Like a phoenix rising from the ashes and what seems like a lifetime, I’ve woke up with a semi clear head, a bit of energy and an urge to write. “God ‘elp us” I hear you cry. In fact, I haven’t written anything on my own blog since June 2018. This is not to say that I haven’t been writing, I have, only for other people. I’ll not go on about what where or why but I have a few health issues that are being addressed and one has left me with a very large and swollen… too much information. Anyway, as a result, I’ve been house bound since the 28th December, feeling very ill and looking forward to a knife smith approaching my meat and two veg on the 6th of Feb when hopefully, normal service will be resumed.
I’ve entitled this little mental ramble ‘The Home Stretch Part II’ as ‘The Home Stretch’ is in the book My Life Began at Forty which described the last year of the prison part of my sentence. This little lot will escort you (for those who are interested) through the last six months of my license/probation where I will officially become a free man on the 19th June 2019. I’m not sure as to what time of the day this will occur as I’m told there will be no paperwork to sign. What? That’s fucking it? Where’s my medal, my badge, my good service record at the very least a piece of paper from the state that I am now free?
On our last appointment, over a month ago (I see probation every two months) I asked what was the ritual for the day, the boxes to be ticked et al. Apparently there is none. It just is. It just goes away to a far off make-believe land of a distant past where, ‘things’ just are and that is how it is, will be and always will be. Is it Narnia? Have I finally made it? As anyone who has read my stuff, I refer to Narnia a lot. How can this be so? How does ‘it’ my life, the last twelve years just ‘not be’ anymore. Do you not sign a piece of paper when they issue you with 3,650 days? The judge tells you “you will serve six years in prison and six years on license” and at the end of the six years in prison you sign a form before midday (they can hold you until midday) saying that you are ‘time served’ and released into the custody of the probation service where you are then given a signed copy of your license conditions.
Where’s the one that says it’s all over? You’ve done your whack a long time ago but we all know that your sentence only really begins when you leave prison. I’ve already made inquiries into this and will be pursuing it further. I think the ritual is highly important to the human psyche. I’ve had all the other rituals over the past 11yrs and 6mths why can’t I be granted the final one? Closure. End of. Defunct. Game over. Pining for the fucking Fjords. Or heavens forbid, a new beginning. I don’t know what the next six months will bring but I’m sure they will have their fair share of ups and downs and dramas with the proverbial clock ticking silently in the recesses of my mind.
Speaking of emotions and ticking clocks, I wanted to share a bit of New Years Eve. I’m sat on the sofa trying to stay awake and watch the fireworks from London and no I wasn’t on the beer, actually haven’t had a beer since the 29th December, go figure. Anyway, as I watch the scenes from the riverbank my mind transports me to HMP Brixton 2007. 12yrs ago. That’s right, just take a wee pause and think about that for a minute. How can an image transport you in the blink of an eye to 12 bloody years ago? The tears started tripping me and I got those convulsing type sobs. You know the ones you get when trying to suppress full on blubbering. I’m sure I’ve covered it in the book but a few weeks back on my sofa I closed my eyes and could smell the cordite or gunpowder (or whatever the hell they use) drifting through my window in HMP Brixton. It was strange then watching it on the telly, hearing it outside and smelling it coming through the bloody window. For me it was special moment as Brixton was my first New Year in prison and lying on the sofa 2018/19 was my last under license and another little mental ritual ticked off the list as I approach the end.
As I mentioned I haven’t exactly been idle and am very pleased and proud of some of the stuff I’ve got up to in the past six months. I’m hoping my health and this mood today hangs around long enough for me to write a chapter for an upcoming academic book. My first ever proper ‘deadline’ who’d’ve ever thunk it? I’ve also not neglected my reading especially some of the blogs on Twitter. I’m just gonna mention a few here. It’s been an absolute pleasure, to watch Michaela Booth develop wings and start to fly, laugh and cry with Josie Prison Bag, review The Secret Barrister, rant along with The Tartan Con, share with Faith Spear, record and get drunk with Lee at Injustice Film and it’s also been pretty cool to chat on the phone with others. You know who you are. Some things are better left private.
I’ve listened intently, to the developments and arguments on and in prisons and all the lovely stuff that goes with it and find my self lost and taken over by the futility of it all. Politics, I’m not going to go there but I do have to mention that the whole sorry debacle of politics both here, Great Britain, America etc have made me very sad. What hope do we have when we’re governed or not as the case may be by complete idiots who have no… No, I’m not going there and I have to say that being housebound, especially after watching ‘I Daniel Blake’, has made me realise how much of precipice we live on when ruled by poor government. I think I’m the luckiest guy alive to have the support I have from family and few good friends.
Well, my grocery delivery will be arriving soon (see how bloody lucky I am) and I’ll have to have some breakfast. I’m going to attempt to spend the rest of the day writing and updating this blog site (should be fun). The next few months should be interesting as I’m actually my own data source for future academic stuff and I hope you will join me for the final home stretch and then to… well, we’ll just wait and see eh.
Happy New Year to you all.