Wednesday, December 02, 2009


The question has been asked - would I write a piece or vignette about my years in prison and my hopes and aspirations for the future?

Well, the years in prison - almost twenty-four and counting - would take a long time, and that would be WITH my diaries to help - diaries, incidentally, which I keep every day (it's therapuetic). Putting all that to one side, the story would be a long and very unsavoury horror story worthy of the pen of Mary Shelley, or even one of the major political parties' manifestos.

So I won't write about my years in prison, not here anyway - I am already doing that in 'An Abuse of Justice'. Which leaves us hopes and aspirations, and once again I have to say that it would take longer than a short effort such as this will allow. Ah! But all is not lost, because one word springs from the question which I can say something about. The word is 'HOPE' and, when it comes to prison, hope is often the only thing we have.

Hope - it springs eternal according to the poet, and as far as I am aware, he knew nothing at all about prison. Maybe he would have seen things differently if he had. Arthur Clough had something to say about hope, although not in so many words. He wrote:

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.
I know that I have used this quote before, but I DO like it - it speaks to me, as it were. It first came to my attention several years ago via the agency of Hilary Hinchliffe, as fine a person as ever graced this sorry planet, and even now the ageing, yellowing piece of paper which she sent to me bearing that verse still sits on the wall before my face - and ever will.

Hope - often the only thing a prisoner has to keep him going. Oh, they can take so many things away from us - our freedoms, our rights, our families, our decency, even our life sometimes. But they cannot take away the hope. Even the meanest prisoner can, in the confines and privacy of his own cell and mind, cling on desperately to hope. It is often all that is left.

Of course, some prisoners give up and lose that hope. It is quite simply crushed out of them by an uncaring system, and when that happens yet another gets a letter to tell them that their father..mother..son..husband.. has committed suicide in their prison cell.

But the majority of the prison population carry on with that small fire burning in their hearts, the fire that is hope. We all have it. One day we will end this nightmare and come back to the world where people treat each other with common courtesy generally, and decency. We all aspire to going home, the promise of seeing a friendly face at last, the pleasure of closing our eyes and sleeping properly at last, the chance to finally let down the guard we have held up for year after year, the hope of better times.

I do not even try to say that every prisoner is a good, decent sort of cove, because they quite simply ain't, not by a long chalk. However, as bad as some may be, and they are, that gives no one the right or mandate to crush hope out of them. Eleanor Roosevelt said:

No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.
Well, removing hope from those who need it the most is really putting them into a category as unworthy, inferior - in all the years, through all the tribulations, I have never given anyone permission to look on me as inferior.

Happy Christmas and all my very best wishes for the coming year. May everyone receive the good fortune they wish for themselves.

The Voice In The Wilderness

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