Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In sickness and in health

This week is a sort of mixed bag in many ways, although progress is still elusive - about as rare as unicorn hair really. Nothing from the Parole Board, of course - that would be far too much to expect. Nothing offering any advancement on the recategorisation or reallocation issues either, although my solicitor seems to be doing what he can to get a coherent answer out of this prison on just about anything. Good luck with that. The only way to get anything out of the Lazy L is with either dynamite or a court order - and they ain't too impressed by court orders.

A couple of weeks ago I made the first step in the next step (ha ha, I love that) of my appeal. I wrote to the European Court of Human Rights on the subject, and this week I have had a package sent back giving me a copy of the various protocols (for me to decide which of my human rights have been violated by the legal system), a questionnaire to complete and return - and I've even been given a case number. I am now 9608/11 Wilkinson v UK.

Wonderful - so far. There is a question in there which wants to know if I am already represented legally. I have written three times to my appeal solicitor. Needless to say, she has not bothered to reply or respond in any way to my letters. I could have guessed that - she never made one useful comment or offered anything at all. So it looks like I am on my own in this thing with the ECHR. I don't really mind, I've been on my own legally since 1986. Oh the solicitors are there but they never make any form of input. All they do is allow the prisoner to do all the work and, if it comes to fruition, then they take the credit. If (as is usually the case) it all comes to nothing, then they pocket their fees, shrugging regretfully and saying, "Nothing to do with us" as they head off to Mali or Barbados for a well-earned rest.

Strange, really, the way some solicitors are doing their best, often under difficult circumstances, while others simply take the money and run. I have to say here that if anyone at all needs a solicitor to take up any matters to do with the prison service then my prison solicitor is the man to do it - he can't really be faulted. On the other hand, if it is a criminal matter, then avoid my appeal solicitor like the plague - fucking useless.

So, I will write a brief account of everything for the ECHR and then they can invite me to send whatever documents they need. Incidentally, I've had the same team as my appeal advisors for over ten years and in all that time I have never met either one of them, never spoken to them, and had most of my letters ignored. I wonder what the ECHR will make of that, if anything.

Somebody around here has introduced a nasty infection - I've got it, lots of fellows have had it. It is a bit like a cold but is more of a pulmonary infection. The throat feels like it's been sandpapered by an enthusiastic carpenter, phlegm is being coughed up pretty enough to be made into jade jewellery and sleep becomes impossible because of the coughing. Being a closed environment, these things spread like wildfire once they get into the dump. However, today is my fourth day of abject misery, and I've been taking paracetamols and antibiotics. I have improved slightly this morning, so I can't complain.

No sympathy out of Boudica, of course - she thinks I'm a big girl at the best of times. It's not right - when she's not at her best, I'm the first one with a bit of sympathy for her. She says that doctors make the worst patients - apparently Jo Bruce is a very poor patient. I've told Boudica - I'm not that sort of doctor, I'm not a medical man. Is she listening? The short answer is, no.

So, here I sit with a face like a smacked arse, feeling sorry for myself, and all she does is snigger and think it's funny. I'd have her mouth boarded up if I could afford the wood.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Friday, February 18, 2011

Waiting for Godot

They've done it again!

I had a letter from my solicitor informing me that, once again, the Parole Board has overlooked me - I have not been listed for an oral hearing date in April. I now have to wait for yet another month to find out if I will be given a date in May 2011 - the May listings are due to be disclosed on either 7th or 14th of March. I am not a happy bunny. It's like waiting for Godot - the expectation is there but he never materialises. Watching paint dry would be marginally more satisfying because at least we could be sure that the paint WILL dry!

I have to ask - what was all the urgency for at the end of last year when the Parole Board ordered that all additional reports had to be completed and submitted by mid November? The reports were submitted on time - so where did the urgency go to?

I have expressed my dissatisfaction, of course, but that just makes me churlish and discontent as far as the board is concerned, I expect. Why should they care? They go home every night to loving families - while I haven't been home for twenty-five years. I am left, for yet another month, in limbo - a month more of uncertainty in which I am left to amuse myself in whatever depraved way that I see fit.

So much is promised, so little is delivered. I'm not surprised that Blodwyn is leaving the place - and the job. It would try the patience of a saint - if there were any saints around here.

We shall see what happens next, I suppose.

It seems that Hoss the Boss here at the Lazy L has become most decidely unpopular amongst certain members of the staff. The cons don't mind him - he appears to be a good governor who is doing his best with the place. However, the Lazy L has always been a P.O.A. jail and they don't like anyone meddling in their little power bases. Hoss the Boss wants them to actually earn their wages - and that's never a popular thing around here.

Have they confronted Hoss the Boss? Have they hell. Beyond a grumble or two, they say nothing publicly - they are sneakier than that. The plan is to agitate the cons so that the cons will kick over the traces and thus (the twisted thinking goes) the governor will be moved on.

What nobody has taken into account is that, when cons kick over the traces, they are punished, and many years are added on to the end of their sentences. Do the P.O.A. give a rat's arse about that? Of course they don't. Do they give a shit ahout prisoners' families? Of course they don't.

It will be remembered that, just after Christmas, there was a huge amount of fuss here at the Lazy L, with lockdowns and all that kind of thing. The main instigator of the trouble was an S.O. whom I will call Cecil - after the fellow who discovered Rhodesia. (Discovered Rhodesia my sorry aunt. It had been there since the world was formed - it wasn't lost! I've got this wee picture in my head of a couple of natives standing there saying, "I wish an explorer would come and tell us where the fuck we are.")

Anyway, Cecil was seen to be the troublemaker and was informed in no uncertain terms to pack it in. He did, for a couple of weeks. Now he has started again - anything he can do to upset the cons, he is doing it. No checks and balances, of course - there is no one watching to curb the excesses, there never is.

However, Hoss the Boss has recently taken to visiting the wing from time to time, so the next time he appears I will button-hole him and let him know. Some people shouldn't be given the chance to walk dogs, let alone destroy the prospects of others.

Finally to Boudica. Her dog, her new(ish) dog, has now eaten a telephone. Okay, it was only a mobile, and that's not much of a snack for a hungry Staffie, but it's an expensive snack. I've told her, in fact I'm sick of telling her - muzzle the bleedin' thing! Will she listen? Well, not Boudica. Boudica is like all women - she only listens when it is her doing the talking.

Right - that should have irritated fifty percent of the country - AND the mob who are in touch with their feminine side, the politically-correct gang.

Now, ladies, let's not turn this into a personal vendetta - there is no need for animosity. Besides, any lip and I'll tell my friend Godot about you - when he gets here...

The Voice In The Wilderness

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours

Once again I have to report that there is nothing to report this week, although that isn't exactly correct - there ARE a couple of things, the only thing about them being that they all are really negatives, and who needs negatives?

No date from the parole board of course, that would be far too much to expect - after all, I am only five years over my sentence and that is nothing these days. What's five years? There was once a fellow who lived on top of a pillar for thirty years, so five years is a mere bagatelle! I wouldn't like to hang by my thumbs for five years. In fact, let's hang these date-givers by their thumbs for twenty minutes, see if they change their minds about five years being a mere bagatelle.

So, no date from the parole board yet. No sign of me being moved to greener pastures either. Then of course we've got the business of the OASys meeting that was due to take place on the 9th of this month - next week in fact.

I asked, "What's it for? I've had three of them in as many months, so what's this one for?"

"Er, um, er, um," was the answer. "We don't know."

So it has now been cancelled - there will be no meeting.

They don't know what they are doing that's the fact of the matter. The trouble is that none of the departments communicates with any of the others, they are all too busy protecting and defending their own little empires and vested interests. They are in competition with each other so nothing is coordinated and that's why nobody knows what anyone else is doing.

Who suffers? Who's in line for the blame? The prisoner of course, who else?

Those supposedly running these various departments are far too busy making sure that their own backs are protected from their own incompetence to actually do their jobs properly, and as for oversights or checks and balances, forget that.

To move on. It's getting colder. (No doubt the prisoner will get the blame for that as well.) The nights are getting chillier and I have even taken to actually using my duvet lately. I am reminded of the words of James Thomson, a Scottish poet who shuffled off this mortal coil on August 27th 1748. He wrote:

Come, gentle Spring, ethereal mildness, come.
And I couldn't agree with him more. Here I sit at night, in my cold cell, with socks on - and anyone who knows me will know that I don't like wearing socks. I like to wiggle my toes as I read or write - it is a sign of quiet enjoyment you see. So I sit here reading or writing or playing games on my playstation or thinking deep thoughts or, when all else fails me, watching the idiot box.

This brouqht me to yet another Scottish poet called James Thomson, but not the same one. This James Thomson died on June 3rd 1882. What he wrote was:

Give a man a pipe he can smoke,
Give a man a book he can read:
And his home is bright with a calm delight,
Though the room be poor indeed.
And that reminds me of something which Henry David Thoreau wrote on the same theme. He wrote:
Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse.
Obviously Thoreau hadn't had to sit in a cold cell in the Lazy L and wait for the Parole Board to hand down a hearing date.
The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The moving finger writes

Anyone who reads this drivel on any sort of a regular basis will be fully aware of my relationship with Lady Luck - that fickle ould boiler who seems to revel in giving me periodical boots in the family jewellery and then disappearing into the mist, leaving behind only a hollow laugh as I writhe on the floor clutching the aforementioned testacularities.

They will also recall that, a short while ago, I said that there may be some evidence that she had finally forsaken me and turned her attentions elsewhere at last. I should have known better. In fact, even saying she had moved on probably tempted her to don the highly-polished, steel toe-capped, ex-miner's pit boots and prepare to take careful aim at her target. Then, when she was absolutely certain that I was looking the other way... WHAM! "There you go, Frank , have THAT for your temerity!" she cried.

I have been waiting for a date for my parole hearing and had been given to understand by the Parole Board that I would be given a date on the 7th January and that date would probably be in March. I had forgotten to factor in the miscreant and anti-social attitude of Lady Luck, of course.

I've had a letter from my solicitor telling me that my parole hearing has NOT been scheduled for March and I haven't even been given a date yet. My case will be "put forward" for a date in April. The listings for April are due to be disclosed in the week commencing February 7th 2011. Notice that I won't be given a date, my case will simply be "put forward" for a date.

I have asked the solicitor to mount some sort of challenge and to try to force a date out of them. I'm fully aware of the fact that patience is a virtue, but whoever said that hadn't been sitting in a prison cell for twenty-five solid (and at times quite difficult) years.

The whole thing was brought home forcibly to me the other day as I sat re-reading through "The Merchant of Venice". (I am doing that - re-reading - because I have once again consumed - hee hee - all of the new books I bought at christmas.) So, there was I, reading away - I like to read out loud to myself and do all of the actions and voices, it makes me laugh - and I was reading Shylock's part where he says, "If you prick us, do we not bleed?" (Act Three, Scene One). Of course, he says a lot of other stuff too, but that line is one that speaks to me. It embodies everything a prisoner has to suffer. Those making decisions do so without any sort of thought about the effects those decisions may have. They make them and go off for a nice supper and sleep like babies, totally unmindful of the prisoner lying in the dark, cuddling his very real disappointment.

Beggars and kings - none of us is immune to emotions. Some of us have to learn to hide them better, that's all, but they are still there. "If you prick me, do I not bleed?"

Now, at this point, normally I would lighten it all by telling one of my silly stories, but - and with me there always seems to be a but - I can't come up with one, not one that would seem appropriate or that I would be comfortable with, so I'm not going to tell any jokes this week. Besides, Boudica says that my jokes are all as old as the hills anyway. What does she want from me? I AM as old as the hills, I'm just not as pretty, and I don't care to be walked over by any wandering rambler working for the Parole Board.

Sandra, my eldest sister, died on the 11th of this month and Boudica lit a candle for me for her. That's what a life came down to, a candle. Sandra was only 54 years old - far too young to require people to be lighting candles of remembrance for her. Well, my candle is burning too - all of our candles are burning, and they need to be sheltered to prevent them being blown out.

So, a final message to the Parole Board:

Give me a date before my candle burns out, please.
The Voice In The Wilderness