On Monday 1st March, St. David’s Day, I received some fantastic news. I have to admit it is something still sinking in. What made it even more special was the person who delivered the news to me and where he works. The news also had me reflecting like never before. Jose Aguiar, the person who delivered the news via a private message on Linkedin, is not just a good friend and a contact, Jose, along with Helena, is from the education department at HMP Pentonville. Below you can see what Jose posted after he had told me in private. You can also, with permission granted from Jose in showing you, see part of our conversation, which I hope will give you a sign of how I am feeling.
In 2004, after several years out, I reintroduced myself to our prison system, an on-off relationship which finally ended again in June 2017. Although the decree absolute didn’t come through until April 2019 when my licence ended, not that I actually received anything at the end of my licence other than a final warning for not attending my final appointment, but, alas, no ‘goodbye’ or ‘good luck in your retirement’ card was handed over.
At the beginning of this new relationship, HMP Pentonville was our first home together. Just after the new year of 2005 we then moved to a nice place in the countryside, a tiny village called Blundeston, coincidentally the name of our second home. However, I digress, which is exactly what happened during my reflection.
Previously, I had convinced myself the time I spent out of prison, over the years since being released from prison at the end of the 80s , I was living a relatively normal life. Was I fuck!
It didn’t matter what I was wearing, whether it was all suited and booted working up west or wrapped up in a sleeping bag with the floor as my mattress. It mattered not if I was in Kent, London, Norfolk or even in Wales and back again. I was still me, I still am.
In fact, when I was remanded to Pentonville, I was already on a combination order from the courts. A 56 day curfew, Aggression Replacement Therapy (ART), or whatever they called it, I only recall it frustrating the life out of me and making me more aggressive, and a two-year supervision order. I received that sentence in court number one of Bow Street magistrates. A court room where you could physically feel the history and the only courtroom where I felt over-powered just by its presence. I hadn’t long finished a community sentence order before that. One I picked up in 2002. The more I thought, the more I realised for how long I was, indeed, convinced my life was normal. I was just luckier over the years. A luck that ran out in 2004.
I had already lost whatever identity I was pretending to uphold before going to the Ville. Then during that sentence my actual relationship of ten years and with two sons ended, so I thought I’d try again. Somewhere else, somewhere fresh. I ended up in an open prison in Norfolk (Britannia House) and was released to the local area.
Before you know it, I’m on remand in HMP Peterborough and then HMP Norwich. This time they released me in 2010. They released me at the halfway point of that sentence, but I didn’t particularly like my licence conditions, or probation, so went back and served until the end of my sentence.
Nothing changed, so nothing changed. I was having a great time in prison, but not so much out here.
I didn’t last long after that release either.
Jailed again, and released in 2012, which should have been 2011, but then probation did the same things and so did I. Recalled after two weeks and served the rest in prison. As you can see from the following extract from my last OASys report, being in prison was not the issue.
I moved again, this time to Wales. Only there a few weeks until HMP Cardiff came calling, another Knox Road. After my release from Cardiff, it was time to go home, back to where I was born. Back to Kent. What a HUGE mistake that was. It compounded everything. I was a mess by the time I left for the city of Norwich in 2015, and by now we all know what happened next.
Coincidentally, I am now back in Kent but in another part and far enough away from what was.
The difference after all these years, along with having a fantastic support network and a supportive and loving missus in ‘Keef’, is that this time I fixed me for me.
You cannot runaway from yourself. No matter how hard you try or how far you go.