Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A rocky coast where ships can founder

It has been yet another week where news or progress is, shall we say, noticeable by its absence. Nothing to report and, as Henri Maria Remarque might have said, "All Quiet on the Western Front". 

However, being a prolific writer (of sorts), I am never lost for a few words, and this week is no exception. Incidentally, may I just say that I never sit down at my typewriter with anything specific in mind to write about. I just sit down, light my fag, have a drink of my tea and start bashing the keys, just to see what drivel I can come up with THIS week. 

And this week, what has come to my mind are two things. One - a couple of idiots on this wing (staff and not cons), have tried to deny that a certain governor works in this prison and that she doesn't exist at all! Not to worry, no doubt that little matter will be sorted out in no time at all.

The other matter is a conversation I had earlier in the week with one of my fellow zoo exhibits, another member of the Scum Class of two thousand and ten. (I've said this before, it's not easy being scum like me you know.)

So... there I was, standing minding my own business and waiting to collect my lunch, which, incidentally, Egon Ronay it ain't. So... (I've got to stop saying 'So') So... there I am with my dinner plate and one of the younger fellows comes to stand next to me and he begins to chat. Now... (that's nearly as bad as 'So') I don't pretend to remember his words verbatim - I'm not a policeman or a trainee psychologist - but the general thrust was...

Him: All right Frankie?

Me: Well, you know me, when am I not all right?

Him: Here! You've been in jail a long time, haven't you?

Me: I'll be starting my twenty-fifth year in March.

Him (in disbelief): Fuck me!

Me: Thanks for the offer, I'll bear it in mind, but playing hide the diddler with a geezer has never appealed to me.

Him: No! Listen! Did it go quick?

Me: What?

Him: The years!

Now... l've had this question, and variations, asked by a lot of fellows and it is a rocky coast where ships can founder if care isn't taken in the answer. These youngsters, whatever they may have done, sooner or later come round to the realisation that whatever it was may not have been such a good idea after all. They realise that this life is not some sort of dress-rehearsal for something else... this is IT! This is the only chance they will get at life and they want someone, anyone will do, to assure them that everything will be fine. They need a mother's hand to brush away their fears and to tell them that it's okay, things will be okay in the end and they CAN have a bit of cake for tea. Well, it's not that easy unfortunately. There is no mother's hand, and only God can change the past - no, on reflection, not even He can do that.

No, this is it I'm afraid - but I couldn't tell the young fellow that because he would end up as one more statistic on the list of suicides in jail. When all hope is taken away, nothing is left, and a weak character soon finds himself against the wall without a blindfold.

So, I sort of grinned at him.

Me: How long have you been in jail?

Him: I've done nearly four years now.

Me: And if you look back on those four years I bet they have gone by like the snap of your fingers, eh? (And I gave my fingers a snap.) Just like that.

Him: Yeah , it's pissed past.

Me: And you look at the years ahead and think they will never pass, right?

Him: Yeah.

Me: Don't worry about it. Live each day as best you can, get whatever small pleasures you can for each day and, before you know where you are, you will look back and it will all be gone, just like a snap of the fingers! (And I snapped my fingers again.) Just like that.

Him: Yeah! Yeah! You are right.

Well, what I didn't tell him was that he would also be older, not a patch on the man he is now, bent-backed and tired. But let's not tell him that part, he can discover that himself. All around me are young men, some not much more than teenagers really, and they have twenty, thirty, forty years to serve. May the good Lord have mercy on them, because the prison system won't.

The Voice In The Wi1derness


我愛他 said...

知識可以傳授,智慧卻不行。每個人必須成為他自己。 ..................................................

Frank said...

Babelfish translates this from Chinese as follows: "I love him. The knowledge may teach, the wisdom is not actually good. Each person must become him." We can all learn something from that...