Review: Forgotten by Les Cummings

posted in: Book Reviews | 30

Forgotten gives an account of the complete life story of Les Cummings, who had to come back to the UK from his adopted home of California to make a legal challenge to his town council for his abusive treatment when growing up in council followed by foster care.

This book is powerful, well written and I was able to read through it easily in chunks without it being a novel-style page-turner. The author is honest about the times that he wasn’t the perfect person as a result of his upbringing, either when fighting and rowing with siblings or resorting to petty crime.

Since starvation also came into play as well as other forms of abuse, this memoir also brings to mind the story of Unloved by Peter Roche, where food was withheld deliberately and almost made into another drug which drove people to theft. It comes across that Cummings’ legal fight gave him some catharsis. I say that but it’s an assumption, since there is no description of the therapy undertaken by the author overseas, just that he had some. So that’s one minus point for survivors, despite the author’s description of his more direct methods of redressing the balance in his younger days and you’ll have to make up your own mind about the moral boundaries.

Even without any reference to therapeutic action taken by the author you can check the website for more information about the case, featuring scanned copies of some of the social work records at the following location:

http://thechildrenscottagehomesjusticeproject.web.officelive.com/ham.aspx

30 Responses

  1. Les Cummings

    Thank you for the fair review which demonstrates an excellent understanding of my book. I did not ever take any professional help for my psychological problems as I felt unable to talk them through with anyone. It’s very difficult for many to comprehend the reasoning behind this and even more difficult to explain. (Until the last two years, even my daughter and her mother had no idea of the full details of my exposure to the serious abuse.)

    It’s enough to say, I still suffer from the disabilitating effects from the abuse and I’m afraid this situation will take me to my grave.

    Victims not only hide the truth from themselves, they also hide it from the world. Almost as though denying it happened. It takes many decades to face the realities of the ramifications of abuse. Only in recent years can I understand my life and the actions and motives behind some of the bad deeds I was involved in over the years. There is shame in these last words because I was not a good person, throughout most of my life.

    But the biggest mystery of all is always going to be…who am I now? And who would I have been if I had a normal upbringing?

    Finally what this book does not tell is the long two year hard battle I had to fight with Portsmouth City Council to gain my day-of-justice and the dishonourable reasoning behind their settlement.

    This fight will hopefully be covered by the next media method, which is being negotiated by my agent at the moment.

    Regards

    Les Cummings.

    • John Dalton

      Hi Les, Thank you for publicising the plight of the children that were in Cosham Cottage Homes. I and my brother and 3 sisters were all there in the early 1950s an experience that I never want to go through again I was about 8 years old at the time,memories still flood back when related subjects are brought back. I can remember when we were first delivered to that place by a social worker called Mr Maynard We were literally covered in DDT powder,My brother and 2 of my sisters are convinced that this is the reason for the uncontrollable shaking that they now experience.I also remember that we were all kept apart which resulted in us not seeing each other for 50 odd years,also the beatings with belt and slippers delivered by Mr and Mrs Khan,The sexual interference by a lady helper who I think was called Beatty,lack of food,being made to cut the grass with a pair of scissors etc. Once we were fostered out which incidentally was just as bad an experience 3 times fostered out and 3 times returned.The only 2 good things that I can think of were when we were given Summer clothes i,e sandels,sloppy joe T shirts,shorts and a snake belt and having to walk to the church at Waterlooville on a Sunday.Our Surname when we were there was Glew and our first names were myself John,Brother Ronald and Sisters Rosemary,Gillian and Carole if you have any recollections of any of us please let me know.

    • Eileen Fell

      Hello Les, i would like to find out if you knew my friend.
      My gran brought him up when he ran away from home at the age of about fourteen
      I can’t find any e mail address for you and hope you will contact me

  2. Natalie

    i have read your book…..and it saddened me. ive read about 7 books like yours and it disgraces me that there are people out there who would treat little children with such cruelty. When i read your story i just wish i could have been there for you.

  3. Natalie

    Manypeople that has suffered abuse when they were younger will be able to find the strength and courage to stand up and speak about their torment.

  4. amy

    i have read this book just finished it.. this book really upset me, i dont know how anybody could treat a child with this cruelty and neclect…my heart goes out to of those victims..angd les cummings you are so brave!

  5. Julie

    I have just finished reading this book….it brought me to tears. How can people be so cruel and evil, children need love and happiness. Les I think you are incredibly brave.

  6. Myriam Brown

    I read books like Forgotten to help me through the pain and suffering as many children have….I’m 15 years old and I have been a victim as well. Yes, I am in foster care!!! I haven’t been able to come out and tell “my story” as i have been through a lot over these years and yes I have also told people around me what has happened when I was 4 yrs old but the police didn’t believe me… I have also told them about other cases as well but like Les no one believes me apart from my sister who also has been through the same shit, we were separated when we were put into foster care and still are today. My sister and I can no longer cope with our lives… I’m now in a good foster home and is being supported with my emotions but still can not cope with the past as it appears at random times like Leslie Cummings (Not quite random though)!!! i hope one day i can be able to leave at rest and keep moving on…Thank you
    Mym 🙂

  7. Finn Niven

    I have just finished reading the book. I to haved suffered from the hands of men. I believe to become an adult you have to survive childhood from the 70 back there were more children abused than not. I really believe that the children of today dont know how lucky they are. My two beautiful girls go to a nice warm clean bed every night safe and never hungry. They dont know any different they are loved and safe. I hug them a million times a day and tell them how much I love them. Yesterday I was reading the FORGOTTEN and driving from a huge day of buying them new clothes I turned to my three year old and said how would it feel if i never ever hugged you or i didnt love you and her face went down she said i would be so sad and cry. It doesnt matter how bad your being abused by the hands of the one you love you always turn back to that person after he has hurt you and ask for a cuddle because you need to feel real love. Alot of children dont know any different. My girls are very lucky and dont know how good they have it. The worst they have had is a smack on the bum and even that its only a tap just to let them know. Even then its something that happens seldom. Our home is always the sound of girls running around laughing I wouldnt have it any other way. Thank you Les for the book your an insperation. A child who suffered and came out a man to fight back and with words not with hands. You should be very proud of your self. Thanks for the inspiring book. Finn

  8. Freddy

    What an incredibly brave man Les Cummings is to bare his soul to the world so that other victims can take courage for themselves. I read the book, my wife and her sister also read it and we all admitted it made us cry buckets. These monsters that are given innocent babies and torture them should be hung.

    And as for the council in Portsmouth who are all cowards and deserve no credit for the achievements Les has obtained in his life. I truly like the way Les hasn’t painted himself as some kind of moral messiah. He is open about his failings, although they are to be understood. It is a wonder he wasn’t some kind of mass murderer or something with his experiences and who could really blame him if he was.

    To survive his childhood Les is one hell of a man and my family and I wish him well.

  9. jodi jacobs

    I have just finished reading your book, What an amazing man you are. I feel truely discusted by what I have read and How can adults treat children in such a dispicable manor. It is outrageous. You really are a remarkable man to stand tall and share your horrendous life as a child with us. Please take care of yourself and your family

  10. Joanne Warby

    I have read your book ‘Forgotten’. As you may read on my website if you look it up http://www.joannewarbymarkingtime.com that I am a survivor of child abuse. This is not why I was moved to tears reading your book. My mother was raised in a childrens home ‘Cecila Whatman Salvation Army Home in NZ after her mother died when she was 11 and her father was an unfit father. He had abused her before she left home and my mother was labelled troublesome. She told of her terrible abuse whilst in the home. Children were basically sent out as child slaves to various homes in the Wairarapa area. But this to my mother was an escape as she was sexually abuse as well as mentally and physically abused during her time in the home. My mother tells of being made to get into a freezing cold bath after she was caught cuddling her younger brother when she had heard him crying in another section of the home one evening. I am a survivor of her abuse too because not once in my 30 years (my mother died aged 56) did my mother ever cuddle or put her arms around us. She was taught at an early age it was wrong to do this and we, her children, paid the price. Mum als told of being beaten and made to get down on her hands and knees and scrub the floors. I am pleased to say fellow victims of the Whatman Home have risen up and told of their abuse and are seeking retribution. I say it takes courage and an iron will of determination to take on the ‘system’ – May you all win. It takes the same courage to lead a happy normal life after you have been abused. Some succeed and some get lost in life as my younger sister did. She has had to undergo electric shock treatment (yes it still happens in todays world) to try and put her past behind her. Her permanent scars will never heal. Mine have found a comfortable place. Your book tells of your remarkable survival and has made me appreicate my mother’s tormented soul and love her even more because of it. Thank you Leslie Cummings for sharing your life’s story.

  11. kelly toonen

    would just like to say i have read les cummings book and couldn’t put it down this so terrible what happened to you an i am very saddened that you had to go through all this through your childhood,i am so glad that you stood up for justice an faught for your fellow friends who went through this and for your siblings its just amazing,and to have such a happy ending that your sister was able to find her son and grandchildren that is a speciel thing to happen out of this,its so sad why did this happen to poor innocent children,children aren’t asked to be born they arnet asked to be abused sexually and mentally ,physically.they are put here to love an adore,to protect.good on you les for standing up for what you believed.

  12. Jeannie Erickson

    Just to say that I read your book and want to say that you are amazing. Where did you get all that determination and grit after all you have endured. I think I know because I too have suffered similar circumstances to you and have come out a very strong person prepared to fight for justice. In your book you say that you have a website with information regarding getting access to public records records information. I cannot find you website – have you closed it? If so would you please send me the information on how go about getting the above information. My siblings and I were in Ely Homes, Cardiff around1950 and I cannot find any information regarding those homes.

    Many thanks
    Jeannie

  13. Frank Chuter

    I spent my childhood in care 1959-1969 coming out in the big wide world at fifteen. People often said to me how come no one ever spoke out. The truth is so complicated even now I am not sure. Only as an adult and a father have I come to question some of the motives and mindsets of the staff and some of the bizarre punishments metered out.
    When I speak of it now to people I smile and say how fortunate I was not being bought up by my parents, who could not cope.
    The reality of it was I was made to feel I was constantly naughty and was always under the threat of Borstal . I did not know what that was but if it was worse than where I was I did not want to be sent there.
    It has taken me YEARS to find peace inside and hold my head up confidently .
    Should any one wish to contact me I am easy to find . Just google me.

  14. Joanne Warby

    To those who wonder why they (Les, my mother, myself and thousands like us) never spoke out & to those who ask “why did you never speak out” I would simply say – When you have been through what can only be described as torture of the mind & soul by those you trust and by those trusted to care for you it is very hard, if ever possible, to find the kind of deep trust in another human being to the extent and courage it takes to ‘speak out’. The only trust you have is in yourself and even that you begin to doubt. It takes many years for someone special to come along (if you are lucky enough) and for you to feel safe, even unconciously, to open up your emotions. If the people around the children took the time to notice – all the signs would be there – that they need help. My mother knew of my abuse through my younger sister speaking out, though I had never found the courage to talk to mum, but on her death bed my mother said “Take care of Lois – Joanne knows what I mean” – like most abused people in the world I wanted to scream “What about me – who’s taking care of me” – the answer was and always is – me. There was no one else. With the ‘system’ as it is – broken and in need of repair, with people like my mum fighting their own demons & unable to talk to her own child – I would ask those who ask why we did not speak out – “who is/was going to listen?”. From comments left here – the answer to that is only those who know and understand how it feels. Even when we do speak out we are generally left to feel that the ‘system’ or the ‘family of non believers’ has been given a chance to abuse us yet again. What Les has said and done is wonderful – he is telling the world he will NOT be ignored – that he will NOT be FORGOTTEN again.

  15. catherine

    I finished Forgotten’ about 15 minuets ago, after starting it only this afternoon, I could’nt put it down. A harrowing account of child abuse in the 1950’s that unfortunalty is all to similar to child abuse in modern days. To stand up in this way to get justice for those who have suffered is not only brave but amazing, especially after such traumatic experiences. I felt real emotion when Mr Baker got a good hiding, I felt smug and proud. ( Though i would have happily read through an account of the other Bakers, Botts, Uncle Peter, Mr. M’s and other evil abusers getting as good as they gave!!- Lets just hope they do not rest in peace.) Though it has taken years, it is pleasing to see that after being let down by virtually everyone, be it a mother, police officer or foster parents, Justice has been found for those who for so many years were ignored.
    WELL DONE!! to Les and his siblings and to all who suffered at the homes. and to all those who suffer today and who will suffer tomorow.

  16. james w baldwin

    As yet – I have not had the ‘bottle’ to read Les’s Book but have owned it for a while.
    I was in the home with him and have NEVER discussed the place or the events that took place in there with anyone but DO have memories which I will take with me to wherever.
    Have only just come across some of the publicity surrounding The Children’s Cottage Homes in Cosham, Portsmouth. The place needed to be ‘nuked’.
    Feel forced to start picking at the scabs of a lost childhood. Why?
    But just whom does one talk to?

  17. nikki baldwin

    How sad it was to read your book les………… once i read the first page i was unable to put it down till i read the last page, as u may have read by alot of people they have been through similar circumstances as your self! i am also one of them. My abuser still lives n walks the streets today, he is my dad! i was abused at the tiny age of 6, also before then again at 3 by who i dont know! as i cant remember very much but i do know that it happened! my dad started wen i was 6 n didnt stop till i was in my teens, my mother knew nothing n she abused me in her own way mentally n verbally, i had nowhere to run to untill i was 15 n couldnt take anymore! luckily my parents did split wen i was 7 but being such a young tot, i had to go visit him with my brothers who also knew nothing, nobody knew nothing till i was nearly 30! i carried this burden on my shoulders for many years! i was to ashamed n frightened to tell anyone as i felt for it to happen twice by 2 different people that it must of been somhow my fault! im nearly 40 n i havent been to see anyone at all (councillor, police e.g) my family do know n found it very hard to deal with! at first they didnt believe me! then wen they asked IT (i call it an it as i dont believe it deserves to be recognised as a human being!) it actually admitted to wot he did! but to this day for my own family to have doubted me was the reason why i never said in the first place! i dont blame them for finding it hard to deal with as im sure any family would have beed devastated that such a creature would be involved in there family! especially coming from such a large family like yourself i have 4 brothers n 2 sisters but i was the chosen one!
    But to this day i remain strong n give my children the best lives they could possibly have n that was my goal to make them happy with great memories so they can tell there children of there childhood n give them a good up bringing, i too will take this to my grave! as everyday whether its a few seconds or minutes i remember things! n then find away of distracting myself! sometimes these things can make me feel worse n it takes a while for me to be NORMAL again!!! but i manage it in the end, my husband i have been with since i was 16, he struggled with it n still now cant bare to think of it or talk to me about it! thats his way of dealing with it suppose! i never trust men! as much as i love my husband and know hes a good man! i still find it hard to trust! i dont let it stop us from having a good life n giving our children a good life! if i did then IT would have won! but i have WON! the reason being he is old n lonely n thinks the devil is coming to get him! wot he seems to forget that he in my eyes is the devil! i never lived in a home that i was beaten uncontrolably like yourself! which my heart aches for you! i lived in my home with mother as the tormentor n IT as my abuser! i never had a safe haven! only my friends house a hundred yards away from mine! her house was my solitary confinement of happiness and normallity! well that is wot i fault!!! untill i was told that my friends sisters n brother was raped by there big brother aswell! n also my next door neighbour that come out a few years ago that my friend janet was being raped by her dad aswell! she suffered with epilepsy! so that was 3 abusers in my street alone! n my street wasnt at all along street! my next door neighbour did report it to the police about 5 years ago and he was taken to court n was set free as they didnt believe her! this is exactly wot i am frightened of! how can this world come to this!!! how can these things be allowed to walk the streets n offend again!

    I live my life n to a point i enjoy it! when the nightmares come i hope the next time i shut my eyes i can only dream of happy things! this happens often but i tell noone! your actually the only person i have told this too! im sure my husband knows but says nothing as i dont hink he knows how to deal with such a situation, he came from a good family n im glad! he has helped me to raise our children in a good way! and im sorry for the loss of your son that i cant even begin to imagine! losing child is my worse nightmare and beats my childhood nightmares! im sorry for your loss your hurt and your story of abuse! and yours was worse than mine, and when people say there is someone out therre worse than you, i hate it, i wouldnt want anyone to ever go through what i went through or even close! but the fact is there are millions of US and its a crying shame! if there is a god! n there is a heaven n there is a worse HELL than what we have lived in then lets hope god turns them away form heavens gates and sends them to hell to live with all the other evil DEVILS that they are!

    I hope in time you find utopia n the nightmares will never haunt you again, i think my utopia is having my four most wonderful children whom i love with every breath that i breathe and i love them with all my heart n soul n i will protect them and love them and care for them as best as i could possibly can, they are my world and my life.

    Take care xxxx

  18. christine

    Les, I have just finished your book, I have read many books like yours and can only say how I wished I could have been there for you, I first started to read books like yours when I discovered Torey Haden, She has written many books. Yes I cried many times whilst reading your book but I think what got to me the most was your fight and the results you acheived , The reunion, and mostly your sister Janet finding her son.I hope you are at peace now . God bless. xx

  19. Linda

    I just finished reading this book. What angers me most is that people can have children and then abuse them or abandon them to abusers. How they can live with themselves is beyond my comprehension. The fact that Les`s parents continued to produce children at the rate of one a year is completely irresponsible. In my view, if you can`t provide the necessities of life as well as a loving and nurturing home, then you should know enough to take the precautions to prevent a pregnancy. These people are completely selfish and the lowest form of humanity. In the event of an unwanted pregnancy, the kindest thing you can do is to abort the child or give it up for adoption at birth. The problem with adoption being, of course, that you can`t guarantee that the adoptive family will be a good one.

    Also, I fail to understand how a helpless, vulnerable child can be placed in the hands of such heartless monsters and the system turns a blind eye to all the abuse. As taxpayers footing the cost, we should hold those responsible for such deplorable lack of care accountable! These public agencies need to be inspected and accountable to outside forces in order to make sure that these children get the kind of care they rightfully deserve.

  20. Sarah

    I was married to a man who abused our foster child and he was eventally lock up 4 it. I did cry reading your book Les cause I feel guitly bout what he done to our foster child cos i should have known and seen it before. i also think portsmouth council is harbouring its own sins if they dont reconise what they a responsible for. espiacilly didnt like Vernon Jackson and i have done research online bout him. he comes with a bit of a nasty person who has no care for the abused. he seams a right horrible person without a heart. Good luck Les I have now found God and i will pray for you and that Jesus keeps you safe. xxxx

  21. Sam Cody

    What a fantastic read and what a brave man Les is too tell his story. I admit, I cried buckets reading this book and I think it’s the best book of its kind. Must be difficult for Les to relive the horrid memories. Most of all Les has done this to show others they can get justice for what was done to them as kids. I hope all peados read this book and beware cos you could be arrested anytime. My kids are safe and I was not abused but I do watch my kids on the computer cos these evil bastards are everywhere. Good luck Les your family should be very proud of you. In spite of all the obstacles Les you have managed to find some happiness in your life. You are truly a survivor…

  22. Jimmy & Suzanna

    I rekon this book should be made as a film because its a bloody brill read. I can immagine those who could play the parts. Of course they would have to be very ugly to fit the characters. Why on earth no one did anything the misses and I can’t immagine. We’re in our 30s so times must have been different then. My misses started reading it at about 11 one night and could not put it down, she cried all night. It upset her so much she didn’t even go to bed that night. I get the impression that Les is not the sort you want to get on the wrong side of, I certainly wouldn’t want to. What passion he has and to basically BEAT the local council Portsmouth (never could stand Pompey) he could have achieved much more in life it only he wasn’t abused in such a terrible way. We wish you the best Les and hope you have at last found peace. Bloody hell mate you deserve it.

  23. billymason418@yahoo.co.uk

    My god what a bloody horrible book to read it gave us nightmares. me an the misses. she was abused an maid me read it cos shes wants me to understand why she gets into her ugly moods that lasts for days. jusus cant believe les went though all that stuff but aint a right head case. god bless les u are bloody brave an better by hundreds no thousands than them what done them things to u. u shoud be proud for what you acheved.

  24. Maddy

    It dont stop does it jimmy saville and lots more out there. i reed les book and it took me back when i was in the cottage homes. i remember mr bott horrible litle fat man. he hit me an i had a brouse showed it to teacher but she laughted about it. what they dont no is itdont ever go away. im 56 now and it still gives me pain and nitemares. god bless you les for telling
    about what hapened to us in that fuckin hell hole. i cudle my kids all the time an would stab anyone who trys ti nonce on them.

  25. Simulia

    Crazy terrible book and shame those responsible aint in hell or maybe they are. you are one hell of abrave person LES an you should be well proud of ur-self. i can’t immagine how anyone could mentally survive what you went trhough as a child. it had to effect you for the rest of your life. best wishes and god bless….

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