Saturday, February 20, 2010

Personally, I'm going to accentuate the positive


A word sprang to my mind earlier today completely unbidden and quite apropos to nothing in particular, and that word is... personality. Now, let me say right away that just because a person IS a personality, it does not follow that they HAVE a personality. This of course touches on the cult of celebrity, but I don't want to get onto that particular hobby horse. (They are generally a bunch of talentless morons - and that is being kind to a lot of them.) 

Another thing I'd better say is that I am not much of a personality myself, having the people skills of a bad-tempered Tasmanian devil and the social manners of Atilla the Hun. So this isn't about me at all - not everything is personal. Now that I have said all that, I'm not at all sure where I am headed with this, but I will plod along and see what transpires.

There are all kinds of personalities. There are those who walk into a room and, without doing very much of anything at all, can dominate it or, after putting it about a bit, there are those who can become the life and soul of the party. At the other end of the spectrum we have the crew who, when THEY walk into a room, everything goes quiet. They are the atmosphere hoovers - they seem to suck the life out of a room just by being present. Thankfully, I am not one of those.

Personality - it's an interesting word. A long time ago, during my studying years, I often had to write essays on just one word. I would get the instruction from my tutor, "Write three thousand words on the word 'and'" - and if anyone thinks that is easy, try it. My tutor never gave me the word 'Personality' but I wish she had. She never gave me the word 'if' either, and I would have enjoyed writing about 'if'. I could have started with Kipling's poem, for a start, and then moved on to 'if' being a word for children building castles in the air.

I once said that to the parole board, the bit about castles in the air. They asked me what I would do if... and that's as far as they got because I interrupted and said, "If is not a word to play with. It gives false hopes, it misleads, and besides, it is a word for children building castles in the air." I never did find out what they were going to 'if' me about. Ha! If my grandmother had a pair of bollocks she'd be my grandfather, so I don't really want to hear about 'if'.

Come to think about it, I don't particularly want to near about 'personality' either. My trouble is that I am getting old and have become a grumpy old man. Don't think I didn't notice it happening either, because I did. Every age has its compensations despite what Shakespeare may have said on the subject. I am quite enjoying being old and look forward to getting much older. I can't wait for the time when I can stand in the queue at Tesco's checking-out till and simply piss myself. Everyone will let me go to the front of the queue. I will also pretend to be deaf so that I can drive everybody mad.

By then I may have developed a personality - if I live that long.

A new broom?

It may be remembered that at the beginning of the year I wrote that Ferdie Parker, the little man with the ego the size of Gibraltar (or a small range of mountains), had departed these shores. I said that he had left the prison to annoy others elsewhere but added that there seemed to be a certain amount of ambiguity about the information. It turned out that he hadn't gone.

However, I can now say categorically that this time he has gone. Ferdie has packed his potted plant, tucked his knickers into his wash-bag, pulled up the drawbridge and turned off the lights! Ferdie has left for pastures new at last. He wasn't popular with anyone as far as I can tell. There is a rumour going round that even his dog bit him, but that may just be a dirty communist lie put about by his enemies to discredit him and is not to be given credence by decent folk and other members of the criminal fraternity and scum class. (Have no fears, I am a fully paid-up member of both, I have no illusions.)

Whatever the truth, Ferdie has gone, he is no longger with us. I have no idea where he has gone and what's more, I don't care. The big question now is, who will we get to take his place? Who will arrive like a new broom to sweep everything under the carpet? Who will come rolling in with the intention of sorting the place out only to crash onto the P.O.A. rocks and be scuttled? What this place needs is someone with a positive outlook and attitude, but it's doubtful whether such a person exists, at least not in the high security estate where negativity is encouraged.

It has no direct effect on me of course, although I am sure it will affect me indirectly sooner or later. I shall continue to sit here in my little kennel, tapping away indiscriminately at this machine and hoping that one day I will write something worth reading. In between times I will play on my Play Station like a good little twelve year old and go to bed before ten each night so I can wake up nice and fresh and early each morning to do absolutely bugger all.

The way this place is run now, so negatively, it is designed to crush the spirit of even the strongest-minded nitwit such as myself, and I admit that I am slowly getting to the stage where it seems that there is nothing to get up for these days. Will the new governor change that? I somehow doubt it. We will probably get a career man who is using this place simply as a stepping stone to a full time position at the Home Office where he would no longer have to see or listen to prisoners but could take unwelcome decisions with impunity, destroying lives as he did so. Oh yes, it's a dismal world, this world of prison.

Personally, I try to stay positive. I seek the glass half full rather than the glass half empty, but that is merely a manifestation of my years of experience coupled with a strong mind. There are fellows who are not as stubborn as I am. Oh well, we shall see what we shall see when the new face on the block takes over and begins to make his presence felt. In the meanwhile, I will continue to play a game called "Need For Speed Most Wanted" which consists of driving fast cars with the police in hot pursuit - it's all part of my sentence planning as far as I can see.

Give me a break!

At the height of summer in the year of 2002 I was in Full Sutton Prison. Actually, I was in the seg unit there because I would not plant my lips firmly on the wing P.O.'s gluteus maximus. He had taken umbrage at the fact that I didn't see him or any of his gang as blood-brothers. They had me in a cell in the seg unit which had a plastic sheet across the window with a dozen small air-holes drilled through the armoured plastic.

It was very hot at the time - the dates are available, but I can't be bothered to search my diaries to get them. I have to say that breathing in that sweat-box wasn't easy, so I devised a scheme to get myself moved to a cell which had proper windows that opened. I complained that I had breathing difficulties - and they panicked. In no time at all an ambulance arrived from the local hospital and paramedics were doing tests on me as I lay on the floor pretending to be gasping for breath.

They decided to take me out to hospital.

Hold on! This is not the plan! I only wanted a cell with windows. I didn't want chaining to a bed in a hospital surrounded by thugs wearing body armour and armed policemen patrolling the corridors! (I was High Risk at the time.) So I simply refused to go to the hospital under any circumstances.

One silly sod said, "You might joss it if you don't go." Considering that I was only pretending, it seemed unlikely.

"I don't care," said I. "I'm not going."

In the end they compromised by letting me go across to the prison hea1thcare, where I had a nice roomy cell with large windows which opened wide to let the air in past the bars. 

Victory was mine!

In my latest Sentence P1anning document, they have trawled through my record and found this incident from Full Sutton and marked me down as being at risk of self-harm! In their desperation to find something negative to say about me, someone must have spent hours trawling to uncover the above - and this is what is wrong with prison assessments. In that self-same record there are countless positive things to uncover - my charity work, my mentoring, writing, academic achievements, writing awards, and so on. Not one word of that is in the sentence planning document - nothing, nada.

Self harm? Give me a break! Being a dedicated coward I could never hurt myself, I've got no desire to hurt anyone else, never mind myself. Looking at my wrists and arms there is not a blemish, not a scar, nothing - apart from a series of very tiny scars, all about three millimetres in length, from cuts made by handcuffs being put on me forcefully. I have three of those on my right wrist and one on my left.

Incidentally, the only other thing they could find to say about me in the Sentence Planning document is that I present a high risk of peril to a 'known adult', whatever that may mean. And they wonder why so many cons refuse to take part in this nonsense of "sentence planning".

It is also no surprise that they are STILL refusing to give me a copy of the minutes of the actual sentence planning meeting last year, and the reason is quite simple - they intend to distort and twist. In fact they already have, and to give me the minutes would simply allow me to point out that they have distorted and twisted. They can't do that. Three months since the meeting on the 18th November and so far I've been given half a dozen excuses as to why I can't have the promised copy. Even my solicitor can't get a copy and I think he has asked several times.

Well, the alternatives now would seem to be either to change the report or continue with a lie which will be uncovered when we sit in front of the Parole Board later this year. What bothers me about all this is - why do they do it? What is the point?

I like to think that I am a reasonably well-balanced individual these days, a man with absolutely no desire for confrontation of any sort at any time, but the prison service seem actively to seek problems where they don't exist. I wonder why. It's not as though I am a new boy or a tourist or something. I know the system, I know the rules. I solve problems before they arise generally, but what can I do against underhand behaviour such as false or distorted reporting?

Oh well, we shall see.

Now, I know that this week's offering isn't up to the standard of drivel that I would normally churn out, but I hope the reader will acknowledge the extenuating circumstances and forgive me. Normally I would finish with a little story but it wouldn't be appropriate. Instead I will finish with the words of Tolstoy who wrote:

I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am sorry (very sorry) for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back.
The Voice In The Wilderness

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