Thursday, January 31, 2013

The creeks and inlets are filling

Arthur Hugh Clough wrote:
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back through creeks and inlets making
Comes silent, flooding in, the Main.
It is a verse from his poem "Say Not The Struggle Nauqht Availeth". Well, for many many years I could identify with it, but these days things seem to have speeded up a little bit at last - FINALLY!

Oh I was always aware that people were working away to assist me in the background and behind the scenes, but there seemed to be little to show for it all. However, in recent times it seems that the tide has certainly turned and the tired waves are finally filling the creeks and inlets - ticking the correct boxes - and the Main is silently reaching high tide.

Last week I wrote that I had been given the paperwork which effectively seemed to be a get-out-of-jail pass - a recommendation for  my release - all we were therefore waiting for was a date for the Parole Board hearing.

I've got that date now - March 5th. That is just over five weeks away and, as far as I know, there is a bed already for me at the hostel.

So, provided that fickle ould whore Lady Luck minds her own business and concentrates her vindictive attention elsewhere, I will be finally released a couple of weeks after the hearing, so I expect to be a relatively free man around mid-March.

Wonderful! Not before time too.

On March 5th I shall be four days short of twenty-seven years in the dubious hospitality of Lizzie Windsor and her minions - it's enough. Even for a guilty man, it's enough.

So, watch this space. I expect developments soon.

I've seen a fox!

The other day, mid-week, I was wandering through the snowy fields when a large, grey dog-fox sprang up about thirty or forty feet in front of me and went running off along the dyke in that gait only a fox can use. I followed it, of course, and found its prints where it had gone to ground in a bramble bush.

Foxes are all very well, but they can take animals, lambs and hens and other small creatures, so I made it my business to put the fox OUT of business. I started following trails and tracks to discover where its den was, and saw the vixen the following day. That meant that there was a fair chance of cubs too, somewhere. I found the den and wanted to put a snare up to catch the fox but that's not allowed - seeing as it wasn't on prison land it was even more frowned upon.

"Find the den," I was told. "We will block the holes and gas it."

"Found it," said I, "but it's not on prison land."

"Not a thing we can do about it then," was the reply.

End of my fox-hunting episode. The fox is safe as far as I am concerned.

The tired waves may be breaking for me and slowly filling the creeks and inlets, but as far as the fox is concerned Arthur Hugh Clough was barking up the wrong creek and inlet and the tide is a long way from shore.

Still, once I am gone from here, if the fox should begin to be a problem, it won't be mine.

My trouble is that I actually like foxes. I see them as the under-dog, and being an under-dog myself for so long, I sympathise. After all, it's just doing its thing really.

Aaaah - say not the struggle naught availeth.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The last tango...

And so the dance begins.

I have had a document from the Parole Board, via my solicitor, to inform me that the board has decided that I must have an Oral Hearing and three hours are to be set aside for it. I don't have an actual date yet but speaking to The SS on Thursday last she said that she expected me to be out by the end of March - and that is a matter of a mere few weeks in the grand scheme of things. After almost twenty-seven years, a few more weeks is neither here nor there and will hardly register really. It will pass soon enough. Apparently I will be expected to go to a hostel but only for a maximum of two months - I am clearly not hostel material. At the same time, clearly I still have certain boxes to be ticked and the probation service need a couple of months of me in a hostel just to be sure of their ground. They have no fears of anything  going wrong, as I don't myself, but I suppose they have to go through the designated motions for their own peace of mind. Anyway, those two months will be spent with me organising my own place of abode, wherever that may be.

There is still no certainty about where I will be allowed to settle, not yet. Lincolnshire Probation Service have yet to accept me, if indeed they decide to do that. If they don't then I shall be going up to be under the control and tender, caring hands of the Northumbria mob - The SS and The Wallace. An idea, incidentally, which I do not find at all as repugnant as I do that of the local hostel, but I may be given no choice in the matter.

The Parole Board have stated that they require the attendance of several people to discuss my release prospects - so we shall see.

I spent four days last week at the local hostel and it wasn't too bad really, just a bit cold. Mind, it's cold everywhere at the minute, and set to get colder - more snow and all that goes with it. The best place for snow is on Christmas cards.

In the meanwhile, the two goats that are left are doing well and are becoming more friendly by the day - as are the alpacas really, but they are not so friendly at all, although friendlier than they were when they arrived here.

My pigeons are just that - my pigeons. Still living the life of Reilly, eating the best of chicken corn and staying in the loft most of the day out of the cold - but who can blame them for that? I was sitting down there today after I got back (early) from my latest (and last) town visit, and they were strutting around my feet, fighting as usual. I have no idea what will happen to the birds after I am gone from here but I feel sure that someone will want to take them on and look after them.

So, one more home leave to the local hostel next month and that will be that - all boxes duly ticked, everything done that has been asked of me and, provided nothing outrageously silly happens between now and·my appearance before the board, I shall be a free (-ish) man by March.  All I have to do now is wait for the Parole Board to set a date. So I shall sit here patiently while they do that.

And so the dance begins - the last tango in Boston!

The Voice In The Wilderness

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Your goats ate my jacket!

I've got to go to the hostel at the city again tomorrow for five days, which works out at four nights. Look on the bright side, at least I may get a decent night's sleep for a change, but I'm not gambling on it. Well, junkies wandering about at all hours - who can tell what may happen?

That's not the end of it by any means! Next month I have to go for a further five days, and I have asked for none of them. It's all about the right ticks in the right boxes, nothing more, in preparation for my appearance before the Parole Board, whenever that may be. Anyway, I shall wander around the city for five days, slowly allowing my mind to degenerate into something bordering on acute insanity, and then return to the world of barmy goats.

I'm glad you mentioned goats - I have a couple of things to say on the subject.

As anyone who reads this puerile drivel on a regular basis will be fully aware, I had three goats - two little white ones and a little black one. I've been a bit under the weather for the last week or so and not been going to see the goats as often as is my wont, but the other day the little black one died. Nobody knows why, and I had always thought that goats were fairly tough characters - only canaries pop their clogs for no good reason. But goats do it too, apparently. So the black one died leaving the two white ones, who have now taken to escaping at every opportunity. The other day they escaped out of my yard and got into the yard next door, which is the realm of the pig boys.

The pig chappies have a little office - very nice and cosy too. The goats got into the office and managed to pull a jacket off a hook and rip it to bits.

The pig boy said to me, "Hoy! Your goats ate my jacket!"

Said I, "What are you telling me for? Tell the goats."

Every morning the pair of miscreants come for their strokes and feed and then, as soon as they think nobody is watching them, off they go, seeking escape routes and things to chew. My trousers are popular apparently, not to mention my hat and anything else they can get their neat little teeth into. The tops of my wellies must be very tasty too.

I haven't mentioned my alpacas. They don't do anything beyond eat and then eat a bit more. They don't eat until they are full, they eat until they are tired.

The pigeons are just that - pigeons - who go their own way but spend most of the time in or around the loft and not bothering anyone, although a couple seem to have decided to·move in with the goats for some strange, unfathomable purpose of their own. A couple have moved in with the alpacas too, so maybe they are conducting their very own diaspora - who can tell how a pigeon's mind works? I'll say this much for them, they build very neat nests.

So, tonight I shall be packing away a few odds and sods into my new suitcase ready to catch the train in the morning. Five days of me refusing the advances of junkies: "Pssst! Pssst! Want to buy some cheap shit?"

It's all character-building, of course. Absolutely useless as an introduction into society, but who am I to carp!

What I don't learn this coming week, I can learn next month and who knows, with a bit of luck, this time maybe my goats won't eat anyone's stuff.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Saturday, January 05, 2013


Let me put it this way - it pissed down.

Don't get me wrong. I am not averse to bad weather at all - I quite like a bit of cold, it reminds me that I am still alive and that my circulation is still working. But I don't like rain. It leaves a feller pissed wet through, uncomfortable and feeling that the best place for rain is on postcards. However, if this was Ethiopia then a person would pray for the very thing I am slagging off.

The alpacas and pygmy goats are doing well, or at least they are still alive - which is more than the idiot trying to annoy me will be if he doesn't bugger off and get a job. (I shouldn't say such things - it's bad for my sentence planning.)

No further news about the parole hearing as yet but, like everything else in the prison system, it's only a matter of time.

Next weekend I am off out for the day, but there is nothing of any consequence planned beyond getting a decent lunch and buying myself a suitcase in preparation for going off to that den of sin and iniquity which is the hostel.

So, here I am, December 30th, just one more day to the start of yet another year in durance-vile, as the poets would say - but this one will be the last one. I often had my doubts that such a day would ever arrive, but it has. You can break the clock but you cannot stop the time.

2013... It all started in 1986, and that's a long time in anyone's calendar. Am I resentful about it all? Of course I am - time can't be recovered, it's the one thing we cannot avoid, the passage of time. Ever since the very first creatures crawled out of the primordial swamp and developed the ability to think, they have tried to find ways to stop the time, to retain the elusivenes of youth, but  so far everyone has failed. We see it all the time - creams, unguents, draughts of the elixir of life and all the rest of it. None of it has done a blind bit of good because sooner or later along comes the Grim Reaper with his weapon of mass descruction and, before we know where we are, we are paying Charon for the ride across the river - and let·me tell you now, he doesn't accept bus passes. Still, that's a long way off. 1've got no plans in that direction, not for thirty years or more yet.

2013... A new year and a new start for all of us and, although I am fully aware of the fact that my time in prison is all but over, there are an awful lot of people I will be leaving behind me when I go - as  I have seen many others go, of course, over the years. There are so many good fellows in jail - the Ordinary Decent Criminals or ODCs (as opposed to the Fiddling Fraternity). I am certain that many folk will recoil at me using such a term, understandably, but there really are a lot of decent fellows in jail - Ordinary, Decent, Criminals. Some have enormous numbers of years ahead of  them. It will be a long time before they find themselves in the same position I am in now, but they will, they will. There are some, of course, who even I wou1dn't let out under any circumstances, but let's not go down that particular road, not just now.

What I really want to do, I suppose, is wish everyone who reads me a very prosperous and happy New Year, and I mean that sincerely, not just words that we all say by rote, I really mean it.

So, let's see how next year turns out. This one didn't tun out too bad at all really. Happy New Year.

The Voice In The Wilderness

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

My Christmas presents

I got a Christmas present.

It came a week early but was still as welcome for a' that. I was handed the addendum report to accompany my parole reports and it had been written by (or concerned the reports of) the Offender Supervisor here at the Home for Gay Sailors and my my ould pal The Wallace! Actually it was The SS who wrote it but the Wallace's hand is quite visible somewhere in there.

The upshot is that I am recommended for parole, to be released to the hostel in the city. Now, to be fair, there isn't always a space available and, even if there is, the local Probation Service are not bound to accept me. Let's face it, others wouldn't (and who can blame them?). However (and this is the bit which tells me that I am being fully supported in my application), if it should prove that I cannot go to  the local hostel, for whatever reason, then The Wallace/The SS state quite categorically that there IS a space for me in the North East. Okay, nobody wants me there because of criminal associates and my former life of anti-social money grubbing, but the desire to have me released seems to outweigh the desirability of location. I don't really mind I suppose, wherever I go I shall make a success of it, despite what any doubting Thomas may think.

So, provided that nothing goes drastically tits-up between now and my appearance before the board, it's just a matter of time, which could be measured in weeks I shouldn't wonder. Almost twenty-seven years and I am finally on the cusp of shaking off the dust and smell of prison, which I should never have tasted in the first place.

Is that the end of the news?

Not a bit of it.

Last week I had additions to my zoo. Lincoln Prison has closed down its inner city farm, and this place asked for the animals. Although we didn't get them all, what we got were two alpacas and three pygmy goats. I cleared out two stables, with the assistance of a fellow who wouldn't be out of place in "The League of Gentlemen" or Royston Vasey. So now I am in command of three stables in a block and not a horse in sight. The first is the North Sea Camp Rescue Centre, the second is the goat house and the third  is the alpaca shed.

We were given to understand that the alpacas were a bit of a handful - truculent and liable to spit. Not a bit of it - they are as good as gold and eat out of our hands. The three goats, Blood, Sweat and Tears, are brilliant - into everything, seem to quite like people and are easy to handle. They eat out of our hands too, not to mention anything else they can get their teeth into. We are feeding them just about anything we can get our hands on - the gardener WILL be pleased when he finds out.

That's where I spend my days now, including Christmas and Boxing Days. It's really pleasant down there - nobody to bother me, a steady stream of tourists coming to view the exotica and an idiot who seems to think keeping gates closed is against his human rights.

So, all things taken into consideration, I had a nice selection of presents for Christmas. I can't complain at all - and not a glimpse of that ould whore Lady Luck nowhere. Next year will be better, so may I take this opportunity to wish all of my friends, and those who have nothing better to do apart from read my weekly drivel, a merry Christmas and a good, sound, prosperous New Year.

Thanks for all the Fish.

The Voice In The Wilderness