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