Thursday, September 30, 2010

Confusion rules

I'm confused.

By this time, it has become a well-established medical fact that I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, not the most observant of creatures, and certainly not the brightest star in the firmament. We all know these things. Nevertheless, I'm confused.

I'll simplify it - well, it has to be simple for my overworked brain cell:

In prison, any prison as far as I am aware, there is a system in place for writing reports about cons, whether these reports are for Sentence Planning (stop laughing in the back row, this is serious.) Sentence Planning! There is only one plan - to go home. Anyway, whether it be Sentence Planning, Risk Management, Parole or any other bleedin' thing - they are all the same reports, all written by the same people, all going to the one central point (which is the Offender Management Unit - OMU) and collated. They are all the same people, all the same reports and all put together by the same person.

This is what confuses me - and maybe it is more a reflection on my poor thinking skills rather than on the incompetence of those who couldn't (apparently) organise a piss-up in a brewery. About a year ago my risk levels were all judged as low, apart from being medium to the public. Don't ask me how they work these things out, they don't know themselves - otherwise the system wouldn't be failing so spectacularly. Suddenly, about a year ago, my risk levels were changed to High Risk to the public and High Risk to a "known" adult.

At that point I got onto the Wallace about it, and Andrew wrote to the Number One Governor here several times. "Who is this 'known' adult?" was the question. "Er, um, there is no known adult," was the answer. So that was changed to low risk and the public risk was changed to medium. So, that made me a low risk to just about everyone and everything on the planet - apart from flies. (I dislike flies - they irritate me, they intrude, they annoy, they distract the attention. I don't like flies.)

So, there we were - low risk. All I needed to do was to take the various assessments to see if I really am human and, once they were completed, I would be in line for beatification and sainthood. I complied with those same assessments - job done.

Imagine my confusion when I got my copy of the next Sentence Planning / Risk Assessment Management bollocks or whatever it is this time (scheduled for the 5th of next month) to discover that my risk levels had been changed again back to high for the public and "known" adult. This is despite the fact that I have progressed massively! So I asked about it.

"What is going on?" was my reasonable question.

The Wallace had no idea. Blodwyn had no idea. Nobody had any idea, until we discovered that it is all the tender and conscientious work of the Smiling Assassin. So, The Wallace is having them changed back - so is Blodwyn - so is my personal officer - and so is HIS line manager.

That only leaves the Smiling Assassin.

By this time of course I should have had all of the reports in the post from The Wallace, the independent psychologist and others. Unfortunately that only applies in the normal world, not here at the Lazy L. The censors cannot do their job - there are not enough of them. In the last few weeks my incoming mail levels have gone from between ten and fifteen letters per week coming in from family and friends, down to three. Mail is piling up in the censors', both incoming and outgoing. Apparently Hoss the Boss won't supply the people for the job - though there are apparently plenty of people to stand around and write bollocks about prisoners.

Some days no mail at all comes onto the wings and we are told that there is none. Over six hundred and fifty cons in this prison and on some days there is no mail for anyone at all? Bollocks!

So, I am confused. I'm not even getting Boudica's letters (and she's not getting mine) despite the fact that she writes every day, as I do myself.

Speaking about the mighty Boudica, the Troll killed another one of her pigeons and Boudica is not happy about it. Maybe she is confused as well.

Wasn't it Henry David Thoreau who said:

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
All I can say is that it's a good job he didn't have to live at the Lazy L.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Visit with an independent psychologist

On Tuesday 14th September I attended the visiting area of the prison to meet the independent psychologist who was to conduct an assessment of me in respect of the PLC-R and the HRC-20, amongst other things.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, although from reading the small amount I had read about him I expected a reasonable and certainly efficient person. The man I met was extremely pleasant - one of the nicest people I have encountered in many a long year. He is a man of my own generation, being a mere year younger than me and could therefore fully appreciate the fact that I have become a grumpy old man, albeit one with a sense of humour.

I think the best way to describe the day - he was here all of the afternoon too - would be to say that we spent as much time simply chatting in a social sort of way as we did discussing the matters in hand. I think we found ourselves in accord on so many areas of modern life, and while we were chatting he fitted in his questions unobtrusively and expertly and made his notes.

As he said himself, I may not like everything he has to say about me - nobody ever agrees with everything - but I do expect that his final report will be extremely beneficial, probably even more so than the report already produced by the Prison Service.

I left the visits area at the end of the afternoon's session feeling as though I had enjoyed a good day with good conversation. Of course, I was brought back to the mundane incompetence of prison life almost instantly because the visits people thought that I was still a Cat 'A' prisoner. I have been a Cat 'B' now for a year and that simply isn't enough time for the facts to filter down to all departments. They quite simply do not communicate with each other.

That fact became even clearer on arrival back on the wing because I was given two documents. One was a lot of rubbish to tell me that they want to assess me for a CALM course. The other was my latest OASYS documents in which they are still stuck in 2005 and don't even know that I have completed the assessments for everything and have no requirement for courses.

Oh dear, it's not at all easy dealing with intransigence like that.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A busy week

Last week I said - or if I didn't I should have - that this week should prove to be interesting, or at least that the potential was there.

Now, I'm not normally right about very much, unless it is the fact that Lady Luck will be along to kick me in the testacularities at regular intervals. However, hit me with a stick and call me Susan if I wasn't right for a change. This week has been interesting to say the least.

It all started on Monday the 13th because after lunch I wandered up to the Healthcare to see the optician and got myself a couple of new pairs of glasses, one for reading and one for seeing. All I need now is something worth reading - but there's bugger-all worth seeing around here at the best of times. The point is that when I got back to the wing I was handed a document which had come from the Offender Management Unit, the OMU, and it came with a bit of paper which basically was a threat. It said that if I didn't respond within a week then the document would go forward to the upcoming Sentence Planning/Risk Assessment Board (scheduled for 5th October).

So, being naturally nosy, I had a look at the document and it is a pack of rubbish from beginning to end, full of lies and pure hubris. It was compiled by a person in the OMU whose name I am not allowed to use but who is called by everyone "The Smiling Assassin". This person smiles at a con, promises to correct things and then proceeds to stab him in the back. Everything this person does seems to be negative. All this of course despite the fact that Blodwyn had already made the report stating that I am a normal sort of cove, not a psychopath and in need of no courses.

The Smiling Assassin had me down as in need of every course that could be found, and I suspect a couple that have been made up. I have been accused of the following (you'll love this):

Violent Lifestyle
Interpersonal Aggression
Poor Emotional Control/Management/Regulation
Chaotic and Disorganised Lifestyle
Use of a Weapon
Parasitic Lifestyle
Lifestyle(s) Impulsivity
Callous Unemotional Traits
Criminal Personality
Calculated Assessment Of Consequences
Poor Perspective Taking
Rigid OR Inflexjble Thinking
Conning and Manipulative Behaviour
And all of that is just in one paragraph! There are dozens of them. In fact almost everything the Smiling Assassin has put into this document is incorrect in much the same way.

"Ah!" you say, "But is that the worst part?"

Is it hell. The Smiling Assassin is blaming The Wallace for the report!

Well, that was Monday 13th. On Tuesday 14th I spent the day in the visits with the independent psychologist who had come to assess my character using various engines such as the PCL-R and the HCR-20 - much the same as Blodwyn had done really. I showed him Blodwyn's Feedback Document and he noted right away that nothing had been said about age, and let's face it, I'm getting old these days - in fact I'm getting old every day, I never have a day off. (I have covered the psychologist's visit elsewhere so I won't go into it here but as favourable as Blodwyn's report is, his will be even more so.)

When I got back to the wing after the visit, I was given yet another document from Nitwits 'R' Us, and this one wanted me to be assessed for the CALM course - Controlling Anger and Learning to Manage it.
Anger? I'm surprised that more cons are not terminally and totally overcome with apoplexy, never mind anger.

Wednesday 15th and a woman came to see me, a very pleasant person I have to say, and she worked for an outside company who seemed to be under the impression that I am a new boy. However, when I told her that she must be making a mistake, because there are three Wilkinsons in this prison, she just sat and we had a nice chat for an hour or so, with her sniggering a good deal - a woman fond of a joke and who could see the funny side.

Thursday 16th I finally managed to get down to the visits and had my photograph taken to send out to Boudica - it's the only way to keep the pigeons in line really. They cost me £1.20 each and I had three done - all donations in brown envelopes and addressed to the Charity for One Legged Albanian Lesbians, thank you. (Mind, I'm not allowed to use that word now, it is politically unsound - so we will have to say "Ladies in sensible shoes".) They showed me the finished product in the afternoon - not bad.

On Friday 17th I saw to the photographs going into the mail as soon as they let me out of my kennel and that was that seen to. I was also informed during the morning that the Smiling Assassin would be submitting the nonsense paperwork whether I liked it or not, despite the fact that she had Blodwyn's report and knew that everything she had said was wrong and untrue. Well, I can see her twisted logic - she (The Smiling Assassin) was blaming the Wallace for it. What she didn't know was that in the afternoon of that very day I was off down to the visits yet again, this time for a video-link with the Wallace herself. I took the report with me.

I like the Wallace. She is run off her feet, bless her, trying to deal with her clients, and I always drive her mad with my wandering mind and subject-switching. I showed her the Smiling Assassin's paperwork and showed her the fact that she (The Wallace) was getting the blame for it.

The Wallace hasn't made a report on me for a long time, but she is now, and it will be in my hands, Andrew's hands AND the hands of the OMU at some point this comming week. She is not too delighted with the Smiling Assassin, but there again, who is?

So! The final outcome, the analysis of the week - what is it? Despite Lady Luck and her tender administrations it has all gone extremely well from my point of view. I've got The Wallace batting on my side, and Blodwyn, and the independent psychologist. In fact the only person not batting for me is the Smiling Assassin, and she comes fairly low in the food chain once the heavy artillery begins.

Finally I'd better say something ahout Boudica or she will start bullying me again, her and her pigeons. Now, it may (or may not) be remembered that she told me a while back that she now had quite a few feathered friends. Well, this week I had two photographs from her of her pigeons - she's got dozens of the bleedin' things! No wonder the Troll is moaning! The roof of the house is sagging under the weight of feathers! She's bought a D.I.Y. book and said she wants me to build a new house for her pigeons - I've told her that she can build it herself.

Besides, a house big enough for that lot would need planning permission, and she's annoyed the local council enough for now.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What is truth?

"What is truth?" said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. Thus wrote Francis Bacon somewhere between 1561 and 1626. We know this because those are the years of his lifespan.

What is truth?

A good question.

It's no good asking the CCRC that question - they don't know the answer. They simply ask the police and, as everyone knows, the police wouldn't acknowledge the truth if it was wrapped in red silk and shoved up their collectives. But never mind.

As John Locke said around about the same time:

It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of truth.
What Locke was saying, in his own way, is merely a reiteration of an old adage which we have all heard many times before:
You can take a horse to the water but you can't make it drink.
I like quotes, they sort of satisfy me in a strange but filling way. Pithy, that's the word. I like pithy. A quote, saying or adage can be found to cover just about each and every situation, I should imagine - and that got me to thinking, a pastime which I indulge myself in a good deal.

I got to thinking ahout all of the things I write myself, reams of the stuff, millions of words covering the whole gamut of emotions, I suppose - although I don't do pathos very well. I do defiance like an expert, but that comes from being a grumpy old man mostly. Everybody gets to that stage sooner or later, unless of course you are seeking saintbood.

When I snuff it, as I surely will, will anyone quote me? Surely, in amongst all of the stuff I have churned out since I discovered the power and satisfaction of the written word, I have written at least one sentence that is worth remembering! Can I expect that, at some time in the uncharted future, there will be a tutor somewhere looking sternly at some unheeding student and saying, "Have you actually read Wilkinson?"

"Yes sir!" lies the student.

"Well, what did he say about truth?"

"Er, um, er, um."

Everybody can trot out a few quotes, although they may not realise that fact. We all know the old sayings our grandmothers gently beat into our flesh as children. We can all quote. We all have favourites too. They don't necessarily have a lot of relevance but that's hardly the point - the point is, we like them. Some of my favourites...


The mad are all in God's keeping.
Well, that's me on safe ground then.


It takes two to speak the truth - one to speak, and another to hear.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
Oh yes, the latter is a gem indeed. We lurch from crisis to crisis all of our lives, desperate for a bit of peace.


Truth sits upon the lips of dying men.
It's a fact! When we get older we tell the truth because we no longer give a shit.

That's the thing about the game of life - it's the only game in town that we know we are never going to get out of alive. Life is going to kill the lot of us in the end - we lose the game.

Finally, a word about Boudica, who is now hiding behind net curtains and driving the Troll insane with her pigeons and sniggering a good deal as she does it. Apparently, the Troll is only a little woman, so I've suggested that when she (Boudica) speaks to her, she simply says, "Stand up when you talk to me."

One last word on truth - it's never safe to be entirely truthful, and there is one instance when we must never tell the truth.

"Does my bum look big in this?"

"Your bum would look big in the Gobi Desert."

Wrong answer! Prepare to spend the rest of your life dodging things like plates and low-flying shoes.

Anton Chekhov had it right when he said:

Any idiot can face a crisis. It is day-to-day living that wears you out.
The Voice In The Wilderness

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Things are starting to get interesting at last. Finally I can feel a certain amount of satisfaction (albeit just a smidgen), and there is definitely a bit of a glow at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. The tired waves may be breaking but not as vainly as they once were - inches are definitely being gained - and far back, through the creeks and inlets, maybe the tide has definitely turned and is beginning to flood in.

The cry goes up, "What's the nitwit talking about THIS time?"

Progress, my friends, progress. Good old Blodwyn has provided me with what she has termed her "Feedback Document" and in there, amongst the psychobabble that they use to confuse us poor, uneducated laymen, there are gems which glitter and show definite hope and promise. Of course this is not her full and finished report, but I have very real reason to expect that she will furnish me with a decent and fair effort - after all, she actually believes in doing things correctly, a rare and exotic thing in the modern prison service (if you can call a service stuck in the 1850's modern). So, I have great hopes and expectations of Blodwyn's final doc.

But it doesn't stop there, not a bit of it. It is Sunday 12th September 2010 as I write this, and on Tuesday 14th September 2010 (two days' time for the dyslexic), I have been informed that I have got legal visits booked all day with an independent psychologist. These are only legal visits in the loose sense because really he is coming to see me with a view to writing his own psychology report on me. When this idea was first mooted, I think the general idea was to allow us to compare his report with that of the prison service. We thought that the PS would have their report done by some young girl, a trainee who would probably look like she should be at home playing with toys rather than making life-changing and life-­affecting reports based on her own lack of experience.

However, that hasn't turned out to be the case because I got good old Blodwin - an expert - and I am thankful for it. Not only did I meet a decent, conscientious person, but she is also nice - and I like her, she has a sense of humour (something very few of the psychology fraternity seem to possess.) Consequently I have this completely unreasoned feeling that the independent report isn't going to be far removed from Blodwyn's. Of course we will have to wait and see.

Also on the day that the independent psychologist is coming to see me, I have arranged for the prison to take my photograph for me to send out to Boudica and Andrew. Andrew needs an up-to-date picture so that folk can see how much the years, and of course the tender, loving care of the prison service, have changed me. Boudica wants one to throw darts at and to use to keep the pigeons from coming into her kitchen, turning on her telly, eating her out of house and home and annoying the Troll next door.

I also suspect she wants to take the piss. It is everyone's right in this world to indulge in a little light mockery of those we find ridiculous from time to time, but Boudica is taking liberties. I'm going to report her, not to the Council for Civil Liberties (if it still exists), but to the Council for Diabolical Liberties.

Finally, I've got to see the optician again. As we get older and totter inexorably toward the tomb, things start to fall apart. I remember well when I had the eyes of an eagle, the heart of a lion and the limbs of a Greek God. Things have changed a bit since then. I look like Gollum these days, without the eyes. I'm as blind as a bat, as baldy as an orangutan's arse and I am probably very attractive to flies.

Apart from that I'm doing okay - thanks for asking.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Every silver lining has a cloud

I should have known better of course. I should have taken into account the words of that great poet and typing error, Mike Spilligan when he said:
Every silver lining has a cloud.
Oh make no mistake, I've got my silver lining all right - it's the cloud that comes with it that I should have kept my eye on. And that cloud is the bloody CCRC again - that merry band of brothers and sisters who have been recruited by the Freemasons on behalf of the Establishment to protect the police, no matter what they do.

The simple fact is that the CCRC will not, under any circumstances, either do or say anything that is even remotely critical of the upstanding, criminal class we laughingly call the police. I have shown the CCRC how police planted evidence but of course they quite simply refuse to accept it. Well, ignoring the facts will not
make them go away, and sooner or later the facts WILL come out and the CCRC will merely have more egg on their collective face. They are supposed to be independent and impartial, not a rubber stamp for any and every crime committed by corrupt cops. The facts WILL come out in the end.

Their latest nasty little plan is to give me very little time to put together and present my submissions. Consequently I have been compelled to simply parcel up over two hundred pages of paperwork and send them to my solicitor. I have asked her to do the rest of the work herself on the grounds that it's about time they did SOMETHING instead of simply letting me do the work while they garner the credit for it. Anyway, she has got until Friday 1st October to submit her efforts to the CCRC, and I hope that there ARE a few

That's the cloud. The silver lining comes from Blodwyn and The Wallace. Blodwyn came to speak to me the other day and informed me of several things, such as that she is coming for a longer chat at some point in the next few days - but there is no bad news involved. Apparently she has been chatting to the Wallace and between them they have decided that the best thing for me is a move to Kingston prison, which is in Portsmouth. I agree. Kingston is a Cat B jail with definite prospects of a fairly swift move to the Cat C section
of the prison. It's only a small step from there to a D.

However, I'm still unhappy about this CCRC thing, nitwits that they are. Their hopes that I will simply give up (now that I can see a glimmer of light at the end of the very dark tunnel I have been living in for almost twenty-five years) is a false hope. Two quotes spring to mind, and they would do well to remember them, not just in my case but in the others they deal with too.

William Lloyd Garrison said:

I am in earnest - I will not equivocate -I will not excuse - I will not retreat a single inch ­ and I will be heard!
William Jennings Bryan said:
The humblest citizen of all the land, when clad in the armour of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the Hosts of Error.
Finally, a word about Boudica - otherwise she will think that I have forgotten her, and her pigeons. Apparently she is still at loggerheads, pistols at dawn, with the Troll. I've told her, "Just tell her to bugger off and ignore her. the woman needs counselling!"

It was Boudica's Ma's birthday last week - 90 years old. I think that's marvellous. She must have been born in 1920 and the other night I was thinking about the changes she has witnessed over the years, wars she has lived through, things she has seen.

I hope I live that long. I'd like to live forever, but I've got half a suspicion that it won't happen. In fact it is about as likely as the CCRC making a critical remark about Officer Plod.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Which is my way to this honest man's house?

Lying in the pile of reasonably clean straw that I call my bed last night, I got to pondering (as I do each night), as I waited patiently for the sweet, welcoming arms of Morpheus to enfold me into the world of dreams, where anything and everything is possible - give me a break, I'm not Wordsworth!

Howsomever, there I was, having a wee ponder, and I got round to the concept of 'Honesty'. Now, being a former career criminal I used to have less than a passing acquaintance with the very concept of honesty, although I like to think I have become quite good friends with it now.

During my discourse with Blodwin the Head Expert the other week, I made a sort of throwaway remark about life being so much easier if we have a little bit of larceny in our hearts. I think Blodwin was a bit worried about that and I had to explain that I didn't mean that everyone has to be a crook, far from it really.

What I meant was that life is so much easier, and we can get much further in all walks of it, if we are prepared to turn a blind eye where it is appropriate, cut a few corners, take the easy path, that sort of thing. I'm not advocating criminal behaviour, just saying that a little common sense can go a long way to easing our path on the sometimes very rocky road of life.

To be quite frank about it, honest men are few and far between - I mean REALLY honest men. Everyone will turn a blind eye given the right circumstances - it is human nature, I think.

Anyway, as I was dropping off, something from John Bunyan came to mind too - from "Pilgrim's Progress", which I had been reading the other day. Pilgrim is talking to Worldly-wise and asks, "Sir, which is my way to this honest man's house?"

A good question indeed - where lives Mister Honest?

Boudica said I was a bit grumpy in my letter the other day and, being a self-proclaimed expert, she came to the conclusion that it was because I had run out of books to read. Come to think on it, she may be right - that's why I was reading Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" for the umpteenth time. It's this place - it frowns upon such decadent practices as reading. Any other prison, and fellows like me can have books sent in by family and friends - but not at the "Lazy L". What! Let prisoners have books! What the hell is going on? The bastards will want to start reading them next!

No, the 'Lazy L' frowns on such activity. "Go to the library!" they cry. Yeah, right, okay - once a week, five books, finished them in three days and that's that. We are told, "You may purchase books from an approved source such as W.H.Smith or Waterstones!" (Although I'm not sure about Waterstones.) So every now and then, after I have managed to accumulate the money, I spend about a hundred and fifty quid on books. I only get half a dozen for that of course because I buy substantial tomes. Most of them are given to the library when I'm finished of course, maybe that's how they get their library in the first place, who can tell?

Which in effect brings me right back to honesty with a touch of Machiavelli thrown in. We won't let cons have books sent in, we will make them buy them. It will stop cons from accumulating too many books, stop them from reading too much and getting cleverer than wot we is, earn us a few quid in discounts - and we will get any books that cons buy in the end anyway!

Okay, maybe that's all a little harsh, but it certainly shows that everyone needs a little larceny in their heart to get by - certainly they do at the "Lazy L".

Finally, Boudica is at war with the absentee tenant next door, who may have taken to killing her (Boudica's) pigeons - she has found several dead ones lately. The Troll (as Boudica calls her) has also complained to somebody or other about Boudica feeding the birds. A young girl with anorexia came to see Boudica about it but went away again after being reassured that Boudica was doing nothing wrong. I've told Boudica to report the Troll to the RSPCA - because killing birds is frowned upon.

The woman is only doing it because she wants to sell her house! I've got to say it - she is being foolish in insisting on annoying Boudica. Maybe she hasn't heard the phrase, "It is easier to deal with a friendly lion than with a mad dog." Do yourself a favour Missus, don't annoy Boudica too much. She has mellowed over the years - a most fortunate state of affairs for you really. There was a time in days of yore when Boudica would have been less than polite about things and painted your windows black to go with your soul. Who kills birds?

Oh well, no doubt it will all be sorted out in the end - the Troll will sell her hovel, Boudica will continue to feed her blackbird (plus other assorted avian friends), Hartlepool will win the FA Cup and Osama Bin Laden will kiss George Bush's arse. But I'm not holding my breath.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The unforgiving minute

The other day during our conversation, Blodwin the head expert - Geddit? Oh please yourselves - Blodwin the head expert asked me many things, and one of those questions (to paraphrase) was, "What do you intend to do when you are finally released"

I answered her of course, to the best of my ability, but giving it some thought later ( I soul-search every night) I got to thinking about the Rat Race and came to the conclusion that I don't want to be a part of it. In fact I want nothing to do with it at all. The trouble with the Rat Race is that even if you win the race, you are still a rat.

Oh don't misunderstand me - I do not intend to simply fold up my tent and go meekly into the dark night (yes I know that it is "go gentle into that good night" - it's called Poetic Licence), not a bit of it. I have a lot to read, a lot to learn, a lot to write. I will fill each and every unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run, be sure of that.

However, this got me to thinking (again) and this time it was about the sixty seconds' worth of distance run and the unforgiving minute. Move over Kipling, let the rabbit see the dog.

Now, I never touch my bed during the day - beds are for sleeping on at night, not for lying there filling the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of knackers scratched, watching morons on the telly and heading for obesity. Beds are for sleeping in the welcoming arms of Morpheus.

Many years ago, when I was a remand prisoner in 1986, I was held in Durham Prison Segregation Unit because, being Category A, I could not be on the wings with Ordinary, Decent Criminals - the ODC's. Also down the seg that time was an IRA man called Vince, long gone home now and drinking Dublin dry. He gave me some salutary advice.

"Listen, Frank," said he. "You need to get yerself a regime and stick to it or ye'll nivver survive. Nivver sleep on yer bed in the day - sit on yer chair at the table reading. NIVVER lie on yer bed - that leads te idleness and idleness leads te ruination."

Or words to that effect.

I never lay on my bed during the day from that day to this. It served me well. I read more, learned more and became a better person for it - ask Blodwin, she'll tell you.

So the years began to pass and nine years later, in 1995, I was in Frankland Prison - and so were a lot of the IRA boys. Vince, "The Bould Vince", was round the corner from me and one day, just after unlock after the lunch hour, I had cause to go round to his cell. I got there and simply went in. No manners were necessary, not with the Paddys - and I was seen as one of them. I was an adopted Mick, non-disposable.

In I went and there was "The Bould Vince", asleep in his bed.

"Hoy! Ye bollix!" I cried. "What's yer bleedin' game?"

He opened his eyes and looked at me. "What?" says he, clearly a man with a great career ahead of him as a conversationalist.

"Ye bollix!" I repeated, just in case he had missed it the first time. "When I was on remand you told me, 'Never sleep on yer bed in the day time!'"

"Jaysus!" says he. "Ye didn't listen te me, did ye?"

The Voice In The Wilderness