Monday, October 30, 2006

Chasing dreams
Long before the curtain looked in the least inclined to lower, I used to ask those approaching The End the very first thing they would do Out There. For all the debasing talk that goes with being young males, matters reproductive - and to a lesser degree, affection - were surprisingly were well down the agenda.

In almost every case, the No 1 priority was the pub. Treating their friends to bathfuls of beer was the first desire. When captives leave, by the by, they go with sixty pounds handed out from the State. That must almost always go straight into publicans’ pockets.

My time has been longer than most, so I hope it's excusable to reveal a different set of priorities. Seeing the dearest daughter is #1. Yet very near the top was the pleasurable anticipation of replacing incisors with real scissors for manicuring. Oh, to be able to simply cut normally those gross inconveniences of a captive life, the nails at the southern extremity, rather than having to hack them with a miniature guillotine.

Other wretches put food only a little below the companionship of boozers. There were no wishes for grand steaks for me. But an avocado now, that would be terrific - if avocadoes still existed. The Rip Van Winkle life leaves you fearing that all the good things have disappeared - or will have disappeared - before one gets out, if one gets out.

Another high-ranking joy is to have denims the right length. Turning up turn-ups manually at each and every dressing time, seeing them slip down over laces at moments you least want to resemble the failure juries try to make of us, puts a tailor among the new faces I most want to meet.

This week the dreams came true. Nearly. I found perfect scissors, squeezing an avocado at the supermarket showed it to be exactly ready, and I took my newest denims into a friendly Turkish tailor near the internet café – who has a daughter to die for, as it just so happens. For a king's ransom - £10 - the trouser-leg wish too came true.

Just as my work was finishing at the café yesterday at the most frustrating moment of a frustrating session – with major problems with secure links to Summit’s server – a really objectionable cove (a former juror, I'll bet) kept pushing brusquely passed, hitting the chair, never apologising. How ridiculous to be upset after years of enduring exactly that every day and night. But it was a bother, and when the pumpkin time arrived, it clouded my dash for the bus back.

And once Number 65 was on the way, I remembered my almost-fulfilled dream. The very things I longed for for 7 years plus were back there. I had a vision of that amateur justice filching my bag of treasured goodies. I rang the café with Ron's mobile. An obliging voice answered - but couldn't hear me. Further along Petersham Road, I rang again, and again as I walked under the hibernating oak leaves of Church Road. Still the man couldn't hear me.

Back at Camp 020, I called the phone people. Yes, the phone was faulty, they said. An internet café with a faulty phone? 'Sorry, sir,' the technician replied. 'It does happen.'

Not inside, I thought. The lesson might be that dreams are better left as dreams. But I hope not, of course. Seeing Emily again is my strongest wish. I'd hate its pleasure to be snatched away too.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Three opposites in The System

What joy to arrive here at Camp 020, but in the rush to get me out of the Yorkshire hostelry, with an hour's notice, there were problems. Most of the baggage that reflected 7 years of captivity remained in storage.

With the big OU exam of the year so close and a perhaps not unnatural desire to be clad, I tried to encourage the previous landlord to send on the baggage. Eventually, my great supporter, Skipper Ron Pell and Joan, spinnaker-handler, came to the rescue and he and Joan collected everything from Brough.

But when I looked inside, desperate for the study books and some cloth to gird the loins, I discovered that two bags were missing. A check with the previous landlord found that they had been overlooked. Very sorry, said the lovely officer Mary who keeps sanity in that department.

The bags were eventually despatched by carrier. And they arrived on a day when Officer Eddie Q was not on duty here. The stand-in guard experienced a moment that possibly doesn't come often in his working life, the chance to say No to a non-wretch. He refused to accept the bags because no official paperwork accompanied them. 'Send them into long-term storage,' he ordered.

Eventually he saw that his action might verge on the high-handed, and I was left to summon back the carrier. Without the enormous help of studio manager Charlotte R, and carrier manager Chris, the bags may not have been seen again. However, they found the mobile number of the somewhat disconcerted driver, and the books and garments arrived. Of course, the study material was too late for the OU exam, which I will now sit in April.

Contrast 2:
Ms Eve Wilson of Willowfield School, and Summit's director, Ms Marion Aylott, called on the Governor to see if I would be allowed to continue as the school's webmaster under the heading of community work, an important aspect of The System's resettlement plan. Three days a week at the internet café would be the minimum to get the site back up to date and running properly. But I could see no chance of it. Perhaps they would permit 2 days. Rugged hero Ray Kidwell, the SO, whispered that I would be all right. And Governor Myama said the cause could hardly be better and I would be going out every weekday, 9 to 3. I was staggered by his modern thinking. I stammered Thank you, and really meant it.

Good news within The System continued the next day: The CCRC wrote to say that at long last my case is to be investigated. The cut-off date for any final submissions is November 16. Ms T Bali, the Casework Administrator confirmed, 'We already have secured and preserved papers held by other public bodies to ensure that material relating to your case is being kept safe.'

Perhaps there is a justice after all.

Camp 020

Summit Media
Cuddly cellmate

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A few more hours in Paradise wherein I will be working on the high school website, and meeting Denis for coffee. I hope to answer at least some of the emails today.

I may be online again during the week, but the next near-definite time is Saturday, the 21st. David and Sue are coming down. I look forward to that.

Much of my luggage remains in Yorkshire. Included among it are my Open University books et al and so attending the exams on Wednesday was just to confirm my inability to swot. They are rescheduled for April. It won't be easy to do that alongside next year's course, but perhaps character is improved by these challenges.

I am being offered some really interesting IT challenges back at Camp 020. They are to be unveiled – if I might use such a risky word in this mixed-up country – during the week.

I was allowed to visit the local library, and it seems to be a weekly outing now for an hour, trying to find The Wrong Road by Robert Frost. Sadly, there's not much of a selection on their literary shelves. However, there is a rather neat section set aside for the net. I've applied to permission to use it so I can embark on a new counselling course from Stonebridge College.

Salud all!

Willowfield School
Stonebridge College

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

On a brief visit to the City. How marvellous to see it all again. Will report in on Saturday. My new email address is

Love to friends and family