Lemn Sissay MBE on his stolen childhood, a fight for the truth and forgiveness
December 11, 2020. Series 2. Episode 15
In this bonus episode I talk to the poet, playwright and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, MBE. Lemn was born in the late 60s to an unmarried Ethiopian woman who was forced to hand him over to social services. Renamed Norman by a social worker of the same name he was fostered by a deeply religious Lancashire family. His mother’s efforts to get him back were ignored and he remained with the same family until the age of 12 when, inexplicably, they handed him back into the care system. Lemn then spent the next eight years being moved around homes, including one that was more like a prison, where he suffered mental and physical abuse and, as a result, a breakdown. Despite all this, his talent for poetry blossomed and by 18 he was on his way to finding himself and his birth mother. At times disturbing but ultimately uplifting, this is a conversation about the power and resilience of human spirit. Lemn, whose brilliant memoir ‘My Name Is Why’ which I urge you to read, is now a passionate campaigner on behalf of children in care. His charity Christmas Dinners each year delivers a festive party for hundreds of care leavers across Britain.
Lemn’s Crisis Cures:
1. Music: It’s a strange thing – it can hook onto a time, a place and an emotion at the same time. It can really lift me emotionally out of crisis, into a smile and deep contemplation. I love to listen to Swan of Lake by Sibelius.
2. Walking: Crisis makes us find good answers to living and then when we don’t have a crisis, we don’t use them! Everything changes in the countryside, nothing stays the same so there’s always new stuff to experience, whereas when you’re in a crisis everything is stuck.
3. Meditation: Again, it’s something that we should all use in our everyday lives. Some people pray but meditation is so important. I use the Calm and Headspace apps.
The Christmas Dinners: http://thechristmasdinners.org.uk/
My Name is Why: https://amzn.to/3xKq9tB
Five minutes in the company of Lemn Sissay will, I guarantee, leave you energised. To have spent more than an hour chatting with the life force that is Lemn was, therefore, a total privilege. What a man. And what a story. A crisis that began in the days after his birth, when his mother was forced – coerced in fact – to hand him over to Wigan Social Services, and that continued deep into Lemn’s adulthood. At times listening to his crisis story – his crisis saga – I was left speechless. By the sheer heartlessness of the system and the foster family who let him down so tragically. But more by Lemn’s refusal to give in to what would be a totally justified, totally understandable bitterness. As he says: “I had to forgive my foster family, because I had to release myself from the bondage of anger and hatred and bitterness and loss.” Lemn Sissay is a true one-off – a man whose talent for poetry and storytelling should have been smothered, snuffed out by his circumstances. Instead, it survived and thrived to move and motivate so many people across the world. Lemn is in many ways the embodiment of an idea we’ve talked about before on this podcast …. that from crisis often comes something good, powerful and valuable. Enjoy this episode and, if you’re able, please make a donation to Lemn’s brilliant Christmas Dinners charity.
Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: https://ampl.ink/qp6bm
Some Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
Host – Andy Coulson
Producer – Louise Difford
00:00:00.00 Intro music
00:00:21.23 Andy Coulson:
Hello and welcome to Crisis What Crisis? a new podcast designed to be a useful field guide as we all try to navigate and come to terms with a dramatically changed world. Whether it’s personal, professional or both, crisis is without doubt, the new shared experience. I’m Andy Coulson, a former newspaper editor, Downing Street Director of Communications and one time inmate of HMP Belmarsh. For the last four years I’ve been trying put all of my experience, the good and the bad, to use as a strategic advisor to business leaders and I can tell you that the bad has been just as useful as the good. And that got me thinking that there are plenty of great podcasts out there where you can hear stories of success, there are far fewer where you can benefit from the experience of those whose lives have properly unravelled.
00:01:09.13 Andy Coulson:
So, in Crisis What Crisis? I’ll be talking to the embattled, shamed, courageous, ruined, damaged, resilient, unlucky and lucky survivors of crisis. Some names will be familiar, some less so, but all our guests will talk about their crises honestly, often with humour, but always in the hope that what they have to share might be useful to anyone facing down their own demons and challenges. Put simply, these are crisis stories worth sharing. If you agree and enjoy what you hear, please do give us a rating and review, that way even more people will hear them and that in the end is what it’s all about.
00:01:46.04 Andy Coulson:
Crisis What Crisis is generously supported by Myndstream, a brilliant company who harness the power of music for personal wellbeing. Whether it be music for meditation, to help focus, sleep, stress relief, yoga and fitness, rejuvenation, even grief and loss, Myndstream is there to improve human performance. I’ve tried it, it works and I’d recommend having a listen to the Myndstream catalogue yourself. Just search Myndstream, that’s mind with a Y, on Spotify. Thanks again for joining me.
00:02:20.00 Andy Coulson:
Our guest today, for this bonus episode is the amazing Lemon Sissay MBE, one of Britain’s most prolific writers, of poetry first and foremost, but also for stage and TV. His powerful collection of verse are bestsellers and his landmark poems adorn buildings in Manchester, Huddersfield and Addis Ababa. Lemn was the 2012 Olympics Poet and is also the Chancellor of the University of Manchester. His memoir My Name Is Why, is a deeply, deeply moving, sometimes disturbing account of his personal crisis journey from birth to adulthood.
00:02:53.14 Andy Coulson:
Lemn’s story, in summary, is one of a baby born in the late ‘60s to an unmarried Ethiopian woman who was studying in the UK. She was coerced to hand the child she named Lemn, into the care of Wigan Social Services and prevented from getting him back. Lemn, who had been renamed Norman, by a social worker of the same name, was handed to a white, deeply religious Lancashire family. He was to stay with them for the next twelve years until with a heart breaking absence of reason or justification, they simply handed him back into the care system making it clear they never wanted to see him again.
00:03:27.15 Andy Coulson:
For the next six years Lemn moved between children’s homes. One of which was more of a prison than a home, where he suffered mental and physical abuse. But by sixteen his talent for poetry was showing itself. At seventeen he discovered his real name and at eighteen, now out of care, he was on the long road towards finding himself. Lemn is a passionate campaigner on behalf of children in care and care leavers, not least with his brilliant Christmas Dinners initiative which we’ll talk about a bit more later. Lemn Sissay, welcome to Crisis What Crisis? How are you?
00:04:01.23 Lemn Sissay:
I’m good Andy, I’m good thank you, yeah, it’s good to be here.
00:04:06.02 Andy Coulson:
Lemn, we talk a lot on this podcast about how to take ownership of your crisis and we’ve had all manner of different examples but none quite like this, if I can explain quickly. Every three months since the day you were born and for the subsequent eighteen years, your every movement was recorded. You received those files, those council files, in 2015 and then approached a lawyer and begin proceedings against the social services to shine a light on the way you and others were treated. Part of that process, the process of those proceedings, was to undergo an intensive physiological assessment of your life. When you received that report you were warned not to read it alone. So on the 30th April 2017, at the royal Court Theatre, you had it read to you on stage in front of a live audience. That was the first time you’d heard it; an astonishing thing to do. I mean, were you getting ownership of that crisis, if you like, by sharing it so publicly?
00:05:04.13 Lemn Sissay:
That was an extraordinarily electrified night, Andy. Because when the actor, Julie Hesmondhalgh read the report out of the most personal, personal details and dysfunctions as seen by a psychologist after doing sessions with me, after hearing them the first time, the audience was hearing it at the first time as swell and they were willing me on. You know they were with me every part of me was examined by the psychologist for damage that had been done by the care system over eighteen years. And that’s my sexual self, that’s my intellectual self…
00:05:52.15 Andy Coulson:
Totally laid bare?
00:05:54.04 Lemn Sissay:
All, all my dysfunctions. And that is the middle of the crisis was what damage has been done to me over eighteen years as described by a psychologist. And I called a friend from Wales, where there was a very big inquiry into the crisis of child abuse in children’s homes and twelve young adults committed suicide while that case was being going through the court system, and part of that was their reaction towards the psychologist’s report.
00:06:37.01 Andy Coulson:
00:06:38.23 Lemn Sissay:
I checked it all up with the newspaper coverage and what have you and it happened. And I didn’t want to be isolated right in the middle of this storm. So I brought the entire audience with me. I wrote a blog, within a week the Royal Court said ‘we’ll give you the theatre for one night’. A director, John McGrath, said ‘I’d like to direct this, Lemn’, Julie Hesmondhalgh, the brilliant actress said, ‘Lemn, I’ll play the psychologist, I’ll read the report out to you’. And my primary reason to do it was because I’m not going to be isolated by what happened to me. I’m going to out them. You know, it was a moment of pure inspiration. I feel safe on stage, you know, I don’t feel separate from the audience on stage, I just feel safe there. And it wasn’t a way of doing dramatic theatre, although it was theatre at its most dramatic. It was me saying I feel safe here.
00:07:47.20 Lemn Sissay:
You know, all my files are public records, pored over by social workers throughout my childhood. And so why should this be private as well? But do you know, I just realised something, it’s that my dysfunctions are all there as well, in that psychologists report that was going to be presented to the court. So my vulnerabilities were there as well. It’s interesting because I could look at my… well it’s interesting to me obviously because it’s my story, but I can look at my past, Andy and I can go, ‘oh it’s their fault, it’s what they did’, you know? It’s everybody else’s fault, oh this poor, poor baby. But actually there has to come a point where you take responsibility for your own actions.
00:08:51.19 Andy Coulson:
Well, we’ll get onto that because the absence of bitterness in everything that you write and say, Lemn, is remarkable and I want to ask about that. But when you look back at your story where do you put the first pin in the crisis map? One assumes it’s right at the beginning when your mother was forced to hand you over? Or for you is it when your foster parents, who you thought you would be with forever, you know, who were mum and dad, decided with, frankly, utter callousness, to hand you back after twelve years? Where’s does that pin go in your mind?
00:09:31.24 Lemn Sissay:
For me it is 1966, ’67, ’66 when I was born, ’67 when I was born, and it’s the relationship that my mother had with the social worker whose primary aim was to get me from her and to give me to foster, to adopting parents. He named me after himself. So that’s where I saw the original lie, kind of, and all of the dysfunction. The institutional dysfunction came from that lie and the separation of me from my birth mother. For no other reason other than the social worker thought that was the right thing to do, I don’t know why. I still don’t know why.
00:10:24.19 Lemn Sissay:
It’s all connected to Steve Coogan’s film, Philomena. It’s the mother and baby homes and they were a system of… Well this podcast’s called Crisis What Crisis? And women who were not with their husbands, who were pregnant, were seen as a crisis waiting to happen. And so to solve that crisis, take the child, get the child adopted, get the woman to sign the adoption papers at her most vulnerable, locked away from her own family…
00:11:07.20 Andy Coulson:
And your mum refused to sign those papers?
00:11:12.05 Lemn Sissay:
Yeah because she didn’t want me adopted, you know.
00:11:14.15 Andy Coulson:
Which when you think of the sort of circumstances in that moment, shows the incredible strength actually, doesn’t it?
00:11:22.00 Lemn Sissay:
It certainly does.
00:11:23.16 Andy Coulson:
I mean, how much pressure must she have been under to sign that, you know?
00:11:27.21 Lemn Sissay:
Absolutely and cajoling and there was a very sort of, very sneaky way of getting these women to sign the adoption papers. The social workers would sometimes say, ‘oh don’t worry you’ll see your child in later… in a few months’ knowing that the women would never see their children again. And a lot of Irish women went through this, Andy actually.
00:11:52.18 Andy Coulson:
When you read your memoir, Lemn, and I’ll urge anyone listening to do so, if they haven’t already, because it is utterly extraordinary and there is understandable anger but as I touched on a second ago, there’s a total absence of bitterness. How have you managed that? How do you avoid, we call it on this podcast, the bitterness bullet, but how have you avoided it?
00:12:20.02 Lemn Sissay:
That’s such a lovely phrase you know, the bitterness bullet. I mean, I’ve been angry Andy, you know, I’ve been angry. I don’t think anger’s something to be frightened of or something to deny, you know, the moment you find it. It’s not like I’ve tried to handle this well. I just realise that I can’t carry that anger because it just gets bigger and bigger, do you know what I mean? It’s like if you think that the anger is like the centrifugal force in you, it will just get bigger the more it generates itself. And ultimately in my case, I don’t say this for anybody else, but it consumes me. It’s the gift that doesn’t keep on giving, you know.
00:13:09.07 Andy Coulson:
And it’s the problem and it’s your past obviously, but it’s the problem continuing to have control over you and that, you’re losing when that’s happening, is that how you feel? There is such a difference between anger and bitterness though. There’s no bitterness, there is anger, but there’s no bitterness.
00:13:36.10 Lemn Sissay:
I think working through anger you get to lose bitterness. Because I don’t think anger’s like a country on its own that you should stay in. I think I worked through my anger, not over it, not under it, not denying it, do you know what I mean? I find angry people actually, well, I’ll talk for myself, but I denied that I could ever get through it when I was angry, that’s the situation, look at my past, look at this. There’s nothing that can do it, it’s immovable. And it’s just getting bigger, and bigger and bigger and bigger and every relationship, every friendship, I would have to, you know, at some point introduce this furnace, this all-consuming furnace, to my partner or to my friend. In fact it got to the point, really, where I’d be saying, ‘look you don’t really want to be with me, you don’t want to have a relationship with me because I’m going to have to introduce you to the furnace at some point and you’re just going to burn and so why don’t we not do this?’ Do you know what I mean, and that’s a very lonely state to be in.
00:14:49.07 Andy Coulson:
But that’s heart breaking Lemn, that the past is stopping you from being able to move forward in a relationship, as in the example that you give there. I mean, that’s heart breaking.
00:15:02.23 Lemn Sissay:
Well this all comes down to relationships at the end of the day, I believe, anyway. And yeah, all of these issues, all of these Crisis What Crisis? you know it all comes down to how do you treat your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your partner? How does it reflect in your intimate world?
00:15:31.23 Andy Coulson:
Because your crisis can never be isolated?
00:15:35.12 Lemn Sissay:
00:15:35.23 Andy Coulson:
Because it’s obviously going to impact on everyone around you. How have you then, because as you know, this podcast is all about trying to give those lessons to others in crisis, how have you resolved that then? Because there’s also a tremendous amount of forgiveness in your memoir. Not least the forgiveness you’ve shown your foster mum, Catherine Greenwood, and given the heartlessness of that decision, Lemn, given away from people who had stopped you going back to your birth mother, because she did reach out to the social services to try to get you back. You know, people who you called mum and dad for the first twelve years of your life and then you’re told, ‘off you go and don’t come back’ all because you’d, I don’t know, taken some biscuits and had a row with your foster brother over some cricket stumps. How were you able to get that forgiveness in your life, Lemn?
00:16:39.11 Lemn Sissay:
Well it’s a daily project. Some days I don’t feel as forgiving, if I’m really honest. But the question is how? I accepted that I deserved to be angry and well, the key answer to how, ultimately, is that I forgave my foster mum and my foster father and my brothers and sisters. And I forgave them fully because I realised that I thought that what had happened to me, I’d thought that, on some level, I thought that it was something about me. That what had happened to me, on some level, I thought ‘oh well this was bound to happen because I am not a good person, so I’ve attracted this thing’, you know, on some level I did think that. And by forgiving my foster parents was a way of saying, ‘Lemn, it wasn’t your fault’.
00:17:51.03 Lemn Sissay:
That capacity, I believe, is available to everybody and these are not physical things, you know, the ability to forgive, it’s all within my power to forgive. And I never thought it was, I didn’t feel like it was in my power to forgive. And therefore I thought of myself essentially as weak and as defined by the crisis that happened to me. And people would say, ‘oh no, you’re really strong, Lemn, you’re come through, you’re in the middle of this horrible stuff that’s happened to you’. And I think I was weak because I was defining myself by the crisis that had happened to me. And by forgiving I was saying this is not the definition of me. What happened to me is not the definition of me.
00:18:49.18 Andy Coulson:
Do you mind telling us about the conversation with your foster mum when you did forgive her?
00:18:55.04 Lemn Sissay:
The time I forgave my foster mother, I called her and she came to meet me and she brought my foster brother with her and I met her on Buckingham Palace Road.
00:19:18.14 Andy Coulson:
When was this, Lemn, how old were you?
00:19:20.17 Lemn Sissay:
Oh gosh, do you know, it’s actually in my blog, the year, so I think it was 2013, something like that. And because all my family are from the North but they live now, in the South, all my foster family. So I called my mum to meet her, which is unusual, my foster mum. And I met her at a cafe and my brother came and my brother’s told me that he couldn’t remember anything about me. And I forgave her. And I told her that I wanted to meet her to forgive her. And…
00:20:10.24 Andy Coulson:
How did she react?
00:20:15.15 Lemn Sissay:
There’s actually two meetings that happened and they’re both squashing themselves together, I need to present the story to you correctly. I met my mother at the South Bank Centre, where I was Artist in Residence, and took her for a meal, my foster mother and I said to her that I… No, she asked me for forgiveness at the first meeting. My foster mother asked me for forgiveness and I said to her ‘what for?’ And she said to me, ‘for listening to you’. That was the only narrative that she could hold on to. When I went into care, it’s in my book, when I went into care my foster family said that it was my choice to leave them as a twelve year old child. And so that…
00:21:22.00 Andy Coulson:
And in fact you’d been very clearly manipulated into that situation?
00:21:29.23 Lemn Sissay:
But that’s the story that they told their own family so that they could survive and live together. So my aunties and uncles, my brothers and my sisters. So my mother has had to believe that I chose to leave them at twelve. She’s had to believe that. And this was forty years later I was meeting her, forty-five years later. So by that time the story had solidified in the family, you see. And when she said that it made me really angry and I walked her back to the bus station at the bus stop outside the South Bank there on Belvedere Road and off she went into the distance. And I was lost, I actually did blog about it, I wrote the blog the day after and I just wept, I wept so heavily that day, on my own, in the South Bank Centre amongst all of that concrete by the Thames. You know, it’s funny isn’t it, how these stories come because I’m not saying ‘woe is me’, right now, okay Andy, I’m just saying this is what happened.
00:22:45.18 Andy Coulson:
That’s very, very clear.
00:22:47.17 Lemn Sissay:
You know, when crisis happens there is crying time.
00:22:52.09 Andy Coulson:
So having left the South Bank, Lemn, and it having had that effect on you were you then able to… because you had a second meeting with your mother? And at that meeting were you then able to get to the truth? Were you able to get her to see the truth of what happened?
00:23:11.19 Lemn Sissay:
Well, what I learned is that, in that first meeting, I was trying to get something from my forgiveness. I was trying… I wasn’t ready to forgive in that first meeting. I wanted them, I wanted them to own my story. I wanted something from them. The second meeting I went purely to forgive my foster mother and the whole family and I didn’t want anything from them. I didn’t want them to necessarily say sorry or I didn’t need them to explain what their role was in what they did to me etc. It was my job to forgive them.
00:24:01.09 Lemn Sissay:
So I went to that cafe and my foster mother brought her sisters and her sister brought her children and there was lots… I think of it as them protecting my foster mum at a vulnerable time in her life. And I didn’t like that. I came on my own, of course I did. That’s how the story rolls for me. I was on my own, that’s how it’s been. And I forgave her fully. And I could see my auntie’s irritation at me as if this is not how the story goes, as if she was saying, ‘no, no the story is that you left us, that we saved you’. It was like you know that’s not the story, I thought, but I can’t argue with you in my head or in my heart anymore so I’ve got to forgive you because I’ve got to release myself from the bondage of anger and hatred and bitterness and loss. And…
00:25:17.03 Andy Coulson:
Were you, did you show her…? I don’t think you had the papers obviously by that stage, presumably?
00:25:21.24 Lemn Sissay:
Oh no, no, no.
00:25:22.19 Andy Coulson:
Do you know if she ever read any of those papers? Because of course, the papers prove beyond doubt what happened. Documented.
00:25:36.04 Lemn Sissay:
So now we’re getting to why I wrote the book. I wrote the book because I wanted them to know, no this is what happened to me. Regardless of your narrative about why I was put into care, never mind that, this is what happened to me while I was in care, this is what they did. This is what a system did that was built to care but actually can’t, you know, and that’s another story actually altogether but I wanted them to know, I wanted them to know and so she got the book, she got the manuscript beforehand.
00:26:11.24 Andy Coulson:
And what reaction?
00:26:14.20 Lemn Sissay:
She made a couple of complaints that were to do with little facts.
00:26:22.15 Andy Coulson:
Right, she didn’t question the now central and accurate narrative?
00:26:28.24 Lemn Sissay:
No, no, not at all. And I feel okay with that. But I also feel, I feel a certain amount of just compassion for her and for the whole family. Because I’ve had to use the media to tell the story and to investigate it, okay. So all I wanted to do regarding media was say, have a look, go ahead, go as far and as deep as you can, you know. Question the veracity of the story, question me. You know what I mean? And because this is what happened and I’ve used my career as a writer, as a poet, in a way, I say career, that’s a bit of an oxymoron but it’s happened, it’s what happened to me, I’ve been a poet by profession all my adult life.
00:27:37.17 Lemn Sissay:
So when anybody went to my story I’d say, ‘okay now you want to go to my story, please take a look’, you know. And in many ways it’s been too fantastic for the various bits of media coverage that I’ve had over the years, to carry. But there has been key documentaries that have been made during my life which have just dug a little bit into the story. Why am I telling you this? Because that family’s not media trained. They’re not, this is not… do you know what I mean?
00:28:14.11 Andy Coulson:
Yeah. This is a different world.
00:28:16.11 Lemn Sissay:
Yeah, so I have been saying I need this narrative to be told to somebody, this is the only way I’ve been able to do it, it’s the only way I’ve been able to do it. And I wanted them, for years, to respond. I was like, ‘tell me I’m wrong’.
00:28:33.22 Andy Coulson:
00:28:34.18 Lemn Sissay:
‘Tell me I’m wrong for drawing this out. Tell me I’m wrong, let’s get this…’
00:28:40.00 Andy Coulson:
But they never have?
00:28:42.04 Lemn Sissay:
No, they never have. And that… you really understand me, don’t you, Andy? They just can’t have that dialogue. Whether it’s with an enquiry from the Guardian who are saying, ‘listen this guys’ talking about you, don’t you want to?’ Or whether it’s me sat across the cafe from my mum.
00:29:06.04 Andy Coulson:
But that is about their own guilt. I mean, I assume, you mentioned a moment ago, I’m really surprised to hear that your foster brother who was not that much younger than you, what sort of fourteen, fifteen months younger than you?
00:29:18.14 Lemn Sissay:
Yeah, that’s right, yeah.
00:29:19.19 Andy Coulson:
That he’s sort of aged ten when you were given back?
00:29:23.00 Lemn Sissay:
00:29:25.01 Andy Coulson:
Really? No memory of his life?
00:29:26.24 Lemn Sissay:
00:29:28.03 Andy Coulson:
Until the age of ten?
00:29:29.22 Lemn Sissay:
So, let’s just have a look at this. He has an argument with his older brother about the cricket stumps.
00:29:41.14 Andy Coulson:
Yeah, and not long after he never sees his brother again.
00:29:44.14 Lemn Sissay:
He never sees his brother again. How… and not only that but his parents are telling him, ‘oh Norman doesn’t want to be here, he doesn’t want to be with us.’ How traumatic is that?
00:29:59.02 Andy Coulson:
No, that is absolutely a truly traumatic event for a ten year old boy.
00:30:05.08 Lemn Sissay:
And it just.. He was like blonde, blue eyed, introvert; I was dark skinned, big smile, extrovert. You know and we just had that sibling love for each other which manifested itself in all those ways that we now know kids do, especially boys. And we were both fighting for the love of our mother, which is what boys do as well, you know. I mean, god, it’s all, I’m not religious but it’s almost like biblical. I believe in god but I’m not religious. It’s like the dark bad force and the light good force, you know. But there’s just, it’s just not true, we were just brothers you know. So I think he was traumatised, I think that’s why he could not remember. And he wanted to be honest with me, I think.
00:31:04.10 Andy Coulson:
00:31:05.02 Lemn Sissay:
He wanted to say, Lemn, I can’t. And I do remember realising that my foster parents would be wiping the memory of me.
00:31:14.02 Andy Coulson:
Yea, exactly because who knows what conversations took place, as you say, subsequent to that day when you left. And that would have had a deep effect on a ten year old boy. One of the most harrowing passages of your book, Lemn, comes when you are imprisoned, there isn’t another word, in a remand centre, Wood End in Manchester. You’re seventeen, you pretty quickly have a mental breakdown, you’re walking the streets barefoot. You’re very obviously unravelling and yet no one steps in, no one steps in at any point. Are you able to recall Lemn, what you were drawing on at that time to survive day to day?
00:31:56.22 Lemn Sissay:
Oh yes, I am, Andy because I remember being in Wood End, the centre, and I remember thinking to myself I’m right, I’m right. This makes sense, this makes sense. This is the institution saying ‘we’re going to get you and we’re going to get you’ and by the time they’d locked me away I was like, of course this makes sense.
00:32:30.01 Andy Coulson:
So it’s proof of the, it was proof of the paranoia, if you like.
00:32:34.15 Lemn Sissay:
That was one exactly… Exactly. Exactly.
00:32:39.13 Andy Coulson:
And you found, you found resilience in that then?
00:32:44.23 Lemn Sissay:
Oh my god, I was trying to say to people the system does not know what to do with me. It doesn’t know what to do with me because it, in some ways, it is to blame for the situation I was in. I did not know what it had done to get me Ito the situation that I was in but I knew that it did not know what to do with me. And it did not know what to do with its own actions and so I just locked me away. When in doubt prison. So it was, to me, when I went into Wood End assessment centre I was like, I get it folks, you really do not know what you are doing do you? And now you’re going to give me the punishment. There is no crime but you’re going to punish me because that’s what you do. You know…
00:33:37.18 Andy Coulson:
But at the same time Lemn, you’re unravelling, right? You are having a mental breakdown.
00:33:44.10 Lemn Sissay:
So in acknowledging that I am now in a Kafka-esque nightmare. I’m now locked away in an institution where you have to walk down the corridors in size order, where the staff watch you in the showers, where you’re never alone. Locked in your bedroom with your buzzer if you want to go to the toilet and a nightwatchman who comes to the bedrooms to take you out. You’re amongst people who’ve killed, who are on remand for all kinds of horrific stuff. And you’re a kid in care. And it’s horrific.
00:34:21.16 Lemn Sissay:
Now my depression started before I went into Wood End assessment centre. So they locked me away knowing that I had, I was suffering a mental breakdown. Which mean, yes, going barefoot and… But I’ve got to say that going barefoot was my rebellion against the system but it wasn’t hurting anybody. And nobody said that it was illegal. I mean, all I wanted was for them to tell me to put on shoes, to demand that I put on shoes. The staff in the children’s home didn’t, they didn’t. You know, jeez.
00:35:04.17 Lemn Sissay:
So yeah, so when I was locked away in Wood End I thought, I get it, I’ve got you all. I saw the staff in Wood End, I saw how they were not interested in any of the young people’s pasts. This was a correction place, this was the short, sharp shock, etc. etc. and I kind of don’t subscribe to that way of thinking or living. I don’t define people by whether they’re good or bad. It’s this binary thing that institutions love. Right, wrong, good, bad, no space for empathy, understanding…
00:35:48.08 Andy Coulson:
It was worse, it was much worse than that though at Wood End, wasn’t it? I mean, there were a lot of beatings, there was a lot of physical violence as well as the kind of mental?
00:35:57.08 Lemn Sissay:
There was a lot of physical violence at Wood End. I think I… God, we used to play murder ball which was this… you have a medicine ball and you have boys at one end of the sports hall and boys at the other end and you had to sort of, I don’t know, grab the ball or… and we used to play bulldog as well, British bull dog, I remember. And these were just ways of the staff getting the young people to fight and get out all of their teenage stuff. It was very… it was very sick. It was a sick place, it was ill, institutionally ill.
00:36:38.01 Andy Coulson:
Yeah, you went back to the Greenwood’s house on one occasion, I think, didn’t you? To demand to see photos of yourself as a child? Turned up at their door?
00:36:47.07 Lemn Sissay:
Yeah, when I was maybe fifteen. Because I realised that I didn’t have any… It’s funny isn’t it, as you’re going through your late teens, I realised I have no relativity. I’m losing relativity, I’m losing a sense of myself. I’m starting to become hidden in plain sight. I’ve got nobody whose known me for longer than a year because I’ve been in different children’s homes and I started to realise I’m going to be leaving care soon and I’ll have nobody and I’ll have nobody whose known me for longer than a year.
00:37:29.13 Lemn Sissay:
Because when I left the foster parents I was in different children’s homes and I started to realise, oh my gosh, everything’s about relativity. You, Andy, are the son of somebody, the brother of somebody or the sister of somebody or the only one or the… You have a line, you have, in your head you have a hologram of a photo album which attaches you to places, people and things. And I didn’t have that. I had no relativity, no family. And so I needed photographs. Everybody seemed to deny my existence. And I knew this at fifteen.
00:38:30.03 Andy Coulson:
And they let you in?
00:38:31.11 Lemn Sissay:
Yeah, they let me in, yeah. And I asked… That was the funny thing you see because they could never tell me really to go away even though actually they did a couple at times. Anyway yeah, they let me in and my foster mum got out the photo album and she shielded her arm so that I couldn’t see the photographs. And then went through the photo album and chose a couple of pictures and gave them to me. And I’ll never know why she wouldn’t let me see which photographs. But I do believe they tell a story.
00:39:13.19 Andy Coulson:
00:39:15.09 Lemn Sissay:
You see, I do believe that those photographs in those albums, of which there are many, tell a story of how I was placed in that family.
00:39:26.20 Andy Coulson:
Right, yeah. This is all happening at a very volatile time in this country. You know, you’ve suffered racism throughout your childhood, Lemn. But as a young black man trying to find your identity again without anyone with you, anyone behind you, demonstrates just astonishing resilience. You believe though, that resilience is in all of us, is that right?
00:39:53.17 Lemn Sissay:
I do yeah. I mean, the capacity to forgive, resilience, I think we have more resources in us that we realise, especially at times of crisis where you may feel low on resources. I think there’s another, there’s a trap door that you can go through and there are rooms full of possibilities. There’s one room of resilience, there’s another room of forgiveness. There’s one room where you can, well we’ll get to the three points later but there is a place where you feel like, if you feel like your drowning, there are various air pockets that you can sit in and find energy and sustenance, spiritual, personal, political, yeah.
00:40:56.16 Andy Coulson:
We often talk, on this podcast, about how good can come from crisis. Do you see you poetry as the positive product of yours? When you read the care papers it’s clear that there was a light shining in you, Lemn, from a very, very young age, talent and the need to express yourself. Have you wondered what would have happened to your poetic power, if I can put it that way, if a different door had opened for you? That you’d found your way back home.
00:41:27.12 Lemn Sissay:
Oh, oh well, I can’t, that’s a really good question, and maybe my imagination should allow me to answer it better, but I can’t envisage any other way of me being other than the way that I am. I can’t envisage any other way of it being, other than the way it is and the way it was. Do you know what I mean? So I was talking to somebody yesterday about this and like I knew that I was a poet from very early on. And it was very clear to me.
00:41:57.11 Lemn Sissay:
I was speaking to a teacher called Kate Planchey, a wonderful woman actually, and she was saying when she teaches there are certain children who have a propensity towards a particular art form. Could be dance, could be poetry, could be painting and she said they just shine. They’re no better than anybody else. They’re no better than any other child it’s just that with the particular area they’ve just locked in. They’re locked, loaded and ready to be fired. You know, ready to get on and do whatever it is that they were destined to do. And again that doesn’t make you better, it doesn’t make you more the chosen one, you know, it just means that, oh well, he’s going to be a poet.
00:42:44.02 Andy Coulson:
But because your poetry is such a part fundamental part of who you are, are you able to see it as the result of what happened to you or not?
00:42:59.03 Lemn Sissay:
Oh no, no well, that’s a good question. I don’t think so. I think I was a poet anyway and that I just I would have been writing about other stuff. I mean, I probably would have been a much better, well I know I would have been a much better writer because I wouldn’t have spent so much time doing this family stuff that I’ve done over the years. But no, I think I would be probably be writing for children or writing novels etc.
00:43:30.00 Andy Coulson:
Right, well plenty of time.
00:43:33.12 Lemn Sissay:
You know how it goes…
00:43:35.10 Andy Coulson:
As we touched on earlier, you spent thirty years fighting for access to your papers. You also, from the age of eighteen, spent many years tracing your birth mother, dad, brother, sisters, various other relatives. Your dad, who was a pilot and who sadly died in an air crash, obviously you didn’t meet. But your mum now lives and works for the UN in New York, I think.
00:44:00.01 Lemn Sissay:
00:44:00.12 Andy Coulson:
Your family on both sides, is made up of very successful, proud Ethiopians. And yet you still don’t see yourself as part of that or of any family.
00:44:11.14 Lemn Sissay:
Well, I met them at twenty, my mum at twenty-one. It took her eight, nine years to tell me who my father was. I met him, I didn’t meet him, I made a documentary about finding him when I was twenty-nine, called Internal Flight on the BBC, it’s online. And then I’ve met my final sisters and brothers on my, well on all sides, on my father’s side and my mother’s side, by the time I was thirty-two or thirty-four. So at thirty-four I’d found every family member.
00:44:54.10 Lemn Sissay:
Yeah, they’ve got their own crisis, their own stuff to work through. They’re a diaspora family, they had to flee Ethiopia and so they’re out in the world living their life with their losses and their stuff, family stuff. So I feel that I don’t know… I don’t know they… I can’t speak for them; I don’t know what their… I think I’ve been quite a bit of a shock to them, yeah. I think I’ve been quite a shock to them.
00:45:47.12 Andy Coulson:
But there must be pride as well, with your mum? She must be… she must have been proud to discover that this child that she gave up was so unbelievably resilient and so unbelievably talented? And that through the resilience the talent now shows itself very clearly, very publicly, very successfully. Have you had that conversation with her?
00:46:13.20 Lemn Sissay:
No, not really. Because she’s right at the heart of the story so I think it’s quite shocking for her to see herself. She’s a very private person. She actually is a very private person.
00:46:34.01 Andy Coulson:
I noticed in the documentary you made with Alan Yentob, which is a brilliant bit of telly, that she wasn’t interviewed.
00:46:41.06 Lemn Sissay:
Yeah, they asked her would she be interviewed and she was like, ‘no’. because she’s kind of I think she’s traumatised by it. And I think I am a memory of a very traumatic time in her life and she doesn’t want to reject me, ever, but it’s really difficult for her to embrace that time of trauma which I am a direct reminder of. I think my… I am possibly a reminder of quite a lot of trauma for my birth mother. She lost me and then she had to go back to Ethiopia. Her father was dying, he eventually did die, she married the Vice Minister to Finance under the Emperor Haile Selassie. She had three children within a very short time and by 1974 she had to flee the country and never returned.
00:47:41.05 Lemn Sissay:
So all families have their crises and their traumas and she was having hers and it just happened to be around the time that I was born. And then she lost me, couldn’t get me back, had to build a life with that trauma and I was the embodiment of it. So a lot of adopted and fostered people, when they find their birth parents, it’s not an easy relationship and it’s not an easy relationship with my mother. Although I spoke to her a couple of days ago and she’s always kind and nice. But sometimes it’s not fair for us children to drag our parents back into the memories that they’ve wanted to forget.
00:48:48.14 Andy Coulson:
I think that’s is a sentence in itself that brings to life your ability to avoid bitterness and embrace forgiveness, if you don’t mind me saying so.
00:49:03.11 Lemn Sissay:
00:49:05.16 Andy Coulson:
Let’s talk about the power of humour, Lemn, because you sprinkle it liberally in your book. On one occasion you’re being put through some kind of psych test, I think, in one of the care homes and asked what kind of tree you are your answer is a poet-tree. Brilliant.
00:49:21.21 Lemn Sissay:
Isn’t it great that we’re talking now and that’s what I wrote then? That you have the evidence, right?
00:49:27.18 Andy Coulson:
Exactly, exactly. You’re laughing at them, I love it. How important has humour been to you, Lemn? You often, when you’re talking about your story, you often give the audience permission to laugh at it. It’s an important thing for you, am I right?
00:49:43.12 Lemn Sissay:
Yeah, yeah. I was a funny kid. I’m a lot less funny now, unfortunately or fortunately. You know, being constantly funny is quite draining in an adult. So I had to lose that trait. But when I was a child it was like my primary purpose was to get people to smile and to laugh, really until I could laugh no more really. So I think that strain of me is still in there and I do love a laugh. I think if humour is part of your core personality then it’ll never leave you and it’s never left me.
00:50:36.17 Andy Coulson:
Is it a tool though, is it a tool in crisis?
00:50:41.24 Lemn Sissay:
Well, we have to watch out for… because it’s quite easy for humour to be a tool of denial in crisis and that is an issue, okay. But yeah, the ability to laugh and levity is really important in a crisis. It even makes me smile thinking about it, you know.
00:51:14.23 Andy Coulson:
Christmas is approaching fast, Lemn, you talk about how Christmas was always the worst day for you in care. It was the day of no escape, nowhere to go. Sometime ago you set up The Christmas Dinner Project which provides a fantastic Christmas Day for care leavers, young care leavers between eighteen and twenty-five. Tell me about it please, tell me why it’s such an important project for you.
00:51:44.03 Lemn Sissay:
Well Christmas was the worst day of the year for me, as was my birthday, because they were reminders of everything that I’d never had. And they were times when everybody went back to their own dysfunctional families and not having that made Christmas a time of isolation and depression really. And as I… what can I say about it? Right now, this minute, Andy, there are groups of men and women meeting around England, around the UK to put on a Christmas dinner for care leavers on Christmas Day.
00:52:35.10 Lemn Sissay:
It’s one of the best things about this is that it’s run by the community, there’s no empirical structure. Each Christmas dinner is autonomous and those groups will go out into their community, they will share the story of the care leaver on Christmas Day and various people within the community will give things for those young people to have on Christmas Day and that’s whether it’s food, Christmas presents, etc. Now, here’s the deal, everything has got to be top notch. The presents have got to be jaw dropping, the food has got to be the best food. What would normally happen is that we would get taxis to bring the young people to a venue. The venue’s got to be dressed like a winter wonderland. The chefs have got to be the best chefs. The food has got to be top notch. There’s no serving gruel out of bowls. There’s no waiting in a line so that you can get stuff from through a hatch. The venues have got to be dressed as Christmas venues. The presents have got to be one major present and then lots of other presents, alright?
00:53:47.06 Lemn Sissay:
There’s obviously public liability insurance. There’s referral forms for the young people. They have to have a referral form to be there, etc. etc. all of the checks and balances there. We don’t have to leave it to the social services, the community outside can do something for, the businessman, the business woman, the shop keeper. You know, I was just talking to somebody yesterday from Salford, who said, Lemn, my friend’s got lots of big, giant Toblerones that she wants to give as presents. Now, Toblerone is part of the Christmas package isn’t it? The chocolate. You know we got, in Hackney, here, we’ve got money being given, they’ve raised £10,000 to get small tablets for all the young people on Christmas Day. Tinie Tempah called up the other day and gave some money to the Hackney Christmas Dinners. It’s happening all over the country and most of the social services know about every Christmas Dinner because there’s members who are on the Christmas Dinner steering groups but it’s absolutely got nothing to do with the institution. It runs on its own.
00:55:01.19 Andy Coulson:
And you’re making it happen, despite Covid, this year?
00:55:04.21 Lemn Sissay:
There’s eighteen of them. There’s Jersey, Manchester, Leeds, every one of them has said, ‘we are going to do this’. Cambridge, Jersey, Oxford are not doing this year but they normally do a Christmas Dinner. Liverpool, Leeds, they’re all over the place. And it’s just groups of people meeting, ten to fifteen people meeting saying how can we make this happen? This year, it’s going to be deliveries going to people’s houses and delivering hampers for them.
00:55:40.12 Andy Coulson:
Lemn, congratulations on the project, I mean, it’s just wonderful. The care system in this country obviously is very different to the care system that you endured. There’s been a lot of change. What’s your view on how we handle children in care? And also, because this project of yours is obviously geared towards those young care leavers, what’s your view as to how, as a state, we now handle our children?
00:56:16.03 Lemn Sissay:
It’s… what I would like to change in my lifetime, probably, is the wider society’s view of what a child in care is. That’s what I want my task to be. So that people start to see a child in care as a solution waiting to happen rather than a problem. Because if you define a child as a problem that you need to solve, then everything that child does is in answer to a negative, okay. It’s in answer to a negative.
00:56:56.12 Lemn Sissay:
Whereas if you have children yourself you want them to aspire because you think that they can be brilliant. With a child in care it’s often, you want them not to be a problem. You want to solve the problem that they’re in. Whereas, actually, they may have arrived to you because of a problem but they are not a problem. I want them to have the aspirations that you would have for your own children, okay. You don’t know if your own child is going to be a rocket scientist but if your own child says they want to be a rocket scientist you say, right, you go for it.
00:57:38.11 Andy Coulson:
Give it a go, yeah.
00:57:39.15 Lemn Sissay:
Yeah! You know that action, that thought, that smile on your face and on mine, that’s it. That’s what a child in care needs. That exact moment that we’ve just identified then, that is what a child in care needs and it’s not what they have. Yeah, it’s a big one.
00:58:00.09 Andy Coulson:
When talking about crisis, some experts believe that peace comes from acceptance but also from drawing a line and moving on. you said you’d die if you didn’t live in the present. And yet your past is ever present because of the way that you’ve absorbed it into your work. I mean so much good has come from that Lemn, not least Christmas Dinners project that we’ve just discussed, but is it all in the right place now, for you?
00:58:29.17 Lemn Sissay:
That’s a really good question because when does the crisis become invisible? And for me, all of this forgiveness, the things that we’ve talked about, especially forgiveness, allows me to do positive work. And the Christmas Dinners is positive work. I am often hounded by people in the negative. There are people who… just writing yesterday there was somebody on Twitter who I knew forty years ago, whose just taking chunks out of me. I’m like, ‘what did we do man, we were both brought up in care and here’s you…’
00:59:12.20 Andy Coulson:
You responded to you, did you?
00:59:14.09 Lemn Sissay:
I did, I sent him a response because I was like, ‘look we were both in care’, you know. And he’s like, ‘yeah but you think you’re the care hero and I know people who think that you’re not’. And I’m like, he’s taking pieces out of me and I’m trying to dial it down. But I’m stopping today. But the reason I’m saying that is because forgiveness and actually, I’ve got to say a whole lot of therapy over a long time…
00:59:52.09 Andy Coulson:
Yes, you’re a great believer in therapy.
00:59:54.21 Lemn Sissay:
I really am, yeah, ask for help, man. Whether it’s therapy or whatever but… Because otherwise I’m this guy who’s taking piece out of me. And you know, I don’t want to be him.
01:00:10.21 Andy Coulson:
As you get to the next stage of your life, I guess what sits behind the question, I suppose, is does this story that’s been such a core part of your life and a core part of who you are as a poet and then as a writer, does that continue? Or not?
01:00:28.04 Lemn Sissay:
Yeah, okay, so I have to accept that what I thought was the side story is the story. You know, the side bar is the story and I have to now accept that that’s all out there. It’s funny but you’re asking this question and it’s very relevant to me actually at the moment. It is all out there, Google Lemn Sissay and you’ll see all the stuff and that’s all well and good. So I accept now that that’s my story. That it’s out there and it is just okay, so what’s next? What’s going to occur?
01:01:10.10 Lemn Sissay:
You know, I’ve got projects, like I’ve always had projects, little Radio Four series here, bit of television there. Judging the Booker Prize at the moment, that’s coming to a head. A couple of public art, poetry things happening. So I just… couple of children’s books, you know, things happening and I’ll continue with that. And it’s funny isn’t it, because the crisis also changes the landscape, it’s an earthquake, why would it ever be the same again, it won’t. And that’s okay, you know.
01:01:45.19 Andy Coulson:
Well, Lemn, all I can say is I’m very excited to see what comes next. Can we talk about your crisis cures? So these are three things that you sort of lean on in the tricky days. What would you start with?
01:02:04.00 Lemn Sissay:
Well, I’m going to start with music because music, it’s a very strange thing. It can kind of hook on to a time and a place and an emotion all at the same time. And so listening to music can really lift me, actually, emotionally out of crisis and into a smile or also into deep contemplation as well.
01:02:38.19 Andy Coulson:
Yeah, is there a particular… if I could only give you one, I know you did Desert Island Discs and there was some brilliant music on that, if I gave you the choice of one, I’m sure it’s impossible.
01:02:50.06 Lemn Sissay:
No, I’ll do the one that comes into my mind today, might be different tomorrow, but I, when I used to get very depressed in this story, in my adult life, I would drive out of Manchester, up to Hebden Bridge, up even further into the Yorkshire hillsides, valley sides to Heptonstall and there’s a particular bench that I would sit on. Park the car and watch the clouds and listen to Swan of Lake Tuonela by Sibelius. And it’s a classical music piece and I would look out of the clouds and the valley and see how small I was and how great nature is.
01:03:47.13 Andy Coulson:
Wonderful. Your second crisis cure.
01:03:51.13 Lemn Sissay:
There are all connected really because this is to go for a walk. To actually walk physically. I don’t do enough of it now. This is the problem, crises make us find good answers to living and then when we’ve not got a crisis we don’t use them, do you known what I mean? We should do this all the time. When I was a kid I used to go out for walks. When I was in the children’s homes I used to walk out from the children’s homes into green. I think that’s important for me, I was brought up in the countryside and I forget how much that’s a part of me and how soothing it can be.
01:04:36.15 Lemn Sissay:
And the reason walking is great is because everything changes, nothing’s the same. Trees change from minute to minute. Water never stays the same in a stream, it’s gone, it’s gone on its journey towards the sea or a lake or a river. So there’s always new things to experience when you’re walking and I think that’s really important because when you’re in a crisis it feels like everything’s stuck. Do you know what I mean, it’s like, how can I get out of here…?
01:05:10.13 Andy Coulson:
When you’re in London, where do you walk?
01:05:12.24 Lemn Sissay:
Well yeah, good question. I walk on the marshes. I live in East London. So I go to the marshes which are three hundred yards from where I live, maybe a bit more, five hundred.
01:05:29.02 Andy Coulson:
Your third crisis cure please.
01:05:31.12 Lemn Sissay:
Third crisis cure is meditation. Again, all of these are things that we should use on our everyday lives. But meditation is really important to me. Some people will pray, some people will have a god that they pray to, doesn’t matter. But I think mediation is really important and again it’s something that I should do every day but I don’t.
01:06:05.20 Andy Coulson:
Do you use an app?
01:06:08.06 Lemn Sissay:
Yeah, I do actually, yeah, yeah.
01:06:11.03 Andy Coulson:
Headspace or something similar?
01:06:12.19 Lemn Sissay:
Calm, yeah, yeah, that’s it, yeah. Oh there’s something else I wanted to tell you. This is just for me, okay, so I don’t want to jinx anybody. I stopped drinking alcohol. I haven’t talked about this.
01:06:28.22 Andy Coulson:
How long ago was that?
01:06:30.21 Lemn Sissay:
Well, I can tell you exactly, it’s eight years ago, in fact it’s longer than eight years ago.
01:06:36.11 Andy Coulson:
And you were a big drinker?
01:06:39.13 Lemn Sissay:
I was a secret drinker I think, a big secret drinker.
01:06:43.15 Andy Coulson:
01:06:44.03 Lemn Sissay:
And I think, I actually did get help for it, which was the best help that I could get. And I want to say this to somebody, if there’s somebody out there, one person who is thinking I’m in a crisis and drink is supposed to be helping me and I feel like it’s not, it’s depressing me, you know. There is help that you can get to stop drinking just for while you’re in the crisis, you know. Or there’s help you can get so that you drink less, so that you can get control over it, that’s all it is. And actually helping you get control over that will actually help you in the long run, actually funnily enough. I’m not telling anybody not to drink, actually, because most people can have a drink here and there, and that’s fine.
01:07:39.17 Andy Coulson:
But you’ve decided to stop altogether?
01:07:41.24 Lemn Sissay:
It was important that I did stop altogether. In other words what a crisis can do, it can give you things that you falsely depend on and that could be anything. It could be sex, it could be drinking, it could be drugs, you know, it could be any of those things. And I don’t want to tell people ‘oh you shouldn’t do any of those things’, I just mean…
01:08:11.05 Andy Coulson:
Get control over it.
01:08:12.04 Lemn Sissay:
Yeah, and allow yourself to talk to somebody about it as well, to get control of it. And it’ll help you.
01:08:18.01 Andy Coulson:
Yeah. Well I think we’re going to give you four cures then, Lemn, on that basis. And we’ll make getting control of that as the fourth. Lemn, thanks so much for talking to us today, it’s been a brilliant conversation, really appreciate it, just thanks for being so completely open and honest and giving us such a valuable kind of insight into how you’ve approached your crisis and how others, I think, will listen to this and take lessons from it. Really appreciate it, thank you.
01:08:49.11 Lemn Sissay:
Thanks Andy, and this is a great podcast. I mean, not me, but it’s just a great idea for a podcast, so it’s great thanks.
01:08:57.00 Andy Coulson:
Well, wonderful, I appreciate it. Thanks for listening to Crisis What Crisis? Do feel free to send us your feedback. You’ll find our contact details and our show notes giving you the key insights from our guests at crisiswhatcrisis.com. There are more useful conversations on the way so please do subscribe and if you like what you hear give us a rating a review, it really helps. Thanks again.
01:09:21.10 End of transcription