POET Peter Street’s life has been far from average – he has been a head-gardener, a gravedigger, qualified youth worker, chef and a writer-in-residence in schools, colleges and prisons.

He also became disabled after falling from a wagon and sustaining a spinal injury and had an official diagnosis of autism aged 66.

This was just after coming back from war-torn Bosnia where his experiences gave him post-traumatic stress disorder.

Now in his early 70s, the man who has written five poetry collections and was poet-in-residence at BBC Manchester, has crafted a new book about growing up in Bolton. And Goalkeeper is as fascinating as you would expect from such an unusual character.

Peter was brought up in the Tramways area of Blackburn Road in Bolton. His mother Kitty had a marriage “arrangement” with his stepfather, a stoker in a cotton mill. She cooked and cleaned for him and he looked after both of them.

Peter was a lively youngster and his pranks – like filling inkwells with Andrews’ Liver Salts to make them froth - often brought him six straps of the ruler from his teachers.

His autism plainly made lessons difficult for the lad to understand. Fortunately, there was one thing he was good at - goalkeeping. He idolised Bolton Wanderers’ famous goalkeeper Eddie Hopkinson and was keeper for Bolton Boys’ team.

The book starts with his harrowing experiences in Bosnia but mainly chronicles life in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Peter brings it all into clear vision with rich colour covering the characters, limitations of post-war life and the struggle of a young lad finding his place in the world.

Peter’s story is complemented by extracts from Kitty’s own diary, balancing the young lad’s take on life with an adult’s.

There is everything from games of the time to sweets and the value of coupons at Christmas-time to help pay bills.

Goalkeeper is not only a valuable record of growing up in Bolton for one young lad but a mirror of a time when money was tight and people and attitudes were changing.

Peter records his formative years faithfully with a poet’s eye and a Boltonian’s honesty.

It’s a read for anyone who grew up in Bolton during this time, who will recognise life in this strange post-war period. His book is available via Amazon.