Tag Archives: plus markets group

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 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………..

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.

 

A day after delight

3 Jun

I spend awhile this morning in the drop in centre, my office since I transferred to the Diversity team helping ex servicemen utilise the charitable provisions in place for them. I talk to the senior officer Sheridan about my life thus far. He is a sound guy and a man I won’t call a screw. I have more in common with him that 50% plus of the prisoners here. He is respectful and takes the time to listen. Possibly for him hearing a frank tale of an inmate’s journey helps him understand those his job involves managing. An informed Prison Officer is undoubtedly better equipped to do his job.

In the Billet, days away from his Christmas home leave, in fact days away from his first trip outside in 3 years, a young lad Jamie we’ve befriended has been contacted by outside probation and told that due to the emotional nature of Christmastime and the fact that his probation office will be closed – it’s not wise for him to be allowed home. This is spite of him being given the green light weeks ago, raising his hopes and making plans at home. Mum was happy, the brothers too, their boy Jamie was coming home for Turkey.

Now, he’s devastated. But… his attitude in response to it all speaks volumes about his character and how he has matured. Having friends who won’t see outside for a decade  makes him philosophical about his situation. To an outside observer however, it’s obvious, moments like this can have a hugely negative impact on the long term rehabilitation process. You wouldn’t be wrong to suggest this creates a contempt toward the ‘Superiors’ negligence. This arbitrary approach, a top down attitude really has no place in the Prison and Probation Service. It ignores the individuality of every situation – one size does not fit all.

Back to Jamie, he will not know be rewarded for his hard work. I buy some extra mince pies instead to put a smile on his face come the 25th of December.

I count down the days until the 18th, my pretend Chrimbo, 4 days away until I can sleep in my own bed and be fawned over by the women in my life.

 

Part 2 – His and Her’s Tale. His Tale

1 Jun

His Tale:

51/2 months down, more than 6 since I’ve seen her last. I wake up nervous, my stomach filled with butterflies, today is the day I’ve dreamed of.

I keep myself occupied with a visit to the gym, setting  a new 30 minute distance row PB, 7631m. I see myself making improvements in personal fitness, it means my time here is not entirely a waste.

I have little appetite as my mind is focused on a date with destiny. I wonder where she will be sat, will she find it okay? What will she be wearing? What will we talk about? Will she cry? Will I cry?

So many thoughts drift, well, race across my mind as the minutes tick by.

I kill the hour before the visit deciding what to wear, showering and making sure I look as good as a man can whilst being in prison. I fear she will see something less than she has in me, in visiting me today. For the first time, a sense of shame crosses me as I think about my whereabouts. She is this travelled, articulate, intelligent and unique creature. Special in so many ways. I am a prisoner, stripped of liberty and often times dignity.

She tasted foods until recently from the magical east and the Orient; I queue up for mine with a plastic bowl. I know my worries are likely ill-founded, R would love me still even if I wore orange overalls today. It’s her best quality of all. She makes Mase feel young and wanted; she get’s my humour and inspires creativity within me, when other’s have only stifled it. My feet are shuffling and my knees are bouncing. I can;t take my mind off my anxieties: “Why am I so nervous?” I tell a friend who knows about my visit.

“MASON” is called out by a screw on duty, I scamper off to the visit’s hall so I am as near to the front as possible. I don’t want to lose a minute with this girl who waits for me.

As I walk through the door to the side of the hall, I am patted down by a guard and then look ahead of me.

Slightly to my side, my eyes lock on to the most beautiful sight, I can’t believe what I can see. It has been so long and yet I see nothing but the very best of that person I said goodbye to at the airport all those months ago. More beautiful than ever, tanned, lithe and running toward me at a concerning pace. She flies into my arms and wraps herself around me. It is all I can do to keep myself on my feet. In that moment of power blessed with her affection, she crashed into me and holds me close; as I hold her the same.

I feel like I’ve been set free.

I could be acquitted.

I could have been found not guilty.

I feel every emotion that equates to happiness. Today is marked down as one of the happiest days of my life.

When you have nothing but emotion, no material obstructions and no insincerity, you can find  a piece of true beauty, true euphoria that even drugs cannot deliver. In losing my freedom, I have tasted what it is to truly feel liberty. You may never envy my location, my whereabouts, my happenings and my failings but I will never envy your lives if I could go a lifetime without an experience that I shared with her today.

I spend the next two hours, nervous, giggling and an inch from the prettiest nose on earth. Tomorrow she comes again, I’ll sleep like a child waiting for Santa.

Paperchase – Coventry City FC – Labour MPs

24 May

On your last day here, you do what’s called  a paperchase. It’s all the sign off formalities to clear you for release. Only the guys leaving on tag take it real serious, being released early is deemed a privilege and not a right. Kick up a fuss over this and you could wind up staying for a little longer. For those who are leaving at their halfway point, they can use the paper as bog roll and still walk out the next morning. I imagine a fair number of people enjoy doing the paperchase as it’s that sense of last day excitement you have seen so many others go through.

I’d walk around with a bit of paper if it meant I was going home tomorrow.

The summertime seems to have ended, it’s proper damp here.

It’s making it that bit harder to clean our clothes. The heating isn’t on and the rain prevents drying clothes outside. Struggling to improvise here, in order to simply wear clean underwear – just like a holiday camp eh? The prison has now run out of ‘clean’ towels. So this 5 star resort is now a little shabby, unhygienic charade of a prison. The screws and management can’t sort out the simple matter of laundry; what good are they doing to the minds of young criminals?

At lunch one inmate is put on report after refusing to attend his afternoon work shift. He demands fresh clothes or access to cleaning and drying facilities. His work place is the gardens, so his only pair of prison greens (We are only allowed one pair of work/cargo trousers) are sodden. I don’t think asking for access to clean clothes warrants being put on report and being threatened with extraction to a closed prison.

While the public would wish us to break rocks for the rest of our days, with no opportunity for reform that sees us with the potential to live better lives* – being able to wear clean underwear and workwear is surely no mean stretch of requests; particularly given we are the (relative speaking) well-behaved bunch at Category D establishments.

*I mention this little barb after listening to a Radio 5 Report on an ex footballer being allowed on day release to train with Swindon Town FC. Ex Coventry City footballer Lee McCormick.

The inmate in question has served the good part of a 7 and half year sentence for death by dangerous driving. The tragedy took away two young lives after a professional footballer had been drinking before getting behind the wheel. It is awful and a man with no previous criminal history will be haunted for the rest of his days by this. Some call him a murderer, not a fair tag and not truly realistic but it is an additional punishment our society puts upon such people. I have met a handful of men inside for similar sometimes less culpable offences and often wonder to myself what is an appropriate sentence?

Coppers, Bus Drivers all sorts of perfectly sane, tax paying individuals you would happily have a conversation with and invite into your home. How would you sentence them?

In writing this, I do not seek to undermine the pain and suffering Phil and Amanda Peake have gone through, the parents. Nor would I wish to ignore the tremendous work they have done since the deaths of their two young children to highlight the dangers of drink driving.

Radio 5 gets me going – a separate story on the workings of prison wages, brings a lady on the phones with zero experience of the workings of the justice system yet heavily armed with critical information that has no foundation in truth.  This lady with no exposure or grounding in life this side of the parapet begins:

“Old people don’t get what they have…” Unsure of what that has to do with the prison debate…What do 80 year olds need with free weights or Methadone?

With many of us wearing dirty underwear, using filthy, pubic lice infested towels NOT WATCHING Sky, we are criticised for the lack of productive hours we put in – a prison management issue not ours. Then the very same people who spout this rhetoric demanding longer sentences are the farthest back in the list of people prepared to offer an olive branch at the end of it, to let us earn a second chance.

These holier than thou types seem to brand any person inside, a violent thug or dangerous predator. It is for this reason primarily that the Blue Collar inmates here LOVE seeing a ‘Well to do’ type fall from grace. Do I blame them?

Put it this way, hearing an ex Labour MP has today been charged with £60k worth of expenses fraud puts a smile on my face.

 

That cosy feeling of being inside in the rain

23 May

You know that cosy feeling you get when you’re inside a tinny roofed structure and you can hear the sound of the rain beating an orchestra of drums? In a car, on the bus, the train or in fact anywhere warmer and drier than the surrounding environment. I get that here as I lay in my bunk and see the rain hammer it outside. The gutters overflowing with the workmanship of the unskilled labour that mend them and thin echoing hallways that amplify the noise of the world at work. The night’s have begun to draw in now as the weather turns and the Summer draws to a close.

With all of the footflow of idle shufflers occupying their time with as little output as possible, I wonder what life is like here as the weather turns and inmates are resigned to being forced back into their cells. The winter imprisons many more people than just prisoners. I think of my own Nan, imprisoned by age, bad weather and immobility, spare a thought for your own family, my life choices put me in here but for every person in prison there are millions of people caged on the outside too.

Each day at around 10am, I do the education department’s mail run. It requires me to run across the public right of way and head over to the other side of the prison estate to drop off and pick up correspondence. As I left the residential side I stop and talk to Tom an inmate I’ve known for a while. He is off on his home leave today and is looking forward to 5 days away from Ford and away from prison regime, as I go through the gate, I spy his designated driver – it’s one of my best mates. It’s heartbreaking to not be allowed to stop and talk to him without suspicion. I don’t know what the rules are re: ‘fraternising’ with outsiders, I’ve never been told; but for fear of incurring the wrath of Screws I keep my distance and look on like a bad friend. Not being eligible for leave for another 3 months, it does strike me with a pang of jealousy seeing the queue of jolly day-trippers dressed up ready for departure by the gate; I deal with it knowing my time will come round and others will feel the same toward me.

I put in a complaint today to the IMB – the independant monitoring board over the shining of torches in the faces of sleeping inmates at night time. We are woken at 1 and 5am, by noisy night-time screws doing the inappropriately named ‘Silent Roll Check’. They generally shine the torches in our face to make sure we are in the rooms, then maintain torchlight on us until we move or as is often the case, wake up and swear at them. I sense this is more game than intelligent planned routine procedure.

Spence packs his stuff up and I give him a hand, I’ve had the A-OK for George to move in and I rifle through Spence’s leftovers to see what I can salvage. I gain a book of stamps and a load of envelopes for my efforts.

This morning he sorted out the drama with the rival traveller factions and put to rest a gripe with a gent in here on a 12 stretch for a kneecapping. I think that’s a wise thing to do 🙂

 

The Economist

21 May

I sit on the bike in the gym burning off some chub and talk to a chap called Paul. The gent in his mid 40s shared the same billet as I when I was living in my mini Hell with Delroy.

The man is an economist on the outside and in recent years has worked as a management consultant. He offers this information after spying the book ‘Freakonomics’ I had been reading recently. Take him out of this environment and Paul is every bit the image of a positive Black male role model. Educated, well spoken, considerate, shame about his criminal record check results 🙂

Paul has a lovely dry sense of humour and we spend a while discussing the ‘Broken Window Theory’. This theory dictates that if you clamp down on small minor anti-social behavioural issues and fix visual disturbances (Broken windows, graffiti etc) immediately, it affirms a sense of civic prestige and pride. People become more conscious of mis-treating their community when the small things aren’t left unchecked.

The easiest way to explain this is through the analogy of a ‘fly-tipping’ site. Where someone dumps a load of refuse in a site that was previously clear, a future rubbish disposer is more likely to add to this untidy mess than create their own new dumping site. This is part mob mentality and part distorted rationale. The belief that the latter tipper is less at fault as the site had already been distressed by an earlier dumper.

More simplistically, if kids smash a window in one property and it goes unrepaired, pretty soon next door will suffer a similar fate. Damage left unchecked sees a steady decline in community values.

We apply the ‘Broken Window Theory’ to prison and the idea of reform and rehabilitation, it is an interesting way to kill 50 minutes. Every day I share a conversation with someone that surprises me in the standard of intellect and thought provocation.

I hit the library in the afternoon and am amused to see in the reference section is Criminal No. 1 Charles Bronson’s A-Z of British Prisons. It’s nice to see what forms the backbone of general interest this side of the fence. Having been to nearly every prison in the UK system since his 2 year sentence in the 1970s became a life sentence over the last few decades; Mr Bronson gives his insight onto life in the 100+ barbed wire friendly institutions that dot the landscape.

I spend a bit of time reading the ‘Inside Times’ too. The prison newspaper for prisoners, is ordered to be made available in every prison library; this allegedly didn’t stop our Governor Sharon Williams here trying to put a stop to it. I ask George why he felt she did this. He responded in his usual dry manner:

“Why did Hitler rip up the history books in schools?”

………………………………..

Drama clouds the quiz night this evening.

Our team now called:

“Going for Gold with Henry Kelly” places dead last.

Having a team member who keeps a score tally as the results come back made this news that much more shocking. The indignity! 🙂

Later on we hear a marking error deprived us of 15 points and 2nd place. We get an apology from the quiz master and his sidekick, we are assured we will be given a public apology before next weeks quiz. As the quizmaster leaves my cell, I ask him:

“Is George furious?”

He smiles, nods and tells me our prize will be sorted out in the week. I settle down to X Factor waiting for the big man to drop by, pleased with this re-affirmation of our team’s prowess.

Our rivals, the irritatingly named ‘First Place’ have now been pushed into 3rd place. You know your life is absent real adventure when you have a quiz team rival.

I watch Ricky Gervais’ movie ‘Ghost Town’ and not for the first time. Watching it on my 14inch tv in the cell, is in fact the largest screen I have ever seen it on. The last time was high above the States in a 747. Spence points out its possibly the most comfortable I’ve been watching it then too. Funny that: sprawled out in the nick watching a film I saw before on a jet above New York to do some business and this is my preferred way to view it. At least I get to stretch my legs out.

The Next Day….

Spence days away from leaving is thrown square into a dispute between two rival groups of Travellers. He can’t wait to get out of here now, at the very least it will spoil a prison darts tournament and out regular source of confectionery with his throwing skills, at the worst it will lead to claret being spilled, early release halted and prisoners being shipped out. He’s asked to take sides, something he doesn’t want to do. The matter resolves itself months later when one side is sent back to closed conditions after being caught blind drunk. The other’s resume their roles in the Prison’s Violence Reduction Team!!