Friday, December 24, 2010

The iceman cometh

Well, it's official - we have become the laughing stock of Europe. Put it this way - you know that you are on the bottom when the Swedes start taking the mick and laughing at you. It seems that they (the Swedes) get a foot of snow overnight and it barely registers. Kids go to school - as usual; old folk sit on park benches grumbling - as usual; people go to work - as usual; and even the red light district has business - as usual.

In this country, someone mentions snow and the place comes to a complete halt and the experts start warning about the coldest and most severe winter since 1947 and/or 1963. The bleeding hearts and artists whisper into their gin and tonics and pints of real ale about global warming and the next ice age being here.
We have po-faced gits coming on the telly assuring us all that we've got enough grit and salt to keep the major roads clear for at least twenty minutes - nothing to worry about. 

Then thousands abandon their cars and everything closes down, including the airports - and Santa's sodding Grotto! And we become comatose in our cocoons of warmth and swear never to leave the house again until the 'Big Thaw', whatever that means.

Okay, there has been a bit of snow. It's winter! That's what happens in winter - it snows! Why are we so surprised? Why does the country grind to a halt? This is not a freak occurrence - it happens every bleedin' year!

Is it any wonder that the rest of the world laughs at us? Our leaders assure us that we are a leading world power, we are heavyweights. Bollocks! If a bit of snow brings us to our knees then it is a poor outlook for us being a heavyweight.

The simple fact is that the wrong people are in charge of the wrong things. If we want to make sure that this sort of fiasco doesn't happen in future then give the job to a couple of young school-leavers from Sweden or Norway, THEY know what is needed.

Come to think about it, much the same thing could be said about most government departments - for the love of any Gods that may be, give the jobs to people who know what they are doing! Just because some fool is given a job doesn't mean that they have the ability to do it.

Moving on, it's getting toward Christmas, that time of the year when everyone pretends to be jolly and secretly wishes it was all over so that they can ignore the family for the rest of the year. Having said that, kids love Christmas AND snow.

Ah, the innocence of childhood, where did it go? It seems like only yesterday that I waited eagerly for Christmas morning when I would get a few sweets, an apple and an orange and maybe a few nuts with maybe one present later in the day. Things have changed these days of course. Try giving a kid of our modern society an apple, an orange and a game of Ludo for Christmas and we will find ourselves in Juvenile Court applying for an ASBO against the little hooligans. They would look us in the eye and say, "What's this?"

I can think of no better way than to finish with the words of a Chubby Brown song. Now, this is going to annoy, irritate and quite simply offend a lot of people, but it's no good yelling at me - I didn't write it. It's called "HEY, SANTA! WHERE'S MY FUCKING BIKE?"

Hey Santa! Where's my fucking bike?
I've had a good look round down here
There's fuck all here I like.
My sister got her nurse's gear,
My brother got a mike,
You grey-haired geriatric twat,
Where's my fucking bike?

That'll be me off Santa's list again.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Glad tidings!

There is news! I've had a letter from my solicitor to tell me that the Parole Board will set a date for my oral hearing soon and that it is likely to happen at some point in March, or thereabouts. The bit I particularly like is that the board has decided that it will be an oral hearing and seems to have dispensed entirely with the paper exercise which would normally precede an oral hearing. Do they know something I don't know?

Not only that but they specifically want to talk to Blodwyn about both her own findings and those of the independent psychologist... AND they want to talk to the Mighty Wallace as well! They've got the Smiling Assassin on the list too but I am ready to bet right here and now that she is away on leave or sick or something when the date arrives. We will see.

I have informed my solicitor that I would request a few witnesses of my own to attend. I want the independent psychologist for a start because, if his report is to be discussed, who better to discuss it with than the man himself? He has expressed his willingness to attend so I see no difficulty there. Another witness who wishes to attend is, of course, Andrew and, let's be fair, he has given me more sensible advice and guidance in the last couple of years than anyone ever gave me in the previous two decades. Andrew has written to almost everyone he could think of on my behalf - and their dogs. (A little dig at Blunkett there.) Anyway, I have informed him as to who I want to attend and I am going to write to Dr Mike Naughton and invite him too - he may find it interesting and may even want to have an input.

So, March (or thereabouts) it is then! We will see.

I bet Boudica will be pleased - she expects me to knock on the door at any time! She doesn't live in the same world as me. Her world is populated by pigeons, trolls, pretty little girls who like fairy stories and idiots who fall off their bikes in the snow. Did I not tell you? Christopher decided to do a wheelie, or something, on his bike in the snow and fell off. (Pause for belly laughter.) Now don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying that the lad is slightly deranged... Ah bollix! Who am I kidding? He is as mad as a March hare.

There's that March thing again.

So Christmas is here again and no doubt the usual crop of old films will be on the box, everyone will get pissed or overeat and the supermarkets will rub their collective hands in pleasure as they count their ill-gotten gains. Typical Christmas really. Families will forgive each other - two of my brothers have already sent me cards - but by the end of Christmas they will be back at each other's throats again.

I'll do my usual Scrooge impressions of course - the one I do every year, sitting in my kennel pretending to ignore things. However, and I say this with the greatest thanks and humility, I really appreciate all of the support and comments I have received from well-wishers. I can't thank everyone individually, of course - I have no idea who most people are - so all I can do is wish everyone a very merry Christmas and an extremely happy New Year. May we all have all the luck and good fortune that we want for ourselves. Thank you all.

Right, all I've got to do now is find a way to exonerate myself from the cracks I've been making recently about Boudica and her pigeons, and the cartwheel and the toffee-apple crack. When will I learn to keep my mouth shut? I just KNOW that she is writing it all down somewhere and that one day, in the not too distant future, she will say to me, "Right! I want a word with you, you grumpy old goat. What did you mean when you said..."

Women have fantastically long memories. They forget nothing and can prove everything, and bless each and every one of them.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A journey of a thousand miles

Mao Tse Tung said that. He said:
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Well, whether we agree with his politics or ideals or not, the simple fact of the matter is that he was spot on.

Everyone is groaning now - "Aaargh! He's going to waffle on about politics! As if we don't get enough of it out of the lying, back­-stabbing rats we elected into parliament! Now HE'S going to start!"

No I'm not. I just mentioned it because I wanted to bring up the subject of the wrongly accused who languish in our prisons - and, make no mistake about it, there are several thousand of them.

There are quite a lot of people trying to do something about it, of course, both groups and individuals. One such individual is Billy Middleton. Billy, wrongly accused himself for many years, lives up there in the wilds of Scotland, and who can blame him for that? Given the opportunity, I'd be living as far away from the British Justice system as I could get. In fact, give me a few seconds and I bet I can think of somewhere else I would rather be - like lying in a hospital bed with all of my teeth kicked out (and some people would think THAT was a good idea). The point is, I would get better - and I'd be out of this place.

I digress, as usual. Let's get back to Billy.

Billy has decided, and is actively planning, to make a trek from one end of the country to the other in the, hopefully, better weather of next summer. He intends (as far as I know) to start from the very top of the land of Scotland (Rabbie Burrrrns, William Wallace, Bonny Prince Charlie and Incey-Wincey Spider notwithstanding) and walk all the way to Land's End on his Walk Free Campaign to bring awareness to the plight of the wrongly accused, and he must be commended for that.

Now - pay attention, there may be a test afterwards - I don't know all the details, but I am sure that Billy will be happy to fill in any gaps for anyone who is interested. Billy intends to make several stops along the way at strategic points to focus attention on particular cases. I don't know where most of these points are, or when he will get there, but I do know that he intends to stop at Hartlepool - I know that much.

Billy may be open to suggestions about stop-offs and might even welcome invitations, I have no idea - nobody ever tells me nuffink. All I know is what I have already itemised here. Support Billy's efforts. Give the lost, lonely and abandoned men and women who are rotting in durance vile a little lift. Offer a helping hand or a kind word to Billy as he wears out his walking boots and chafes the skin on his feet.

Billy, my son, I salute you and, as Mao said, it all starts with one step. Once you take that one step then the adventure begins. I wish I could walk it with you, I really do. It will be like a one man Jarrow march I suppose. Wouldn't it be something if others simply joined in?

Well, I wrote about Billy at the instigation of Boudica. She wanted me to mention Billy's good work and, let's face it, it's a brave man who ignores Boudica's requests - she's got a bit of a temper you know. Ha! That's like saying a Tasmanian Devil is a bit annoyed.

No news with me at all - not a word, nothing, zilch, zero, nada, nowt, as they say in Yorkshire. They say a lot of things up there in Yorkshire that nobody else understands. They are still fighting the Wars of the Roses and burning witches, I think. I've told Boudica, "Don't go to Yorkshire, they'll get you and your familiar, the pigeon." Oh yes, and her pigeon, Scruffy, never did turn up, so it looks like he has gone off to that great pigeon loft in the sky - may his corn be ever tasty.

Finally, a story in the very worst of taste. On second thoughts, forget that - I've got enough enemies without adding to them. Let's try something a little less offensive:

They say that a camel can go eight days without a drink - but who would want to be a camel?
The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Et tu, Tolstoy

I've worked it out. I know the answer.

For a long time now I have been bleating on about Lady Luck and her less than charitable treatment of myself, and no doubt many others - quite right too. However, the identity of the aforementioned old bat had remained a closed book to me. I knew she was lurking and I knew she gave me a periodic boot in the family secrets from time to time, but her actual identity was a mystery. Well, I've worked it out. I know the answer.

However, knowing the answer and telling every bugger and his dog is not in my master plan, not at the minute. Besides, my answer may not be the same as the answer to the identity of the Lady Luck of other folk, if you see what I mean. There isn't just one, you see, there are hosts of the nasty sods.

At the minute (she changes as circumstances demand) my own Lady Luck is, of course, the Smiling Assassin! I saw her yesterday - not to speak to, I'd rather remove my left eye with a burning stick - but I saw her, lurking and looking definitely shifty as she sharpened the blade ready to plunge it into some poor, unsuspecting fellow's spinal chord.

Anyway, she now seems to have got the idea that she is qualified to make recommendations about the future of the poor saps she can get her nasty little digits into. At this point I will mention her qualifications, just for a bit of a laugh. She did an OASys Training Course and a MISAR Training Course (whatever THAT may be.) Now she thinks she knows enough to make recommendations about the future of both prisoners and their families - destroying lives basically. The fact that she doesn't understand the reports of those better qualified than she is simply overlooked, and there would appear to be no checks or balances on what she herself writes about anyone.

The Smiling Assassin has her own agenda - she dislikes prisoners. She will smile at a person with the greatest of sincerity and promise the earth, but then go away and plunge her vitriolic dagger as deeply into the heart as she can.

Now, I knew all of this about her before I ever met her and had been told by everyone who had dealt with her that she would take anything and everything that was said to her and pervert it, so I wasn't going to give her anything to pervert. Ha! What a simple, naive child I was. It's my own fault - I had heen warned several times so nobody to blame but myself really.

  • I told her I had studied some of the work of Robert Hare (the psychologist who created the PCL-R assessment): she wrote that I had learned how to beat assessments.
  • I told her that I was uncomfortable discussing family: she wrote that I had denied having a family.
I won't go on - the idea is plain for all to see.

The thing about her, and the reason she has earned the name "The Smiling Assassin" of course, is that she can seem so sincere to the face and assure the prisoner that she will go and do everything she can to help and assist him. She leaves the prisoner feeling better, as though he has a sort of lifeline. That's why her stabs in the back are so much more hurtful.

This brings me neatly to our old friend and comrade in arms, Leo Tolstoy - born in 1829 and died in 1910, just in time to miss the revolution he had advocated for so long. 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.
Maybe we should consider changing The Smiling Assassin's name to Leo - it's easier to spell.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Singing from the same hymn sheet

And so it begins...

It is now officially official because all parties have been heard from and been given their opportunity to boot me in the conundrums - nobody can say they didn't have a chance. 

All reports have been finalised and "locked in", as their rather odd jagon has it - the die is cast, the arrows are flying through the air, the missile has been launched.

Okay, for those who are more comfortable with less colourful speech and prefer plain talking, here are the facts. All of the reports have been completed and suhmitted to the Parole Board, as far as I know, and the results are as follows:

  • My home OM - Offender Manager, formerly my probation officer - has said that she wants me in an Open Prison to prepare me for release.
  • The independent psychologist, an immensely likeable person, has said precisely the same thing - Open Prison to prepare me for release.
  • The prison psychologist, who we all know and love as Blodwin, also would be quite happy to see me in Open Prison to prepare me for release and she will be attending the Parole Board and telling them so.
  • The only fly in the proverbial, of course, is the Smiling Assassin, but she doesn't count - she has no business making recommendations in the first place.

So, we have everyone singing from the same hymn sheet - and anyone who has any sort of experience of the prison service will fully appreciate how difficult that can be, to get everyone in unison. So (I've got to stop saying that, I'm a PhD for God's sake!)... Anyway (and that's no better), the tide is coming in at last.

Bugger it, nobody will get that reference:

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.
Arthur Clough.

It could be said that the feet are firmly planted on the long road of progress at last.

What bothers me in all this is - where is that fickle ould tart who has been the bane of my life for so many years? Where is she? Lady Luck? Has she found someone else to torment? I hope she has - but if she has, whoever you are, God bless you, you've got my sympathy.

The next step in the saga of the 'Demented Prisoner' is to get an actual date for the Parole Hearing, and that of course is only something that my solicitor can push for.

To move on...

It may he remembered that I have been banging on a bit lately about how many governors we have here at the Lazy L, a total of thirty-nine to be exact. I now find that I may have been just a bit uncharitable because it seems that while there ARE thirty-nine people here of governor grade, a fair number of them are really just heads of various departments and not governors as such. They just have the governor grade, and that is probably more to do with pay structures as much as anything else. Still, they are governor grades, and thirty-nine in one clink is too many by anyone's criteria.

Finally, Boudica - or, as her adoring fans call her, Attila the Nun. (Ha ha! I like that one. Did I write that? I can't wait to see what I write next - I'm entertaining myself here.)

So, Boudica definitely seems to have lost her favourite pigeon, Scruffy. She's still got thirty or so others, so there is no call for anyone to put pigeons in boxes to send to her, although you can if you want to - I haven't got to deal with them so I don't care. It's her birthday on December 7th so I would appreciate it if people would be kind enough to send her birthday messages because I think she has reached the grand total of fifty now. I'm not sure of course - and I can't ask because I am supposed to know these things.

Besides, she'd only want to poke me in the eye again.

Oh yes, I have this uncanny ability to bring out the very best in people. It's a skill you know, given to few - and the main reason why I wear protective goggles.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Don't ask me!

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how difficult it is to get any sense out of anyone these days - especially officialdom or any of its minions?

I'm not talking about daft questions, such as "Are you reading that paper you are sitting on?" but real questions like, "Can you tell me who is in charge, please?" or, 'Who do I talk to about this?" You simply can't get an answer!

"I'll have to talk to my line manager... Leave it with me... I'll look into it and get back to you..."

That's the last you will see or hear from them. Does this only happen to me?

Of course, there are some questions that you shouldn't even ask, never mind expect an answer to. To start with, never ask a woman how old she is because she will never answer but will come back (probably) with a question of her own such as, "How old do I look?"

RUN! Leg it! Head for the hills, rip your own throat out with a rusty garden fork - anything but answer that question. NEVER!

If you try to be charitable and say she is younger than she really is, she will presume you are taking the piss and make life very, very uncomfortable for you. If you go the other way and say she is older then you might as well put fifty pence in the meter, get a cushion and shove your head into the nearest gas oven. It's all over for you, mate! As for getting it right - forget it, not a chance. And even if you do get it right by pure chance then you will be accused of knowing all along, so you can't hardly win really.

But this is getting away from the point - the point is that it has become impossible to get an answer to a perfectly reasonable enquiry these days.

Then we've got the other problem - asking for advice or being asked for advice.

It's no good asking for advice - nobody cares enough to actually listen to anything being said to them. They all have their own agendas in prison and any advice given will be tilted and clouded by that hidden agenda.

Being asked for advice? Another minefield!

This morning (Tuesday 16th November 2010) one of my contemporaries approached me and said (I paraphrase ), "Hey, Frank! Listen, I need a bit of advice... " and he went on to tell me that he had to make a decision about something and wanted advice. I heard him out, of course, and then sat looking at his expectant little dial as he waited for words of wisdom from the venerable and humble old con - well, not so venerable and not so humble, I'm just an old con.

"Well," said I finally, "let me tell you something about advice. You usually find that when someone comes, as you have, asking for guidance or advice, they don't really want it because they have already made their minds up. No, what they are really after is approbation. They want someone else to agree with what they have already decided. The reason for that is so that if their decision should turn out to be stupid they can then point a finger and say, 'You told me to do it!' So, they don't want advice, they just want somebody to blame when it goes tits up."

"No! No!" he protested. "It's nuffink like that!"

I just grinned at him. "You are a big lad now, over twenty-one. You have to make your own decisions in life - this is one of them. Look, you know what you intend to do, so go and do it. Have confidence in your own decisions. You'll make mistakes - everybody makes mistakes in life - and let's face it, nitwit, in life your mistakes are the only thing you can really call all your very own work. Good luck with that then," and I grinned again.

"You're a horrible sod," says he, disgruntled.

"True," I agreed, "but I make my own decisions. Off you go and make yours."

So, really I am no different from all of the others who won't or can't answer questions. I don't mind making decisions and taking the blame for my own mistakes, but I see no reason why I should take the blame for the decisions of others. And perhaps that is at the root of the whole thing - nobody wants the blame for things that they are not responsible for.

I'm too old for all this, that's the trouble. 

The Voice In The Wilderness

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tina Turner kidnapped!

It's official! I have finally worked it out. The evidence was right before my eyes all along of course, but, yours truly not being the brightest star in the firmament, I failed to see it. However, once I did see it, the facts became so clear - and the facts are...

Prisons are now being run for the henefit of the staff - prisons have nothing to do with prisoners! The prisoners are merely the goods and chattels which have, quite simply, become part of the furniture of the prisons that are being run for the sole benefit of those who work in them. And when I say work I am speaking very loosely indeed.

Don't misunderstand me. The great majority of the people who work in prisons really do want to do the job they are paid for, but a small few won't let them. A small few think prisoners should be given nothing, taught nothing and kept incarcerated inside their cells on bread and water for twenty-seven hours a day.

These people are invariably members of the P.O.A., that august body of men and women who resent each and every innovation which might mean that the prisoner's lot may be improved and that they may actually have to do something to earn their stipend. They walk around in groups, grizzling and learning from the P.O.A. manual, "Ten Thousand Ways To Say No".

Then, of course, we've got the thirty-nine governors here at the Lazy L who have also taken to wandering about the place in groups. Well, they have to I suppose - there aren't enough offices for them all to hide in.

To move on slightly, on this wing we have a female warder - in fact she must be a kangress! (That's a brand new word - let's see if I can make it take on.) I can't use her name, of course, and I wouldn't want to, but she is grumpy. Now, I know from experience that it is actually harder and takes more skills to be grumpy than it does to be a Polyanna. The thing is, not only does it take more skills to be grumpy, it is actually much more fun. The reality is that her bark is much worse than her bite and she actually goes to great lengths to help those with problems. I like her immensely. She is rude to me, but I can see her grinning when I am rude back. We have sort of developed a system of finger signals which would be understood in any language.

I got my Saturday Telegraph this week, for a change - I am waiting now to see whether I get my Mail on Sunday. In tbe M-O-S last week there was a free Tina Turner CD. At the price we pay, I would expect a weekend with Tina Turner, never mind a bleedin' CD. Anyway, be that as it may, tbe CD should have been given to me - after all, I paid for it. It wasn't. They said to apply for it from reception. I did that - reception know nothing about it. In fact nobody knows 'nuffink' about it. The Tina Turner CD has disappeared into the ether. I'm going to have a word with the Independent Members' Board (formerly the Board of Visitors) about it. There was a DVD in yesterday's paper and I got that no trouble. Clearly there is a Tina Turner fan who is too mean to buy the Mail on Sunday.

Finally, I turn my attention to that wonderful heart of gold, Boudica. She writes to me every day, posts the letters daily - and that's what Boudica does, as I do myself. Last week I found it necessary to tell a P.O.A. member that he was bone idle because he quite simply refused to get the mail and distribute it. Since then I have had no mail whatsoever from anyone. I make no further comment on that but I'll be bringing that up with tbe I.M.B. too. It is childishly vindictive really. The mug goes home each and every night to his family, if he's got one. Prisoners never go home. Our mail is our life-line.

Where was I? Oh yes, Boudica. The war of the Errant Pigeons between Boudica and the Troll may be over because Boudica thinks that the Troll has rented the house to a young couple and therefore the Troll may now bugger off and stop assassinating Boudica's birds. The star of the show, Scruffy, now has a friend too, apparently - so perhaps that is all turning out for the best.

Where does it all leave me? Nowhere, that's where. I'm still in the process of getting good old Blodwyn to sort out the mess made by the Smiling Assassin in respect of my recategorisation and reallocation. In fact it is business as usual really - hurry up and wait.

Has anybody got a copy of Tina Turner's Greatest Hits they don't want? Send it to the tea-leaf who has pinched mine.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Today is October the 31st - All Hallows, or Halloween. This is when prowling gangs of little kids wander about knocking on people's doors and making veiled threats -"Trick or treat, Mister!"

I'm surprised that a few of the more childish characters around this place don't do it - they are immature enough. Still, there is plenty of time, who knows? Mind, hairy-arsed thugs wouldn't be satisfied with a few sweets - "Treat - or we'll kick yer nuts up around yer Adam's apple," would be more like it.

I'm being unfair. This is probably one of the calmest periods in the history of the prison service - there is very little violence so forget I made that puerile crack.

Where was I? Oh yes, October the 31st. Now, anyone with more than a passing acquaintance with me and my use of the English language will probably be aware of the fact that over the years I have read a couple of books (written a couple too, but they don't count). From all of the stuff I've read, all allegedly true too, my mind is filled with facts and figures, none of which is readily available - they are all buried in the subconscious or wherever it is in the brain we store this stuff. To recall this information entails, normally (for me anyway), a certain amount of thought.

However, this does not apply to October the 31st because, for some reason, a couple of facts from history jumped into my mind this morning as I sat with my first cuppa, scratching myself.

On today's date in 1971 the IRA blew up a bomb in the restaurant at the top of the Post Office Tower in London, causing a lot of damage and loss of life.

The second thing that came to mind was that on this date in the year of grace 1517 Martin Luther published the document which effectively began the Restoration Period. I don't remember anything else about it, such as the title (and it will have a title), and I'm too lazy to actually get the book down and look it up, but there we have it - 1517. Remember it for future reference. You never know, one day you might be on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" and that might be the big question ,

Were there ever two such diverse facts? Why do I remember them? Well, the IRA one is simple -
I have, over the years of my incarceration, met some of those responsible and I've heard it discussed in cells where copious amounts of home-brewed hooch were being industriously quaffed.

Why I remember the Martin Luther thing is a mystery, though. It's not as though I ever met the fellow, although there are people who think I'm old enough to have done so.

Anyway, that's October the 31st - All Hallows.

It may be remembered that last week they failed to deliver my Saturday Telegraph newspaper and it left me disgruntled. I made enquiries of course, forceful ones, and was assured that it had been a mere oversight by the newsagent and my order would be extended for a week until 13th November. Yesterday (yes, you've guessed it) - no paper again. Now I am waiting to see if my Mail on Sunday arrives.

Finally, Boudica and her pigeons. She's got a favourite and his/her/its name is Scruffy. (Apparently it's not the most attractive bird in the firmament.) Scruffy lives on Boudica's window sill. It bangs on the window and rushes inside at every opportunity.

Well, Scruffy now has a friend and, though nervous just at the minute, will soon learn from Boudica that there's nothing to be scared of. I've got to say this about Boudica, she has a great big heart on her. She is kind and signs up to all manner of causes. She "feels" for the less fortunate.

Me, I'm too busy feeling for my bloody newspapers!

The Voice In The Wilderness

Friday, October 29, 2010

Nitwits 'R' Us

It's official! It can't be denied! Here in the Lazy L (the fiefdom of Hoss the Boss) nobody has a clue what they are doing - and if they did they wouldn't bother to do it because nobody gives a toss anyway! So, it's official - the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

Every 13.395 seconds somebody comes up with yet another idea which effectively makes the dump even harder to manage. This has nothing to do with the Kangas or the cons - those two groups are just the poor folk who have to put up with the lunatics who are running the place. The simple fact is that we have here on the Ponderosa, the Lazy L, a grand total of thirty-nine (39!) governors. When you consider that there are only thirty-nine cons on my wing, then the figure is put into perspective - effectively we have a whole wing's worth of governors. We have governors for bins, governors for showers, governors for table-fucking-tennis balls! But can we get just one of them to do something sensible?

Don't be ridiculous. Governors are not here to 'do' things, they are here to come up with stupid ideas which serve no other purpose than making it harder to do things. It's got so bad that the Number One, Hoss the Boss, has even started asking cons to submit ideas that will assist the prison in operating better. Clearly he has given up on getting any sensible ideas from the Dirty Thirty-Nine.

So, what has happened to attract my attention? A good question, and I can answer it - which is more than any of the bleedin' governors can do.

I order the Daily Telegraph - I like to read it, and on Saturdays there is a whole slew of stuff that comes with it, such as telly magazines, several diverse sections and sometimes the odd free CD or DVD. Of course they are not free - at £1.60p I am really paying through the nose.

Yesterday, Saturday 23rd October, my Telegraph didn't even arrive in the prison - so obviously I didn't get my paper, didn't get my telly mag and didn't get any free gifts that may or may not have been included in the paper.

That's not the end of it, not by a long shot. Those who DID get their newspapers - Mirror, Times, Sun, Lesbians Weekly - all had their telly mags removed on the order of some nitwit governor because they were free! Apparently he didn't like the idea of prisoners getting anything free.

Nothing is "free"! That's why the newspapers cost what they do - the costs are taken into account! Bleedin' moron...

Obviovsly there was a fuss - many cons sort of growling and being less than polite about it - and the telly mags were finally sent over to those who owned them, but not any free CDs or DVDs.

Personally I think somebody should sue the fool. If a person buys something - newspaper, rubber doll, baseball bat - and there is a free gift with it, then nobody has any legal right to withold that free gift under any circumstances.

None of this helps me of course - I still haven't got a telly mag, so I have no idea what's on telly for the week. Not that I watch much telly really. In fact, if it wasn't for the PS2 I wouldn't want the telly at all.

So here I sit, a big, hairy-arsed, former career criminal - and I am whingeing on about a telly magazine. I need to get out more...

The Voice In The Wilderness

How I met your mother

It is the morning of Thursday the 21st October 2010 and the proletariat have all gone off to the salt mines or the stone quarries - or wherever it is they go to work these days. The point is, they've gone and left me at a bit of a loose end. However, as anyone who glances at this drivel on a regular basis will be fully aware, I can turn adversity into triumph at the drop of a hat. (That sounds a bit flash - it's not meant to be.)

Anyway, be that as it may, before the peasants buggered off leaving the idle poor to their own devices, there was a bit of a conversation and one of them asked another: 

When did you meet your wife? 
Now, this is a question asked in many ways by many people and, in particular, children often ask their fathers:
Dad! How did you and Mum first meet?
I'm taking this a step further and have decided, in my wisdom, to inform the world how I first met Boudica, and I might even put a word of truth in here and there - but I doubt it.

Everybody will be familiar with the children's name, often played at parties, of musical chairs. We all know how it works - we run around to music and when the music stops we grab a chair and sit on it. Whoever fails to get a chair is 'OUT'.

Well, grown-ups have a similar game (probably marginally less fun) that they play at parties. (I went to a party once where everyone threw their front door keys into a pile in the middle of a table - pick a key and whoever owned it, that's who you went home with that night. I ended up with an AA box on the A57. I digress...)

The grown-up version of musical chairs doesn't involve chairs at all - you just walk around with a drink and, when the music stops, you grab the nearest woman and kiss her. If you are a woman then you grab a fellow (it prevents acrimony).

So there I was, wandering about with a drink, when the music came to a stop - so I grabbed the nearest girl and kissed her. The girl was Boudica and she followed me round all niqht after that.

Oh I know what you are all saying at this moment - you are saying:

Come off it, Frankie, you are not that good a kisser.
Well, that may be true, but what I didn't tell you was that Boudica was doing a cartwheel at the time. I'm still wondering why she had nylons on her arms and a hairy face. (Sod it, she's going to make me pay for that.)

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Are we there yet?

There is no other way to put this - the simple facts of the matter are that I am a Vulgarian. It's not to be denied! Now, for those of us who spend their time watching Star Trek , a Vulgarian is not a race from outer space - eat your popcorn and stop bothering decent folk. No, a Vulgarian is a person (no sexual preferences here, it can apply to anyone - male, female and those who can't make their minds up) who swears, uses foul language, uses profanity. Put it this way, if they gave away gold stars for not cursing I wouldn't fucking get one!

There are those (a bit up themselves in my opinion) who look askance at us lesser mortals, the swearing class, and say that we lack the ability to express ourselves in proper English, or that we are just lazy - and there may well be a bit of truth in that. BUT! There are times when being a Vulgarian helps a good deal - I know, I've been there.

Let me paint a little picture - a vignette as it were. At this point all of you girlie types can bugger off and make yourselves a cup of herbal tea, paint your fingernails, kick the dog - do what you like. This bit is strictly for the boys. (That has ensured that all the females will read it, them being naturally nosey to start with. Well, women are different to men - that can't be argued with. They are wired-up differently, they are on continental wiring. They do not play with the full deck of cards and are cheating to boot!)

Let us suppose that our car is being uncooperative and we find that it needs a simple procedure such as a new starter motor. Not much point wasting a couple of hundred quid on something we can do perfectly well ourselves, so we do.

Before we can put the new motor on (five quid from any scrapyard) we first have to remove the dysfunctional one. So we get a good, solid grip on the bolt with our trusty spanner, settle our feet for a good purchase and... HEAVE!

The spanner slips off the nut and we punch the engine block so hard that if we did it to an elephant we'd be arrested for cruelty. The skin is ripped from our knuckles in huge swathes and blood flows so copiously that if we gave that much to the Blood Transfusion Service we would get that gold star mentioned earlier.

So there we stand, sucking our torn hand, and I've got to say it, the pain is so bad that we do not look up to heaven and say in a meek sort of voice, "Oh dear!" No, we point our noses up to the sky and yell, "YOU F...... " and so on.

So, is there a case where the vernacular and ONLY the vernacular will serve? Well, now you know why I'm a dedicated Vulgarian. You ladies can continue to read this now.

So I am a Vulgarian. Well, I've got to say it, there are times when a great deal of personal satisfaction can be gained from letting it all out in no uncertain terms. Boudica does it - she has no compunction or restraints when it comes to letting someone know what she thinks, and annoying her is not the wisest career move that a fellow could make.

Apparently, two more of Boudica's pigeons have been assassinated, and the Troll is the main suspect. In fact the Troll is the only suspect. The thing is that Boudica is beginning to get annoyed, and annoying her is a bad plan. The British Army don't annoy Boudica - and they've got TANKS! No, when Boudica gets annoyed wise men find nice deep holes to hide in and pull the tops in after them.

So here is my problem, me being a humanitarian Vulgarian - should I tell the Troll to behave herself?


Should I just sit back and let the invective flow copiously?

I'm keeping out of it - fuck it.

Finally (and I suspect that everyone will have realised this by now), there is no progress or news about my impending (possibly) downgrading, or my impending (also possibly) transfer to greener pastures. I saw Blodwin during the week and all she could tell me was that the paperwork was going up to the Deputy Governor (Hoss the Boss's assistant) on Thursday just gone, that would be the 14th October. A bit early yet for a response I suppose - we will see what next week brings.

I'm a bit like a little kid sitting in the back of the car. "Are we there yet?"

The Voice In The Wilderness

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Great expectations

Jails are made of bricks and passions, broken dreams and ribald men.
And if there was ever a true statement, or a thought-provoking one, that was it.

The good news is that I have finally got the independent psychologist's report and assessment from my solicitor. The solicitor thinks it may be a bad idea to submit the report to the parole board (or any other board I should think) on the grounds that it is less than complimentary in respect of the PCL-R, the HCR20 and other engines of assessment.

Well, I don't agree. If a document is critical of the PCL-R, or any other assessment engine being used by the prison service, then surely that must be seen as a reflection on the engine rather than on the individual being assessed. If something isn't quite as efficient as everyone thinks it is, then that should be stated. After all, it's all about personal opinions at the best of times really, and we all know that two people can see the same incident entirely differently.

Wasn't it Frederick Langbridge who wrote:

Two men look out through the same bars;
One sees the mud, and one the stars.
There we have it! The prison service (though not everyone in it) not only sees the mud generally but wallows in it.

The psychologist writes a long and interesting report, and where I could offer argument about one or two points, generally he strikes me as extremely sensible as well as entirely academic in his approach to matters - he researches things thoroughly, something that young trainees simply don't do.

Whatever he may have said about me, and very little of it could be objected to by me. The bottom line seems to be that my risk of reoffending would seem to be more or less zero. It doesn't come any lower than that really. He also feels that I should be sent to an open prison. Blodwyn, in her wisdom, also thinks I should be downgraded - in her case to a Category C. Then, of course, we have The Wallace saying the same thing - send him to a Cat C at least, and all other report writers are nodding in agreement.

Oddly enough, the Smiling Assassin has been conspicuous by both her physical absence and her lack of input. I say no more there.

I have sent a copy of the psychologist's report to Blodwyn - she may want to use it when she sees the Deputy Governor to ask him to sign the papers for my downgrading and transfer. Besides, she expressed a desire to see it - I promised she would and I always keep my word.

So, where does that leave me now?

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.
Oh yes, Arthur Clough knew what he was talking ahout all right. In this case the tide is certainly coming in, flooding the creeks and inlets. I am sure that there is bound to be someone, somewhere in the system, who will try to stop the tide, but King Canute tried that - all he got was wet feet.

Watch this space carefully, I'm expecting a bit of good news sooner or later - I feel a bit like Pip in Great Expectations.

Finally, a word about Boudica. She hasn't managed to get a letter to me yet this week - it seems that the mail is a good week behind. I've approached the right authorities on the matter, but somebody is lying to them.

Oh yes, we assure you, Sir, the mail is being delivered.
Oh well, we will see.

Consequently I can't give my weekly report on Boudica, her pigeons and her ongoing war with The Troll.

In all of this, one important protagonist has been completely overlooked and that is that nasty ould tart, Lady Luck. I think she's been away on holiday or something recently (or her attention is on some other poor bugger) but she hasn't been kicking me. I almost miss her. I was starting to like her periodic kicks in the cobblers - my only real contact with another person. Who am I trying to k1d? She's not real and there is no contact, it's all metaphorical - but you know what I mean.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Friday, October 08, 2010

RAM day

This morning at 10 o'clock, one of the Kangas came to ask me if I would go down to the visits area where the Risk Assessment Management board were sitting because they were ready to see me. I wasn't scheduled until 10:30 but I wasn't exactly busy, unless playing Resident Evil 4 can be considered as busy.

"Certainly!" cried I. "I'm on my way."

Of course it took me half an hour to get there - it is almost impossible to get from A to B in this place at the best of times. I finally got there and then had to hurry up and wait. So from 10:30 until almost eleven I just sat outside twiddling my thumbs.

Just as well they were ready for me at ten, or I'd have been sitting there still. But that's just me being churlish.

I went in just before 11 o'clock and there were four females sitting there and, as we all know, I get on with the female of the species - it's the males that I am sick of the sight, sound and smell of. I like women - I think I must be a secret lesbian. Sorry - a secret lady in sensible shoes.

What was I talkng about? Oh yes.

In I went.

"Sit anywhere you like," says the chairperson - a pleasant woman with a smile. "We don't want this to seem like a tribunal, so sit wherever you care to, wherever makes you feel comfortable."

I just sat on the chair at the end of the table, obviously where the accused should be sitting.

Blodwyn was there, along with another woman whose name I have forgotten but whom I have had one or two funny chats with. There was a youngish woman taking the minutes and whose name I didn't catch because she spoke quietly - and, of course, the chairwoman.

Well, there is little purpose served in going into what was said, all that matters is the final outcome and that was this:

They want me sending to a Category C prison, but Portsmouth isn't accepting cons at the minute, it being in a transitional stage. So both the chairwoman and Blodwyn are going to speak to the Deputy Governor personally, in addition to filling in the correct paperwork, and they are advising him that I should he made into a Cat C and transferred to Channings Wood, which is in Devon, or in that direction somewhere - the West Country anyway. However, should the Dep decline to downgrade me, then I will have to go to a Cat B prison and then wait to be downgraded and go to a Cat C from there.

What I'm wondering now is, will the Dep sign the papers? I know that I am to be given the strongest recommendations, but, as was mentioned on the board, I have only been a Cat B for just over a year. The Dep may baulk at committing an act of decency - they often do.

Howsomever (that's a great word - it makes me smile), as we all know, I am the world's most optimistic pessimist and we can only hope for the best but expect the worst. It will be a couple of weeks (probably) before the Dep decides but, with the support I've got from all the right people and quarters, I remain hopeful.

So one day, in the not too distant future, the weekly Voice may suddenly come under the heading of Channings Wood, or some other low joint. I can only say, "Watch this space".

Finally, what will Boudica say about it?

"Channings Wood? Where is Channings Wood? Why didn't you ask them to send you to Botany Bay while you were at it? Portsmouth was far enough but at least we knew where that was on the map! Channings bleedin' Wood! It sounds like a spot for tourists and picnics!"

Not my idea - I just report the facts. So don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player.

The Voice In The Wilderness


It's Sunday - the third day of October to be precise.

Sunday - that day in the week when all over the planet things come to a halt in Christian countries and everyone takes it nice and easy for the day. People lie in bed later (apart from those who have to get out of bed to cater for the lazy buggers who stay in because it's Sunday.)

Sunday means all sorts of things to all sorts of people and here at the Lazy L it is no different, I suppose, apart from one minor fact - here at Hoss the Boss's ranch it means,  quite simply, a day of utter, mind-destroying boredom. It gets so bad here that sometimes I seriously consider thrusting a fork into my leg just to make things interesting.

Still, we mustn't complain, eh? After all, it could be worse - we could have been born Welsh.

Speaking of the leek killers, I see that Druidism can now put itself down for a slice of the charity cake because it is an officially accepted religion. Well, I've got to be honest about this and say that men running round in long white robes with big beards and wearing myrtle wreaths on their heads wouldn't exactly inspire me much. Waving sickles around would merely serve to encourage me to keep away from them - you could have somebody's eye out with one of those things.

Sunday - the weekly day of atonement.

"Forgive me Father for I have sinned, it is a week since my last confession."

"And what is the hature of this sin? My child."

"I've had the impure thoughts, Father."

"lmpure thoughts, ye say! Away and say three decades for yer sins, yer bowsie."

Of course, sometimes the sins are so horrendous - lustful thoughts spring to mind - that a few decades simply won't do. Our sins - for what they are in this world of murder and mayhem - are so wicked that we feel the guilt right down to our little tootsies - we wanted to see the postman hung, drawn and quartered - that we have to come up with our own, self-imposed penances. I once tied barbed wire around my underpants and flagellated myself on the floor.

"Have you any impure thoughts my son?"

The fucking barbed wire was killing me - and that's something ELSE I've got to be sorry for!

Sunday - do the pagans have to suffer it? Somehow I doubt it. All they do is dance around in the moonlight and chase scantily-clad girls through the woods yelling, "I'll cure yer sins!"

"Have you any impure thoughts my son?"

Boudica has - she has them every Sunday and they are all to do with the Troll. More of Boudica's pigeons have been assassinated apparently - at least two more. It's a good job she's got dozens of the feathered pests really. Every time she opens the back door of the house there is a concerted rush by a gang of commando pigeons to get inside. I've told her, it's only a matter of time before they are sitting on the settee, watching the Pigeon Channel on Sky and demanding cups of tea. She's got one called Scruffy who actually stands all day on the back step and fights off the others.

What I want to know is this - why has David Attenborough not been to make a documentary about the Mad Pigeon Woman of Hartlepool?

Sunday - I'm thinking about getting done up in fancy dress, just for the fun of it. I might shove a sweeping brush up my bum, pour treacle on my head and pretend I'm a toffee apple.

Still - look on the bright side - it's Monday tomorrow. I've got the Risk Assessment Management board on Tuesday and everyone wants me moving to greener pastures. Blodwyn wants me into a Cat C prison at least.

I wonder if they will let me feed the pigeons.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A grumpy old goat

In my capacity as a miserable, grumpy old goat I often find myself at odds with so many things in life for no other reason than that I am a miserable, grumpy old goat. I've said it before, and no doubt I will say it again at fairly regular intervals, it's not easy being me.

The simple fact is that I am grumpy at the best of times. Just about everything gets on my wick, irritates me, annoys and just generally pisses me off. However, it is not a malicious sort of "pissed off" - not a bit of it. No, it's just a general sort of thing such as being annoyed at the drivel politicians spout when it is blatantly obvious they don't believe a word of what they are saying themselves, they are merely adhering to the party line.

Esoteric - esoterically pissed off, that's what I am - me and millions like me. But it doesn't make me or them a bad person or bad people, it just makes us pissed off.

However (and with me there is always an however), every now and then, from time to time, there is a genuine cause for my state of irritation and this time it is that wonderful person whom we have all come to know and love well - the Smiling Assassin. Once again she has raised her ugly head above the parapet to take a couple of shots at me. Personally I think she must be in league with that other fickle ould tart, Lady Luck.

As we all know, I have been undergoing a good deal of assessment and other interviews to ascertain whether I am suitable to be treated like a human bean or whether I am actually  - as the Smiling Assassin would like us all to believe - as mad as a March hare.

I now have in my possession reports from various sources such as Blodwyn, The Wallace, my personal officer and his line manager. Without exception, and without any form of caveat, they all say the same thing - it is time to give the miserable, grumpy old bastard a break and let him go off to greener pastures. All I am waiting for now is two more finished and final reports - one from Blodwyn and one from the independent psychologist. I fully expect that these will also support me in the strongest terms. I hope to have them in my gruby little mitts before Tuesday 5th October when I go before the Risk Assessment Board.

Da da! Enter,stage left, the Smiling Assassin. It is completely matterless what anyone may say to this woman, she will twist and distort it to suit her own ends, and if those ends are not vicious enough then she will quite simply lie. There is not a prisoner in the place who has a good word for her and she was once heard to say that if she had her way then all cons would be kept in their cells for twenty-four hours a day - no telly, no radio, chained to the wall and fed on bread and water. Oh no, the Smiling Assassin doesn't like prisoners. It makes me wonder why she is even in the job, unless of course she gets her thrills this way.

Anyway, be that as it may, she wanted me to go and talk to her about the upcoming RAM board. Why? She makes no reports! She merely collates from the reports that are submitted by the authorised areas and departments. I wouldn't go to see her yesterday - she can rip my heart out without any assistance from me, thank you very much.

Was that good enough for her? Was it hell. She came to my cell door and, while I cannot remember her exact words verbatim (only policemen can do that), I can give the gist of her comments and veiled threats.

You need to speak to me... It is for your own good.. The only person you will harm is yourself... You promised Blodwyn...
And so on.

In the end I made one comment. I said, "You can stand there talking all afternoon, it won't do you any good. I've got nothing else to say to you," and ignored her as I went for a drive on my PS2.

She stood there for a minute or two, made a couple of other cracks but finally buggered off.

So, what is she going to put into the document which she is going to prepare for the board? The same document incidentally which she threatened to use against me weeks ago and which has now been superceded by factual stuff from the various report writers. She was going to submit the document KNOWING it to be false, wrong and all the rest of it, if I didn't speak to her. She intended to do it anyway of course, but now she can't - she knows all about the new reports, the support I have and all the rest of it. However, she will still try to slide the metaphorical knife into my poor, aching ribs because she knows no other way of life.

As I said earlier, it's not easy being me.

I am doing myself a big service by not speaking to her because I know that in my honesty I would be offensively rude, and I have no desire or intention of putting myself in such a position - far better not to speak at all, not even with witnesses.

And that, my friends is called spotting a problem before it can develop and taking the appropriate action to avoid it. I might be a miserable, grumpy old goat, but I'm not a stupid miserable, grumpy old goat.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Confusion rules

I'm confused.

By this time, it has become a well-established medical fact that I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, not the most observant of creatures, and certainly not the brightest star in the firmament. We all know these things. Nevertheless, I'm confused.

I'll simplify it - well, it has to be simple for my overworked brain cell:

In prison, any prison as far as I am aware, there is a system in place for writing reports about cons, whether these reports are for Sentence Planning (stop laughing in the back row, this is serious.) Sentence Planning! There is only one plan - to go home. Anyway, whether it be Sentence Planning, Risk Management, Parole or any other bleedin' thing - they are all the same reports, all written by the same people, all going to the one central point (which is the Offender Management Unit - OMU) and collated. They are all the same people, all the same reports and all put together by the same person.

This is what confuses me - and maybe it is more a reflection on my poor thinking skills rather than on the incompetence of those who couldn't (apparently) organise a piss-up in a brewery. About a year ago my risk levels were all judged as low, apart from being medium to the public. Don't ask me how they work these things out, they don't know themselves - otherwise the system wouldn't be failing so spectacularly. Suddenly, about a year ago, my risk levels were changed to High Risk to the public and High Risk to a "known" adult.

At that point I got onto the Wallace about it, and Andrew wrote to the Number One Governor here several times. "Who is this 'known' adult?" was the question. "Er, um, there is no known adult," was the answer. So that was changed to low risk and the public risk was changed to medium. So, that made me a low risk to just about everyone and everything on the planet - apart from flies. (I dislike flies - they irritate me, they intrude, they annoy, they distract the attention. I don't like flies.)

So, there we were - low risk. All I needed to do was to take the various assessments to see if I really am human and, once they were completed, I would be in line for beatification and sainthood. I complied with those same assessments - job done.

Imagine my confusion when I got my copy of the next Sentence Planning / Risk Assessment Management bollocks or whatever it is this time (scheduled for the 5th of next month) to discover that my risk levels had been changed again back to high for the public and "known" adult. This is despite the fact that I have progressed massively! So I asked about it.

"What is going on?" was my reasonable question.

The Wallace had no idea. Blodwyn had no idea. Nobody had any idea, until we discovered that it is all the tender and conscientious work of the Smiling Assassin. So, The Wallace is having them changed back - so is Blodwyn - so is my personal officer - and so is HIS line manager.

That only leaves the Smiling Assassin.

By this time of course I should have had all of the reports in the post from The Wallace, the independent psychologist and others. Unfortunately that only applies in the normal world, not here at the Lazy L. The censors cannot do their job - there are not enough of them. In the last few weeks my incoming mail levels have gone from between ten and fifteen letters per week coming in from family and friends, down to three. Mail is piling up in the censors', both incoming and outgoing. Apparently Hoss the Boss won't supply the people for the job - though there are apparently plenty of people to stand around and write bollocks about prisoners.

Some days no mail at all comes onto the wings and we are told that there is none. Over six hundred and fifty cons in this prison and on some days there is no mail for anyone at all? Bollocks!

So, I am confused. I'm not even getting Boudica's letters (and she's not getting mine) despite the fact that she writes every day, as I do myself.

Speaking about the mighty Boudica, the Troll killed another one of her pigeons and Boudica is not happy about it. Maybe she is confused as well.

Wasn't it Henry David Thoreau who said:

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
All I can say is that it's a good job he didn't have to live at the Lazy L.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Visit with an independent psychologist

On Tuesday 14th September I attended the visiting area of the prison to meet the independent psychologist who was to conduct an assessment of me in respect of the PLC-R and the HRC-20, amongst other things.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, although from reading the small amount I had read about him I expected a reasonable and certainly efficient person. The man I met was extremely pleasant - one of the nicest people I have encountered in many a long year. He is a man of my own generation, being a mere year younger than me and could therefore fully appreciate the fact that I have become a grumpy old man, albeit one with a sense of humour.

I think the best way to describe the day - he was here all of the afternoon too - would be to say that we spent as much time simply chatting in a social sort of way as we did discussing the matters in hand. I think we found ourselves in accord on so many areas of modern life, and while we were chatting he fitted in his questions unobtrusively and expertly and made his notes.

As he said himself, I may not like everything he has to say about me - nobody ever agrees with everything - but I do expect that his final report will be extremely beneficial, probably even more so than the report already produced by the Prison Service.

I left the visits area at the end of the afternoon's session feeling as though I had enjoyed a good day with good conversation. Of course, I was brought back to the mundane incompetence of prison life almost instantly because the visits people thought that I was still a Cat 'A' prisoner. I have been a Cat 'B' now for a year and that simply isn't enough time for the facts to filter down to all departments. They quite simply do not communicate with each other.

That fact became even clearer on arrival back on the wing because I was given two documents. One was a lot of rubbish to tell me that they want to assess me for a CALM course. The other was my latest OASYS documents in which they are still stuck in 2005 and don't even know that I have completed the assessments for everything and have no requirement for courses.

Oh dear, it's not at all easy dealing with intransigence like that.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A busy week

Last week I said - or if I didn't I should have - that this week should prove to be interesting, or at least that the potential was there.

Now, I'm not normally right about very much, unless it is the fact that Lady Luck will be along to kick me in the testacularities at regular intervals. However, hit me with a stick and call me Susan if I wasn't right for a change. This week has been interesting to say the least.

It all started on Monday the 13th because after lunch I wandered up to the Healthcare to see the optician and got myself a couple of new pairs of glasses, one for reading and one for seeing. All I need now is something worth reading - but there's bugger-all worth seeing around here at the best of times. The point is that when I got back to the wing I was handed a document which had come from the Offender Management Unit, the OMU, and it came with a bit of paper which basically was a threat. It said that if I didn't respond within a week then the document would go forward to the upcoming Sentence Planning/Risk Assessment Board (scheduled for 5th October).

So, being naturally nosy, I had a look at the document and it is a pack of rubbish from beginning to end, full of lies and pure hubris. It was compiled by a person in the OMU whose name I am not allowed to use but who is called by everyone "The Smiling Assassin". This person smiles at a con, promises to correct things and then proceeds to stab him in the back. Everything this person does seems to be negative. All this of course despite the fact that Blodwyn had already made the report stating that I am a normal sort of cove, not a psychopath and in need of no courses.

The Smiling Assassin had me down as in need of every course that could be found, and I suspect a couple that have been made up. I have been accused of the following (you'll love this):

Violent Lifestyle
Interpersonal Aggression
Poor Emotional Control/Management/Regulation
Chaotic and Disorganised Lifestyle
Use of a Weapon
Parasitic Lifestyle
Lifestyle(s) Impulsivity
Callous Unemotional Traits
Criminal Personality
Calculated Assessment Of Consequences
Poor Perspective Taking
Rigid OR Inflexjble Thinking
Conning and Manipulative Behaviour
And all of that is just in one paragraph! There are dozens of them. In fact almost everything the Smiling Assassin has put into this document is incorrect in much the same way.

"Ah!" you say, "But is that the worst part?"

Is it hell. The Smiling Assassin is blaming The Wallace for the report!

Well, that was Monday 13th. On Tuesday 14th I spent the day in the visits with the independent psychologist who had come to assess my character using various engines such as the PCL-R and the HCR-20 - much the same as Blodwyn had done really. I showed him Blodwyn's Feedback Document and he noted right away that nothing had been said about age, and let's face it, I'm getting old these days - in fact I'm getting old every day, I never have a day off. (I have covered the psychologist's visit elsewhere so I won't go into it here but as favourable as Blodwyn's report is, his will be even more so.)

When I got back to the wing after the visit, I was given yet another document from Nitwits 'R' Us, and this one wanted me to be assessed for the CALM course - Controlling Anger and Learning to Manage it.
Anger? I'm surprised that more cons are not terminally and totally overcome with apoplexy, never mind anger.

Wednesday 15th and a woman came to see me, a very pleasant person I have to say, and she worked for an outside company who seemed to be under the impression that I am a new boy. However, when I told her that she must be making a mistake, because there are three Wilkinsons in this prison, she just sat and we had a nice chat for an hour or so, with her sniggering a good deal - a woman fond of a joke and who could see the funny side.

Thursday 16th I finally managed to get down to the visits and had my photograph taken to send out to Boudica - it's the only way to keep the pigeons in line really. They cost me £1.20 each and I had three done - all donations in brown envelopes and addressed to the Charity for One Legged Albanian Lesbians, thank you. (Mind, I'm not allowed to use that word now, it is politically unsound - so we will have to say "Ladies in sensible shoes".) They showed me the finished product in the afternoon - not bad.

On Friday 17th I saw to the photographs going into the mail as soon as they let me out of my kennel and that was that seen to. I was also informed during the morning that the Smiling Assassin would be submitting the nonsense paperwork whether I liked it or not, despite the fact that she had Blodwyn's report and knew that everything she had said was wrong and untrue. Well, I can see her twisted logic - she (The Smiling Assassin) was blaming the Wallace for it. What she didn't know was that in the afternoon of that very day I was off down to the visits yet again, this time for a video-link with the Wallace herself. I took the report with me.

I like the Wallace. She is run off her feet, bless her, trying to deal with her clients, and I always drive her mad with my wandering mind and subject-switching. I showed her the Smiling Assassin's paperwork and showed her the fact that she (The Wallace) was getting the blame for it.

The Wallace hasn't made a report on me for a long time, but she is now, and it will be in my hands, Andrew's hands AND the hands of the OMU at some point this comming week. She is not too delighted with the Smiling Assassin, but there again, who is?

So! The final outcome, the analysis of the week - what is it? Despite Lady Luck and her tender administrations it has all gone extremely well from my point of view. I've got The Wallace batting on my side, and Blodwyn, and the independent psychologist. In fact the only person not batting for me is the Smiling Assassin, and she comes fairly low in the food chain once the heavy artillery begins.

Finally I'd better say something ahout Boudica or she will start bullying me again, her and her pigeons. Now, it may (or may not) be remembered that she told me a while back that she now had quite a few feathered friends. Well, this week I had two photographs from her of her pigeons - she's got dozens of the bleedin' things! No wonder the Troll is moaning! The roof of the house is sagging under the weight of feathers! She's bought a D.I.Y. book and said she wants me to build a new house for her pigeons - I've told her that she can build it herself.

Besides, a house big enough for that lot would need planning permission, and she's annoyed the local council enough for now.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What is truth?

"What is truth?" said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. Thus wrote Francis Bacon somewhere between 1561 and 1626. We know this because those are the years of his lifespan.

What is truth?

A good question.

It's no good asking the CCRC that question - they don't know the answer. They simply ask the police and, as everyone knows, the police wouldn't acknowledge the truth if it was wrapped in red silk and shoved up their collectives. But never mind.

As John Locke said around about the same time:

It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of truth.
What Locke was saying, in his own way, is merely a reiteration of an old adage which we have all heard many times before:
You can take a horse to the water but you can't make it drink.
I like quotes, they sort of satisfy me in a strange but filling way. Pithy, that's the word. I like pithy. A quote, saying or adage can be found to cover just about each and every situation, I should imagine - and that got me to thinking, a pastime which I indulge myself in a good deal.

I got to thinking ahout all of the things I write myself, reams of the stuff, millions of words covering the whole gamut of emotions, I suppose - although I don't do pathos very well. I do defiance like an expert, but that comes from being a grumpy old man mostly. Everybody gets to that stage sooner or later, unless of course you are seeking saintbood.

When I snuff it, as I surely will, will anyone quote me? Surely, in amongst all of the stuff I have churned out since I discovered the power and satisfaction of the written word, I have written at least one sentence that is worth remembering! Can I expect that, at some time in the uncharted future, there will be a tutor somewhere looking sternly at some unheeding student and saying, "Have you actually read Wilkinson?"

"Yes sir!" lies the student.

"Well, what did he say about truth?"

"Er, um, er, um."

Everybody can trot out a few quotes, although they may not realise that fact. We all know the old sayings our grandmothers gently beat into our flesh as children. We can all quote. We all have favourites too. They don't necessarily have a lot of relevance but that's hardly the point - the point is, we like them. Some of my favourites...


The mad are all in God's keeping.
Well, that's me on safe ground then.


It takes two to speak the truth - one to speak, and another to hear.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
Oh yes, the latter is a gem indeed. We lurch from crisis to crisis all of our lives, desperate for a bit of peace.


Truth sits upon the lips of dying men.
It's a fact! When we get older we tell the truth because we no longer give a shit.

That's the thing about the game of life - it's the only game in town that we know we are never going to get out of alive. Life is going to kill the lot of us in the end - we lose the game.

Finally, a word about Boudica, who is now hiding behind net curtains and driving the Troll insane with her pigeons and sniggering a good deal as she does it. Apparently, the Troll is only a little woman, so I've suggested that when she (Boudica) speaks to her, she simply says, "Stand up when you talk to me."

One last word on truth - it's never safe to be entirely truthful, and there is one instance when we must never tell the truth.

"Does my bum look big in this?"

"Your bum would look big in the Gobi Desert."

Wrong answer! Prepare to spend the rest of your life dodging things like plates and low-flying shoes.

Anton Chekhov had it right when he said:

Any idiot can face a crisis. It is day-to-day living that wears you out.
The Voice In The Wilderness

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Things are starting to get interesting at last. Finally I can feel a certain amount of satisfaction (albeit just a smidgen), and there is definitely a bit of a glow at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. The tired waves may be breaking but not as vainly as they once were - inches are definitely being gained - and far back, through the creeks and inlets, maybe the tide has definitely turned and is beginning to flood in.

The cry goes up, "What's the nitwit talking about THIS time?"

Progress, my friends, progress. Good old Blodwyn has provided me with what she has termed her "Feedback Document" and in there, amongst the psychobabble that they use to confuse us poor, uneducated laymen, there are gems which glitter and show definite hope and promise. Of course this is not her full and finished report, but I have very real reason to expect that she will furnish me with a decent and fair effort - after all, she actually believes in doing things correctly, a rare and exotic thing in the modern prison service (if you can call a service stuck in the 1850's modern). So, I have great hopes and expectations of Blodwyn's final doc.

But it doesn't stop there, not a bit of it. It is Sunday 12th September 2010 as I write this, and on Tuesday 14th September 2010 (two days' time for the dyslexic), I have been informed that I have got legal visits booked all day with an independent psychologist. These are only legal visits in the loose sense because really he is coming to see me with a view to writing his own psychology report on me. When this idea was first mooted, I think the general idea was to allow us to compare his report with that of the prison service. We thought that the PS would have their report done by some young girl, a trainee who would probably look like she should be at home playing with toys rather than making life-changing and life-­affecting reports based on her own lack of experience.

However, that hasn't turned out to be the case because I got good old Blodwin - an expert - and I am thankful for it. Not only did I meet a decent, conscientious person, but she is also nice - and I like her, she has a sense of humour (something very few of the psychology fraternity seem to possess.) Consequently I have this completely unreasoned feeling that the independent report isn't going to be far removed from Blodwyn's. Of course we will have to wait and see.

Also on the day that the independent psychologist is coming to see me, I have arranged for the prison to take my photograph for me to send out to Boudica and Andrew. Andrew needs an up-to-date picture so that folk can see how much the years, and of course the tender, loving care of the prison service, have changed me. Boudica wants one to throw darts at and to use to keep the pigeons from coming into her kitchen, turning on her telly, eating her out of house and home and annoying the Troll next door.

I also suspect she wants to take the piss. It is everyone's right in this world to indulge in a little light mockery of those we find ridiculous from time to time, but Boudica is taking liberties. I'm going to report her, not to the Council for Civil Liberties (if it still exists), but to the Council for Diabolical Liberties.

Finally, I've got to see the optician again. As we get older and totter inexorably toward the tomb, things start to fall apart. I remember well when I had the eyes of an eagle, the heart of a lion and the limbs of a Greek God. Things have changed a bit since then. I look like Gollum these days, without the eyes. I'm as blind as a bat, as baldy as an orangutan's arse and I am probably very attractive to flies.

Apart from that I'm doing okay - thanks for asking.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Every silver lining has a cloud

I should have known better of course. I should have taken into account the words of that great poet and typing error, Mike Spilligan when he said:
Every silver lining has a cloud.
Oh make no mistake, I've got my silver lining all right - it's the cloud that comes with it that I should have kept my eye on. And that cloud is the bloody CCRC again - that merry band of brothers and sisters who have been recruited by the Freemasons on behalf of the Establishment to protect the police, no matter what they do.

The simple fact is that the CCRC will not, under any circumstances, either do or say anything that is even remotely critical of the upstanding, criminal class we laughingly call the police. I have shown the CCRC how police planted evidence but of course they quite simply refuse to accept it. Well, ignoring the facts will not
make them go away, and sooner or later the facts WILL come out and the CCRC will merely have more egg on their collective face. They are supposed to be independent and impartial, not a rubber stamp for any and every crime committed by corrupt cops. The facts WILL come out in the end.

Their latest nasty little plan is to give me very little time to put together and present my submissions. Consequently I have been compelled to simply parcel up over two hundred pages of paperwork and send them to my solicitor. I have asked her to do the rest of the work herself on the grounds that it's about time they did SOMETHING instead of simply letting me do the work while they garner the credit for it. Anyway, she has got until Friday 1st October to submit her efforts to the CCRC, and I hope that there ARE a few

That's the cloud. The silver lining comes from Blodwyn and The Wallace. Blodwyn came to speak to me the other day and informed me of several things, such as that she is coming for a longer chat at some point in the next few days - but there is no bad news involved. Apparently she has been chatting to the Wallace and between them they have decided that the best thing for me is a move to Kingston prison, which is in Portsmouth. I agree. Kingston is a Cat B jail with definite prospects of a fairly swift move to the Cat C section
of the prison. It's only a small step from there to a D.

However, I'm still unhappy about this CCRC thing, nitwits that they are. Their hopes that I will simply give up (now that I can see a glimmer of light at the end of the very dark tunnel I have been living in for almost twenty-five years) is a false hope. Two quotes spring to mind, and they would do well to remember them, not just in my case but in the others they deal with too.

William Lloyd Garrison said:

I am in earnest - I will not equivocate -I will not excuse - I will not retreat a single inch ­ and I will be heard!
William Jennings Bryan said:
The humblest citizen of all the land, when clad in the armour of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the Hosts of Error.
Finally, a word about Boudica - otherwise she will think that I have forgotten her, and her pigeons. Apparently she is still at loggerheads, pistols at dawn, with the Troll. I've told her, "Just tell her to bugger off and ignore her. the woman needs counselling!"

It was Boudica's Ma's birthday last week - 90 years old. I think that's marvellous. She must have been born in 1920 and the other night I was thinking about the changes she has witnessed over the years, wars she has lived through, things she has seen.

I hope I live that long. I'd like to live forever, but I've got half a suspicion that it won't happen. In fact it is about as likely as the CCRC making a critical remark about Officer Plod.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Which is my way to this honest man's house?

Lying in the pile of reasonably clean straw that I call my bed last night, I got to pondering (as I do each night), as I waited patiently for the sweet, welcoming arms of Morpheus to enfold me into the world of dreams, where anything and everything is possible - give me a break, I'm not Wordsworth!

Howsomever, there I was, having a wee ponder, and I got round to the concept of 'Honesty'. Now, being a former career criminal I used to have less than a passing acquaintance with the very concept of honesty, although I like to think I have become quite good friends with it now.

During my discourse with Blodwin the Head Expert the other week, I made a sort of throwaway remark about life being so much easier if we have a little bit of larceny in our hearts. I think Blodwin was a bit worried about that and I had to explain that I didn't mean that everyone has to be a crook, far from it really.

What I meant was that life is so much easier, and we can get much further in all walks of it, if we are prepared to turn a blind eye where it is appropriate, cut a few corners, take the easy path, that sort of thing. I'm not advocating criminal behaviour, just saying that a little common sense can go a long way to easing our path on the sometimes very rocky road of life.

To be quite frank about it, honest men are few and far between - I mean REALLY honest men. Everyone will turn a blind eye given the right circumstances - it is human nature, I think.

Anyway, as I was dropping off, something from John Bunyan came to mind too - from "Pilgrim's Progress", which I had been reading the other day. Pilgrim is talking to Worldly-wise and asks, "Sir, which is my way to this honest man's house?"

A good question indeed - where lives Mister Honest?

Boudica said I was a bit grumpy in my letter the other day and, being a self-proclaimed expert, she came to the conclusion that it was because I had run out of books to read. Come to think on it, she may be right - that's why I was reading Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" for the umpteenth time. It's this place - it frowns upon such decadent practices as reading. Any other prison, and fellows like me can have books sent in by family and friends - but not at the "Lazy L". What! Let prisoners have books! What the hell is going on? The bastards will want to start reading them next!

No, the 'Lazy L' frowns on such activity. "Go to the library!" they cry. Yeah, right, okay - once a week, five books, finished them in three days and that's that. We are told, "You may purchase books from an approved source such as W.H.Smith or Waterstones!" (Although I'm not sure about Waterstones.) So every now and then, after I have managed to accumulate the money, I spend about a hundred and fifty quid on books. I only get half a dozen for that of course because I buy substantial tomes. Most of them are given to the library when I'm finished of course, maybe that's how they get their library in the first place, who can tell?

Which in effect brings me right back to honesty with a touch of Machiavelli thrown in. We won't let cons have books sent in, we will make them buy them. It will stop cons from accumulating too many books, stop them from reading too much and getting cleverer than wot we is, earn us a few quid in discounts - and we will get any books that cons buy in the end anyway!

Okay, maybe that's all a little harsh, but it certainly shows that everyone needs a little larceny in their heart to get by - certainly they do at the "Lazy L".

Finally, Boudica is at war with the absentee tenant next door, who may have taken to killing her (Boudica's) pigeons - she has found several dead ones lately. The Troll (as Boudica calls her) has also complained to somebody or other about Boudica feeding the birds. A young girl with anorexia came to see Boudica about it but went away again after being reassured that Boudica was doing nothing wrong. I've told Boudica to report the Troll to the RSPCA - because killing birds is frowned upon.

The woman is only doing it because she wants to sell her house! I've got to say it - she is being foolish in insisting on annoying Boudica. Maybe she hasn't heard the phrase, "It is easier to deal with a friendly lion than with a mad dog." Do yourself a favour Missus, don't annoy Boudica too much. She has mellowed over the years - a most fortunate state of affairs for you really. There was a time in days of yore when Boudica would have been less than polite about things and painted your windows black to go with your soul. Who kills birds?

Oh well, no doubt it will all be sorted out in the end - the Troll will sell her hovel, Boudica will continue to feed her blackbird (plus other assorted avian friends), Hartlepool will win the FA Cup and Osama Bin Laden will kiss George Bush's arse. But I'm not holding my breath.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The unforgiving minute

The other day during our conversation, Blodwin the head expert - Geddit? Oh please yourselves - Blodwin the head expert asked me many things, and one of those questions (to paraphrase) was, "What do you intend to do when you are finally released"

I answered her of course, to the best of my ability, but giving it some thought later ( I soul-search every night) I got to thinking about the Rat Race and came to the conclusion that I don't want to be a part of it. In fact I want nothing to do with it at all. The trouble with the Rat Race is that even if you win the race, you are still a rat.

Oh don't misunderstand me - I do not intend to simply fold up my tent and go meekly into the dark night (yes I know that it is "go gentle into that good night" - it's called Poetic Licence), not a bit of it. I have a lot to read, a lot to learn, a lot to write. I will fill each and every unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run, be sure of that.

However, this got me to thinking (again) and this time it was about the sixty seconds' worth of distance run and the unforgiving minute. Move over Kipling, let the rabbit see the dog.

Now, I never touch my bed during the day - beds are for sleeping on at night, not for lying there filling the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of knackers scratched, watching morons on the telly and heading for obesity. Beds are for sleeping in the welcoming arms of Morpheus.

Many years ago, when I was a remand prisoner in 1986, I was held in Durham Prison Segregation Unit because, being Category A, I could not be on the wings with Ordinary, Decent Criminals - the ODC's. Also down the seg that time was an IRA man called Vince, long gone home now and drinking Dublin dry. He gave me some salutary advice.

"Listen, Frank," said he. "You need to get yerself a regime and stick to it or ye'll nivver survive. Nivver sleep on yer bed in the day - sit on yer chair at the table reading. NIVVER lie on yer bed - that leads te idleness and idleness leads te ruination."

Or words to that effect.

I never lay on my bed during the day from that day to this. It served me well. I read more, learned more and became a better person for it - ask Blodwin, she'll tell you.

So the years began to pass and nine years later, in 1995, I was in Frankland Prison - and so were a lot of the IRA boys. Vince, "The Bould Vince", was round the corner from me and one day, just after unlock after the lunch hour, I had cause to go round to his cell. I got there and simply went in. No manners were necessary, not with the Paddys - and I was seen as one of them. I was an adopted Mick, non-disposable.

In I went and there was "The Bould Vince", asleep in his bed.

"Hoy! Ye bollix!" I cried. "What's yer bleedin' game?"

He opened his eyes and looked at me. "What?" says he, clearly a man with a great career ahead of him as a conversationalist.

"Ye bollix!" I repeated, just in case he had missed it the first time. "When I was on remand you told me, 'Never sleep on yer bed in the day time!'"

"Jaysus!" says he. "Ye didn't listen te me, did ye?"

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Officially no psychopath

Every week I say the same thing - no news from the 'Lazy L'. Well, it gives me a certain amount of, not so much pleasure, more of satisfaction, to say that this week there IS news. For a long time now, years in fact, people who had little or no idea what they were talking about, or what I am like these days as a person, have been condemning me:
"He hasn't got the right ticks in the right boxes!" they cried.
The more removed they were from me, the more vehement they were in this unreasonable bleating.

Finally, they 'ghosted' me from Whitemoor to the 'Lazy L' in March of last year to be psychologically assessed using various engines and tools specifically designed for the job. Then they went back into hibernation - and nothing happened.

Well this week I have finally completed my assessment for the Psychopathic Check List - Revised, the PCL-R as created by Dr Robert Hare. (Although these days, apparently, this seems to be looked on with a certain amount of scepticism by those who know what they are talking about.) This assessment, carried out over several days and involving five sessions of over two and a half hours each, was conducted by a fully qualified person, as opposed to one of the young trainees who are currently holding the whole prison service in thrall.

I can't use this person's real name because apparently that kind of thing is frowned upon, but I do want to say one or two words about her. Now, the last time I was nice about someone in this place they made a complaint and caused me a certain amount of aggro, but I am still going to be nice about her. However, I will have to change her name - which is a pity because it's a great name. I wish I had a great name too. I'd like to be called Aloysius, or Sigmund, or Theobald, or Bob - something exotic. Anyway, back to my psychologist. I shall call her Blodwin, a name I remember from "How Green Was My Valley", a tale of madness and Welsh coalmining, which are probably much the same thing.

I have met a great many people over the last quarter century working (them, not me) for the prison service and, whilst I have met more than my fair share of nasty buggers, I have met a few really nice people, none of whom I intend to list here - you will have to read the book. However, I have to say this, Blodwin could well be the nicest and most genuine I have met over the years. She was prepared to listen, that's her secret, that and simply being a genuine nice sort I suppose. She impressed me. She also has a sense of humour, a rare attribute with people who do her job normally. We seemed to spend quite a bit of time sniggering. (I like a good snigger, ask Boudica - and I'll come to HER in a minute or two. )

I'm not going to attempt to go through all of the things that were discussed (we'd be here all day), but only what was said when it was all over, as far as I can of course. The final outcome of the sessions was that I do not meet the criteria for courses - my scores are nowhere near high enough - that I shouldn't be in this environment and that she would be having a wee chat with The Wallace on the subject with a view to a move to much less secure conditions. Blodwin would also be making enquiries ahout a move to Kingston to join all the other geriatrics. Even my propensity to vulgarianism* didn't bother her at all. Mind, she has a pet cat, and I have found that folk who have cats are generally much nicer than those who keep no pets at all - or dog lovers. (That should annoy one or two.) Now we wait for Blodwin's final report - I expect good things.

At this point it occurs to me that a word or two needs to be said on Boudica's behalf - she of the bad temper and the desire to turn every pigeon in the world into a heavyweight. The Tall Ships were in Hartlepool so, being fond of ships, I asked good old Lucretia Borgia to get me a few pictures in between her feud with "her next door", feeding pigeons, terrorising the postman, taking the piss out of me and generally sniggering at passing pedestrians. I got three pictures and one of those doesn't actually show anything at all - they must have had the cap over the lens. To be fair, Boudica didn't take them so I can't blame her for it, but I thought someone, somewhere would have taken decent pics and put them on the internet for the rest of us.

Now I have to say, with a great deal of sincerity, that I have to show caution when I tell Boudica that I like something or that there is something I could use - she gets it for me almost instantly! The simple fact is that Boudica, despite all of my carping and mockery of dumb blondes, is one in a million. She is a diamond. Miss Twin-Set 1960. One of her pigeons died - she wanted to call in Scotland Yard because it looked like it had been assassinated! (What makes a pigeon look like it has been assassinated?)

However, to get back to the main theme, there is news this week! I am no longer unassessed; everyone seems to be singing from the same hymn sheet at last; all are in agreement - so we can expect progress.

Having said all that, I now fully expect that fickle ould tart Lady Luck to be currently polishing her boots and putting new laces in ready to give me the usual, right where it hurts. Just when I think things are getting better, she does it every time without exception. Of course Boudica says that I should have more positive thoughts and attitude. I've got news for you, Twin-Set - it's not you getting booted in the family heirlooms, is it?

* I know this should be "vulgarism", but I like "vulgarianism" better!

The Voice In The Wilderness