Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Dreams of Leaving. (Books)

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Dreams of Leaving. (Books)

Article excerpt

The Looked After Kid: memoirs from a children's home

Paolo Hewitt

Mainstream Publishing, 208pp, [pounds sterling]9.99

Discounts at

The influential music journalist Paolo Hewitt spent the early years of his life in "care", although, as is so often the case, "care" turned out to mean its exact opposite. Born to a mother held in a psychiatric hospital, Hewitt was, as the law insisted, taken from her on the second day of his life. So began his painful journey of being moved randomly and repeatedly from foster home to foster home. In the end, he simply ceased to remember the names of those with whom he lived.

He experienced, as well as occasional and memorable displays of kindness, a full range of horrors. At one stage, he was fostered by a sadist who beat and brutalised him, keeping him away from school so that there was no escape from her power. Everyone with whom he formed a bond vanished, in one way or another. His name was changed from Paolo to Paulo (at school, he became, cleverly, nastily, Poor Low). His dream of rescue was taken away when he discovered that he had been lied to about the true identity of the man he believed to be his real father.

Hewitt learnt how to hide himself away, how not to care. He learnt how to retreat into a world of pop music, books, clothes and cigarettes. He learnt how to make his knuckles bigger by punching walls.

But this book is not just about his misfortunes. …

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