Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One-track Olive

It goes without saying that there is no further news about any sort of transfer, but that's to be expected I suppose. We know that I am scheduled to be shoved into a taxi during the month of January and I can't see anything changing that. It is the end of the month in three days and we will be into December, so January isn't so far away. I can wait patiently. Let's put it this way, after getting on for twenty-six years, what's a few more weeks?

Now, everyone knows that my parole reports have started, although I am assured that these reports will not be allowed to interfere with my transfer - so that's reassuring. On Thursday gone (24th Nov), I had to go to the office because a young female from the OMU (Offender Management Unit) wanted to see me. Everyone will remember that the OMU is where the Smiling Assassin used to do her villainy, although she's been moved off that job now. Come to think about it, I bet I am getting the blame for that - I get the blame for everything else around here. The Smiling Assassin won't see that it was her own fault for poor report-writing - no snowflake ever feels responsible for an avalanche. No, she will blame me for having the effrontery to question her abilities. Anyway, this new girl came to see me and, as is my custom, I have to give her a name - because I am not allowed to use her real one. I'll need to think about that.

We got seated, and it was quite clear from the very start that she had arrived with a set agenda, and that agenda had nothing to do with the facts or situation as we know them. Speaking to her was almost like taking part in my very first interview ever. I tried to point out and explain that we had moved on from her usual comfort zone - we were no longer concerned with whether I needed to do courses or anything else - the questions to be asked and answered for the parole reports were:

Have I been shopping in the local town successfully?
Have I used the hus without getting lost?
Have I been on home leave successfully?
And am I ready to be released in any particular form?
In fact, the simple case is that I shouldn't even be in this prison and the reports should really be getting done by whatever open prison I SHOULD be in. This didn't go down well - nobody likes to be told that they are irrelevant.

She wanted to talk about me still being innocent and denying my guilt. It was like stepping back years! She was even harping on again about why did I not want to go to a Cat C-D semi open. I finally informed her that whatever reports were done by this prison would probably be removed from the parole dossier and new reports would be added by the open prison when I got there.

That's it! I've got her name now! One-track Olive.

I told her that I'd be gone in January and she seemed to be a bit put out that I knew that.

Well, she finally went off to do her report, and I expect it to be completely negative. That's what the OMU seem to think they are there for, negativity.

An interesting sideshow was that when I came out there was a figure outside with her back to the passing pedestrians, almost as though it all had nothing to do with her. The Smiling Assassin! Oh yes - one last shot across my bows then. We will see.

So, One-track Olive went off to do her thing and I returned to the comfort of my kennel, shooting zombies, driving fast cars and generally adhering to my sentence plan.

Oh yes, that's what One-track asked me - "Why don't you ask if you can do your interventions from this prison?"
"I did," I told her. "I applied for home leave and I can't even get a sensible answer!"
"Why not ask the Number One?" was her response.

Yes, right - ask the man who didn't want me to go to open prison in the first place. Makes sense I suppose, from her twisted logical point.

Well, six weeks from today will take me to mid-January - I should be gone from this place by then or, if not gone, packing my goods and chattels with a taxi waiting at the door.

I'm not telling any jokes this week - Boudica says that I'm not funny. I could have told her that.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Laughter in the waiting room

It's a strange thing, this business of waiting, especially in prison. That's all we ever do seemingly - wait. We wait for all manner of things - letters, canteen day, visits to arrive, our hair to grow We get so used to waiting, in fact, that after a while we start to wait for nothing. Speaking personally, I have lost count of the times that I have had that feeling that I am waiting for something, but if asked I would have had to say that I had no idea what I was waiting for.  In fact that is the whole story of prison life - waiting - and the successful prisoner is the one who learns how to wait patiently. A lot of cons fall by the wayside, of course. They simply lose the plot with the frustrations of waiting and kick over the traces.

It's only stress brought on by the seemingly pointless waiting, but of course the prison service does not recognise that fact. Any prisoner who creates a disturbance or a fuss is punisbed FOR that disturbance or fuss - the causes are neither gone into nor cared about at all.

So we all sit and wait - all for different things, but that doesn't make the waiting any easier.

How is the waiting affecting me?

The main difficulty is that my sleep patterns have suffered. I don't get the sleep I need and most of the time I am dog tired.

But this perpetual waiting doesn't just affect the prisoner - it has stressful affects on others too, like family and friends. I have noticed over recent months that Boudica has changed gradually and my sense of humour isn't the only one that would appear to have taken an unauthorised leave of absence - hers is missing too. She is becoming a bit short with people and situations which, just a few months ago, she would have found funny and made fairly comical observations about.

Humour is the biggest aid to waiting and keeping down the stress levels that come from waiting. I use it all the time - sometimes quite offensively, as several people have noticed. I never intend  to be offensive but it often comes out that way, so if I should say anything that anyone finds offensive, try to remember that prisoners are under a great deal of stress and that allowances must  be made. Offence and malice are two different things.  I often make quick responses to situations which are basically jokes designed for no other purpose than to amuse - but they can be misinterpreted.

Many years ago, in my salad days, when I was nobbut a callow youth, I was strolling down The Strand in London during one of my trips ashore, when I was a mucky little matelot - just strolling, taking in the sights and eyeing the passing ladies, as we did in our youth. I was stopped by a group of Japanese tourists and one said (in a Japanese accent), "Excuse me! You tell me way please, Marble Arch!"

I said, "You found Pearl Harbour on your own, didn't you?" See! Quick. Not intended to be offensive, just witty.

Another time in Liverpool, when the ship was docked over the water in Birkenhead, I was in a dive called the Sierra Leone (a place that is still there today) and I had spent the night drinking  and dancing with a pretty little black girl called Danielle.  We had a good time - it was good fun.

Then, at about ten minutes to two in the morning, she asked me if I was going to walk her home when the club closed at two. I said, "I'm not walking all the way to Jamaica at this time of night."

She might still be laughing for all I know.

So, not only are remarks not intended to cause offence, they only cause offence to SOME folk - others find them funny.

So, what is the point of all that waffle?

There is no point. All I am saying is that there is nothing to report this week - nada, zero, zilch, nowt. We are bereft of any intelligence, we are clueless.

As I say, I'm just sitting here waiting for the time to pass.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The moving finger writes - again!

The moving finger writes and, having writ, moves on. That's how I do it you know - one finger on the typer keys. I've got the fastest finger in the prison system.

It will be remembered that I said, "Watch this space" - well, I was right because there are a couple of interesting items up for discussion in the last seven days.

The person from the Tactical Management department came to see me at last the other day. Actually she's quite nice and is just as much at sea in all this as I am. She even said, "It's never been done before!" - and I replied that if everybody had said that we would all be sitting in caves waiting for someone to invent hot meals.

She has written to my solicitor to explain (as far as she can of course) about the delays in transferring me to open nick. It's not just me - the system is full of fellows who are stuck  in prisons that they should have been moved out of long since. However, as usual the prison service has proved to be incompetent, yet again, and created a massive log-jam, so to speak. Transfers have now been taken over by the Population Management Section and transfers to open prisons are now managed by this PMS - as fine an acronym as you'll find anywhere.

I quote from a document supplied by the Tacman:

Transfers will be managed over a period of up to 9 months and prisoners will be prioritised for transfer under the following criteria:
Prisoners whose(sic) tariff has expired will take precedent over pre-tariff prisoners. Post-tariff prisoners will then be prioritised in line with the length of time they have been waiting for transfer to open conditions. The date the S of S (Secretary of State) approved the  move will be the basis upon which waiting time is calculated.
I have contacted PMU (Prisoners' Management Unit) to find out how long it will be until Mr Wilkinson gets transferred out of Long Lartin, they estimate that it should be around January 2012. Please contact Population Management Section for further information.
This is all taken from a letter sent (apparently) to my solicitor, although he doesn't seem to have received any such missive. However, he has been getting to much the same answer himself via other routes because I had a letter from him the other day too, in which he says much the same thing but without the January timescale. He says that the criteria given means that I should be relatively high on the transfer list to move to open prison/conditions, given that my GPP is ahout to commence. The GPP is the Generic Parole Process, for those who care about these things. Personally I think acronyms should be completely outlawed - they are only used so that those who are involved can feel superior to the rest of us peasants.

My solicitor has then written to the PMS (Come on! Keep up! The Population Management Section) at the Ministry of Justice and he has asked for a timescale for my transfer in the light of the facts - GPP  due to begin and all that kind of thing. Actually, the GPP has  already begun because at least two of the reports have been done that I know of. They will probably never see the light of day because they are not what the Parole Board wants to hear about. All anyone can say is that I have shown great fortitude and patience in waiting without losing the plot. (Great word that, fortitude - it has a cadence about it, a strength. Feel free to use it any time you like, it's not copyright.)

So, in amidst this dry, humourless guff, what's the bottom line? The prison is no longer responsible for my transfer and I should be in open prison by mid-January. By that time it will be eight months since my last parole hearing and four to go to the next.

Heigh Ho, onwards and upwards, as they say - the moving finger writes and, having writ, moves on.

I was expecting to be gone from this place by Christmas - so did a lot of other people (expect me to be gone that is), but it looks like I'll be spending my last yule-time here at the Lazy L, and may God have mercy on my soul.

I may celebrate. It will be my last Christmas in prison - never again to be locked up at night - no more sleepless nights - never again to wear a pair of gyves, handcuffs, bracelets - and back in the welcoming arms of Boudica, who will continue torturing me where the prison service leave off.

Oh yes, I may celebrate - I may buy some nuts!

The Voice In The Wilderness

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

See! Told you!

What did I say last week?

Normally I can't answer that question myself - I only write this drivel, I don't waste my time reading it. Boudica seems to think that I actually remember what I write ahout and when - I don't, not normally. That's the beauty of always telling the truth - you don't have to remember it, it never changes.  Anyway, once again I digress. Let's get back to the point.

What did I say last week?

I said, "Watch this space." Well, we have news that is bordering on interesting.  During the course of the week (Tuesday 1st in fact), I received a document from the Parole Board which (amongst other things) informed me that my parole dossier had to be in my hands no later than December 27th (the day before my birthday and official age of retirement). I was strongly advised to inform my solicitor and had to return a completed form to the Parole Board bearing my solicitor's details and those of the Wallace, my probation officer. The parole review would proceed on paper unless  I required an oral hearing (which I do) and, if that should be the case, then my solicitor would take over from there.

Well, I saw to all that and that's done. Now I turn my mind to what it means.

This place is doing the parole reports for the dossier! What is the point of that?  All the Lazy L can say with any degree of veracity is that they haven't actually complied with the Parole Board's LAST instruction yet, to send me to open prison!

The Parole Board wants reports concerning whether I have been out shopping in the local town - have I used public transport without any dramas or punching the driver - and, most important of all, have I been home on leave successfully. They also need the Wallace to say whether I can be released on licence or a tag or whatever she decides is best for me.

This place is writing reports saying that I am no problem - that's all they can write, beyond the fact that I am still here at the Lazy L doing my impressions of a tin of Campbell's veg soup.

The simple fact is that I should have been gone from this place five or six months ago - but here I sit. I shouldn't think that I will be here much longer - I can't see why I would be. Everyone involved is asking the same question: "Why are you still here?"  Well it's no good asking me. If it was left to me, I'd have been gone the day after the Parole Board's decision - I'd have paid for the bloody taxi myself, never mind anything else.

I have even tried to actually do something about going out of the prison shopping and going home on leave - it's all been simply ignored. They haven't refused to let me go, they simply haven't bothered to answer my applications - typical of this place really. Ask a difficult question and they either answer another one entirely or otherwise ignore it altogether and pretend you didn't  ask it. They can't deal with actual decision-making you see - not enough people in charge of the place. They've only got forty-two (or three) governor grades, and they are all busy making sure that the bin lids are on properly and counting table tennis balls and boxes of tissues. You can't expect them to actually do anything or make any decisions - that's not what they come to work for, on the rare occasions when they DO turn up.

No wonder I don't sleep very well. I'm like a bear caught in a trap and chewing frantically at my own leg - I know there is a way out, but no matter what I do it gets me nowhere. Leave it all to the Lazy L and I'll find myself watching next year's Olympics in this cell and still playing childish games on my very expensive PS2.

By the way, I wish the Sun would stop writing shite ahout prisoners and Playstations. We aren't given them you know, we have to scrimp and save up our own pennies to buy them, and even then you have to be on special privileges. Ha! Veracity and the Sun - there's a contradiction in terms if I  ever heard one.

As I say, keep your eye on this space.

A fellow walks into a barber shop:

"How much for a haircut?"
"Seven quid."

"How much for a shave?"

"Two fifty."

"Shave my fucking head."
The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

When am I being transferred then?

Once again we have reached the end of another week with nothing to report, at least nothing that any self-respecting bookie would take bets on. I suppose I'd better explain that - well, we don't want any misunderstandings or ambiguities, do we? I've got enough of  that cobblers around this place without adding to it.

I have been making enquiries about when I can expect to be moved to open prison, in accordance with the Parole Board's instruction (not to mention the Secretary of State - so we won't mention him) of May gone - a simple matter of six months. (Okay, there were one or two minor difficulties along the way, but the facts are the facts - it was in May.) So, I have been making enquiries along the lines of, "When am I being transferred then?"

The other day (and I'm not the only one asking, by the way), one of the people who HAVE been asking went to ask again, and this is what he came back and told me:

Transfers are no longer being conducted by the holding prisons but a central hody of some sort has been set up and transfers are now completely out of the hands of prisons such as the Lazy L. This central body (no doubt having furnished itself with an acronym - they do like a good acronym) has decided to transfer prisoners in "waves" and at the moment they are in the process  of transferring wave 3. I am in wave 5 and can he expected to be transferred to open prison probably in mid January. The fact that I will then be in the middle of the next reporting period for the parole hoard to decide whether to release me or not will make no difference, I will still be transferred. In fact, a letter had been drafted to Mike Pemberton to that effect and would be sent to him as soon as it was signed by a Governor.
This is the story I have been given. I have mentioned it to several people since here at the Lazy L and, without exception, they have all given variations on the same response - laughter and "Yer what!"  These are all staff memhers by the way, not fellow incarcerates.

Needless to say, no letter has been forthcoming, as far as I know, but that doesn't mean that such a letter doesn't exist. Don't misunderstand me, I am not making any accusations against the person who came out with the drivel mentioned above, I think they are as much in the dark as I am and, whereas I would have simply answered when asked, "I don't know", perhaps the person felt that she had to say something, so she said what she said. Having said that, the person who relayed the story could have misheard or misunderstood some of it - who knows!

The bottom line is that I am still sitting here in the Lazy L, torturing my typewriter and anyone who I think might know anything at all.

The thing is that all I am asked to do between now and release (to all intents and purposes) is to provide a realistic and viable release plan. I am supposed to do that from open prison, but if I am not in open prison, what am I supposed to DO?

I have asked to be allowed to get on with things while I am in this prison - go shopping, home leave, things like that - but of course the suggestion has been met with shock and horror. "It's never been done before!" they cry.  Well, history is full of things that have never been done before, and if it wasn't, we would all still be sitting in caves waiting for some genius to invent a fire so that they could invent chefs.

It's November tomorrow too - six months to my release hearing. Watch this space - it could get interesting.

Finally, a little story that I heard the other day - those of a delicate nature or of easily-offended natures, stop reading now. You have been warned.

There was a married couple and, after about twenty years of it, the wife just upped and left - she buggered off.  Two weeks later she knocks on the front door and, when the hushand answers the door she says, "I want you to take me back, but it's only fair to tell you that I've been with another man."

The husband says, "So have I. Bend over."

The Voice In The Wilderness