I must apologise for earlier post it seems what I wrote did not upload so what follows is a recollection of what happened earlier…Please excuse the title; can’t help myself sometimes.
A glorious few days of sunshine have lifted me beyond rhyme and reason. Where does my nine month anniversary of freedom find me?
I’m sitting in Costa Coffee outside the Tower of London contemplating whether I should go in or not. I’m a bit daunted by the previous sign that greets me as I leave the tube station
The thing that grabs my attention is that HMP now stands for palace & fortress not her majesties prison or her majesties pleasure. Mind you I don’t actually think Her Majesty takes much pleasure in certain aspects of the system that readily uses her name, title and crown. As I devour a toasted bacon and brie toasted paninni I decide to revisit the place I visited as a ten year old boy with my primary school. I’d drove past it, rolled past it, crawled past it for many years when I lived here but now it seems I’m looking at a visit from a more interesting perspective. Go to get my ticket and am shocked at the price. Then I see a student discount offered alongside pensioners and blind people. When I ask the ticket guy for a student ticket. He laughs! I laugh when I get a fiver off after producing my student card. It was worth it just to see the smile on his face. Off I trot and to my surprise there are no queues. I’ve just missed a guided tour and am ‘free’ to walk round at my leisure. I take some snaps of HMS Belfast as I walk along the top of the walls. A couple of German ladies ask me to take their photo, I seize the opportunity to get them to take one of me with my phone camera (great invention). Smiles and thanks through squinted eyes in the glorious midday sun.
It doesn’t grasp me as it did when I was a kid, but it does allow me to take stock of the history of why we are the way we are. Empire and power, divide and conquer rich man poor man and the hierarchy of the monarchy. Our lives are steered by an us and them from way back then and it is still extremely noticeable to those who know how to look and listen. After an hour and a few polite chats with foreign people from different foreigns I find myself thinking about Leicester Square being sealed off and stage set for St Paddy’s day. The capital of Empire and cause of all the strife on my island, yes ‘my’ island, now opens its centre stage for an invaded island, the biggest minority in the world and I find it hard to fathom how not less than twenty five years ago pub doorways said ‘no dogs, no blacks, no Irish.’ It’s almost probable that a few pub landlords will still be saying that a bit later when everyone is hammered and talking balix. I finish off with a quick look at the Crown Jewels before i go to the toilet on the way out (did you see what i did there?). Along the embankment the rough smoothness of the cobblestones catches my imagination and I grab a vacant seat and write a few poems. Got me shades on so I load up one of my meditations on the phone and sit for thirty minutes in meditation with the tower at my back, the Thames ten feet in front of my, by HMS Belfast, under Tower Bridge with the sun and breeze on my face.
This was a pretty magical time and it free’d me up even more. I am free! I’ve never been more free’er. I’m free to write what I want, when I want about whatever I want. It’s called democracy. It’s called citizenship. It’s called humanity. All the things denied me for six years. Today was another shedding of a skin, another layer peeled of the psychological onion we call memory. Each time I shed this skin it’s as if something snaps inside me, letting me rise above all the crap that’s been holding me back. As I walk through Euston Station I’m singing ‘Wild Horses’ as sang by Susan Boyle and I’m at ease and peace in my wee world. Sitting now at my friends house typing this up. Can feel my face tighten with a bit of sunburn, my legs quietly ache with walking but my heart truly sings with pleasure. Funny how a trip to the Tower can set you free.