Thursday, 29 December 2016

That Was The Year That Was - A Thank you

2016 has been an interesting year. 

I started blogging.  I was completely clueless but knew that I wanted to try and make a change. During my first week of incarceration I witnessed a young man kill himself in front of me. He slit his wrists open in a shout for attention as no one would listen to him. I swore that upon my release I would shine the light of attention on this and never let his life be meaningless. He is the reason that I do what I do; his memory will live on in every piece that I write.

I have spoken with some you and you now know me. I am honoured that you seek me out and ask for my opinion on the issues surrounding the prison estate and the crisis that this country now faces.  I posted a blog recently with my voice in it. Not for egotistical reasons but I wanted you to truly understand my passion to get things done; to affect a change in the way the government runs our prisons and the way that the public perceives them.

To those who I haven’t had the pleasure of speaking with, remember that you are also in my thoughts and have my gratitude.

I sit here looking at my twitter thingy and see that as a I write I have 900 + followers. That may not seem like a lot to you but it is more than I could ever imagine. Humility is not something that came easy to me in my previous existence as an arrogant, self-centred buffoon but now it brings a tear to my eye with an emotion so full of joy that I have rarely experienced. Thank you all, you wonderful, lovely (obviously very bored) people.

To Alex Cavendish of @PrisonUK; you took me on this journey and pointed me in the right direction. You showed me what to do, how to do it and for that, I owe you a debt that can never be repaid. You are what a good journalist should be, a thorn in the side of the administration. You are there to show them the error of their ways and to remind them that we are watching them. May your light never be dim; shine it on those who feel they can get away with treating our prisoners as animals and releasing them back into a society who would rather shun them. I say “Yay Thee! Alex Cavendish”

To Faith Spear; you just hold your head high. You have been treated so badly by the very organisation that you swore to uphold. Yet when you spoke out (which I am known to do) you were slapped back down. Well shame on them, Faith. Shame on them! Their loss is prison reform's gain. There will always be a place in society for those as scrupulous as you. I say “Yay Thee! Faith Spear”

To those of you that have followed my blogs, read them and thought of them and the questions they raised over the year, thank you. I write exactly how I speak. I use humour in everything because if you don’t laugh, you cry. The state of our prisons is in such a dire state that one can only deflect the anguish that one feels with humour, sarcasm and a dash of irony. I am passionate and I know you understand that. I want and I need to affect change.  I say “Yay Thee! Twitteratti”

To those of you that have helped me along the way. There are far too many to mention, but you all know who you are. Your guidance has been priceless (apart from Ian Dunt at whose price is a large Latte with extra foam). Without your help I am nothing

To the legal bloggers whom I respect so very much for giving us an insight into their world, thank you. But please will you just stop doing it so well? It diminishes me into a quivering wreck; assuming the foetal position asking for my mummy  and makes me want to take up knitting. That’s right I am talking to you,The Secret Barrister, Matthew Scott, Nicholas Diable, just stop! To @jaimerh354 for your blog called The Robing Room Table;  you gave me my voice. This piece was written with such passion, I am but a simple mimic. Truly the best thing I have read in years. You have a talent; unequalled. Thank you.

To the rest of the bloggers, writers, commentators on prison reform, I sit in awe and wonderment at the passion you show. Together, we will make a difference. Thank you.

To those new friends on LinkedIn, welcome to my world of irony, humour and rants. I am humbled that you deemed me interesting enough to listen to what I have to say.

I need and I want people to sit up and take notice of what we “bloggers” write. We don’t do it for the hell of it, we do it because we know of no other way on how to get the government of the day to realise that the very people that put them in their powerful positions are not happy with them. We, who are a mixture of those involved in the criminal justice system, have come together for the betterment of society. We, who care not of the transgressions of our past, look to the future. A future where prison is used as a last resort; not as an easy option. Society must only remove those who are so terribly dangerous to it. It must not remove those who would better off in treatment for their ails.
Someone recently asked, why I write what I do and why I send messages out on twitter / social media. The answer is that I want the subject to be raised and discussed. Not only in the corridors of power but at the dinner tables of the voter. I don’t write for people to quote The Tartan Con; I write because I want people to debate, to argue, to have compassion for those worse off than they. Perhaps, one day someone who has read my offerings will ask of their MP, “What can we do to take better care of those that we jail? How can we better rehabilitate those who could be released as our neighbours?”

I had no clue if my voice would reach you and more; if you would listen to what an ex-con had to say. It has and you do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

As 2016 comes to an end I leave you with this

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
The sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields.
May the hill rise behind you,
And may the mountain be always over the crest;
And may the God that you believe in
Hold you in the palm of his hand.

Slainte maith, h-uile latha, na chi 'snach fhaic!