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