Saturday, May 29, 2010

Delays are inevitable, resistance is futile

I have had a letter this week from my solicitor. He has been chasing up both the Parole Board AND the prison here at the Lazy L in connection with reports and such other mundane matters which mean nothing to them but which are life-affecting from my point of view - but my point of view doesn't matter.

Reading the letter, which enclosed a document from the parole board, I get the feeling that the board is less than delighted with the reports submitted in my parole dossier. In particular they seem to be wanting to know why their previous instructions appear to have been ignored. I may be reading this all wrong of course but that's the impression I get. The board seems to be giving the prison until the 7th November to comply with their previous instructions. That isn't for the prison just to produce the necessary documents, it is the deadline for their production and submission, allowing time for my solicitor to digest the content, time for us to respond, if any response is necessary, AND a month in which to organise everything.

It takes the prison service an age to turn around, never mind adhere to instructions as complicated as 'Tell the truth,' so I can see problems ahead. My solicitor has actually sent a letter direct to the prison asking for some kind of clarification on dates when we can expect things to be done by. I very much doubt that he will get any sort of sensible answer. The simple facts are that the system is in chaos and nobody has the nous to get anything done properly. All they seem to be capable of is harping on about matters which took place forty or fifty years ago and which had nothing to do with me in the first place!

In the meanwhile I sit here in my kennel and sedately rot away. As a rule I never indulge in self-pity, and I'm not about to do it now, but I have known a certain amount of hardship during the years since 1986 and yet I am expected to pretend none of it happened and forget it all. Okay, fine. I can be pragmatic about it all and put it out of my mind - the past is gone and done so let's leave it in the past, it's the best place for it.

If I can do that (and all I say is leave it in the past - I will never forget it of course and certainly will never forgive it, but it IS the past, let's leave it there). If I can do that, why can't the prison service? Why this silly, unrelenting harping on about things from fifty years ago which had nothing to do with me in the first place?

I shall answer that question myself. Because they have nothing else to point a finger at me for! Nothing! (Bless me, I must be a saint.)

"0oooo!" they say. "There is no evidence of change!"

What cobblers! Pure, unmitigated shite. I challenge anyone, or any living entity, to look back over the last quarter of a century and ask themselves, "Have I changed in that twenty-five years?"

The answer? "Of course I have! Everyone does!"

So, if everyone on the planet can see and understand that, why can these trainee psychologists not see it? These young girls, these children, are daily destroying lives on a much greater scale than any prisoner incarcerated within the system and subject to their mercies. And the most frightening part of all is that they don't care! They have neither thought nor remorse for the destruction they create, the lives they ruin unthinkingly, the hearts they break, the misery they create, the children who cry for their fathers and the despair which lives in the cells around the place. They care for none of that in their arrogance - they care not.

As for me? Well, I care. Every night when I get into bed and wait for the encompassing arms of Orpheus (or should that be Morpheus?) to take me away to the Land of Nod - a process which never takes more than a few minutes - I have a little soul-search. I review the day in my mind and if I think I have said or done anything which may have offended anyone, I apologise the next day. But that's just me. I'm a bad person, I must be - the trainee fraudsters say so.

Oh well, I am going to go for a drive now in a fast car with the police chasing me at speeds of up to 241 mph - that's as fast as the game will go. All good for my rehabilitation I expect.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cabbages and kings


Yesterday, Monday 17th May, they came for me for an M.D.T. which, for those who do not understand the acronyms of prison life, is a Mandatory Drug Test. Everyone gets them every so often, although it is a long time since I had one myself. After all, what is the point or value in testing someone who is well known for being anti-drugs? It's a waste of time and money. Having said that they test all of the non-users from time to time just to make their figures look good, and that is verging on fraud in my opinion - but nobody is asking for my opinion so forget I said that.

The point is that as we traversed the corridor, myself and my escort of po-faced jobsworths, we passed a nurse from the healthcare department.

"Oh!" says she. "You are on a Well Man clinic on Wednesday, did you know that?"

"I do now," said I.

So, tomorrow, Wednesday 19th, I am attending the Well Man clinic in the healthcare where I will be prodded, poked, drained of bodily fluids (they take a blood sample) and generally given an M.O.T. (human bean version, circa 2010). The last time I attended such a bloodletting was in Whitemoor about two years ago and everything was found to be in good order, apart from my cholesterol level which stood at a little over five, and, while it's not disastrous, it's not particularly good. The doctor put me on medication of 40mgs per day of Simvastatin and I've been taking them ever since. I expect that the ould cholesterol level will be greatly reduced by now despite the sedentary lifestyle which I have adopted since becoming medically retired.

I have to admit that I spend a fair amount of my time sitting here at my table, staring out of the window and thinking about all manner of things.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To speak of many things.
Of balls of string and sealing wax,
Of cabbages and kings."
I sit here and, as I say, I stare out of the window. It was a good bit more interesting in Whitemoor, the view that is. I had grass, flower beds, a road and an awful lot of birds to watch. It's not the same here, all there is is a barbed-wire-topped fence that surrounds the excersise yard. Having said that, there are a few birds to watch from time to time so I shouldn't be carping - although a carp is a fish.

I had a letter from Lesley yesterday, as I do most days, and she is her usual self. I thought I was grumpy but next to Lesley I am a positive ray of sunshine, a proper little Pollyanna. Lesley would fit right into that programme we see from time to time on BBC1, "Grumpy Old Women" with Sheila Hancock and Jenny Eclair and that mob. I quite like it, the programme, it makes me laff. Well, let's face it, there are times when I need a bit of a laff in this place. Lesley told me a joke:

A blonde takes her car to a garage to be checked because it is not working correctly.
The mechanic checks it, sorts it out and says to the blonde, "Just shit in the carburettor love."
She says, "Have I got to shit in it every day?"
Lesley is blonde! Ha! It's not the Well Man clinic I need, it's counselling! :)

Response to Anonymous

A couple of weeks ago, around about the time when we heard that we no longer had a government and the Body Politic were at their endearing best as they scrambled for a better seat at the trough, I wrote a fairly tongue-in-cheek bit which ended up on the blog. I didn't intend to upset anyone, although I seem to have managed to do so. I just thought I had made one or two general observations in a fairly light manner!

We had an almost instant response from a Mr Anonymous (from Purley for all I know) and he (or she) seems to have taken what I said to heart. Touched a nerve there, did I?

According to the Purley Vigilante, Labour are nothing short of being CRIMINALS (which was how he - or she - wrote it).

Basically what the Purley Purveyor of Piffle says is that Labour flogged off the family jewels to foreigners, liberated the working classes from their serfdom and generally acted in a way that brought the country to penury. No, sorry, the True Blues did the liberating, Labour just did the rest.

Should I correct the glaring errors for the Purley Pontificator? Well, nobody likes a smart arse but I'll say a couple of things. Those wonderful men and women under the guidance of Mad Maggie started the selling and destruction of the industrial base of this country. Shall I make a little list of what was either sold or destroyed both by and under the Mad Ould Cow?

Steel, Coal, Shipbuilding, Gas, Electricity, Water, Telecommunications, Banks, Railways, Public Transport, Prisons 
- and so the list goes on, all flogged off under Thatcher.  (Incidentally, there is a large organisation in Yorkshire who intend to attend her funeral. They want to see her planted in her grave and then have a party over it.)

Millions of jobs went, the industrial power of this country. The navy has been reduced to next to nothing, the army can barely protect and arm its soldiers and as for the pretty boys of the air force, they are training to fly gliders because there is bugger all else for them to fly. (I'm a navy man myself - maybe I gave it away eh?)

I quote the Person From Purley: "The Conservatives let the working class loose".

Loose from what? A job? The chance to earn a living? The chance to rot on the dole? A waiter's job? This country was once a heavyweight. Our industrial muscle came from the blood, sweat and tears of the working man in the yards, the mines and the foundries. People were proud of themselves. Now? Well, let's try this one for a finale:

I'm an ordinary man, nothing special, nothing grand,
I've had to work for everything I own.
I never asked for a lot, I was happy with what I got,
Enough to keep my family and my home.
Now they say that times are hard so they're handing me my cards,
Because there's not the work to go around.
When the whistle blows, the gates will finally close,
Tonight they're going to close this factory down.

I never missed a day, or went on strike for better pay,
For twenty years I served the best I could.
With a handshake and a cheque it's so easy to forget
That I've served them through the bad times, and the good.
The boss says that he's sad to see that things have got so bad,
But the captains of industry will never lose.
He still drives a car and smokes a big cigar
And likes to take his family on a cruise.

And so condemned I stand, just an ordinary man
Like thousands beside me in the queue.
I watch my darling wife trying to make the best of life,
God knows what the kids are going to do.
Every day I've tried to salvage something of my pride,
To find some work so that I might pay my way;
But everywhere I go, the answer's always "NO"
"No work for anyone here today!"

And as long as I live, I never will forgive
How they stripped me of my dignity and pride.
The things is, Mr Anonymous, it's about people and national pride, not scoring political points at the expense of others.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Trust and loyalty

I have been cogitating over the last several days on the subject of trust and loyalty. There isn't a lot of it about around this place - or any other prison for that matter. Rumours spread like an anti-social disease when the fleet is in town. The majority of it isn't malicious, the rumour-mongering - it's boredom as much as anything else. Cons, or at least some of them, gossip worse than old women at the Darby and Joan weekly meeting. The lives of prisoners are so empty, all they have is gossip in many cases. That's all very well - we all need a hobby in this world - but gossip can be malicious and dangerous.

Personally, I avoid gossip and the purveyors of it, but every now and then somebody comes to tell me something. Why do people feel the insatiatable urge to confess? It must be some sort of latent residue from their childhood when they actually believed all that rubbish about their noses growing like Pinocchio's if they lied, or some such cobblers. Fellows come to me and start to tell me their secrets - but I stop them. I don't want to know them. We all have our secrets and reasons for keeping them, but once we tell someone else then they are no longer secrets.

Not all secrets are harmful, and reasons for keeping secrets are not always sinister, but whatever the secrets may be I don't want to be the keeper for anyone else - but I am. I am not exactly sure how it came about, but I am full of the secrets of others. Oh it is all very gratifying to know that I am seen as trustworthy, and I would never disclose the secrets of another, no matter what that secret may be.

The way I see things is that I have every right to tell anyone about what I may or may not have done, but I have no right whatever to tell anyone else's secrets or confidences. That's why I get a bit irritated when I read these books by retired, so-called gangsters who seem to think that just because they are retired they have the right to tell all. They don't. Even though we might be free to tell all about ourselves, we have no right to tell about others - we are compelled to keep their secrets and take them to the grave with us. Just because we give up the life does not mean that we can give up the ethics. We cannot abrogate responsibility - even the guilty must be cared about and protected, rightly or wrongly.

This train of thought all came about a few days ago when someone came to tell me that he had told someone something in confidence and that a third party had been told about it. In effect the fellow felt that he had been betrayed!

"Why did you tell him in the first place?" I asked.

"I trust him!" was the response.

"Well," said I, "that was a mistake, wasn't it?"

He replied, "If you can't trust your mates, who can you trust?"

"Nobody, my son, nobody," said I.

"I trust you."

I grinned. "Then you are a bigger fucking mug than I thought."

The point is, in the life I have lead as a career criminal - a term it took me a long time to accept in fact - I have always been of the opinion that villains are intrinsically unpredictable and will commit all manner of stupidities. However, we can forgive just about anything and invariably do, sooner or later. The only thing that is unforgiving and unforgivable is treachery.

Which brings me neatly to the words of E.M. Forster who died in 1970:

I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.
The Voice In The Wilderness

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Good prospects and bad communications?

Parole Board hearing

I finally have some news of a sort. I have received the draft of the representations to the Parole Board, which my solicitor is submitting on my behalf. I have to say that he has done a good job considering what little he has to work with. The fact that I have made my own reps to be included would seem to have taken a fair amount of the wind out of his sails in that I have said a lot of the things he would have said. However, I don't suppose it matters where the details come from as long as they are represented.

My solicitor is requesting several things, the first being an oral hearing because of the complexity of the matter brought about by the intransigent innaccuracies included in the dossier. He is also informing the board that he intends to seek my release, or failing that a transfer to open prison. My probation officer - The Wallace as we call her, in memory of William Wallace - has also asked for open prison for me and her recommendatlons should carry weight.

I have asked my solicitor to ask the board to allow either witnesses or observers. Andrew wants to attend, but I'm not entirely sure whether he wants input into the hearing or just wants to see if there is fair play.

[Andrew - I have let Frank's solicitor know that I shall certainly speak on Frank's behalf if asked to do so.]

In addition, there are several private individuals who have taken the decision to write to the Parole Board on my behalf and have said good things about me. (At least I hope they have said good and sensible things about me, but seeing as one of them is the world famous Lesley, she of the bad temper, blonde hair and proclivity to ineffective bullying, she might have said just about anything.) I don't know what friends have written about me. I thought it best that I shouldn't know really, that way there can be no suggestion of collusion or attempts to manipulate anyone's decisions. Let's be straight, the Prison Service would just love a good conspiracy theory - they make them up as they go along to brighten up rainy afternoons. 

[Andrew - Several people have written very helpful letters to the Parole Board making representations on Frank's behalf about how he has helped them or their relatives in some way while in prison. These letters paint a very different picture of Frank from the dry, impersonal official reports that make up the bulk of the dossier that is presented to the panel. Unfortunately, the Parole Board has said that it cannot accept representations directly from individuals in this way. They have suggested that any such representations should be sent to Frank's solicitor. I would suggest that they be sent to Frank so he can decide how best to use them at the hearing.]

Lesley only wants me to be released so that she can put her cold feet on me anyway - she says it's cheaper than running up large heating bills. Lesley has pets - a blackbird, several pigeons and recently a robin has been added to the little feeding frenzy on or near her washing line. She has gone all Mystic Meg lately, but that's okay - just do like I do and ignore her insanity.

Her latest complaint (about me) is that I have been giving her a bad name as a bully to all the world and she is insisting that I correct it, so that's what I'm doing, putting it right. With the greatest of sincerity and humility - and in the interests of my personal well-being, which includes the unreasonable desire to keep my head on my shoulders - I wish to say the following:

Lesley - the blonde version of Bodicea in a strop - has given up bullying me now and is being nice. (Actually she has always been nice, her bullying is pretty much useless - she ain't no good at it.)

Well, I think that just about covers that little contretemps. I am now going to make a cuppa - I'm as dry as a funeral drum.

A hung parliament?

We've had a General Election. Apparently, the country has been waiting for this event for years. If you listen to David Cameron - or as his friends lovingly refer to him, "I'll say anything for money" Cameron - the country has wanted rid of the Labour Party for a long time, or so we were told.

And what about the Lib Dems, the "Er, let me see", "I don't want to upset anyone" party under a fellow called Clegg? (There's a good, solid, working class, Yorkshire name for you - Clegg. It conjures up pictures of Yorkshire dales, closed coal mines and "The Last of the Summer Wine" - Clegg, Nick Clegg, Cleggie.) Everyone thought that he would be the kingmaker, so to speak, in that he would, or at least his party would, get many more seats around the trough than they had previously and might even beat Labour into third place.

As for Labour, they did surprisingly well considering how much the electorate dislike Gordon "Does this smile look creepy" Brown. The country has been desperate to get rid of him ever since Tony "Just call me Smarmy" Blair legged it for greener pastures.

Say what you like about Blair, he knew how to handle people. He had a certain charisma that the others simply do not have. It has nothing to do with popularity, it is more to do with perceptions. Blair, rightly or wrongly, was seen as a charismatic figure; Brown is seen as a disater area. He should have stayed at the Treasury where he was a success - or perceived to be a success - but he allowed his ambitions not only to ruin his own standing but in the process to drag the Labour Party down with him.

The country quite simply did not want Brown, yet has been extremely reluctant to hand the power to Cameron! So we've ended up with a hung parliament, and some unkind people would probably think that is a great idea - hang the lot of them! Now we've got all manner of creeping about and whispering behind closed doors as they conspire to get their hands on the keys to the safe. Promises will be made, and they won't be the promises which are aired publicly - oh no, not a bit of it. Dirty dealing will be going on, wait and see. It would come as no surprise to find that we have another General Election in a relatively short time.

In the meanwhile, what does it mean to prisoners and those who make up the class from which prisoners generally come, the working class? The working class my arse! There is no working class anymore, the Conservatives saw to that in the eighties. There is no work anymore, not what is generally seen as work. Steel has gone, shipbuilding, coal, heavy industry - gone. The Conservatives did that and it seems to have been forgotten by the country. The cry is, "But we had to curb the unions!" - the unions could have been dealt with without destroying the country's industry.

Back to prisoners - what will the election mean to prisoners? Not much apart from new austerity measures which will make life that little bit worse, as it will be made worse for pensioners, the sick, children's education and all the rest of it. This austerity won't affect the politicos as they gronff and snuffle at the trough that is the public purse of course, certainly not.

So we have now got a hung parliament - it's a pity we haven't got one literally!

(Right then, that is my rant over, most of it designed just to get up people's noses and get reactions for the sake of a good argument, but how many will realise that? I wonder...)

Gone missing?

Once again there is nothing to report this week, beyond the fact that I managed to get into a fight with my typewriter in the middle of the week - a fight which I lost. The story of my life really.

In one of her letters during the week, Lesley told me that there had been some information on the internet or facebook or some other engine (I'm not entirely clear where) that someone called Maria Jansson had sent me an email. The email was sent on May 1st but I have not received it.

There is a service running under the title of "Email a prisoner" which apparently is a good deal quicker and cheaper than surface mail, or Snail Mail as Andrew calls it. What it amounts to on balance is that people can send emails to prisoners and they are delivered the same day. That's the theory. However it seems that, like everything else to do with the Prison Service, it is not working properly. Maria Jansson's email is not the first one that has not reached me because Lesley's sister sent me one from Gran Canaria and I haven't had that yet. She sent it at the start of April I think. In fact Christine has come across from Gran Canaria and arrived in this country last night, so she has got here quicker than the same-day delivery email which still hasn't turned up!
[Andrew - Actually, Maria sent her email directly to me and not through "Email a prisoner". I just haven't forwarded it to Frank yet, so its non-delivery is entirely my fault. Personally, I have always found the "Email a prisoner" service very dependable - all 21 emails I've sent to Frank so far have arrived with him safely and quickly.]

How many other emails have been sent to me by well-meaning folk on the internet? I have no way of knowing the answer to that of course, but I think I could make an educated guess that there are SOME. So, given that, I thought I would take the opportunity to thank anyone who may have tried to contact me. If I had received the letters or emails then I would have responded. I answer everything I get without exception, because if someone is kind enough to take the time and trouble to write or contact me then good manners alone dictate that they deserve a written "thank you". Let's face it, it's not as though I have anything else to do all day but correspond with people.

If I had the people to correspond with - strange to think that while my circle of friends on the internet expands, my circle of actual correspondents contracts! How do we explain that? Is there someone somewhere meddling? Well, going from past experience, I wouldn't be surprised. I have lost count of letters that have been sent to me which have never reached me and which I have only found out about when someone writes to complain about me not answering their letter or I write asking why they haven't written. These are the ones I know about. What about those one-offs which I have no idea about and no way of knowing of?

So, if anyone has sent me a letter or an email at any time which hasn't had a response from me, I am ever so sorry but I simply haven't had it to answer. I answer every letter I get on the same day that I get it and post it the following day. I LIKE writing to new people. I LIKE people. People are great, even those I may not agree with - they are still interesting and let's face it, I need interesting in this place, not to mention all the friends I can get.

Finally, let me mention the coming June, next month in fact. There are several prospects for June - it will be an interesting month I hope. The CCRC hope to have completed their examination of the case in June, but may run over. I have a manuscript entered into the Koestler's, and that could be judged in June, although that may run over too. Then of course there is the Parole Board hearing/paper-reading in June too! However, since my solicitor has applied for an oral hearing of the case which I fully expect to be granted, that will probably get put back or postponed for a couple of months.

All of that notwithstanding, it is all happening in June, or at least it is starting to happen in June. So as I say, it could well be an interesting month. All I have to do is to keep out of fights with my typewriter. I think I can manage that. (Oh yes, and to stop accusing Lesley of being a bully. She's not really, she's just got a mind of her own and is nobody's fool, which isn't a bad thing at all.)

I've said it before and I'll say it again - it's not easy being me. :)

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Thanks everyone - from the Sunshine Paradise For The Elderly

No place for old men

There is no news this week yet again - as I have said somewhere before, every day is Groundhog Day here at the Lazy L, the fiefdom of Hoss the Boss. When I opened my eyes this morning and lay there in all my glory, snorting and gronfing as I contemplated yet another day on the pampas in the wilds of Worcestershire, it occurred to me that we seem to be gathering quite a few senior citizens and older cons on this wing lately. The latest two to arrive came the other day from another wing, and I think they came for the peace and quiet. What came to my mind was the fact that there seems to be an ageing population within the prison system and very little is being done to cater for them. Older people have needs that younger folk don't have basically.

Well, the Lazy L is no place for old men, that's for certain. George Bernard Shaw once wrote:

Youth, which is forgiven everything, forgives itself nothing; age, which forgives itself anything, is forgiven nothing.
He also added that every man over forty is a scoundrel, so maybe he isn't the one to be quoting from...

The Lazy L provides nothing for the older person, nothing. Considering that fact (as I consider most facts from time to time seeing as I have bugger-all else to do with my time), last week I decided to begin the process of turning this wing into a wing that IS a place for old men.

When anyone needs or wants the prison service to take an idea on board, the hardest part of all is to get the powers-that-be to think it is their idea in the first place. If a con has an idea, no matter how good that idea may be, it must be bad, there must be an ulterior motive and therefore the idea must be killed off with unseemly haste and vigorous zeal. Only the powers-that-be have ideas which are good enough to be nurtured and allowed to flourish.

Given that, the trick is to get them to think that the idea is theirs in the first place, and the best way to do that is to use the rumour machine, the gossips and the tellers of tales. I started a rumour that this wing was to be turned into the Sunshine Home For The Elderly.

There are forty-two places on this wing and at the minute maybe fifteen places are taken up by the over 50's - maybe more, I haven't actually counted, not yet. So I started the rumour that, via the agency of natural wasteage, as a young con moves from this wing for whatever reason, his cell will be filled by an older con from another wing or prison until, in the end, over a period of months, the wing will become a geriatric haven of peace and tranquility. Of course (my rumour stated) a small number of younger cons would be kept on the wing to do the cleaning and other like jobs.

The rumour came back to me yesterday. Someone told me that they were turning this wing into an old folks' wing - the Number One Governor had told someone who had told someone else, and the fellow who told me had heard two kangaroos talking to the wing Gov about it. As evidence, they quoted the fact that two older fellows had been moved onto the wing just the other day!

So, my work is done. It shouldn't take long now before we are officially informed that this wing is to become the Sunshine Paradise For The Elderly (jaccuzzis extra).

Having said all that, it can't really stay the way it is - the place is turning into a retirement home for the young and they should be living with their own age groups, putting the world to rights and having pissing contests to see who can impress the female kangaroos (or should I call them Kangaresses?).

But, as the place sits at the minute, it is no place for old men.

Thank you

I had a letter from Lesley yesterday - she of the bad temper and proclivity for bullying. (She's not very good at it but it's the thought that counts.) Apparently I have to stop telling the whole world about her being a bully, so I've done that now. (She's blonde, what do you want from me?)

She also told me that I now have several drinking establishments who have signed up or clicked on (or whatever the correct term may be) as friends of yours truly. These pubs and clubs seem to be in the Worcester area and I blame young Jamie for that.

Now it occurs to me that I seem to have gradually accumulated quite a lot of people who are supportive to my cause in one way or another. I don't know how these Facebook things work (I haven't seen my website yet, let alone Facebook), and I'm still not entirely certain what Facebook is. People have told me of course, but I suspect I need to see it for myself to fully appreciate what it is.

Lesley tells me about various things which connect one profile to another and in that way circles grow - or something like that - but I don't really know what it is all about, and I'm not even blonde! As a matter of fact, I am as grey as a badger's arse - and that is what is left after most of it seems to have departed. However, I digress, as usual.

What I really wanted to say is that there are all of these people who are now supportive of me in one way or another and yet I have no way of expressing my thanks and gratitude to them all as individuals. That's what I thought. But there is a way - I can do it right here on this page using this decrepit old typewriter. (Actually it is new - it's "retro".) So that is what I will do.

I wish I could write a letter to everyone individually but that is quite clearly out of the question, as is individual messages on the blog. But I CAN thank everyone collectively. Sitting as I do in a cell, with the typewriter before me, I can appreciate all of the comments made by kindly and well-meaning people from all over the place who have said nice and encouraging things about me. I want to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you - you will never know what it means to a person in my position to be able to sit here, in occasional dudgeon, and know that there are people who actually care what happens to me.

I am given to understand that the list grows steadily and that I have supporters from as far away as China who log on to see how things are going with me. I thank you all, sincerely and without caveat. Thank you all very much. As long as there are good, decent folk in this world then people like me will always have something to hope for.

By the way, I have been informed that I CAN do smiley faces with a typewriter, that I have to use a colon and a right hand bracket - :) I can't say that I am too impressed by that, but if you have a crick in the neck I suppose it could pass for a smiley face and, until something better comes along, it will have to serve :)

Thank you, everybody :)

The Voice In The Wilderness