An update on civvy street – what is life like after prison

7 Jan

ex prisoner diary blog disgraced banker

disgracedbanker

It’s been a little while since I posted last. My life has moved on, framed by experiences and educated by mistakes.

I believe that failure is the only education an entrepreneur gets – so you better listen to the teacher.

I moved away from writing on my prison experiences and commentary on the banking sector, as I wanted to make a life as far removed from the Sin City as possible. I try to communicate with old friends but am always wary that a bad choice in their own life will suck me under too. I’m a married man now, that girl who wrote to me every day, now holds my hand every night asleep. I had been out of prison a month or two and struggled to find work; so was blessed with some considerate family and friends to let me work on building sites, doing some labouring and…

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An update on civvy street – what is life like after prison

7 Jan

It’s been a little while since I posted last. My life has moved on, framed by experiences and educated by mistakes.

I believe that failure is the only education an entrepreneur gets – so you better listen to the teacher.

I moved away from writing on my prison experiences and commentary on the banking sector, as I wanted to make a life as far removed from the Sin City as possible. I try to communicate with old friends but am always wary that a bad choice in their own life will suck me under too. I’m a married man now, that girl who wrote to me every day, now holds my hand every night asleep. I had been out of prison a month or two and struggled to find work; so was blessed with some considerate family and friends to let me work on building sites, doing some labouring and for another do some admin work. Not what I had aspired to when I left University for the big smoke in 2005, but for the first time in my life I felt like a rich man with a couple of hundred quid in my pocket every Friday. It gave me the chance to save a little, and now I run a small sole trading business that pays our rent and keeps us stocked in a nice bottle of red once a week. I’m an uncle, I have my health and I’ve made new memories frequently. Spurs are still struggling to be a decent footballing side – some things never change.

It was a few months into doing odd jobs on building sites, that an offer of doing electrical testing popped up. I attended the interview more nervous than I have been before when sat down with fund managers. I established they were looking for an external company to outsource all of their testing work and not just an employee. Fortune favours the bold and in seconds, thats exactly what I was. I had my own safety testing company.

One thing no one can take is the education of spotting an opportunity.

My wife at the time had told me to not give up on using my brain or being afraid of business ventures. One mistake in the business world at 26/7 should not cap ambition. She was right – I had become insular in my attitude toward working for myself ever. Scared to put a foot wrong, I was wasting opportunity but so far not one company had offered me a job when I admitted from the outside I had a criminal record.

Here’s an educated young man, smartly turned out, well spoken and completely unemployable to those with little time to experiment with an ex-offender. It highlighted a problem once more that your punishment does not end. High insurance premiums, struggling to get a bank account, can’t get a job; the list is a lot longer than I can pen at this time. This is why prisons are a merry-go-round.

With no chance of being employed, the only solution for those with a bit of self motivation is to work for yourself. In fact those ex offenders I still speak to who have an income not derived from the Department of Social Security, work for themselves. Who would have thought that the so-called entrepreneurial driven economic recovery is being fuelled by old lags.

I drive through many town’s on business these days and often spot those Victorian walls that define a prison – the memories will never fade; and I wonder for a moment what life is like for those that will depart one day. Will they find a chance or will they get swept under the social injustice hoover once more. Conscious that this blog has strong SEO and is still read by thousands every year, if you find this post and want a chat about how you can build a life for yourself on the outside, you can message me and you’ll find an open set of ears. If you need advice on how to get on, check out Unlock an ex-offender charity organisation set up to help those on release. http://www.unlock.org.uk

Drop me a message on Twitter @disgracedbanker

Kweku Adoboli / UBS/ The week review

23 Nov

UBS weak link Kweku Adoboli, saw himself star down the barrel of a 7 stretch this week in a dock once graced by I, at Southwark Crown Court.

Having already served over  a year of his sentence, he must now while away another 2 and a half years, although come the summer he will be allowed to begin home and town leaves. Quite how devious or truly criminal he is, is a topic that has been left in the calm, hysteria free hands of the  The Sun, The Mirror and the Daily Mail.

For many outside of the City of London, this was one of a number of obvious calamities still being committed by the arrogant swaggering bowler hat types.

Is Kweku really a criminal in the true caricature style we associate them with? His swag bag seemed a little empty for a man who is accused of a £1.4 billion fraud; for this isn’t a fraud with the intention to steal £1.4 billion, merely corporate financial manslaughter, where a sledgehammer was being used to crack nuts. What does 7 years buy you in other walks of life?

7 years is the average total sentence of Rapists in the UK.

7 years allows you to kill a man driving dangerously with intent.

7 years allows you to stab a man in the neck with a bottle for GBH.

Kweku will serve 7 years for doing his job badly in an environment where blind eyes were turned when the money came in.

Perhaps those blind eyes should too be punished, for creating the conditions and culture where deceit, and smokes and mirrors are employed.

As is likely, UBS will see no more criminal imprisonments amongst their staff. They will pay large fines and duck down below the parapet again for a number of years, before the next cataclysmic economic asteroid rocks the financial capitals of the World; where they hope their mistakes are the least and they can join the queue without making regulatory eye contact.

In the meantime Kweku will don the green trousers of a prison orderly, tamed –  for now.

I walk the streets of London once again, but these days my attire is a little more blue collar. My hands have paint and the callouses upon my palms are no more a Cityboy’s than they are a writer’s. Time moves every bit as fast once more, I wish I had some time to stop and reflect upon my life. A one year sabbatical seems a nice idea again:)

 

The Diary Ebook – Amazon Release : Prison Diary of a Stockbroker

19 Nov

For those who fancy reading the prison diary ebook, it is now available on Amazon Kindle at:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Banker-Bang-Up-ebook/dp/B00A9VGUP4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353365555&sr=8-1

There are a few bits extra forming an expanded foreword.

I shall be penning more on the life of the young broker in the New Year, I hope it is as well read as the prison blog. Thank you for all your feedback and comments and continue to welcome communication from those seeking advice.

Buy the Amazon Version of the prison diary

Update File Part 1

18 Nov

Life moves on at a hundred miles an hour once more. It’s been a year since my release although still some months shy of the end of my term. Still in probation, still a bad moment from prison.

 

I was googling away some time this week, only to see an article on a former Alumni of mine at HMP Wandsworth. The Barber, our friend.

 

That man who’s name I didn’t mention was in fact Tony Morris. The Ex GP Noble Chief Exec and a man who has spent the last 3 years or more fighting an uphill struggle even before he got to trial. Extradited from Australia, having spent a year on remand in a Supermax Down Under and facing a £52 million fraud accusation – he beavered away making himself as useful to others as possible in South West London’s least pleasant pastures. A friend to whomever required one; a kind and classy Gentleman.

It was here in the evenings he would read through ream after ream of court papers, concerned for the future. To he, an innocent man is facing his third year in high security prison, yet to be found guilty of a crime – what hope would most of us have in the same circumstances?

I had a conversation with him one day, where we discussed him ‘taking it on the chin’ for the better prospect of release in less than 10 years. How insane, how remarkably desensitized one becomes when surrounded by lifers terms; that we can contemplate giving a decade of our lives away, for  a crime one hasn’t committed. What kind of stress does one face for that be his daily poser? For those with little in the way of insight of the workings of the criminal justice system ; take this as an example.

Tony Morris is cleared of all wrong doing. Tony Morris is an innocent man, who has faced abusive prison officers; mistreatment; violence; bankruptcy and lost years of his children’s lives – for a prosecution team who were not in town to seek the truth but to ensure they won their battle.

This man was days away from lying under oath. This man was seconds from breaching his religious views. This judiciary put him in a position where he may need to lay his hand upon his sacred book and commit the only true sin in this episode.

Tony was stronger than all of this; he fought to clear his name and won. I hope he can regain what he has lost. But I’ll raise a glass to you tonight Tony, you can stop cutting hair now:)

The End of Time

11 Jun

My names on the board for release…I’m told by Paul, an Orderly for the Offender Management  Unit.

 

“When’s your release date?” He asks.

 

“Monday” I tell him.

 

“Well you’ll only be a couple of days after that at worse – you just need another Governor’s signature”

 

Oh great and there’s me worrying I won’t get out on time.

To think the only thing stopping me from being released and going home to my family, is a member of staff writing their name.

 

Before leaving Ford, I decide to tie up some loose ends and make an appointment to see the Dentist after a knock to my face sees me with a loose tooth. Not something I’ve experienced since my childhood and I doubt tooth fairies get through reception here.

 

I try to book an emergency Dental appointment, but I get to see neither a Doctor nor a Dentist – I get a ‘Gordon’. Who or what a Gordon is I am unsure precisely, but I suspect he is little more than an eminently qualified hospital porter who just happens to have lived a life of wide-ranging bizarre and medically interesting episodes. In reality he is a filter for those seeking to waste the time of Healthcare and perhaps opt out of work for the day, but for a week of free treatment remaining I can do without this avenue. Unsurprisingly, he has no valid input for me regarding my dental concerns, as you would expect of a man no more a Dr, than David Tennant. I take two paracetamol; call home and book an appointment with my local surgery.

 

A week flicks by and George has set off on his first home leave. He has secured a single cell and I await my final day in prison. I’ve kept up with my writing and R and I are as strong as ever. Regular visits, time together and a devotion to the simple somewhat forgotten pleasure of a handwritten note have done us proud.

 

Written September 20 – 2011

“I love you.

My love diminishes nothing, yet reaffirms itself everyday.

And everyday I only know one thing for sure – you are exactly right for me.

Only you can be my complete companion.

How I miss you and how it’s hurt.

It feels so long this time apart but its medicated in the knowledge that thee WILL be a time I can sit by your side, hold your hand and look you in the eye.

Then I shall say to you, the next time I leave you for so long, throw a single rose upon my coffin – because I shall be yours’ for life.”

………………………………………..

Today is the day I had expected to step out the front gate – alas the celebration has been delayed by a day. I can cope and am busied by doing my ‘paperchase’. That elusive administrative milestone that I too now look upon as a right of passage. My kit returned, I do my goodbyes.

 

Spending time with some of the faces whose company I’ve genuinely enjoyed, I finish my evening doing one final prison workout with my buddy Jamie. Little more than 12 hours from release, I finish my sentence in the way I began it. A pen in hand, I write away the hours. I’m pleased I’ve logged and diarised my every day. I wonder if I will look back over this some time in the future. Maybe a lonely old man sat in a musty, dusty lounge, I shall occupy my time by reading this again. I wonder if I shall reach the last passage before the end truly arrives. I wonder how different my life will be and what will I think to the time I spent away. Will it matter, will it impact, or will it be another little adventure in a life filled with stories?

For the last evening, a prisoner in an HMP, I am offender A2292CE, The Disgraced Banker. Tomorrow my life starts again………..

New Year’s Eve Party in Prison

9 Jun

Today HMP Ford becomes a Bang-Up again. I and other’s here experience closed conditions for what I hope is only 24 hours. The bosses at Ford have had a perimeter fence laid out inside the main boundary fence. Like a camp within a camp. Side gates have been locked and the Front Entry Gates drawn to a close. Ford Prison has been locked down – a repeat of last year’s Booze fueled arson rampage is feared.

I spot all of the Governor’s at some stage today. Any disturbances and the Senior Governor will be starting 2012 with P45 in hand. In fact, it surprised many that she survived the last episode here.

I spend my day bring the New Year in blowing my nose – my cold I picked up at Christmas has not yet gone, although my stock of tissues is close to being so.

If I’m honest, I’ve never really enjoyed New Year’s Eve, too much of an anti-climax for me. Still at least I can be sure prison will not be on my mind in 12 months hence. Missing the parties associated with today doesn’t make me feel low, I’ll probably grab an early night. This is NOT a sign of things to come:) Tomorrow, I can say the words:

“I’m home this month”

Channel 4 has slapped on a cheery portion of:

Porridge – The Movie

The Deputy Governor, sticks his nose around the door, part of their visible presence strategy (In most other places, that’s called turning up for work), his sidekick pops in shortly after. We share a joke about the Porridge Movie, he says he’s glad it’s not on; he is the spitting image of Mr Mckay. Better still, his name is Roger Moore; it’s possibly why I like him. A press journalist from the Sun, sneaked into the prison last year – not a hard feat when you never see Screws; Mr McKay notes that this active Governor strategy may be just in case one has popped in to visit again.

Nothing else happens, except for the distant sounds of fireworks and parties in the local area. The prison carries on as normal.

 

NEW YEAR 2012

The home straight, I’m going home this month!

I start the new year in the gym, taking part in a circuit session run by an inmate who works in the PE Dept. A boxing fan like I, his circuits are a tough challenge and later in the day, takes me for a Pads session, with some focus mitts that have been snuck in by a now departed resident. With the prison on lockdown, the visit sessions are used for extra gym time. A decent compromise, when there is little else to do but lay in my bed. I look on at the calendar for quite  a time. A long time actually. A bit more than 4 weeks to go, I hope these days fly by.

Then life can start again.

Comedy Club

9 Jun

Boxing Day

I was never so aware as today, quite how many animation movies run on our tv over the Christmas period. The prison breakfast is gradually running shorter each day of available items, such that I expect a right hook on the final day from the kitchen staff, instead of a warm dish.

Today’s insomniacal boredom is punctuated by a ‘Strongman’ competition, contested by only 4 inmates. Given the braggadocio within these barbed wire fences, it surprises me so few are willing to prove their physical prowess. Perhaps talking about it is less strenuous, or maybe they are taking a winter break from being ‘Gangsta’. In other avenues of occupation, George obliterates the rowing record on the 2000m by 20 seconds. I was sure at one point I could literally see him developing a body wide hernia.

Team ‘Going for Gold’ also made a long awaited return to the prison quiz after many weeks of sitting it out due to what is best termed as: A decline in standards. A change in atmosphere at what was once an enjoyable, sedate and high brow evening; saw the introduction of easier questions to equal the standards so the quiz was more inclusive. Not wishing to seat myself on any intellectual pedestal, (Mine would be only half elevated I assure you) but isn’t the whole concept of a quiz, to determine who has a better spread of knowledge or grasp of a particular area? To dumb down the standard of questions kind of panders to the stupid. A stupid idea for stupid people. I like to think that a halfway functional human being can come away from a quiz after a poor performance and think:

“Hey, you know what? Maybe I should read more – I’m not as smart as those other chaps.”

Instead the mindset here must be:

“Hey, those questions were beyond my limited knowledge range, this is a fundamentally unfair system, that rewards those who make the effort to learn. I’m demanding the questions are made easier.”

For those people, perhaps a raffle may suit their insecure sense of self-worth. Like a quiz, but with no questions. You simply need to turn up and hold a ticket. Or steal one, if that suits those here more.

Back to the quiz, I don’t want to dwell on a result that I had initially thought saw us taking away free phone credit. Instead we placed in that position made famous by British sportsmen and women throughout the years. 4th.

Yes, a BRAVE 4th.

Andy Murray, Paula Radcliffe, Bobby Robson’s Heroes, Terry Venable’s Heroes, a bit more Radcliffe and probably a lot of white British 1500m runners.

The billet has turned into a bombsite over Christmas, a cleaner with an altogether different take on personal hygiene is ‘running’ things nows. The screws don’t do spot checks, so we have to live in squalor. Making matters worse, we have a phantom sh*tt*r  operating also right now. I believe it ‘s just the one, I don’t think these people work in teams. Parcels of human excrement keep turning up on the floor of the bathroom. Maybe it’s a statement to the cleaner, to start doing his job.

NYE

On it’s way is the first anniversary of the Great Fire of Ford Prison. The Riots, as they have been dubbed. The governor and screws are panicking that this year will see a repeat of last year’s events, despite the prison being made up of entirely different people…

I look forward to seeing how this day pans out.

Christmas Day in Prison – Scrooge to be Screwed

6 Jun

After a sleep disturbed by midnight Gangsta Rap and my own snoring, I awake to a warm Christmas Day. A cooked breakfast of sorts has been arranged for the next 3 days, so I grab mine at 8 before joining in with a 10am circuit down at the gym. It’s what you do Christmas morning, yes?

The big lunch is only a mild improvement on a usual Sunday ‘Roast’ – the one parsnip making that differential leap. Definitely ALL of the trimmings.:) I don’t expect Claridges and many of my gripes or comments are tongue in cheek. At the end of the Servery queue, the Chapel staff hand out a Christmas card and a mars bar on behalf of the ‘Mother’s Union’. A lovely gesture by the charity that strives to help inmates maintain family ties while inside. It promotes a cheery smile too.

I’m smiling. This is my first and hopefully only Christmas in prison and part of me has a macabre fascination to go through with it to see what it’s like for those less fortunate in decision-making in society that go through such experiences. A handful of chaps from our billet who are united by military ties and a sense of sanity, sit down together for the meal, having made the effort to wear civvy clothes and stay out of prison issues for the day. It’s nice to spend the day in a manner that reflects freedom of choice and expression, as best possible given the circumstances.

The phone in the billet is busy early in the day as prisoners call home, whisper sweet nothings or return to form and yell at their spouses. George has to deal with an inmate who feels that his own Christmas Tupac message should be able to filter through to George’s mother via the background noise on the phone. Even on days such as today, it’s alarming how many people lack self-awareness or possess a consideration for others when it comes to noise or in fact any aspect of life.

Is this education? Parenting?

Whatever it is, it strikes back to that sense of entitlement that society seems to harbour more and more in recent decades. Agitation grows over George’s riposte to the lairy adolescent with music at such volume. Our Grandparent’s queued for fruit, lost school friends in ‘Just Wars’ and were thankful for hand-me-down clothing. Our generation and it’s offspring, cannot envision a time without convenience, luxury or their opinion being heard. The cries of the few are heard over the tolerant silence of the many.

Don’t listen to angry music and delude yourself that the lyrics of a commercially minded businessman are anything other than that. He plays to an audience that thinks they’re kindred spirit, he lies for you to buy. The reality is, your fellow man is all around you and looks nothing like you imagine. Aim high but don’t tread on another to get there, the footings are weak.

Don’t daydream for a decade or double to realise you didn’t make hay while the sun shone. The wannabes in prison exist in the droves as they do on the outside. Year after year spent wishing for  a life of someone else, when all the tools you needed to make your own could be had too. 20 years later you wished you’d learnt that trade, that craft, that skill, that profession. Biggie didn’t wear a boiler suit and mend central heating systems, but Biggie got shot dead and my plumber’s got pots of cash. Smell the coffee boys and come back to the real world.

The notion of knuckling down and putting up with the hand that God gave you, seems to be disappearing as fast as the faces of World War veterans on Remembrance Sundays. Life isn’t always glamorous and life isn’t always fair but if we don’t start living for what we have and making the best use of it we can, then it will pass you by and that will be your time over.

Next stop, you and I are disparate atoms lingering in the void of cold dark space after the Sun has ceased burning and the Earth has stopped living. The galaxies merge and neighbouring stars die too. Billions of years pass by and we are in the infinite nothingness of the Big Freeze. Cosmologists and Astronomers will tell you we are insignificant in all of this. Maybe we are, but I’d like to think that even if our generation’s existence can be measured as a fraction of one heartbeat of a single human lifetime, at least let it be a beat that shows signs of a cathartic, energetic and fulfilling pump of life and not a whimper or trifling whine. Life truly is too short to waste idle.

Philosophical rant over, it’s not unsurprising that if an inmate can’t think how a neighbour might be disturbed by their activity, you hear they wound up in prison after failing to spot a policeman quite overtly monitoring them.

Christmas Day over, touchwood, I’ll never need to spend another 25th of December considering the prospect of Prison.

 

Back to Prison & Christmas Eve

5 Jun

My time away was a pleasure and I feel exhausted after it all. It might sound a little bizarre but I was ready to return when I did. I don’t want to be in prison but you learn to accept it. It’s not the hell its characterised on television and I know I don’t have a huge amount of time left, most of all its a comfort zone I’ve grown accustomed too. With friends around you and zero of life’s pressures I could handle a little more of Ford.

On my return I hear the Prison Block has been active, with a number of inmates being shipped out. The worse news was hearing that Paddy a young Irish Traveller was caught with booze and stuck on the first bus out of here. It’s tragic news as he works on the Servery and ensures all inmates get proper portions of food. 4 pieces of stuffing, two helpings of cake, double pie, extra meat, you name it he’ll serve it. When he’s working, bring Tupperware.

In other news a young lad Ali is sent packing after he’s snuck in an internet dongle and plugged it into one of the PC’s in the Chapel. He has subsequently used it to access the web and it’s world-wide hub of infinitely more fun things than there are here. Pictures are found on it of kids. HIS KIDS, rumours spread fast that he has in fact been accessing Child Porn. It’s amazing how warped chinese whispers can get. He is now in harm’s way if he remains here. He is moved possibly now for his own safety too.

My cellmate has had some bother in our absence after a set-to with a prisoner about mail issue times. My cellmate being the mail orderly, sees him pestered constantly about the prison about whether someone has received a letter. Complete strangers who have never met him, greet him with the uncomprehendingly stupid query:

“Have I had any mail today?”

Maybe, or maybe you’re one of the other 400 who haven’t. Who are you?

Jamie and I find out the identity of the protagonist and knowing him personally we have a chat to him.

As I walk around the prison today, a few guys know I’m back from my first home leave and stop to see how I am doing. One, Simon (7 years – Drugs) notices my face is a little more tanned than it should be in a December. I give him: “No Comment”. I see him mouth “Fake Tan” as I wheel away.

Christmas Eve

Short of nearly 200 inmates, the kitchen have taken the opportunity to cut down on its kitchen prep for meals. Consequentially leaving a large number of prisoners more dissatisfied than usual. A cooked breakfast of 3 battered chicken burgers and 2 hash browns struggles to form part of a healthy diet, even with a sensibly placed hard-boiled egg rolling around the plastic plate. I wonder what the heart disease NHS bill is for patients from HM Prisons.

I catch a cold on my home leave and am feeling a little groggy; finding time for 40 winks to kill the odd hour of your sentence here though is never a drama. I use some of the morning to put together a letter in spanish to my South American cousin. Based in Peru and Bolivia, formerly of Venezuela, Spain, France and Britain, his command of languages is formidable. The son of my mother’s late sister, I often think about him at important times of the year. I want to reach out to him more and see him closer to the family. Time will tell.

I glance across at a TV Guide, these are often like gold dust in prison, but we have happened upon a couple of them. As usual, there isn’t a good deal of choice. Tonight, around the world, billions of people are snuggling up with loved ones or sitting down with family preparing for Christmas Day. For those of us ‘Behind the Door’, tomorrow is another day.

 

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