Saturday, January 31, 2009

Painful inches

Sitting alone, as I do most of the time, I often ponder on the words of Nicholas Sarkozy who said, amongst other things:

“Life is the same for everyone when you are alone at night in an empty room."

As often as not, if we allow it, the imagination gets the better of us and we go off into flights of fancy, build castles in the air, climb a mountain - or sometimes just go fishing. Unfortunately there are those amongst us who do not think in such positive ways but dwell on the ills done to us, as often as not imagined rather than real. This sort of thought process can lead to depression.

I don't do that.

In December of last year I was scheduled for a Parole Board hearing but it was put back, deferred, delayed, postponed and rescheduled. The reasons were never given or explained, they never are when dealing with the faceless and nameless Gnomes who are in charge of these things. I think that there are probably good reasons in many cases and if they took the trouble to actually explain then most folk would accept it with a shrug and a certain amount of understanding.

They don't do that.

My Parole Hearing was in December, then January and then it was scheduled for February 20th of this year. Wonderful - a date at last! Not that easy I'm afraid. The other day I had a letter from the Parole Board saying that it has now been rescheduled for March 12th, no explanation given but I am fu1ly prepared to accept the fact that they have a good reason.

Of course, being me, it got me to thinking. Here in the prison absolutely nothing is being said to me about anything at all, and hasn't been for years now. However, I know that out there in the big wide world of real human beans (as a young niece of mine once wrote) there are people asking questions. I know for instance that Mr Chris Mullin, MP for Sunderland South, has discussed me with the C.C.R.C. and then with Christine Glenn, the Chief Executive of the Parole Board. He then asked for a meeting with a Michael Spurr who is the Chief Operations Officer of NOMS. Now, of course, I have no idea what has been said and it is quite unlikely that I ever will, but that’s not the point. What counts is the fact that ‘something’ is being said, whatever that may be.

Now normally when people in such positions - civil servants - are asked questions about individuals they can hide behind the trite but ubiquitous phrase:

“I am not allowed to discuss individual cases.”

And of course they get away with it. Not with Mr Chris Mullin MP. He obtained a written permission from me to discuss my case with anyone he cares to and to obtain and see any document concerning me. A wise move on the part of Mr Mullin - but he understands the ways of officialdom.

So, questions are being asked - and this brings me to what I was really going to say in the first place. When I am sitting alone in my cell at night there is the temptation to think that this nightmare will never end and then I glance up at the wall. Just a few feet from my face as I sit at my table, held there by sellotape, is a piece of paper sent to me by Mrs Hilary Hinchliffe MBE a long time ago. The bit of paper is old and yellowed now, but that does not detract from the message thereon. In the words of Arthur Clough as sent to me by Hilary:

“For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the Main.”

The Voice In The Wilderness

1 comment:

Jim said...

All this mucking about with parole board dates is designed to grind a man down and break his will, but its good to see in your case it has not worked!

Fingers crossed, Frank, the Judicial Review will be favourable to you and you finally get justice.

Your old mate,

Jim T in Sunderland.