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Lemn Sissay: ‘My foster parents were good people who did bad things’

The poet talks about how his foster parents put him into care at the age of 12 and left him there, and finding his birth mother

I have a very happy childhood memory of being in Scotland on holiday when I was about four. I remember the smell of wet heather, bracken and fern. My grandad had a cottage in Lochinver we would visit in the summer holidays and at Easter. My grandad and foster parents and I used to go down to the bay to get salmon, trout and mussels. I’ve loved mussels ever since.

My foster father was a teacher and my foster mother was a nurse. They were an aspirational middle-class family from Lancashire. They wanted their children to be educated and go to university. They were good people who did bad things.

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