Saturday, January 29, 2011

Me and George

Needless to say there is no date set yet for my parole hearing. Having said that, what I SHOULD have said is that the date was due to be passed down on January 7th, so there IS a date, it's just that nobody seems to want to tell anyone else what it is. My solicitor doesn't know, the prison doesn't know (according to them), The Wallace doesn't know (in fact they haven't even bothered to tell her about a new sentence planning thing they have started, or are about to start), and of course Blodwyn doesn't know. In fact they told Blodwyn that it might be in June! Work that one out if you can.

Speaking of Blodwyn, she came to see me the other day and would seem to be a bit needled at the intransigence around this place. Everybody on the planet recommends me for a downgrade and a move to greener pastures, but not the Smiling Assassin, and it seems that she may be working her poison still. She wants me kept in closed prison. The fact that it is none of her business to make such recommendations seems to have been overlooked by the checks and balances that are in place to guard against such excesses, and, even when instructed by higher personages, she simply agrees, then goes ahead with her back-stabbing anyway.

So, nothing to report as far as the parole hearing is concerned. However, I fully expect to have my supporting voices there when it does take place.

At least the lock-down is over.

Boudica has a dog. I may have mentioned this before. In fact she has several dogs, although she will say that two of them belong to her son, the one who falls off bikes. Boudica's new dog is a Staffie which is currently eating everything in sight - and that includes the washing machine door handle. She bought a muzzle for the mutt but won't put it on the dog for longer than ten minutes - she says it must be uncomfortable. Well, there's the choice - muzzle the wrecking machine or redesign the house every morning.

Don't misunderstand me - I like dogs - always have a dog in the real world. A life is not complete without a family pet. Some folk prefer cats of course, or birds, or iguanas or mother-in-law. (I shouldn't have said that - I'll have complaints now.) Anyway, be that as it may, I want to talk about cats - well one cat in particular.


Now I am not personally acquainted with George but I do know a little bit about him. George...well...George is George.

He is getting on a bit now, not in the best of health and is on daily medication - a bit like a few around this place.  George is a settled-in-his-ways cat. He has his routines and daily doings, like everyone else, and, being old now, he doesn't want that routine or his quiet, comfortable life disrupting, and nobody can blame him for that.

You see, George is no different from all the rest of us when old Father Time creeps up on us and the Grim Reaper is giving his scythe a honing ready for the final sentence in life's story. George just wants to be left alone to think his thoughts and not have intrusions on that placid existence. He gets out of his bed each morning at his own pace, he takes his medication, goes about doing his own thing, and at night relaxes with his thoughts and probably doesn't care much what is ahead of him. The river has run its course and is winding slowly into the estuary of life, heading for the sea.

Well, I'm like George - I can smell the sea. I know it's not far away, and it shouldn't be long before I get to the beach. Like George, I've got a couple of things I would still like to do, of course - and I'll get there. I only hope that I am capable when the time comes.

Finally, as we are speaking of cats, let me tell a little story. A fellow comes home from work one day and, while he is eating his evening meal, his wife sits there talking to him.

"Hey," says she. "I saw a great thing on the telly today."

"Oh yeah?" says the husband, his face full of cottage pie.

"Yes," says she. "There was this cat, and every morning it goes out into the garden, digs a hole, does its business, and then fills the hole in again. Isn't that clever?"

"No," says he. "All cats do that."

"Not with a fucking shovel!" says she.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Friday, January 21, 2011

All aboard for Gaza

What an interesting week this has been! Nothing interesting for me personally - such as a parole hearing date or anything like that - but interesting all the same.

Last Sunday evening, a cohort of the denizens of this wing (and a couple of other wings too) decided to have a quiet and peaceful protest against a few of the recent excesses that have been taking place. Of course I can only speak about the wing where I reside as Lizzie Windsor's guest, albeit an unwilling one. Last Sunday a number of the fellows decided not to lock up at the designated time but a lot of us, me included, were not even informed of this intention! (Probably just as well really as it has turned out.)

So they didn't lock up - they had a quiet and peaceful 'sit-out' strike. This meant, of course, that the kangaroos couldn't go home until the cons, peacefully and without so much as a raised voice, locked up at nine in the evening. Sit-out strike over. The trouble started the following day when the whole place was put on lock-down - and we've been on lock-down ever since!

All of those fellows involved in the meek protest were either carted off to the punishment block or placed on punishment on the wing in that they had their personal stuff taken away from them and were placed on basic regime. The rest of us were told that we were all on lock-down as well, which in itself was a punishment - no showers, nuffink.

On Thursday they decided to let a small number of cons out of their cells at a quarter to nine in the morning and at nine o' clock the alarm bell went and everyone was back on lock-down. Someone had created an incident.

Controlled unlocking followed, and that went on until Saturday when they let half of us out in the morning, for showers and the like, and half in the afternoon. The same thing is happening today, Sunday, and we are told that, provided there are no more incidents, there will be a meeting tomorrow to decide whether to allow the wing to return to normal -whatever that means around here. Of course, most of the rest of the jail is already heing treated normally. It makes you think.

Now, none of this has anything to do with me, or a lot of other cons on this wing, but we are being punished anyway. Clearly those in command of this particular version of the Titanic have never heard of collective punishment being unfair and downright against the ECHR.

Keep watching this space - things might get even more interesting. I'm not making any comments about who is right or who is wrong or anything else, I'm simply stating the facts.

But the way I see things is that if you have a lot of young men, young eagles who have absolutely no future ahead of them, nothing at all, then it would seem judicious to me to treat them with a certain amount of compassion and not a little leeway. A person with nothing to lose takes very little persuading to take a gamble. If there is one thing a person should never be deprived of it is hope. Hope is often the only thing that keeps a person going.

Finally, from my little fountain of pithy sayings and wisdom, I have something that is well worth considering:

It is easier to deal with a friendly lion than it is to deal with a mad dog.
The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Just blame the dog

It's been a rather odd start to the year - I mean even odder than can be expected in this world of insanity and celebrity mediocrity. To start with, it seems that when Desperate Dan McScrooge passed the edict that all medically-retired cons had to be penalised, he had overstepped the mark somewhat. Hoss the Boss has decreed that the medically-retired will NOT be locked up all day but will be allowed to carry out their little jobs and functions unmolested. This has got me to thinking that, just maybe, Hoss the Boss reads my bit (this bit) every week - or, if not him, then someone might. Whatever the case may be, it means I had better demonstrate a certain amount of circumspection in the writing - you never know WHO might be hanging around these days.

Then I had a rather curious note thing from the OASys people to tell me that they are coming to see me on the morning of February 9th at ten bells to "review my OASys", whatever that means. Once a year this is supposed to happen - this will be the fourth for me in a year! Very odd indeed. However, I'm not going to automatically presume it is sinister because it may be that someone, somewhere, has decided to actually put it right at last, maybe at the instigation of an influential figure like Blodwyn or The Wallace - you never can tell with these things. What I DO notice is that it isn't the Smiling Assassin this time but someone else who I don't know, as far as I know.

Then I had a letter from my solicitor to tell me that the parole hearing won't be in February, something nobody had ever mentioned before, but we will get the date any day now as the listings for March would be decided on 7th of this month - last week! No mention of my request for Andrew and the independent psychologist's attendance of course, that seems to have been ignored so I have sent another letter off to them about it. Michael Naughton can't attend but he sent me a book - very nice of him.

I also wrote off to the appeal solicitor to ask for the information required to allow me to write to the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) in Brussels. Her silence on the subject is deafening so I'll be on her case again this weekend, after I've written this in fact.

So, this year is a bit odd, so far.

On the home front, Boudica's pigeons seem to have largely left her now, but that could be something to do with the insane dog she has got. It's a Staffie called Cassie (I believe) and its party trick is chewing everything in sight, including Boudica. She's bought a muzzle for it but the dog, clearly as mad as a March hare, thinks any form of chastisement is a game.

I've got a little bird myself now, a wagtail that comes into my cell for cheese, and it's turning into a bit of a pest. The minute it starts trying on my clothing I'll chase it out.

Boudica's new little dog got me to thinking and, as I mused, the train of thought wandered, as it does, and I got to thinking about the good old days - although what was good about them is a mystery to me really. Never mind that, I am wandering again - the point is that I got to thinking about my time as a callow youth over there in the good ould Emerald Isle.

When I was about fourteen I had myself my very first girlfriend, whose name I have completely forgotten, and that's probably just as well, everything taken into consideration. She would have been the same age as me and went to the same school, run violently by nuns most of the time. Ever seen a nun play foothall? I'll say this much for them, they are game for a laugh, but they are not slow with a right-hander around the ear for miscreants. I got a lot of right-handers around the ear as I recall.

All of this reminded me of a story - and from this point on you have to read this in an Irish accent.

One Sunday, my girlfriend told me I had to go to her parents' home for my Sunday tea - that's what they did in those days over in Sligo. So, my Grandma got me all done up in my best wellies and off I went.

Now, they had a dog called Heinz - fifty-seven varieties, ha ha. (Sorry about that. I can't actually remember the dog's name - it would be a sorry state of affairs if I could remember the dog's name and not the girl's.) So, I arrive at the farm, on the other side of Easky from where I lived with my Irish grandparents, and pretty soon we were all sitting round the kitchen table for our tea. Oh yes, all the best the farm could offer was there - the cold pies, the sandwiches and a big pot of tay, lovely.

So there's me, tearing lumps off the lettuce sandwiches, when I had a wee accident. I let go with one of those little accidents children seem to find so amusing. Just a wee "Pffutt", nothing to get excited about, but awfully embarrassing to a fourteen-year-old in front of his first girlfriend's family.

But her daddy saved the day - he kicked the dog and said sternly to it, "GET UNDER!"

"Ah," thought I, "this is great - the dog gets the blame!"

A couple of minutes later I do it again, a bit stronger this time and it came out, "Pfffarr".

"GET UNDER!" says the daddy to the dog again.

"Brilliant!" thinks I. "I'm on a winner here."

A couple of minutes later I let go another - I blame the lettuce. This one would have graced a municipal shithouse in Rome. "PFFFAARRRTT!"

"GET UNDER," yells the daddy, "BEFORE HE SHITS ALL OVER YE!"

Had a nice letter from Jo Bruce the other day - sorry, Doctor Bruce. You have to admire the likes of her - not all that well herself and yet she still runs off to third world countries to do all she can to help. Have you seen the pictures of Camp Mercy and read her blog? Boudica thinks she's great - so do I.

Mind, I think farting at my girlfriend's tea table is great, so what do I know? Incidentally, the story about the tea table and the dog? It may be one of my little jokes - much like the OASys in this place.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Fings ain't wot they used ter be

I wrote somewhere once about New Year celebrations in prison, in fact it was about the New Year of 1990, or somewhere around there. At the time I was resident in HMP Durham, in the segregation unit there. When midnight struck, the whole world around me seemed to go mad - bells ringing, car horns blowing and explosions of fireworks... THAT was outside of the prison. Inside the prison almost every con would, and did, wait for the stroke of midnight and simply lose the plot. They screamed and howled like rabid dogs (most of them WERE rabid dogs ) and quite simply battered their cell doors until the very prison seemed to be shaking on its foundations. Of course, they were simply celebrating the fact that another year had begun and that meant a year closer to release. All over the country every prison did the same thing. The noise would be horrendous and it would go on for ten to fifteen minutes.

Contrast this year, just a few days ago. There I was, lying in my feather bed as a guest of Lizzie Windsor - an unwilling guest but a guest for a' that (quick reference to Rabbie Burrrrrns there) - and, as I lay in my bed, I could hear my retro alarm clock ticking away the final minutes of the year of grace 2010. Around me the prison was silent. Not a thing stirred, not even a mouse - although I expect a few of the rats were awake and sobbing into their pillows, those who hadn't sold their pillows for a mess of pottage (or a pot of message, either way does).

Then midnight arrived and, in the far distance, I heard a couple of weak 'pops' of fireworks going off as the local populace did their bit to celebrate - two bangers, a Catherine wheel and a rocket: £2.99 from Tescos.

Inside the prison? Not a sound. There wasn't so much as an apologetic cough. This is the way the year starts, not with a bang but with a silent whimper. The prison was silent as the grave.

Oh make no mistake - they would all be awake, all lying there in the dark in their beds, those who hadn't sold their beds for a set of mumbles such as promises (another reference there.) Oh they would be awake all right, lying there and, in many cases, having a little cry to themselves - these tough guys.

Gone are the days when cons screamed defiance at the gods and celebrated a year closer to release. These days nobody has anything to look forward to - they are going nowhere and what's one more year when you have thirty or forty or more stuck up your collective aristotle (as the cockneys would say)?

Nobody celebrates anymore - they have nothing to celehrate, and if they did they wouldn't want to get into any trouble. Well, be fair, they wouldn't want to lose their tellies and have to miss Corrie and Eastenders.

But all is not lost because it would appear that in Ford open prison they (some of them) must have gone on the drink and at some point indulged in a bit of drunken vandalism - fires, windows broken, things like that. All it was (reading between the lines) was a drunken celebration that got out of hand, that's all. I'm not condoning it, but I'm not condemning it either. Put it down to the pressure of the moment and call it a day. But the authorities won't of course. They will send most of the participants back to places like this and they will spend more years pointlessly.

Cons have changed and, as I said at the beginning, fings ain't wot they used ter be.

Finally, to all of those friends who read this drivel every week, may I say with the greatest of sincerity that I hope that the New Year brings each and every one of us all we desire for both ourselves and those we care about. In the words of the little feller in that book by somebody or other, whatsisface, "God bless us, everyone!" 

See! Another witty reference and nobody smiled! I don't know why I bother... I bet they don't let ME go to Ford... Two thousand and eleven? That's not a year, that's a gas bill... I'm still trying to come to terms with the 1970's... Why has my kettle not boiled? I put it on ages ago... I may need a lie down, all of this excitement - and the year just started too...Does anyone want to buy a bed?

The Voice In The Wilderness

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Desperate Dan McScrooge

It may be remembered that for some weeks I banged on a bit about the thirty-nine (39!) governor grades that we have here at the Lazy L and about how, as far as anyone could see, not one of them is doing anything constructive. In fact, not one of them seems to be doing anything at all.

Now, we have all heard the old adage about the devil finding work for idle hands - and this is so true when it comes to the governor grades here at the Lazy L. Having nothing to do, these governor grades seek to do things just to show that they are active in the running of the place. They could always do the job they are paid to do, of course, and then they would be too busy to meddle and bugger things about, but they leave that job to minions. The Lazy L thirty-niners have abrogated all responsibility to lesser mortals. Perhaps I should say "delegated" rather than "abrogated" - but let's not get too pedantic: the meaning is clear.

One of the thirty-niners has decided that from henceforth all cons who are retired for medical reasons must be kept locked in their cells all day every day. The fact that the medical services only retire the seriously ill in the first place seems to have missed his comprehension, but never mind.

Not being allowed to use his name (that would be unkind) I have therefore to give him one of my specials. With it being the season of goodwill to all men - together with the fact that he decided to make this attack on the terminally sick on Christmas Eve - I can give him no better one than Scrooge. In fact Desperate Dan Scrooge sounds even better - and we might as well stick a Mc in there as well (they are allegedly mean-spirited). So Desperate Dan McScrooge it is then.

The reason for retiring such people is so that they are on the wing, within sight and call of staff should an emergency arise. It also gives the infirm the opportunity to conduct their little jobs about the place during the quiet of the working day and so avoid the bustle and hustle of the wing when everyone is running about like a lunatic.

All this has been ignored by this fellow. The fact that he does not have the power to overrule the doctors is something else that has slipped his alert attention. Watch this space - we will see how it turns out.

I'd better tell a seasonal story now I suppose.

A fellow was driving home from work just after midnight, about ten minutes past midnight on Christmas morning in fact. As he turned into his street, his car slipping and sliding on the underpacked ice, he ran into a police roadblock.

"What's going on?" he asked the copper who came to his window.

The street had searchlights, there were armed police, neighbours were out - the lot. Further down the street there seemed to be a group of armed coppers with searchlights pointing upwards. Just before the copper could answer the fellow's question, there came a lot of static from an electric megaphone and a voice boomed out, "I DON'T CARE WHAT YOUR NAME IS, GET THAT REINDEER OFF THE ROOF!"

I hope everyone has a splendid New Year!

The Voice In The Wilderness