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

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