• Ben Westwood

My life in photos - Part 1

Updated: 5 days ago

#CannockChase #NortonCanes #Rugeley #Cannock #Hednesford #Staffordshire #music #busking #guitar #singing #poetry #childrenshomes #fostering #socialservices #london #buskers

This moon-faced little chunk of a kid here was born in 1985.

I'm from the Cannock Chase area and first lived in a large village called Norton Canes in Staffordshire.

My first word was apparently 'Mulk'. Apparently I nearly ran out in front of a lorry as toddler and had a lucky escape when his dad's mate jumped out in front of me. One of my first memories was of being upside down in a Ford Capri.

Of course it was always going to be destined to be a bit of a bumpy ride.

As you might be able to tell in this next photo, I was what people called a Ribena baby. Back in the 80's there was a whole generation of us kids whose teeth were rotting from the sugary drinks being drank through teets or kids cups or something or other. Mine did fortunately grow back when I was around nine years old but here's a photo from not too long beforehand.

I was living in Rugeley, Staffordshire by that time.

Much of what happened between then and this photo can be read in my book 'Poems From a Runaway'.

"All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth"

For those that have read Poems From a Runaway, I then went on to go into the care system living with foster parents and in children's homes after I started running away from home, wandering off miles away to other towns from the age of around nine or ten years old. I'd be walking around and sleeping rough in towns such as Lichfield, Stafford, Cannock, Tamworth etc.

Here's a short poem I wrote when living in a children's home in Cannock, Staffordshire after being encouraged to enter a competition from the 'Who Cares' magazine, now known as 'Become' charity which still sends out it's magazines to children in care via social workers, foster parents and children's homes.

Surprisingly to me, I won the under 12's category and took a trip down to London to have dinner with the team of the magazine as well as the over 13's winner as well as the foster parent's I was currently living with.

You won't find many more photo's of me as a teenager. It's likely the police have more than anyone else unfortunately due to my lists of criminal damages etc from my mistakes and frustations living in children's homes. Anyhow that's all in the past now.

As you might already know, playing guitar and busking has always been a big part of my life since being a teenager. As mentioned in Poems From a Runaway, I busked for the first time ever as a teenage runaway sleeping on the streets of London. You can find a poem/story about this in the book called 'The Guitar'.

Here's a couple of pics of when I was on my way to go busking, but ended up passing through an anti- George Bush demonstration in Parliament Square, Westminster.

It was all kicking off with the crowd and the riot police, so I decided to sing a song over at the quiet side of the demonstration and before I knew it everything had calmed down and everyone was standing behind me cheering me on. A memory I'll always treasure that and I met some great people because of it.

Here's some more photo's from my busking days in my early twenties.

Porthcawl, South Wales 2008.

They really did treat me nice.

Circle Line, The London Underground 2008 approx

I live and breathe music. It is such a huge part of my life.

Dunno what I'd do without it.

London Eye. Southbank, London. Summer 2008.

It's nice when you meet some cool tourists and they invite you for a drink in the park with them. This lady here was from the USA.

Basingstoke 2008.

I was just passing through. Nice day there moving about.

The below photo is from when I went busking at Vauxhall station, London.

Vauxhall station is a place I know for several reasons. Firstly I used to go there to pick up my magazines at thirteen years old when I blagged a Big Issue badge and used to sell it when being a runaway teenager living on the streets of London - and secondly because when I was sixteen I used to live in a Centrepoint hostel just right around the corner from there.

It was during that that I started to take busking very seriously, and even from those days I refused to sit on the floor and promised to myself to put my all into a performance. Perhaps I was trying to distance myself from my past of being a child/teenage beggar.

This photo is from when I returned back there as an adult to sing in the subway in my early 20's and jammed with a Brazilian guy I met when busking there once called Vitor.

You can find some more of my music at the bottom of my shop page.

Click here for part 2

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