This week’s London Boy Film blog by Johnny is a real treat and a must read for all followers/fans of the blog and movie project. The story is one which will leave you asking yourself questions by the time you finish. I’ll let Johnny explain….
Luck or divine intervention ?
Was Lady Luck on Johnny’s side here, or was some other force at play? You decide…
Hello guys, with a title like this one I’m betting you’re wondering if I’ve lost the plot or gone all God-like. No people, the last time I checked the plot, it was still there which satisfied me I hadn’t lost it. As for the God thing, you bet I’m a bit God like. Putting it frankly, let’s just say I’ve had some amazing experiences happen to me over the years that can’t be explained as a fluke. If I told you guys just a little about what happened to me right now, some of you may well think. “Yep, he’s lost it alright’. But, let’s see how this blog goes down with you guys before you make your mind up on anything. If all goes well and I get enough feed-back, I’ll be sure to write about them in my next blog no matter how hard some of you may find them to believe.
What I can tell you since those experiences happened, is that I don’t believe in coincidences any longer. This little tale happened to me way back when I got a Borstal sentence. I was just seventeen and already I’d been labelled by the powers that be, that I was a menace to society. Even as a kid I believed in God, I had no choice in my house. Both names God and Jesus would come out of my ma’s mouth so often, that as a kid I thought they both lived in my bedroom wardrobe. Even at seventeen the type of life I was leading I thought they wouldn’t want anything to do with me. After all as my ma would keep telling me I was a bad sinner and that God would punish me. But the difference with me was that I bloody liked the life I was leading! After I tell you this little tale, you make your own minds up and tell me what forces you think were at play? Now read on because you’re about to become the first people to learn about this side of me.
Arriving at Wormwood Scrubs at eight o’ clock in the evening is a moment in time I will never forget, it was daunting. You know that feeling of impending doom we sometimes feel; well this felt ten times worse of the worst. My first thoughts as we drove in through the gates were of dread. Back then I was always a bit of a flash bastard, big mouthed with a huge ego? Now this horrific living nightmare that I was now in, made me feel vulnerability and real fear for the first time. It was like having you’re worse nightmare come alive as a play and you’re playing the lead role. That was the time I left my adolescence at the gates of ‘The Scrubs’ I was now stepping into the big man’s world of skulduggery. For me when the shock at my arrival was over, my next thought was that I best learn quickly if I wanted to survive in this Victorian style jungle.
I had just been given a two-year Borstal sentence for terrorizing half of the south of England. Got caught and sentenced at Chichester Crown Court. But because of my age and having a pregnant common- law-wife ready to drop, the judge showed lenience by only giving me a Borstal sentence. That was a right result considering all the trouble I had caused
The after sentencing process meant going into the scrubs to be assessed. After 2-3 weeks I would be assigned to a Borstal that was supposedly suitable for me. If I had been a violent, drug-pushing criminal, I would without question be sent to a closed borstal. I was lucky and wangled it with a bit of ‘’Yes Sir, No Sir, three bags full Sir” that I got sent to an open borstal. Although our little gang had done mainly warehouses and commercial premises. What deserved us all a longer sentence was the length of time we had been at it without getting caught! In the end it required three separate police forces, each of them to work together, just to be able to catch us. Believe it or not, having three forces working smoothly with each other was a very rare thing. All because of the huge ego’s in the ranks of each constabulary. Everyone wanted the credit for bringing our little crew to mark. Which led to each force, not sharing important information with the other two. But before they sorted out their infancy, it took many meetings and debates costing the taxpayer a fortune. So they blamed my pals and me for putting that huge dent in the coffers of the three police forces financial pot. That was a hell of a lot of money wasted, but they had no choice but work with each other if they ever wanted us behind bars. I’ll always remember the old bill’s faces when they actually nicked me. It was one of shock, which quickly turned to violence after realising how young we all were. Three police forces had hired professional profilers who in turn characterised us as a gang of middle-aged professional commercial cat burglars. So you can imagine their reaction when they realised that it was just a bunch of teenagers that had been pulling the wool over their eyes for so long. But at least we kept them on their toes because we were at it seven days per week for months on end. They didn’t let us forget that either. Let’s just say that it was none too pretty when it came down to them dishing out their own version of justice.
After quickly getting over the initial aggro and with me making my mark within the Borstal population. I concentrated all my time on sorting my relationship out.
Prior to my sentencing at Chichester crown court I had been on remand for months in another Victorian shithole a juvenile centre called ford. The day after I was sentenced my first daughter Lynsey-Ann was born and boy was I proud to be a dad. It also gave me the jolt I needed to get out as quick as possible and work legally to look after them. But that jolt was short-lived because a bombshell was about to hit home, in the shape of a letter in my mail containing a ‘Dear John’. For those of you who don’t know what a DJ is? – It’s when the love of your life tells you she doesn’t want anything to do with you anymore and you’re never to see your kid again. Worse still, you’re fucked because you’re not able to do anything about it. I was devastated even more because it wasn’t just a normal girl/boy split up. I now had a family for the very first time, so that Dear John letter really hit the spot.
I suppose my thoughts on love back then were more manlike and responsible than that of a seventeen year old today. I had been brought up as an only child in an Irish run house. Up to the time I met my wife my experience about love was that it was lust in disguise. That consisted of me having regular one-night stands from when I lost my virginity aged eleven. But when I met my wife lust went out the window and for the first time ever I experienced true love. As for my upbringing there was love in my family but it was more sheltered and sensitive emotions were less shared. From the age of five I longed for a family with my own brothers and sisters. Bless her, my Ma lost her first and third child, all she ever wanted was to give me a bro or sis. The doctors warned her she was risking her own life if she got pregnant a third time. She nearly did die as well, I remember the priest giving her the lasts rights. But she was a tough little bird, all 4’ 10’’ of her, a Dublin born no nonsense type of women who just happened to have a blinding left hook.
While emotionally hurting your mind can play all sorts of tricks on you when you are powerless to do anything. This day and age, it must be similar to getting dumped by text. Anyone who does their dirty work by texting you has done you a favour because their actions say it all; they’re nothing but arseholes. There’s a fine line separating love and hate and I wandered down both paths during the first few months.
At the same time I was fast-tracking my adjustment into Borstal life. When I arrived at the Borstal the first thing I noticed there were no fences. Not that I was thinking of doing a bunk at that time, but later on into my sentence I certainly did give it a thought. Having no fences made it seem easy for me to have it away on my toes. But the borstal staff were clever and used tactics to put us off the thought of escaping. They would at least once or twice a week parade a captured inmate in front of us at reveille time. He would look dishevelled, beaten, cold, and hungry. The month in solitary confinement he was about to receive, for him would feel like heaven sent. The stunt was designed to let us know that there was nowhere to go if we ran. In fact I was on an Island with a fast flowing estuary two thirds around it with the North Sea connecting each side. That just left a small bridge to the mainland that was adjoined to a USAF Base that housed dozens of silos with a nuke in each. We at the Borstal all got a free trip around that Air base. They went out of their way to scare the shit out of us. A little show was especially put on by the Military Police. They showed us what would happen if we got caught using their base as an escape route. It was plain and simple that we’d be shot on the spot! Even though it was an open borstal it was situated in a very dangerous area and the cold war was still in progress. The quickest way off the place was to get a job on the outside farm party, then slope off during the day to a waiting car to pick you up. But I had my daughter to consider and being on the run wasn’t going to help my situation.
Normally I would only be allowed to write one letter home every fortnight. But now that I had a daughter, that entitled me to one more specifically for her. But I would use both to write to my Mrs, I would write anything I thought she needed to hear to convince her to take me back. She became my first love after meeting her when I was just fifteen. She was slightly older than me and had been married for around six months before her husband upped and left her for another bird. We got together six weeks after he had left and I became smitten almost overnight.
Basically I only started out thieving on a regular basis because I wanted the best for my soon to-be family. I was too young to collect welfare and too in love to work away up north and earn good money with my old man. After that I dismissed, or more like ignored all other alternatives that could support my family to be. Not that I realised it back then but… I was becoming one self-centred egotistical twat.
I was able to justify to myself, then my wife that it was cool for me to go out each night, clearing out a warehouse or two and living off the proceeds. I would talk bullshit to her for hours that what I was doing was the right thing to do. I now realise I was co-dependent on her, especially if I got banged-up. If I got captured I needed to know she would still be there once I got out. So getting a DJ set free all those subdued emotions I had lurking around. Unbeknown to my wife I’d been brought up in a crime-ridden society and was always on the wrong side of the fence. But all that is another self-centred story and maybe I‘ll write about it in another blog.
I couldn’t show the other inmates that my emotions were affecting me. They would have homed in on me like sharks at a feeding frenzy. But there were plenty of times when I needed to be on my own. I realise now that it was normal to cry in private, it sometimes felt better to let it all out. Similar to someone grieving a newly departed loved one. I’ve felt both at the same time many years later and I’m not ashamed to have shed a tear or two then either. What I learnt about myself is that there was a decent side to me, compassionate, loving, and understanding. I just found it hard to express it and when I did it was usually too late.
In Borstal each of the four units housing around a hundred or more inmates had what we called a Matron. To describe ours would be to say she looked like everyone’s chubby, frumpy, cuddly grandmother including a big hairy mole on her cheek. She’ll be the one that you went to when things like you’ve copped for a Dear John or had bereavement in the family. We could wail on about how sorry we felt for ourselves and how we were going to change for the better once free. Us lot change? Do me a favour, most of what we told her was complete bullshit because she was one of those that assessed us when it came to us being considered for our date of release. The Vicar was another easy touch, but only to the selected few. He’ll have about five born again Christians come through his door every week claiming to have seen the light after hearing one of his sermons. From my point of view, God didn’t favour me and Borstal just made me a better-hardened criminal. But anyway apart from his or her usage to us, we still needed someone to unload on to. But for me I couldn’t’ even try it on to become a born again Christian, all because I was a Catholic. Yes, our vicar was biased to the point of being a racist when it came down to other beliefs and religions. In his tiny self-centred egotistic mind you could only become born again if you were baptised in a Church of England (Protestant) and had listened to one of his sermons. We would take the piss some days when passing him; we’d say something like “Loved you’re semen yesterday Vicar, we all got smothered in it” He was so stupid that he thought the miss-pronunciation of the word sermon was down to our dialects.
He lived at the vicarage adjoining the Church and was married with a couple of brats. I say that lightly because his kids looked down their noses at us inmates and openly say to their father, as they toddled along with their fat arses sticking out, dressed like fucking choir boys ‘Are these the ones that are all going to hell father?’ And the fucker in most cases would agree with them by calling us the dammed! This little trumped up prick had to be related to the first vicar at Botany-bay, the Australian convict settlement. One of his daily chores was to escort the Governor through the block (Solitary) to check on the inmates to make sure they were okay. You know the usual, ‘‘what do you mean you’re getting buggered in the middle of the night by two nonce screws?” or “How on earth did you get all those bruises? Seeing that you’re not allowed to see anyone but our officers? Are you expecting the Governor and I to believe our officers are responsible for your condition?’ There was no point in complaining because it went against you as being a troublemaker. With this vicar, he was a very sick bunny mentally, but more about him later.
I was determined not to give up trying to woo my wife back. She hadn’t climbed into the sack with another geezer. I know now she was teaching me a lesson on getting my priorities right by remembering to put my family first before I thought about going out on the rampage again.
We all had a Personal Officer who would deal with the progress of our borstal training on a daily basis. If you had a problem and didn’t want too much sympathy he was the one to see. Mine was a screw called Mr Shelcock, who was just happening to be studying criminology at the time of us meeting. While being banged up in the block for breaking another inmates jaw in three places. Mr. Shelcock paid me an unannounced visit and asked me if I’d like to join him and take part in an experiment he was involved in. To start with, my first task was to write down my life story. The carrot was if I co-operated he might be able to help me obtain my dates of release earlier. I knew I was going to get a month or three loss of remission for the violence I inflicted on the other inmate. Worse still I could be transferred to a closed Borstal, so I was willing to try anything. Bearing in mind I was only seventeen I thought there wasn’t that much interesting going on in my life that deserved analyzing.
However he took me on as one of his first test case, but to the other screws it was more like head cases.
In Borstal your sentence was 6 months to 2 years, meaning you could get out after 6 months. But to be able to get that you’d had to be a Saint and there weren’t too many of those in there. The average time to earn your date of release was between 8-10 months. How the screws in each unit achieved giving you you’re dates was by keeping a close eye on you and assessing each one of us. I remember going on my first assessment with a screw called Mr. Boyton. He was the trainer of the borstal’s rugby team of which I was the captain. He was a fair geezer and not a racial bastard like the majority of the screws. He called me into his office and tells me that he has just completed my first quarterly assessment of me and that I could read it before he submitted it. In there they gave us freedom of speech to a point and if I didn’t agree with what he said about me, I had the option to air my views and opinions at a tribunal.
I passed all the major questions such as, did I have work waiting for me on my release? They wanted to find out if I was a caring person who would look after his new family. Not be one of those geezers who would piss off as soon as he was released. Would I stay straight, had I been rehabilitated? But then he puts the knife in, that my chosen occupation would be that of an armed bank robber. Then adds, “He is level enough mentally to feel emotion that would most certainly give him the ability to look after his family, no matter the cost.”
With reports like that going in about me it was looking more like I might be doing the full 2 years before getting out. So was it a Godsend to have a PO Officer who just happened to want me as his guinea pig in an experiment.
That experiment could help prove the others wrong and get me out sooner…well? We’ll say no more about that at this moment.
Being the daddy of my unit came with it tips and earners. I was on such a nice earner that I could support my family. Visiting time was very laid back, so it was extremely easy for me to pass money and jewellery out. Even though I had a ‘Dear John’ I still wanted to support my wife and daughter… and I did.
Anyway getting back to this ‘Dear John’ and my mixed emotions. Mr. Shelcock wanted to understand what made me tick with all this crap going on. Because one minute I’ll be acting normally, the next minute I’m in a massive tear-up with someone. My temper was triggered like a broken on and off switch, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.
As I’ve said if anyone finds out about a weakness you have, the others would home in on it and test you’re patience. I would have two one hour sessions with him, five days per week. I never had a clue what he was trying to achieve. On some occasions the sessions felt almost primitive in nature. Questions like, would I kill a duck to feed my family, fucking hell I’d rob the nearest HSBC if required. Joking aside I told him that I wasn’t a compulsive thief and all that I did was planned to a tee. Without giving him names I told him a lot of stuff that had bothered me over the years. Being an only child you gather a lot of unanswered questions while having no one to answer them for you. So I only spoke about stuff that would have no repercussions, I was very careful with what I shared. He wasn’t there to change me but to understand the criminal mind from a kid in adolescence right up to the old style gangster hood. He had watched me make my mark in the borstal ranks and then seeing me crying my eyes out at night. The fucker must have stalked a few of us before choosing the right subject to conduct his experiment.
He would sometimes bend the rules slightly especially when we were talking about personal stuff probably to gain my trust, he’d give me the odd brandy to relax me. Anyway after writing my life story, all 50 pages he noticed there was a lot in it about my anger issues. Also realised my devotion to my family was paramount over anything else. He also saw I was in a volatile situation that could go bang at anytime. My feelings were hurting even more as my wife started to be really obstinate. She wouldn’t come and visit with my daughter and she wouldn’t let my ma and dad bring her up either.
Unbeknown to me Mr. Shelcock wrote to my local probation officer. He had asked him to go round and speak with my wife about what was happening to me the longer I didn’t see my daughter. They offered her to arrange a visit for her and my daughter to see me. She knew what my temper was like and knew it could get me into a lot of trouble. So it was left to her whether she would come or not. Shelcock kept quiet about all of this until he had an answer from her. I continued with my letter writing expressing how much I loved and missed her and our baby. I would fill in every spot on those sheets of paper when writing home. I managed to get eight letters into one by writing extra small.
Being the daddy meant you never had to sort things out for yourself, you always got others to use the muscle. But I was getting angry and started to dish it out myself regardless of the comebacks. Anyway it got back to Mr. Shelcock who was none too pleased with me and gave me an order to tone it down.
A few days later I got a visit from my local Catholic priest. His parish included our borstal but he could only manage to do a service every two-weeks. That was because we only had the one Church and our self-righteous C of E vicar needed it every Sunday for a service as well as choir practice. Seeing there was only a handful of Catholics it was decided we had a Friday service once a fortnight. There was no loved lost between their vicar and our priest. What I remember the most was Father O’Brian saying in his southern Irish accent that the vicar was an unhelpful fecking ejiot.
When we spoke he gave me the opportunity to do confession, I hadn’t done one in years, so you can imagine there was a lot to be forgiven for. But one thing that did stay with me and that was when he told me to try and pray for a resolution between my wife and I. Well as far as I knew I had nothing else to try, so why not give it a go and see if God would help this sinner out. As I said earlier I would have done anything to get her back and see my daughter again.
While everyone else was in the TV and snooker rooms that night I went to bed early. I was a confirmed catholic, so I knew the routine on how to pray. Kneel, make the sign of the cross and away I went. I found that I was at it for nearly an hour because the other inmates were now making their way back to their cells. My first thought was where did all that time go? Second, where the fuck did these tears come from that were running down my face? Thirdly I felt a lot better and went on to sleep like a log for the first time in months.
Yet I still had this feeling that what I was going through was my own karma for all the wrongs I had done. Imagine that, being only seventeen and already feeling that God has given up on you. However I had nothing to lose, I had another chat with my priest, told him the outcome and he suggested I gave it another go. The same thing happened again, my knees were killing me but the time just flew by while I said my prayers.
I don’t want you guys out there to think I went all soft but let the first one of you come clean and tell me that none of you have ever prayed for something in your lifetime. After all the Mafia are all God fearing people even though they go round whacking people… I wasn’t that bad so why couldn’t I pray?
I kept it up every night until I had it down to a tee, yet nothing was happening. My letters home were being returned to me unopened. But I owed it to my little girl for me to keep trying and I did.
Then one day I got called into Mr. Shelcocks office. “I have some good news for you Mack, You’re wife has agreed to come and visit and she’s bringing your daughter. I was stunned to say the least because what I prayed for had come true. But hey’ it was probably a coincidence that Shelcock managed to work it out with my wife.
As the days got closer to her visit I prayed asking that we could sort out our differences and be given another chance to have the family I always dreamed of. On the day of the visit I hadn’t realised that Shelcock had driven from the borstal down to London and picked her up. I couldn’t believe a screw would do something such as that for an inmate. I will always be indebted to him for everything he done for me. My wife and I managed to patch things up and seeing my daughter who was now 11 months old was fantastic. Even though the visit was a closed one we only had three hours together. It felt wonderful just to hold my daughter for the first time in months.
My attitude changed so much that reports coming in about me were more positive than they ever had been. I continued to pray for my wife and kids and in one particular prayer I asked to be with them both as soon as possible. It was a tall order to pray for because I still had not been given my date of release. The following lunchtime I was in line to collect my grub from the canteen when a screw walks up to me. “Mack here’s a chitty, go to reception first thing in the morning and draw three pounds from you’re personal savings. I had no idea what it was all about nor was I going to ask. There’s one thing you learn when you are doing a Borstal sentence, don’t ever question an order, just do as you’re told.
The next morning after breakfast I got my mail in a shape of a post card. My wife’s parents had taken them both and the rest of her family on holiday to Great Yarmouth. Enclosed was the address of the caravan park so I cold write to them while they were holidaying. Anyway I finished my breakfast and a loud voice booms across the canteen area. “Mack, why are you not at reception as instructed?’’ I’m full of apologises as I run to the reception area where I hand over my chitty. I’m counted out the money then given a box that contained my civilian clothing and told to get changed. My first thoughts were that they had made a mistake and were going to release me by mistake. They’re another seven geezers all getting changed into their civilian clothing. They all seemed to know what was going on, but I felt it safer to say fuck all and just went along with it.
There I am sitting on a long bench with a bunch of geezers I didn’t really recognise apart from one who sang in the choir. About twenty minutes went by before a white mini-bus backed up to the reception area. I could see two figures inside moving around, when the back doors opened. There in front of me was a young girl with a rainbow coloured-striped jumper wearing a pair of dungarees and odd coloured shoes. The other who was the driver looked like a hippy, with bell-bottom jeans and wearing an old ‘Ban the Bomb’ tee shirt. I think if one of my daughters had brought someone like him home and introduced him as her boyfriend. I think he would have seen the front door from a different angle with the toe of my boot wedged up his arse. But they looked pretty good to me on this particular day. The screws disappeared leaving just these two to sort us out so we all climbed into the back of the mini-bus.
We are about 10 minutes into our journey when the young girl turns to face us with her guitar in hand. “Shall we all sing a song?” I said fuck all, then she starts singing that well known song ‘American pie” So there we were hurtling down the motorway singing ‘Bye bye miss American pie’ After the fourth verse I couldn’t contain myself any longer and asked the black geezer next to me ‘’Where the fuck were we going?” He looked at me with surprise in his eyes. “You mean to tell me that you don’t know where we are actually going?” abruptly I said. “Well are you going to tell me or not?” What he said next left me gobsmacked…we’ll we are all going on Christian week! Still looking none the wiser I ask him what was Christian week?
He explained that we were to meet up with Christians from all over the world at a holiday centre at a place call North Swatham. Now I knew my way about the UK like the back of my hand and I knew Swatham was very near to Great Yarmouth…and guess who was on holiday there?
I warned the black geezer to keep quiet about me not knowing about this Christian week. After all I was about to go on a holiday and I didn’t want anything or anyone messing it up for me. A few hours later we arrive at a beautiful holiday centre, we were housed in a villa with four bedrooms. There were no blankets just duvet covers and for me that would be a first for me to sleep under one. We all had supper in the main dining room where we were introduced to all sorts of people. They were all Christian folk from all over the place. We were the only inmates present and the welcome we received was amazing, especially the supper. About eight in the evening we were asked if we wanted to go to the pub. Well I was loaded wasn’t I, what with the few quid I was allowed to take, I managed to add another fifty to that. By 10pm I was half pissed and got talking to Lady Rainbow (The woman who picked us up) She sensed I wasn’t feeling right and asks me if it was the drink? I remember saying to her if she wanted to hear a story…over the next two hours I told her everything I’ve just told you guys. Including that my wife and daughter were just 12 mile down the road.
Thinking no more of it I went to bed and slept in a bed fit for a King. The following morning I was woken by the smell of bacon and eggs and made my way to the dining room. The other lads were still flat out, probably overwhelmed with their beds. Lady Rainbow comes and joins me for breakfast and suggests we go and look for my wife’s family. I was for once lost for words but managed to ask her to repeat the question. She just smiled and said, “You heard John” I explained that I had the address and knew the area so it shouldn’t take us that long to get there. She drove at twenty miles per hour all the way. I must have left a dent in the floor where I imagined it was the accelerator. Being a getaway driver I usually got out of cars going that fast. After a while we found the caravan park and amongst hundreds of caravans we found theirs. But it was too late; they had already left for the beach. It was then my Rainbow Angel suggested we take a look down on the beach. We got to the base of the pier with the beach being either side. Fuck me! It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I thought we had blown it because I couldn’t see her doing another trip down here to the coast. As we are standing there with people milling everywhere she says to me ‘’John, let’s pray” Whooo! I thought, pray yes, but only in my cell alone at night, not here on the pier. What would people think of me, what about my reputation? Then it dawned on me, this was about my wife and daughter, not my pride. We joined hands and she prayed that we’d find them. We then made our way back to the car and I suggested we leave a note on the caravan door. As we got to the camp there was a hump-back bridge and just as we went over it there were about five people walking, one pushing a babies buggy. Where they had there backs to us something told me to turn around as we passed them. My Rainbow Angel doing her usual mandatorily 20 MPH helped a great deal because I was able to focus on the group of people as I leaned out of the window. Startling her I roared STOP! STOP! JESUS CHRIST! I DON’T J Fruitfully J BELIVE IT! Yeah it’s them all right. While my Angel was doing her usual speed, I was out of that car, rolled like a paratrooper and was upright running back to my wife’s family before she could stop.
My sister-in-law screamed when she set eyes on me, “He’s escaped!” My father-in-law agreed and my wife just smiled. A smile that said how the fuck did he manage this? But the most rewarding part of out meeting was seeing my little girl in her buggy eating an ice pop.
I introduced my Angel to them all, but my family were too stunned to greet her appropriately. Angel broke the ice by telling me we only had 30 minutes before she’ll have to take me back. She could see I was gutted because we had searched and prayed for so long. She saved the day by suggesting we could come back the following morning. Thanks to her that 30 minutes was the best I ever spent with my wife. When we got back into the car, I couldn’t thank my angel enough, she was in every sense of the word a Godsend. She not only brought me back the following day, but she done it every day for the rest of that week. She would drop me off around nine in the morning and pick me up at eight in the evening. Here I was in Borstal, yet I’m on holiday in Great Yarmouth up at the bar having a few pints and making up for lost love with my wife…how the hell did that happen?
The day before we left to go back to the Borstal I asked to her check after me once I got back. She was a bit bewildered at my request, but I said she’d understand if what I was thinking was correct. She said to me, it seems you are expecting troubles when you get back John? Will it be from the other boys, perhaps them getting jealous? I’ll always remember saying to her “ No, no, not from that direction that you’re thinking of Angel”
I never told the others anything of what went on, but they smelt booze on me when I got back each night. Plus they saw me drive in and out everyday with my Angel. As per usual they put two and two together and came up with seven. They put it about that I was having a fling with her and before long the whispers got worse, even before I got back to the Borstal. But that was just hearsay and what with her being a Christian no one at the borstal would believe it anyway.
On our return to the borstal the mini-bus backed into the reception area. The biased vicar was standing there with a couple of screws to greet us with a false smile. My Angel never had a clue what was about to happen. The vicar quickly greeted her then got rid of her just as quick by giving a stupid excuse. As soon as they were out of sight the vicar points at me and tells the screws “Take it’ down to solitary” Not him or even by name, but it! How can a so-called man of God be so biased by calling me a human being a fucking it’ You don’t even call your dog it’ let alone a person? What made it worse was this fucker who was calling me an it’ was a fucking vicar, a Christian, a man who preaches the gospel and is meant to be all-forgiving. But the big question was, why? Why was I being sent down to solitary? Well I’ll find out soon enough probably the next day. So off I went to solitary and the two screws even said the vicar was out of order because there were no charges against me.
My Angel knew something was not right even with what I had told her. She had met the vicar on several occasions but she he had never seen him being so obtuse. She had a feeling that he wasn’t what he was made out to be.
Apparently the whole trip was organised by a Christian group which the vicar was part of. Each year the vicar would pick only Church of England followers, not Jews, Muslims or Catholics. In fact he hated the Catholic faith and was constantly at loggerheads with our priest. Prior to this situation when I had been in solitary it was his duty to come round with the Governor each day. This was to ask us if we were being treated okay and the vicar was there if we needed someone else to talk to that was not a screw. I had asked him on several occasions if I could talk with him, but all the bastard done was say he’ll come back later…which he never did.
Anyway getting back to the story in hand, I never slept at all on my horsehair mattress. I thought to myself, well Johnny boy just tell the truth about what happened. My Angel never said not to say anything and as far as I was concerned she helped me with my relationship. I was sure the Governor would understand because he was a devout Christian. Plus liked me a lot because of my rugby skills of which I was the captain of the borstal team and he was a fanatic.
The following lunchtime I heard the doors of the block unlock and the screws welcoming the governor and that prick of a vicar. I was in the end cell and heard every word that was said between them and each inmate.
Then the moment of truth was about to happen as the key to my cell slid into the lock and turned. I had all my kit laid out for inspection and was standing to attention waiting to be addressed by the governor. He looks at his sheet board, which shows what charge I am on. I could see the confusion on his face when he says to the screw “What is he in here for?” The screw explained that he was under direction of the vicar to bang me up. He then looks at the vicar for an explanation. The vicar started ranting and raving that I had somehow managed to put my name on the list for the trip. Then he tells him that I spent time with my wife and that I organised it all for my family to be there at the time of Christian week. He said I hoodwinked Angel into driving me to the holiday centre and that I came back each night smelling of booze.
Then the slimly shit bag says I should never have been allowed on the trip because I was nothing but a Catholic. I could see the governor was getting annoyed with the vicar because he went off on tantrum.
The governor said he would contact my angel and find out if there was any truth in what has been said. Until then I was to stay banged up unless I had something to say. I said yes sir’ I do have plenty to say and told him the whole story right from being given a chitty to collect my money right up to my angel and I praying on the pier to help find my wife. The vicar burst out and shouted “Blasphemy, you pray, how dare you say you prayed you’re a Catholic!” The vicar was off his fucking head and the governor could see the hatred within him. However he said to me he would back to see me as soon as he gets to the bottom of this situation.
It had been 24 hours since the governor paid me a visit and seeing it was a Sunday the borstal was quiet. There I was sitting on my chair having read bits of the bible (In solitary the only literature you could read was the bible.) After the beautiful week I just had I was beginning to believe a lot more than I did before I went. I wasn’t fearful of my situation because the vicar had showed his true colours by losing the plot. However I was a bit concerned about my Angel because I did ask her to check on me. Maybe I had got her in trouble or the borstal was not going to except what she had to say. It was about 6pm when I heard the main door open and the sound of a familiar female voice…yes you got it, my Angel had come to visit me with one of the other Christians from her church. She also brought her guitar along and the screws allowed them into my cell. I thanked her for checking on me but she told me the vicar had been having a go at her. He wouldn’t allow her to talk with the governor, so she drove down and knocked on his door. The funny thing was she ended up staying for dinner and then he allowed her to pop over and se me.
She told him everything about what she had done while we were away. But no one could understand how my name appeared on the list. He told her the vicar reckons I got into his office and found the list and re-typed it out including the chitty and off I went. She told the governor my version and that was that I prayed to see my wife and little girl. After all I knew nothing of their Christian week let alone get into the vicars office and find a sheet of paper and forge another with my name on it.
So there you have it, was it just a bit of luck or was it a bit of Divine intervention?
How was it I got my name on a list that only the vicar had control of, how was it this just happened when my wife and kid was on holiday. How on earth did we manage to find them after searching all day on the beach? Was it my prayers being answered or was it all a coincidence? How did so much happen in such a short time, I’ll leave you to your own opinion? I have my own ideas how this all happened and my thoughts since those days have dramatically changed. It didn’t stop me going off and becoming a well known criminal, but I suppose that was all part of God’s plan for me.
Ta la for now
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