Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The human touch

On Wednesday 18th November I had to go in front of a Risk Assessment Management board, one of those wonderful devices created by the prison service which tell the future. (Why are more of these people not winning the lottery?)

So, there I was, sitting in my kennel reading (again) a book by Geert Mak - 'In Europe'. I have read it before but I always get more from a book on the second or third reading because I race through in the first reading - I can't help myself, I have to know what is on the next page. However, that's not important, we are not discussing books here, we are discussing RAM boards.

It will be remembered from last week that Sympathetic Salome had informed me about the board and shortly after 2.30 on the afterrnoon in question she arrived to escort me before the board which was being held in a little back office where no-one would hear my screams of pain and outrage.

"It's on the wing," said Sympathetic Salome.

"Have you been pulling me to bits?" I asked in a jocular fashion.

"Certainly not," said she - and I believed her!

In we went to be confronted, not by the usual collection of dire, po-faced, miserable sods such as Oliver Twist faced in the Board of Governors at the work'us, but by nothing more than three pleasant young women, one of whom was of course Sympathetic Salome, she of the honest face and decent manner.

"Have a seat!" or words to that effect, said a young woman wearing glasses who I can't name, beyond the fact that it was Governor Karen Bourne whose name must be changed to protect the 'concerned' amongst us, such as Fiddler the Wise. (We all know Fiddler by now.) I shall call the governor Freda the Fair and hope she doesn't take offence - none is intended.

The third person, another young lady, was taking the minutes of the board and I shall call her Quink the Quill, and my remarks about not taking offence apply to her equally.

So there we sat - Sympathetic Salome, Quink the Quill and Freda the Fair - with me of course: the Sacrificial Lamb.

I have got to state here, right now, unequivocally and without any form of prejudice whatsoever, that I have never, in my twenty three and half years in prison, been treated so fairly by any board anywhere. I have to ask myself - why? Obviously my own attitude had a good bit to do with it. I don't care for men much. What I mean by that is that for some unfathomable reason, men always come across as aggressive on these boards and I react badly to aggression. However, I am never rude or offensive to females and I do not generally find them to be aggressive - so I give no aggression back.

Well, we all had a good, long chat and I gave them a short extract from 'An Abuse of Justice' to read - 'March 12th 1996 - Ambitions' - and after it had been perused, Freda the Fair said, "I don't know anyone who could have written that!"

Sympathetic Salome said, "Anyone would think you were outside. It doesn't seem to have been written by someone in prison."

Quink the Quill didn't say anything as far as I can recall.

The final outcome of the whole affair was that I would be assessed for the C.S.C.P. programme as quickly as possible - but I probably would not need to do it - and they wanted me moving on to a Category B prison as soon as possible. So everything will be fast-tracked. And that seemed to be that.

I asked about a copy of the minutes and Freda the Fair assured me that when Quink the Quill had typed them up I would get a copy.

"I'll put them onto my website," said I.

"What website?" asked she.

"Mine," said I, and gave her a letterhead from Andrew so that she could go away and have a look.

I have to say that it was a very convivial affair and although I always keep a sort of poker face, the three young women seemed to laugh quite a lot. Not a sour note to be heard anywhere. Oh, and it wasn't a RAM board after all, not according to Freda the Fair anyway - it was a Sentence Planning board! A Sentence Planning Board after all of these years eh? I've got a sentence plan, the best one in the world - I plan to go home as soon as possible. If anyone can suggest a better plan than that, I am fully prepared to listen.

Finally, may I just say to Sympathetic Salome, Quink the Quill and Freda the Fair, thank you. Thank you for a pleasant hour or so, and for treating and talking to me like a person rather than a nasty smell in the room. I could get used to that kind of treatment, I really could.

So you see, not everyone in the prison service is determined to kick me in the testicularities. Perhaps Lady Luck had a week off!

The Voice In The Wilderness

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