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This book is not meant to be humorous, although a certain amount of
humour is unavoidable, partly because the nonsense and inconsistencies
which I came up against during the last four years, and partly because
sometimes it hurts so much that one has to either laugh or cry. I fully
intend to criticise the prison and the court systems, but not, I hope,
unnecessarily, and, I also hope, positively.
This is not meant
as a horror story, a fiction, or an analytical work, although I will
admit in advance to colouring and flavouring events, changing names, and
interspersing actual events with thoughts of the occasion. This is to
increase the readability of what might otherwise be a very 'flat' book,
considering the flatness of the system.
I consider myself very
fortunate, even in this experience, as I have previously travelled to
many different countries, and witnessed the different languages and
customs therein, which I feel has enabled me to adopt a more detached
and somewhat enlightened attitude to the strangeness which I constantly
experienced. Many inmates are either the well learned ‘old lags’ who
have been in and out of the system for years, or else are younger and
I was also fortunate to have already received an
education, thus being able to further it using the institution's
facilities and classes, able to write and read easily, unlike many of my
comrades, and thus help the time pass easily and productively. I was
also fortunate enough, for want of a better phrase although it may sound
as selfish as it is, to have first arrived at a prison along with some
acquaintances, and to recognise a few faces already there who I could
turn to for help with day to day life. Once again I sympathise greatly
with the young, scared and lonely convict or detainee.
it is only natural that I feel some anger and resentment against the way
I have sometimes been treated, in particular by the courts, this
emotion has never overwhelmed me.
I see so many things wrong
with the world that Mankind has created, not least the way in which
selfish and greedy individuals have polluted our beautiful planet and
continue to do so, perhaps to the point of no return and the devastation
of possibly all life. I fail to see how the Governments on this world,
who often seem to me to be evil, can allow the future to develop in
this way, ruining the chances of happiness and health for their
descendants. In the sixties I grew up under the constant threat of
nuclear devastation imposed by individuals so many miles away, whose
identities would never be known to most of us. But this being bad
enough, at least there was a chance of survival.
As the sixties
have become the nineties there are so many problems in this world, any
one of which will destroy us as individuals or as a race, including
Aids, acid rain, radiation poisoning, the 'Greenhouse Effect', the ozone
depletion, the pollution of the air, sea and land, space junk, chemical
additives in our food and water, and on and on and on.
this unemployment and the violence shown on TV, in video’s and in the
press, to the point of saturation and ‘normality’, and it is less
surprising what is happening on our streets. It has been said that by
the age of twelve the average American child has witnessed several
thousand murders on the screen, and doubtless a similar figure is true
for British children.
In the East they say life is cheap, and
death is all around, and certainly it seems that in many countries where
overpopulation has become such an everyday burden, there are constantly
civil wars or violent freedom fighters whom the various governments
call terrorists. But do the governments and industrial bosses realise
the terror which they daily cause us in our lives, through their greed?
Is it surprising there is so much violence and crime in the country?
is a strange practice to apply to people who are unable to afford the
goods or services advertised, and although increasing sales amongst the
select few, causes nothing but unsatisfied desire amongst everyone else.
Consider this story. It concerns a village deep in the heart of the
Egyptian desert near Libya. I forget the name, but that is unimportant.
This small oasis settlement had been there for hundreds if not
thousands of years, the locals content to grow what they could, and keep
their livestock. In years past they may even have profited from
accommodating the occasional traveller. They were certainly unlikely to
attract any tourists, unless some big archaeological discovery was ever
made. Being short of power, having no electricity and little means of
producing it, they were unlikely to attract much big industry.
locals remained poor people, but never starved. They were basically
content, having what they needed and most of what they wanted. This is
the point: they had most of what they wanted, or rather most of what
they knew about that they could want. Of course they may have wanted a
better doctor, a panacea, a magic carpet, but these were merely dreams.
One day however, one of the locals had to traverse the desert
to Cairo, for personal reasons. Suddenly, instead of being surrounded
by friends and sands, he found himself in a huge city, some fifteen
million souls, tall buildings, thousands of cars, buses, trucks,
bicycles, people in all style of dress, restaurants, businesses and even
more foreigners than the population of his home village. What did he
see? Advertising. Somehow he managed to get hold of a television,
battery operated, and having been shown how to work it, he took it home
Fortunately, or maybe not so, they could pick up
signals in the village and they were able to watch films, news and
documentaries about a country and a world they never new existed. The
children and young men were, of course, able to watch too. And what did
they see? Advertising Young mini-skirted girls drinking cola, cowboys
with their special cigarettes, the blond bombshell in the tight jeans,
the fast car and the gorgeous lady who went with it, watches, stereos,
holidays, household appliances and magical gadgets, and so on.
what happened to their simple needs and desires? They multiplied out
of all proportion. They wanted all these things too, but of course they
had no money so they could only dream on in frustration. Until one day
three or four young men themselves set off to Cairo, where the streets
were paved with gold and one could make enough money to buy some of the
well and ‘successfully’ advertised wares. Unfortunately when they got
there they found not thousands but millions of people in the same
position, unemployment ridiculously high, the city impersonal and
apparently uncaring, and their chances of even getting enough food for
tomorrow rapidly dwindling. But not everybody was poor. Some people
had cars, wore expensive watches and clothes, and drank cola, and
presumably had many more modern goods to make their lives apparently
easier and happier. So what did our young and impressionable brothers
do? They stole. They broke into a house and took what they could.
Unfortunately these men were nothing of the professional burglar, knew
nothing of finger prints and forensics, and were soon caught. The
result? Four more inmates in the hell hole of Cairo prison. Once again
the advertising agents had done their job well, convincing the people
that they needed the junk they had to sell!
Of course the
situation in Britain is not as extreme, but nevertheless it is surely
obvious that if one successfully creates an intense desire for
something, in the minds of often uneducated and impressionable people,
in a time of unemployment when their cash is hard come by, at the same
time blasting them with crime on the TV, something somewhere is going to
give. A percentage of them, being unable to earn an honest buck, will
hit the streets, either taking what they want through robbery and theft,
or dealing in drugs or stolen property, prostitution, or any of the
many other ways of getting a ‘few readies’.
This is why the
prisons are so full. Add to that the people who drink and drive, maybe
take drugs steal to get money for their next hit to lift them out of
their boredom and fears, everybody taxed beyond what they can afford,
and the prison population begins to overflow.
Having stated that
as my beliefs as to why so much crime occurs, I now have to say that
this was only a very minor cause of my conviction. I will not in this
book, attempt to discuss my personal level of guilt or innocence, but I
would like to stress the view I had of my offences at the time.
charges were concerned with cannabis, a so-called drug. Having
consumed it for a number of years, and met untold people in nearly every
country I ever visited, smoked with young and old, people new to it
and those who had smoked very heavily for very many years, for social,
recreational and also ‘spiritual’ purposes,
I did not and do not
understand why it remains illegal! In its pure uncut form it certainly
seems to have done me no harm, or anyone I have met.
how much one consumes there is no danger for a reasonably balanced
person. It has been said that the fatal dose is two kilos, dropped on
the head from a great height! There is no heavy withdrawal, no side
The real problems are that it is often cut with
possibly damaging impurities, ranging from sawdust to barbiturates,
solvents to boot polish and evencow shit, by the less than scrupulous
illegal suppliers; that it is normally mixed with the legal and deadly
poisonous tobacco; and that it remains illegal and therefore in the
control of the underworld. The so-called controlled drugs are
controlled not by the Government, who should concern themselves with the
lack of purity of consumables, but by crooks.
Added to this
are the many acclaimed medical benefits of cannabis to sufferers of
ailments such as multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, asthma and arthritis, its
pain-killing properties, and relaxing properties, and the uses of the
plant - hemp, for the non-polluting manufacture of paper, linen, rope -
all the old maps, Bibles, sails, ropes etc were made from hemp - its use
as a food supply (seeds crushed to make gruel are highly nutritious)
for humans and animals, and its use as a clean, renewable (two crops a
year) and highly efficacious fuel, cannabis is probably the most
versatile God-given substance on earth! Of course, it makes some people
apparently lazier, but not all, and many of these become more creative
even if only privately.
There is a vast amount of music and art forms produced under the effect of cannabis.
5% of the population admit to having used it regularly, and in private a
great many barristers and other professional men. In private a great
many individuals agree that it should be legalised, but are, like the
majority of people living under Nazi control who witnessed the inhumane
treatment of the Jews, too afraid for their own careers, and freedom,
to speak out. The anti-legalisation lobby seems to be left, nowadays,
with the completely unfounded statement that it ‘leads to other drugs’.
True, 95% of hard drug users confess, when asked in a weighted
question, that their first illegal substance was cannabis. But only 5%
at most, of cannabis users ever take hard drugs. It is rather like
using the argument that 99% of convicted armed robbers admit to owning
water pistols as children, to bring about the prohibition of possession
and sale of water pistols! Meanwhile, whilst those in authority and
positions of respect usually remain silent, and the various campaigns
for legalisation are left in the hands of often unemployed and outcast
folk who have little or no experience of organisation, thousands of
users and dealers remain in prisons, and millions risk their health by
consuming street ‘crap’.
Let’s face it, even with the risk of
incarceration, people still use it and will continue to use it, and
continue to line the pockets of crooks, so it is really time that some
government opened its own eyes, legalised it, took control of quality,
gained revenue through taxation, and saved the time of police, courts
and prisons. So, having said that, why was it suddenly made illegal in
the 1920's? Some political reasons? Strange how the banning of
cannabis and hemp suddenly created a vacuum in the supply of ropes and
fabrics, shortly before the industrial giants put nylon on the market,
and the huge petrochemical companies marketed their synthetics and
polluting alternatives. I sometimes wonder if there was a connection.
am not trying to excuse breaking the law. The law is the law, right or
wrong, and the country cannot survive without laws. Judge Pickles,
himself an advocate for the legalisation of all drugs, was correct when
he said that people should not be allowed to pick and choose which laws
to keep and which laws to break, that sort of freedom would be
disastrous. Neither should such offenders be given leniency. In prisons
there are many who would legalise all sorts of unpleasant things which
they have been incarcerated for. Yet it is true, in the cases of the
suffragettes and also the homosexuals, who sought to change the law by
breaking it, that it can eventually lead to publicity and success.
would, however, stress that very many people with similar experiences
to me, never had any intention of hurting anyone, and mostly have never
broken any other laws. Their preference for cannabis over alcohol and
sedatives, has, nonetheless, resulted in their doors being kicked in,
humiliating strip and personal searches, hours of solitude in filthy
police cells and extended interviews often interspersed with secret
threats and insults, confiscation of assets, collapse of businesses or
careers, long periods in prison equivalent to sentences for armed
robbery and often greater than for rape offences, and general alienation
from their families, friends and society in general.
because they wanted to get high! Cannabis is used in prisons probably
more than on the outside. The staff, I have been told more than once by
members of that elite group, tend to turn a blind eye - it keeps the
So, back to this book, like I say it is not the
place to discuss guilt or innocence. Although I can hardly avoid
‘having a dig at the system’ and those who perpetuate it, that is
neither my purpose.
Rather I want to present the prisons
through my eyes, the eyes of an educated and travelled, non-criminally
minded, and, as those who know me will agree, harmless forty year old
male from Wales. I felt that by helping to organise contacts and
introductions between suppliers and customers, I was helping people by
enabling them to get a clean supply, by keeping them away from alcohol,
hard drugs, and the dreadful tranquillisers and sedatives, benefited
Educated as a scientist at university, I was taught to
examine the facts for myself, and not to blindly accept everything I was
This is all I ask of you the reader, to consider the
evidence with an open mind; those who accept orders and laws without
question are the true fascists.
The book is divided into four sections: the first will cover the nightmare of remand in custody.
three prisons which I entered were category B, a maximum security, and a
low security C category. I was on wings separated from the so-called
vulnerable prisoners, as we call them, ‘nonces’, guilty of horrendous
crimes which should not ever be even imagined.
Amongst the prisoners with whom I lived the hatred of the nonces was universal.
for the others it seems that the longer the sentences the more respect
the inmates had for each other. A man two or more years into a ten or
twenty year sentence has an entirely different attitude towards his
surroundings than a short-timers who is only ‘passing through’.
main problems for the long-timers are the poor living conditions, being
isolation from family and friends, and institutionalisation.
and helplessness, anger at the treatment of self and others, an
authoritative hypocrisy, are what causes violence amongst these men.
This book is an attempt to portray what I saw and felt at the time.