from Ceylon.
6. 23.02.65 Letter to Child Care Officer from The Mother.
With reference to a letter from my Sister. I have now returned to London, & would be pleased to have an appointment at any time suitable to you.
7. 24.02.65 Letter to The Mother from Child Care Officer.
Thank you for your letter telling me you are now in London. Is it possible to see you during the day on Tuesday, the 2nd March?
8. 26.02.65. Letter to The Child Care Officer from The Mother.
Thank you for your letter, I would be very pleased to see you on Tuesday March 2nd; the afternoon would be most suitable, although I shall be at home all day, as I now have my mother home from hospital & she needs rather a lot of attention in the mornings.
MY ANSWER Whilst I was at school, my mother went up to the Children's Home for a visit, all I was told when I returned home at the end of the day was that she had been to see about a school in the country for me, near to where my aunts lived.
9. 02.03.65. NCH FORM Particulars of child for whom admission is sought.
Name of child. PHILIP JOHN (Boy).
Place of Birth. Paddington Hospital.
Religious Denomination. C of E.
Present Address London NW2.
With whom. Mother.
Name of Father Linton Jansen, Nationality Singhalese (Burgher). Country of Origin Ceylon. Occupation Trainee in hotel management. Health Good.
Name of Mother Dorothy Moira Howard. Nationality English. D.O.B. 09.10.21. Country of Origin England. Address London NW2. Occupation Ex-housekeeper. Health Good. Religion C of E.
Wages Four Pounds, Total weekly income Four Pounds
Grandparents Father 88. Retired Accountant. Mother 68 Retired.
Aunts and Uncles
Harpenden: (Main contact with NCH) Sister & Brother-in-Law. No Children.
Harpenden: Sister & Brother-in-Law. Daughter (age 24).
Harpenden: Brother & Sister-in-Law. Son (age 6) Daughter (age 8).
London: Brother. No Children.
Information: regarding the health, character, habits and mentality of the child.
Very lively. Lack of concentration.
Reason for application.
Mother is having to look after her mother who has had a stroke & father 88 years. Lack of accommodation, and supervision for Philip.
Who takes responsibility for receiving the child if he should prove unsuitable for continued residence in the Home - Mother.
What weekly payment is offered towards the child’s maintenance? - Two Pounds per week plus clothes.
MY ANSWER. The reference to my father as a Burgher:
10. 02.03.65 Report of Child Care Officer.
The mother’s sister in Harpenden had originally approached the Governor at Highfield to ask his advice about her nephew Philip. The mother was at the time working as a housekeeper on the Isle of Wight, but I was able to see her this week as she has now come up to London to look after her parents.
The mother is 43 years of age, and has so far been able to look after Philip herself during these past years. Just before Christmas, however, her mother had a stroke and has been in hospital up until now. The mother is the only one who is in a position to come and look after their parents.
The grandmother is still slightly paralysed by the stroke and has difficulty in speaking; the grandfather who is 88 years has also to be looked after fairly well as he suffers from bronchitis. The mother has a pleasant flat on the second floor, just off the main Edgware road.
The mother’s difficulty now is trying to look after Philip at the same time who is a very lively energetic 8-year-old-boy.
According to his uncle from Harpenden, he is in great need of discipline.
The mother has already told Philip that there is a likelihood he might be going to ‘boarding-school’ and he seemed quite cheerful at this prospect of being with other children.
It was very difficult however, to carry on a conversation with Philip as he seemed to suffer from an intense lack of concentration.
He seemed a very likeable little boy, and is only lightly coloured. The mother only knew his father a Singhalese, for a very short period, and has since lost all contact with him.
The mother is planning to look after her parents indefinitely, but thinks that as soon as her help and support is no longer required she will then be able to find another job as a housekeeper and will have Philip back, but at this stage she thinks he will be slightly more disciplined and that she should then be able to cope with him as well as a job. Her family is now giving her four pounds per week and she is willing to contribute two pounds per week for Philip’s maintenance as well as buying all his clothes.
I would like to recommend this application and that if possible Philip could go to Harpenden so that his mother could visit fairly easily as well as all the other relatives who are living in the area. I don’t think the mother would ever lose touch with the boy and she would gladly visit once every three weeks.
Possibly when Philip is 11 yrs and changing schools the possibility of him being returned to his mother could then be considered.
Governor of Harpenden Notes – After visit by Mother to Highfield.
It was originally suggested by the uncle that the boy needed to be disciplined. When the mother was questioned over this matter, she thought it was perhaps a good idea as that at times he could be a bit of a handful.
We spoke about the various sanctions that were available; the mother was in agreement that for any minor events, if the Sister in charge of Philip punished him with the slipper, there would be no objection from her. If there were any cases of bad behaviour then she was quite in agreement that he could be punished more severely.
MY ANSWER. Describing me as a very lively energetic 8-year-old was perhaps the most accurate words ever spoken. I was on the go from the point I woke up until when I went to bed. If I was perhaps a loner it was due to my mother simply not having as much time due to work, as she would have liked to spend with me, so I was used to playing on my own.
A classification of me as an 8-year-old boy today would be that it was quite easy to add the words hyperactive and several of the more modern labels that children who do not seem to fit into the adults standard categories receive.
My mother was asked about the matter of punishments I might receive if I did anything wrong during my stay in the Home. When I was small my mother had given me a few light smacks; these were normally enough to bring me back into order.
At the age of five my grandmother had once caned me. This did get me to be well behaved, and if my mother had used this form of punishment on me at the time, I knew I would have followed every command she made.
From the age of six my mother had normally given me early bedtimes or decided that treats could be suspended, as at my first school the Headmistress was against physical punishments. Had I not gone to that boarding school I might have found my mother could have been a little firmer with me.
When I reached seven, the event at the last infant school where I was given the cane, had shown her that I could be kept in order. My mother decided that at the age of seven I was old enough to receive the plimsoll from her over minor matters, which that year were just over a dozen different times for various matters of bad temper, damage to property and wetting the bed. There was the cane for any serious problem. This, my mother had only needed to give me twice. All my punishments from my mother had been quite light in nature; it was done to try to keep me under some kind of control.
The Home seemed to have accepted the suggestion from my uncle that I needed to be disciplined; this in my mind was a little unfair as we had so rarely been together. My mother had probably written to her sister telling her of my latest wrongdoing; this was how my uncle came to the idea that I needed to be kept under control. My mother agreed that the Sister in charge of me should use the slipper on me if I became troublesome; if there was anything worse in my behaviour then it was easy to see that the Governor of the Home could intervene.
The item in my file “When Philip is 11 yrs and changing schools the possibility of him being returned to his mother could then be considered.” Was it decided before my arrival at Highfield that I was going to be with them for three years, whatever my family outcome was? If my grandmother and grandfather had died at an age before I was 11-12 years, would I have stayed in the Home, or would my mother have taken me straight out? The three to four years in care would be the same period as if I had stayed at the boarding school, or gone into one of the NCH Approved Schools.
I did find out that my mother’s last employer did want her back, but the invitation did not include me. If my grandparents had died early, would my mother have been able to find a housekeeping job that would have taken both of us? Or would she have thought it best that I stayed in the Home.
Early on, if it had been explained to me, that around the age of eleven there would be a good chance of leaving the Home, then possibly my life would have been a lot easier and the number of problems I caused would have been far less.
11. 17.03.65 Letter to Child Care Officer from the Headmistress.
The mother came to see me when she was due to leave to go to London and mentioned that she would be making this application. It seemed to us here that Philip badly needs real care and affection and stability of home life. The mother was never prepared to give any information about her own private life, but Philip obviously needs the interests and concern of a father.
He was backward in most subjects although he was now beginning to make real progress with his reading. His work was generally messy and untidy. He is highly strung and his behaviour with other children tended to be aggressive and unfriendly.
I found it necessary to punish Philip with the cane on one occasion; he found authority very easy to accept once boundaries were set. However, he got on well with all the staff and we all felt that given stability and a proper routine, Philip would make good progress academically and emotionally. Clearly, the residential school he temporally attended was not suitable for him.
If the flat he and his mother are living in impose severe restrictions on the boy, and if the aged and sick grandparents make living in the small flat difficult and emotionally strained for him, then I feel strongly that a move would be best for Philip.
SCHOOL REPORT from the Headmistress, requested by the NCH.
Attitude: Fair, Effort: Fair, Attainment: Weak, English: Weak, Arithmetic: Weak, Social Studies: Weak, Handwork: Weak, Physical Training: Fair.
MY ANSWER. The letter and the report from the previous Head Teacher on the Isle of Wight did not really give me a very favourable account.
The Headmistress had known me for a few months between the age of 6 - 7, if she had known that I had not had any contact with other children until I was six, she might have understood that I simply did not know how to act around other children.
Having only started school at six, by the time I came to her school I had only been at school for seven months and only that amount of time with children.
I did not manage any marks in the other grades on the report of Excellent, Good or even Average; but was marked as either Fair or Weak.
It was at this school that I found that if you did wrong, punishments would hurt. The Headmistress thought the boarding school I had been placed in was not right for me, only after I was found not to have done anything wrong.
12. 19.03.65 Letter to Mother from Child Care Officer.
At its meeting this week, our committee agreed to accept your son Philip subject to the completion of the usual documents.
The medical Certificate should be completed by a doctor, the School Report by the child’s school teacher and the general Agreement should be signed over a 6d stamp as indicated. When you return these documents, please let us have Philip’s Birth Certificate.
We will let you know as soon as we have a vacancy.
13. 27.03.65. General Agreement Form signed by the Mother.
I declare that the said child enters the National Children’s Home and Orphanage. I hereby agree that the Principal of the Home is duly authorised shall have the custody care and control.
I shall not remove the child from the Home without giving at least one calendar month’s notice in writing (unless the Principal shall consent otherwise in writing) pay to the Home any monies then owing by me to the Home in respect of the said child. That if required by notice of the Principal to do so I will at my own expense remove the said child from the Home within one calendar month after the date of such a notice. That if I shall commit any breach of the forgoing provisions I will forthwith pay to the Home the amount expended in the upbringing of the said child as an ascertained debt calculated at the rate of Three Pounds for each week of the period during which the said child shall have been in residence at any branch of the Home, subject to the deduction from the amount so calculated of any sums paid by me to the Home in respect of the said child.
I further agree without reference to me to give instructions for the sanction of carrying out any surgical or dental operations in the said child including vaccinations or immunization of the said child.
MY ANSWER. The clauses in the documents allowed the NCH to return me to my mother at very short notice; it also had a penalty condition if my mother wanted my return.
The money to keep me might by modern standards not seem very much. At this period there were no benefits the state provided. I was an only child, there was no child benefit for the first child, and my mother was a single parent and there were no benefits on that score either. My mother was not really working in paid employment while looking after her parents, however as she was not unemployed, there were no unemployment payments.
The rent for the London flat came from my grandparents’ pension, although the family was never on the poverty line. Rent, heat and food took the vast majority of any available funds.
Had there been some benefits, and help to look after my grandparents, the need for me to be sent to the Home may never have been needed.
Two sets of aunts and uncles now paid two pounds each to my mother to look after my grandparents. Half of this was now paid to the Children’s Home to look after me.
My mother had two pounds a week to add to the budget of the household to provide for her share of the food and heat. If there were to be treats like visits to me and for presents and the like, it had to come out of this amount.
14. 20.03.65 Letter to the Previous Head Teacher from the Child Care Officer.
Thank you very much indeed for your letter which has been most helpful. Philip is going to be admitted to one of our branches at Harpenden, Herts. and a copy of your letter is being passed on to the Governor.
15. 26.03.65 Medical Certificate from a Doctor to the NCH
Present health. Good.
Sight, hearing and speech. Normal.
What diseases has the child suffered. Measles.
General observations. In good health, lively & healthy boy.
MY ANSWER. The report from the doctor shows that I had no problems; to her my speech was normal. It was not a case of just being seen for a few moments. The doctor lived next door to us.
16. 29.03.65 Admission Particulars Form
Philip John Age 8 Illegitimate, mother 43 ex-housekeeper, putative father trainee in hotel management whereabouts unknown. Singhalese.
Religion of child C of E
Payment Two Pounds per week by mother.
Putative = acknowledged, assumed, reputed.
17. 29.03.65. Letter to NCH from Mother.
Please find enclosed Medical Certificate, General Agreement, School Report and Birth Certificate.
I am sure Philip will be happier living in one of your Homes with other children, than being cooped up in this London flat with two elderly invalids.
Thank you for your very kind attention.
Want to bet on me going to be happier in the Home! I thought I was going to a boarding school again. That I was going to be put in a children's home was never mentioned.
18. 12.04.65. Letter to Governor of Harpenden NCH from Rev. Gordon. E. Barritt. NCH London.
This boy has been accepted by the Committee to come into our care. The enquiry originally came via yourself as relatives live in Harpenden.
Philip’s mother lives in NW2, with aged and infirm parents. We would like him to come to Harpenden to enable regular visits from his mother and relatives to be made.
Could you please let me know the date you are likely to be able to receive Philip.
Note. Added 21.04.65. To Sister in Charge Flat 1: Governor of Harpenden would like this little boy to come into your family. Would any day be convenient for him to come?
19. 22.04.65 Letter to Rev. Gordon. E. Barritt. NCH London from Governor NCH Harpenden.
Thank you for your letter of 12th April. We can take this little boy straightaway.
20. 30.04.65 Letter to Mother from Rev. Gordon. E. Barritt. NCH London.
I am writing to let you know that we now have a vacancy at our Harpenden branch and could accept your son, Philip at any time.
It is understood that when Philip comes into our care you will be able to make a contribution of Two Pounds per week.
Will you please see that Philip’s medical card is handed to the Governor. Enclosed is a copy of our Notes to Relatives and a Clothing List, which is to be regarded as a suggestion only and not a condition of the child’s admittance.
MY ANSWER. The letter all the adults in the family had been waiting for. There was now room to take me.
21. 06.05.65 Letter to Headmaster Manland Junior School from Governor of Harpenden NCH.
Thank you for agreeing to take Philip.
For your information, Philip has come into our care because his mother is having to look after her parents, the grandmother has just had a stroke, and the grandfather is 88.
22. Admission card
Philip Date of Admission 06.05.65
23. 14.05.65 Letter to Mother from Governor of Harpenden NCH.
I am pleased to say Philip seems to be settling down quite happily with us.
We hope you will be able to visit him regularly, and that his relations in the district will also keep in touch. I suggest you see Philip every three weeks. We ask parents to visit on a Saturday. We would like you to take Philip out when you come as this makes a little outing for him, and gives you a chance to have him on your own. It is quite all right for you to have him for the whole day if you wish. I should like you to write to me at the office whenever you wish to have him, and we will always reply within a day or two letting you know if the suggested date is convenient.
I suggest you make your first visit on Saturday 22nd May, as the Sister in Charge will be away on holiday the following week, and I expect you would like to see her. When you write I should be glad if you could mention the time you hope to arrive.
We shall be pleased for Philip to come home to you for occasional weekends, and for part of school holidays, and, as the case of visiting, I should be glad if you would make arrangements through the office.
MY ANSWER. I had been at the Home for one week and seemed to be settling down according to reports from the Sister in Charge. I tried to be good, having had a life where other than at school I have only been surrounded by adults, I am now with other children of all ages twenty-four hours a day.
I have been informed that my stay will be for the period while my grandparents are ill. Therefore, I have no real idea of how long I will be staying here. All the other children in the flat I have been placed with have been here since they were very young. It is easy to understand their views that they will be staying at this Home until they leave school, and to take on similar ideas that this was probably going to be my future as well.
My life seemed so different, having been used to long periods of peace and quiet. Unless I found some deserted spot outside in the grounds, there was always someone around. Even when going to bed, I had to sleep in a room with three other boys. As they were older, there was simply the knowledge that both through age and time spent here, I was going to be last in the queue for everything.
The suggestion from the Governor that my mother could see me every three weeks was merely a suggestion, however my mother took this as a final decision as to how often I could have visits.
From that point on unless there were other matters arising, my mother visited me every third week. Sometimes I would go to London for the weekend and on other occasions I was simply taken out on the Saturday.
The Home requested that parents only visit on a Saturday. There might have been difficulties for some parents who worked six days a week. For many, Sunday would have been a much better day to visit, but as the Home was strongly Methodist, any such fun on this day would be against all the rules.
These amounts of visits seemed also to be acceptable to the Sister in Charge. It appeared that there was the hint given that any more visits than this might upset others in the family group who were less fortunate over visits.
With my mother wanting to visit me every third Saturday, it gave my relatives living close by little opportunity for contact with me. One set of aunts and uncles it appeared would have welcomed the odd visit. If the Sister had not wanted to see me getting visits at the Home, then I would have been quite capable of walking to my relatives’ home; it was actually in the direction of the walk I made to school each day. However, to Sister, our spare time was fully occupied with events at the Home; no visits to aunts and uncles were ever made on my own.
24. 16.05.65 Letter to Governor of Harpenden NCH from Mother.
Thank you very much for your letter. I am so pleased I know Philip is settling down happily at Highfield.
I shall be delighted to come on Saturday 22nd to take Philip out for the day. The train arrives at Harpenden at 9.45 am, so I should be at Highfield about 10 o’clock, I am looking forward very much to coming. Do I call at the main office first, or do I go straight to see the Sister? Thank you for your very kind attention.
MY ANSWER This was my first visit from my mother; I was taken into the town for the day. There was the hope in my mind that my mother might take me back to London at the end of the day out. Late in the afternoon, I was returned to the Home. I now knew that I was here for the duration. Quite a large amount of time was spent by my mother asking Sister if I had been any trouble to her. Most of it was out of ear shot for me. I had no idea if Sister had mentioned to my mother that I had wet the bed that week, and had been given the slipper, it appeared that Sister did not have any major complaints to make.
25. 19.05.65 Letter to Mother from Rev. Gordon. E. Barritt. NCH London.
Now that Philip is in our care at Harpenden, we hope he will settle quite happily.
We understand you are willing to contribute a total of two pounds per week towards his maintenance and we enclose herewith our usual Payment Agreement Form for you to sign and return as soon as possible.
We note from our Accounts Department that you have already made one payment of four pounds for which a receipt has already been sent.
26. 19.05.65 Payment form Signed by The Mother
I agree to pay the sum of two pounds per week to National Children’s Home and Orphanage in regular Weekly instalments of two pounds, the first to be made on the 13th May 1965, and shall continue as long as the said Philip is in the care of the National Children’s Home and Orphanage.
27. 06.07.65 Letter to Governor of Harpenden NCH from Mother.
Would it be possible to have Philip home this weekend from Saturday 10.15 am until Sunday evening, 10th and 11th July.
I’m sorry it’s such short notice, but my Mother is in hospital and does not appear to be returning home during the next few days. I thought it would make a good opportunity for me to have Philip while I’m free of my nursing duties.
If it’s too late for a postal reply, may I ring up about 6pm on Friday, perhaps you would be kind enough to leave a message to say if he can come.
Last time Philip came home we all noticed a vast improvement in him. He seemed so much more sensible and obedient.
I am very grateful for all you and the Sister in Charge are doing for us.
MY ANSWER. There was the comment of a vast improvement in my behaviour; for my mother to make this comment it showed I had changed. Although there had been only one physical punishment from the Sister in Charge, simply making me conform to their way of life was punishment in itself.
Within a few weeks of coming into the Home, I soon found from the others that it was easier to make it look as if one was obeying every command that was given. Slowly I could feel I was getting more and more frustrated at the petty rules that seemed to have been made at some point, yet never changed even if circumstances dictated.
If I did not show to be making real friends with the others in the group, it was down to being the youngest boy. With the others having later bedtimes, often starting to play games once their homework was finished, we were soon interrupted with me getting sent off to bed by the Sister.
I would have loved to be allowed to go out of the grounds on my own, but other than to and from school you were not allowed out of the Home without an adult. For pleasure, it was to be allowed out into the grounds on my own and not organised into any game or group activity.
For the visit to my mother if there was any difference, it was that I wanted to try and not to be noticed in any way if possible. During my first time with my mother, there was the hope if I did seem to be quiet and almost invisible, there might be the chance I would not have to return to the Home.
28. 05.08.65 Report from Child Care Officer.
The mother was limping when she came to the door and had a very painful and swollen leg. She has Philip home for a week’s holiday from the Branch and arranged it this week because she thought that her mother would still be in hospital and that she would be able to take Philip out.
However, her mother was discharged last weekend and cannot be left for more than an hour at a time as she has now had three strokes and seems likely to have another. Philip has had to go out on his own and the mother is disappointed not to be able to join him.
The mother seems to be a very conscientious lady who has given up a good deal to care for her parents. The rest of the family are all working and, though they visit her, can never stay very long. The mother is, therefore, very tied to the house. She visits Philip every third weekend and sometimes has him home. She thinks he is happy at Harpenden and that it is good for him, though of course she herself misses him very much. She is looking forward to the time when she can have him living with her again but there is no knowing how long the present situation will continue.
On my return to the office I made several fruitless telephone calls to the Woman’s Voluntary Service etc., to see if anyone could relieve the mother of her duties for a few hours. What she really needs is a week’s holiday to spend with Philip and give her a break from her very demanding parents.
MY ANSWER. My mother had a very bad leg for many years; the heavy work of lifting both her parents did not help matters. In the normal way, my mother would have been considered unfit for work. As no other relatives were willing to help out, my mother was left to look after both her parents every day and night.
My mother thought I was happy at Highfield; when she visited everything was happy in the household. If she had really known how I felt living at the Home and how near I was to giving up, she might have found some way of taking me back. All it would have taken was for her to be firmer with the rest of her brothers and sisters over the matter of their parents and both of us might have had a more enjoyable life. My mother looking after her parents was originally going to be only a temporary solution but within months it became permanent.
If life was so odd for me, it was when I was at Harpenden I was not allowed to set foot outside the grounds except for going to and from school, yet once in London I have total freedom in a built-up area with heavy traffic. At eight years old, I had enough road sense to survive, if only the Home could have realised that if they allowed me to go for walks outside the grounds. I would not come to any harm.
29. 06.08.65 Letter to the Mother from the Child Care Officer.
I was glad to be able to meet you today. I feel that you really need to have an occasional break from your duties and am wondering if there is anyone who could relieve you for an hour or two. I have rung the W.V.S. at Hampstead but it seems they are unlikely to be able to help you. I have also been given the address of the Voluntary Services in Willesden. Maybe someone could sit in for a couple of hours while you go out. I should also bear in mind the possibility of having your mother in a Convalescent or Nursing Home for a week or two to give you a break. No doubt your family could help with this financially, as you are doing them a service. Hoping that your leg will soon be better.
30. 04.08.65 Letter to Governor of Harpenden NCH from Mother.
Thank you for your letter, I give my consent for Philip to be vaccinated against smallpox, and immunised against diphtheria and whooping cough.
MY ANSWER. Vaccinated against everything. Until coming to the Home, visits to the doctors had been a rare event. Other than catching measles as a very young child, general childhood illnesses had not affected me. With little contact with other children until the age of six it had not exposed me to the regular selection that other children seem to get. Even when I did start school, I remained healthy, although I did catch several colds. Possibly the protective London grime and living in a household where my grandfather could smoke forty strong unfiltered cigarettes a day and with two other members of the family not far behind, had given me protection against all ills.
Other children happily took time off school with mumps and chicken pox but for me a cold was something I could snuffle through lessons with. At the age of six, there was the prospect of having my adenoids out; my speech it appeared was not having any improvement even with elocution lessons. The hospital appointment came for the week we were leaving, so no more was done about the matter.
At the Home, it appeared it was best to have us all inoculated against the major diseases. Vaccination against Smallpox in the normal way would only be given to a child if they were planning to go on holiday to a problem country, although for the majority here, a holiday by the seaside was the nearest they were going to get to tropical and distant lands. As a precaution, we were vaccinated against major diseases. Compared with other injections with long needles that did sting, the actual Smallpox vaccination and the after effects went without any complications or discomfort for me.
31. 17.08.65 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called on the mother to find out whether she has had any success in finding someone to stay with her parents so that she could spend some time with Philip. She is hoping that her sister will come for a day one weekend soon so that she and Philip can go out. She also said that she thinks she could have found somewhere for her parents to go away for a holiday, but they did not want to go, and she was unwilling to put undue pressure on them. However, if the situation is the same next year she will make more effort to have a break; this will probably need planning well in advance, but the Old People’s Welfare will probably be willing to help.
The mother looked much fitter than when I last saw her and her leg is nearly better.
31a. November 1965. Half-Yearly Report by Sister in Charge.
8 years 10 months.
General Condition: Good.
Height: 4ft. 5in.
Weight 4st. 8lbs.
A nervy, highly-strung child, and yet he does not lack confidence.
He is not too upset over his regular bed wetting, and deals with the matter without any problem.
He is a little old man in some ways, and yet babyish in others.
He is now much more able with other children.
He is less aggressive and cries less due to frustration.
He has settled very well.
Interests and Hobbies.
Cubs, and will be joining the Club.
Very active but will settle down with pencils and paper.
The Sister has given her verdict on my behaviour after being in her care for six months. I was not used to such large groups of children around me all the time. If I was highly strung it was simply that I was afraid that if I did anything wrong, I would be physically punished.
My main fear at night was not of my surroundings or matters like thunder and lightning, it was the single fear of wetting the bed. For the first couple of months I forced myself to wake up during the night to visit the lavatory to try and prevent it happening, but soon realised that Sister does not punish over bedwetting. So I try and follow the others ideas that it is best to stay in bed unless you really do feel the need that you need to go to the lavatory, as Sister did not want you out of bed at night. This leads to a couple of wet beds most weeks.
Sister's comment that I was "Babyish" might have been down to how I acted in the Home. Until my arrival it had been left to me to decide when I went to the lavatory and the like if I felt the need, I knew well enough to head off. Sisters rules that we had to go when she decided, and with other matters I was simply afraid to ask. After a couple of daytime accidents soon after my arrival, and on a visit to the governor after been naughty, I had wet myself due to the punishment I might receive.
There was the suggestion from Sister that I wear a pair of waterproof pants under my shorts or dungarees for chapel and when I was to be taken on trips out of the grounds, this was later revised to when I went out to play in the grounds and at certain times for school. Although future accidents were few, I was more at ease with Sisters request, and did not have the worry that I might need the lavatory and be refused permission to go. My arrival into the Home had made me a much more nervous now, as not since the age of about four had I had any daytime problems either out with my mother or at school.
9 Years Old
32. 00.01.66 Report of a second Child Care Officer.
The mother was enjoying having Philip home for the Christmas holidays and was looking much fitter than when I saw her in the summer. She is still very much tied to the house as her mother has frequent attacks of illness and she cannot leave her alone for long. Although the rest of the family promised to give her a lot of help, they always seem to be busy and she does not get much support.
The mother said she feels that she needs a break from caring for her parents and I suggested that the rest of the family should be able to pay for someone to look after them for a week while they go away in the summer. She agreed this might be a good idea, and I hope she will follow it up.
Philip came in later and was obviously enjoying his holiday. He is very excitable and talkative and not a bit shy, although I had not seen him before. He has to go out on his own most of the time when he is at home, but he is very resourceful and seems to know his way around.
He talked happily about Harpenden and of the other children in the family and appears well adjusted to life there. His mother visits him regularly every third week and takes him home, and helps make him feel secure.
The mother said she misses him very much and would love to have him home all the time, but under the present circumstances, feels that there is far too much strain on the relations within the family, although for a week at a time it is very satisfactory to have Philip at home. Of course the mother has no idea how long she will be required to look after her parents.
Philip seems bright and intelligent, although his mother said he lacks concentration and feels this is probably why he does not do very well at school. This confirms the original school report that we received. It would be interesting to know whether Philip has become more settled since his stay at Harpenden and how he behaves towards the other children in the family.
MY ANSWER. A different Child Care Officer visiting me for the first time chose the best moment to visit. With one day after my ninth birthday and being able to spend it at my home in London, I had really everything that I could want. I might have been a little excitable, with new toys to play with on my own and extra money; these were matters I could get excited about. The comment of not being a bit shy was quite true. Having been surrounded by adults all my life, I could not see any reason to act in any other manner.
With my mother at home looking after my grandparents, if I wanted to do anything, it was up to me to organise it. Within reason I had the freedom to explore locally, a radius from home of about three miles being my real limit. Any further than this and I would not have normally had the funds for transport.
The view that I was well adjusted to life at Harpenden according to the Child Care Officer showed that, given the circumstances, life at the Home was not giving me any real problems.
The adults looked at my school reports and other reports and see that I have a lack of concentration. It was not that I appeared stupid or the like, my attention soon moved onto the next matter before the first had been finished. In their minds, I was starting to settle into a family group. To me if I was like a few of the others and had to spend my entire life at the Home, my reaction to being in the group would have been different. There was a need on my part to try and show I wanted to be part of a family group, but this was simply to get permission to be allowed out for the odd weekends with my mother.
33. 10.01.66 Report of Child Care Officer.
Discussion with Sister in Charge at Harpenden 05.01.66
The Sister in Charge feels that Philip has settled down well at Harpenden. She agrees that he is highly strung and very often talks so fast that his speech is almost unintelligible. His manners have improved a lot since he has been in care, and he has become more controllable.
It would appear that while his mother was working as a housekeeper she had little opportunity to bring Philip up properly, and probably encouraged him to keep quiet for the sake of the household she was living in. The mother said she notices an improvement in his behaviour now.
Philip’s aunts and uncles have visited him from time to time and brought him Christmas and birthday presents and sometimes offer to buy clothes.
The Sister in Charge had no complaint to make about Philip’s behaviour or his relationship with other members of the family group. She feels that the mother misses her son a good deal and would very much like to have him with her. The mother has said that she is worried about the difficulty she may experience in finding a job when she is free to look for one, on account of her age. She feels at the moment that she is giving all her life to her parents, and perhaps not sufficient attention to Philip and his long-term needs.
MY ANSWER. The Sister in Charge had no complaints about my behaviour; I knew well enough how to behave in front of a lady who commanded the same respect as my grandmother expected when I was younger. If I was highly strung it was possibly that as I was always active. If anything did upset me, then I was active enough to show any feelings in rage or the like. Leaving me to be on my own with or without other adults around was all that I really wanted.
The comment that my mother did not have the time to bring me up properly sounds unfair, but she was simply doing the best she could. From the age of six, my mother started work at about six in the morning and was often still at work into the evening, with the odd short break in the afternoon, mostly at a time when I would be at school. The other need was for her to keep me quiet, as we lived in the homes of her employer; I was given little opportunity to act as an ordinary child. If I became a little wild at times, it was down to frustration. The only main way of keeping me quiet was to send me to my room; this made me even more frustrated. If I was hit with the plimsoll it often had me falling into order for a short while.
If at the weekend, I appeared to be very active and easy to upset, it might have been due to the excess of sugar I was eating. Food now had far more sweet items available at all meals than I had been used to. On a Saturday afternoon, I tended to spend my entire pocket money on sweets and then eat them all before tea. If I did not, it was the fear that the older boys and others in the Home would take the sweets off me. Without the older ones, the sweets could have lasted me a week.
The odd visits from my aunts and uncles were always very short, and might last an hour or so. Most of these were on days when my mother was to visit and due to my grandmother’s health, was not able to that day. A large amount of their time was spent talking to Sister. Other than showing them around the flat and the grounds, little else could be done when they visited.
34. 18.01.66 Letter to Rev. Gordon. E. Barritt. London NCH from Governor of Harpenden NCH.
The Sister has given me the following report on Philip.
Philip has settled in the family very well, and is learning to play with the other children in a more normal way.
When he first came his idea of friendship was nearly strangling an older child or tripping him over. This did not meet with approval and he ended up crying after they retaliated. He is not such a cry baby now. He is learning courtesy ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ seemed unknown to him, and he is learning to live with other people, especially children, and to mix.
He is highly strung and nervous, and this shows in his speech and actions. He may have some night-time problems as he now started to wet his bed on odd nights. He is an old-fashioned child, and yet at times sounds like a grandparent, though this is gradually disappearing.
He is happy at school, but very backward possibly due to the number of changes he has had, rather than to lack of intelligence, but this will take time to prove. He is quite an easy child, and I am sure the time spent with his mother is a great help. He makes no fuss when he returns.
MY ANSWER. The official report of the branch shows I was starting to mix more with other children. With the wide range of ages and as there were both boys and girls, the chances of being able to find someone who had the same ideas of how to spend time were fairly remote.
In other flats, there were friends who had similar interests to my own, but Sister had the firm rule that friends were not allowed into the flat, nor were you permitted to visit any other flat. Many of the other Sisters allowed friends to come and go as they pleased as long as it did not cause any disruption, but it did not include us.
It was quite easy for an older member of the group to make you cry. Sister was not present for every minute of the day. This gave plenty of opportunity for four older members of the family to pick their moment if they decided to have some fun. It need not always be physical; words could be equally harmful and threats about what could be done to me were enough to make me cry.
The comment that I had only recently learnt ‘Please and Thank you’ was not entirely true. Having been brought up surrounded from a very early age by adults, these words were very ingrained in my vocabulary. However, when I did choose to utter them, they would be given directly to the adult concerned; there was rarely the need to voice it very loudly. Should I have failed to use such words then there would have been many complaints.
At the Home this was now different. With the general noise and activity going on continuously, it appeared it was almost mandatory to yell it out loud so the whole group could hear. If the Sister had been with me alone when there was the need for me to utter such words they would have easily been noticed.
It is true that I did have night problems. My main fear at night was that I might wet the bed; to prevent such an event I made an evening visit to the lavatory. Sister thought I should not need to visit the lavatory soon after going to bed. My need was due to having a large drink of milk last thing at night, which I was not used to. If I got caught out of bed, I was blamed for not going before going to bed. Sister did not want to see me out of bed early in the evening, and sent me back to bed without being allowed to visit the lavatory. In a way I was happy that friends were not allowed into our flat. If they had seen my bed during the day when it was in its stripped condion after my bedwetting, there would have been some teasing.
To Sister, I was an old-fashioned child, for the simple matter that until the age of six, I did not play with or meet other children; my main contact during the day was with my grandmother or grandfather; their views on how I should act made the most impact on me.
Happy at school? Yes it gave me an opportunity to return to the real world, with the freedom of ordinary people and children to mix with rather than the almost stifling regime of life at the Home.
The number of changes in schools had a bearing on my schoolwork. I was now in my seventh school within three years, settling down, learning all the new rules, names of pupils and teachers. Often coming into the middle of a set of work that I might have already completed or had never started, always meant that I needed a little while to settle into the new location.
35. 16.03.66. Letter to Rev. Gordon. E. Barritt. London NCH from Governor of Harpenden NCH.
I have heard from Philip’s mother that she will be able to have Philip for practically the whole of the school summer holidays this year. The dates are Friday 29th July to Sunday 4th September. I expect you will wish to arrange for the Child Care Officer to visit her during this period.
36. 18.04.66 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called hoping to see Philip, who is at home for three weeks of his Easter holiday, but he had just gone out.
The mother must have been busy as she did not ask me in, though we had a fairly long chat. She said that her parents are getting more and more helpless, and are extremely dependent on her.
Philip has apparently enjoyed being at home, despite the fact that his presence has caused some friction, and his mother said that although she is glad to have him for the holidays, she is quite sure she could not manage him any for a longer period. She says he sometimes expresses some reluctance to return to the Branch but she feels sure he is happy at Harpenden, despite this. He is still a very excitable child and finds it difficult to concentrate and his mother worries about this and feels he will not make any progress at school, although he is intelligent.
The mother is hoping to have Philip home again in the summer. She has not made any plans for going away. Other members of the family are going to Spain for their holidays, but she does not seem to resent this, saying that they only have two weeks a year and need a change.
37. MAY 1966 Half-Yearly Branch Report by Sister in Charge. Age 9 years 4 months
General Condition: Good.
Height 4ft 6in.
Weight 4st 10lbs
Illness in last six months: Gastroenteritis (Gastric Flu). There are still occurrences of bedwetting; this is due to his refusal to visit the lavatory before going to bed.
Philip is much calmer than he was, not quite so highly strung.
He goes home very frequently, but returns quite happily.
MY ANSWER. Now I had been at the Home for a year, I had possibly worked out how best to avoid trouble, but the simple confines of the Home meant that as almost every normal activity was either boring or not allowed, active minds found only mischief to pass the time.
In one year I gained about two inches, my height put me on equal terms to several of the older boys, but my weight gain over a year was around five pounds. This meant I was well under 5 stone; I still had a rather skinny appearance.
Generally, we were all fairly healthy. With minor coughs and colds, Sister packed everyone off to school; only at the weekends and holidays would it be suggested that you stay indoors. If at any point you did become too ill to go to school then it was bed all day.
The gastric flu in March did make me feel really ill. For the first couple of days, I was in bed at the flat. There was nothing I was able to keep down. The slightest movement, even when I was lying in bed made me feel the worst I had ever felt. When I attempted to get out of bed, I was completely disorientated. The walls, floor and ceiling seemed to be coming up to meet me; the only way I could ever make it to the lavatory, was to physically crawl along the floor. This was fine during the school day, but when the others returned home, my life was made even more miserable. Had Sister told them it was something they would catch if they were close to me, I might have been left alone; as the four of us shared the same bedroom, it appeared it was not that catching.
Eventually Sister decided that I was ill enough to go over to the small hospital in the grounds. I was at least happy for the peace and quiet, although I still felt rotten. For three days, all I could manage was some liquid glucose. The hospital had two small wards. I was the only one in my ward, so it was nice and quiet. After three days, I was starting to get better. One evening my uncle came to see how I was, but even then, I was not well enough even to say hello.
I spent a further four days in hospital before being sent back to the flat. If proof were needed that I was better, it was that I could quite happily munch my way through a large bag of jelly babies. Normally the fine sugar coating seemed to put me off by the feel, but these jelly babies had a fine caster sugar coating and strong flavour. The short stay in hospital possibly was one of the reasons why my report mentions that I was calmer and not so highly-strung. A week of starvation was just an easy way of making me slow down and be quiet.
The matter about my bedwetting was not really true; it was not a case of me refusing to visit the lavatory before I go to bed. Visiting the lavatory before going to bed was something I actually did. My bedwetting was down to the Sister refusing to let me use the lavatory if I needed to pay a visit within a few hours of going to bed. When I woke up in the evening, I had no idea if I had been in bed for an hour or several hours. My thought was that I had better visit the lavatory so I did not wet the bed, when I was found out of bed by Sister on the way to the lavatory, I was sent straight back to bed, I was told I should have gone before going to bed, once back in bed I was often soon asleep, but the result was always a wet bed. On the nights I could hear Sister was still up, I did not leave the room, often going back to sleep and waking up a little later to a wet bed. Sister never punished me if I had wet the bed, and I was allowed a warm bath on getting up.
What Sister did not really explain to me was that I was of an age where she did not want to see us out of bed at night. The flat was now a mixed group of both boys and girls, she was afraid that if we were up we might visit the girls rooms and cause annoyance and be up to other general mischief. If we had learnt to go to the toilet just before we went to bed, there was a good chance we would learn to sleep all through the night without the need to get up in the middle of the night. If there was the odd wet bed, it did not really matter. Having been use to always getting up in the middle of the night if I woke up, I found it difficult to follow Sister's rules.
It was mentioned that I returned to the Home quite happily, this might not have really found the truth. The train journey late on Sunday afternoon returning to the Home was never any fun. Whilst the ride into London seemed to take forever, the twenty or so miles by train on the return journey seemed to rush by. There was little point in telling anyone how I really felt. Had the others in the flat known how I felt on having to return, my life could have been made even more miserable.
I don’t think the staff at the Home or my mother ever realised that I was unhappy. After I had been at the Home a few months, I had been told that my stay was not going to be for very long. Now I had been here for over a year, I was starting to feel that I was never going to be able to leave.
When I did get time to myself in the grounds at the Home, I was happy to find peace and solitude but at the same time, it allowed me to have the thought that I did not really want to stay at this Home any longer. Running away would not do any good; you would be sent back and have to face whatever punishments were correct for such an act.
At the age of nine, I was starting to contemplate other more drastic measures, but there was the hope that perhaps the following month or the month after, I would be able to leave the Home and return to live with my mother. The other matter was who would get the contents of my locker.
38. 24.06.66 Note to Sister Ann (Hospital) from Governor of Harpenden.
I have had a phone call from the Medical Officer for Highfield. Philip has a gun pellet just above the inside of his left knee; this was revealed in a recent X-ray.
MY ANSWER. As part of medical research, a few of us were measured, weighed, photographed and X-rayed at regular intervals. This was not done for use by the Home, but simply the Home was the ideal location, where it was thought that the subjects would readily be on hand enabling a study over several years. There were no injections or the like, simply endless measurements of all parts of our bodies. As the tests always took part on a school day, it was an ideal reason for missing a morning of school.
An injury that I had received a few months earlier, when I thought I had been hit with a stone from a catapult, now revealed itself in one of the regular X-rays. That I had a gun pellet in my knee meant that action would have to be taken to remove it.
39. 11.08.66 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called to see Philip while he was on holiday with his mother for the whole of the summer holiday. His mother was enjoying having him but was finding it a strain, as it was difficult to fit Philip in with the old people in the family.
Her mother and father are both practically bedridden now and her mother has had another spell in hospital since last Easter.
The mother looked quite well and seemed to be coping. Next week her brother will be on holiday and has agreed to stay at home on one day so that she can take Philip out for the day.
Apparently, her brother takes very little interest in Philip and never offers to take him out himself.
Philip seemed bright and happy and as usual had been going out a lot on his own to the park and he has joined the local library.
He has made one or two friends locally and met Lenton who is in his family at Harpenden, and has been to the park with him.
I should think Philip is still quite a restless and excitable child and his speech is very unusual, somewhat indistinct and perhaps he has an accent, but I am not sure where he gets it from.
When I arrived he was not dressed and apparently, his mother had been trying to persuade him to dress himself for a long time, however, after I arrived, he was dressed within minutes. I would imagine his mother finds it very difficult to be very firm with him.
The mother seems to be pleased with his progress and I told her that I had recently seen the Sister in Charge who said he was settling down very well and that she had not any particular problems with him, and said that the mother still visits him very regularly. The mother said that when she takes him back to Harpenden, she would like to see his school report, as she is interested in his school progress.
MY ANSWER. London. The freedom from the Home for a length of time was all I could wish for. As my mother needed to stay indoors, most of the time I was free to explore London. Activities like bus rides, the cinema, and swimming were all things that I missed whilst at the Home. Many of my friends who had been at the Home for years had never had those pleasures, so did not know what they have missed. Even without money to spend, walking around the outdoor markets was a pleasure.
On my own there were few problems that I could get into. However, during the holidays I met up with one of the boys from the flat, who also lived in London. Our weekend visits often did not coincide, so meeting up was not that often. However, with my taste for freedom and my friend’s ability to egg me on, perhaps it might be best if I was left to go out alone. However, having a regular friend available was not something to miss out on.
If I was not dressed when the Child Care Officer arrived, it would simply have been reluctance to dress in the clothes that my mother had selected. My intention throughout the summer was to go out to play. If I did meet up with any other boys of my own age locally, then play clothes were essential for any form of enjoyment. My mother however thought I should be always smartly dressed. During my stay in London, I was limited over the choice of clothes.
At the Home, I was one of the few boys who had a suit. The only reason for being given this was that it fitted me. The others in the flat were not jealous as the suit came with two pairs of short trousers. They had no interest in the suit from that moment on. On trips to and from the Home, I wore this suit and looked smart. Unless someone knew me, no one would have guessed that I came from a Children’s Home.
My mother had decided that as I had smart clothes then it was best to wear them. Where I wanted to play and the boys I might want to play with, had I appeared in a suit, the survival for the suit or me would have been very slim. An old school raincoat even if it was summer, and similar play clothes, and almost any situation could be tackled with new friends and a London location. Although I would not have refused to put the best clothes on, a little delay often resulted in me getting my way over what clothes to wear on most occasions.
If I had started to calm down at the Home, it was that the system was slowly starting to grind me down. Only the freedom of visits home to London gave me something to look forward to. Once in London, I was able to go at the pace I wanted to.
School reports were taken to the Sister at the Home; often my mother did not visit during the period the school report was at the Home. The summer holidays meant that it would be available until our return to school in September. We took the reports sealed in their envelopes. Our friends who did not live at the Home often opened their reports just to see the awful comments all the teachers had written about them. For those of us from the Home, looking at our reports was not something we ever managed. Only after the Sister had read them, did we get to learn which of us had achieved the worst selection of comments. At the following meals, various complaints would be made about what had been noted in our reports.
40. 07.11.66 Report of Child Care Officer.
There is now a new Houseparent in the flat. Miss Rosemary Foale is looking after Philip since the original Sister in Charge has retired. She has told me that his mother continues to visit regularly and to have Philip home for weekends.
Philip, apparently is rather a strange child, and it has taken him a long time to settle into the family. This is because the other children have been there much longer than he has and partly because age-group-wise, he tends to be the odd man out.
He is still inclined to be aggressive towards other children and this may be because he is teased by them. He is inclined to bully younger children, but is slowly ceasing to do this.
There is now a bed wetting problem that has increased since his arrival, it is not know if there is something that is upsetting him, or if it is a growing up stage he is going through.
MY ANSWER. The whole flat had recently been through a major upheaval; this affected the others far more than it had me. The Sister in Charge had looked after some of the family for most of their lives had now reached retirement; she was now severing almost all links with the family group. Now the lady who we had known as a helper and relief was taking over from Sister. My knowledge of Sister had only been for a year and a half. Having lived surrounded by other adults all my life that had come and gone. That Sister was leaving meant a bit of an unknown change, but not really a major event to me. For the others, this event was decisive and very upsetting. The Houseparent who now took over has had some experience of children, but compared to Sister’s many years of actual practice, we now experienced the newer textbook style of childcare. This we found out was a completely different way of life for us. Our flat now has two groups of four, giving either younger ones or older ones. I did not fit in; at the age of almost ten, I was neither an older one nor a younger one, but I had to be placed in one of the groups for most activities. For chores and the like, I was grouped with the older ones; for bedtimes and activities then it was the younger group as I was still at junior school. The Houseparent now told me that if I wet the bed, I would be given the slipper. If I was a strange child as the new Houseparent thought, it was something I could live with. I simply did not want to give up and fall into the dull lives that most of those around me accepted. I was aggressive to younger children but this was down to my short temper; I would prefer to be left alone, but as our paths had to cross, so often problems did occur. The older ones were not involved with the young group as much as myself. When the older boys in the flat teased me, I always got angry; they just did not understand how upsetting it was. If I was different from the others in the flat, this was due to the long summer holidays I was away from the Home. During this summer break, the Sister took less control of the flat and allowed the new Houseparent to make more of the decisions ready for running the flat full time. 41. November 1966. Half-Yearly Report by Houseparent. Age 9yrs 10months General condition: Good Height: 4ft7in. Weight 5st 0lbs. Philip is inclined to be jealous and vocally aggressive, particularly with younger members of the group. His relationship with all, including the staff, is very loose at present. There is a need to keep control of his behaviour. He is slightly impertinent, yet, given the opportunity, he can be helpful and enjoys showing the younger children how to do things. MY ANSWER. With almost two years at the Home, there were limits to the amount of teasing and other problems I could take before I started to cause trouble. To be treated as one of the younger ones now I was coming up to ten, made me start to act like one of the younger group, rather than that of the older ones, whereas in reality, if allowed to follow my own resources, I could easily have been placed in the older group. Living with adults all my life, possibly gave me a slightly different attitude than for most. I could be polite and respectful when I wanted to, but if treated as a young child then I could rebel. If I was given respect then I was quite capable of acting in a far more grown-up manner. The Houseparent had given me the slipper for matters other than wetting the bed. The second time she gave me it, I had twelve hits with the slipper on my rear; it was given as two sessions of six hits. I would not have received the second six hits had I not pushed the boy who said I had stolen his sweets. In the end, the Houseparent found out that I was innocent of stealing the sweets. It was too late then; I had already been punished. This was one of the reasons I was not settled in the flat. 42. 07.12.66 Letter to NCH Harpenden from Luton & Dunstable Hospital. If you will please arrange for this lad to come along to the Accident Services here at 10am on Thursday 15th December, we will be pleased to remove the gun pellet from his left knee. As he will be given a general anaesthetic, it is important that he has nothing to eat or drink after midnight the previous day. It would be helpful if you could complete and return the enclosed slip; I am enclosing the Consent Form for signature. MY ANSWER. Finally the decision was made to take the pellet out of my leg. There was one benefit, outdoor games could be missed for the rest of the term. 43. 29.12.66 Report of Child Care Officer. On 29.12.66 I learnt from his mother that Philip would be going home the following day for a week’s holiday. I was sorry to have missed him. The mother is still nursing both her parents, who are almost entirely bedridden. She has a very trying time and constantly wonders if there is a way of leaving someone else to care for her parents. However, at the moment there appears to be no alternative and, of course, she does not know how long their situation will continue. Her mother is twenty years younger than her father, who is ninety. The mother is pleased with Philip’s progress. She enjoys having him for weekends and is looking forward to having him for his holidays. 10 Years Old He is much less aggressive towards the younger children and is also more popular with his peer group, joining in their games and activities. Philip has become more interested in school and seems to enjoy it now. He is also more affectionate. On 05.01.67 I visited Philip at his home. He chatted happily about all he has been doing and the many presents he has received for his birthday and at Christmas. He still talks very fast and has a rather excitable manner. He seemed to be enjoying his holiday very much.
MY ANSWER. The whole flat had recently been through a major upheaval; this affected the others far more than it had me. The Sister in Charge had looked after some of the family for most of their lives had now reached retirement; she was now severing almost all links with the family group. Now the lady who we had known as a helper and relief was taking over from Sister. My knowledge of Sister had only been for a year and a half. Having lived surrounded by other adults all my life that had come and gone. That Sister was leaving meant a bit of an unknown change, but not really a major event to me. For the others, this event was decisive and very upsetting.
The Houseparent who now took over has had some experience of children, but compared to Sister’s many years of actual practice, we now experienced the newer textbook style of childcare. This we found out was a completely different way of life for us. Our flat now has two groups of four, giving either younger ones or older ones. I did not fit in; at the age of almost ten, I was neither an older one nor a younger one, but I had to be placed in one of the groups for most activities. For chores and the like, I was grouped with the older ones; for bedtimes and activities then it was the younger group as I was still at junior school. The Houseparent now told me that if I wet the bed, I would be given the slipper.
If I was a strange child as the new Houseparent thought, it was something I could live with. I simply did not want to give up and fall into the dull lives that most of those around me accepted.
I was aggressive to younger children but this was down to my short temper; I would prefer to be left alone, but as our paths had to cross, so often problems did occur. The older ones were not involved with the young group as much as myself.
When the older boys in the flat teased me, I always got angry; they just did not understand how upsetting it was. If I was different from the others in the flat, this was due to the long summer holidays I was away from the Home. During this summer break, the Sister took less control of the flat and allowed the new Houseparent to make more of the decisions ready for running the flat full time.
41. November 1966. Half-Yearly Report by Houseparent.
Age 9yrs 10months
General condition: Good
Weight 5st 0lbs.
Philip is inclined to be jealous and vocally aggressive, particularly with younger members of the group.
His relationship with all, including the staff, is very loose at present. There is a need to keep control of his behaviour.
He is slightly impertinent, yet, given the opportunity, he can be helpful and enjoys showing the younger children how to do things.
MY ANSWER. With almost two years at the Home, there were limits to the amount of teasing and other problems I could take before I started to cause trouble. To be treated as one of the younger ones now I was coming up to ten, made me start to act like one of the younger group, rather than that of the older ones, whereas in reality, if allowed to follow my own resources, I could easily have been placed in the older group.
Living with adults all my life, possibly gave me a slightly different attitude than for most. I could be polite and respectful when I wanted to, but if treated as a young child then I could rebel. If I was given respect then I was quite capable of acting in a far more grown-up manner.
The Houseparent had given me the slipper for matters other than wetting the bed. The second time she gave me it, I had twelve hits with the slipper on my rear; it was given as two sessions of six hits. I would not have received the second six hits had I not pushed the boy who said I had stolen his sweets. In the end, the Houseparent found out that I was innocent of stealing the sweets. It was too late then; I had already been punished. This was one of the reasons I was not settled in the flat.
42. 07.12.66 Letter to NCH Harpenden from Luton & Dunstable Hospital.
If you will please arrange for this lad to come along to the Accident Services here at 10am on Thursday 15th December, we will be pleased to remove the gun pellet from his left knee. As he will be given a general anaesthetic, it is important that he has nothing to eat or drink after midnight the previous day.
It would be helpful if you could complete and return the enclosed slip; I am enclosing the Consent Form for signature.
MY ANSWER. Finally the decision was made to take the pellet out of my leg. There was one benefit, outdoor games could be missed for the rest of the term.
43. 29.12.66 Report of Child Care Officer.
On 29.12.66 I learnt from his mother that Philip would be going home the following day for a week’s holiday. I was sorry to have missed him.
The mother is still nursing both her parents, who are almost entirely bedridden. She has a very trying time and constantly wonders if there is a way of leaving someone else to care for her parents.
However, at the moment there appears to be no alternative and, of course, she does not know how long their situation will continue. Her mother is twenty years younger than her father, who is ninety. The mother is pleased with Philip’s progress. She enjoys having him for weekends and is looking forward to having him for his holidays.
10 Years Old
He is much less aggressive towards the younger children and is also more popular with his peer group, joining in their games and activities. Philip has become more interested in school and seems to enjoy it now. He is also more affectionate.
On 05.01.67 I visited Philip at his home. He chatted happily about all he has been doing and the many presents he has received for his birthday and at Christmas.
He still talks very fast and has a rather excitable manner. He seemed to be enjoying his holiday very much.
On 26.01.67 I called at Harpenden branch and saw Philip on his return from school.
When I spoke to Philip, he seemed happy and had plenty of news, which he related in a rather excited and disjointed way.
Earlier I had visited his school and managed to have a word with both the Headmaster and the class teacher. It appears that he is showing some improvement in his schoolwork. The Headmaster has not needed to deal with Philip since the start of the school year in September, over any matters of bad behaviour.
The class teacher reported to me that there have been several occasions where she has found it has been necessary to punish him, but once reprimanded he settles down to work. He appears to be slowly settling down to school life and that when firmly controlled can show improvement in the lesson period.
At the end of our meeting I spoke to the Governor of Highfield, who confirms that with the previous reports of Philip’s behaviour at school, keeping him firmly in line was suggested at the end of the last school year. Philip appears now to understand what is required of him during the school period and is settling into the routine more easily.
The uncooperative attitude Philip had to visiting the lavatory before going to bed has seen vast improvement. There are now only minor instances of bedwetting during the past few months. After agreement with the mother, the new Houseparent has brought in a strict regime, and Philip realises that, he will be punished for any bedwetting.
MY ANSWER. I seemed to have made improvement. That year at school things were better; the teacher in our class dealt with anything I did wrong; I was seldom sent to the Headmaster. Her punishments were about the same as the Headmaster, as she would give the cane on your legs or hands, but they were easier to get over with once given. Now that I was not punished in front of the rest of the class made me less worried over the events. As I am almost ten, a few older privileges are starting to come my way.
The Christmas and New Year periods over the last two years had been new to me. Until recently Christmas activities had never been anything very special. Living with my mother, with her work over Christmas, our festivities were never anything major. It was possibly around the age of six, through events of the time, that I had realised that in reality there was no Father Christmas.
In London, any Christmas activity had really been for the adults to enjoy as their holiday. I was meant to keep quiet. At the Home Christmas was new and enjoyable, but I would have preferred the quiet life with just my mother. Parties, trips to the pantomime and other group activities, possibly did get me a little excitable. With my Birthday coming so soon after Christmas treats and presents, everything seemed to roll into one event.
If I seemed to be more affectionate it was possible that I had not been involved in many scrapes or battles with the others in the household. The need to be good up to Christmas might also have helped my chances of longer visits to London over the holiday period.
The new Houseparent must have talked to my mother about me wetting the bed. I don''t know if it was the Houseparent or my mother that suggested that I should receive the slipper if I wet the bed.
My mother possibly told the Houseparent that at the age of seven I was hit with the plimsoll if I wet the bed, and that once I became eight she thought the cane would be a more suitable punishment.
With the knowledge that I would be punished if I wet the bed on my vistits to London, and as I had not wet the bed on my visits. They might have thought that the threat of punishment in the Home would bring an end to my bedwetting.
44. 30.03.67 Report of Child Care Officer.
Visit to Philip at his Home. Philip appeared to be enjoying his holidays, but his mother seemed rather concerned that, as usual, he never concentrates on anything for very long. Although he tackles things with great enthusiasm, he soon loses interest in them.
The mother looks very tired and is finding her parents a great strain. She had a day off on Good Friday and very much enjoyed taking Philip to Worthing for the day. As I had little opportunity to talk to his mother, I will call again soon.
I noticed that Philip has a great difficulty in writing and as he is now ten this is rather worrying. He appears bright and alert, but he cannot concentrate, he does not seem to progress.
I wonder whether there is anything worrying Philip and also how much information his mother has given him about his father. Once, when I tried to broach the subject, the mother was very defensive and I wonder whether her anxiety is transmitted to Philip.
In the original recommendation which we received from his Headmistress, it was suggested that Philip might benefit from some male influence. Unfortunately, his mother’s brother does not take any interest in Philip and I believe his other uncles visit him very rarely.
On visiting Harpenden Branch the Houseparent mentioned to me that Philip never plays games at school and she hopes to go there soon to discuss this.
MY ANSWER. If I always seemed to rush at things, it was simply down to the belief that there was never enough time to follow through every idea that I had in my mind. If other matters came to mind, then I could leave off and come back to it later.
For schoolwork, there was always the thought that there was not enough time to finish the work. For most lessons, failure to finish meant you might be asked to stay on for a few extra minutes to finish. With the requirement to be back at the Home on time, this often meant final lessons of the day would be rushed to avoid being kept in even for a few extra minutes to finish the work.
I could have proved my ability to write neatly if given the chance; in the art lessons a few were given the chance to do calligraphy. This was a lesson I could have begged for; the few chosen were those who had the neatest books.
If my written work was poor, it was down to the use of a ballpoint pen; given the occasional opportunity with pen and ink alone, I was able to work well. If the teachers had told me to take my time over my written work and that if I did not finish it did not matter, then I would have been able to attain a much higher standard of work. However, put me in a classroom environment and add the other factors of friends causing a nuisance around me and even an ink pen would prove fruitless.
Group games were never interesting to me and football was my main hate. It was not that I disliked physical activities.
45. 27.04.67 Letter to Rev. Gordon. E. Barritt. NCH London from Governor of Harpenden NCH.
We should be grateful if you could arrange for Philip to be tested by the Tutor in Charge during the next few months. As mentioned in recent reports he has great difficulty in writing, and doesn’t seem to be making progress. It would be helpful to know how intelligent he is.
46. 01.05.67 Note from NCH.
Please see letter from Governor of Harpenden NCH with the suggestion, that the Tutor in Charge should test Philip. Could this be arranged please?
47. 09.05.67 Letter to the Tutor in Charge from Governor of Harpenden NCH.
Thank you for your letter of 5th May. It will be quite convenient for you to come and see Philip and the Houseparent on Monday 28th May. I will inform his school and ask for a report from there.
Note: Unable to keep appointment – unwell – another date being arranged.
48. 23.05.67 Letter to Rev. Gordon. E. Barritt. NCH London from Governor of Harpenden NCH.
We were glad to have the report on the visit to Philip’s mother. The Houseparent has visited Philip’s school and seen his teacher. She stated that Philip was aggressive, but was reasonably easy to control in class.
She told the Houseparent that his work could be better if he could concentrate more, and she had noticed that he responded well to praise, and always improved and worked better afterwards.
The Tutor in Charge was due to see Philip yesterday, but had to postpone her visit on account of illness. She will no doubt be arranging another date with us shortly.
49. May 1967. Half Yearly Branch Report by Houseparent.
Age 10 years 4 months
General condition: Good
Height: 4ft 8in.
Weight: 5st 5lbs.
Sight: Eye Clinic. To have eye exercises.
Air gun pellet removed from Left Knee.
Philip has been more aggressive and belligerent and I learn from Susan’s teacher that he has been bullying her at school. His own class teacher has dealt with him over this matter. He is apparently much worse when I am not around.
He seems to put up a barrier and does not believe he has done anything wrong, even if it can be proved. His relationship with some of the members of the family is improving.
When he is helpful or kind, and is praised for this, he glows and is a different lad for a while. He is desperate for more adult attention and will go to great lengths to get it.
Interests: Cubs, Electricity, Lego bricks and (boxes for hiding sweets only).
MY ANSWER. An eye test revealed that there might be a slight problem with my sight, which in some way might have been one of the reasons for my clumsiness. Until this moment, any eye test I took part in had revealed that I had good sight in both eyes. The ability on my part to read the small print on the eye chart with one eye at a time, proved that I did not need glasses to correct any short sight. What however was never checked was my ability to read the same small letters with both eyes open at the same time. When I was given this test, it showed that I could find things a bit of a blur. At all distances, I appeared to be affected. The diagnosis was that I suffered from slight double vision.
More time off lessons attending the local eye clinic, and free time spent reading very small print, with a device placed in front of my vision seemed slowly to correct this problem. Although to get out of the dull chore of reading small print when I could be out at play, I told the adults that things were getting better, when in reality there was only slight improvement.
My fast pace was the reason for being labelled a bully. Whilst at the Annexe of the school, two of us could set our own pace for the return journey. When the Annexe was closed down and we had to rejoin the main school, such pleasures vanished. There were no chances now of gaining any extra minutes of freedom; there were many taking the same route to the Home. As I was still at the juniors, I now had the task of escorting one of the younger girls to and from school. Although only a year younger than me, it was thought that she needed to be escorted both to and from school. Known as a daydreamer, attention to her safety now was the main issue.
Until this point, older children from the flat who attended the senior school had this privilege. Allowance of extra time due to the school hours not totally coinciding had been made. Now at the same school, I was given the task, although any extra time for my benefit was not provided. I have to admit my walking pace was fast; my mother seemed to encourage this from an early age, through being busy.
Dawdling and daydreaming were not things I had ever indulged in. My idea was to get to school at the first possible moment. Playing and other activities before the bell rang for the start of the school day was perhaps the best moment of the school day. If friends had new possessions or had swaps to make, miss this early opportunity, and you could be jealous for evermore.
The slow pace of the girl started the day badly for me. Although I never really dragged her along the road, when crossing the road, I was a little more vocal and slightly physical.
My class teacher punished me after Susan’s teacher made the complaint that I was bullying her. I was given the cane at going home time. As there was no time after I had been given the cane to get over the punishment, I was still in tears when I walked with Susan back to the Home. Three hits on each hand had really made me cry. From that point on I was not accused of bullying Susan anymore. I don’t think it was her intention to get me caned.
If I was desperate for adult attention, it was down to being fed up with most children’s games and wanted something more adult to do or learn about. If I did get praise, then I was happy.
If I had any interest, it was on building and making things. Group board games were more or less unknown to me, although often receiving such items as presents there was seldom anyone to play with. Even in the Home, board games were not that much fun down to the wide age range. If you played with younger ones the rules were too complicated, if you played with older ones and appeared to be winning, they would change the rules to benefit themselves. Constructing objects and learning how things worked could be one of my pastimes. Never having acquired more than the most basic Meccano set, if I built things, Lego seemed to be the most desirable item through either presents or swaps. With electricity I was not allowed to try out experiments with the mains voltages – batteries in various stages of capacity had to meet my needs. One of my toys was a Morse code set. If there had been any interest from the older boys, I would have loved the chance to learn the system, but to all the others it was too much like a lesson and they showed no interest.
If there had been one extra event that had set me at odds with the Houseparent, it was when she had shaken me over my behaviour, resulting in the back of my head going through a glass window due to her force. Then the Governor of the Home caned me. These were the main reasons why I was not very happy at the Home.
50. 09.05.67 Report of Child Care Officer.
When I called on the mother I learnt that her father had died just over a week ago at the age of 90, which may possibly alter her position considerably. For one thing she is far less busy than she was, although her mother needs quite a lot of attention.
Secondly she has learnt that the flat that was let to her father by the firm he used to work for and that it is quite possible that she and her brother and mother will now have to move.
In this case one of her sisters may care for her mother and she may go back to housekeeping.
She is obviously not yet in a position to make any decisions about the future, but said she will let me know the outcome of her interview with the landlord.
The mother said she was always glad of the opportunity to talk about Philip and she told me about his various activities whilst on holiday. He was at home the weekend his grandfather died but Lenton’s mother very kindly looked after him during the day for most of that weekend.
Philip apparently had a rather unfortunate experience when he went to meet Lenton at the swimming baths. The story seems rather confused but apparently he missed Lenton at the end of swimming and started to make his own way home. Some other boys were alleged to have beaten him up and then taken his towel away. He was sick. He came home minus his swimming gear and said that a man had given him a lift home. I said that I thought that Philip was probably too young to go so far alone in London.
We discussed the fact that Philip is so highly strung and seems unable to concentrate on anything at all for very long. He has always been like this. His mother does not think there is anything specially worrying Philip.
She says he always seems happy and as far as she knows has no problems on his mind, although I am wondering if something like this was preventing him from concentrating. The mother feels Philip is making reasonably good progress, although, she too, often feels that he could do better at school.
If anybody from the Branch goes to Philip’s school it would be interesting to hear what his teacher thinks of him.
MY ANSWER. A point in my life when things started to change was when my grandfather died. The event although a sad occasion, did not really affect me that much, but did start the ball rolling for changes in my future life.
In my mind, he was old, had almost never any patience for me, and wanted silence when there was no real requirement. With poor hearing, he had the television either too loud or the sound mistuned, and there were several other matters where our two lives never quite seemed to be easy when in close contact with each other.
There were worries each day for me. Was I going to be punished in the Home, would I be able to return to my mother, were the older ones going to pick on me? At school, it was the teasing over the colour of my skin, and if it was not name calling, it was the physical bullying that I had to put up with each day. The only way I found of solving the problem was to fight back; this resulted in punishments and more trouble. Once at home on visits to my mother, all these problems vanished, and I was happy.
Had I explained the full details of the day I had visited the swimming pool, the adults would have made an easy decision that perhaps my trips to my mother should cease. As my mother needed to look after my grandmother whilst I was in London, she could not spend any time looking after me. I went off on my own and was quite happy.
Accepting the lift back after the visit to the swimming pool, from a man who was helping to find my way home, I thought was an innocent matter. During the journey in his car, I did have one slight worry as we headed out of London and up the M1 – we were heading in the direction of the Home. Did he know I lived in a Home, and was taking me back. We stopped for a short time in a quiet country lane. While the events that took place when he stopped the car were a little odd, there was nothing frightening. Later he took me back to London, and dropped me at the end of my road. I quickly returned home; I knew if I mentioned the afternoon events to my mother, there would be trouble.
51. 02.06.67. Letter to Governor of Harpenden NCH from Mrs Hiam. NCH London
We were very interested to receive the comments of Philip’s school and it will be helpful later to see the result of The Tutor in Charge interview with Philip.
Report from Headmaster at Manland Primary School to Governor NCH Harpenden.
Philip is now in the third year of primary school. His teacher reports there have been several occasions when his behaviour has disrupted the smooth flow of lessons due to his aggressive approach to others. I think at times he will allow himself to be led astray. He appears to be bright, but he is not forthcoming in speaking about matters in front of others during lessons. This may have something to do with his location at Highfield, but I do not think that there are any real problems over this issue.
At certain times he is very capable of good work, but there seems to be a constant rush to get everything finished as fast as possible. During his previous year, extra written work was set as punishment for poor behaviour, although he completed the work without any problem, no real improvement in his actions was noticed. This year his class teacher has praised him for work that is above average in quality, there can be seen a vast improvement in both his schoolwork and actions for a short while. She has also punished Philip with the cane on several occasions when his performance does not come up to the required standard, he does not appear to show any resentment afterwards over this method of punishment.
In the nine months since the start of this school year, we are starting to see a slight improvement. He has reacted well to this style of help and appears to be happier in school. If this method is persevered with, we expect to see a general improvement in his work by the time he is due to leave in a years’ time.
MY ANSWER. Praise. The school was trying the Carrot & Stick approach on me. Several instances of praise were now given by my class teacher when my work was good.
My current teacher was also used for the stick part as well. Instead of my classroom punishments in front of all my friends, where a ruler was painfully applied to my legs, or where the teacher would send me to the Headmaster for punishment, I now received individual attention out of the gaze of other children, where a more formal telling off is given followed by a few light strokes from her cane on my legs or hands.
The teacher then had time to console my feelings, announcing that it was not her intention to make me cry; it seemed to be the only method of trying to control my behaviour. I found it was working and that as long as my friends did not see me at the time of my punishment, I was quite happy to try to give better results. It just appeared that after I received praise, punishment soon follows.
52. 28.06.67 Report of Child Care Officer.
Since her father’s death, the mother’s landlord has now told her that he would like her to be out of the flat in six month’s time.
This will give her until November to find alternative accommodation.
She has been discussing plans for her future with her sister and brother in law, who are considering buying a small shop and post office near the south coast. If they decide to do this, they would take the parent with them. The mother could also go and help in the shop and Philip could also join them.
As yet, no definite plans have been made, but the mother would be very happy to have Philip with her again.
Philip has told her that he is enjoying school at the moment and his mother would be reluctant to move him from his present school. However, I suggested that if a move coincided with his going to secondary school there would be less upheaval.
I only had a rather brief conversation with the mother, as she did not invite me in. This was probably because she has a very painful back and leg at the moment and no doubt she wanted to avoid climbing the stairs more often than is necessary.
However I agreed to call again next time Philip is home. I understand that he is going for two weeks from July 22nd. He will then return to Harpenden to go on the group family holiday, and go back to his mother again at the end of the family holiday.
Philip has been home for the weekend recently and his mother continues to be pleased with the improvement in him. She is waiting to hear whether a holiday in an old people’s home will be arranged for her mother. If so, she will be able to take Philip away for part of his holiday.
MY ANSWER. Perhaps it was trying to keep my mother happy, that I outwardly showed that I liked both the Home and school. If I had let on that in reality I was unhappy at the Home, an earlier decision might have been made to take me out of the Home. By showing I was happy, the only thoughts the adults had was that I might get upset if I was to get an extra change of school during my primary education. To me changing schools would not have really mattered. That year at school had however been a lot better than the previous year; even receiving the cane several times during this school year did not cause any problems for me.
There was some ill feeling between my family and the landlord, over the way he treated my grandmother after my grandfather had died. My grandfather had worked for the engineering firm for many years. It was not that he was in some low-paid employment; he had been their accountant and company secretary. Having worked well past retirement, he had certainly given his life to the firm. They now regarded my grandfather as more of a nuisance in occupying a flat that had rising commercial value. With his death, they felt no more compulsion to offer his widow rented accommodation. Having lived in the property for many years there was the simple logistics of finding a suitable flat for my grandmother while needing full time nursing care from my mother.
53. 22.07.67 Letter to Rev. Gordon. E. Barritt. NCH London from Governor of Harpenden NCH.
Philip went home to his mother last evening and will be staying until 6th August. He will also be staying with her from 18th August to 3rd September.
54. 07.08.67 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called to see Philip who is at home on holiday. He is finding plenty to do and has been swimming practically every day. He is still a rather excitable child, who does not concentrate for long.
I spoke to his mother on her own and she said she was rather concerned about him, as she had seen his school reports. She has at last realised our cause for concern over Philip’s lack of progress and is glad he will be seeing the Tutor in Charge soon. The mother is unable to throw any light on Philip’s inability to concentrate.
The mother said that Philip has been well behaved and easy to manage this holiday and had no temper tantrums, as he has done at other times. When told that he should learn to control his temper he said: ‘My blood just boils’.
The mother does not yet know where she will live when she has to leave this address in November. Her sister and brother in law are still exploring the possibility of buying a shop, in which she could help.
MY ANSWER. During time away from the Home, I could always find things to do. If I was excited, it was down to the freedom I was allowed in London, rather than the restrictive life at the Home. It could take very little to get me into a rage; a short amount of teasing or when simple tasks did not seem to work and I could easily fly into a rage.
The only disappointment with the summer holiday in London, was to return to the Home, half-way into my holidays so that I could be taken on the ‘family’ holiday with the others in the group from the Home. This was my worst ever holiday there; the main event I was in trouble for was wetting the bed, and the only time my bed was without a rubber sheet covering the mattress. Soaking a mattress was the worst misdeed that could ever be committed by a child; to the Houseparent it was unforgivable, and I was given the slipper for each occurrence.
I managed to get short periods away from them during the holiday by spending all my holiday pocket money on pony rides, the others having little interest in such activities meant I could be on my own for a little while each day.
When the ‘family holiday’ was over, I was allowed to return to London for the rest of the summer holiday. When my mother collected me, The Houseparent told her in front of me about my bedwetting and all the wrong things I had done during the family holiday, and also that she had found it necessary to give me the slipper for my actions. During the trip back to London, I felt a little ashamed in front of my mother.
55. 12.09.67 Note to Sister Louise from the Houseparent of Philip.
I agree it would be interesting and very helpful to know more of Philip’s capabilities, and perhaps it would be a good idea to get him tested soon, before he is due to move to senior school.
MY ANSWER I was now in the top year of the primary school. The new class teacher had abandoned the Praise and Punishment system that I had become used to with my previous teacher – that method was, I think, starting to work. My new class teacher simply sent me to the Headmaster for even the most minor wrongdoing; there was now no praise for any of my work
57. 21.09.67 Copy Letter to Headmaster Manland School from Stephens, London. Original to Education Department St. Albans.
58. 06.10.67. Note to Sister Louise in charge of Kevin and the Houseparent of Philip.
The Education Psychologist rang yesterday. She would like to see Kevin and Philip on Tuesday 10th October at 10am. The boys will have to go up to London to see her. Transport has yet to be arranged.
Footnote: I don’t mind taking them up by train. R.F.
MY ANSWER. The Home had now decided that they want to find out what my intelligence was and why my school work was poor.
I was told the day before the test I would be taken up to London, there would be another boy that would be going with us.
On getting up the Houseparent suggested that I put my waterproof pants on, as I was told it was going to be quite a long journey. Originally I thought I would wear my suit on for the trip but I was told to put my dungarees on instead, with the dungarees a little short in the legs I was allowed wellingtons.
The trip up to London went without any problems, but the test took longer than I had imagined, it was early evening before we returned to the Home. The whole days event had seemed a little strange, I was told not to tell the others all about today, but just to tell them I had several school tests.
59. 10.10.67 Note to Sister Olive from the Houseparent of Philip.
Lenton did not return by Green Line Coaches as arranged, but with Philip’s mother, who looked exhausted. She chatted very freely over a cup of tea about wishing her parent could go into a home or at least away for a holiday. She said she had told her sister that she had done two years which she felt was her share. We did not discuss Philip as he was near us all the time, but I do feel she is worried as indicated in the report and when I saw her. If there could be another visit, I think we might get the answers to some of the questions.
60. 16.10.67 Report of Child Care Officer.
Although the Mother has been given notice to leave by the end of October, she still is not certain of her plans for the future. Her sister and brother in law are negotiating to buy a shop and if they are successful, the mother and grandmother will go to live with them. Meanwhile the mother hopes she might be allowed to stay in her present flat a little longer until arrangements are complete. If she goes to live with them she hopes to have Philip with her but it would be best if he could stay at Harpenden until the end of the school term and join her then. If he did this, the mother would continue to visit every third weekend even though it would mean travelling from the Isle of Wight. She agreed to let me know as soon as possible what her plans would be.
I had seen Philip a few days previously when he had been at Highbury to be tested by the Tutor in Charge. He appeared to be a little anxious about the future. His mother said that she would do her best to explain the situation to him although it is difficult as plans are so vague at the moment. She is very much looking forward to having him home. If there are any special recommendations following the Tutor in Charge’s report, I am sure she would be co-operative in carrying these out.
MY ANSWER. With all the events and plans going on around me, and not really being told anything positively about their plans for me, perhaps I became a little more unsettled with life at the Home. In my mind if my mother was planning to leave London, would I be able to go with her and if not, would she still come to visit me?
61. 10.10.67 Report by Tutor in Charge on Philip Test Date 10.10.67 Age 10 years 9 months.
Request for interview: by Governor of Harpenden NCH. Due to the child’s poor progress at school, and behaviour difficulties within the family group.
Philip was given the Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale Form L/M, Children’s Raven Matrices and Full Raven Matrices scales.
On Stanford Binet Form L/M Philip passed all tests at year 9, five at year 10, four at year 11, four at year 12, two at year 13, four at year 14, one at average adult level and failed all the superior adult level.
This gives a mental age of 12.6 and an IQ of 113.
The boy co-operated throughout the interview.
On Raven Matrices Children’s Scale he obtained a score which placed him in Grade I indicating that he is intellectually superior.
On Full Scale Adult Tests, a score placing him in Grade III Plus, indicating that he is of good average intellectual ability.
Discrepancies on set scores showed slightly abnormal deviation indicating the score not to be completely valid, due to the boy’s tendency to give up in the face of difficulty was marked in this last testing situation.
Philip is an attractive young boy who suffers from a degree of hypertension. Fundamentally an unhappy child: socially very ill adjusted.
The general tenor of his school reports and the Houseparents very helpful and detailed report is hopeful as he does show a slow erratic progress, this particularly in relation to his conduct at school. Scholastic attainment should certainly improve as the boy’s emotional problems decrease.
I think Philip does in fact require more than average help and if he is to remain in the care of the National Children’s Home, I would recommend that he be considered either for a place at the Harrogate Special Unit or an approach be made to obtain for him play therapy sessions at the St. Albans clinic.
He will be dependent on more than average adult supervision, guidance and company. He should be given as many opportunities for legitimate outlet of aggression as possible.
He is undoubtedly concerned about his colour and I believe about his father. He would appear to have no knowledge whatsoever about his father and I would strongly urge that his mother be encouraged by the Child Care Officer to realise Philip’s necessity in this matter and to talk to him and enable him to have some image of his father.
Some of his schooling difficulties would undoubtedly be caused by his visual difficulties though I understand he no longer suffers from double vision. Nevertheless there would be a backlog of difficulty and associated emotional difficulty with this.
I note that the Houseparent states that his movements are clumsy and erratic and that he does appear to be over-active and over-excitable: to be a restless sleeper and very easily disturbed. His enuresis does not seem to be causing him a major difficulty. I wonder whether he is a child who would be helped by some form of mild sedation. This is of course is a matter for a doctor to consider.
I feel very concerned for this child as I feel it would be very doubtful, without a great deal of support, that the mother would be able adequately to care for this boy and see him through his difficulties if he does return to her in the near future.
MY ANSWER. The Houseparent told me that she had the results back from the test that I had been to. All I was told that I had done quite well and that all I needed to do at school was to try to concentrate. If more could have been explained over the results, I might have been able to understand that instead of my below-average results for my age at school, it might be possible for me to give above-average results for my age; it was that there were always so many other matters going on around me that prevented me from good work at school. I would have loved to see what the Houseparent said in the report about me.
62. 24.10.67 Letter to Houseparent of Philip from Tutor in Charge.
It was nice to see you again and I hope you and the boys weren’t too weary with your long day.
I am sorry my reports are so long in coming but I have today given them to the secretary who will be getting off the copies to the Governor of Harpenden NCH. The delay has been due to pressure of work and ill health. I seem to be falling easy prey to anything that’s going just lately, life like’s that at times isn’t it.
I feel very much concerned for Philip and you. Fundamentally he’s a very nice child. You’ll see my report and I can only hope that a little help can come from this. Do hope that Mr Norman is able to start some of the woodwork, plays etc. There’s such a lot in the youngster’s mind.
MY ANSWER The idea that an adult was going to let me do woodwork or the like, came to nothing. I was never asked once I had returned to the Home, if I would like to do any such hobby; if I had, then perhaps things might have been easier at this period for me.
It was an interesting comment that she was ‘very concerned’ for both the Houseparent and me. I wonder if she had the idea that we were not too happy in each other’s company at times.
Since the start of the new school year, things had been a little unsettled for me. During the periods I was at school I was not very happy with the way I was treated, although I was never hit now at school, I was in constant trouble.
63. 01.11.67 Report of Child Care Officer.
Although the mother was due to leave her flat the following week, she still did not know where she would be going as her brother in law had not bought the business on the Isle of Wight. She promised to let me know as soon as any plans are fixed.
The mother was interested to hear about the Tutor in Charge’s report on Philip, which confirmed our previous impression that Philip is intelligent but his performance up to now has been well below his ability.
Once more, we discussed the difficulties that the mother had when Philip was a baby. As she always lived in someone else’s house, she had to keep him very quiet. We discussed the need for him to have more freedom in the future, and the ways in which he could most helpfully be occupied.
Apparently his uncle that they might go to live with is keen on carpentry and might encourage him in something like this.
We also talked about Philip’s father and the need for Philip to know more about him. The mother assured me that she has always been open about this: has shown Philip photographs and explained to him why his father is not with him now.
The mother is concerned that Philip should have every opportunity to make the most of his abilities and said that if it was recommended she would willingly take him to a Child Guidance Clinic once he is at home with her. I think this might be very helpful to her as well as to him.
Report of visit to Harpenden Branch.
As it was the half term holiday, I saw Philip and took him out with Pamela and Susan. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy a race across the Heath rushing from one activity to another. This is probably the sort of activity that Philip needs but which is not possible when he goes to his mother for weekends and holidays.
MY ANSWER. It was decided that I needed to let off more steam; taking me out and allowed to rush about was more interesting than being at the Home. Although we had plenty of open space, after a time it could get a little bit boring. When I was in London, there was plenty of time to run about if I was in a park, but as I was on my own, this was never noticed.
The matter of my mother explaining more about my father to me had been very little. It was true that I had been shown a selection of photographs of her friends, taken in the 1940s and 1950s but at no point was one picked out and informed that ‘he was your father’. The only real information I had ever managed to get from my mother was that he had been born in Ceylon and had several older brothers. The actual reason for my mother and father parting had never been explained.
64. 03.11.67. Note to Child Care Officer.
I am not sure from the report of your last visit to the mother whether she is really planning to have Philip home at the end of the present term, or must this wait until the move to the Isle of Wight?
The point of this is, if Philip is to stay on at Harpenden whether we should do something about putting him in touch with the St Albans Clinic. Would a change of school help him to make more progress with his work?
MY ANSWER Some of the adults do not seem to have caught up with the latest position of my mother moving. Plans were already starting to be made for a change of school for me if I was going to stay at Harpenden for any length of time.
65. 15.11.67 Note from NCH.
Your comments have been noted, thank you. The mother lives in London at present but is likely to be moving to the Isle of Wight so the Harrogate Unit would be most unsuitable. When the move to the Isle of Wight is made, Philip is likely to join his mother.
Depending on the timing of this move a decision has to be made whether he attends the St. Albans Clinic, or returns to his mother when she is prepared to take him to the Child Guidance Clinic for help.
66. 17.11.67 Report of Child Care Officer.
It was felt that it would be wise for Philip to commence the Child Guidance Clinic whilst still at Harpenden if possible.
This would mean that if he does return to live with his mother it would be easier to arrange for him to be transferred than to have to recommend attendance again through the school or doctor.
Apparently Philip needs a good deal of attention but is not sufficiently confident to demand it in normal ways and makes himself noticeable by being aggressive towards the younger children.
The Houseparent does not feel that his mother is able to be sufficiently relaxed and warm towards him. It also appears that his other relatives give him practically no attention, although they live in Harpenden. It seems rather as if they are ashamed of him and it is quite possible that the find it very difficult to accept him in the family.
MY ANSWER If my three sets of aunts and uncles that lived in Harpenden had been directly contacted by the Home, it might have been possible to get a different result over their visits. The other simple reason for little contact with my relatives who lived in the town was due to the limit of visits to every three weeks. As my mother wanted to see me as often as possible, it gave any other relatives little chance if they had wanted to have me for a day. If there had been a suggestion put to the two local sets of aunts and uncles that perhaps once a month after school I could go to tea with them, a different result would have been obtained.
67. 20.11.67 Letter to Mother from Governor of Harpenden NCH.
We have been advised by the Tutor in Charge to get in touch with the Child Guidance Clinic, and our medical officer Dr Akeroyd confirms that it would be helpful to do so. I am writing to the clinic today asking for an appointment, and I think it would be very helpful if you could attend with the Houseparent and Philip for the first interview.
Any advice they can give us will of course be very useful not only for us at Harpenden, but it will also be very helpful to you later on when Philip is able to return to your care.
68. 20.11.67 Letter to St. Albans Clinic from Governor of Harpenden NCH.
I should be grateful if you could see Philip sometime in the near future. It is felt that as he needs more than average help, and our medical officer, Dr Akeroyd supports a recommendation made by our educational psychologist that if possible he should attend play therapy sessions.
I think it would be helpful for you to see Philip’s mother as well as his Housemother. I have mentioned this to his mother and I think she will be co-operative.
69. 22.11.67. Letter to Governor of Harpenden NCH from the Mother.
Thank you very much for your letter received this morning. I will of course be pleased to attend the Child Guidance Clinic with the Houseparent and Philip. I could see by his school reports something must be wrong somewhere. I am so disappointed, he seemed so much more sensible & co-operative since he has been at Highfield. I do hope the Clinic will be able to help.
Will Philip be able to come home for the week-end? If so I will come to meet him at 5.30pm on Friday 24th and we will return about 7pm on Sunday. My most grateful thanks for all the kind attention Philip is receiving.
69a. 23.11.67. Half-Yearly Branch Report By Houseparent.
Age 10 years and 10 months.
General condition: Good
Height 4ft 9in.
Weight 5st 10lbs.
Philip appears more settled and less aggressive at the moment.
There are some night-time disturbances.
Changes in child’s own family: Grandfather Died.
Interests: Cubs, drawing.
Action: Philip has been referred to St. Albans Child and Family Psychiatric Clinic 20.11.67.
Action Required Plans for Philip to attend Child Guidance Clinic and his mother to go with him.
MY ANSWER. The Houseparent now seemed to feel that I was less aggressive. Possibly as I was almost eleven, I was classed as one of the older ones with the odd extra privilege; life did seem a little better. The note says that I was interested in cubs. This was only because I was made to attend; refusal would have meant sitting on a hard chair facing the corner or doing extra chores.
The reference to the comment that I was suffering from night-time disturbances was not due to nightmares or bedwetting, but simply due to a growing-up stage that I was going through.
Little had originally been explained to me over the changes I might find my body was going through with puberty. The Houseparent complained over the slight dampness I caused to my pyjamas and lower sheets on some mornings and then gave me the slipper. To all the others I was treated as if I had wet the bed. It was only later that the helper was able to explain what was happening to me. To save the embarrassment of having to regularly change my pyjamas and lower sheet each morning, I was provided with a pair of rubber pants to wear under my pyjamas. It was difficult to know if it was a punishment or to help me.
Since the start of the school year in September, life at school had not gone that well. The school decided that it might be best if an alternative school could be found for me. I was not told directly that they did not want me; it was hinted to me that as I did not seem to be happy there, there might be another school where I could improve my school work.
If it was a matter of getting into trouble at school, since I started the school year in September, I had not really been in any major trouble. If I did anything wrong, I was sent to the Headmaster and found myself standing outside his room. When he saw me, there was not any punishment other than having to do a few extra lines at odd times; even this work was not checked to see if I actually completed it.
They realised that I might be bright; they simply did not know how they could help me. The IQ test to them would normally mean I would be in the ‘A’ stream, but as they could only put my actual position in the lower half of the ‘B’ stream, something was wrong somewhere. Getting me ready for senior school appeared to be the solution, even although it was a little odd. I was looking forward to a change of school.
70. 12.12.67 Report of Child Care Officer.
I visited the mother in London, she is hopeful that, in February, she will move to Wiltshire, where her sister and brother in law are negotiating to buy a business. This has not yet been confirmed. She feels that it will be best if she goes first and settles in and then has Philip home, probably at the end of the Spring term in July.
I told the mother that we had been in touch with the Child Guidance Clinic and that it is possible that the clinic will contact her. She was pleased about this and would be willing, if necessary, to go to St. Albans.
The mother is hoping to have Philip home for part of the Christmas holiday, but not for Christmas Day as he would be the only child at home and would have a better time at Harpenden.
The St. Albans Clinic telephoned me to say that there was some doubt as to whether they would be able to work with the mother, as she was out of their area, although the mother might be invited to the diagnostic interview.
MY ANSWER. They seem to be thinking that I should leave them at the start of the summer holidays in 1968. If I could only have been told this, I would have something to look forward to.
71. 20.12.67 Letter to Child Care Officer from Family Clinic.
I have discussed this case and we have come to the conclusion that the best plan would be if perhaps you could come along to the diagnostic interview when we can arrange it. We will not start any work with the mother as there is such a short time between now and February when she moves to Wiltshire, but we will pass the papers on to them so that they can make a fresh start there.
72. 27.12.67 Letter to Clinic from Child Care Officer.
Thank you for your letter and help with Philip. I shall be glad if possible to come to the diagnostic interview.
73. 27.12.67 Letter to Child Care Officer from Philip.
Thank you for your lovely gift of the scrapbook. I enjoyed Christmas, we had dinner in the evening so we could play with our toys after Chapel. I hope you had a very nice Christmas also. Love from Philip.
MY ANSWER. This is the only surviving item of my handwriting from an early age. Although it is rather poor, this letter would have been one of many that I would have written after Christmas to the many people who sent me presents. One disadvantage of having many relatives, it was that there were a large number of letters to write. Possibly this was one of a number I had to write on the day, and by the time I reached this one perhaps it was a little hurried as I still had plenty of presents to play with.
11 Years Old
74. 03.01.68 Letter to Mother from Child Care Officer.
We have just been given some theatre tickets for ‘Give a Dog a Bone’, for Friday, 5th January. I enclose four, and wonder if you would like to take Philip. Maybe Lenton and his mother would like the other two: if not, you could give them to another friend who might like them. I enclose the directions for reaching Westminster Theatre. The show is at 6.15 pm. I hope that Philip will enjoy the rest of his holiday.
11 Years Old
75. 06.01.68 Letter to Child Care Office from the Mother.
Thank you very much for the tickets to see ‘Give a Dog a Bone’. We took Lenton and his sister, and we all enjoyed it very much indeed. I think it’s the most charming pantomime I have ever seen. After the show, the three children had their programmes autographed by nearly all the cast. Philip was thrilled to bits, the programme has been shown to everyone we know, thank you for the most helpful directions, I did not know where the Westminster Theatre was.
Philip went to the hospital to see my mother this afternoon, they allowed him into the ward, but she did not seem at all well and spoke very little. I don’t think hospital life suits her.
Tomorrow afternoon we will be going back to Highfield. I expect Philip will find school a bit tame after his eventful Christmas holiday. Thank you again for the tickets and for all the kind interest you have taken in Philip.
MY ANSWER. Taken to a major London theatre, was a real treat. This was perhaps one happy event that lodged in my mind; what the play was actually about was completely forgotten after a few months.
I Dream of Ice Cream, Sausages and Cake,
Things that you fry,
Things that you bake.
It’s such a nice dream, I’m afraid to wake,
When I Dream of Ice Cream, Sausages and Cake.
76. 10.01.68 Report on Visit by Child Care Officer.
Philip was at home, on holiday and had Lenton, who is in his family group at Harpenden, playing with him.
Philip seemed to be enjoying his holiday. He was quite excitable and still spoke very fast, not really forming his sentences well and sometimes almost speaking nonsense.
The grandmother is still in hospital, having broken her leg again. This means the mother has been free to take Philip out this holiday.
Plans for moving to Wiltshire are still progressing, although no definite date had been fixed. It was difficult to talk in front of the children and I agree to call again towards the end of the month.
MY ANSWER. A holiday in London and a visit on my birthday by the Child Care Officer and there was a very good reason for me to be excited. If she was unable to understand what I was saying, it was that I was teaching Lenton ‘back-slang’, a way of reversing the order of letters in certain words, so others could not understand what was said.
During the periods that my grandmother was in hospital, I often went with my mother on her visits. Other than on one occasion when I was allowed in to see her, I was not able to visit; there was a firm rule that children under fourteen were not admitted during visiting hours. My mother’s visits were often for an hour or so. I was left outside the hospital entrance to wait until her visit was over. On a rainy day my mother made sure I wore my raincoat, hat and wellingtons so I would not become too soaked during the time she was with my grandmother.
77. 12.01.68 Letter to Governor at NCH Harpenden from Clinic.
Philip is still on our waiting list to be seen by a psychiatrist, but I am afraid we have not been able to fit him in yet. Our Social Worker has been in touch with the Child Care Officer. I think that it is unlikely that we shall be able to offer treatment for Philip.
78. 17.01.68 Letter to Rev. Gordon. E. Barritt. NCH London from Governor NCH Harpenden.
You will have received the copy of the letter from the clinic to me on 12th January, in which it says that it is unlikely that the Child and Family Psychiatric Clinic will be able to offer treatment for Philip.
In view of this I feel it is important for Philip to return to live with his mother as soon as it can be arranged.
MY ANSWER The letter to the Home suggested that the Child and Family Psychiatric Clinic would not be able to offer me any treatment. The Home had the idea that I would have been with them for another six months or so; that would have allowed any problems that I might have to be sorted out before I was returned to my mother. This letter from the clinic changes all the plans the Home had over my future.
Their minds were made up; they wanted me to leave the Home. Did they have the idea that I could cause them a major problem? This was just at the point having changed schools that life at the Home was starting to get better.
If the Child Guidance Clinic had told the NCH that they could help me whilst at Harpenden, it might have been the idea of the NCH that I started a session as soon as possible. That my mother would be able to move to Wiltshire and settle down first would have easily come about. My leaving the NCH would then have been near to the summer; it might have even been suggested that I stay on longer at the Home to complete a Play Therapy course; this could have delayed my leaving by up to a year.
A course of Play Therapy sessions might have helped my emotional development; it could however have caused additional problems if I had decided that I could not stand living at the Home any longer. It was down to luck that the Child Guidance Clinic decided that they could not help me.
79. 23.01.68 Telephone conversation from St Albans Clinic to Child Care Officer.
It was explained that as the mother was expected to move to Wiltshire in the near future, and take Philip with her, it was difficult to see the value of commencing treatment for Philip. This is partly because Philip would have to learn to relate to the people at St. Albans Clinic, and then would have to commence again in Wiltshire.
After some discussion, it was suggested that, if the mother does soon move, her address should be sent to the St. Albans Clinic and then The Clinic could write to the nearest Clinic in Wiltshire, explaining why he had not been seen, and asking that he should be seen in Wiltshire with his mother.
80. 23.01.68 Visit by Child Care Officer to Mother on 22.01.68.
The mother’s plans for moving are still rather vague as she is waiting for her sister to sell her present house. As soon as this is done, the move to Wiltshire can be made.
The mother has become tired of waiting and wondered whether to act independently of her sister, but has done nothing really about this. Her own mother is still in hospital on account of her fractured leg, but has also been on the danger list, apparently having had heart trouble.
The mother said that after the Christmas holidays Philip had resisted going back to Harpenden. This is the first time it had happened. He also admitted to be worried about many things, but felt better after visiting his grandmother in hospital.
The mother had wondered whether she should keep him at home, as she is free to care for him, but did not do so.
1. Because she did not wish him to have another school. 2. Because she does not know if her landlord would give permission to have Philip home, especially as she should herself, really have left the flat by now.
The mother said that she does not find Philip too difficult to manage apart from his inability to concentrate, and his tempers. She is worried about his school progress, and would be willing to take him to the Clinic once she is settled in Wiltshire.
I had previously seen Philip at Harpenden on the 16th January 1968. The Houseparent had reported that his behaviour was very difficult and he seemed very resentful of authority.
I had spoken to Philip briefly, mentioning the fact that his mother was making plans to move and would have him as soon as possible. It is difficult to know how many of his problems may be associated with a wish to return to his mother, and how many are much more long-standing difficulties.
MY ANSWER. There were reports from the Houseparent that my behaviour was very difficult in December but during November, there had been the mention that I was more settled and less aggressive.
I was told before Christmas that there might be a chance I would be moving to a different school and the possibility I would be moved to a different Home; this had apparently been suggested from the results of the tests. Knowing my mother would soon have to leave the London flat, I think a few things seemed to be going wrong around me. Little was actually explained to me about the various possibilities of my future; all that was ever said was that I should wait and see, which had me feeling even more unsettled and apt to cause problems.
81. 24.01.68 Letter to Governor of NCH Harpenden from the Mother.
When we returned on Sunday evening last, I mentioned to the Houseparent that my sister and her husband would be coming from Harpenden to London on Saturday to visit my mother in hospital, and would, if convenient collect Philip and bring him to London and I would return with him on Sunday evening letting you know as soon as I had arranged the time etc, it would be Saturday 3rd February at 12.15pm, they will give him lunch at their home.
I had a visit from The Child Care Officer on Monday and was very distressed to hear Philip was causing so much trouble to his Houseparent and everyone else. I will of course remove him at half term or before if you think it necessary.
As this situation has arisen, I have decided to abandon my family’s problems and strike out alone. At the moment I am negotiating a position as housekeeper in Tenby, in South Wales on the sea front, it sounds most suitable.
I am so very sorry Philip’s stay at Highfield has had to end like this, until two months or so ago he seemed so happy and much more reasonable.
82. 24.01.68 Letter to Governor of NCH Harpenden from NCH London.
Thank you for your letter. We enclose a report on discussion with our clinic and the mother, which took place prior to the receipt of your letter.
We note your comments about the advisability of Philip’s return to his mother and agree that she should be visited again, with the suggestion that she might have Philip home soon, possibly at half term. As you will see from the report, this may depend on her landlord’s agreement to Philip being in the house. The mother is in a state of indecision and a definite step on our part might help her.
MY ANSWER. The NCH have the idea that asking my mother to take me back, will help her decide over the matter of my staying in the Home or returning to her.
83. 01.02.68 Letter to Clinic at St Albans from Child Care Officer.
Further to our recent telephone conversation, I have visited the mother twice. She is still uncertain of her plans for moving, but as soon as we know her next address we will inform you.
It will be a great help if Philip’s name can be transferred to a clinic in the area in which he will be living.
We are encouraging the mother to have Philip with her as soon as possible.
84. 01.02.68 Report of Child Officer.
I called to see the mother to discuss the Governor of Harpenden suggestion that Philip should return to his mother as soon as possible.
This was not difficult, as the mother had said on my previous visit that she had wondered if she ought to keep him at home. However, she still does not feel that it will be possible to ask her landlord for permission to have Philip, as they are living from week to week now, wondering when they will be told to leave.
The mother wondered why Philip should be anxious to come home now, as he has always seemed so happy at Harpenden. She also wondered what his behaviour difficulties were, as he is no more troublesome than usual at home, except that when he was told off by his uncle at the weekend he shrieked in a very unusual way. We discussed all these things.
The mother said that she has already replied to an advertisement offering a job and accommodation in South Wales. Her only fear is, that if she does anything to upset her family, there is no one who would stand by her if she were ill.
It appears the mother’s brothers and sisters (she is one of a family of five) all rely on her to take the responsibility for her mother. I suggested that it may help her to be able to tell them that we are now asking for Philip’s return home.
The grandmother is still very unwell and I suggested that it might also help the mother to see the Medical Social Worker to find out what kind of plans need to be made, in the event of her mother’s discharge from hospital.
When the mother does leave the present flat there will be a great deal of clearing up to do. However at the moment there does not seem to be any definite steps she can take.
She assured me that she wants Philip with her as soon as possible, but at present she is still unable to give a definite date.
MY ANSWER. The Home decided to encourage my mother to make the decision to take me back; it was by the request that I should leave Highfield. If my mother had decided to keep me in London after my last holiday when I told her that I did not want to go back to the Home, the NCH could have demanded a penalty payment of £150 from her – almost a years wages. Their request that my mother took me back, allowed my quick departure. No questions were asked by her to the NCH as to the actual reasons over their request for me to leave.
I always allowed my mother to think I was happy in the Home. I knew that it would have been impossible for me to live in London for any length of time whilst she was looking after my grandparents. I did not want her to think I was unhappy.
Life before Christmas in the Home had just not been easy; during my Christmas holidays while I was in London, I think I let my mother know that I was unhappy in the Home. If I behaved in an odd manner when my uncle told me off, it was that he took hold of me. With the memory of the Houseparent grabbing me, and an earlier memory of being touched, I reacted in a totally different way to normal.
85. 13.02.68 Report of Child Care Officer.
London is now mine. I can once again explore as much as I like in my free time by bus, underground and on foot without restriction.
86. 22.02.68 Report of Child Care Officer.
The mother and Philip were out at the library when I called the first time, and the mother’s brother was looking after their mother.
When I called back later on, Philip met me at the door looking very cheerful and happy. He was obviously very pleased to be at home, and his mother assured me that everything was going well, at least where Philip was concerned.
He talked excitedly about what he had been doing since Saturday, but said he was missing Lenton from Harpenden, and was anxious about who was looking after the guinea pigs etc.
The mother is intending to write to the Houseparent that looked after Philip very shortly.
Philip’s grandmother is much the same, and needs constant attention still. It was obvious that the mother is getting little sleep at night, and is on the go most of the time, but she was cheerful and uncomplaining, and obviously pleased to have Philip home.
So far they had still no news of the proposed move to Wiltshire, nor had the landlord commented on their still being in the flat, but the mother promised to let me know as soon as there were any definite dates.
The mother and Philip had an interview with the Headmaster of the local school the following day.
MY ANSWER. In London I was happy, simply being on my own was all I wanted. It was easy to keep me quiet and not in the way, as I now had my own bedroom. Books and toys that I had brought from the Home could now be around me. My clothes were all in one place. With the short visits home, often there was a limited assortment of clothes but now everything I owned was here. Knowing that during the day I would be sent off to school, even though the time I would spend at the school would only be for a short while, I was quite happy, with my return although rather bored with junior school lessons.
87. 04.04.68 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called to see how the mother’s plans were progressing.
Philip was busily cooking his tea, with his mother’s guidance and talked cheerfully about his activities during the last few weeks.
He is obviously happily occupied at home, and I thought his speech and general behaviour were less excitable and disjointed.
However, he is not enjoying school as much as he did at Harpenden, and was looking forward to the Easter Holidays.
His mother was hopeful that there would be a good comprehensive school in or near Swindon that Philip will be able to attend when they move.
The mother at last has a more or less definite date for moving April 29th. She has been to a small village outside Swindon, to see the house and shop, and was quite pleased with all the arrangements.
The mother is hoping to get her mother into hospital for a fortnight while they pack up and sort out their furniture etc.
She promised to keep me informed as to their movements and any further developments.
MY ANSWER. I was more settled in London. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, and I was willing to fit in with what everyone else wanted to do. Here there were no petty rules that had been set for the sake of it.
The school I had been sent to was the same one I attended before going to the Home. I had soon made friends again with one of the boys who remembered me. The school had changed; there was now a new Headmaster and the buildings had been brought more up to date with bright colours and several new activities that were part of the daily routine.
One slight problem was that lessons were boring. Originally, I think I was in the ‘B’ stream when I first went there. As it was known that my stay was only for a short while, so that I did not disrupt the flow of lessons for others with the need to settle me into a new environment, I was now placed in the equivalent of a ‘D’ stream. Lessons were equal to those I had been given when I was first here. As long as you were quiet, you could do what you wanted – read, draw or do any activity as long as it was quiet. The books here had already been conquered, so much of my time was spent colouring pictures. It was fun for a few days, but not for several weeks. I was quite happy that soon we would move; although I liked London, to be free in the country seemed a good move to me.
The result was worry at school, wondering when I was to be told I was returning to the Home, and at night several wet beds. My mother was trying to be kind at this point, I was not given the slipper or cane by her, which made me even more uncertain over what the plans were for me. If I had been asked, I would have told her it was due to the thought that I might be put back in the Home. With not asking me if there was a reason, they think it might be due to the fear on moving to Wiltshire.
88. 14.05.68 Letter to Clinic at St. Albans from Child Care Officer.
Thank you for this letter regarding the boy, Philip returned to his mother in February, and I have been visiting the family in London. The mother and Philip have just moved to a small village near Swindon.
Philip returned home as he was becoming increasingly unhappy at the Harpenden Children’s Home, but he seemed to settle happily with his mother again. When I last saw the mother she suggested that Philip be given time to settle in the new home before Child Guidance was reconsidered.
As soon as we have the new address in Wiltshire, the Child Care Officer will call to see what the position is.
89. 14.05.68 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called at the London address, but there was no reply, and it was obvious that they had moved, as there were no curtains at the windows.
The mother said she would inform us of her new address, and discuss the possibility of Philip attending the Child Guidance Clinic in Wiltshire if necessary.
90. 20.05.68 Letter to Rev. Gordon. E. Barritt. NCH London from the Governor NCH Harpenden.
Thank you for the copy of the Child Care Officer’s report on Philip and the mother has now given us their new address.
91. 18.06.68 Letter to NCH Bristol from NCH London.
Enclosed is a case history on Philip, who was at Harpenden, but recently returned to his mother and is now living near Swindon, Wilts. The family have been visited under Family Aid, and I should be glad if you could visit them at their new address.
92. 18.06.68 Case History of Philip.
D.O.B. 1957. Admitted 06.05.65
Harpenden Branch 06.05.65 to 17.02.68
Returned to his mother 17.02.68
Philip is the illegitimate son of Dorothy and Mr Linton Jansen, a Singhalese, who was a trainee in hotel management at the time of their brief acquaintance. The mother lost all contact with him and his present whereabouts are not known.
The mother lived on the Isle of Wight where she was employed as a housekeeper. In February 1965 she had to give up her job to come to London in order to look after her ageing and invalided parents. One of the mother’s brothers also lived with them, and there was neither room for Philip nor time to look after him adequately. His admission into care was therefore applied for. The mother had from the beginning intended this as a temporary measure, until she would no longer be needed by her parents.
The mother is an extremely conscientious person and has always been keenly aware of her responsibility towards her old parents, as well as her role in Philip’s life. But although her three other married brothers and sisters all live in close proximity to London at Harpenden, none of them were helpful in sharing with her in the care for their parents, nor did any of them take an interest in Philip. It appeared that they were a little ashamed of him and were not willing to accept him.
After the death of the mother’s father in May 1967, the threat of being evicted by the landlord continuously hung over her. Plans for the setting up a joint household with her sister and brother-in-law were slow to take shape and were not finalised until April 1968. In May her Sister and brother-in-law bought a house and shop near Swindon and the mother together with Philip and her mother, who is seriously ill with heart trouble, have now joined them.
Progress while in our care: -
Philip was admitted to Harpenden, as this was the most convenient Branch to enable his mother to visit him.
He was a highly-strung child, inclined to talk in a disjointed manner, but he was not lacking in confidence. He showed aggressiveness towards other children. There were some bedwetting incidents until he became settled in the routine of Highfield.
Prior to coming into care he had attended a Primary school on the Isle of Wight, and the head teacher’s report when he left this school observed that he was obviously in need of a stable background and missed the interest and concern of a father. Although his school work was below standard, it was felt that, given stability, he was capable of making good progress, academically as well as emotionally.
Philip settled well at Harpenden. His mother being very tied down at home by her parents’ needs was able to visit him only once every three weeks. She had Philip home for all the holidays, but she had to leave him to fend for himself. Although Philip always enjoyed these holidays, he never resented having to return to Harpenden. His other relatives, in spite of living near to the Branch visited him only occasionally, nor did they offer to have him for a holiday.
Philip’s progress at school remained unsatisfactory. He showed no improvement in his powers of concentration and his writing ability was particularly poor. In part this lack of progress was thought to be the result of double vision from which he had been suffering, and which was being corrected. In other respects, however Philip showed equal lack of improvement.
He remained excitable, had temper tantrums, was inclined to be jealous and aggressive, bullied other children, and was desperate for adult attention.
After the death of his grandfather, Philip seemed affected by the uncertainty of the family’s future plans.
In October 1967 Philip was given a test in London. The report indicated that Philip was of good average intellectual ability (IQ 113), but that he suffered from a degree of hyper-tension, was fundamentally an unhappy child and socially ill-adjusted. He was undoubtedly concerned both about his colour and about his father, about whom he should be given some information. Concern was expressed about the mother’s ability to see Philip through his difficulties, if he were to return to her. Philip would need more than average help and more than average adult supervision, and therapy sessions at the Child Guidance Clinic were recommended.
The mother was most willing to co-operate, but it was not thought advisable to commence treatment at the St. Albans clinic at this stage, in view of the family’s plans to move to Wiltshire in the near future. Treatment was therefore postponed until the move to Wiltshire had taken place.
After the Christmas holidays it became apparent that Philip had not felt happy at Harpenden and was unwilling to go back. The mother was now determined to have Philip home as soon as possible, and Philip left Harpenden on 17.02.68.
Supervision under Family Aid was now carried on. Philip settled very happily at home, but did not like his new temporary school. The mother although working extremely hard, was obviously pleased to have Philip home.
93. 01.08.68 Report of Child Care Officer.
Both Philip and his mother seemed pleased to see me and they gave me a warm welcome. They are slowly settling down to country life, the mother is trying to make the best of things and Philip longs for London.
We talked about Philip’s school and he is looking forward to going to the Senior School next term. This is three miles away but children are taken by coach.
Philip’s bedroom is up in the attic and he was most anxious that I should go up the narrow staircase and also see the low beams. It is a pleasant room and he has all his own things about.
The living rooms are shared with the rest of the family, whom I did not meet, except for the grandmother who has her bedroom downstairs. I had a chat with her, she seemed really quite well and her speech was very good; the country life seems to agree with her.
I was able to have a talk with the mother on her own; she said that Philip is still very aggressive at times and she thinks that this is probably why he does not seem to keep the same friends for very long. He still has a few bedwetting accidents at night, but the mother thinks he might get over this when he is settled into his new senior school after the holidays.
She has not yet sought advice from a psychiatrist for Philip and this I urged her to do as soon as Philip gets to the Secondary School; I suggested she sees the Headmaster and makes a request for Philip to see either the educational psychologist or a psychiatrist, and that she should do this as soon as possible. I will call again towards the end of the holiday to ensure that Philip has all he needs for school.
MY ANSWER. The move to the country had certainly been different. I was now in an isolated village, although quite near to a town, and only a few buses ran at reasonable times. Most of the boys of my age had lived in the area all of their lives; it was a bit like at the Home, no one really knew of life outside the village. Unlike London I did not really have as much freedom indoors as I would have liked, as the shop and the location of excess stock came first; however my attic bedroom was my escape.
My odd few wet beds are down to the fear that I might be returned to the Home. In September I was told by mother that everything seemed to be fine and I could stay, my night problems come to an end.
My odd few wet beds are down to the fear that I might be returned to the Home. In September I was told by mother that everything seemed to be fine and I could stay, my night problems come to an end.
94. 02.10.68 Report by Child Care Officer.
The mother seemed to have settled into her new village although she said that life sometimes became rather boring as she only got out on Saturday afternoons. She seemed quite relaxed and was prepared to settle as Philip was happy in his new Senior School and he seemed much better.
Philip is in the ‘A’ stream at school and he appears to be coping quite adequately: he gets a little homework, which does not worry him. He is now learning French and he was pleased to be doing some pottery: he also enjoys P.E.
I thought Philip’s movements still seemed rather jerky but his mother said that she had not noticed this. She is delighted that he is so happy at school and there is no trouble going off in the mornings.
There is a good library in the school and Philip also has a ticket for the Swindon Library so he is able to get plenty of interesting books. He appears now to be a great reader. Philip told me that he had ‘economised’ in the buying of his comics and that he was saving his pocket money to buy a film projector.
The mother has not yet been to see the Headmaster: I said that I would be going to see him within the next few weeks.
It was encouraging to see that Philip and his mother both seemed settled and happy in their new surroundings.
MY ANSWER. The first year of senior school was in a way a welcome change from the small village school. Life at the start of the new school year was a bit frightening as all new boys had to go through an initiation ceremony given by the older boys, and for most of the time there was continual teasing over the colour of my skin. It seems odd but none of them have actually met a dark skinned child; my light tanned complexion is the darkest they have ever seen.
The way the school runs with the need to change rooms for each lesson is something that I was already used to: for those from the village, that you do not spend your day in the same room seemed strange. Having spent only a short while at the village school, on arrival at the secondary modern there were no records of any previous schoolwork. After a short oral test, I was placed in the ‘A’ stream.
95. 22.10.68 Letter to Child Care Officer from NCH Bristol.
Thank you for the report on this lad. I think an early visit to his school should be made in order to acquaint the Headmaster with his early difficulties and to seek the Headmaster’s advice on Child Guidance Referral.
I think it is unlikely that the mother will raise this with the school until Philip once again shows signs of disturbance and she is unable to cope with him herself. Early referral could minimise possible difficulties later.
MY ANSWER. With my mother working during the week, there was no time for her to arrange an appointment for me with a Psychiatrist or Educational Psychologist. So nothing more was done over the matter of seeking help for me.
96. 21.10.68 Report of Child Care Officer on Visit to Philip’s Headmaster.
I called to see the Headmaster to enquire about Philip’s progress and to give him a little of Philip’s background.
Philip is in Form 1A1 an un-streamed class parallel with 1A2, the lower streams in the first year are 1B and 1C.
He has settled down and as far as the Headmaster could say, he was making satisfactory progress; he had not heard anything to the contrary.
Philip had not shown any unusual behaviour, although he is the only coloured boy in the school. He was going through the normal teasing and trials of new boys and he has stood up to them very well.
Philip is not likely to be medically examined until well on in 1969. The Headmaster feels that Philip should be given 12 months to settle in the school and to establish himself but if there are any problems of behaviour or on the academic side then he will seek further advice.
Philip was absent from school on the day I called; he had a slight accident the previous day having been hit near the eye with another boy’s ruler. It was thought that probably Philip had provoked the other boy, but no one had seen the incident. The Headmaster had made careful investigations.
I was able to meet Philip’s class teacher, the Headmaster’s wife. She reported that Philip was making satisfactory progress but that his writing was appalling. I told her about his jerky movements and his previous difficulty in coordination. She was concerned that Philip had not yet made any real friends apart from one boy in a more senior form.
I left them to go on to visit Philip and his mother and said I would let them know if Philip’s accident was in any way serious.
The mother seemed very pleased and surprised that I had called.
Philip was at home with a cold but would be returning to school the next day. The bruise near his eye was only a minor one; he had not complained about it and it had given him no trouble. The mother told me that Philip seemed very happy at school. He had mentioned the teasing, but he had made light of it and seemed to have approached it in a very sensible manner.
MY ANSWER. The Headmaster might have thought it odd to get a visit from a Child Care Officer rather than a parent. The Headmaster was a very traditional style of master; finding that one of his new pupils was in need of special treatment might have seemed a little strange.
The school was several miles away from the village and had the problem of no public transport between the two. We were taken by coach in the morning, and brought back in the afternoon. It was very difficult for any parent from the local villages to visit the school if they did not have a car of their own. Like most of my friends, their parents had never even seen the school, let alone spoken to any of the teachers.
Having been at the school for just over a month, perhaps my ability to get in any serious trouble had not really surfaced. The Headmaster noticed that due to my looks, I might have slight problems settling down; his view was that I should be given a year to see if any problems surfaced. If the Headmaster wanted regular reports on my activities, as I was placed in the form where his wife was the teacher, it could not have worked out better. The first report that could be given by my form teacher was that my handwriting was appalling, but I was making satisfactory progress.
I did have several friends. Although I was not really the studious type, running about games or playing with model cars during break time did not really appeal to me; in my mind, such things were not really part of senior school. Had there been the freedom to enter the library or some other practical way of passing the time, I would have been happier. Finding a boy from an upper form that seemed to have the same ideas as myself, it was easy to see why, during school time, I might not appear to be with my own age group. Once back in the village, our own age group tended to reform into one group except when a game of football was organised.
The Child Care Officer did not find that my eye injury was serious; that I seemed to be coping with the others teasing me, meant that little further notice was taken of that matter.
12 Years Old.
I called to see the mother and Philip and first had a talk with the mother on her own. She is not really happy living with the family in the village: she never seems to get any time to herself and she is very tied to the house, she longs to get back to the Isle of Wight where she and Philip could have a flat on their own. But, she added, this certainly could not happen yet; these were just her thoughts and hopes.
After a time Philip joined us; he is still jerky in his movements and this affects his writing. His main trouble is that he will try to do everything far too quickly and therefore is not thorough.
He has periods of being teased at school but he seems to be coping with this. I had the impression that, although Philip says he is quite happy at school, this is not really so; he is just making the best of a bad job. He still talks of his previous school at Harpenden and the things he would be doing if he were still there.
The day I called, Philip said he might be moved into the ‘B’ stream. He said that he should never have been put into the ‘A’ stream and he thought he would find the work easier and be happier. He explained the work would be the same but the pace slower.
The mother said she wondered about going to see the Headmaster and what did I think. I urged her to do this especially as she has not yet been to the school.
MY ANSWER. It was quite true that we found the village life rather stifling. For my mother, looking after my grandmother meant she was almost as confined to the house as she had been when in London. The only real time off was on a Saturday afternoon, when she took a half-day off. The pair of us would go into the local town or possibly a little further for a change.
Life in the village was rather limited in activities. Although I was quite happy living in the country and was happy to explore on my own, the surrounding area meant that even walking a short distance there were several hills to climb up and down. For both of us the idea of a seaside town or village was an appealing idea, and one that was a firm possibility in my mothers mind for some future date. If I had been asked if I would mind changing schools again, I would have been quite happy with the idea. Although I was reasonably happy at school, for many of the written lessons I was always near the bottom of the form; friends in the ‘B’ stream seemed to have a much more enjoyable day at school.
98. 15.04.69 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called to see the mother and Philip. He is to be offered the chance of a holiday in the summer. These are for children who have left the care of the Children's Homes and have returned to their parents. It is point where they can make more friends and give the parent some rest from the child.
Philip seemed very well and was enjoying his holiday. He had just been in hospital for three days for the extraction of two of his adult front teeth in his lower jaw; he had apparently injured these during his time at Harpenden. He has now made a number of friends amongst the boys in the village with whom he goes out to play. He has also been to the Swindon Baths as he is a keen swimmer.
He is a little more settled at school; although he had been placed 28th out of 29 in his class, the remarks on his report had been encouraging, ‘he worked hard and was interested’. However, Philip was rather worried lest he would be moved into the lower ‘B’ form next term. His deduction being that as five were to be moved up, then five would be moved down and he would probably be one of them.
Philip had been doing some oil painting and he had one of his little pictures already wrapped up to give me; it was quite a good effort. The mother said that his writing was still jerky but she thought it was improving gradually. Both the mother and Philip seemed happier and more settled.
99. 23.06.69 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called to see the Mother and Philip.
The mother seemed more relaxed than usual, possibly because her sister and brother-in-law were out and she and Philip were alone with her mother.
The mother will receive the final travel arrangement for the holiday Philip will go on in a couple of weeks time. The mother thinks that Philip might like the new location and to meet other children, as there are only a few others of his age in the area.
The mother and Philip spent a day at Weston during the Whitsuntide holiday, which they had both thoroughly enjoyed. The mother was not expecting to get any holiday during the summer although she might get an odd day or two when they would be able to go out. Philip seems happy both at home and school but his movements continue to be rather jerky.
100. 12.09.69 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called to enquire how Philip had settled down at school. He is now in the ‘B’ stream and is doing more practical work, which seems to be suiting him better. He is particularly enjoying doing woodwork.
The mother said that he can write quite well when he tries but usually he is in such a hurry that the result is a scrawl.
Philip is very fond of an elderly widow who lives in the cottage opposite; she takes great interest in Philip and enjoys his frequent visits. They also go walking together with her dog. The mother is quite happy about this interest.
The mother is never very enthusiastic about her life in the village but as long as her mother is alive, I think she will be content to settle there to look after her and also her sister and brother-in-law.
101. 22.12.69 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called to take a special Christmas present for Philip on the 18th.
The mother seemed very cheerful and quite happy about Philip; she appeared to have no worries and there were no complaints.
Philip came in whilst I was there; he had a half-day holiday from school which he was enjoying. He said school was all right but he had nothing special to tell me about it. He was much more anxious to show me his stamp collection. This is a new hobby; he spends nearly all his pocket money on buying stamps and he has a number of books in which he has them all classified. He was very enthusiastic. He seemed happy and well, and full of occupations.
13 Years Old.
I called to see the mother and Philip, primarily to ask them about a holiday in the summer for Philip.
The mother thinks it most unlikely that she could get away, even for a week, as apart from the house she must look after her mother.
I mentioned that it was possible that Philip could go on a short holiday. He would again stay in a Children’s Home at Dinas Powis in South Wales for two weeks.
Philip has become very interested in woodwork; he showed me a bedside lamp he had made at school and a bagatelle board that his uncle had helped him make at home. He is still keen on his stamp collection and he never seems to be at a loss for something to do.
When I ask him about school he was not over enthusiastic: he is now in the ‘B’ stream and his mother said that he had some good examination results and had come 10th in a class of 36.
The mother seemed more settled than on some of my previous visits and there were no complaints.
103. 29.05.70 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called to see the mother and Philip chiefly to ask if she could contribute something towards Philip’s holiday in the Children’s Home in August.
The mother readily agreed to do this and will try and let us have something between Three and Five Pounds. She will be responsible for getting to Bristol by train where he will join the Mini-bus. Philip is looking forward very much to the holiday and thrilled to know it will be for two weeks.
104. 05.06.70 Note to Child Care Officer from Holiday Organiser.
I have just realised that to pick up from Bristol will mean a detour for the group who will be travelling to Wales from Reading on the M4 route. Would you care to telephone the Swansea Branch to see whether he prefers Chippenham as being more convenient to both. He will be picking up at Reading at 1pm.
105. 20.07.70 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called to see the mother to make final arrangements for Philip’s holiday at Dinas Powis.
Philip is to join the group at 2.30pm at Chippenham railway station on Saturday 8th August.
The trains and buses to Chippenham are not very frequent but the mother will take Philip on the train, which arrives Chippenham at 1.35pm. I said that I would be there about 2.15pm and I would look out for them.
Philip was not home from school when I arrived, but his mother was so pleased to tell me that he had done very well at school and had come 4th in his class: but Philip hoped that he would not be put up into the A class next term.
The mother said that Philip was looking forward very much to the holiday at Dinas.
106. 12.08.70 Receipt from NCH Bristol to Financial Secretary.
I enclose herewith Five Pounds received from Philip’s mother as her contribution towards her son’s holiday in the Children’s Home at Dinas Powis. I shall be grateful if you would forward this receipt to the mother.
107. 13.08.70 Report of Child Care Officer.
The mother had taken Philip to Chippenham by train and I met them at the Railway Station.
Philip was most enthusiastic about his holiday and the mother said how lucky he was to be going.
We had about an hour and a half to wait for the Mini-bus.
Philip and Russell made a good relationship with each other; it looked as though they were going to be good friends.
The mother was just able to see Philip into the Mini-van before her train back to Swindon came in. She handed me an envelope containing a contribution towards the cost of the holiday; there was Five Pounds, which I later handed over to the Bristol Office. I said I would let the mother know about the arrangements for Philip’s return journey.
108. 13.08.70 Letter to Child Care Officer from Mother.
Thank you for your letter, I have had three cards and a long letter from Philip, he sounded delighted with everything at Dinas Powis, and pleased to find he was the oldest boy. I will be at Chippenham Station on Saturday 22nd about 10.30am to meet Philip. Thank you very much indeed for arranging this holiday.
109. 27.08.70 Report of Child Care Officer.
I met Philip at Chippenham Railway station on the 22nd; he had come in the mini-van from Dinas Powis.
Philip looked very well and said he had thoroughly enjoyed the holiday.
The mother told me that she would meet Philip at the station at 10.30am but she had told Philip that if she was not there when the coach arrived to wait for her. Philip assured me that he would be quite all right waiting on his own. I therefore left him at the station in order to take Russell to Salisbury to catch a train to Weymouth.
As I was visiting Swindon on the 24th, I went to the village where Philip lives to enquire if he had to wait very long for his mother, on Saturday.
I met Philip in the street: he was on his bicycle on his way to the Post office. He said that his mother had arrived at the station as we were leaving so he had no time to wait on his own. I did not go to the house to see the mother, as the purpose of my visit was to make sure that Philip had arrived home safely.
110. 12.10.70 Report of Child Care Officer.
There is always a good welcome here; the mother is grateful for the interest we are continuing to keep in Philip.
As the mother was busy in the shop, first I had a good talk with Philip on his own. He had thoroughly enjoyed the holiday at Dinas Powis again, but with two reservations; they had all felt that rather too much of their time had been organised, although he had appreciated all the visits they had made; Philip would have preferred it if there had been more young people of his own age as when the little ones had gone to bed there was not much that just three or four could do.
Philip is still keen on stamp collecting and he showed me his British stamps; he has a wide collection and spends most of his pocket money on these. He earns a little extra delivering leaflets once a fortnight and this money is being saved for a bicycle tyre for Christmas.
He is not very enthusiastic about school, it is tolerable! But he seems to be keeping up with the work. He has a number of friends in the village and also in the town where the school is situated.
His mother joined us and she said how very much Philip had enjoyed his holiday and how wonderful it had been for him. She was most grateful to the NCH for arranging everything: she would like to write to the staff concerned to thank them for all they did. As I did not have the correct address of the Swansea Branch with me, the mother will send her letter c/o the Regional Office.
111. 21.12.70 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called briefly to take a Christmas gift for Philip on 17th December. He was looking forward to breaking up from school on the following day, a day earlier than expected because of a conference. The mother said that he had made a very nice salad bowl in woodwork, Philip prefers the practical subjects at school and hopes to make a table skittle set next term.
Philip had done all his Christmas shopping and wrapped all the presents. He seems to organise his time very well and is rarely at a loose end. Both Philip and his mother were delighted to have heard from Harpenden and the mother was gradually getting a letter written in her reply as she has been busy helping in the shop and checking the stock etc.
112. 06.01.71 Letter to Mother from Bristol NCH.
Owing to reorganisation of regional boundaries, in order to line them up with Home Office and Local Authority regional boundaries, it has been necessary for us to transfer supervision of all administrative matters concerning Philip to the South-East region. All matters concerning his welfare and about which you normally wrote to this office should now be addressed to Highbury.
The Child Care Officer has also been transferred to the South-East Region and will continue supervision of Philip. These changes came into effect on 1st Jan 1971.
14 Years Old.
I went to visit Philip and his mother on 26th February, she seemed pleased to see me: she and Philip always give me a welcome. The mother said that he was reasonably happy in the village but she found life rather monotonous and village life was very quiet.
Philip does not enjoy school very much but he evidently worked well as he had come 3rd in his class; his report had been very satisfactory but the general remark had indicated the comment that he must learn to stand on his own two feet.
This apparently referred to the fact that he gets very down when some of the boys call him ‘wog’ or ‘chocolate boy’ and he does not retaliate.
We talked about this together and he seemed to cheer up, as he had been particularly upset on that day. On the other hand he has many friends from both school and in the village.
Philip asked about Russell and if I had seen him lately: he and Russell had become good friends when they were on holiday together at Dinas Powis last summer. There is no doubt that Philip very much appreciated this holiday and I hope that it will be possible to arrange something for him this year.
114. 17.03.71 Family Aid Review.
The health of both Philip and his mother is very good.
The mother and Philip have a good relationship with each other and the family appear to be happy.
The mother looks after her mother and does all the housekeeping.
No financial assistance is required apart from help with a summer holiday for Philip. Material help is not required but emotionally, the mother does appreciate visits and discussions about Philip from time to time.
115. 31.03.71 Letter from Harpenden NCH to London NCH.
I enclose herewith a letter I have received from the mother of Philip, which is self-explanatory. We haven’t the Birth Certificate on our file, and I can only conclude that it will be at Chief Office. I would be grateful if you could reply to the mother direct.
MY ANSWER. The reason for the request for my birth certificate is so that I can show it to some of the boys at school, and finally prove to them that I was born in London and I’m not a foreigner. This might be the only way I can put an end to the constant teasing over the colour of my skin.
116. 24.03.71 Letter from Mother to Harpenden NCH.
May I please have the Birth Certificate of Philip, if it is still at the office, he was at Highfield 1965-68. I left it at the office on his arrival.
117. 01.04.71 Letter to Mother from NCH London.
Thank you for your letter of 24th March, please find enclosed the birth certificate of Philip, would you please be kind enough to sign the attached receipt and return it to me at your convenience.
118. Report of Child Care Officer.
As always I was given a very friendly welcome by both Philip and his mother.
Philip was looking very well; he talked more happily about school and seemed to be doing well. He had been given a patch of the garden at home to cultivate and he was keen to show me the variety of plants he was growing.
The mother also seemed more cheerful and she showed me, with pride, the improvements, which her brother-in-law had made in the garden.
Philip would very much like to go on holiday again. This year he will go to the Swansea Children’s Home. This would be for two weeks 14th to 28th August. The mother expressed her gratitude that we were again giving Philip this opportunity; he would not otherwise get a holiday away from home. I agreed to let them know details about travelling nearer the time.
119. 19.07.71 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called to see the mother and Philip with details of the travelling arrangements for the Holiday in Swansea.
I had previously discussed the train times as to which trains the London party will be travelling on, this train does not stop at Swindon.
Philip will travel to Swansea on the train that leaves Swindon at 11.15 am. and arrives at Swansea at 1.40pm. He will be met at Swansea station; further details have yet to be arranged. The details for Philip’s return journey have also yet to be finalised; he will probably travel on the train that leaves Swansea at 9.20 a.m. and arrives in Swindon at 11.41 am.
I agreed to let his mother know as soon as this was settled.
Philip had ‘broken up’ from school on the day I called: his mother had seen his report which had been returned to school; it had been a good report, Philip had come 4th in his class and had made good progress. I asked if Philip had any idea what he wanted to do when he left school. At present his chief interest is in postage stamps and he would like to get a job with one of the big firms in London.
His mother is quite agreeable for him to think along these lines; she would be happy to obtain work as a housekeeper. However, this will not be for another two years.
Philip is looking forward to his holiday in Swansea and his mother again expressed her appreciation that we were giving Philip this opportunity.
120. 10.08.71 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called to let Philip know what he is to do when he arrives at Swansea station on Saturday 14th August.
As arranged in consultation with the London party, Philip is to wait just outside the station by the ticket collector where he will be met.
The mother said how much Philip is looking forward to the holiday and counting the days. She is most grateful to us for giving Philip the opportunity of a holiday and she gave me seven pounds, which she had saved up as a contribution towards the cost.
Philip came in with his grandmother just as I was leaving and so I was able to have a brief word with him.
I will send the seven pounds to the office.
121. 23.08.71 Letter to Secretary from Office.
Swansea Holiday Project. I enclose the cheque for seven pounds in respect of contribution received from Philip’s mother in respect of his holiday in Swansea. Will you please send a receipt to The Child Care Officer who will pass it on to the mother.
THE NCH REPORT ON THE HOLIDAY.
Twenty children whose ages ranged from 10 to 15 years, spent two weeks holiday at Killay House, Children’s Home, Swansea, from August 14th to 28th. The children were all either in NCH or Local Authority care under the Family Aid scheme.
Sister Stephanie Hall was in charge of the party at Swansea. The physical structure of Killay House in its beautiful grounds was ideal for the holiday plan.
Sister June was in charge of the branch at the time of arrival, and the welcome she and the staff gave the early holiday staff arrivals, and the hard work they put in making up beds and explaining the working order of the House, before turning out of the house into the pouring rain to a wet camp field, went a long way to make a successful start to the holiday. Those who normally lived at Killay House were sent away to live in a field for the two weeks that Killay House would be occupied.
All the staff were introduced to the children by name, explaining who they were, what they were doing prior to the holiday, and their ages. It was agreed that the staff could be called by their first names rather than their normal titles.
We explained that there were no fixed bed times, but the children could please themselves what time they went to bed, as long as it was before the staff. They would be told the night before what time breakfast would be, and if they did not wish to have breakfast they could remain in bed until the day's activities started. At first the children were very quiet about the house, but as they began to relax the house always seemed full of noisy chatter, and it must have been good for some of them to escape to their various rooms and places in the house and garden, where they could be on their own.
Towards the end of the holiday, settling down in bed became almost a ritual, when the children would ask that all the staff went to their rooms to tuck them up, kiss them good-night, and have a bedtime chat. These ‘chats’ were the times when the children shared with us their fears at night, such as the dark and bedwetting; also their feelings about the tensions in their family lives. The staff were sensitive to these times, and it was felt that a large part of the benefit of this holiday was achieved at these times.
122. 07.09.71 Report of Child Care Officer.
I called on 6th September to see Philip and his mother, to hear about Philip’s holiday in Swansea.
Unfortunately Philip had started school that day and as I called early in the afternoon I was unable to see him.
The mother said that Philip had thoroughly enjoyed his holiday; he had been pleased that there were several boys of his own age there including one whom he had met at Dinas Powis the previous year. Philip had thought it was grand to be allowed to call Sister Stephanie, Steve and the other members of the staff by their Christian names. This arrangement had obviously made the atmosphere less formal. Philip had been delighted to be able to spend a good deal of time on the beach and swimming; altogether he thought the holiday had been a great success.
The mother again expressed her gratitude to us for giving Philip the holiday.
123. 29.12.71 Report of Child Care Officer.
When I called to see Philip and his mother on 20th December, I was greeted with the news that they had moved to the South Coast.
The mother’s sister said that their mother had died in October after having another stroke. The mother had then felt that she was free to apply for a job, which would enable her to be more independent and to live on her own with Philip.
The mother had subsequently accepted a post as a housekeeper in a family house. I was given her new address. She had been asked to start before Christmas and therefore moved two days ago on Saturday 18th December.
The sister said that the job sounded very pleasant, but it would remain to be seen how the mother and Philip settled.
The sister is prepared to have her sister and Philip back again should this prove to be necessary, she said that her sister had written to us to inform us of her move
On 21st December the letter from the mother was received informing of her new address.
On 22nd December I called to see the mother and Philip in their self-contained flat attached to the main house. They are very comfortably housed but as they had only moved on 18th December it was early days to say that they were settled. The mother does all the cooking and some of the housework in the large house with a permanent family of three, but there are frequent and numerous guests.
The mother has an agreement with her employer that the situation is reviewed after two weeks.
This is a start to a new life for Philip and his mother; if the mother can cope with the work it should prove very satisfactory. The house is situated in an affluent residential part of the town about one mile from the centre. Philip will have some distance to travel to school and the mother was going to make enquiries at two schools after Christmas. The Headmaster of Philip’s school had given her two schools to which she should apply.
I asked the mother to let us know if after two weeks it was necessary to return to her sister. If we did not hear from her, I would call early in the New Year to see if Philip was settled in a school.
124. 21.12.71 Letter to Child Care Officer from the Mother.
Things are happening so fast here; I think I’d better let you know what’s afoot.
The sad news first, my mother died suddenly in October, she was quite well in the evening & I went in her room about 10.30 p.m., then about mid-night I heard her shouting, she was having another stroke which lasted until 4 a.m. when she died.
Now for happier things, Phil & I are off to the South Coast on the 18th. After waiting weeks & writing dozens of letters, the right job seems to have come along; I am to be housekeeper in a large beautiful house. We have our own flat, two bedrooms, bathroom, sitting room (with TV), it’s rather a pity Phil will have to change schools just in his last year, but I think this position is too good to miss.
I was invited to the prize giving at the school as Phil won his form’s Progress Prize, a nice book; he was twice rewarded as his aunt & uncle bought him a very smart radio for ‘good effort’. I do hope we will see you either before we depart or when we are at our new address.
15 YEARS OLD
125. 04.01.72. Report of Child Care Officer.
I called on 3rd January to see if Philip and his mother had settled in, and to hear how she managed all the Christmas arrangements.
As far as the mother is concerned, everything went satisfactorily and she is prepared to continue; the final decision naturally rests with her employer.
Philip will attend one of two schools; both are about one and a half miles away from where he is living. The mother said she had been advised to wait until Wednesday 5th January before making enquiries.
Philip hopes to leave school at the end of term, when he is anxious to work in one of the town’s stamp shops. Stamp collecting had been Philip’s one real hobby and he would like to make enquires fairly soon regarding a possible vacancy for an assistant. Philip already knows of four or five stamp shops.
I recommend that visiting continue for a few more months, possibly until Philip is settled in some work, when this case could then be closed.
126. 10.02.72. Report of Child Care Officer.
I met the mother by chance in town; she was out shopping and had just recovered from an attack of influenza.
She seems settled in her new job and as far as she knows everything is going satisfactorily. Her sister and brother-in-law visited and they were impressed with the present situation.
Philip is attending a boys’ school; he has been persuaded to stay on at school until he is 16 and to take examinations.
The mother said that there is strict discipline at the school and Philip has a good deal of homework. Philip has settled happily, and gets down to his homework without any trouble and appears to be working well.
I would recommend that consideration could be given to the possibility of closing this case at the end of March, after I have made one more visit.
127. 08.05.72 Report of Child Care Officer.
Visit of 04.05.72 The Mother is now very well settled in her job as housekeeper in the large private house.
Philip is doing well at school and had recently had a good report. He will be staying on until July 1973 in order to take several subjects in examinations. He maintains his great interest in ‘stamps’ and definitely wants a career in this line.
He thinks that the school will give him good help in finding a suitable job and will seek further advice from the Careers Adviser if necessary. Philip has already made some enquiries in the town about opportunities in the work he wants to do and is very hopeful of being able to find what he wants.
As both the mother and Philip are so well settled financially and materially, I suggested that they were no longer in need of our help and support. The mother thanked us for all that we had done for Philip as well as for her and for the interest we had taken in both of them.
In view of this satisfactory situation, I recommend that we close this case.
128. 22.05.72 Letter to Bristol NCH from London NCH.
We note your comments. This is receiving our attention. I should be glad if you would kindly let us have the main file in due course.
129 10.05.77 Letter to NCH London from Philip.
Asking if any records were held and would it is possible to have a copy of them.
130 17.05.77 Letter to Philip from NCH.
Replying to request to see file.
We do, of course, have records of your three-year stay at Harpenden, which are not possible to be copied.
You did come up to Highbury in October 1967 when you were rather unsettled at Harpenden and when it was felt that tests might indicate some other means of helping you. Of course, it was shortly after this that you returned to live with your mother, and as far as we could tell, this was what was required.
I do not know if you would wish to take this any further either by correspondence or by coming up to Highbury for a talk, but perhaps you will let me know how you feel.
MY ANSWER. The reply that they do have a file is interesting, but I was now twenty, I just did not feel like either writing to them or even going up to see them. How could I ask them about things that I did not know if they knew about? My three years in their care were a bit mixed up in my mind. I wanted to forget about the matter but I couldn’t. There are so many things that I would like answers to, but I would find it difficult to ask the questions.
It was twenty years later when I saw my file.
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