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  1. Born in 1950 and brought up in the then ungentrified Notting Hill area of west London, so ungentrified that the area was a huge slum, you just wonder as you read how a boy not only suffering this disadvantage (as many did in those times) but also terrible family circumstances, eventually served as Home Secretary 2009-2010. In theory he started off with both parents but his father was hardly around, and then left for good, leaving his mother to try and make ends meet by charring and taking on other low-paid jobs while suffering from heart trouble. When he was 14 Alan's mother died. There was just him and his older sister to fend for themselves. He is generous in his praise for sister Linda who determinedly kept the ship afloat somehow or other. He certainly doesn't write this as a sob story. From boyhood he enjoyed reading (his mother had signed him up for their local library), going to see QPR play at Loftus Road, and spending the 60's with pals immersed in the London pop scene. But until he earned some money he recounts being always hungry. The free school meals he had were a literal lifeline. The book ends with his marriage at the age of 18. Recommended.
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