I've spent most of today taking the oven apart and cleaning the monster. The phone call came just as I'd finished while my hads were stinging from the Mr Muscle oven cleaner chemicals. “I’ve received a letter ” says my agent Ruth. She's younger than I but there is something of the school maam about her . “You have been asked..” her voice rises with each word. “..by The University of Huddersfield to accept an Honorary Doctor of letters.”
My foster parents (whom feigned adoption) did everything to stop me going into university by placing me into a childrens home at 11 years old. And I was never encouraged in the childrens homes for the subsequent six years in care. However at the age of twenty one my first recognised book was pubished and since then I've visited universities around the world to read my poetry.
Reforms are on their way though. Tony Blair said it was appalling that only 1% of children in care went on to university. Mr Blair told his audience there “has to be a profound rebalancing of the civil liberties debate”, and continuous reform was the only way public services could meet ever-increasing public expectations. (Guardian, 16 May 2006)
The poet laureate of The Harlem renaissance Langston Hughes received his Honarary Doctor of letters at the same age as I. He received his from Lincoln university where he attended as a young man. The rest of the phone call is a bit of a haze. There are enquiries for readings in Namibia in Southern Africa, Sweden and from Yale university in The States. I think Ruth notices. “I'll speak to you tomorrow” she says “Sorry for caling on a Sunday. I just thought you'd like to know”.