Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prisoners are a funny lot

Prisoners are a funny lot, no doubt me included. When I say "funny" I am talking/writing about ha ha hilarious funny, and "keep your eye on THAT one" funny - and all shades in between. I wonder where I would fit in that scale, the scale of the wonderful and weird? Henceforth, that will become the WW scale and hopefully will take over from the Beaufort scale. 

Anyway, that's not the point. I'm not talking about where I (or anyone else for that matter) would fit in the WW scale, the point is that prisoners are a funny lot.

Yesterday there was a conversation between several of my fellow incarcerees (a fine word, if it exists). During the conversation, one fellow, a most devout junkie, said words to this effect:

"Frank, you've been in jail now for a long time, you must have tried heroin!"

I said, "I would rather remove my own bollocks with a set of rusty garden shears. That road leads to disaster, and the first thing anyone loses is their pride and self-respect. I've got too much pride, probably false but pride all the same, and too much self-respect. Fuck heroin, it's a complete mug's game."

He couldn't let go, probably suffering from Asperger's syndrome. "You must have tried something!" he insisted.

"Oh don't get me wrong," said I. " Many years ago, over twenty years ago in fact, I used to smoke a bit of ganja now and then - it was the only way I could get to sleep at night. I had to stop smoking that when I started the studying and I've never wanted to smoke it since."

"Yeah," said someone else, "I like a smoke of Marley's Medicine myself, but I wouldn't touch hard stuff - no powders."

The advocate of the product of the poppy said, "Yeah, but..."

I cut him off. "Listen," said I, "you have to accept the fact that not everyone has porridge for brains like you. You have to understand that not everyone is as weak-willed as you are. Just because your own values allow you to justify stupidity, you mustn't put your values onto others."

Another fellow said, "Yeah! A lot of people do that, apply their own values to other people."

"That, my friend," said I, "is why people get so many things wrong about others."

"That's right," said yet another participant in the chat, "I've noticed that. These fucking psychologists for a start..."

And the conversation moved on to other topics, as conversations do.

People DO have a tendency to apply their own values to others and can't understand why others don't have the same values. Personally, I think it is a character thing, involving both nature, nurture and, of course, what we are educated to in life. Some folk never swear or curse, while others never stop - and I point no fingers (ho ho). Others, myself included, would never raise our voices to a woman, never mind our hands, yet some think it is okay to hit a woman from time to time. (Let's face it, if a woman is annoying a man so much that he is tempted to become violent, it's time to fold up the tent and leave, because clearly someone is unhappy in that relationship.)

Anyway, prisoners talk about all sorts of things like this, and sometimes it is almost interesting, though not very often. We are a rude, crude bunch - it comes with the territory unfortunately. As I say, prisoners are a funny lot.

The Voice In The Wilderness

A rose by any other name...

Yesterday, 20th April, during the course of a long and boring afternoon, I found myself wandering into the laundry room. (I do that from time to time - it gives me somewhere to go, and real grass can be seen from the window.) When I entered, the laundry fellow was folding some stuff he had recently taken from the drier. He then picked up the bundle and said that he was going to "deliver it to Tommy's bedroom"!

I said to him, "It's a cell."

He said something else, which I can't remember, and I said to his departing rear, "Call it what you like, it's still a cell. A rose by any other name is still a rose."

There is a lot of that creeping into the jargon of prison these days - calling cells "rooms" and the like - almost as though the change in name removes some of the reality of the fact that jail is jail. It's not a room, bedroom or otherwise - it's a cell. In fact, considering that there is a toilet bowl and sink in there, it could more accurately be called a karsi, a loo, a bog, a netty, a shithouse.

One thing it ain't - it ain't a nice place, no matter what euphemisms may be used to sweeten a very bitter pill. It's a cell, a place of incarceration, a place of unhappiness, a chamber of isolation, somewhere we are locked in at night - it's a bleedin' cell. Could be worse, of course - I could be sitting in a cell somewhere really exotic, like Afghanistan. I bet nobody calls them "rooms" over there.

Of course there is a section of the general community which thinks that prisons are nice places to be, thanks to "The Sun" and other dealers in terminological inexactitudes, and a great many of the readers of such piffle think that prisoners should be chained to the wall, fed on bread and water and hosed down once a year with water direct from the North Sea. And that is the ENHANCED cons - the well-behaved ones. "The Sun" has told the country that prisoners are eating steaks and lobsters, boozing, having wild parties with imported females and all the rest of it. All cobblers, of course, but it sells papers and allows the hang-em-and-flog-em brigade to give vent to their spleen at regular intervals.

However, the truth is a little bit different.

Somewhere, as I write this, in some cell in some segregation unit there is a naked man lying on a cold stone floor, blood dripping from his nose or lip, and he is surrounded by several uniforms who are snarling that he ain't so tough now. That's happening right at this minute, somewhere - and not in Afghanistan.

I bet that unfortunate person doesn't call that place of misery his "room". Where is he going to get a steak or a lobster from? (Hey! I think I'll get on to Boudica about that very subject - steak and lobster. Actually, I would settle for a decent sandwich, never mind steak and lobster.)

So, as I sit here, tapping away like a demented woodpecker, I have to say  that I am doing it in my cell, not in my room, my cell. As stated earlier - a rose by any other name is still a rose.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You ain't heard nothin' yet!

At last the fog seems to be clearing a little bit in respect of this Oral Parole Hearing next month that I have been harping on about since (it seems to me) Adam was a boy.

We've had a communication from the judge who will be presiding over the matter, giving directions and instructions. Everyone who was desired to attend will be there (unforeseen circumstances to one side, of course) and that includes - the prison psychologist - our independent psychologist - Andrew has heen granted permission to attend (something I am very pleased about) - The Wallace, of course (but only if she isn't busy invading Scotland) - and I will be represented officially by a barrister appointed by my solicitor.

What I find interesting (and not a little bit encouraging) is the fact that the prison service will not have the assistance of a representative of the Secretary of State and, as fully expected, the Smiling Assassin will not be there. She is away on her annual leave! There's a surprise! Regular readers will be fully aware that I predicted such a thing would happen. I'm considering a career change as a tipster for Lotto numbers.

So, all of the protagonists in this saga will finally meet each other and become real people rather than just names on emails and voices on der telefunken. The only one who knows everyone else is me, which effectively makes me responsible for introductions - "Er, this is the excellent Blodwyn - say hello to The Wallace!" sort of thing. I shall look forward to that. (It annoys the hell out of The Wallace when I call her that - that's why I do it. But the interesting thing about that is, she doesn't allow that annoyance to cloud or influence her position, and that is admirable.)

So, the die is cast, so to speak, but it's not over yet. In fact, to use the words of Al Jolson, "You ain't heard nothin' yet."

I've told Boudica all about it, of course. She has to be kept in the picture because she DOES allow her annoyances to cloud her judgement, and having my nose reorganised is not the wisest move I will ever make. So I told Boudica.

Of course, she is just as likely to say, "If everybody else is coming, why can't I come?"

Well, it's not my decision to make and you didn't ask - it's too late now. However, I am sure that there will be a full report on it after it's all over - settle for that.

Her mutt, the inimitable Cassie, has got a new game. She has recently taken to lurking behind the curtains of an open window and leaping out of the window after Boudica's pigeons. She never catches any, of course - the dog is an idiot. Boudica says it is driving her mad having to go and let the mutt back in through the door. She can't stop it - she likes the window wide open.

I've given her the advice that Solomon would have been proud to give. I told her to move to the top floor of a block of high-rise flats, open the window and say, "Go on, now jump." The mutt will only do it once - problem solved.

It occurs to me that the animal lovers will now be up in arms at my less than nice solution - maybe they should try to learn the difference between a joke and a serious suggestion.

I wonder what it must be like to go through life without a sense of humour - it can't be easy. Speaking personally, I like a good laff - it's good for the soul, apparently.

Boudica has no sense of humour at all - she thinks sexist jokes about blondes are funny: 
How can you tell there is a blonde at a cock-fight? 
She's the one who brings the duck.
How can you tell when I am at the cock-fight? 
The duck wins.
The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The plot thickens

I have more news this week - if this keeps up this drivel could well start being almost interesting. The news is that the Parole Board has issued its list of witnesses to be called to the oral hearing next month, those on the side of the penal system. Perhaps the word "side" is a poor choice - they are merely there to put the official point of view, there are no sides as such. However, be that as it may, the "prosecution" (so to speak) have issued a list of those they are calling to give oral evidence and to be questioned as regards that oral evidence. This is why they call it an oral hearing - it's all clever stuff.

I've had these lists before from the Parole Board - after all, this is my fourth oral hearing. (Or is it my third? No, I think it is the fourth. But I don't want to get into any fights over it. So don't quote me - I may be wrong.) As I say, I've had these lists before and they simply tell me and my "side" who will be called. We can then add to the list anyone we wish to call to speak for the "defence" (so to speak!).

Examining the list, I was suddenly struck by the fact that there is no one listed to represent the Secretary of State. There is ALWAYS a representative of the Secretary of State - he or she is, after all, the main witness for the prosecution, as it were. There is nobody listed to speak for the Secretary of State!

I presumed it was some sort of oversight. I made enquiries of as discreet a nature as I could. I said, "Hoy! Why is there nobody telling lies for the Secretary of State?"

"000h," was the reply, "not a clue! Never seen that before!!!"

Another one said, "It looks like they are not putting up any opposition to your application, you must be getting a walk-over!"

The plot thickens.

I checked my papers. What objections could and should the representative of the Secretary of State be putting up? I found that there aren't any. I have no targets - nothing. All they are saying is that they want me to carry on exactly the way I am now - a good boy just two steps from sainthood. Not much for them to hang their hat on there then. Am I to be unopposed at the hearing?

The Wallace will be there, but she is recommending downgrade and transfer to less secure conditions. So is the prison psychologist. And they are the two most influential witnesses, the ones who count. Mind, they are really witnesses for the prosecution! They belong to "their" side.

The Smiling Assassin will be there - or at least she is listed. I think she will find herself on "leave" on the date - that's how they get out of difficult situations. A con will scream, "But Governor Such-and-Such said so!" Answer: "Well, the Governor's on leave at the minute." So that's where the Smiling Assassin will be, I expect.

On top of all that, we will (or should) have the independent psychologist, who will be there to support my application as an independent member of the psychological community. And Andrew will be there as an observer just to see that fair play is the order of the day.

The plot thickens even further. The paperwork to have me downgraded and transferred to a less secure lunatic asylum has (according to the prison) been sitting on the Deputy Governor's desk for months, waiting to be signed. Andrew has written about it, as have my solicitors, but got no reply so far.

Then, on Tuesday just gone, I was sitting in my cell, writing, when the door opened to admit the Wing S.O., the Wing Governor and the Number One, Hoss the Boss. Did they want anything? Apparently not, because all they said was that I can have a new pin-up board if I want one. Yeah! Right! The big cheese spends his time asking me if I want a new pin-up board - of course he does. Did they come to have a look at me? If they did, why?

Finally, Boudica tells me a tale from the internet about someone by the name of Lotta Fees. I'm not having it. It's not a real person - and if it is, then she ought to change her name. I wish I could change my name - and not to any of the rude and offensive ones that Boudica and her mates are suggesting. I'd like a good name - like Rudyard Finklestein. All suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Some of the rude suggestions from Boudica and her happy gang of escapees from a secure mental institution were actually very funny, but I can't tell her that - she'll get big-headed, and that will never do. One big head in the family is enough.

Lotta Fees my sorry arse!

Oh yes, and a quick one before I go. Here I am, stuck in jail surrounded by hairy-arsed gangsters and terrorists, and on the canteen shopping list some of the most popular items are tiny vials of perfume, all manner of smellies and washing powder with aloe vera and orange blossom! Come on! Whatever happened to tough guys with missing teeth and smelling like a Liverpool docker's armpit?

The worst part of it is that I'm one of them. I buy the soap powder so my clothing smells nice - I'm ashamed of myself, hee hee. Mind, I know why it is that when we bath our dogs tbey run outside and roll about in cowdung - or worse. They are getting rid of the smell of civilisation. The Afghanis have been doing that for years.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Quiet desperation

Last week I wrote a semi-tongue-in-cheek thing about "No-fly zones". (Come to think about it, I seem to write most things with my tongue planted firmly in the cheek - but leave that to one side for the minute.) So, I wrote this thing about the NFZ's and at the end of it, as is my wont from time to time, I shoved in a fairly puerile and possibly offensive witticism about Gotham City and Superman with a supporting cast of other superheroes. (Boudica said that my jokes get no better, and she is probably right - she usually is about most things.)

However, as soon as Boudica started mocking me about it, I realised that Superman doesn't fly around Gotham City, he flies around Metropolis, and one thing is absolutely certain - there will be some pedant who wants to correct me. Don't bother.

Okay, so I might not be actually very well versed in the details of Marvel, or any other comic, and I apologise for my lack of knowledge. You see, I spent a lot of time wasting my life away reading rubbish by such folk as Chaucer and Marlowe - somehow Marvel commics were missed. Having said that, I have to admit that Asterix the Gaul featured on my reading list - it appealed to my well-established sense of the ridiculous.

I was asked the other day, "Why do you swear?" Well, what can I tell you? I'm a vulgarian, and there are times when a well-placed vulgarity serves the purpose admirably. Boudica grits her teeth sometimes when I swear, her being just one step down from sainthood. (Apart from when somebody gets HER goat of course - then you should hear her!)

So, as anyone will be able to tell, those who know how I operate from reading my weekly drivel, there is no news this week again. Here at the Lazy L very little happens at the best of times. We can't all have exciting lives - my heart wouldn't stand up to the strain of it all.

I seem to spend most of my day lurching from crisis to crisis, and not one of them is worth worrying about really. Oddly enough, I have somehow gained the reputation that I don't care - "Frank! When something happens, you just stand there, look, sniff and then ignore it. I wish I could do that."

Well, that's nothing to do with not caring - that's pure experience. I have learned that running around like a chicken with its head surgically removed serves no purpose other than annoy people. No, when something occurs I sit back, take in all the facts, go away and think about things. Then I ignore it.

Life's far too short to be wasting time on things that don't matter. Let me put it this way: whatever may he bothering us today, however unsurmountable the problem may be at the time, this time next month it will have resolved itself, gone away, and we will have a brand new problem to worry us. So why bother? Everything sorts itself out in the end - time does it.

Henry David Thoreau said:

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
You can't argue with that.

So, I laugh at just about everything - it hurts too much to cry.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Another one bites the dust

I have an old friend - had an old friend - called Frederick Mills or, as he was better known amongst those with more than a passing acquaintance with the denizens of the law, Fred the Head. I had a letter from his brother Kenny yesterday (Monday 28th March) to tell me that Freddie died in his sleep and was found on Wednesday 23rd March - they suspect a heart attack.

Kenny's letter said that he had found my letter to Freddie sitting on the carpet just inside the front door where the postman had clearly left it. So Freddie didn't even get to read my last letter to him - which is probably just as well, because it was only a catalogue of the abuse which I pass off as humour.

So, Fred the Head has shuffled off. Freddie had his faults - who doesn't? However, whatever anyone may say about the Head, they have to admit that he was one of life's characters. When Freddie arrived in a room, everyone knew it. There was never a dull moment when Freddie was about - you never knew what he would do next. He had a heart of gold, the same feller.

There's another one who will not sit and drink with me as I pass into my dotage. One by one they are dropping like flies, and soon there'll be nobody left - none of the old crowd anyway.

This all got me to thinking (again) - as this kind of news often does - and, as per usual, I got to considering my own mortality. At this point Boudica will be stamping her size tens and yelling, "The rotten sod! He only does it to annoy me!" And, I've got to be honest - she's right.

You see, Boudica is as aware of my mortality as I am myself, but she doesn't like to talk about it. I don't mind, it's not as if I can avoid it, is it? We might be able to prolong our lives (briefly), but it's not as though we can escape our inevitable death, is it? So why not talk about it? Then, when the time comes that the Grim Reaper actually DOES knock on the door, it doesn't come as any great shock. Oh there is no doubt that a few people will put on their po faces, but we all know that the po face is for the living - the dead couldn't give a fiddler's fart.

I told Boudica all about my plan to have Sinatra singing "My Way" and for me to be laughing my head off in the background. She just said, "What makes you think I'm giving you a funeral?"

So it looks as though my funeral will be held on the nearest council-run rubbish tip. You'll recognise me - I'll be in the third bin-liner from the left, surrounded by well-dressed old men and women, all pissing themselves laughing. And Boudica will be kicking the bin-liner, yelling, "SEE! I TOLD YOU NOT TO MESS IT UP, BUT YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME!"

So, Frederick "Fred the Head" Mills has shuffled off this mortal coil. He has gone to fish in the Slough of Despond, probably, and I bet he's laughing too - he always was. Well, all I can say is that it is incumbent upon you, Freddie, to keep me a seat at the poker table - because he is bound to start a game, he's that sort of fellow.

Finally, the only thing left to say is, you made a lot of people nervous, you made a lot of people laugh. I only hope tbat God loves you for the laughter.

The Voice In The Wilderness