Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ages of Man - and girl

It doesn't tick my box

Well, I finally managed to get a response to my perpetual harrassment as I attempted to obtain the minutes of the Sentence Planning meeting held on November 18th of last year. I've had every excuse possible, including being told that there is no such person as Governor Karen Bourne - a bit odd considering that I now have a document not only signed by her but clearly proving that she does exist. Having said all that, it becomes clear to me that she is obviously one of those people (like me) who is invisible at the best of times.


So I finally got a response - not the minutes (I hasten to add), that would be too much to ask for. No, what I've got is a rewritten version of the Sentence Planning document. Evidently the original was too far from the facts. The new one is just as divorced, but one or two things have been altered. Maybe they think I can't read or understand the language, or that I will be thankful for small mercies and go away. It ain't happening!

I think my solicitor is as fed up with the intransigence as I am, because he has basically said that we might as well just ignore it all because it will all be brought out at the parole hearing in June of this year. I agree with him. Banging my head against a wall only has one thing to be said in its favour - it's nice when I stop. I shall continue my efforts to get my sweaty little mitts on the minutes of course - I'll be needing them for the parole hearing.

Then I had a letter from The Wallace, a woman I have a great deal of time for because I think that she is that rare breed - someone who wants to do her job to the best of her ability and to get things RIGHT!

The prison service has absolutely no interest whatever in getting anything right, in fact they avoid it where possible. All they want is the right ticks in the right boxes so that they can say, "You can't blame us! All the boxes are ticked!" How many cases have there been of people who should never have been allowed out of a cage, never mind out of prison! On the other side of the coin, how many prisoners are languishing in prison for no other reason than that they don't have the right ticks in the right places? Personalities, characteristics, behavioural traits, none of them is allowed to make any difference - if the right boxes are not ticked then the prisoner is going nowhere.

Every prisoner, sooner or later, will reach his optimum moment for release - the moment when he or she can released into the community and will never offend again. That is when that prisoner should be released, ticks in boxes notwithstanding. This moment of optimum release is quite plain and clear in many cases but can we expect the trainee box-tickers to recognise it? Can we hell!

The wrong people have managed to grasp the power in prisons, that's the problem. Young, inexperienced girls have taken over from the people who should have the power - the prison officer. The screw, kanga , warder (call him or her anything you like, they don't really mind, most of them) is the person who works with cons on a daily basis. The kanga is the person who should have the power because they are the ones who really see prisoners as they are, not ten minute interviews full of lies.

Will the prison officer - the kangaroo, the screw, the warder, the turnkey, the German - be given the power and listened to? The simple answer to that of course is 'NO'!

Oh well, I have plans to write a great deal on the subject when I finally get the opportunity, but this isn't it.

The third triplet

Fate has a strange way of dealing with us - I've said it before and no doubt I'll say it again. How many times over the years, when we think everything is going well at last, does fate come along in the guise of Lady Luck with the express intention of booting us firmly in the family heirlooms? Here she comes, sashaying down the street wearing her Versace jeans and her Doc Martens, swinging her Dior handbag at passing children and grinning all over her wicked countenance. I've lost count of the number of times over the years that she has kicked me viciously in the testacularities and I may well have become inured to it so that I no longer feel the pain.

Well, suddenly it seems that things may have swung the other way for a change because, rather than bad news, I had a fairly decent day of news for a change. Maybe Lady Luck, that fickle ould tart, is off to watch the Winter Olympics or something and has taken her gimlet eye off me temporarily.

I spoke to my personal officer yesterday and, amongst other things, he told me that because of my age the C.S.C.P. programme had no interest in me. Those weren't his words but that was the general sentiment of what he said.

Then, when the mail came round, I had a letter from a very old girlfriend who I parted with in 1983 in a fairly acrimonious way. I simply upped my goods and chattels and left her high and dry. I never at any time abused her or raised a hand to her, or even my voice come to that, but I did treat her very badly. I was mean and nasty in fact. I didn't think she would ever forgive me, but it seems that apparently she has. The letter yesterday said that she had put my name into a search engine on the internet and there I was, so she wrote. There is a bit more to it than that of course, and I am sure that a fair bit of soul searching will be the order of the day soon. I've got a lot of apologising to do.

In my defence may I say... Ah, fuck it - who am I kidding? I have no defence. I deserted her without a second's thought and what I did was unacceptable and inexcusable. So, as I say, I have a lot of apologising to do. She's a good person, from a good family, and I often wonder what she saw in a toe-rag like me.

I'm a different person now of course, but so is she - we all change in a quarter century or more. I have no illusions and certainly no expectations, but I do need all the friends that I can get, and hopefully Lesley will be one of them. It probably all depends on the mood of that cruel ould whore with the Dior handbag and the vagaries of her mood-swings. For all I know she may, at this very minute, be polishing the toecaps of her ex-miner's steel-lined boots prior to bringing me crashing to ground, writhing in pain and clinging on to what's left of the jewellery.

It's not easy being me, but I bet it's a lot harder being Lady Luck. As the comic would have it:

Luck! Don't talk to me about luck. If Dolly Parton had triplets, and I were one of them, I'd be the one who got the bottle!

Changes

On March 9th I will have been in jail for twenty-four years to the day. Sunday 9th March 1986, Mother's Day - somebody has a poor sense of humour. Oddly enough my birthday is December 28th, and THAT is Innocents' Day! Well, since March 9th 1986 EVERY day has been Innocents Day and precious little good it has done me.

Twenty-four years. Just one more year makes it a quarter of a century, a milestone in anyone's life or career. A lot happens in twenty-four years - and a lot HAS happened. There have been enormous changes to everyone's life and style of living. The internet arrived, with all that means to information and to the progress of mankind. Religious fundamentalism arrived and atrocities have become common-place. (Although atrocities have always been with us throughout history. These days it is the instant reporting which makes them so personal.) D.N.A. identification arrived and we have seen several wars in all parts of the globe. Children have been born, grown up and had children of their own. World leaders have come and gone.


There have been massive changes - but not in the eyes of the teenage girls who have managed to get a stranglehold on the prison system. As far as they are concerned there have been no changes - everything is the same and nobody has got any older, wiser or suffered any form of change of heart.

I spoke to one of these trainee experts recently and all I was trying to do was to get her to see that time alone changes everything and everyone. I tried several different tacks but she either wasn't listening to any of them or simply didn't understand a word I said. The only other alternative was that she didn't care.

Finally I tried a new approach and said, "Can you remember what you were doing twenty-three years ago?"

She said, "I wasn't born then," and I nearly threw my hat in there and then - or the towel, whichever metaphor you prefer.

"All right," said I. "So you weren't born. What about twenty years ago? Can you remember that?"

"I was only two!"

"Oh!" said I. "So you were two years old twenty years ago then?"

"Yes. Why?"

"Well," said I, the wise man, "would you say that you have changed in those twenty years?"

"Of course I have, everyone does," said she.

"Yes," I nodded, "Of course they do, as you so rightly say. So if everyone does, everyone changes in twenty years, what the fuck makes you think I haven't?"

She didn't seem to have an answer to that one.

So yes, the last quarter of a century (almost) has brought about massive changes, in all of us, each and everyone of us. But for some reason the prison service simply cannot accept this blatantly obvious fact of life.

Shakespeare wrote of the "Seven Ages of Man" - and I could list them. I mentioned Shakespeare to the same trainee psychologist at the time and she simply went blank, as though I had administered some soporific!

Well, the old adage is certainly true in this instance - you can take a horse to the water but you can't make it drink. We can lead these trainees to all the water there is but we will never get them to drink it - they can't see it for the blinkers they all seem to be wearing.

So once again I left the conversation feeling frustrated and not a little let down. Ah! But I have an adage of my own for such occasions and this is it:

You can knock me down, but you'll never get me to stay down.
The Voice In The Wilderness

1 comment:

chris said...

This is from Les to Frank.True friendship needs no apology.A true friend accepts our mistakes are part of who we are.The only people who have no regrets are what we call sociopaths.She also said not so much of the very old friend.