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

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Come rain, come shine

Last Sunday, the monsoon took the day off and, when I opened my eyes, the sun had decided to cooperate and make the day as pleasant as possible for me (and anyone else desiring a respite from damp and mildewed teeth). I was collected at the gate as usual by one of Rover's better products being driven by Lucretia Borgia, that well-known smile on legs, accompanied by her mummy, Buddy's owner. We stopped at Asda or Tesco - I don't know the difference, but apparently the discount comes in handy.

On arrival at the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang's hideout I ran into Harvey and Dennis, who had stopped stripping the local flora for a quick cuppa. It didn't take long before Miss Holbeach 1998 turned up, grinning her grin - always a pleasure to see.

"Hello," says she.

"Hello," said I, never one to let a good idea slip by.

So it was me, Jade and Harvey cooking the dinner for the evening repast, cottage pie - we couldn't find any shepherds. It's all bollocks really - there are no cottages in cottage pie, there are no shepherds in shepherd's pie and the ratatouille is not worth mentioning.

Where was I? Yes, after we had the food gently simmering away and being tasted every eighteen seconds by Jade, we went out to sit in the sun. I'm tricky, I admit it. The facts are simple. I didn't do the cooking at all, all I did was a bit of chopping and presenting of advice where requested. Everything was done by Jade and Harvey - chef, chef's assistant and me, chopper and pot-washer.

Then we gave Buddy a brush down, fed him on carrots and polo mints, shoved the saddle on his back and off we went. He was well behaved this week - even got a trot out of him coming back.

The feed was excellent - even fussy Mark had some, and he never eats anything that isn't spelled like pizza. After that, we were sitting chatting as usual, when it suddenly became clear that it was time to change for my trip back to durance vile. The day had been so pleasant I hadn't even noticed it was passing. I even made friends with Portia, and she usually just wants to remove my legs in one bite.

That was Sunday. Next day was another tale. To start with, it was pissing down when I opened the curtains. Okay, all right, seeing as I am attempting to become a decent memher of society I suppose I need to rephrase that sentence. It was raining heavily when I opened the curtains. (Hasn't quite got the same meaning, has it?) So, I got myself dressed like a pox doctor's clerk and off I went in the van to the hospital to be attended to by a mad slasher, better known as the surgeon.

I presented myself at the surgical ward, was shown to my bed and a few minutes later a nurse arrived and said, "Somebody has made a mistake!"

"Probably me," saId I. "I've done it before."

"You've been given the times for afternoon surgery but you are down for morning surgery. It's all wrong!"

"Welcome to my world," said I.

"We will have to reschedule as soon as possible," said she.

"Oh well," said I, "that's another clean shirt ruined."

I was back in the van at fifteen minutes past eleven and back in the prison just after half-past - another mission aborted. So, all that will have to be done again - let's hope it's better weather next time.

I am hoping for another sunny day next weekend, when I fully intend to make Buddy obey me - with the help of two carrots and a full packet of polo mints. If only the powers that be could be so easily satisfied - they want an arm, a leg, thirty pints of blood, forty pieces of silver and a golden tick in an invisible box.

Still, could be worse - I could be deserted in a pub by David Cameron for half an hour.
The Voice In The Wilderness

A good week

Everyone likes to sit back at the end of the week now and then, smile contentedly and say to himself (or herself), "You know what? I've had a good week this week."

It happens too! We do get to say it, now and then.

However, mostly we seem to spend each week lurching from chaos, blind panic and disaster to utter disaster - and that's on a good week!

Okay, we can get a little stressed out from time to time - but we can live with that. After all, wasn't it Anton Chekhov who said:

Any idiot can face a crisis. It is the day-to-day living that wears you out.
Well, we get these little knocks and setbacks from time to time and, the good Lord knows, I've had my share. Do I let it worry me? Not a bit of it. I simply dust myself off, take a firmer grip on the greasy pole of life and start climbing again. Put it this way - you can knock me down, but you'll never get me to stay there.

From all of the above, a blind man would be forgiven for thinking that some snippet of bad news was coming - it's not. The thing is that I have been trying to get the PTB (Powers That Be) to allow me to go to Buddy's country residence for my home leaves. After all, I go there for my days out, no problems! But, as matters stand at the minute, it isn't allowed. No home leaves for me unless I go to a hostel and surround myself with junkies - provided they can find a spare bed for me amongst such delectable fellows. I can still go for days out of course!  But does that bit of poor intelligence mean that I have had a bad week?

Not really.

My mail may have all but dried up entirely - I have no idea why - but the sun has been out for most of the time (it's pissing down as I write) and I've got a nice tan. The PTB here at the Home for Gay Sailors have more or less agreed to allow me (and a couple of others, I expect) to keep piqeons, ornamental doves, parrots and other exotics and raptors - it's being organised. I've got my weight down to twelve and a half stones and the operation on my umbilical hernia has heen rescheduled for later this month, so things ain't so bad, I suppose.

So, can I say that I've had a good week this week? Well, I haven't had a bad one - and I've certainly had a lot worse. But have I had a good one? Maybe I'll be able to say it with more conviction next week, eh?

The Voice In The Wilderness