Thursday, June 24, 2010


Here we are at the end of yet another week where news of any sort is in short supply - there is a dearth of information, we may say. When I reflect on things it seems that every week is a bit short on interest - it's the rare occasion when there IS any news in fact.

Howsomever (I like that word), there is an interesting subject to bring up - well, almost interesting: we are on a lock-down! A lock-down is when everything comes to a halt and the whole place is locked up to be searched for however long it takes, usually about two to three days. No showers, no exercise, no work, no nuffink. Mail isn't supposed to be affected but it invariably is - apparently they are short of staff to do the mail because they are all needed to search places, and especially cells.

So what has brought on this lock-down? You may well ask. All I know is that as I was in my cell watching the football on Saturday afternoon there was a kerfuffle out on the wing and voices shouting about "Everybody lock up!" I haven't seen or spoken to anyone since, although the gossips have been yelling out of the windows.

I don't know what happened and, to be quite honest about it, I don't really care - it has nothing to do with me. All I know is that we have been given a sheet of paper under the cell doors to inform us that there will be no further issue of knives (for cooking I presume) until further notice. That can only mean that there has been an incident and somebody was bleeding. Another paper came under the doors this morning telling us that we are to be kept on lock-down until the whole place has been searched. Going on past experience that could mean about three days.

Apart from the fact that my cell will be wrecked at some point in the next several days, I don't mind a bit. In fact I quite like lock-downs because I am quite comfortable with my own company and I can read or write or just watch telly and play with my PS2. I have plenty to occupy my tiny little mimd. Some fellows are not so successful when it comes to entertaining themselves, that's why they yell rubbish to their friends out of windows. Most cons, however, take the opportunity for a bit of peace and quiet so, for however long it takes the search to be completed, we have peace generally and most cons actually like it.

Not the junkies, of course, they need to be out of their cells so they can duck and dive and 'flex' as they seek the wherewithal to chase the elusive dragon, that mythical creature which doesn't exist and therefore cannot be caught. But the junkies don't count.

Another bonus is the break from the perpetual beggars who are always on the look-out for fags, or fag papers, or sugar - or anything else they can get their hands on, the poor managers. Yes, a few days of peace and quiet are ahead of me and the rest of my contemporaries scattered around in the silent cells, the only sound at the minute being the tapping of a typewriter. Oh yeah! That's me!

So, over the next couple of days we will all be searched, cells will be turned topsy-turvey, little, inconsequential items will be confiscated out of vindictiveness, like sellotape, paperclips - stuff which makes every day living that tiny bit easier. That will all be taken away, but it's a small price to pay for peace.

Finally, I wonder who got stabbed or cut? No, forget I said that, I don't want to know. If I don't know then I can't tell anyone, and that seems like a sensible policy to me. Let me live in peace, quiet and total ignorance, just like my life has been for years now. Why change a losing combination?

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Putting my foot in it

Once again we come to the end of another week without any form of news worth mentioning. However, I did manage to get my very own personal officer to finally have a word with the psychology department here at the Lazy L, the realm of Hoss the Boss. He - my personal officer, henceforth referred to as my PO - came back and said that he had spoken to some fellow who, without reference to anything, said that he had nothing to do with my "case" and that it was being handled (or dealt with) by a female who is away on leave! They must get long leaves in this place - I've been here since March of last year and seen neither hide nor hair of a member of the psychology department nor had any form of communication from them. Perhaps I really am invisible!

My PO also said that this person, the elusive dealer in cases, knows all about me. Well, that's a good trick if you can do it! Never met me but knows all about me. I don't know all about me and I've met me several times. Anyway, let's not be unkind - we will see.

All of that notwithstanding, I have had yet another encounter with my favourite female, that ould tart, Lady Luck. Yesterday, as I was passing the kitchen door, I slipped on a patch of wet gravy that some slob had dropped and either didn't know he had done it or - and this is my theory - thought that he was above such menial tasks as cleaning up his own mess.

Flat on my back in front of several eye witnesses and, let's be honest, some of them have got memories like supergrasses - they can remember things that never happened in the first place, just like policemen. Flat on my back - but I simply bounced back up again, no harm done and no damage. I should have stayed down and demanded a huge compensation package, but I didn't - not a quick enough thinker obviously.

Ha! When we fall over we feel such fools! Everyone takes the piss. No wonder we get back up instantly and try to pretend it never happened. Life's like that.

As I say, I didn't hurt myself and I had completely forgotten the incident until I got into bed last night at about half ten. I couldn't get comfortable because my right shoulder was sore. I can't even remember landing on it - I thought I landed on my arse if I landed anywhere. But trying to get comfy in bed I found that I couldn't, I was sore. I dropped off to sleep quickly enough as usual but was soon awake again, my shoulder being really sore. By the time I got up this morning it was giving me a lot of grief and it will probably take days and days to settle down again. I won't take pain-killers - I never do, unless it is something seriously painful like listening to Leonard Cohen singing. 

It's all part of this getting old game, that's what it is. When we were young we bounced off floors, no harm done. These days I am in agony if I put my underwear on wrinkled.

What's all this got to do with Lady Luck? Well you may ask. The patch I slipped on couldn't have been any bigger than an inch or two square, no more, and I've only got size seven feet. Yet in that large expanse of area I managed to put my foot in it. Some folk think I've been putting my foot in it all of my life, but they are merely anti-social types better ignored. Oh yes, Lady Luck did it, she guided my foot!

Lesley keeps telling me to think positively, and before I forget I have to stop saying she has no sense of humour. Done that then. Apparently I have to think positive thoughts - she read it in a book recently. Yes, okay, I'll do that, but when I go arse over head as I slip on the gravy of life (left there by some unscrupulous nitwit), forgive me if I utter the odd word of a censorious nature on the way down to hurt my shoulder - and I don't mean, "Oh gosh! Ooops!"

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pensive mood

"When oft I sit in pensive mood..." as the poet would have it - a state of affairs, incidentally, which I find myself in at the crack of dawn every morning. I get up at some ungodly hour every day for no other reason than that my eyes are open. I normally make myself a cup of tea and a fag then sit there listening to, and completely ignoring, Radio Four. Well, it makes me feel a bit intellectual and I find the drone somewhat comforting.

This morning was no different. I crawled out of my pit at six-fifteen ack emma and, after I had completed the tea-making ceremony (it'll never catch on in Japan), and had my fag going at a satisfactory level (I do it for the coughing you know), I found myself staring out of the window while some female on the radio told me about black-faced sheep running around the Yorkshire hills. I wasn't actually seeing anything out of my window - there's not much to see beyond the sky and a steel fence. Still! The sky is a long way away - how far does anyone need to see?

I got to thinking about days of yore - I do that a lot. In fact I think it is a common trait - the older we get, the more we think on the past. Let's have it right, we are comfortable in the past - we know what happened and no surprises. The future we are not so sure about - there isn't much of it for a start.

So, there was I, thinking about the past. I got thinking about those I have known and who I will never see again - and before anyone starts to think that I am going to go off on some maudlin or mawkish trawl of misery, I'm not. I just mentioned that in passing because it took me to mistakes, bad decisions and poor choices, stupid ideas and even sillier remarks and actions. 

Let me put it this way - I've made mistakes. But who hasn't? In this life our mistakes are the only things we can lay full, undisputed claim to. Show me a man or woman - or the ambigous come to that - who hasn't, at some stage or point, said to themselves, "If I had known then what I know now..." and I will show you a person with all the regrets that I have myself. On the other hand, show me someone who says they have NOT said that and I will show you a bleedin' liar.

We all make mistakes. From the moment we begin making decisions the mistake count starts to rise, and goes on rising until the day we hand in our dinner pail and they nail down the coffin lid. We can't change the past and, as I have said before many times, not even God can change the past. All we can do is our best for the future, whatever time may be left to us.

I'm sixty-four years old this year and I could shuffle off long before my allotted three score and ten. On the other hand, I could live well into my nineties, who knows? But however much longer I have got, I hope I can keep my mistakes and poor decisions down to a bare minimum - and hope that I don't cause too much misery and upset as I do it. All things being equal I should be okay and hopefully not make too many errors in judgement. I've learned a couple of things over the years. I have a certain amount of experience in the game of life, shall we say.

Of course I can't factor in certain things such as the actions or decisions of others, that's always a problem. But - and with me there is always a "but" - one thing I have to be aware of at all times is my old girlfriend Lady Luck. She of the big boots and habit of swinging her handbag at passing pigeons. All of my life that ould bag has been lurking and hovering in the shadows, waiting for me to feel complacent or good about things. Then she simply polishes up the ould toecaps, takes careful aim and... WHAM! Right in the testacularities. Then, as I writhe in agony on the floor, she gives me one of her smiles and says, "Oh good, I thought I'd missed!"

Well let me tell you something, petal, you've never missed, not once in sixty-three years have you missed. Haven't you got someone else you'd rather kick? The novelty must be wearing off a bit by now.

Finally I will finish, as I have done before, with a perfect description of my luck:

If Dolly Parton had triplets, and I was one of them, I'd be the one who got the bottle.
The Voice In The Wilderness

Monday, June 07, 2010

An apology to Christie Moore

There is a little bit of intelligence this week - although, when dealing with officialdom, "intelligence" may not be the best choice of words. I have had a letter from my appeal solicitor informing me that my file will be passed to the decision-making team at the CCRC in the next couple of weeks, which sounds great at first glance. Ah! But then I am informed that after that the case will need to go before a panel for a decision and that could take some time, a couple of months in fact. For all I know it will also have to go before the office tea lady and the cat!

I am being unkind and, after all of these years ,I shouldn't quibble over a few more weeks. After all, I am getting younger by the day and fully expect to live forever.

So, that's the position with the CCRC - watch this space.

The other day I had a letter from Lesley. (We all know Lesley, her of the blonde hair, bad temper, lack of patience and the sense of humour of a burning orphanage - THAT Lesley.) She wrote and said she had seen something I wrote a couple of weeks ago, a response to Mr Anonymous, (author of the political tirade in reaction to something I had said). Lesley had seen my response and the verses that I had included under the title 'An Ordinary Man' and she (Lesley) thought I may have written it. I didn't. It is by a fellow called Christie Moore, an Irish singer. In fact I thought I had attributed it, I normally do, so I must have let that one slip past without attribution.

To make up for that, and by way of an apology to Christie Moore, I am going to include another here, and this one is called:


He was Lawless by name and lawless by nature,
Trouble, right from the start.
Hard as nails, running wild through the streets,
He was breaking his poor mother's heart.
Nature played a trick on Lawless
And the humour of Nature is cruel.
He grew up as we all had expected
Into a dangerous fool.

He was a hard man, a man for all seasons,
Always out for a fight.
He couldn't hold drink but still he'd get plastered
In Clarke's, every Saturday night.
He'd strip to his vest and challenge the best
Until the Gards they were called to come fast.
Then they'd lock him away for the rest of the day
And let him out on a Sunday for Mass.

One night he went down to the Ringsend Regatta
Where he met up with the bould Dolly Glass.
She wasn't exactly what you'd call beauty
But she was the belle of her class.
A whirlwind romance and Dolly took a flier
With Lawless, she would settle down.
It was pure coincidence, three month before,
There was a Yankee destroyer in town.

And the couple were blessed with one of God's miracles
Before six months had elapsed.
Dolly gave birth to a nine pound black baby
And Lawless was fit to collapse.
She swore She'd NEVER been touched by another
And Lawless took her at her word.
And the neighbours exclaimed, "He's the SPIT of his father!"
And the cuckoo's a wonderful bird.

Now Lawless stays in to look after the family
While Dolly goes out for the night.
The ould gossips all say, "She's free in her ways!"
And their evil rumours run rife.
When Lawless heard this, he waited for Dolly
On the bridge where the river runs low.
No one will ever know what happened next
But Dolly drowned in the water below.

Some say he's crazy, most say he's evil,
Everyone says that he's mad.
No one will defend him because he was no angel
But I'll tell you, he wasn't ALL bad.
They locked him away for the rest of his natural,
Never again will he see -
That at the back of Ringsend there's a lonely child playing
Where the Liffey runs into the sea.
The Voice In The Wilderness