Monday, February 28, 2005

This afternoon I was in a

prison for teenagers, behind tall grey walls that shore up the outside world in an attempt to stop it from seeping in. Prisons are not one place but many places, many prisons. Inside the dirty concrete walls are laid out a series of cages, tall sheets of mesh with each horizontal narrower than a finger's width and topped with razor wire.

So I was led from door to cage, to cage to door and onwards into a place where everything is grey like the sky on this cold winter Monday. The cell blocks always smell sour, not like boiled cabbage or even stale piss, it's a smell unique to prisons and they all smell the same. A heavy smell that bears down and seeps into everything, it might be the smell of anxiety, or fear, or anger. I'm not sure. One thing I do know is it's wrong to lock up teenagers in places such as these as though they were cattle. Upon leaving I had to wait by a barred gate and on the other side a boy paced three steps one way then three the other. He looked like he was spoiling for a fight, on edge, he looked like he had been hunted. You don't believe me? Think I'm too fanciful? This is what prison does to people. Where young minds are squeezed and compressed into tiny spaces behind iron doors, inside large cages, surrounded by concrete walls, under razor wire.

They've put some plant pots here and there next to the walkways that lead to the visitors centre. I saw a flower with blue petals and a golden centre that was white along the edge. The boys are not allowed out except to walk from building to building so they never see the flowers or if they do I bet they never stop to look. In a place like that what's a flower supposed to mean? Amidst all that anger and fear what is anything supposed to mean? For some children it becomes too much and so there have been 28 deaths in custody since 1990 in this country including three suicides during the last 12 months. Of the three who took their own lives one was 14 years old. Along side this there are record levels of self harm among children in prison. Record levels of children in prison, record levels of suicide, record levels of self harm. New Labour? New brutalism more like.

Prisons are foul places and after all these years I'm glad I'll never have to set foot in another one.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I've recently handed in my notice at

work. I've been pissed off for some time now and two weeks ago like everyone else I received a memo telling me I was required to attend a course on how to ANSWER THE FUCKING PHONE!!!!!!!!!!!! This was to be a two day modular course on Customer Care. As a social worker by trade I'm fairly skilled at communicating with people (there's never been any complaints) but management said I must learn how to answer the phone properly. They mean within four rings, incidentally it was six rings only a few years ago so clearly a speedup is afoot here. It also pissed me off that they attempted to give this rank stupidity an academic veneer by dividing it into four 'modules' over two days. TWO DAYS!!! FOUR MODULES!!! I didn't go, I resigned. Colleagues who did attend and then challenged this nonsense were accused of being disloyal to the Council. DISLOYAL! The fuckwits who dream up this stuff wouldn't know loyalty if it jumped down off a shelf and kicked their knackers in.

So I've had enough. I am off.

Got into work on Tuesday of this week to be given a leaflet to householders from said Council stating that children were now forbidden to play football (actually all games) in the street and to do so would be to committ a criminal act. I am serious.

New Labour has criminalised children's play. They justify this by labelling street play as anti-social behaviour. I kid you not.

Having been shown this leaflet I stomped around the office swearing and shouting and then regretted resigning two weeks previously because in the doing I missed the opportunity to FUCKING RESIGN ON TUESDAY.

So outrageous is New Labour's anti-child agenda that I'm going to be bleeding exhausted come my final day. They'll have to winch my wasted flesh from our first floor office to the street below whence no doubt I'll be carried off by a horde of passing urchins trying to escape police attention.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Went to a...

party in Leeds last Saturday night to be fixed up by good friends, however they gave me the wrong clues about whom I was supposed to meet. God knows how many times I was told that she was wearing a pink top. Later on because I was being tardy and a bit slow they boldly introduced me to the mate of 'pink top' woman. Like a trooper I pumped her for information only to be told her friend was married and to the bloke with whom she was then smooching.

Hmm, a tough test.

In a single evening I was expected to ruin a marriage because 'pink top' wanted to cop with someone else. Having garnered every morsel I could from 'orange top' about her mate I went for a refill of wine. My two friends descend breathlessly asking how I'd got on. I said it was quite a challenge but if 'pink top' wanted a bit on the side then I was prepared to sacrifice myself to her carnal desires, the husband though might turn out to be a problem. Their puzzlement indicated they had no idea what I meant so I repeated myself this time more slowly to help them understand. It subsequently became clear that orange top woman was their target for me and not only this but that her orange top was in fact pink.

A long and hissed argument ensued about what constituted pink.

Either way I told them that orange top woman was not my type as she was a bit arrogant and prickly. Also during the short term of our conversation she must have tossed her hair at least 20 times and on each occasion it fell with a wisp that curled in over her lips and mouth. A fetching image you might think had she not reminded me so much of a horse. Indeed throughout the encounter intrusive statements like "six to one favourite in the three thirty at Ascot" tannoyed loudly in my head and proved to be a distraction. After all I'm not generally a gambler but the going was soft to medium and apparently she'd won her last two races.

I was driven home later by my very patient friend and put to bed. Spookily whilst slipping into unconsciousness I heard a whinny in the distance. It was only the wind... or was it?