Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Patience is a pain

They do say that patience is a virtue. I bet that was written by someone who never had to wait for anything in his or her life! Whoever it was certainly never had to experience life at the Lazy L, and THAT'S a fact!
Great Chatham, with his sabre drawn,
Stood waiting for Sir Richard Strachan;
Sir Richard, longing to be at 'em,
Stood waiting: for the Earl of Chatham.
Well, I know how they felt, that's all I'm saying.

It's happening again! Once more I have become a victim of the malaise known to the medical profession as "The Lazy L Syndrome". I made a few discreet enquiries the other day - "What's happening to my transfer to open jail?"

The answer came back (unofficially) from some nitwit at the Offender Management Unit, that fine body of men and women upon whom the future and fate of every prisoner depends - "You will have to apply to be transferred to a Cat B establishment using the proper channels." An answer clearly from someone too idle to bother to make even a basic enquiry into the matter.

"Wonderful!" said I to me and grabbed my personal officer. "Hoy!" said I, the epitome of good manners. "What's going on with this transfer to open prison?"

"I don't know," said he , "I'll see what I can find out."

He came back later. "I can't find out nuffink," said he. "All they are saying is that they are waiting for the Secretary of State to rubber-stamp the paperwork. They won't do anything until he's done that."

"Well," carried on our hero, "are they making any effort to find out if the paperwork has been rubber-stamped?"

"No," was the response.

"Why not?" asked yours truly, not unreasonably I thought.

"No idea," was his answer.

"Right," said I, and proceeded to fill in a proper application to the governor saying, simply, "What is the position in respect of my transfer to open conditions?" or words to that effect. Only two lines, nothing complicated - a simple question. So far, no reply is the answer.

Well, I've gritted my teeth, girded the loins, clad myself in the armour of yet another righteous cause and written a letter to one of the Golden Girls on the subject.

Bugger! They will object to being called the Golden Girls, so that's another strike against me. One day (I'm convinced) they will all get together - Boudica, The Wallace, Blodwyn and all of the wonderful women I know - they'll get me into a windowless room somewhere and roll up their collective sleeves and say, "Right, you piss-taking Bollix, we want a word with you." Listen, ladies, I'm an old man - if you thugs lay one finger on me that will be seen as Old Person Abuse, and if it's not a criminal offence, it should be. (Come to think about it, people pay good money for that sort of thing in Amsterdam.)

Anyway, the point is that I have written to The Wallace and informed her that once again I'm getting lumps on my head where I am bouncing it off the wall of indifference which the Lazy L is so proud of.

Having said all that, the Secretary of State may well have given his blessing (however reluctantly) to my progression and the Lazy L could well be concealing it until they deem it right and judicious to tell me - probably seven minutes before they shove me in a taxi and tell me to bugger off. They are obsessed with completely pointless secrecy in this prison - it's their stock-in-trade in fact.

In conclusion then - nothing has changed, not a thing. Nothing has happened, there is nothing to tell the world and if there was then the Lazy L wouldn't let me.

I was asked the other day, "Is Boudica on Facebook?" Facebook! I'm surprised she's not on fucking prozac!

The Voice In The Wi1derness

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Godot on his way?

This is strange - weird even! I have finally got something worth writing about and yet I quite simply haven't. Now, I am fully aware of the fact that the above sentence makes about as much sense as sliding down a razor blade and using your bollocks for a brake. (I apologize to the ladies - the above scenario is one you simply cannot appreciate. Mind, thinking about it, and looking around this place, I've got my reservations.)

I've got the Parole Board's letter (at last!) and, while they do NOT recommend my release (we never expected them to, nor did we ask them to), they HAVE recommended that I be sent to an Open Prison to allow me to begin my reintegration into the society I have been apart from for so long.

"HURRAH!" we cry.

Not so fast - hold on there, Bald Eagle, pull back a little. It's not as simple as that. Remember, we are dealing with the Lazy L here, and nothing is ever as it seems in this place. I quote from the Memo which came to me from the Offender Management Unit with the Parole Board's letter/recommendation:

In light of the recommendation, the Secretary of State will now review your case and make a final decision. Until this decision is received, the prison is unable to put into motion any transfer to open conditions.
Now, I fully appreciate that the correct procedures have to be adhered to, but what it means to me is that I'm back to waiting again - and who knows for how long this time? I don't anticipate any difficulties from the Secretary of State, but you never know - and even when he DOES make his decision, or ratifies the Board's decision, I then have the Lazy L to contend with. So it could be months of waiting again - who knows?

Anyway, that's all for the future. I am delighted at the decision of the Board, and yet feel a certain amount of trepidation (if that is the word I want) because "there is many a slip 'twixt cup and lip", as the proverb would have us believe.

Be all that as it may be, I was particularly struck by a sentence attributed to The Wallace which said (to paraphrase) that I would need to learn to budget and cook. Well, I've been living on a tenner a week for two years now and people ask ME for things like sugar and stuff like that. As for the cooking, Boudica is now gritting her teeth and saying, "Are they casting aspersions on my cooking? What are they trying to say? Why would the old goat need to cook? Do they think I am just going to sit on my fat keister and give him orders like Delia Smith?" Hee hee - and I've toned that down a good bit from what I know she actually WILL say. Has a bit of a temper has our Boudica.

So, it looks like me off to Open Prison sooner or later and I've got to say that it's a whole new world for me - it's going to be a culture shock. Oh I'll handle it, but it's going to be very interesting indeed, wandering about unfettered, dressing like Vincente Gigante - and I might take up smoking a pipe! It's been a long time coming and, let's face it, it ain't actually here yet. You know me, the world's greatest optimistic pessimist - hope for the best but expect the worst. There is an old Arab proverb which says:

Put all of your trust in Allah, but first tie up your camel.
Finally, let me point out that I have not succumbed to the very real temptation to point any accusatory fingers at anyone who may have attempted to put the mockers on things - not much point in antagonising anyone at this stage in the proceedings. The temptation is there, but I won't do it. I'll take the higher ground and be sanctimonious about it - a sort of pain in the arse.

FINALLY finally, I haven't told anyone here at the Lazy L, not yet. I see so many young fellows around me with thirty years and more to serve and I don't want to be seen as some sort of gloater, if that is a word. One who gloats - it probably is. 

Most cons will be glad because, if a fellow like me can get progress, so can they. It gives a bit of hope to those who may have been thinking that they had none - "If he can do it, so can I" sort of thing. However, there are also one or two vindictive and jealous fellows who will not take into account the fact that I've been in jail for over twenty-five years - they will simply resent me. I don't want any of that sort of animosity because some idiot may do something stupid to fuck things up for me. Let's face it - intelligent they ain't (although they think they are). Oh it's a jungle in here right enough - we have to be aware at all times.

So, in conclusion, I'm back to the waiting game once again. When Godot finally does turn up, I'm going to take him by the scruff of the neck and say, "Where've YOU been?" He will probably say, "I got stuck in the Lazy L - and you know what it's like trying to get out of there."

The Voice In The Wilderness

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Limbo at the Lazy L

Once more unto the breach, my friends, once more. Or... in the motto of the Lazy L, hurry up and wait. At this point there are people saying to themselves, "The idiot is going to tell us that he's got nothing to tell us," and in a way you are absolutely correct - but stone cold wrong too!

Since May 26th, the day that will go down in the annals of history, along with that of Pearl Harbour, the first man to walk on the moon and the day that Boudica discovered what boys are for (free drinks, and you don't need to buy batteries for them), I've been waiting patiently for the Parole Board to hand down their decision - and I'm not the only one.

Well... yesterday, (Saturday the 4th June) I had a letter from my solicitor (solicitor to the motley collection of problem children he calls his clients, me being one of them) and I will quote from that missive:

The panel deferred their deciaion for 14 days and I will forward a copy of the same upon receipt.
As I said earlier - hurry up and wait.

So once again I am sitting bere in my kennel, waiting. The new date is June 9th, and perhaps it will be a week or more AFTER that by the time anything is known. I look on the bright side, of course, I have no option in the matter - and the bright side must be that the panel is considering things carefully. Let's have it right - if they were going to say "bugger off" then they would simply have said it. However, they may still tell me to bugger off, but at least they should hand down a proper reasoned argument for that bugger off. It would fly in the face of everything said at the board, of course, but that would be another matter entirely. I hope for the best but expect the worst. The world's greatest optimistic pessimist, that's me.

Here's a rather odd thing on the same general subject: I have not heard a single word from anyone (other than Boudica) about the hearing, and I find that quite curious and concerning. To begin with, there is my family - not a word; Andrew - he can be expected to send an email every week even when there is nothing to write about! Yet here we are, a hearing at which he was present on his first excursion into the environs of a jail, and not a word! Very curious indeed. Could someone, somewhere be sitting on all mail for some rather odd reason? But if they are, how come I'm getting Boudica's letters and the 47 pictures she has sent me over the last eight or nine days? Andrew emailed her right after the hearing!

Boudica is big on conspiracy theories and no doubt she will see the situation as another one to go with the computer chips the size of a grain of rice that the government plan to implant into everyone's brain for reasons known only to Boudica and her gang of fellow theorists. You know that she will yell at me now for writing that - bad tempered, that's her trouble. Does it come with natural blondes? I mean, is it part of the genetics - blonde hair equals bad tempered? Or is she an exception?

Hee hee, she is reading this, gritting her teeth, stamping her size tens and on the verge of putting her coffee mug through her computer screen. Slow down! Nobody is impressed by your bad temper - and don't write to me with any more unrealistic threats. I used to be an Ovaltini - you don't scare me, pal.

So... where does that leave us?

Nowhere, that's the simple answer. It leaves us absolutely nowhere at all - in limbo, a place banished by the Catholic church apparently, or is that purgatory? Somebody better tell the Vatican that the Lazy L hasn't heard about the banishment of purgatory - it's alive and well here at the Lazy L.

Oh well, I shall simply continue to hurry up and wait, I suppose. Maybe Godot will come along and say, "Waiting for something?"

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Photo call

In every town there's a man with a dirty mac. A disreputable old fellow who bothers nobody, simply goes about his business in his own way, dirty mac flapping around skinny shanks - much like Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice".

Why have I brought that up? Haven't got a clue, but I have to write about SOMEthing and I should imagine that enough has been said recently about the parole hearing, so I'm leaving that alone - for the minute, anyway.

Boudica has told me in no uncertain terms that I'd better start being nicer to her and stop my rudenesses. I have been given the Gypsy's Warning, and I quote:

Remember, you old goat, you won't be in there for ever!
Now, forgive me for being presumptuous, but that definitely sounds like a threat to me. I mean to say, I wouldn't have said that I am famous for being over-sensitive at all, but that definitely sounds like a threat to me. Does she know that sending threats through the Royal Mail is a criminal offence? Rat bag.

Here's me, minding my own business, saying nothing to anyone, bothering no one and generally being invisible, just like the fellow in the dirty mac that I mentioned earlier - and along comes Boudica in her jeans and bovver boots making unnecessary (and may I say, unrealistic) threats. It's enough to make a fellow turn to drink.

Boudica sent me some very interesting photographs the other day, so I think I'll mention one or two. I was delighted that she had sent them but I can't tell her that - she'll start to think she is clever and get above herself.

One was of Doc Jo who, as we all know, works tirelessly for others. Boudica calls her "Superwoman" and I can't argue - she IS a superwoman. However, that doesn't detract from the fact that it is HER turn to write to ME! I think she is in Ethiopia at the minute, or she may have gone back to Camp Mercy.

There were a couple of pictures of Titus Pullo in real life, and on the set of "Rome". (Ray is a friend of Jo's - she wanted Caesar but he was busy crossing the Rubicon at the time.)

Who else?

There is one of Conor, who is a member of the Pathfinder team at Camp Mercy, and a couple of the others I think (Pathfinders). Conor! The letter you sent at Christmas still hasn't got here. Who did you post it with - Royal Mail?

There's a picture of Joy, Boudica's pal in Dakota who spends her spare time avoiding tornadoes and smiling a lot.

There is a picture of my brother Robert, the one who thinks he looks like Claude Van Damme. Robert is the only person I know who, as a child, managed to get run down by a milk float in reverse. Step up Robert, you win the "Idiot of the Year" prize. I bet he swears at me for that crack.

A picture of a rabbit! Why would I need a picture of a rabbit! The best place for rabbits is in a nice sauce and covered by a flaky crust to keep them warm.

A picture of Billy M - good on yer Billy.

I think that covers it all - anybody I have forgotten to annoy? If I have missed anyone out please bear in mind that I'm an old codger now, decrepit and practically senile. I can't wait until I can stand in Tesco's queue and pretend to be incontinent and get to the front of the line. Boudica says that if I do that I will have to live in a tent in the back of the house. Well, I've got news for you, my little drop of mountain hemlock, after a cell, a tent will seem like luxury, so stop the idle threats. And pretend to be deaf!

Oh yes, I'll be trying that one. I'll drive public servants mad - they'll deal with me quickly just to get rid of me. Make no mistake about it, there are definitely many advantages to getting on a bit in years, and it gives us an excuse to wear a dirty mac.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A day in Purgatory

I think I'd better state right away that Purgatory has been abolished by the Catholic Church and therefore the title must not be taken TOO seriously. Neither should any religious fanatic take umbrage. Having said all that, let me tell you about yesterday.

Yesterday was 26th May, Thursday, a day long awaited by several protagonists, not the least being Boudica - so no doubt she will read this through her usual gritted teeth as her mutt chews the door off yet another spin drier, or whatever it is Cassie has taken to vandalising lately.

Thursday, May 26th and the day of my parole oral hearing at last! I shall tell it as I saw it. I had intended to make a kind of coherent report, the sort solicitors like to put in front of courts during Judicial Reviews, but they can be a bit boring so I'm going to tell it my own way. It may seem flippant but the underlying facts will be apparent and unalterable. No doubt I will ramble and digress - I usually do - but I am equally sure that Andrew will be composing a more sober effort, if he hasn't already done so. Anyway, let's get on with it, no point sitting here waffling.

I went down to the visits area at about 9:15, and the first person I saw was the world famous Wallace - who doesn't like me calling her that but who has, with great grace, decided that objecting was, and is, a complete waste of breath and just ignores me now.

So, there was I, sitting chatting to The Wallace, and then my barrister arrived - yet another nice person, like The Wallace. That put three of us in a little room that, if you kept rabbits in there, you'd be arrested for cruelty. My barrister told us that the Judge intended to start proceedings at 10:30 and would brook no dissent. Sounded fair to me.

Then I saw Andrew sitting outside and gave him a wave, and the excellent Blodwyn arrived around then too, as did our independent psychologist. This all meant that the cast was assembled - time to raise the curtain and get on with the show, so to speak.

I managed to get a quick five minutes with Andrew but I have to say that I could sit and chat to him for hours, and no doubt probably will at some stage in the (hopefully) not too distant future. Andrew is what his Mum would have called "a good egg".

Anyway, everyone was introduced to everyone else and people who had only been names to each other could now put faces to those names. And it occurred to me, as I looked around at all of the faces, that each and every one of them was "a good egg" - it can't be stated otherwise.

Anyway, the panel arrived a few minutes before ten thirty and we all marched in there like good soldiers.

Inside the fairly small room stood a large table surrounded by eight chairs. The chairman, a Judge, sat at the centre of the far side of the table flanked by the two other panel members - an independent member on his left and a clinical psychologist on his right. That was the panel on one side of the table.

I sat directly across from the Judge with my barrister on my right and our independent psychologist on my left. At the end of the table to my right sat The Wallace and at the other end sat Blodwyn. Andrew, as an observer, sat behind our independent psychologist and there was a huge, hulking kangaroo seated behind me. Ostensibly he was there being trained to become a member of the OMU (Offender Management Unit) but I've got my doubts - a sourer-faced sod would be hard to find. Put it this way - if he is going to be responsible for any report-writing, may God have mercy on the poor bastards he writes about, that's all I can say.

The Judge started things off by introducing everyone in the room to everyone else and then asked if there was any objection to Lurch behind me sitting in. We didn't object. The Judge then went on to explain the purpose of the hearing - an inquisitorial exercise to ascertain what should be done with me.

When all of the preliminaries were out of the way, the first one up for grilling was The Wallace. I don't intend to reproduce anything said verbatim but the general gist was that she wanted me downgraded to a Category 'D' prisoner and sent to an open prison to begin to prepare me for release. There was a good deal of discussion as to my suitability for open conditions, and The Wallace assured the panel that she had no qualms in any area and that my remaining in prison no longer served any meaningful purpose.

Next up was Blodwyn and she gave the psychological aspect a going-over, and she said precisely the same thing - prison no longer served any meaningful purpose and that I should be moved to an open prison to facilitate my resettlement plans and that the risk of me reoffending was negligible. I have to admit that Blodwyn really went to bat for me, even going so far as to refer to certain attitudes shown by the prison as nonsense - a view that the panel seemed to agree with.

Then the panel turned its attention to our independent psychologist, and he said much the same thing as everyone else - a move to open prison. He went further and said that he would not only have no qualms about my release, as Blodwyn and The Wallace had both said, but he would have no qualms about me living next door to him.

So, that was that as far as the expert witnesses were concerned. At that point my barrister made her representations and of course there was yet another big discussion about resettlement plans and my ability, willingness or otherwise to get along with a new area probation officer if I were relocated in some dim and distant outpost - such as Yorkshire.

Then, when everything was going splendidly, they turned to me. I'm no good at answering questions - I'm too forthright for my own good. I probably didn't do myself any favours because to begin with I told the Judge not to ask questions about anyone else because I wouldn't feel able to answer. Of course I had got the wrong idea in my defensive attitude, so let's hope that they understood that. And that was it really - job done at just after 1 pm.

In summary, there were absolutely no dissenting voices in respect of my being sent to open prison, not an objecting word from anyone. The main thrust seemed to be about my ability to adjust and the resettlement plans. I should get the official decision in a week or so.

Outside the room afterwards, my barrister said that everything had gone exceptionally well - apart from my own offering, of course. I'd make a mess of a piss-up in a brewery - got a loose motormouth, you see. I like to tell the truth - it gets me into trouble.

I said farewell to all and sundry and Lurch brought me back to my kennel. What else can I tell you?

However, I would like to say that it was really nice to see so many friendly faces for a change - good, decent and fair folk. It's restored my faith in humanity.

The Voice In The Wilderness