Saturday, December 29, 2012

Going out and staying in

Here we are then, the end of another week of hectic inertia where very little of any interest happened. I went out for the day the other day but didn't do much beyond wandered around and spoke to one or two folk that I have become acquainted with during my excursions into that grand metropolis which is the local town. The tallest building is the church which never had its tower finished, but it's still visible for miles around in this flat landscape.

So, this last week has given me little to relate beyond the fact that it's either been freezing, raining, foggy - or a combination of all three. Oddly enough, I don't mind the cold or the fog, it's the wet that gets to me because the place gets filthy with mud. Still, that's what farms do - and let's face it, this place is essentially a farm, if not a very efficient one.

Next week, the coming week, may be more interesting because I have got an interview with my OS (Offender Supervisor) here at the jail, and I should think it will be to do with my coming parole hearing, probably her report.

"Do you agree with what I've written Frank?"

"Fine," I'll say, because anything else is argumentative and I can't see any percentage in that, so I won't bother. She either supports me or she doesn't, my carping on at her isn't likely to change her mind, so we will see.

That is Monday, tomorrow, then on Tuesday I have got my last day out for this year. I've got three more days out booked for January along with a home leave to the hostel in the city, after that I won't be bothering with any more. As far as I can see I've done all I need to do to satisfy their craving for ticks in boxes. If I haven't made a mess of anything in more than thirty days out, I am not likely to now.

So Tuesday coming will be my last liberty day of 2012 and, as far as I am aware, I will be spending it with John (my editor) and Sharon, who drives for him from time to time. I am quite looking forward to it because both are excellent folk in their own way. I shouldn't think that I will stay out for the duration and will be back in durance vile well before the 7 p.m. deadline.

The following day, Wednesday, is the day by which the Parole Board ordered that the new reports had to be submitted and, as far as I am aware, I should be given copies of all reports on that day so that I can give my comments and reactions and send copies to Andrew and, of course, to my solicitor, the Admirable Crook. (Bit of an unfortunate name for a solicitor really - or appropriate, it depends on how you look at it, I suppose.)

So, the final few days of the week will be spent in digesting the reports and responding to them in my own way. I had intended to have a portfolio of photographs to add as my contribution, just of me doing perfectly normal things on my days out - feeding the ducks, a bit of cooking, riding a horse, coming out of church, normal things like that. Unfortunately we haven't been supplied with the pics as far as I know. We may be able to submit them at a later date, we will  see.

So, a few days inside are on the cards for next week and that means that, apart from feeding my birds, I won't have to concern myself with the rain, the cold or the bleedin' fog - every cloud has a silver lining. Mind, it's also true to say that every silver lining has a cloud - I'd better keep my eyes open for Lady Luck...

The Voice In The Wilderness

Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter of discontent?

Now is the winter of our discontent - or maybe not.

Oh, don't get me wrong, the winter is coming all right, and if you want to listen to that bunch of crystal ball gazers at the world famous meteorological office, it's going to be a cold one. Mind, last winter we had a couple of days around here where it registered 15 degrees below zero. It doesn't come much colder than that around here - not since the last ice age anyway. So, it's going to be a cold one. In fact, they say that it's about to start in earnest next week, but we will see.

However, cold is cold, discontent is another matter. What have I got to be discontented about? Not a great lot really.

As far as I am aware, and provided that nothing outrageously stupid happens, I will be serving my last Christmas, New Year and winter in Lizzie Windsor's thoughtful and welcoming hotels for the mentally inept. The good ould SS is putting together a viable, robust and realistic release plan for the Parole Board and, as far as I am aware, there are no voices being raised in opposition. Everyone I talk to here tells me the same thing, which means that there will not, or shouldn't be, any voices raised - but there is many a slip 'twixt cup and lip. Anyone who knows me will be fully aware of my on and off relationship with that fickle ould whore, Lady Luck. For all I know she is already polishing the Doc Martens with a view to giving me a swift kick in the testacularities - a hobby she has been extremely fond of over the years.

But! Let's not be churlish here, let us be reasonably confident but, at the same time, remember, the words of the great Arab sage when he  said, "Put your trust in God, but first tie up your camel." Bearing that in mind I shall wear my cricketing box faithfully. It may not stop the handbag-swinging ould tart, but it may take the sting out of her size twelves.

However, there is always the chance that she, Lady L, has her eyes and attention somewhere else these days - stranger things have happened at sea - and she must be as fed up as me with booting the same fellow all the time. Let me put it this way: if Dolly Parton gave birth to triplets, and if I was one of them, I would be the one who got the bottle.

Given all of the above, and returning to my usual mental condition of blind optimistic pessissism, maybe everything will turn out quite well, and it could be a winter of reasonable contentment. I will have to hope for the best but expect the worst - it makes sense.

I have got a day out in the coming week, but I am not actually going anywhere and nobody is coming to spend the day with me, so all I intend to do is go out, collect my phone and make a few calls to chat to a couple of folk. Then I will just come back into the jail and that will be my day out - over before lunch. It doesn't matter, it's just a box-ticking exercise anyway. The following week should he more interesting hopefully.

Where does that leave me then?

Waiting for the snow and cold that is supposed to hit at some point during the coming week. Who knows, if it gets nasty enough it could still turn into my winter of discontent, for a couple of days anyway - we will see.

Ha! My pigeons have got the right idea - they sit in their warm, cosy loft, full of corn, and just give me pitiful looks when I suggest that they might like to go out for a fly around. You can almost hear their thoughts - "Get stuffed!", or words to that effect.

It's only fools like me who go out in the cold for no good reason, pigeons are nobody's fool and, let's be fair, they don't suffer from winters of discontent.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, December 08, 2012

It's getting interesting

Well, it's all getting very interesting now, not to mention fraught with possible dangers I suppose.

Let me begin at the best place to begin a story - at the beginning. Let's face it, if starting at the beginning was good enough for good old Charlie Dickens, it's good enough for me.

I finally met The SS and a very nice, down-to-earth fellow she is too. We all know that I am a dyed-in-the-wool vulgarian, and that didn't bother her at all. In fact, when I mentioned it, she remarked something about how she had been known to turn the air a fetching shade of blue herself, given the right wind and tide.

The first thing that she told me, and I paraphrase here, was that I can forget all about going to settle in Gloucestershire - for several reasons, not the least being that the Gloucestershire probation wouldn't sanction it on the grounds that I have no "ties" there and that the accommodation was entirely unacceptable and unsuitable. None of this is a reflection on the people in Gloucestershire, who are more than willing to assist and support me. The original plan was for me to stay with John, who is editing my work and, as he so rightly states, there is a lot of work to be done requiring a great deal of face-to-face talk and discussion. Unfortunately, that will have to be done from a distance now - more protracted, of course, but still perfectly viable. We will manage.

Okay, so where CAN I locate?

The North-East is out of the question because The SS said that letting me go back there would be tantamount to setting me up to fail. Oh she of little faith! There will be no failure, I guarantee it, no problem. But she is right, of course - the perception is there. Once I set foot back in the area I will have every miscreant and  retired hoodlum knocking on my door to say "Hello" - and, of course, half of them will be under observation by the authorities to begin with. That would, despite the fact that I neither invited nor encouraged such visitations, leave me open to a conspiracy charge - and she fully understands that, as I do myself. So, the North-East has to be a non-runner.

"You can relocate here in Lincolnshire!" says she - or words to that effect.

"No I can't," said I. "I have to keep away from my friends because of the fact that they are farmers and farmers go shooting!"

"No," says she. "You can see your friends any time you like, you just can't actually enter their premises."

Someone please explain to me how to conduct a proper friendship but not be allowed to go and call on their friends?

Typical of the system. Produce a decent, robust release plan to put before the Parole Board - that's their requirement. However, actually try to do that and the screams of outrage can be heard as far afield as Ayers Rock!

"You can go to the hostel," says she. "Just for two months."

Let me get this straight here. I can't go to the North-East on the grounds that I may associate with persons of ill-repute, thus setting me up to fail. However, I CAN go and live in a strange town, in a house full of junkies and low-lifes - but that's NOT setting me up to fail.


"Oh," says she, "you are going on home-leave to the hostel in January too!"


So, after all the above has been said, I must add that The SS really seems to want to help me. It can't be easy for her, given the current political climate - and I'm not an easy fellow to deal with at the best of times, I know this. She genuinely wants to get it all in place to lay before the Parole Board and have me released to live for two months in the hostel, a stranger in a strange land. The two months is ostensibly to give me time to find a decent place of my own and get myself sorted out.

God is supposed to move in mysterious ways. He hasn't got a patch on the system.

So, as stated earlier, it's all getting very interesting, not to  mention fraught - so we won't mention that, eh!

When will the parole hearing actually be?

Pick a number.

I expect that I will be represented by Abigail again and, as usual, she will probably tell me to keep quiet.

The SS will be there, as far as I know, and so will The Wallace, a fact that I am pleased about. I have an inordinate faith in The Wallace - she inspires confidence. Hopefully The SS will too, in time. I think Andrew will be present and quite possibly several others, all prepared to discuss my future.

It would be nice if somebody bothered to ask me, but never mind. Oh yes, it's all getting very interesting.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, December 01, 2012

It started off so well

I should have known, really.

The day started off with gale-force winds that were strong enough to demolish trees that had been standing since Henry the Eighth looked at Anne Boleyn and said, "Say what you like, she's got a nice, slim neck". It howled and blew, so my pigeons were kept in  the loft. If they had been let out, we'd never have seen half of them again. And all that is without mentioning the rain and flooding - so I won't mention that.

Anyway, I got out of the gate on time, just  after nine, and collected my mobile from my locker. I rang Herman the Big Plum.

"I'll ring you back in thirty seconds!", said he - and turned his phone off.

I just sat in the porta-cabin and admired the way the trees and the flag blew about the place.

It seems that the police had blocked off the road for some obscure reason (probably the weather) so he, Herman, had been sent on a bit of a detour by a kindly policewoman and would be ten minutes late. Some people think (unkindly probably) that being late should be a permanent state for me, and probably for him too - late as in "May the good Lord keep him".

"Where we going?" said he, when I finally got in the car.

"Who's driving?" I replied.

"Bollocks," said he politely. "We'll go for breakfast, I'm starving."

This from a man who has never missed a meal in his life. So, into town and we got to the bistro about ten minutes to ten - early. However, she let us in and fed us tea while she got the chef out of bed and pretty soon we were munching away with smiles of contentment. Very nice.

After we were evicted he asked, "Now where?"

"Skegness," said I.

Said he, "What do you want to go there for?"

Said I, "What are you - a policeman?"

Off we went and, by the time we got there, he was hungry again. See! Never missed a meal in his life.

I've got to say this - it wasn't worth the drive, or the price. We had three courses and it was all microwaved, as far as I could tell. However, mustn't be churlish, and we ate everything in sight, but I could have eaten more, especially seeing as it was Sunday. Lunch and over-eating on a Sunday is a British institution, or it  should be. It should be written in stone and imprinted on every child's tribal memory bank. Three things really should be sort of imprinted at birth electronically - over-eating on Sunday lunch. over-eating on Christmas Day and never kick your Granny when she is shaving.

After that we wandered about here and there until, by about half four, the poor ould boy was tired. Well, let's be fair, he had driven a  long way in the course of that day and had a long way still to drlve.

"Are you tired, mate?" said I.

"Knackered," was his erudite response.

"Want to drop me off early then and get started back?"

"I wouldn't mind," said he.

So we came back to the jail.

It started raining again, though the wind had dropped considerably, and I got a bit wet.

No news this week, of course - but everyone will have guessed that from the above catalogue of drivel. However, I've got a meeting with the S.S. on Wednesday, so that should be interestlng. Having said that, it will be raining again - it always is these days around here. I spend my time in a permanent state of damp.

So, I got wet in the final act of Sunday's drama - exit stage left. It started off so well too!
The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The clock of life ticks on

As the hour hand on the clock of life ticks inexorably toward that inevitable time when I shall be required to face my maker prior to sleeping in my tomb for the longest lie-in, I often find myself sitting peacefully (usually in my pigeon loft - sorry, the North Sea Camp Animal Rescue Centre) and musing on several aspects of the past, the present and those days still to come.

I used to be concerned about a lot of things in my salad days. Oh, nothing much that was particularly deep or meaningful, just the stuff that every Tom, Dick and Frank allows to annoy them. But, as I grew older, one by one those things failed to excite me much any more, and, the older I get, I find that vexatious themes grow fewer and fewer and further apart. Not much bothers me these days. Life is too short to worry about most things - there's bugger-all I can do about them anyway, so why drive myself mad?

However, as one more care drops from my list, from time to time another crops up to take its place. Things such as the morons who are making a virtue out of ignorance as they butcher the language texting in acronyms - not to mention being unable to pull their trousers up properly. They appear to have lost the skill of how to use a comb and knowledge  of what it's actually for. They no longer shave and seem to be quite delighted about the fact that they look scruffy. I could go on but there's no point.

However, it occurs to me that this is nothing other than me copying exactly what my elders said to and about me when I was young, with my long hair and clothing that would have looked comfortable on a clown. Remember platform shoes?

Hells bells, is it any wonder that so many of the older generation have chronic back trouble and have gone bald? It's all the crap they plastered on their heads in their youth - it killed the roots. And what about drain-pipe trousers? Is it any wonder that sperm counts were so low? Everthing was being slowly strangled! No wonder, either, that so many pop stars of the day sang in high-pitched voices - it wasn't skill, it was pure pain.

All of that (and more) to one side, these days things are different for us older boys - and girls. (Ha! Girls! Give me a break! Old boilers in purple rinses doing their best to pretend to be trendy.) At least we had decent music in those days. Today it is all the one note and single line of lyrics repeated over and over. Mind, to me it all  sounds like it has been done by a little kid hitting a cardboard box with a stick.


Well, I sit in my pigeon loft and watch my birds fighting, cooing and preening themselves - and, in a very short time, I start to feel a bit sleepy. That old soporific effect kicks in, the one I have mentioned several times before. Hey! Maybe that's what they should do with all politicos, of all persuasions and ideals. Put them into my pigeon loft for a while - or anybody's pigeon loft really - and let the soporific valium take effect. Maybe they wouldn't be so keen to send their youngsters out to war so quickly. And, who knows, maybe then they could turn their attention to teaching the kids to speak and write their own sodding language - and pull their trousers up.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Marquis de Sade's saddle

I've done it again! Flat on my back - fell off my bike.

Personally I blame Andrew. He took me where there was sand and I'm not too secure on tarmac, never mind the treacherous, slippery substance which seems to constitute most of the Wash - that and mud. Anyway, Andrew collected me at the usual letting-out time of nine in the morning. He'd got there early so he had gone to look at the wildlife reserve just up the coast. I'm not sure what he saw there but it seemed to put him in a good mood - perhaps a dipper slipped in the sand.

Where wasI? Oh yes. So off we went to the seaside where we parked up in a practically deserted car park on the front and Andrew got the bikes off the rack on the rear of his car. He had brought a saddle for me that was clearly designed by the Marquis de Sade on one of his more vindictive days.

Off we set, me pedalling like a demented grape-treader trying to earn a bonus. He seems to do it effortlessly - I haven't worked out the gear system yet. Well, we got a bit confused because we tried to ride down the coastal path but it ended in "No Entry" gates and it was the attempt to turn around on the sand that was my undoing. Down I went like one of Mike Tyson's victims in his heyday - flat on my back on the sand.

Sod it, I thought as I lay there, flat out, staring up at the clear blue sky above my head. Maybe any witnesses would presume I'd done it deliberately if I lay there long enough - so I lay there. Andrew started to come back - maybe he thought I had injured myself, but he just grinned when I sprang to my feet like a retired gymnast with a bad case of osteoarthritis.

"You have to be careful on sand," said he, or words to that effect.

Now he tells me, I thought.

Anyway, we got to the road and pedalled along enthusiastically all the way to the point - amidst traffic too! -  and I neither fell off nor crashed into any unfortunate motorist. Quite a successful ride really.

There wasn't a great lot to look at there so I collected a bit of literature for an insane twitcher I know and we pedalled back. In the car park Andrew changed my saddle for me because, to be quite  honest, the tops of my thighs at the back felt numb. Those skinny little saddles were designed by someone with a twisted sense of humour.

"Right!" said he. "Let's go up the coast a bit to the next town."

More suffering under drifting sand and a saddle that should have been burned on bonfire night. The trouble with the next town was that there was nothing there to see! So we rode back again - and I didn't crash once.

Funny places, seaside resorts out of season. There were a few people sort of wandering around but in my opinion there were more shops open than there were people on the streets. We DID see the parade going to the local Remembrance Service, and I was struck by the number of mothers and fathers with their children. Andrew commented that it seemed the more unpopular a war became, the more people supported the armed forces. I don't know how true that is, but it was true that an awful lot of young folk were marching.

After that, a wander around the undemanding streets of the town and into an emporium of sea-food delight for fish 'n' chips - very nice. (I've got a bit of advice for the shopkeepers of the town: if they want to sell more chips, it's easy - put more on the plates!)

That was about it, really. We drove back out to the point where we left the car and wandered off onto the nature reserve. We saw a couple of birds - neither of us knew what they were really, but we speculated as though we did.

And that was it, really. Not a very exciting day, but as we arrived back at the jail's car park I realised that I had really enjoyed an undemanding day with good company and conversation. A fellow could get to like that sort of day out - and that includes the bike rides. Who knows? Maybe one day I'll be able to get on the bloody bike without doing my best to break my neck - and some people might think THAT'S not a bad idea.

Still, the twitcher was happy. Who can ask for more - apart from a comfortable saddle on his bike!
The Voice In The Wilderness

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Looking at the world through frosted glass

It gets filthier by the minute - the deluge pours from the skies and lesser mortals suffer under the onslaught. Water runs down  my neck and speckles the lenses of my bins - it's like looking at the world through frosted glass. It's pointless wiping them dry and clean because they are obscured again by the time I get them back on! It is times like this when I seriously consider becoming a Hoodie.

The pigeons don't care, of course. They sit in their loft, comfy on their perches, while they wonder why I am doing impressions of a saturated, drowned rat. We had a day off from the rain during the past week, but I can't remember which day it was and I can't be bothered to consult my diary.

However, there IS some news on the Parole Board front - wonders will never cease, I suppose. The other day, I can't recall which one (all days here seem to  meld into the same day), I had a letter from the solicitor to tell me that we can expect some sort of decision from the Parole Board in tbe guise of the ICM. (I think that is an acronym for Independent Committee Member*, but I could be wrong). Apparently, the prison quite simply has not supplied reports to the PB for my parole hearing. No date for it yet, of course, but the ICM has instructed the probation, the internal probation AND security to supply and update reports on my progress. The way I read it is that the ICM isn't entirely chuffed by the lack of up-to-date reports and has given a directive that these reports must be submitted by 17th Decemher. By then, of course, I will be a long time past my hearing date, but we mustn't be churlish, eh?

It also seems to me, from reading the scant information I DO have, that the only areas where the board is showing any interest is as to whether I have successfully completed any day releases - and I have well over twenty under my belt, so to speak. Also, have I successfully completed any home leaves? Well, I've been to the hostel in Lincoln twice and hopefully I'll get a couple more in before I appear before the board for an oral hearing, which my solicitor seems confident I will be asked to do. I'll have to get a wash and shave and put a whistle and flute on for that, of course - got to make the effort. There are no security concerns, and my risk levels are minimum, as far as I have been given to believe.

So, that's the position. With a bit of luck I may even have been to Gloucestershire for a couple of home leaves by the time of the actual hearing - we are trying. The requests have gone into the probation service and the police for clearance, all we are waiting for is for them to get back to us.

Where does that all leave me?  Well, sitting here, tapping away like a demented woodpecker and doing my best not to drown as I go about my business of feeding twenty-eight ungrateful pigeons - not to mention ring-necked doves, sparrows, robins, starlings and assorted avian interlopers.

I think I may have verdi-gris on my head with all the rain.

The Voice In The Wilderness

* Actually, ICM = Intensive Case Management (ed.)

Thursday, November 01, 2012

A tit man for Mayfair

Bit of a strange day really, yesterday, Sunday 28th October in the year of grace 2012. We keep hearing about this Grace - who is she exactly, Iwonder.

Anyhow, to return to yesterday (and a lot of folk wish they could, I'll warrant, but I digress - again!). To get back to the day in question. It was a poor day to start with, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being the weather - filthy is the only word for it. One of those days where it can't seem to make its mind up. Much like pointing at two shovels and saying to an Irishman, "Take your pick!"

I had a difference of opinion before I even got out of the gate, but leave that to one side, for the sake of sanity. Once out, I looked into the car park but saw nobody there to collect me when, almost instantly, a little silver Puma passed and there was Amanda waving and smiling at me.

Now THAT'S how to brighten a dull ould day.

I leapt into her trusty steed and off we jolly-well-went, headed for the bright lights of town.

We wandered around that teeming metropolis, ignoring the weather, until we decided to go to my favourite little bistro for our din-dins - and a very convivial din-dins it was too. Amanda is a good conversationalist.

Still, I was a bit miffed because none of the others who were SUPPOSED to arrive had done so. I attempted to get them on the phone but there seemed to be something wrong with it, and there was  a distinct possibility of it ending up in the river, feeding the fishes, as the Mafia would put it. (Or is that "Sleeping w1th the fishes"?) Whichever it is, the phone almost did it.

We sat there, chatting of many things, cabbages and kings, until we were on the verge of being evicted (or charged rent) so we went on our way and wondered what to do for the rest of the day.

Gibraltar Point has nothing there by the way, just in case anyone is considering visiting there for an exciting and interesting day ­ - forget it. Several twitchers were seen lurking about the highways and byways, but they inspired no confidence in me.

So, back to the Ponderosa, and I thanked Amanda for coming to see me, and hoped she would be coming again. She said she is, but I wouldn't blame her if she didn't. Let's face it - a day out with me, in the pissing-down rain, is about on a level with removing your eyes with a blunt gardening instrument. Still, perhaps the next one will  be better. She is a very nice young woman, made a big impression on me, and is interesting to talk to - a welcome change from the usual drivel we hear daily on the so-called reality shows. She doesn't suffer fools gladly - but there again, who does?

One bright spot in the glum ould day was when we stopped for petrol and, as we were leaving, we ran into "The Goonies". Having said that, we must have seemed an odd couple ourselves to any casual observer - an old boy dressed like a hit-man for the Mafia (or, as someone said unkindly earlier in the day, a tit man for Mayfair), and a pretty young woman. Maybe they thought I was a senior citizen on a day out from some sheltered accommodation. Come to think about it - and looking round this place -·that's not too far from the truth.

My next day out is in November, and it is proposed to be a bike ride to Gibraltar Point. (See! Everything is explained in the end.) I only hope it is a better day as far as the weather goes.

So, as we can probably tell from the above, there is no news this week regarding any sort of news or dates for the parole hearing, despite several people attempting to GET such news. Oh well, all I can do is sit here, feed my pigeons and do my best to stay out of the nasty weather. Well, somebody has to do it.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A kestrel killed my pigeon

Thursday evening it was, just getting dusk, when all decent birds are settling on their perches for the night, fluffing up their feathers and indulging in a quick territorial fight with those other birds infringing on their personal spaces.

I leave the loft - sorry, the door to the North Sea Camp bird rescue centre - open. Well, in the evening I let the birds go in and settle at their own pace. It seems fair to me because that's what I like to do. I normally wander round there just as dusk is falling, give them all a drink and lock them in for the night. Thursday night was no different, I did exactly that. But as I rounded the corner of the loft, I saw a flurry of activity by the leg of my rustic bench (pause for sniggering) and a kestrel flew off. In the fading light it looked like a bit of a plastic bag wafting in the breeze, but when I got closer I saw that it was one of my birds. Clearly it was in a great deal of trouble. Its back had been ripped open and the back of its head was gone. I had no choice - I had to finish it off and threw the body in the bin, feeling very disappointed. Well, I have spent months bringing up each and every bird from chicks, so it's a  bit disappointing to lose one like that. The bloody kestrel had the front to fly back to try to get its supper, but buggered off when it saw me. I know this much - the birds are now getting into the loft early in the evenings.

So, that puts me down to twenty-eight birds, including The Stranger, who still hasn't got a ring on his leg because I haven't tried to arrest him yet. I'll let him get used to the loft first.

Well, next week I am off out for the day. I think I've got some family members coming but I'm not sure who, not yet. I expect I'll  find out during the coming week. I have also got good old Amanda driving down to spend the day. We can all go for a meal at my favourite bistro in town - that is always a good idea.

I've lost The Wallace! Apparently she has been required to hand me on, like an ould pair of wellies, to a lesser mortal. Of course she is going to oversee matters, but from a distance as she sits in her ivory tower of management.

And I no longer have to worry about home leaves, that is all being done by others in THEIR ivory towers. So that's nice to know.  One day, when the wind is in the right direction, I will have an ivory tower of my own, but I don't imagine that anyone will be waiting for me to make any life-changing decisions for them - I wouldn't want to really.

Finally, my solicitor has requested a date for an oral hearing from tbe Parole Board, so I can only hope he gets one soon. Well, at least it won't creep up on me like a kestrel at dusk, sharp talons and equally sharp beak tearing at my back and skull. Mind, after all the years, I probably wouldn't notice until I felt the blood running down my neck. Make a nice change from the knives in my back I suppose.

Ha! That makes me sound quite bitter, but on reflection I realise that, actually, I'm really not!  What is the point of harping on about the past? Nobody and nothing can change that - not even God. Let it go. Put it down to experience and move on to better pastures.

The mill cannot grind with the water that is past.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What's in a name?

That time has finally arrived - as we all knew it must. The Wallace, that eminently admirable personage formerly referred to as my probation officer, no longer is. Now, that's not as bad as it seems - not a bit. The Wallace should really have dumped me onto someone else some considerable time back. Being a manager, and therefore not mandated to deal with individual cases, she would normally be doing "overviews", whatever that entails. But The Wal1ace kept me as her project, probably to keep herself amused, and she was more than likely interested in how I managed to cope with everything. The point is, she has passed me on to another prob. off., but assures me that she will keep an eye on matters.

Now, all of this made me realise that I have a tendency to give little nicknames to just about everyone and everything. It's the mentality of dealing with the prison estate, I suppose. They are quite terrified that anyone should learn their names or what they do for a living - maybe they are ashamed of it, who knows. However, once a feller gets into that sort of mindset he soon finds himself giving names to everyone and everything. I have even gone so far as to give my pigeons names.

Now, let me see... There is Houdini - you can't keep him in the loft, he escapes out of everything. Then there is Big 'ead and Little 'ead, Gannet - who can't get enough to eat - and Oliver who, no matter how much he gets, always wants more. Titch and Tiny, Patches and  Big Blue and Little Blue - the list goes on. After all I've got twenty-nine of them counting the two squeakers I got yesterday.

There should only be twenty-eight but I've got an interloper who seems to have moved in - The Stranger. I know he is an interloper because I put brightly-coloured rings on all of the birds and this one, The Stranger, hasn't got one. As soon as I can get hold of him he WILL have a ring on his leg - a red one - I've got it all  ready for him. I was counting the birds the other evening as it was getting dark, just to make sure they were all in, and I had one too many. I thought I had miscounted so did it again. Three times I did it, and then I saw this blue checker sitting on a perch with no ring on. Not just sitting on a perch but full of feed and all fluffed up as he settled in for the night.

I had discovered a squatter!

Anyway he is in there now - goes for his daily fly with all of the others and comes back as though he had lived there all of his life. Let him stay, that's my attitude - it does no harm at all and, with winter creeping up on us stealthily, who can blame him for wanting to live somewhere where he is fed and warm, away from the elements.

So he's got a name as well now.

Which brings me neatly back to names and my new probation officer. I know her name, of course, but can't use it - I wouldn't want to upset the apple cart before I've even got the apples in it. But her initials automatically give me her nickname - The SS. I DO hope she's got a sense of humour. She'll need it because, as we all know, there are certain people in this world who take a fairly irreverent view of the rest of it - and I'm one of them.

And so the end of an era arrives and another begins. The SS will be handling my appearance before the Parole Board, whenever THAT may turn out to be - there is bugger-all news about it at the minute, beyond the fact that outside influences are attempting to get a date. Watch this space. Maybe The SS can get some sense out of the system, but, to be quite frank about it, I would be more inclined to put my money on The Stranger or Houdini - one can get in where least expected and the other seems to be able to get out of everything.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It's a funny ould world

It was kind of misty when I went out for the day yesterday - it was a bit cold too. Not that I let that bother me much - in fact not very much bothers me much. It's all much of a muchness, as the bard would have said. (Too many "muches" there - too much in fact.)

So, seeing as nobody was collecting me at the gate I had to get the prison bus, which I don't mind really. I just sit there letting folk know that I am out via my mobile. Incidentally, there are now no facilities for recharging our mobiles, which we bought at great expense - thirty quid for a basic unit when better ones can be got for two quid at any boot sale (but leave that to one side for now). So, seeing as we can no longer recharge our phones they therefore must become useless and redundant. So I have asked for my money back - what good is a phone that can't be used?

So, in the prison bus and into town, where I had a little wander about whilst chatting to several friends on the phone and finally discovering that Big Anthony and his son Little Anthony would be late arriving to meet me. Apparently Big Anth bought a new car on Saturday - a Vauxhall Insignia, a very nice car - but when he went to put fuel in it on Sunday morning at the crack of dawn, he had put 94 quid's worth of petrol in it before he realised it was a diesel car!

Lunacy rules and will never die out at this rate. I've always thought the diesel pump fittings wouldn't go into a petrol car and vice versa, but what do I know eh?

So, they had to wait for the AA to come out and drain the tank and give it a rinse out - let's hope that they used liquid common sense.

Anth phones: "I'm sitting at the security gate."

"What security gate?"

"The one at the prison," says he.

Says I, "I'm sitting in the town centre! You can't miss it. There's a church - the only tall building in the town. You can see it for miles!"

We finally met up at a quarter to two. Only five hours late, and not a petrol tanker in sight - although that could be seen as rhyming slang.

Having said all that, I enjoyed my day with the boys - great - and had several chats to several people on the phone. I spoke to Susan May, or Suzie the Floozie as I used to call her years ago. Hey! I've known Sue for a long time now - donkey's years. Amanda clocked in and we had a performance with me trying to send her a phone number. I can't work the bleedin' phone at all.

I finally got back to the shovel and pick at about a quarter to seven and instantly got myself into hot water because I had more money when I came back than I had when I went out. I shouldn't have told them - it's as simple as that. We are asked to be honest but the instant we are we get into trouble. However, that's all water under the bridge, so to speak - and it had gone cold again after a lovely sunny day.

All in all, I enjoyed myself and went to bed a tired but replete fellow. I'll see them all again in three weeks, only this time I won't get into trouble for having too much money. See! I'm back to the "muches" again. It's too much, I tell you, and it don't suit me it don't.

If every day was as satisfying as yesterday, I couldn't complain - but I probably would, just on principle.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Too old

I've got to admit it - I'm cream crackered!

Now, normally I would be writing this at about half-past eight in the morning - but not today. This morning I was up and out at the crack of dawn to feed and water my pigeons - as big a bunch of pests never seen before. They sit on my boots, scratch about my feet and, every now and then, one called Gannet decides that it will do me good if it craps on my head. Some folk will say, "I wish he wouldn't use words like 'crap'." Well, it took me a long time to actually use words like 'crap'.

What am I doing crawling out of my pit at the crack of daft o'clock? Even the bleedin' sparrows are still in bed!

I'm too old for this shit. I should be sitting in a nice, comfy chair with a blanket around my knees to keep me warm, in front of a roaring fire and a little nurse standing by with fresh incontinence pants in case of accidents. I should have a budgie for a pet and a little Yorkie barking all day to annoy the neighbours and shitting  on the carpet. I should be sitting waiting for my meals-on-wheels and pissing myself in the queue at Tescos so I can get to the front and pretending to be deaf.

What have I been doing today (and every day really)?

I have fed and watered twenty-four pigeons, half of them individually and by hand. Then I helped the chicken man (not Chicken George) to lug a dirty great big laying rack from the piggery up to the new chicken shed. Ha! New! The builder should be called Bob. I've seen derelict buildings that looked better.

Anyway, dragged the laying thing up there and then I went and had a look to see if there was any greenage for the chickens. After that I wandered down to the bottom field to see what mushrooms were free and unattended.

That was the morning taken care of and, as soon as I had finished my lunch, I went and picked the mushrooms, walked the perimeter of the prison farm fences looking for abandoned or injured birds, and then it was back to my rescue centre to feed the ones I've got now. By then it was tea time and, right after tea, which I didn't eat because I didn't have time (I'll have it later tonight), I was back to see to the pigeons - counted them all into the loft and settled them in for the night.

Was I finished? Not a bit. Then I was up to the realm of Chicken George to help him to settle HIS charges for the night. At least we saw a barn owl and a couple of bats.

I got back to my cell at a quarter-past seven this evening and, apart from meal times, I've been running around since five minutes past seven this morning - no wonder I lose a little weight. Mind, that seems to have stuck at twelve stones, so perhaps that's the weight I have to be, as nature decreees.

Was I finished then? No! I had to write this and then I have to write two letters AND have my shower. After that I've got my tea to eat - and if I can keep my eyes open after that it will be a miracle!

My solicitor tells me that he has requested from the Parole Board a date for an oral hearing. If they don't give such a date, then he is threatening a Judicial Review.  As I said somewhere else - I'm too old for this shit.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Friday, September 28, 2012

Everyone needs a break

It's true! Everyone needs a little break from time to time and, Zeus knows, I've needed one for years.

Well - here's the bit I particularly like - I've had one.

Last weekend I went out for a really pleasant day with Andrew. I'm not sure that he found the first part of the day particularly pleasant because I dragged him to a car boot sale. Fascinating things, car boot sales. It's astonishing what people find to sell and even more astonishing what people THINK they can sell. The world is full of optimists, that's for sure.

I dragged Andrew around every stall. I was looking for an old-fashioned safety razor, those things with the separate blades and the screw-on handle. Didn't find one, of course, but I did buy something which I have since found I neither need nor want. But this is the nature of car hoot sales - we discover things we just never knew we couldn't live without. It's not all bad news - Andrew did okay too. He found half a dozen old Beano or Dandy annuals, I'm not sure which - a bit of light reading for his boy there then.

By the time I had perused and searched every stall on the site, I could see that Andrew was both bored and a little bit chilly so off we went into town where we wandered around a couple of shops as I continued my quest (pointlessly, I might add). Finally we got bored and retired to our favourite eatery where we had our Sunday din-dins.

It was after that that the torture began.

Andrew drove us out of town to a car park where he got the bikes off the back and I had to get changed for that popular pastime of crushing your bollocks on a bike seat designed by a devotee of the works and doings of the Marquis De Sade. Actually, apart from the crushing of the personal testacularities (copyright word, but you can borrow it), I enjoyed the bike ride enormously and this time didn't crash once - that's progress. We went several kilometres up the side of the river toward the city and sat on the grass for a while watching a marathon row - thirty-one miles, and anyone who thinks that's a stroll in the park has got to be joking.

We saw a lot of rowers - single sculls, doubles, right up to full coxed eights. There were a few older rowers. One pair of brothers had rowed many marathons together and we worked it out that they had rowed in total over a thousand miles - that's a long way to walk, never mind row. However, most of the rowers seemed to be mere youngsters - striplings, callow youths, both boys and girls.

One pair were about fourteen years old and they rowed the whole way, thirty-one miles - and didn't finish last. Anyone who despairs of today's youth, go and watch the kids rowing marathons. THAT, my friends, requires guts, determination and strength of character, and those kids had it in abundance - they'll do well in life.

We rode back to town to watch the end of the race and it was quite heartwarming to see the way the watchers on the banks were encouraging the rowers. It taught me that, however hard something may seem to most of us, there are always some who will accept the challenge AND complete it. I take off my homburg to them.

That was the weekend. The following week, I caught an early train to the city and booked myself into the hostel there and then went down to the railway station to meet John, my editor, as he got off the train. We spent a very pleasant day together and chatted of cabbages and kings until I saw him off again at about half four in the afternoon. Back to the hostel, where I got changed and, wearing a nice suit plus black homburg - I must have looked like someone out of "The Godfather" - I went into town for a very pleasant meal and then back to the hostel for a kip, with another day ahead of me.

The next morning I was waiting for Herman the Big Plum to arrive and collect me by vehicular transport when my phone rang, and it was The Wallace checking up to see if I was okay. I assured her I was and, as we were chatting, Herman El Plum arrived, so I left The Wallace to chat to the hostel boss and went off with Herman.

We drove into the town, where I introduced him to my favourite place to refuel the human body, wandered around the shops and Herman decided to take me to a nearby seaside resort. I've never been there before and, to be quite honest, I'm not keen to go there again. It's like every other seaside resort really - twenty-seven thousand ways to get dosh out of the punters. In fact that's government policy as far as I can see.

Herman got me back to the hostel at about six and off he went on the long drive home while I showered, changed and went out to have a bit of din-dins, then retired for the night.

The following day I packed my suitcase, said "Bye bye" to the people at the hostel and caught the train back to the town, where I managed to persuade Jenny (shop manageress) to let me put my suitcase in her place while I went for lunch and did a bit of shopping. Then I caught the half-four bus back to durance vile.

And that, my  friends, is the tale of my little break that lasted four days - and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Quite looking forward to the next one too. It's true, everyone needs a break - to climb a mountain or jump in a lake. I went for a bike ride and bought myself a homburg. I'm not sure which I enjoyed most - the bike ride had more pluses than minuses, and the homburg causes glances to be cast in my direction (and only a few actually snigger).

Come to think about it, people have been sniggering at me for years.

As I was coming back to town on the train, it occurred to me that a year ago I wouldn't have believed that I would he sitting on a train, feeling quite rested - and not a pair of handcuffs in sight. I must be getting old - but I DO like bike riding now.

What made the most lasting impression on me after those four days? Seeing all of those kids rowing such a long way out of sheer desire to just do it - and as long as we have kids like that we won't go far wrong.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A day on my own

I found a car boot sale all by myself on Sunday - who's a clever little nitwit then?

Mind, I very nearly never got out at all because, when I went to the gate lodge to book out of the jail, the kangaroo said, "Computer says 'No!'"

Apparently, somebody had forgotten to register the fact that I had  a day out booked. Anyway, off I went to see my personal officer, who was fortunately on duty that day, and he managed to get it sorted out for me quickly enough. However, I didn't get out of the gate until after 9:15 and the bus into town had gone already. The fellow on the gate said he would phone the van to come back for me. So I set off down the road, just like Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road - only this one isn't yellow OR brick, it's just tarmac and full of potholes.

The van finally came back to get me and I got the driver to drop  me at the college because I saw a boot sale going on in the car park. I told him I would walk into town from there.

What I was looking for was a fob for my pocket watch and an old razor which I could use because, to be quite honest, the modern ones are about as much good as a glass eye. Oh, they are very sharp, you just can't get them under the nose - pathetic!

Well, I didn't find either item and, after wandering around looking at the wide range of stuff people sell, and trying to have a conversation with a deaf woman who was most likely drunk to boot, I wandered into town.

A day all on my own - the first one I've had since I've been here. Everyone who would normally meet me, the whole lot of them, were otherwise engaged, so I happily spent the day keeping myself company. At lunch time I went to my favourite riverslde bistro, where the waitress was surprised to see me dining alone.

Half a chicken and the trimmings, out on the terrace with cold orange juice to wash it down, all for eight quid - you couldn't get vexed at that if you wanted to.

I went into the park after that, because there was a sort of fete on with rides for kids, tombolas, stalls and all that kind of thing. The crowds were quite thick considering that it was Sunday. I wandered around, saw several people I knew, and by about four in the afternoon the sun's heat had sapped me. I was running out of petrol. I came back to the prison then and realised that I had enjoyed the day a good deal.

I expect the coming weekend to be a little more hectic but just as enjoyable because Andrew is coming to meet me and is threatening to bring the bikes and a picnic basket, so I could end up with a sore arse and not a decent cane in sight.

The next day I am off to the city where I will be meeting John, the writer and editor, to discuss various matters. He used to be a reporter on "Private Eye", or something like that. Anyway, I will spend the day in his company so that will be a pleasure and the day after that I have got Herman the Big Mug coming down from Hartlepool to  spend the day with me and to deliver me back to the jail gate in  the evening. No doubt I'll make a report on it all in the Voice next week.

Finally, I think I wi11 mention Margaret. Margaret works in a charity shop in the town and she is one of the most pleasant people I have met in a long time. Margaret, the world is a better place because of people like you, but you need to do something about the haircut. It's worse than mine - and I'm as bald as an orangutan's arse.
The Voice In The Wilderness

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The Red-legged League

Thoroughly disreputable shoes!

We've all got a pair of thoroughly disreputable shoes, or slippers, or a cardi, or t-shirt - something. We've all got something like that. Something we've had for years and which is so comfy that it is practically criminal. It's no good washing these things or cleaning them in any way whatsoever. In fact, a good wash would probably  encourage them to fall apart. Everybody wants us to throw them away, of course, but that would be like abandoning a favourite child - it's not happening.

In my case, it is a pair of Kappa trainers which I bought about ten years ago in a sale from Sports Direct at the amazing price of seven or eight quid. They are black leather and, over the years, they have managed to develop a couple of small splits - but comfortable isn't the word. I may get buried in them.

Some people think me being buried is a great idea anyway, with or without the thoroughly disreputable shoes.


I now have a dozen rescued birds, all young ones which have become orphans via one route or another - nests destroyed, abandoned by parents - all manner of reasons. The thing is, I've got them now. I've managed to get seven to the stage where they are all feeding themselves and flying - but not actually going anywhere. They seem to prefer their adopted home, the North Sea Camp Rescue Centre - my bleedin' pigeon loft. I've got half a dozen others, all tiny things which have to be hand-fed three times a day and which are very demanding as soon as they hear a human voice.

One of the older squeakers used to be called "Tbe Cuckoo" - but that's been changed now to "The Gannet", for obvious reasons. It follows me around like a dog, squeaking and trying to shove its head between my fingers. "The Gannet" is perfectly capable of feeding himself but he still prefers to have me feed him. I'd give him a thick ear but he is a member of the gang called the "North Sea Camp Red-legged Hoodies", and it would take a brave man to tackle just one of them - to tackle all of them would take a suicidal idiot.

They all have red rings on their legs for identification purposes, so that I can recognise them once they decide to strike out on their own - and one day, they will.

In fact, it's much like my own position. I have to go to the hostel in the big city again shortly for an overnight stay, but one day I will be able to strike out on my own. The only thing that is different between me and the pigeons is I don't have a red ring around my left leg - well, apart from the ones made by my wellies.

So, it's me for the wide open spaces again. It's not a city I am particularly fond of, but that's probably because I am being compelled to go there. If I went by choice I would probably enjoy the place - it's nice enough. In fact, going there voluntarily might cause me to get to like the place. It could grow on me, like an old pair of Kappa trainers - but I bet it would cost a sight more than seven or eight quid.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Spitting feathers

They were all in this morning.

I crawled out of my pit at about twenty minutes past six - or, as  my pal calls it, "Daft o'clock" - and, after the usual rituals, I  was on my meandering way down to the old stable block which is where my pigeon loft is. Not that it is a pigeon loft any more - it  is now the "North Sea Camp Rescue Centre", although so far all I've got in there is a motley gang of young abandoned pigeons which I am rearing to maturity. Once they reach that happy state - a state, incidentally, that I hope to reach myself one day - they can go their own way in the world. However, seeing as the loft is the only home they have ever known, they will stay there, going out for a fly-­about each day and spending the rest of their time sitting somewhere comfy - like on my chair.

Take The Head and Houdini, for instance. They are just about grown now and are outside flying around most of the time, but, as far as they are concerned, they live there and I can sod off - they ain't going no place.

So, they were all in this morning when I went down there, and that includes a couple of others who use the place as a sort of pit­-stop - but I don't mind that.

They all run around the floor in a gang - it's only a matter of time until they all decide to be hoodies. When THAT happens, the rest of the birds around the place better start watching their manners.

Oh yes, and on Thursday I had to go and see someone at the Offender Management Unit - or, as the acronymous crowd like to refer to it, the OMU.

Off I went at the appointed time and the interviewer got me seated and asked, "What's going on with you then?"

Me: "Nothing."

Her: "We haven't seen much of you lately."

Me: "Well, you know me - I don't harrass people."

Her: "I know."

I asked her if, as has been suggested by John H, I can go over to his place for a few days to allow us to discuss my writing, him being my editor.

"No," was the reply. "You must take your home leaves to the address to which you will finally be released."

"Every time I come up with an address," said I, "you veto it."

"Well," said she, "we've had word from [The Wallace] that she has organised a home leave for you at the hostel, middle of next month. Will you go?"

"Of course I will," said I. "But why not have a couple of days at the Junkies' Paradise Hotel and then a couple of days somewhere with decent people?"

Anyone would think that I had made an inappropriate and extremely rude suggestion. Clearly there is absolutely no intention of ever allowing anyone to get a decent start out in the real world - they want us to go and live in a world of junkies, low-lifes, chancers and free tickets back to jail. The thing that puzzles me is that the jail is full of people with no family or friends and no sort of support mechanism waiting for them - I've got all that. They NEED the hostel, the resettlement place - I don't. They can't get a place - I'm being forced to take one up.

If anyone can give me a logical explanation, I would appreciate it - I'm utterly perplexed by the distorted thinking involved. Perhaps I should ask if I can move into the pigeon loft with all of the other homeless characters who live down there - I'll even try to grow feathers if that makes them feel any better. I don't hold out much hope of the feathers, to be fair - I can't grow hair, never mind feathers. The only feathers I get are those I am spitting as I try to get them to see sense.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, August 25, 2012


So, there I was, wandering through the market square, minding my own business and hoping that it didn't get much warmer - because the sun was begining to make me wish that I had dressed in a pair of shorts. The trouble with wearing shorts is that I really haven't got the legs for it these days. Have you seen them? These fellows who have what I call "Lucky Legs" - because they are lucky they don't snap. They invariably wear socks pulled right up to their knees too! "Lucky legs" - ha ha.

So, there I was, doing my nomadic impressions, gazing blankly at shop windows because they were all closed at half-past nine on a Sunday morning.

I hear a voice calling "Oy!" and take a quick look around behind me, but all I see are two young people coming out of an alley across the market place, a young couple.

"Huh," I think to myself. "They had better not be OYing at me! That's just bad manners," and I went on my pointless way.

"OY!" came a little bit louder, but I ignored it and went around a corner.

Two seconds later - "OY!" - and this was much nearer, so I turned to have a look and possibly even straighten someone up.

Pat was standing on the corner I had just traversed.

"Are you deaf?" asked she.

"Ooo," said I as I hugged her, "I thought it was someone else."

Back to the car, which was Tracey's, so that's why I hadn't seen it. I was expecting to see one of Rover's off-roaders, not a Japanese two door rabbit hutch.

"Hello Trace," said I as I squeezed into the back.

Well, off we went to a car boot sale, and when we got there the rest of the family were there, apart from Dennis - he was still working to provide the country with salad ingredients.

It's amazing how much stuff is sold at these affairs, and for so little dosh too. Just as well really, because all I had in my pocket was just over six quid. Still, you can get a lot of stuff at a boot sale for six quid - and Jade did! She wasn't the only one either. As far as I could see, we all did well as we purchased lots of stuff which we were not aware that we couldn't live without.

The picnic was nice, I cannot say otherwise, but it was hot.

So, (I've got to stop saying that - it's the Irish in me you know) So, we all sat about munching away and stoking the furnace for a busy afternoon - we were off to an open day.

To start with there was Welly Whanging, which I intended to go in for but needless to say that didn't happen. I managed to steal an apple from a tree but after one bite I wished I hadn't. It was nice and red, firm - and as dry as a funeral drum. Clearly THAT tree needs a couple more months before the fruit is ready.

There was terrier racing, but two of them caught the hare, one ran off to look for its owner and another decided to go the wrong way. At that point the organisers decided to get little kids to race along the track instead and great fun was had by all, especially in one race where the three bigger children were off like rockets and a tiny little boy ran after them yelling at them.

Turkeys smell a good bit, that's a fact.

By about three in the afternoon the heat had defeated me and I was kind of wandering aimlessly so we all packed up and the other car went off home - can't blame anyone for that, it was too hot.

Tracy brought me back and that was the end of a fairly hectic sort of day where I seemed to hardly stop and yet I didn't do very much of anything at all. Summer weather does that to people, it tires them out - much like dealing with the prison service, it's tiring and generally aimless.

I'm not out for another three weeks now. Should give me time to work out how to use the pocket watch I bought to adorn my weskit. Actually, I didn't buy it, Pat did, which was nice of her.

The odd part about it all is that later, as I lay on top of my bed waiting to be enfolded into the arms of Orpheus, I realised that I had actually enjoyed the day. So thank you to those who made it all possible, especially the little kid who came last and was yelling at those going faster than him - I know how you feel my boy.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I never actually met Cedric

I never actually met Cedric.

On Sunday just gone, I had to travel down to town under my own steam because the inestimable Patricia quite simply wasn't able to collect me as per. She has a trapped nerve in her neck which, amongst other things, is making sleep very difficult for her at the minute. Anyway, she couldn't pick me up at the gate as usual so I went down to town on the prison van with half a dozen other fellows heading for a day of wanderings around that huge metropolis which serves as the nerve centre for absolutely nowhere.

Got there and debussed (a great word, debussed - it should be given National Treasure status). So - I debussed at the railway station and wandered off into the haze to find the town centre.

It's a sleepy little place at the best of times and on Sundays it is practically comatose.

I finally found the market square - me, three pigeons and a couple of drunks sitting on the benches near the church there. That was it! That was my day more or less complete. There isn't a great lot to occupy an active mind in this town.

Then I saw that a charity shop had opened its doors for business so I went in there and perused the books - not to buy any, dosh is at a premium these days. I can only take a certain amount out with me - I think they must be Puritans who run the prison.

What is a Puritan? Someone who is frightened that somewhere, someone might be having a good time.

Anyway, once I had done that, I sat on the bench in the market place to blow smoke at the pigeons and to listen to a very entertaining slanging match between several drunks and junkies sitting inside the railings surrounding the church grounds. From what I could gather, one had taken more than his fair share of something or other and it had brought about a rude, crude and very acrimonious exchange which, while it entertained me, clearly caused those of a more genteel aspect to feel uncomfortable.

After a while, I even got tired of that, so I wandered about for a while and wondered about going back to the jail early when the phone in my pocket rang.

"Where are you?" she asked.

"Wandering about like a little lost lamb," said I.

"I will be there in an hour," said she. "Just let me put my gladrags on and wake Sara from her drunken sleep."

All right, okay, maybe those things weren't actually said, but the result was the same - they were coming to spend the day with me, so I went back to sit on the  bench to listen  to part two of the row, which now included three youngsters who had appeared on bikes.

Then my phone rang and, as I was sitting with my head down talking to Herman the Big Mug, a pair of feet passed - black, built-up shoes covered in pretty white pearl buttons. I obviously looked up to see who the feet belonged to - and it was a  bloke!

Then, across the road, dismounting from a bicycle, was a tall person, dressed in white with long red hair who turned as I watched - and revealed a ginger beard too!
By this time I was starting to feel that I had been transported to a scene from the Village People. Was it just me or could others see these weird and wonderful sights?

Thankfully, not long after that the rescue party arrived and they were three females - real ones too! You can never be sure these days, apparently.

Later, after a meal at our riverside bistro and sitting in the car in the market place, we all saw (so it wasn't just me) a person pass wearing a skirt and blouse, court shoes with hair in a pony tail but the face of an anorexic man.

Later I found out that this is Cedric, a famous figure around the area who minces about wearing ladies' stuff. He doesn't bother anyone apparently, just goes about doing his own thing.

"Jesus!" somebody said.

"Nah," said I. "He didn't have court shoes."

So, then we drove off to have some tea.

I never actually met Cedric, but I saw him in passing - just like ships that pass in the night.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Pigeon parole

Somebody needs to phone the Vatican because there has been a bit of a miracle. No, a farmer in Ohio didn't repay his loan, nor did a Brazilian plant a tree - this miracle is much more satisfying than that. The pigeon/fantail/dove which was savaged by a cat and which looked like it had been caught in a threshing machine has actually survived. Not only has it survived, but its feathers are starting to grow again and it has turned aggressive! Put it this way, the next cat that chances its arm will get a nasty shock - we taught the pigeon how to look after itself, and that despite the fact that it's got a had limp (in fact we were calling it "The Gimp", but it will never catch on). The point is, it left to go back home on Friday, no doubt glad to be free of durance vile. It has been paroled!

Well, that's my good deed for the century done. I can now go back to being the horrible, despicable, grumpy, anti-social prat that the prison service created - free and  gratis I might add!

I've still got a few birds in the pigeon loft, that I built at no expense whatsoever, and I've got three baby birds, squeakers as they are called, or squabs as the dictionary would have it. Two more coming too. I'll have more young birds than old ones at this rate. Notice that I am restraining myself from making cracks about old birds - well, at my age I don't want to start making any new enemies, do I?

Okay, that's the bird news out of the way, now to the more - er - mundane and less interesting stuff.

There is no news again this week, not a word - nothing, nada, zero, zilch, absolutely nowt, as they say in Yorkshire. Actually they  say "bugger all" but that's verging on the rude at nine on a Sunday morning, so I'm not saying that.

No news about the parole hearing, nothing about my National Insurance number or driving licence - nowt. I'm going for a day out next week, but I have no idea where to or what we will be doing. What I'd like to do is go to another car boot sale. The last one I went to was very small but fascinating just the same. It's quite amazing how much stuff people flog for next to nothing and how many things you find that you simply can't live without  - until you get them back to the car park and somebody says, "What did you buy THAT for? It's junk!" Well, they DO say that one man's junk is another man's treasure.

The other day, one of the governors said that there had been a security report that I had been seen getting into a black Range Rover with blacked-out windows. Somebody has been watching far too many DVDs, that's all I can say. Which is much what the governor said too, actually. A black Range Rover with blacked-out windows! Well, I'm still here, still trying to get some sense out of the system about my parole hearing and still doing my Doctor Dolittle impressions - or, as my pal would have it, "Doctor Do-fuck-all!" And  I think THAT's quite rude for a Sunday morning in August.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Invalids 'R' Us

On Monday evening, at about eight, when the jail is more or less winding down for the day and people are starting to think about getting their showers prior to retiring for the night, I was called to the wing office on the tannoy. One of the governors - I can't name him, because that causes palpitations of the security nerve that prisons have running through their veins. Anyway, the governor in question had brought a bird with him, a white fantail which had been severely savaged by a cat - blood all over the place and flesh ripped from its bones but still alive, just.

"Can you save it?" says he, to paraphrase.

"I'll have a go," said I.

"It's my favourite dove," said he.

"I'll do my best," said I.

He had brought a cage and all manner of medical stuff - antiseptic spray, cotton-wool and the like.

Off he went, and left myself and Naked to administer to the bird. We cleaned it up and settled it down for the night knowing full well that it didn't look good. However, if it could survive the night then it had a chance.

The bird was still alive the next morning and started drinking like a fish - always a good sign. By Wednesday morning it was starting to eat a bit and attempting to preen itself - another good sign. By Thursday morning it was all dried up, its wounds that is, and eating perfectly well, drinking well, preening and starting to grunt and try to pick fights with Naked every time he went into the cage to feed or water her.

On Friday morning, I had to go to the hospital to finally have my umbilical hernia done. I went down to theatre wearing very fetching paper knickers and anti-embolism socks and woke up a few hours later, all done. I came back to the shovel and pick at about six that evening and was still as high as a kite from the drugs that the hospital had filled me with.

They had asked, "Do you want pain-killers to take with you?"

"Nah," said the idiot. "I can't feel a thing, I'll be fine."

Back to my cell and Naked told me to go to bed, so I did - and that was me comatose until the following morning, when I woke up with several medieval torturers working steadily on my stomach and Naked fighting for his life in the corner with the dove, now renamed Lucky - although that didn't impress the governor.

Well, it's Sunday evening now and the bird goes from strength to strength while the only pain-killer I can get out of the medical people here is paracetamol - a lot of good THAT is. So, there's Lucky in one corner being tended to by Naked and there's me in another corner being tended to by Naked - and let me tell you, Nurse Of The Year he ain't. Rude, that's what he is. Any ladies who want a huge fellow for a boyfriend, let me know in a hrown envelope and I'll sort it out - no fees, just enough to cover my expenses, ho ho.
Actually, he's not doing a bad job - we'll both survive the ordeal. Okay, Lucky won't be so pretty as she was - and I never was. Luoky has got a limp - and I'm not too steady myself - but we'll survive, thanks to Naked. Patients 'R' us, I suppose - and Naked makes a lovely nurse, if you like your nurses about eighteen stones with fifty-four inch chests and a grin like a congenital idiot. Lucky and I will be fine by this time next week. Naked will never be fine. I'm not a medical doctor, but he's too far gone in my opinion.

Finally, how did he get the name Naked? It's a long story - I think it's better left to him to tell whoever may be dim enough to get him for a boyfriend. He wears girlie­-girlie socks sometimes - but I can't say much after spending two days wearing anti-embolism stockings. Very nice too, they were - blue. I joined the blue-stocking brigade for a while there.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tour de Frank

I had thought that I might find myself a nice fountain pen - I can't work modern things. Ha! I can't work my mobile phone. In fact, I struggle to work a bleedin' biro!  Anyway, as I have said, I thought I might find a decent fountain  pen, so I asked Pat to find a car boot sale for us to go to on my day out. Seeing as we were going to a boot sale, and he likes a good bargain (who doesn't?), Dennis was doing the driving. We had a nice day for it at least.

Not being able to use a mobile very successfully, I gave it to Pat when Andrew phoned up and they decided where to meet - the local football club or, as it is known by visiting supporters, "Where?". There is a large car park and an even larger field where a couple of dozen stalls had been set out, and of course I had to go and buy a couple of little hedgehogs! (Before anyone asks - the answer is, I don't know.)

Andrew found us, and we wandered and meandered - and, needless to say, I'm still looking for a fountain pen.

After that we all went into Boston where we wandered around the shops and I annoyed (or embarrassed) everyone by trying to do a deal by bargaining with a nice old girl in a charity shop. I've no idea what I wanted from her, but it seemed to be worth the negotiation.

Outside again, and everyone looking at me oddly - a fairly normal state of affairs for me really. We decided to wander to the riverside bistro mentioned last week - or was it the week before? - where I have now become a regular. So is everyone else there, I suppose.  Nice food on the terrace overlooking the river, very tasty, and  I had breakfast - not a bad trick at two in the afternoon. It's a sleepy little place on a hot Sunday afternoon, no two ways about it.

"Right!" said Andrew, when Pat and Dennis decided to drive off for greener pastures, "Let's go and get the car," - which he had left parked at the side of the road at the footy club - "and we will see how you get on with the bike!"

Now, at this point, I'd better point out that I was wearing a black go-to-church-on-Sunday suit!

"Just take off the coat, not to mention the shirt and tie, and tuck your socks around yer trews!"

Did that, no problem, and jumped on the mountain bike Andrew had brought down specifically for the purpose of finding out if I could break my neck in several places.

Bit of a shaky start - almost hit a barrier and almost took several layers of paint off Andrew's car - but, once I got the wind in my  hair, we were off! Up the track, through the park, ringing bells wildly at innoffensive perambulating Sunday strollers and along the river bank until we came to a lock thing. Negotiated that okay and drank a pint of ice-cold orange juice to replace lost liquid. Then it was back on the bike and disaster struck - and so did the lock gate. Took the skin off my arm, but I didn't cry and didn't ask to go to A&E. (Actually, I'm going to hospital next week for my umbilical hernia operatlon. This is either the third or fourth attempt, so I'm not expecting too much. I'll go, I'll either get done or I won't - we will see.)

A funny thing about riding a bike - you never forget how to do it really, and in no time I was zooming along at a rate of knots, thoroughly enjoying myself, bobbing and weaving, and didn't hit a single pedestrian, not once.

Finally, let me just say that I am impressed by Bradley Wiggins. Well done! But you ought to do something ahout those sideburns. In my younger days only teddy-boys wore such facial hair. You look like the Victorian Dad out of Viz!

However, be that as it may, Andrew has got me into bike riding now, so here is a message for young Bradley: keep looking over your shoulder because, sooner or later, you will hear the sound of tyres on tarmac - and that'll be me.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sunday morning, nine a.m.

I'm certain that many poets, philosophers and erudite writers have said everything that needs to be said ahout Sunday mornings at nine a.m., so I'm not going to add my bit. But there is something about Sunday mornings which encourages lassitude and idleness - a sort of acceptable inertia of the mind, body and, in many cases, the soul.  Sunday morning, the time of the week when we open our eyes at our leisure and know that there is nothing to get up for - nothing urgent anyway. We can wake at our own speed and, after a good, heartfelt sigh, we say to ourselves, "Oh well, I suppose I'd better get up and have a cuppa and get the day started."

Here at the Home for Gay Sailors, that describes matters in a most satisfactory and succinct way, although we DO have to get up early to sign on the roll so that the Powers-That-Be can see if anyone has decided to go home during the night.

I crawled out of my pit at just after six, made myself a nice cuppa, and sat there, with the above-mentioned cuppa and a fag, puffing away and contemplating the day ahead of me - a day full to the brim of not very much. I took my time waking up, of course, and at seven-fifteen, and after another cuppa and another fag, I got myself sorted out and dressed, then went out into the weak, morning sunshine.

I wandered (or should that be meandered?) up to where I had left my pigeon trap the previous evening, packed it all away and then wandered down to my pigeon loft. I changed the water for my thirty-eight birds, put feed out for them, and sat on my disreputable armchair with a burning fag, and just watched the birds feeding. I get a couple of ring-necked doves which come in the door too, but I ignore them - I've got enough to feed without them freeloading.

It's awfully pleasant to sit there, sheep bleating in the distance and the odd grunt from the nearby pigs. The birds feed and then go back to their perches and start fighting for territory, cooing and canoodling in many cases. I've got three pairs sitting on eggs now and they defend their nestboxes vigorously. It is just about on the verge of hypnotic - it is certainly soporific.

After a few minutes of pigeons pecking around my feet, I always begin to feel sleepy and am ready to nod off for my second shot at Sunday Morning Idleness. My advice to anyone who lives a stressful life during the week is to get themselves a pigeon loft.

So, rather than fall asleep there, I pulled myself together, ordered the pigeons to stop fighting - an order which they instantly chose to ignore - and then I wandered back to my little kennel, which I share with Naked. (All enquiries to be sent in a plain brown envelope containing treasury notes, thank you.)

"Oh," said I as I came in. "I see the ould O.C.D. has kicked in  then!" - because he had swept the floor.

He said, "I thought I'd empty the floor while you were out."

"No need for that," replied myself. "There was plenty of room to fill up yet!"

Then I sat down and started to feel sleepy again - it's the Sunday Morning Syndrome, that's what it is. Naked has got O.C.D., I've got S.M.S.

I shoved a tape on the stereo of seventies music, but it did no good - I still felt like going back to Bo-Peep, so I forced myself to get up, get my stuff sorted out and start hitting the keys. This is the result.

So, anyone who feels hard done by, all you need to do is get a  pigeon loft, get Naked to sweep the place out, and pretty soon you'll be like me - feeling idle, full of S.M.S. and contemplating Sunday morninlg, nine a.m.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fred Astaire? Meet Alexander Graham Bell...

There has been yet another crisis - or should that be hiatus? Either way, there has been one. The details are fairly academic now, of course, but the main thing was that I got nicked for it. (Nicked: placed on a governor's disciplinary report; under a cloud; before the beak explaining myself; pinched.)

I was accused of disobeying a lawful order. The fact that I wasn't actually given an order, lawful or otherwise, is neither here nor there - and besides, how can a person be ordered to do something that is voluntary? I refused to go on "home leave" to the hostel.

I explained matters to the Number One and he just cautioned me not to do it again, gave me back all of my days out and finished by saying, "For fuck's sake, go on home leave!"

I suppose I'll have to go next time - well, it's a tick in a box if it's nothing else.

So, I got all of my days out back and on Sunday I went out and about with Lucretia Borgia and Madame Tussaud - names witheld to prevent me getting a slap around the ear.  Had a good day too, thoroughly enjoyed myself. I even managed to walk around and worked my phone!

It was quite funny really. There we were, wandering around the shops (those that were actually open on a Sunday) and a phone kept ringing.

"Is that your phone?" mother asked daughter. "Because it's not mine."

I wandered on, oblivious. It rang again.

"I can hear a phone," said she, "but it's not mine."

"Not mine either," replied Lucretia.

More wanderings and the phone rang again. This time she was actually standing next to me.

"It's yours!" she accused.

"Is it?" asked myself innocently, and took it out of my pocket. It stopped. "It's stopped," said I and put it away again. The phone rang again.

"Answer the bloody thing then!"

I took it out. "Hello," said I.

"Turn the bloody thing on," I was ordered.

Poxy phones! Alexander Graham Bell should be dug up and whipped.

You know what I don't care much for? It is females who pretend that they are sparrows when they eat - or rabbits nibbling lettuce. Not so Mata Hari and Lily of the Lamplight - they got tucked into their plate of feed like storm troopers.

So, there we were, sitting on the riverside terrace, dining al fresco, and putting it away like a gang of navvies. After that we sat quaffing tea and chatting away -  very pleasant too, I might add. The bistro serving wench came out from time to time to see if we needed anything and I quite enjoyed it. I may  do it again one day soon.

The best part of the whole day was when I bought an umbrella. Needless to say, it didn't rain any more all day - but I gave a good impression of Fred Astaire in "Singing In The Rain".

I'm quite looking forward to going again in two weeks' time - unless something else untoward takes place. That's my first nicking since somewhere around the year 2000 - and that's a long time ago. I'm practically a saint these days.

So. I've got the Russian Hat, I've got the umbrella - where do I buy a bucket of sarin?

The Voice In The Wilderness

Friday, July 06, 2012

Living in the pigeon community

There has been a kind of hiatus.

Owing to the fact that I can't use real names - and that the prison  service is utterly paranoid at the best of times - I can't give all details, in detail, but what it boiled down to was that I  was banned from going to see my pal Buddy. I haven't done anything wrong and neither have the people who own Buddy done anything remotely objectionable - unless you find honesty unsavoury. No, we have done everything above board - the problem seemed to be that we have been too honest. What it all meant, as I say, was that I could no longer go for my rides on Buddy - no doubt he was pleased that a lump like me wasn't climbing on his back any more doing John Wayne impressions.

The fact is, my days out were suspended BUT... I could go on home leave to a hostel full of junkies and chancers - THAT was fully acceptable! It seems that it is so that I can prove that I can be placed back into the community. WHAT community? I have no intention of getting into the community of ratbags, junkies, chancers and grafters - I've been living in such a community for over twenty­-six years, and that's enough. The community I want to go and live in is that of the decent, honest, hard-working family sort - such as that where Buddy lives.

So, I told them, if I have to go back to living in the community of the nether world of criminals, then I want to do it in the area where I am known and where I know everyone - or their fathers.

"No no no!" was the cry. "We don't want you to do that!"

"Neither do I," said I. "So, let me go where a good, honest, decent lot of people are fully ready to support me."

The outcome is that I have had all of my days out re-instated. I can go back to riding Buddy but part of the deal is that I have to go to the hostel for three days, starting tomorrow.

Now don't misunderstand me, I'm sure that the hostel and those responsible for it are perfectly well-intentioned, but what their clientele say to them and what they say to me are two different things. The last time I was there I had one comedian offering to supply me with new shirts at a quid each and a couple of others asking me if I wanted to buy myself a "fix". Oh yes, all manner of chancers lying to everyone in sight so that they can avoid a three month jail sentence.

Well, it's all sorted out now. I have got things back on track, which means that next weekend I will be re-acquainting myself with Buddy. I've got to go to the hostel for three days in between now and then, of course, but that's easily managed - I'll simply go and spend the days parked up somewhere quiet, in the cathedral or somewhere, and read a book, just spending my sleepless nights at the hostel.

On a more interesting note, I have now got thirty-six pigeons and one baby woodpigeon in my loft in the old stables - and I've got to say I prefer the pigeons to the people. At least when a pigeon shits on you it only makes a little mess - easily cleaned up too. The little woodie is getting a bit cheeky - it will insist on sitting and sleeping on my chair! Has it any idea how much trouble I went to to GET that comfy chair?

I have taken to sitting comfortably in my chair, the woodie on my knee having his head scratched while we listen to the rest of the pigeons cooing, fighting and getting amorous with each other. There are several pairs creating their own little nest now. The sounds are so peaceful that they have become soporific.

I sit there and can hear the birds cooing and the sheep bleating, along with pigs grunting nearby and distant farm noises, sunlight creeping in through the door of my loft. Is it any wonder that I doze off a little? It's better than listening to "Today in Parliament" as a sleeping draught.

So, I'm going to spend the rest of today, sitting in the afore­mentioned sun, out of the wind, slowly becoming comatose as I listen to the noises of the creatures around me. Much better than listening to some of the creatures I'll have to listen to when I get to the hostel, that's for sure.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Weight watcher

When I first came to this prison from closed conditions, on December 29th of last year (2011), I weighed in at about 16 stones. I'm not exactly certain what that is in metric, but I think it is somewhere around 100 kilos.

Why have we got to use the metric system anyway? What was wrong with pounds and ounces? Come to that, what was wrong with pounds, shillings and pence? From what I can see, the only benefit from the changes has been a devalued currency that we don't even belong to! However, this is not about Europe or the financial institutions robbing everyone blind - this is about healthy stuff.

So, in December of 2011 I was about sixteen stones. It was a rough ould winter in many ways, especially here at the Home for Gay Sailors. At one point we had over a foot of snow and temperatures of about minus sixteen! That's definitely a bit on the King Billy side - even penguins were eating hot dogs. (Incidentally, why do polar bears never eat penguins? They can't get the wrappers off! Ha ha - oldies but goodies, just like me.)

Did I let the cold and inclement weather stop me? Certainly not. I came from closed conditions where I got out of my kennel for  an hour a day if I was lucky - no wonder I put so much weight on. On top of the lack of exercise, they fed us on stodge - bread and puddings and other wall-building materials. Here at the H for G S's, we get next to no bread and I can get outside from the crack of dawn each day whatever the weather - and I did.

The result is that last Thursday I went to the healthcare and parked myself on the scales to discover that I am now fractionally under twelve stones! Brilliant! I should get a medal at the Olympics - it might he more entertaining than the opening ceremony.

I'm dreading the opening ceremony - it will be very poor and show us up to the rest of the world as completely void of ideas and imagination. We won't be a patch on the magnificent spectacle the Chinese put on in 2008.

So, twelve stones eh? My clothing fits and the pressure has gone from my knees because they are not lugging around all of that excess weight. I can walk and stay on my feet all day with little effect - just the odd ache at the end of a long day catching all manner of birds.

I only want the pigeons - I let the rest go. There are two ring-necked doves which insist on getting themselves captured in my trap. I tell them, "Bugger off, again!" But they keep coming back and being captured. There are several woodies too - and I've lost count of the number of dim but enormously entertaining starlings I've captured and released. Sometimes I think they just let me catch them for a laugh.

The other day, as I sat waiting to spring the trap, a hare hopped up to me - no more than twelve feet from me in fact - and just sat there staring at me! I thought it was looking for a fight. In the end, after maybe as long as two minutes, it just casually hopped on its way. And the next evening, a little leveret came into my pigeon loft, had a drink at the pigeons' water trough, hopped UNDER my feet, and went about its business. I've lost count of the various finches and other birds that think I am running a soup kitchen for all waifs and strays.

Another bonus of the weight loss is that no matter how far I walk, I don't get out of breath - and I'm getting a nice tan too, though not with the recent monsoon weather.

So, what is the moral to the story?

A good question, and I'm glad you asked. There is no moral apart from - keep away from closed prisons. In fact, keep away from all prisons and avoid dim-witted ring-necked doves - they just sit there sniggering, even after you have opened the trap to let them free.

Why should we bugger off? The food is free!
There are a few prisoners in here like that - why should they put themselves out and actually do anything constructive? There are some who don't even like washing themselves...
The Voice In The Wilderness

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Pigeon Man of North Sea Camp

Well, as per usual, there is no news as yet whether I'll be able or allowed to go to Buddy's ranch for my overnight stays - my so-called home leaves - which may have to be spent at a hostel instead. How can a stay at a hostel be called a home leave? Let's forget about the people I would be expected to live with in an unfriend1y and impersonal setting, and the town (or is it a city) which I had hoped never to see again - let's just forget all  that.

Well, nobody ever said it would be easy.

Ha! I'm now the owner of the unofficia1 title of "Pigeon Man". I've built a pigeon loft, I've made cages and - Da-daaa! - I've even captured my first fourteen pigeons. Well, there WAS fourteen - one got away on Saturday. As soon as I get it back, I'll make it my first Cat A pigeon.

It's all being done in the old stable block, and I have done it all in my retirement by recycling all manner of wood, broken lockers and various bits of mesh found abandoned all around the farm and environs. The powers that be are quite delighted at my industry and scavenging AND they are discussing creating a place for raptors and another for exotic birds. I suppose that means things like parrots, cockatiels and maybe budgies.

However, I'll be "The Pigeon Man".

The project, as I put it to the governor, is that I will arrest every pigeon around the place, a suggestion which delights the farmer and gardener - and everyone else who is being robbed blind by the creatures. I won't bother the ring-necked doves or the woodpigeons - or any other birds - just the pigeons. I shall breed the older birds and when I get young birds out of them, in the August sitting, I shall give the older birds to the raptor man to feed the raptors and train the younger birds to the loft. Then the governor will get me several pairs of white doves to breed. The plan is to rent out these doves - when I've got enough of them - to wedding planners to be released at weddings in the area. Of course the white doves will be trained by then simply to fly back to their loft - my loft - ready for the next wedding.  Oh yes, the governor can clearly see that it is a nice little earner.

So, I am "The Pigeon Man".

Yesterday I went to Buddy's for the day, and enjoyed myself immensely. Went and did a bit of shopping, bought myself a pair of shoes and went into a shop which sells everything for a quid! (Not the shoes - they were a bit more expensive.)

I got four items and when I got to the check-out till I only had £3.50p in change and a twenty pound note. Dennis was with me, so I said to a rather nice young girl on the till, "I've only got either three and a half quid or a twenty. If you settle for the three and a half quid I'll give you a kiss - you won't get a better deal than that anywhere."

The young girl was blushing but clearly enjoyed the joke.

Anyway, she took the three and a half quid but didn't want the kiss. It just goes to show - youngsters of today don't know a good thing when they see one. Where else could you get a kiss for 50p?

In the afternoon I went for a ride on Buddy and got on and off without the aid of my usual geriatric crate - I felt quite pleased about that.

So, will I get home leaves to Buddy's ranch?

A good question - and we are waiting for word from The Wallace on the subject. We can only hope for the best.

In the meantime, I'll continue catching the pigeons in my own, hand-made, self-designed pigeon trap.  I'm "The Pigeon Man" now you know!

The Voice In The Wilderness