Saturday, December 10, 2011

Two conversations

Prison is a strange place, really, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that every day is basically Groundhog Day - something I have said several times before. In the last couple of days I have had two different conversations with two diverse fellows and it occurs to me that I've had the very same conversations umpteen times before with only slight variations. However, that's prison for you.

After all of these years, there is nothing I haven't heard or seen so many times before. In fact, I was recently accused of being a bit reclusive by one of my contemporaries - but ignore that, I've been accused of many things over the years, most of them total cobblers. But I have to admit, reclusivity is quite attractive recently. Well, I've heard it all before!

However, as usual, I digress. Two conversations in recent days demonstrate the Groundhog Day thing that I mentioned earlier. Now, I'm not a policeman, so my recall of these conversations can only be seen as approximations, not verbatim. Only policemen have such prodigious memories that they can recall every word that was said to them months after the event. In fact, their memories are so good that they can actually remember things that were never said in the first place.

Again, I digress. I was sitting in my little kennel the other day, Thursday 1st I think, when one of our misunderstood junkies came knocking on my door, cap in hand.  This is how it went:

"Frank, can you do me a favour and help me out?"
"Oh yeah?" said I. "What did you want?"
"Well," says he, getting comfortahle to tell me lies - that's what they do, "my mother has got some money for me that she is sending in..."
By this time I had stopped listening - the same old attempted con job that I've seen a thousand times. But if it's true that God loves a trier, then this fellow was assured of his place at the heavenly drug dealer's outlet.  He was going on.
" if you can lend me twenty-five quid from the canteen, my mother will send you a nifty fifty, but I'll need the stuff from the canteen next week."
I said, "Listen, if your mother has fifty quid to send in, why don't you have it sent in to yourself?"
By this time he was starting to wonder how I had seen through his little subterfuge so easily - it would have fooled bim! Mind, junkies can convince themselves of just about anything.
I then said, "Do everyone a favour, there's a good little dragon chaser, and go away. I'm getting old, not stupid."
So, that was the first conversation, or near enough to it.

The second chat was on Friday, the next day, and I was sitting waiting for my din-dins with one of the young Moslem fellows who has got about thirty years to serve, and he didn't look too happy.

"Frank," says he during our little chat about cabbages and kings, "Frank, how long have you been in prison now?"
"Twenty-six years in March coming. Why?"
"It's a long time," he mused ruefully.
"Oh it is that," said I.
"I wasn't even born when you came to prison," said he. "How old were you when you started?"
"Thirty-nine," I replied.
Then he asked, in a sort of small voice, "Did it go quick?"
Now, I was tempted to tell him the truth but got hold of myself in time to say, "Do you remember when you first went to school? Your very first day?"
"Yeah," said he, "a bit."
"Well," said I, "think about the time between then and now," and  I clicked my fingers under his nose. "It's gone like that! CLICK! One minute you were going to school. CLICK! Now it's gone in a flash. That's prison for you too - one minute you are sitting just starting a long sentence. CLICK! Then you are thinking about going home soon. It passes - everything passes, nothing lasts forever."
He was quiet for a while then said, "You are going to open prison soon, aren't you?"
"January, as far as I know."
"You'll soon be home," said he, and I didn't have the heart to be rude.
"So will you," said I. "Before you know where you are, you'll be sitting here and some young lad will be asking you if the time has gone quickly. You'll click your fingers under his nose and tell him exactly what I've just told you." I didn't add that he would also be getting on for sixty years old, that would have been cruel, even for me.
He grinned at me. "I will, won't I?"
"You will," said I. "Let's go and get our din-dins, the shutters are going to open any minute."
Two conversations, both equally as sad as each other in their own way. Every night these young men (and the older ones too) will be lying on their beds and the regrets will be running through their minds, poor decisions made.  Will they learn from their errors?  Well, the vast majority of them will - in fact the vast majority could probably be released right now and would never darken the doors of a court again. There will be exceptions of course, there always will be.

Coo! That's all a bit serious for me - I almost allowed the world to see into the sensitive inner sanctum, that'll never do.

A fellow takes his new bride on honeymoon to Acapulco and on their last night at the hotel Tom Jones is appearing as the cabaret. Before Jones the Voice comes on, there is a warm-up act of a fellow with a huge lion. The lion does tricks and all that kind of thing and, as a finale, the fellow calls for absolute silence in the audience while he performs a very dangerous trick. He then pulls open the lion's mouth as far as he can, takes out his willy and rests it on the lion's bottom teeth. He then picks up a mallet and hits the lion as hard as he can right between the eyes. The lion lets out a terrific roar of pain and clamps its jaws shut but stops a millimetre from the fellow's willy. The fellow puts his willy away and says to the stunned audience, "Is there anyone here who thinks they can do that?"  The honeymoon bride calls out, "I'll have a go, but you better not hit me as hard as you hit that poor fucking lion!"

The Voice In The Wilderness

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