I was born and brought up in an atmosphere of respectable poverty - the son of a blind Unitarian minister who wrote and read his sermons in braille. The liberal religious influence has stayed with me throughout my professional and academic career, and underpins my hostility towards any tendency in social work towards intolerance and dogma - a philosophical approach that I spelt out in 'The Essential Social Worker'.
I graduated in Social Science at Liverpool University: those three years had an almost magical impact on me. I had struggled at school, and to discover that there were academic subjects that truly excited me - cultural anthropology, sociology, social psychology - was a revelation. From the day I arrived in the Abercrombie Square department to the present time, my inner self has revelled in the continuing application of social science theory and knowledge to the world about me. It is still what I do every day in my writing and editing.
When I read contemporary advice about the importance of having a carefully planned career plan, I smile to myself and remember how, on graduation, I went down to London and drifted into LSE for coffee where I saw a scruffy type-written notice inviting people to apply for temporary work as an unqualified probation officer. I'd never planned to go down that route, but I loved the work and eventually moved to the Home Office, where I was able to spend seven years doing social psychology research into probation practice.
For 31 years I was a social work academic in Manchester and Norwich. I retired in 2002, and I love being old.
I had radical surgery for cancer in 2009, I dedicated 'Social Work with Adults' to the surgeon "without whose skill and tenaciousness the book would not have been conceived, let alone taken to completion".
I'm glad to be alive.