Return of the Virtual Nomad

virtual nomad sticky

Well, now that I am back on the wing and back in the gym, I am also free to continue with my Travels of a Virtual Nomad.  However, there has been a slight change.

As many of you will be aware, my intention was to run, ride and row in the prison gym, following a virtual route around the country and beyond whilst keeping a diary on this site of where I would be if I were free to follow the route in real life.  The sponsorship was intended to go to the absolutely fantastic charity, Not Shut Up who help prisoners all around the country with their involvement in the arts, and who deserve far more recognition for their efforts.  However, due to technical difficulties at my end (and completely beyond the control of Not Shut Up ) it has not been possible to facilitate this.  So instead I have had to change my recipient charity to the equally deserving Koestler Trust.

The Koestler Trust work tirelessly to hold an annual competition in which prisoners are awarded recognition of their work in the form of certificates and prizes.  They also run a scheme in which those prisoners who show a particular commitment to the arts are given the opportunity to work with a Koestler mentor.

This work is priceless to prisoners who might otherwise have no outlet for their talents and I would ask all of you to follow and sponsor my journey for the benefit of The Koestler Trust‘s work and of the artistic interests of prisoners up and down the country.

But I would also like to ask you to visit the site of Not Shut Up, too.  They are hugely deserving of any donation you might feel able to give, and go to great lengths to encourage prisoners (including myself) with our involvement in the arts.  Please give them the recognition they deserve and donate whatever you can.

 

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Alternatives to Violence

I have a bit of good news. After about two months in segregation, they have moved me back to the wings. To a cell on the top floor of the wing in fact. From the dungeon to the penthouse suite!

I don’t know yet whether that whole situation is all over and dealt with, or if there are still things going on behind the scenes. But at least I’m not in solitary any more.

The whole process (witnessing the fight and then everything that followed) has made me think though. I’m fed up of the violence in these places. I’ve been inside for twelve years and I’ve seen everything from handbags at dawn to the decapitation and disembowelment of another prisoner. Sure, I’ve had a few fights myself too. I’m by no means a pacifist and I do believe that everyone has the right to defend themselves – you don’t just curl up and take a kicking. But I never start a fight and will do anything I can to avoid one starting if it’s at all possible. I’m just sick of how easily some people here seem to resort to violence. And that goes as equally for staff as it does for prisoners. I’m sick of witnessing it. I’m sick of having to deal with it myself, and I’m sick of people assuming that, as a prisoner, I must be the same.

So I’d like to draw your attention to a fantastic group who try to combat exactly that.

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Fact (noun): Something on the Hard Drive

I just heard an interesting story about Wikipedia. There was a man in Egypt who lived, quite literally, in the shadow of a large obelisk. He edited the Wikipedia article on this obelisk, adding such things as a photograph he had taken himself and the geographical coordinates. However, another man in America re-edited the article, removing or changing some of the information that the Egyptian man had added. Amongst these changes was an adjustment to the coordinates, relocating the obelisk to a place a few miles away. The Egyptian tried to argue his case, pointing out that he could see the obelisk right outside of his window. But while the Egyptian’s assertions were first hand and far more reliable, the American was able to list a source; a textbook from the 1930s that included the incorrect coordinates. Since he had a source, the American won and the errors remained in place.

This reminds me of the way Prison and Probation Service report writers tend to work. It doesn’t matter what you say. It doesn’t even matter what you do. If someone else writes that you said or did something different, it will be endlessly quoted regardless of how much evidence you have that it is wrong.

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Progress of a Virtual Nomad – Cleckheaton

I’m now 40 miles into my virtual journey and am in Cleckheaton. Check out my Nomad section to find out why!

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The Things I Miss

Recently someone asked me what I miss most about the outside world. The answer isn’t simple. There are things big and small. But they are all things so many people take for granted.

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The Value of Laws

A while back someone told me that they wanted to take a certain course of action but that it was technically against the rules so they didn’t think they should. In the end, they did, but they still regarded it as a selfish thing to do, even whilst doing it. I didn’t agree. I believe that there are certain rules (and certain laws) that deserve to be broken.

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Common Sense Alert! 9

Some turns of phrase make total sense. Others don’t. Prison Officers tend to like the ones that don’t.

One example I’ve heard a lot lately is ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire’. Except, of course, that’s rubbish on absolutely every level. If you take it literally, it’s simply wrong. Cigarettes aren’t on fire. Smouldering maybe, but not on fire. Yet the fact that they ‘smoke’ is the whole point!

So, OK, maybe it makes sense on a metaphorical level then, right? Nope. To say where there’s smoke there’s fire is like saying that whenever anyone says anything about you, anything at all, it has to be true. Well doesn’t that mean there’s no such thing as a lie or a liar? Unless of course someone actually calls you a liar. Then, since where there’s smoke there’s fire, they must be telling the truth and there is no such thing as a lie after all. In fact, you should probably check your pants because where there’s smoke…

Yet Prison Officers seem to love parroting that absurd line at anyone they can. No sooner had I been accused of being involved in trouble than I heard one of them saying “Where there’s smoke.” Innocent until proven guilty? Not in prison. Here you aren’t even guilty until proven innocent. It’s worse than that. You’re guilty until a better scapegoat comes along.

But then actual justice isn’t much part of this justice system, so why should actual guilt have anything to do with being found guilty or sense have anything to do with common sense?

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