Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A bit late to be making enemies

Once again there has been a week where nothing worth mentioning has happened. I had no response from my solicitor about the new witness evidence, not a word said about a transfer to more relaxed and progressive locations - and that fickle ould boiler Lady Luck must have sent her boots to the cobblers because she hasn't kicked me in the polar regions all week.

Having said all that, the reason my mailbag has been so poor this week could well be on account of the behaviour of the postal workers who seem to be determined to commit suicide and won't be happy until their industry has gone the way of the coal mines and everything else in this country - apart from the service industries, of course.

So, the upshot is - nothing to report.

I did have a letter from the young fellow who is the new witness in the case, although he has not mentioned the case at all. I explained in a letter to him last week that discussing the case and details may be a poor plan - well, you never know who might read the letters. He wrote to tell me a little bit about himself and his family - a nice gesture really, I could do with more correspondents in general. I call him a young fellow but really he is in his mid thirties - but at my age that makes him a young fellow - I hope he doesn't mind. Some people can be a bit touchy about their age - ask Sza-Sza Gabor about hers, see what she says.

So, here I sit, staring at the page before me and wondering what words of wisdom I can impart and I have come to the conclusion that there's not much to be said. But to get back to the business of age for a minute or two, I wonder why some folk are so bothered about it, being old I mean. We all get old, we all start to fall apart and sooner or later we will all have to face the fellow with the scythe - the Grim Reaper.

This reminds me of a story I once heard at my mother's knee (or some other low joint) and it went like this:

An ould I.R.A. man is dying and he is lying on his death bed While the priest, Father McGonagle reads the Last Rites.
The priest says to the dying man, "Are you ready to renounce the devil and all his works, my son?"
The dying I.R.A. man opens his eyes and croaks out, "It's a bit late to be making enemies now, Father." (Pause for sniggering).
So, as must be blatantly clear and obvious by this stage, I've got nothing for this week. I suppose I could mount a tirade and an abusive rant about the various fools operating within the prison and legal system, but that would only serve to annoy them really - and, as the ould I.R.A. man said, 'It's a bit late to be making enemies now.'

The Voice In The Wilderness

Monday, October 19, 2009

What's in a name?

It seems that Lady Luck (that perfidious ould tart with the Doc Martens and the desire to do me personal injuries at fairly regular intervals) has gone on holiday. She was here at the start of the week, giving me my normal casual kick in the knackers (she does it out of habit these days), but she must have gone off to Benidorm or the Valley of the Shadow or wherever it is she goes to get her boots re-spiked. Now, I know that none of this will be making any sense - and that's the story of my life in many ways - but I will explain.

To begin with, I am not allowed to use proper names of people who work in the prison service, not even to be nice to them because, apparently, they may be identified! So what? Are they ashamed of what they do? Is it a secret? Does the idiot who made that wise observation know what a Voters' Register is? Has he never heard of the internet and its search engines? Anybody working anywhere can be identified, and that includes those working for the Security Services, so telling me that using a real name may cause a problem for someone is complete and utter rubbish. And I can't use other prisoners' real names for the same reason - but it is okay for the prison to do so at their convenience. Never mind, instead I will make up pseudonyms for the characters in this effort - everybody knows who they are anyway.

I have recently been involved in lengthy discussions with a Governor of Security about what I can and cannot send out of the prison. But I have no desire to upset this erudite and wise fellow and so he will require a nom-de-guerre. I shall call him Fiddler the Wise. Fiddler the Wise has decided that I cannot send out the true tale of my incarceration from the year 2001 onwards. The fact that I have already sent out the years 1986 to 2001 (1,400 pages) has obviously slipped his mind. Those one thousand four hundred pages are full of names of kangaroos and cons and their deeds, none of them very nice either. Not much he can do about that now, my ould pal Fiddler the Wise. However, he CAN and HAS stopped me sending out the tale of people who have acted decently. In fact I wrote something nice about one kangaroo and THAT caused all the trouble in the first place! Maybe they don't know how to handle it when someone is nice about them - no experience you see! No precendence, no yard-stick to go by.

So here was Lady Luck dealing me one of her specials in the nether regions. It didn't really hurt - it never does these days, I'm immune to it all now. But then the cruel ould hooer went off to wherever she goes on her holidays, probably helping the Taliban decorate or something. And no sooner had she gone than a letter arrived out of the blue from a fellow who, on the face of it, would seem to be a brand new witness in my case. I can't give his name or where he lives because I should think it is sub-judice and probably has to be kept secret so that the police don't kick his door down in the middle of the night to get him to change his mind about telling the truth after almost twenty-four years.

This fellow says he saw someone disposing of the clothing and the weapon involved in the murder! That's new evidence in my book. We now have an actual eye-witness to something that is actually to DO with the murder - the only one we have ever had. There has never been one single witness to anything at all to do with the murder up to now. Let's see what happens when the C.C.R.C. get the information. I sent the letter and its envelope to Campbell Malone asking him to get it transcribed and to send the original to the C.C.R.C. along with a transcription.

New evidence! Wonderful!

The interesting part is that the witness hasn't asked me to keep his identity secret! He is clearly not ashamed of anything. Of course Fiddler the Wise will say that the whole thing isn't personal and that he is merely doing his duty, it is his job. As George Bernard Shaw put it:

When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.
The Voice in the Wilderness

A retrospective

Once again a week has gone by with nothing happening worth talking about or telling anyone about - story of my life really. Everything has come to a sort of standstill, a hiatus, a pause.

I should imagine that we all feel this way from time to time - that we are waiting for something but we have no idea what that may be. It happens to me occasionally and generally leads to a bit of a period of reflection, soul-searching, a retrospective - call it what you will.

Well, I had a bit of a reflect the other night in the silence of my kennel and I got to thinking about why I never get depressed or feel sorry for myself. It is not as if I haven't got reasons to indulge in a bit of self pity, but I never do.

Someone once said that you will never see a wild animal or bird feeling sorry for itself. A wild bird will simply drop off a twig dead, but it will never feel sorry for itself. Why do I never feel sorry for myself? Maybe I am wild too. Thinking about the matter seriously, I think that a case can be made out that I used to be pretty wild - unaware and heedless of danger. Nothing scared me, and that is quite stupid. Mind, stupid and me - the best of friends in many ways.

There's where my wildness came from - my lack of fear. A sensible person understands that a bit of healthy fear never hurt anyone and can be very necessary for self-preservation. I've never been scared of anything much, ever. It's got me into a lot of trouble - and out of a lot too.

So, where am I going with this? Nowhere, that's where. 

E.M. Forster once said or wrote:

I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.
The Voice In The Wilderness

Gird the loins!

And so we come to the end of yet another week as a guest, albeit a reluctant one, in one of Lizzie Windsor's universities for the mentally inept, criminally insane, socially inadequate and well-brought-up young ladies - and that's just the staff. Nothing happened. No progress. No regress. Nuffink.

However, I did have an encounter during the week with a fellow I have known for many years and who has been there to witness one or two of my 'episodes' in days of yore. I won't use his name - the authorites would not appreciate it, and neither would he I shouldn't wonder - but he knows who he is and I shall let him read this when I'm done anyway. Well, the way I see it is that everyone is entitled to their privacy, even in a place like dear ould Lizzie's gaff.

I went to this fellow's cell for some reason quite recently, to see him on some matter or other, but he wasn't there and I came away until I ran into him at some other juncture. Later, something occurred to me. Looking around my cell as I write I have, over time, collected and accumulated many little things which make my life as comfortable as possible under the circs. I have a stereo with speakers hanging on the wall, a Play Station where I can play games which help me to forget where I am briefly, many many books, a typewriter, tapes, CDs, games, an electric shaver, an electronic spellchecker (which just gathers dust) and so on. My friend, however, had nothing whatsoever in his cell that didn't belong to the prison service. Nothing. I am sure that he has been in prison a good fifteen years, and when I knew him in the mid-nineties in Frankland he had all of the things I have. So what went wrong?

When he came to see me later during the week I asked him. (At this point I need to make a name up for him so I think I will call him Neville. I don't know any Neville, so that should be safe enough.) Neville sat on my bed and I asked him, "Neville, when we were in Frankland you had everything, now you have nothing. What went wrong?" He simply said, "I don't know."

Of course I did not pursue this - I have no right to do so - but it did get me to thinking about how, if a fellow is not careful and vigilant, he can begin to allow small things to slip. Maybe not clean the teeth every night before bed, have a shower every other day rather than every day, not shave as regularly as he should. Then it's a small step to not answering letters as we get them, and then we begin to sleep at lunchtime during the lockup period. Little things begin to slip and slide until one day we find that we have managed to let everything go and we are sitting on rock bottom with no apparent way to begin the climb up again.

That's what happened to Neville. He allowed standards to slip. Any man (or woman for that matter) who gets himself (or herself) locked away must get into some sort of disciplined regime, for their own good and peace of mind. Once that regime or routine is established we must never, under any circumstances, allow even one small thing to slip. Never. To do so is to invite that little devil into our lives, that little devil called Complacency. There is no room for it in a prisoner's life.

It is said that familiarity breeds contempt, and that could well be part of the problem. Add to that the feeling which some get that there is no point to anything, and people can give up and simply let everything slide, like Neville. Well there is always a point. We must never concede defeat in life. Inside or outside of prison, it applies to us all.

I am certain that there are times when we feel tired of it all - I do, from time to time - but that's no reason to abrogate all responsibility for ourselves. Of course we feel tired and sometimes feel we need a rest, but we are a long time dead and we can get all the rest we need when the Grim Reaper comes calling. Until then, gird the loins (I love that phrase), and stand firm against whatever Lady Luck (that fickle ould whore) sends our way.

I am going to let Neville read this now. I bet he looks at me strangely - most people do.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Sitting on my back

This week I have to say that I have still not managed to get my documents back from the security governor. Obviously he is yet another nitwit who feels that the law does not apply to him. The prisons are full of fellows who thought that. I sent several complaints in but couldn't get an answer for love nor money. Finally I put this one in:

I would like my legal paperwork back (approx 250 pages) from Governor Dickens forthwith. I will be sending a Pre-Action Protocol letter to the Treasury Solicitor on Monday.
(I've since written that letter and sent it off, with a copy to Mr Dickens.) This application finally brought a response and I can do no better than copy it out in full - it is funnier than anything I could write.

Mr Wilkinson,
Thank you for your Form Comp 1. I am not aware of the Comp 1 and 1A which you claim have been ignored. However I am content to discuss these with you when we meet.

In terms of your paperwork (which is not subject to R39) I will return this to you ASAP (it has remained in my safe - not sent to Cleland House as I believe you have been led to believe). I will make arrangements to meet with you either today (2/10/09) or Tuesday 6th October 2009 where we will be able to discuss in full the concerns that you and I both have with regards to this issue.

Signed by Dickens, Head of Security.

Well, I can argue with everything he says, but little purpose would be served - I've said it all before.

The facts are simple and Rule 39 has nothing to do with it. A legal document is a legal document whether it has been sent by Rule 39 or any other rule. He can search them but cannot read them. He is forbidden to seize them. If I send anything out of the prison which is stopped by the censor for any reason then I am informed and the letter returned to me. The prison certainly cannot seize documents and have them in their possession for a month before they even admit to the seizure!

The bit I like best is the rubbish about sorting the matter out! Give the documents back! Problem solved! They will have to give them back sooner or later. I think what bothers them is the truth - they don't like it.

The whole thing puts me in mind of something Leo Tolstoy wrote:

I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back.
The Voice In The Wilderness