Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A prisoner's progress

On March 9th (tomorrow) it will be exactly twenty-five years since that day in March of 1986, (Sunday, Mother's Day) when twenty-two armed policemen arrested me at gunpoint. The fact that I was sleeping in my bed at the time is best ignored - and it is churlish of me to mention it, so forget that I did. Twenty-five years - counting the six (or seven) leap years included in that time (or is it eight?), that's a total of about 9,000 days. (9,131 to be precise - just worked it out.)

Now, that's quite a long time. Wars have been fought, nations have risen and collapsed, dynasties have fallen, earthquakes, floods and various disasters have come and gone - but here I sit, the rock upon which all human frustration breaks. (Like the Rock of Gibraltar in a way - we know it's there, we know that others want it and claim it, but will the British give it up? Will they bollocks.)

Twenty-five years.

I've met a lot of people in those years, most of them pretty wicked in some respect or other, but a fair few who have been decent, good people. Never despair for the human race - the good folk are out there, make no mistake about it.

This was all brought home to me just this morning when one of my peer group here at the Lazy L asked me if I knew a certain person. He seemed to think that I must have run across this mystery fellow at some stage because the fellow in question has been in jail fifteen years.

I told him, "I don't know everyone!"

It's true! It's a silly question really. It is like saying that just because a person comes from Ireland he must know Paddy who lives in Dublin.

Yes, I've met a lot of people over the years - muggers, sluggers and buggers; fat cats, high hats and just plain rats. I've met them all, but they have all gone from my ken. Some have gone home, of course, never to darken the portals of a court again. Some have died, either in or out of jail - but all have gone their own way.

In some respects this is quite sad, I suppose - but isn't this the story of everyone's life? We travel the roads that Pilgrim travelled in Bunyan's book. We run the whole gamut of characters and meet them all, but they eventually pass by and are gone into the night, one way or another. And this, of course, brings to mind the words of Longfellow from "Tales of a Wayside Inn":

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice; then darkness again and a silence.
That's all we are - ships that pass in the night.
The Voice In The Wilderness

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