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Preface



This is a true story. I wish it were not, for it has already destroyed the lives of too many people. The events depicted here occurred in the United Kingdom of Great Britain, although it could be in any civilized and highly technical society. The reminiscences cover the period 1973 to 1988 and are based on diaries and statements written by the author and others during that period. This manuscript details the actions of central and regional government departments, and its revelations are not only of social importance but help to show in part, the causes for the intense stress which ultimately destabilized my mind.

Like most people I have done things in the past for which I feel ashamed. They are revealed here along with everything else. For my loyalty to truth ranks higher than the low esteem I have for myself. I hope that by revealing what life is like on the dole, and in particular how it affected my mind, some good will come of it, and in so doing my debt to society will finally have been paid. If these writings save the lives of others, then certainly that will be the case. If not, then is it right for a person to be judged for the rest of his life for mistakes that he made during only five minutes of it?

Reading this detailed account, you may find it difficult to believe that the author was at any stage mentally ill. The fact, is that at the time of writing this I still am. Just how seriously ill only time will tell. You will no doubt be relieved to know that mental illness is not necessarily related to intelligence. It is possible to excel in both simultaneously. Much of what is written here is in amusing tones. At the time however, it was not at all funny. The remarks display a sense of humour that one needed in order to camouflage the inner feelings of disgust, despair, depression and anxiety.

Many of the problems which I endured were as a direct result of the British Government's monetarist policies, which continued unabated until the stock exchange collapse on Black Monday in October 1987. From that moment the government's uncontrollable vindictive and scrooge like attitude lashed out in a campaign amounting to the rape of a nation. In April 1983 the higher rate of income tax was reduced from sixty to forty per cent. The government was able to reduce taxation for the rich by reducing government expenditure, particularly in areas of social security and the nationalised health service, whilst continuing its policy of selling off nationalised assets to financial institutions and the rich. By using this income to finance tax cuts, the government was effectively giving these assets to the rich. Assets which had been created by socialist minded government's of the past for the nation as a whole.

How this state of affairs had come about was a classic example of how power and money corrupt. After the new right wing government came to power in 1979, interest rates rose substantially, forcing companies with heavy-borrowing's to sack workers in order to raise efficiency. For those in work this led to higher wages, but the trade unions lost two million members, seriously reducing their negotiating power. Their powers were reduced even further through government legislation, leaving them in no position to fight the sell off of nationalised assets. Possibly six million people were unemployed by 1986. Since the government twisted the figures on numerous occasions, the true total will probably never be known.

With the working classes demoralized, the tightening of the screw on the welfare state commenced. By April 1988 the nationalised health service was under funded by two billion pounds per annum. That month the government's social security reforms came into effect, denying benefit to thrifty pensioners, whilst those unemployed below the age of twenty-five would receive reduced income support, which would replace supplementary benefit. All unemployed would now have to pay twenty per cent of their general rates, amounting to a cut in their benefit payments. For those below the poverty line wanting single payments for essential items, grants had been superseded by loans, whilst the amount available had been reduced by one hundred and fifty million pounds per annum, ultimately forcing many claimants to go to charities that obviously did not have the necessary funds. The government treated the unemployed as scroungers. They were to become beggars. As for school leaver's denied a place in higher education, and with the government refusing to use the income from the sale of nationalised assets to create other wealth creating projects and hence worthwhile jobs, they were to become dead end kids. The new society outlined in these writings would not come about. It would remain a Utopian Dream.

The government created unemployment coupled with low benefit handouts which led to high crime rates, instilling distrust and fear within the community. An ideal framework upon which to build a police state. The government would control crime through a larger police force, backed up by new law courts, prisons and yet more prisons. No doubt the government's attempts to replace general rates with a community service charge, commonly known as the poll tax, would be the prelude for the introduction of identity cards, I thought.

Meanwhile, by 1988 the British security forces were gunning down unarmed people in the streets of Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. Terrorists or not, they deserved fair treatment, not extra-judicial execution as suspected by Amnesty International. Such methods were hardly likely to instil respect for law and order, much less government. First the LIRA. Who would be next? 1988 would be the first year involving the British army guarding civilian inmates in new prison camps. The army was becoming increasingly involved in civilian matters, whilst the British Government evidently could not build its new prisons fast enough.

The most depressing aspect of this affair was that it had all been achieved by democratic means, brought about by the government's restructuring of parliamentary boundaries favouring the right wing, and its extensive use of propaganda based on psychology, capable of duping the average voter. The government's view was that everyone, or at least enough Conning Party voters, had a price. Since 1979 this uncaring government had been elected into power no less than three times. In the general election of 1987 they were to obtain around forty per cent of the votes, and yet secure an overall majority of over a hundred seats in the House of Commons, reinforcing as nothing else could, that Great Britain was not a true democracy. As Britain's archaic political system tottered towards totalitarianism, the British electorate slowly woke up to the sham government it had created.

Often during those final years I asked myself where I had gone wrong. I think that occurred on the night of Sunday, April 16th, 1978 at 8-30pm to be exact. That night I went to one of my regular haunts, the Costermonger public house in Birmingham. Arriving at the bar I came across a very attractive young woman, who introduced herself as Marian from Nechells. An area of Birmingham famous for its gasworks, by the Aston expressway. Unusually she gave me her Christian name and address but not her surname for some unknown reason. Within five minutes she had left with her jealous girlfriend. The next day I sent her a postcard from Anglesey. I can even remember the picture on the card, but I never saw her again. Six years later during many of those periods of enforced boredom, I was to think of her a great deal. Married with two kids, living in a council house. No. Probably divorced and on the dole with two kids more like. I deeply regretted having not pursued the matter further at the time, for had I done so I would probably have found the happiness that now alludes me.

So that was my first mistake. It is so vivid in my mind, and yet incidents which occurred later, I fail to recall, for at times my brain became so overloaded, that my memory not only became impaired, but my speech slurred, and my thinking irrational. The problems which were bestowed upon me whilst unemployed, have been stratified and simplified here to make them more easily understood. Names of all individuals, except friends and those mentioned in news stories, have been changed, as also have some place names. Original letters received by me have the same brevity, layout and meaning as those shown here.

In mid-February 1988 Derek Bainbridge, a 41 year old unemployed road sweeper from Nottinghamshire, incinerated himself in his car, parked near the prime minister's residence in Downing Street, London. There are many ways in which one can protest. Here then is mine. Assuming that it is not banned, it will no doubt be regarded as a reference for our time. Is this how we wish future generations to remember us?

Warning: This manuscript contains strong language and depicts scenes of violence, which are unsuitable for young persons and those of a nervous disposition.

Read on, unless one day my mistakes become yours.







Chapter 1




Island of Dreams




On April 10th, 1978 I commenced working on a contract at a pipework engineering company in the Black Country, just a few miles from Birmingham. I was a design and engineering draughtsman, trained in mechanical engineering. Earlier contracts had involved plant layout, technical illustrating, casting and fabrication detailing. In fact anything I thought I could get away with. A few days previously my boss had asked me whether I would like to work on a long, well paid contract in North Wales. I dismissed it at the time, but my pipework contract became the catalyst that pushed me along that irreversible journey to Anglesey, my island of dreams, leading to happiness, despair and ultimately tragedy. For there is no other word to describe it.

At Great Bridge the drawing offices were vast. Row upon row of drawing boards, seemingly as far as the eye could see. I was given the task of providing the preliminary layout drawings for the jet fuel station at the, as yet to be built, Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan. I had never seen a jet fuel station at a civil airport. There were no drawings or standards to work to. In fact I did not even know where the company's drawing stores could be found. I was unable to find my section leader and chief draughtsman, assuming that they existed at all. I was out on a limb. I felt decidedly ill, so I took a few days off sick to think things over. Eventually I telephoned my boss and asked him whether that contract by the sea was still vacant.

The contract was still vacant, so I jumped at it. Anything seemed better than what I was doing at that moment, consisting mainly of scratching my head. The company I ultimately worked for specialized in contract, engineering design. Its headquarters were a few miles away in Walsall. I had been working for them about a year, on various contracts in the West Midlands. I liked working on contract, as I never stayed long enough to get bored with the work, nor sick of the working conditions, nor workforce.

1980-10 Walsall Arboretum Illum. Man Falling Out Of Bath
Welcome to Walsall Illuminations.

I had worked on about six contracts during my first year in 'flexible employment.' The most interesting being at Birmingham Mint, where at that time the furnaces were found to be subsiding due to a subterranean fire. To me, making coins for third world countries was no more interesting than stamping out washers. What I did find interesting were the commemorative medallions for such things as space exploits, as I had always been interested in high technology, particularly space research and development. Whilst there I drew up the ground floor plan of the existing works, a jumble of old and new buildings. The mint fronted onto Iknield Street, the ancient Roman road, whilst its foundations were located over a monastery. Naturally enough the cemetery was next door. Part of the works had been extended into this cemetery at one time, resulting in the exhumation of a number of graves. It was in this extension that a number of disused subterranean rooms existed, illuminated only by one solitary electric light bulb. The ground floor plan which I drew up, naturally included these rooms. I tell you this story, because going down there alone filled me with dread, which was only later equalled by the visits from my future mother-in-law.

Problems with my last contract, was only one of the reasons for wanting to go to Anglesey. Apart from the money, I also needed a girlfriend. I had had none for over a year. I knew quite a few women, but none intimately. I found Birmingham women very difficult to get to know, tending to be very distrustful. On the other hand I always seemed to get tongue tied, probably from the effects of alcohol, which aggravated my life long fear of being verbally abused. I was twenty-nine years of age and had never been married. I had my own council flat, fully furnished with modern furniture. I had a car, a red Ford Escort estate, which was essential for my line of employment. I was an eligible bachelor who did not know how to be anything else. I was an introvert. When it came to women, I did not understand them, and I probably never will. There were times when I wished that they had never been created, and many times when I have wished I had never been born. Such has been the affect of women on me.

How I came in possession of my council flat is a story in itself. I had arrived in Birmingham from Northamptonshire in September 1972, to train for eleven months on a draughtsman's course at Handsworth Government Training Centre. Near the end of my course I found a single room flatlet in Birchfield, just up the road from the Aston Villa football ground. The building in which the flatlets were located consisted of two semi-detached houses, slowly being converted into a hotel. I lived there for over three years whilst working as a draughtsman. My job consisted of detailing a never ending stream of shell and tube heat exchangers. The job was, needless to say boring, but I was thankful that I was at last paying my way in society.

Eventually the hotel neared completion, and after three years living in one room, I felt that I deserved something much better. There was only one way to get it, and that was by getting evicted. Fortunately the landlord and I saw eye to eye, so it was decided that the grounds for eviction would be a week or two's rent 'arrears.' When the matter came to court, I was advised that all I would have to do was stand in the witness box and agree to everything that my landlord's solicitor said. I remember that day well, as our case was preceded by building society applications to repossess homes, where mortgage arrears existed. I never dreamt, that one day I would be in the same boat, as I never borrowed money. Getting a council flat seemed bad enough.

My case finally came up, whereupon I duly said, "Yes," from the witness box. It was then, simply a matter of waiting for the bailiffs order, which never arrived. I later learned that my landlord and his solicitor had slipped up. Since the building was now operating as a hotel, evidently I could not be evicted from it. You cannot be evicted from a hotel. The thought of not paying my rent for the remainder of my stay there, never entered my head, since all I wanted was a decent self contained flat.

Fortunately my landlord came up with a solution. He owned the property next door, which was being converted into self contained flats. The plan was that I would move in next door, whereupon the whole eviction process would begin again. The attic flat I moved into was small and dingy, whilst everything was covered in building dust. Could I be evicted from a building site I wondered. The whole eviction proceedings were carried out again. Days past and still I heard nothing. The thought of spending years in that dimly lit room galvanized me into action. I phoned up the bailiffs department to find out why I had not heard from them. I think they were taken aback. Promptly the next morning my bailiffs order arrived. You could not see me for cement dust as I sped off to the local council housing department, with my little note in hand.

After checking the details at the housing centre, I was given the keys to my first real home. That was in April 1977. The flat was perfect. Located on the fifteenth floor of a tower block in Newtown, it overlooked Lozells and Handsworth. Areas noted for ethnic minorities. I fitted out the flat with new Shrieber and MFI furniture, but as things were to turn out, owing to my work I was to live there infrequently.

A few days before I moved into my council flat, I held a going away party at my flatlet in Birchfield. It was typically a wild affair, though I can't remember much about it as I was rather inebriated. By this time only one other flat in the building was occupied, and that by a married couple. The following day my flat stank of aniseed, whilst mattresses once piled up in an adjoining flat had been moved to various rooms, where the rent collector found them decidedly worse for wear. During the night someone had stolen female underwear from the washing line, whilst keeping the couple awake by knocking on their door repeatedly. Out of this mayhem I got to know Ellis, Danny and Tommy, the former becoming a close friend for many years. We became drinking partners in the Costermonger, the Hole in the Wall next door, Teddy's and the Roundabout, the latter two formerly known as the Tavern in the Town and the Mulberry Bush, which the IRA had blown up on November 21st, 1974 killing twenty-one people. As with so many public houses they were later renamed again, the Yard of Ale and Bar St. Martin respectively.

I never remained content to stay in one pub for long however, I was essentially a loner, something which I had been since the age of ten. I don't know why, but I was never a man's man. I had no interest in sport, and felt little companionship in the company of other men, whilst women always seemed to elude me, though I knew a few to speak to, such as Caroline and Ann. Apart from my future wife, these were the only two women to visit my flat, then only for a chat. Often I would go alone to the Duck Inn, which like the Yard of Ale was an Olde Worlde type of pub. On many of those nights I went alone to the Opposite Lock night club. Later to be called Bobby Brown's. As with going, I always left alone. Occasionally I went to Scandals night club in Solihull, in the hope of seeing my ex-girlfriend Pam, but it was never to be.

I was a lonely sole and I was sick of it. Under the influence of alcohol I became enveloped in my dreams. My day dreaming appealed to me more than the realities that surrounded me. Maybe that is why I became involved so little with people, who in the main were mediocre conservationists. Only my day dreams compensated for the depression of being alone. Under the influence of alcohol I would often smile whilst in a world of my own. A parallel world showing how I wanted things to be, but because of my introvert nature, could not achieve it in reality. One of my mates once said that I was the only person he had seen spew up and smile at the same time. In fact some of my friends use to call me smiler. My in-laws were to later call me chuckles. I felt that Birmingham society was claustrophobic, poisoning my mind. I had to get away. Hopefully, in Anglesey, I would find the right woman for me.

At four-thirty on the morning of Monday, April 17th, 1978 I left my meaningless existence behind, commencing the long car journey north. The streets of Birmingham, the Aston expressway and the M6 motorway were all brilliantly lit, but my mind was shrouded in darkness. I had strong doubts about whether what I was doing was the right thing, as I did not know what to expect at my destination. I had never been to Anglesey, before. In fact I had not been on holiday since my school days, when I went with my mother and younger brother to Cornwall. Holidays are no good unless you have someone to go with, whilst there always seemed to be more important things to spend my money on. My new contract I knew, would be no holiday, but it was to become the nearest thing to it that I had known for a long time.

I will always remember the breaking of the dawn, as I drove along that long and winding road. Before me, their peaks slowly coming to life in the suns searching rays, stood the mountains of Snowdonia. To the right Carnedd Dafydd, whilst to the left Glyder Fawr obscuring the highest peak of them all, Snowdon. As the mist rapidly cleared, the dark cold waters of Llyn Ogwen came into sight, I knew at that moment, that I had made the right decision in coming. On that morning I fell in love with Anglesey, a love which despite everything that has happened since, I still have. On I drove, through Bangor and onto the island, where the hilly terrain gave way to monotonous lowland comprising of stone walls, grassland occupied by sheep and the occasional cereal crop. Amongst the remains of windmills, stood out miles distant, a solitary symbol of my journey's end. Although I did not know it then, it was the factory chimney at where I would work. A huge smelter called Anglesey Aluminium, which the locals called Tinto, after the owner, Rio Tinto Zinc, on the outskirts of Holyhead.

I parked my car near the entrance, and entered the works. The power hungry plant, whose electricity was supplied by the local magnox nuclear power station, was enormous. It reflected the power and the wealth of the nation. It exuded confidence in the future. Here one learned the meaning of pot lines, hundreds of electrolytic furnaces in four rows, each row almost a quarter of a mile long serviced by huge beam cranes. Metal services; where gas fired holding, casting and annealing furnaces processed the aluminium into the required alloy and shapes, such as slabs, bars and ingots. Green carbon; where the sacrificial anodes for the electrolytic furnaces, were formed in hydraulic presses out of petroleum coke, kept stored in massive concrete silos. Carbon bake; where the new anodes were heated in gas fired pits, and thence to be flash welded to anode bars. Work never stopped on the pots and furnaces. Pots were stripped down and rebuilt on a continuous basis. The heat from the molten metal eventually distorting them into inoperable shapes.

During my stay at Tinto I worked in a large wooden hut, which formed an annex to the engineering department. In that hub I was to share an office with one other draughtsman, initially an electrical draughtsman called Ron, then Bill, a mechanical draughtsman like myself. Bill was to become a great friend, whom I was to confide in a great deal, but as it later turned out, not enough.

1978-6AngleseyNigelWorkingAsDraughtsmanAtTinto072.jpg
Nigel at work on drawing board at Tinto.

Initially, I shared an office, in a large 'temporary' hut, with an electrical engineer. He quit his contract after refusing to combine an electrical power drawing with an electrical control drawing. It was not long before I realised that much of the work was job creation, to satisfy plant employment statistics, presumably in return for regional aid. For the remainder of my contract I shared the office with Bill. Bill Mosley, from Walsall, West Midlands, arrived on the scene two weeks after my arrival. We both worked for the same firm. He was divorced with three children, one of whom lived in the United States. We both lived initially at a bed and breakfast place in Valley, run by a cheerful elderly woman called Mrs. Owen. She was a typically Welsh woman with a pleasant enquiring personality, whom I came to admire very much, due to her motherly qualities, in particular her breakfasts. I do not know which was more difficult, getting through a long day at Tinto, or devouring one of Mrs. Owen's stupendous morning meals. Typically it was a traditional 'Welsh' breakfast, consisting of cereals, grapefruit followed by an enormous fried serving of sausages, bacon, tomato, fried bread, mushrooms, black pudding, then toast and marmalade with lashings of hot tea. How I got to work on time I will never know.

On a Friday evening, four weeks after starting my contract at Tinto, I went to a disco in the basement of the Queen's Head public house in Holyhead, with my Welsh workmate, Brian. I cannot remember dancing with anyone, but I did get to talking to Karen, who was busily telephoning her mam at the time. There was something strange about her, but I was too pissed to care. In any case, by Brummie standards she was a hell of a lot more sociable. She left the disco with her sister Gillian, an attractive married woman with long straight hair. I must admit that I was attracted to her but in all the years we were to know one another, we exchanged hardly a word. Something which years later I was to deeply regret. I promised Karen before she left, that I would take her out at two o'clock on Sunday afternoon.

I called on Karen that Sunday afternoon as promised. Her mother Helen was waiting. I well remember our first encounter. She sat on the settee and told me about her daughter's problems. Karen had contracted pneumonia at the age of six months. Whilst in hospital meningitis had been diagnosed. For some reason it appeared to be quite a common disease in that part of the world, whilst in circa 1960 it was still considered fatal. Karen had survived by the skin of her teeth, but the inflammation of the menges had caused damage to the membrane resulting in impaired memory and epilepsy, namely petit-mal. Helen made it plane to me that Karen would always require looking after. Nothing that Helen told me deterred me from my promise to take Karen out that afternoon. There was also nothing to indicate that. Helen was anything other than a concerned mother. Indeed, physically Karen looked much like her mother, but her effervescent personality came from somewhere else. That afternoon Karen and I explored the southern coast line of the island, its almost inaccessible coves, the RAF base, and finally the giant sand dunes further to the east. They seemed to reflect the obstacles that lay ahead in my life, but, they just stood there silent. As with our first visit, I was to remember equally well our last, years later, conducted for totally different reasons. Back at Karen's home I was introduced to lobscouse soup, whilst that evening we went to the Tinto Club with Brian and his girlfriend Cathy, a nurse from Bangor.

I took Karen out three or four times per week. At the weekends we would explore the island and surrounding hinterland. We would visit, museums, castles, stately homes, neolithic remains, nature reserves, slate mines, seaside resorts and beauty spots, of which the area abounded. In the evenings we would go to local pubs such as the Drai Gough, Welch Fusiliers, Beach Hotel and the Sportsman's Inn. Night clubs were few and far between, and since Karen refused to dance there was little point in taking her to one. One of the places we use to go to a lot was the squash club at the Beach Hotel, since many of my work colleagues played there. In retrospect I now wish I had done the same, as a means of shedding the stress which was slowly building up inside me. My lack of interest in sport was to be my undoing. I was content just to watch Karen watching Bill play. She seemed to get on better with him than with her own father.

For the first two weeks I took Karen out every day. It disappointed me when I realised that she could never remember what she had done the day before. I never got use to this. There were some things which she could remember from years previously, but in the main there was no recollection at all. I did not find Karen's petit-mal much of a handful. The first time it happened we were walking along that vast expanse of beach near Llanddwyn Island, with the landscape rising like the mountains of the Moon in the background. As we walked aimlessly along, Karen dropped the purse she had been clutching. She made no attempt to pick it up. I turned towards her. She was mumbling to herself as she stood still. Saliva formed around her mouth as she called out, "mam." She looked so helpless and alone, for there was absolutely nothing that I could do for her. On that occasion she did not vomit, but merely spat out some spittle. On subsequent occasions I was not to be so fortunate. Sometimes she would be sick over her clothes or in posh surroundings, causing a great deal of embarrassment. It was obvious to me that Karen would never be able enough, to be a housewife in the true meaning of the word, let alone work for a living. She was not an extrovert, and yet her personality glowed so strongly that it was a pleasure to be with her. She was never angry nor temperamental. Maybe she simply did not know how. Her exuberant personality made up for all her deficiencies however. She made me happy, putting the spark back into my life that had been missing for so long.

Just where Karen got her personality from I cannot be sure. Karen would often tell me how after school she would go and see her nan, who lived close to her own home. She admired her nan very much. They would have a good laugh together over tea and cakes. Her nan was probably the only close relative who really cared for her. I never met the woman, as she died a few years before I arrived on the scene. Karen never spoke in a similar way about her parents. Indeed she rarely spoke about them.

The last week in May I had off as a holiday, taking my friend Ellis down to the Cotswold's for the day. We visited the Fleece Inn at Bretforton, the only public house at that time owned by the National Trust, before going on to Hidcote Manor Gardens, Moreton-in-Marsh, Bourton-on-the-Water and so on. Later that week I visited my parents and brother in Northamptonshire, before returning to Anglesey, and the new love in my life.

I was being paid very well at this time, Basic pay was eighty-four pounds, plus thirty-two pounds for overtime, and forty-seven pounds expenses per week, which as I returned to Birmingham infrequently, meant that my savings accrued quite rapidly.

My relationship with Karen developed further. On Sunday, June 11th 1978 we toured Snowdonia and stopped at Aberglaslyn Pass, a beauty spot through which the cold shallow waters of the Afon Glaslyn flowed. It was a lovely sunny day, with Karen wearing a dress I had bought her in Birmingham. She looked exquisite in it. The river was filled with large rocks by which it was possible to reach the far bank. At least I could. I foolishly asked Karen to follow close behind. Karen did not have much confidence in herself, a feeling which was quickly reinforced when she slipped on a rock and fell into the half meter deep ice cold river, feet first. She was not amused with me, since I thought more of saving the camera I was holding, than of preventing her from getting wet. I fished Karen out without further harm, a rather large catch, for she was a big woman. She never complained. Her facial expression said everything. By this time I already had an inclination of what her mother could be like, so I was beginning to be fearful of her. Helen's responses were unpredictable. To call them moods would be inaccurate, but at this time I had still not formulated an accurate opinion of her. Needless to say, the journey back to Holyhead was full of apprehension on my part, and I suspect, delight on Karen's, for if a battle needed to be fought, she was perfectly prepared to let her mam do the fighting. When we arrived back at the lair, much to my amazement and relief, Helen just laughed, I do not think she would have done, if she had seen the river.

GlasglynKarenSittingOnRocksInStream.jpg
Karen sitting on rocks in stream.

Together, Karen and I visited many places such as South Stack Cliffs, noted for it's colony of sea birds, and of course the lighthouse, linked by a chain bridge to the numerous steps leading down the cliff face. Karen liked to go to the local nature reserve, located near the end of the causeway, to watch the owls blink at her. Mrs. Owen, my landlady, always called it the nature research. One night. I went to do a little 'research' of my own, I drove the car to what I thought would be a secluded spot. South Stack.

"Oh look!" exclaimed Karen.

I looked. I was not amused, for we were not alone. There before us were numerous pairs of tiny eyes, all staring at us. Some were black and white, obviously one time pets, probably released by their owners.

"Bunny Wabbits," said Karen grinning from ear to ear, her eyes watering with excitement. Needless to say, I did not get any research carried out that night.

One of the places we visited time and again was Newborough Forest, for it was here near the magnificent wind swept beach and distant nature reserve that we made love on a bed of pine needles. I of course took precautions, but there was one thing that I did not allow for, Karen's innocence. Little did I realise that the language of love was going to be mentioned elsewhere.

PorthTrecastellKarenSmilingInside-car.jpg
Porth Trecastell Karen smiling inside car.

For Karen's eighteenth birthday, on Tuesday, June 27th, 1978 I bought her a book about nature in the West Midlands entitled 'The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady' by Edith Holden. Karen liked the book immensely, for she was very interested in wild life. To improve relations with her parents, I invited them all out for a meal at the Anchorage Hotel restaurant. They agreed.

There we all were, Karen, Helen and her husband Glyn, and of course myself, all tucking into our sirloin steaks and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Everything seemed to be going fine, but Karen's innocence, and above all her sense of humour, appeared to be working overtime.

Not to be left out of the conversation Karen blurted out, "What's a penis?"

"What!" cried Glyn incredulously.

"What's a penis?" Karen again asked, this time displaying a cheeky smile and twinkling eyes. Unusually Helen was dumb struck, whilst Glyn was obviously taken aback.

"Ugh, don't say things like that," he replied, sounding rather flustered. I felt like crawling under a stone, 'after' hitting Karen over the head with the wine bottle. The conversation became quite subdued after that. I could read their minds. "What is he teaching our daughter, say?"

I did not know what to say, so I did my best by ignoring the incident and saying nothing. Even so I could not help but be embarrassed by the whole incident. The bill came to twenty pounds, which I paid immediately. I felt it was money down the drain. Whether Karen's parents gave her a lecture about the birds and the bees, I honestly don't know. But I certainly told her to keep her mouth shut at all times in future, when interrogated by her parents about our sexual encounters. I should have realised that my words would go in one ear, and out the other.

This incident highlighted two problems. Firstly, because Karen's parents had treated her like a pet, rather than a young woman, her education was seriously lacking. Although Karen went to about three schools, including a special school, her parents took her out of the education system at the first opportunity. It was as if they felt that nobody's opinion mattered but their own, not even the wishes of their daughter. Her father would often whistle after her like a shepherd calling his dog. Secondly, the incident made me realise that there would be no secrets between Karen and I, as she would innocently tell her mother. Then on later occasions her sister. Everything about our sex lives when asked.

The only other problem which I had at this time stemmed from an incident which occurred one year previously, during my first contract. One afternoon I was returning home after work, when my car stopped at traffic lights on a dual carriageway in Dudley. Approaching me from a hundred metres behind was a lorry. It did not stop, at least not until it had rammed my car into the vehicle in front. The driver of the lorry said that he would pay for the damage, and I stupidly believed him. I had the car repaired at a cost of three hundred pounds, which represented several weeks wages at that time. When I presented the lorry driver with the bill, he then suggested that the insurance company would pay. The insurance company refused, since they had not been notified in a reasonable time. I therefore took the matter through the small claims court, without legal assistance. On July 27th, 1978 the court hearing took place at which I attended. The lorry-driver failed to turn up. Upon returning to my flat with my mate Ellis, I discovered that someone had tried to force the door open. Before returning to Anglesey, I fitted a second lock to the door. The bailiffs later repossessed the tractor unit. The months dragged on and it all seemed so unreal, that when I received a begging phone call from a person claiming to be the drivers partner, I authorized the release of the tractor unit. Naturally enough, promises about repaying the money were not honoured. When the bailiffs went to reclaim the tractor unit, they found it in a garage in pieces. The cost of keeping it off the road must have clearly out weighed the price incurred in paying my repair bill. The whole episode took a lot out of me. I was a naive fool, both then and later.

On Friday, July 28th I took Karen to Birmingham whilst her parents went to Blackpool for a week. The next day was sunny and hot I recall. In Bogart's Karen met some of my friends, including my ex-girlfriend Jill a student, with her boyfriend Ian. Lapping up the sunshine with her friends on the grass in Temple Row was Jackie, a school teacher. I often went drinking with her on Friday nights and Saturday lunch times. Later that day we went to the Pot of Beer, a museum type pub near Aston University, but the one she came to love the best was the Longboat. There we would sit outside in the evening still air, over looking the rubbish floating in the canal basin, and gaze up at the GPO tower with its hazard warning lights blinking on and off. By Birmingham standards it was a romantic setting. She liked watching those lights. To Karen they were like the blinking eyes of an owl or teddy bear, telling her that all was well. Whenever we went to Birmingham I would point out the lights to her, as we approached the city from miles away along the motorway.

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Nigel sitting between rocks at Porth Trecastle.

During our stay in Birmingham I remember visiting a home furnishing store near Lancaster Circus. I wanted a letter box, but they did not have one that I liked. Where upon Karen immediately voiced her feelings by having a fit and vomited copiously all over the counter. The male assistant insisted on cleaning up the mess, and so we left without purchasing anything. On our return trip to Anglesey, Karen had another epileptic fit, causing her to vomit over her clothes before I could get the car door open. Whether her fits were caused by a change in diet, or because the full days she spent with me over taxed her brain, I simply do not know. Certainly I tried not to expect too much of her at once.

On August 13th, 1978 I moved into a caravan near the causeway. My landlady suggested it as she wanted the weekends to herself. At first the move seemed ideal, since I would now have somewhere private to take Karen. Unfortunately the mobile home was only three metres from the main railway line, seemingly simulating an earthquake each time the shock wave of a train struck it. Somehow I appeared to get use to it, or maybe I was just kidding myself. By far the greatest disadvantage was the condensation, which only became apparent as autumn turned to winter. The mobile home offered the opportunity for Karen and I to make love in civilised surroundings, but I honestly cannot recall us doing so, for there were more important and entertaining things for a mentally handicapped woman to do. Our home on wheels became the ideal location for experiments in home cooking. Teaching Karen how to cook was good fun. Of course she could not remember the recipes, but then neither could I. We made pancakes and omelettes in abundance, with me of course doing the washing up afterwards. The joy we had at eating one another's cooking was indescribable, at least for me. Our kitchen capers undoubtedly cemented our relationship further.

The following Friday, Karen and I went to see the block buster movie 'Star Wars' at the local flicks. The screen was abysmal, with a large patch visible during bright scenes. Afterwards we went to the Legion for a drink, where we met Helen and Glyn. The next day I took Karen to Caernarfon Castle and the Welsh Fusiliers museum. Later that day we took a boat trip to Fort Belan. The weather was really great. We cooled off in the Black Boy Inn, and quenched our thirst in the Half Way House on the way home. Sunday saw us visit Din Lligwy fortified village, which dated from circa 400AD. In the evening we went to the Tinto Club for chicken and chips, and a chat with friends, who usually consisted of Brian and Babs, Gerwyn and Vanessa, Garreth and Dawn, and finally Alan and Denise. Compared to Birmingham, Anglesey was friendlier by far. Our weekends in North Wales were often like this. We never ran out of places to explore, nor friendships to establish. This was unquestionably the happiest moment of my life.

On the following Friday, September 1st, 1978 I took Karen to see our friends in Birmingham, which included a visit to the science and art museums, and of course that show room of Great Britain, the National Exhibition Centre. On the Wednesday I took her to see my mother and stepfather in Northamptonshire, for the first time. They were pleased to see her. My mother and Karen got on great together, a friendship which was maintained throughout the years to come. On the Thursday we visited a stately home, Burghley House, whilst the following day Karen and I visited the Farnborough Air Show. What she made of old masters and the world's latest flying machines, I found hard to tell.

These visits here and there certainly opened up her mind, but only slightly. I knew from looking at her old school exercise books, that she was once capable of doing much more than she could now. Her brain had since been dulled by medication and inactivity. When I first met her she did not even know what month of the year it was. I found this dispiriting, whilst the thought that she was taking more drugs than she needed to, to control her epilepsy, constantly nagged at me. Another thought that nagged away at the back of my mind was that her epilepsy might be caused more by the atmosphere at home with her parents, than with the physical damage to her brain. We returned to Holyhead on the Sunday, whereupon I faced aggro from Karen's parents, though the details of this I am unable to remember, I believe that it was because Helen objected to my taking her daughter to see my parents. They never gave me any grounds for this objection, but it slowly dawned on me in the coming months that they did not want our relationship to get serious. Even at this stage there was an apparently invisible wall between us which I was never able to penetrate.

Talking to Karen's parents I found very difficult. We had nothing in common. They had no hobbies that I could talk to them about. Although they both had jobs, they had little to show for it. Glyn worked as an engineer on the Sealink container ships, whilst his wife worked in a school canteen. They lived in an old stone built terraced house. There was nothing remarkable about the place. There was no garden, since what little they had was concreted over. I do not think they used the garage as it was too small for the car, a British Leyland Princess. Glyn's money seemed to be spent on horse race betting and drinking. What was left over was usually spent on another car. He earned about the same as my total earnings. In other words, good money. Helen never spent her money on much, except sheets and blankets which clogged up the airing cupboard, and pullovers for Karen. Although the airing cupboard was full, Karen's bed spread was filthy for years, even after they moved house. It was more than my life was worth to suggest to Helen that she should wash it. She never bought dresses and bra's for Karen, just the odd bargain from the market. It was as if she could not accept that her youngest daughter was now grown up. Karen's father did not like doing jobs around the house. I remember one day Helen buying a large electric fire for the lounge. To install it, the old coal fireplace would have to be removed and Glyn did not like that idea of course, since the task fell to him to do. He was even reluctant to repair Karen's bed, after a protruding nail scratched her.

The only other occupant of that house was Taff, an old mongrel which slept on the kitchen floor. It had no basket, was never exercised, but was simply left to fend for itself for most of the day. It received no affection and rarely any attention. The main visitor to the house was John, Helen's father. He was a retired blacksmith with a build to match. Whilst I was there, he would sit in his chair and say nothing. I felt that he was weighing me up. John was one of the few people that Karen hated, though I never asked her why.

The only other regular visitors to that house were Karen's sister, Gillian and her children. She lived in a council house with her husband Gwynfor Harris , who worked on the pot lines at Tinto. I got the strong impression that the only reason Gillian came around was to torment us with her screaming brats. That was probably the only reason why I rarely visited her home. In addition to the three children she was eventually to sire, they had a very large old English sheep dog, which did little except roam the streets and gorge itself. Just how they managed financially I could not figure out, as they lived very close to the poverty line. She had a good taste in furniture and decor, which was unfortunately restricted by her financial resources. Her parents furniture was plain, no doubt reflecting their minds seemingly set in grooves, unable to adapt to the changing times.

On Friday, September 18th just a few days after I had visited my parents, my parents visited me. They stayed at Mrs. Owen' place in Valley. I took Karen and my parents to the Anchorage Hotel, praying of course that the only thing that would pass between my girlfriend's lips would be the chicken and chips from a basket, plus of course a drink or two. This time the evening passed without incident. The next day we all went to the Llenchwedd Slate Mine at Blaenau Ffestiniog, a tourist attraction. The train took us down into the dark cold depths to see the abandoned caverns, many of which were filled with water. Here miners once worked by candle light, with shot and shovel. In those days they had to buy their own candles. Attitudes to work had changed greatly since then. Who knows what attitudes would prevail in ten or twenty years time, I pondered.

That evening my parents visited Karen's home to meet her parents, Helen and Glyn Roberts. They were pleased to see us, on the surface at least. Helen always seemed to put on false smiles, whilst Glyn, who was a tall well built man with a strong resemblance to the Scottish miners union leader Glyn McGahey, only wanted an easy life, so he accommodated his wife as much as possible by going to the boozer, usually with Karen. At the Legion he would drink bitter, whilst at home he enjoyed the perks of his job. Duty free whisky or port, and tobacco. Karen's parents were both in their late forties, whilst my mother and stepfather were in their early sixties. All I can remember of this meeting was the anxiety on their faces at the thought of coming to blows with Welsh barbarians, or should it be druids?

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Audrey, Walter & Karen sitting on Newborough beach.

The next day the four of us went to Newborough Forest, from where we made the long trek to see the nature reserve on Llanddwyn Island. This was by far the most picturesque spot on the whole of Anglesey, in my opinion. We relaxed on the beach, the distant lunar like landscape reflecting the distant dreams I had for Karen's future. That evening we all went with Karen's parents to the Tinto Club for a drink. Everything appeared to go well. The next day my parents returned to Northamptonshire, England!

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Karen by Cross at Llanddwyn Island.
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Anglesey Llanddwyn Island Karen showing her fist.

On October 24th, a Tuesday, I took Karen to the Menai Bridge Fair. She was full of life as we went on many amusements, including the tilting centrifuge. A few years later I took her to the fair again, but this time she refused to go on any of the machines, refusing to believe that she had ever been on them. At times like that I felt like feeding her pills in order to bring out that carefree nature she once had, but I knew that that would be unfair on her.

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Nigel at Llanberis Quarrying Museum

On October the twenty-ninth I visited the motor show at the NEC with Ellis, whilst on November 4th my diary states that I took Karen to see the firework display on the headland near Holyhead. It was nowhere near as grand as the municipal displays in Birmingham, in celebration of Guy Fawkes' attempt to blow up parliament, but Karen enjoyed it immensely nevertheless. My life was still between two places, as it was to remain for some time. The outlaws, as I affectionately called them, would not let Karen go to Birmingham with me, so it was at this time that I seriously started thinking of marriage. This subject was discussed at length with my workmate Bill, over the next few months.

I spent Christmas Day at Karen's place, enjoying Helen's cooking. She was a good cook, though not as good as my mum. The next day, Boxing Day, I took Karen to Birmingham, then without delay onto my folks' home, where we stayed for five days. Finally, we returned to Birmingham to see the new year in at Bogarts, for the last time. We had a very good Christmas and new year, in stark contrast to those yet to come.

By Monday, February 12th, 1979 I had been going out with Karen for nine months, She had certainly improved a great deal in that time, not only through her cooking but also in her reading, which she also undertook in the caravan. On this particular date, I decided that seeing Karen's grandmother 'Gaga', was long overdue. Karen hated Gaga, an opinion which I suspect was instilled in her by her mother. Either Karen loved you or she hated you, there was no in between. In fact every time I was to mention Gaga, Karen would say,

"Ugh! That woman." As if she was about to spew up.

I thought no woman could be that bad. and sure enough she was not. Gaga took a close interest in all her family, even those as far afield as New Zealand. Gaga did not like Helen. She could not understand why her son had married so far below himself. The enigma at last began to fall into place. In limited conversations I had with her, Helen would call so and so, common! But after listening to Gaga I realised that Helen was upset at herself being regarded as common. Upset of course, is putting it mildly. Deep down Helen was fuming, determined to get her own back on all and sundry. She was suffering from a persecution or inferiority complex, which at times was to show itself in exaggerated aggression, and scheming vindictiveness. If she was to suffer from her in-laws refusal to accept her, then so must everyone else. Although I understood this, I did not realise just how far she was prepared to go in order to make other peoples lives a misery. That was the first and last time I spoke to Gaga. The outlaws heard about the meeting from Karen, and so criticised it that I did not dare go there again. They had turned me into a mouse without me realizing it. Having succeeded so far, they would go further, but I just could not accept that at the time.

Marriage appeared to be the answer to all of our problems, Being married, we would have the law of the land on our side. Karen's parents would not dare to cause trouble. I never asked her parents for permission to marry, simply because it was not possible to have a conversation with them. They hated conversations with me, and often spoke to one another in Welsh, in my presence. I made a point therefore of not learning the language. It was bad enough understanding them in English. Whenever I started talking to them on some subject or other, Helen would turn to her husband for support.

"That's a stupid thing to say, isn't it?" Helen would say.

Whereupon Glyn would inevitably reply in the affirmative. This treatment was most off putting, and being a sensitive person, it never failed to shut me up.

On Friday, February 3th, 1979 I paid Bill twenty pounds for a diamond engagement ring, which he bought from a friend in the jewelry trade. I did not want to buy something really expensive, as I was afraid that the marriage either would not go ahead, or that Karen would loose it during one of her fits.

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My colleague Bill Mosley with his ex-wife.

It had been my intention for a long while to get engaged on St. Valentines Day. That evening I picked up Karen as usual. We sat in my car outside her home as I proposed to her. I then explained the problems that we were likely to face. Marriage to me was not something to be taken lightly. I was thirty years of age, and the idea of being tied down to one woman, or rather this particular pair of in-laws, did not appeal to me one bit. I did not want children, but I knew that Karen loved them, and wanted her own. In her present state I knew that she could not look after herself, let alone children. Maybe her condition would improve, as happened with so many epileptics, but I knew the problem of looking after children would ultimately fall upon my shoulders. As it was, I felt that I would have more problems than I knew what to do with, without the presence of children. Little did I realise how enormous those problems were to be. Karen sat there and looked very serious as I explained all the pros and cons to her. There was a long silence as she brought her lips in tightly. Finally she nodded and said, "Yes." We kissed in tears of emotion, after I slipped the ring on her hand. Karen having no trouble in selecting the correct finger.

I knew that to go back into her parents house and announce the happy news, was asking for trouble. I had a safer solution. Instead we went to the Legion and announced it to all of our friends there. Karen taking a particular delight in showing her new ring to everyone. Later we took Gill to the Tinto Club to celebrate the happy event, by the end of the evening Glyn had gone to the Legion for his usual tipple, only to be greeted by handshakes and 'congratulations.' Needless to say, he was stunned by the news.

I took Karen home, making a hasty retreat as soon as she stepped out of the car. I knew that her broad smile would get around her father's initial feelings, but as far as her mother was concerned, battle lines were now drawn, with no rules for what was to follow. That ring was to remain a thorn in Helen's side for a long time. Incident was to follow incident, after which she was to tell Karen, "Take that ring off!" But Karen was to doggedly refuse time and time again. She knew that it was a passport out of a house of hate. A passport to love and relative independence. She knew that there were few men in the world who would want to take on the obligation of looking after her.

To her mother however, Karen's eventual departure represented an empty house to come home to when Glyn was on the boats. No one to voice her spiteful views on. But more importantly, there would be no one to keep an eye on her husband, whom she regarded as a womanizer.

On one occasion Karen pointed out to me a woman in the Tinto Club, whom her father had had an affair with. After listening to the verbal spite that came out of her mouth, I could tell that her mother had given her a good grilling on the subject, over and over again for her to remember it so well. Alas, I cannot remember the name of the woman, a name that Karen had no trouble in remembering. There was no doubt in my mind that Glyn's infidelities would make Helen furious and vindictive, since it would exacerbate her inferiority complex. Making sure that Glyn looked after Karen whilst in port, was one sure way of keeping him to one woman.

Glyn was a tall well built fellow, with features that many women would find attractive. He got on with everyone down the Legion, passing the time playing snooker, or when accompanied by his wife, bingo. Outside the influence of his misses he was a nice bloke, and I liked him. Karen certainly did. He had a sense of humour which was seriously lacking in his spouse. Why he married her, I could never understand. He was a third and often second engineer in the merchant navy, though he was never away from home for more than a week at a time. He never wanted to aspire to the heights of chief engineer, since drinking meant more to him. He was content to stay where he was in his job. He only wanted a quiet life, but it eluded him.

Helen on the other hand, was an overweight woman who wore tight fitting slacks and blouses, in the main. She had short curly hair and a laugh like that of a witch, "he, he, he." Outwardly, she looked ordinary. The sort of woman you would walk past without taking any notice.

On Saturday, February 17th, 1979 I was obliged to move my belongings from the mobile home I was living in, to a small touring caravan, as my landlady's son had married, and therefore needed the larger caravan as his new home. I had many things to carry, so by the end of the day my arms felt tired, though I did not realise this at the time. That evening I picked up Karen as usual, whereupon we decided to go to the Anchorage for a meal of chicken and chips in a basket, something which we did often, On the way there the car descended a hill, at the bottom of which was a right hand bend incorporating a sudden drop. At this point the car skidded on ice or marbles from a connecting unadopted road. It caught me unawares. I over corrected the steering, causing the car to hit a wall, demolishing part of it. The front part of my corrosion riddled car was badly damaged. Fortunately neither of us was hurt, as we were both wearing seat belts. A sports car traveling behind us also skidded, but survived. People came from nowhere to push the car off the road. I had made one mistake, and was about to make another. I telephoned Karen's parents for assistance. They agreed to come over. Whilst waiting for them Dawn and her boyfriend Garreth arrived on the scene. If I had known what was to happen next, I would have gone off with them.

It did not take long for Helen and Glyn to turn up. Helen insisted on taking Karen to the local hospital, even though there was not a mark on her. The hospital authorities were obliged to inform the police, so later that evening I was interviewed by a policewoman in my girlfriend's home, with Karen fit as a fiddle, looking on. I made a truthful statement, and honestly thought that that would be the end of the matter.

The next day, I moved out of the touring caravan and into a bed and breakfast place in Holyhead. The move was long overdue. The damp in the caravan during the winter months, coupled with the stress I was under from the outlaws, produced aching pains in my back. I thought that the pains were produced by the mattress I was sleeping on, but a new mattress did not improve matters. I was to have these aching pains in my chest, stomach and back, mainly in cold damp weather for the next four years, until finally I went to see a doctor about it, in October 1982. Even then the first Quack got his diagnosis wrong. I was a very independent character, who did not like to rely on anyone. Some years later I was to develop another illness far more serious. I was not to see a doctor about it until it was too late. I did not think much of doctors, neither then nor now. They all tended to suffer from one failing. They all thought they knew better than the patient, and since I never put over my views strongly enough, there was little point in seeing them. And I am talking about the competent doctors. My doctor at this time in Birmingham was a robot. At least I thought he was, as he never smiled. His answers were curt and swift, like a machine. As such I never went to see him, and neither did I bother to register with a doctor on Anglesey until around February 1981, although it is so unimportant that I honestly cannot remember for sure.

On the twenty-fifth of February I moved into a flatlet in Holyhead. It was a move that I should have made long before, but as things were to turn out, one problem was to be replaced by another. That evening water poured through the ceiling, then the electricity supply went off.

The following weekend I went with Bill down to Birmingham. Whilst there in my flat Helen telephoned me. She told me that the police had called, informing her that they wanted me to report to them first thing next Monday morning at Holyhead police station, before going to work. Upon my return I reported in at the police station, where I was told that the police wanted a proper statement, as the previous one was unsigned. They evidently regarded the accident as more serious than at first thought. It was their view that I was driving at an excessive speed. I was not, For some reason which I do not understand I made a false statement, stating that Karen had grabbed the steering wheel during a fit, causing the car to crash.

The police later went around to Karen and questioned her, as her parents looked on. The outlaws did not like their daughter getting the blame of course. I was summoned for careless driving, to which I pleaded guilty by letter and was fined fifty pounds. I could tell from the smirk on Helen's face that evening, that she knew about the court's decision, and had planned it right from the start. It was hard for me to believe that she would go to such lengths, but after that, various incidents occurred that were to confirm those initial feelings.

Because of the crash, my red estate car was declared a right off by the insurance company. A few weeks later however, the car was back on the road again, after someone had rebuilt it. I was obliged to use the works bus in the morning, for the next few months. Although I had enough funds to purchase a car, I did not want one. I did not like cars and never had. If I could get by without one then so much the better. I use to feel mentally sick of the never ending stream of bills for road tax, insurance, annual MOT tests, car repairs, petrol, oil, parking fees and finally fines. The day a manufacturer produces an automobile with technology as revolutionary as the disposable razor was in its field, will be the day I finally enjoy motoring.

During my period of enforced shanks' pony, I visited the Legion often, usually on a bingo night, which was Wednesday. It was normal for Karen and her parents to be there. I never got any enjoyment out of playing bingo however. I just went there in order to be in everybody's good books. On Friday. March 30th, 1979 however, this idea backfired. Something was in the air, I could tell. On this occasion Helen kept talking to her husband in a subdued yet firm voice. She then got up and took Karen over to the fruit machines. Glyn then turned to me and asked a rather Earth shattering question.

"Are you having sex with my daughter?" he asked.

I was shocked by the remark, and immediately countered the question the only way I knew.

"No, certainly not," I replied.

He asked me a number of times, and I repeated my answer. I could see no good coming from saying any different. The matter was dropped, but it only turned out to be the second round in a silent war of nerves.

By this time I was seriously considering buying a home on the island, preferably well away from the outlaws. I also needed job security, something which I felt would be more obtainable as a self employed draughtsman. Half the contract draughtsmen were self employed. An arrangement that was cheaper for Tinto. An electrical draughtsman thought that the rest of us should do the same. Three of us thought about resigning from the contract firm and going freelance, but the issue was dropped for some unknown reason. At least for the moment.

During the Easter Bank Holiday, Karen and I visited Birmingham, Northamptonshire and London, including the Battle of Britain Museum at Hendon, the Tower of London, Madame Tussaud's wax museum and the Planetarium. We also visited my favourite location, St. Katharine's Dock. We had a great time but Karen was to remember nothing of it the next day.

By now I had three thousand eight hundred pounds in the building society. I was the only contract draughtsman not to own property on the island. The ownership of the flatlet I was living in at Holyhead changed, whilst a female friend of Helen called Megan, became the cleaner. The residence went decidedly down hill soon after, when a prostitute and her three small children moved into the top floor flat. One day one of her little girls knocked on my door and asked me whether the water was hot. I thought it was a strange request to ask, since all she had to do was to turn the appropriate tap on in the communal bathroom. I walked to the bathroom, just a few steps along the landing, and turned on the hot tap. I then returned to my door, where the child was still standing, and told her that the water was definitely hot. The next day when I came home from work I realised that my door was not locked. Someone had locked the mortice lock in the open position. I discovered that some of my best girlie magazines were missing from my wardrobe, but as far as I could tell, that, was all. A few days previously I had discovered that someone had tried to force my flat door open. From then on all I wanted to do was to move out, but where to?

The following Saturday, as Karen and I were leaving the Legion with her parents. Helen attacked me verbally, accusing me of having obscene posters displayed on the walls of my flatlet. The following Wednesday whilst playing bingo with my in-laws, Helen again got onto me about the posters, ordering me to burn them, She then had a conversation with her husband, obviously trying to goad him into something, but I could not hear what was being said. I suspected that they knew about the magazines, but that Glyn did not want to bring up the subject. Helen told me that her friend Megan had seen the posters from the bathroom window, which was possible. I had bought the posters in Birmingham five years previously, in order to cheer up my drab flatlet. In order to placate Helen, I took down the posters. I felt that my entire life was being examined under a microscope. I found this very stressful, and felt relieved a few weeks later, when I moved into another flatlet just up the road.

Saturday, May 12th, 1979 signified that I had been with Karen for one year. We celebrated by going to the sailing club and MCU (marine craft unit of the Royal Air Forces air sea rescue) with my neighbour Paul, an Irishman in the RAF. We stayed there until 2am, getting thoroughly sloshed. It was a great night.

On Friday, May the twenty-fifth I took Karen and Dawn to Birmingham. The outlaws would not let Karen go, so I simply failed to return her to them the previous evening. By now I was treating them with the same contempt that they had for me. I was fed up anyway with Helen telling her daughter that I had another woman in Birmingham. I never had. On the way to the railway station we met Helen's father, John.

"You're not satisfied with one woman, you want two," he contemptuously remarked.

He was of course right, but I was not in the mood to hang around and talk about the subject. I ignored him, plodding on to the station and thence to Brum.

I had known Dawn for almost a year. She was very attractive and intelligent, but she had two obvious failings. Being from a one parent family she showed little respect for her mother. She demanded her own way, with her own life style, to the point of being butch. I never got to know her that well, and judging by the way she treated her boyfriends, it is just as well. We took her out a number of times after she had had tiffs. She was not however the sort of woman one would marry, if one wanted a quiet life and a long lasting marriage that is.

I remember taking her to the Mermaid Inn disco one Saturday night, to which Dawn countered with the sight of the water mill at Llanddeusant, views of Amlwch oil terminal and the desolation of the abandoned copper workings on Parys Mountain. I must admit that I am glad I went there, for there is no one image that springs to mind when one thinks of Anglesey, but certainly Parys Mountain was the bleakest image.

We stayed in during that first evening in Birmingham, drinking all of my beer and bottles of spirits, I seem to recall. The beer had gone flat, being around for months, as I was not one for drinking at home alone. Karen got really sloshed, spilling a large drink over the mattress and duvet that Dawn slept on in the lounge, my flat having only one bedroom. Whilst Karen was two sheets to the wind I turned my attention to Dawn.

"I feel intoxicated," said Dawn.

This I took to be a come on, I turned towards her, and whilst giving her a French kiss, fondled her right breast which was not at all firm like Karen's. I was however too inhibited to take the matter further. I think Dawn found me rather freakish, as I never gave her an opportunity to really understand me. That evening after we had all gone to bed, I got up and went to the kitchen for some milk. Dawn was lying there in bed as I kneeled down and kissed her. Perhaps it would have gone further if it was not for killjoy banging on the bedroom wall. She can get her brain to work when she wants to I thought. Every other time we were all waiting on her hand and foot. That was to be the last time I kissed any woman, other than Karen, for many years. The next time would be under far more strictly controlled circumstances.

I took Karen and Dawn around the local museums, then down to Stratford upon Avon to Ann Hatherway's cottage, the wax museum and other Shakespearian haunts, not to mention Birmingham's night life.

The circumstances of our departure from Holyhead deeply worried Karen and I. Karen was legally old enough to decide her own future, a point which her parents categorically refused to acknowledge. I did not like the idea of being forced into marriage without Helen and Glyn's consent. I wanted a wedding that Karen could remember, with all her friends invited. A wedding in church. Neither of us looked forward to returning to Holyhead to a string of verbal abuse. We therefore delayed our return, whilst Dawn returned by train to Anglesey, alone, as she had to sign on the dole.

On the Wednesday morning the two of us went to Birmingham registry office to get married, only to learn that we could not get married until Friday at the earliest. That evening we returned to my flat on the fifteenth floor. As we stepped out of the lift, we were unexpectedly confronted by Helen and Glyn.

"Where's the other woman?" asked Helen.

"Oh, she's gone home," I replied, "Come on in and we'll talk thing's over."

Helen would have none of it. Realizing that they were no longer outnumbered, Helen attacked me, physically, whilst Glyn dragged Karen into the lift. Finally Helen released me, dashed into the lift, whereupon they all disappeared from view. Rather than exacerbate the situation by chasing after them, I decided to telephone for police assistance from my flat. As it turned out the police were not prepared to do anything, except keep me talking. I slammed the phone down in disgust. I returned to Holyhead the next day, very despondent, and at a loss to know what to do.

I strongly believed that Karen's memory, at least in part, was being impaired by all the tablets her mother was giving her. At that time Karen was taking at least eight 2mg tablets of Rivotril each day. One evening I boldly plucked up courage, and took one of Karen's tablets. According to my diary it was Thursday, May 31st, 1979, and I was no doubt, feeling a little reckless. Having taken the pill, I went to see my mate Paul in the flat next door.

"Paul," I said, "For God's sake look after me tonight, as I've just taken one of Karen's pills."

Whilst he got ready to go out, I sat on his bed waiting for the symptoms to appear. Eventually he was ready, whereupon we both departed for a night on the tiles. It felt great. No effects so far, I thought, as I promptly fell down the stairs. I quickly recovered, deciding to adopt a more cautious approach from then on. We went to the sailing club, where I spent much of the evening falling off the bar stool, to everyone's amusement. Next, not to be beaten, we marched off to the Scimitar Hotel, for a disco session. At this point I have vague recollections of propping up the bar whilst feeling very tired. Using my in built inertial guidance system, I somehow managed to find my way home alone. The next morning I could remember virtually nothing, and had to ask Paul to fill in my enormous memory gap.

A few days later I applied for and received a birth certificate for Karen, one of the requirements before the wedding could take place.

After the tablet tumbling incident, I was determined to do something about Karen's predicament. On Wednesday, June 6th I went to see Karen's general practitioner, by appointment. I waited until all the other people waiting had seen the doctor, then I marched in. Dr.St.John turned out to be an elderly woman. I sat before her and explained who I was, and about whom I had come to talk about. I knew that she could not discuss Karen's case, but I did hope that she would listen. She did not. She was deaf. I thought she was having me on. Surely any doctor who was hard of hearing would wear a hearing aid, after all that is what doctors prescribe. I therefore ended up talking to her rather loudly, to which she just put up her hands as if to say 'no more.' I left disheartened, having accomplished nothing.

In her statement to the police, five years later, she stated, 'Karen had a mental age of about ten years. She may have been prescribed epilim or phenobarbitone. When Mr. Allen visited me, he demanded to know what drugs she was receiving. He was arrogant, I refused to discuss the matter with him, whereupon he became furious. For thirty years I served as doctor to Karen's parents, who were perfectly normal and reasonable individuals.

As for Karen's mental age, her brain from an academic point of view, may have had a mental age of about ten years in certain respects, but it is what you do with the brain that you have which is more important. I have known many women whose loving personality and tolerance fell a long way short of that of Karen's. As regards her drug treatment in earlier years, I was later told by a GP or dentist that the extensive damage to Karen's teeth had been caused by drugs. Whether this was an acceptable risk, I cannot say, since I was not around in those early years. I was however told by a female friend, that Dr.St.John was regarded as a soft touch for drugs. As regards demanding information regarding the medication Karen was receiving, her pills were not only kept on top of the refrigerator for all to see, but in fact I had some given to me by Helen for our trips to Birmingham. I therefore knew what drugs Karen was taking. I also knew that on that same refrigerator were Helen's pills, which she kept for many obscure ailments. I regarded her as a hypochondriac, both towards herself and Karen.

It was whilst on our trips to the Midlands that I tried to reduce Karen's drug intake further. Upon our return, I would then attempt to convince Helen that the new drug intake level was satisfactory. As for the GP's remark about me being arrogant, I have yet to meet a doctor who cannot be. Just why a doctor would refuse to discuss over prescribing of drugs, when the medical records should have clearly shown that to be the case, merely underlines the GP's own arrogance. As regards the last remark in her statement, all I can say is that the medical professions interpretation of the words 'normal and reasonable' differ from mine. Having said that, I realise that it is virtually impossible to assess someone when you take them out of their natural environment and seat them down in a doctors surgery.

My diary for that day simply states 'go to surgery 6pm -- got nowhere. Went to Legion - met Karen.' The defence rests, for the moment.

Saturday, June 23rd, 1979, 'Karen's mum on the war path again!' I think this is a reference to a party I had gone to at the town hall, late the previous Saturday night, after I had taken Karen home. Helen tried to convince her daughter that I had been carrying on with some other woman there. The only reason why I did not take Karen, was because I had not been invited. My friend Brian went to the venue, but he was doubtful whether I would get in. I doubted whether Karen and I would get in together, and anyway, Helen always wanted her daughter in at a reasonable time, not 2am. The path of true love is never smooth, but ours was like traveling along eternal rapids.

Details of Karen's birthday on June 27th are sketchy. After the revelations of the previous year, the outlaws found it impossible to accept another dinner invitation. I believe we took Karen's sister Gillian and her husband George out instead, though where we went my grey matter fails to recall.

On Friday the thirteenth of July, 1979, two days after the American Skylab space station fell to Earth over Western Australia, I felt as if I had been brought down to terra firma. The matter of becoming self employed had come to a head. The originator of the idea dropped out, leaving only two of us to 'test the water.' The two of us had decided to go freelance, but effectively stay on the same contract. The contract company that employed me decided to take legal action, whereupon the management at Tinto asked the two of us to leave the plant until the whole thing blew over. My main reason for wanting to become self employed was to create a more secure future, but if anything, all the squabbling that then took place only made my employment prospects very dim. I had not anticipated being suspended from work during the dispute. My loss of earnings, straight away left me in no doubt that I had made a mistake, but I could not see how I could rectify the problem, which could drag on for six months or more.

The following Monday I signed on the dole, then went down to Birmingham. I told Karen and her parents absolutely nothing about the dispute, both then and afterwards. The next weekend my parents brought me back, stopping on the way at Bodnant Gardens, a National Trust property. They stayed on Anglesey for a week, before taking me back to the West Midlands with Karen. From there we went to Northamptonshire two days later, returning to Birmingham at the weekend, then to Holyhead to sign on for unemployment benefit. I also called on my colleagues solicitor Mr. Roberts, to hear the latest news about the hopeless situation I was in.

Whilst during all my travels, a local councilor had evidently been going around trying to serve legal papers on me. My colleague had been quickly caught out, when a man turned up at his home wearing a boiler suit, only to be served the necessary papers when he opened the door to him. I believe that I finally resumed work on August 13th, having lost four weeks wages. I resumed working with my original contract company, returning to Tinto with my tail between my legs. I knew that there were rumours of redundancies in the air. If there was any foundation to these rumours, then I knew that I was likely to be the first to go, after all the trouble I had caused. Unfortunately, I was on such good money that caution flew to the wind. It maybe that my problems were already-impairing my sense of reason. Bill told me that there was a letter on the chief draughtsman's desk relating to redundancies, but for some reason I took no notice. The contract between Tinto and HMG, to employ a certain number of people, was presumably about to run out.

On Saturday, August 18th I took Karen to the Legion, where there was a dance to a local group. Karen would never dance as she was terribly self conscious. So with Karen's approval, I danced with an attractive young woman wearing an evening dress, called Hazel. We danced where I could keep an eye on my wife, and vice versa. Whilst dancing I realised that I was being hit on the head occasionally, by someone behind me, apparently using their knuckle. It turned out to be Helen's friend, Megan. I left the dance floor, and as it was late I decided to walk Karen home. As we left the Legion, Helen's father John, came in. We did not exchange words, as I was not in the mood.

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Holyhead South Stack Lighthouse & Nigel.

As I entered the lounge of Karen's home, Helen flew at me in a violent rage. Between the blows raining down on me, Helen accused me of fondling the breasts of the woman I had been dancing with. Evidently Megan had told John this story, who had then telephoned Helen, whom I suspect secretly lusted after me. As I retreated into the hallway, Glyn ordered me out of the house. The story of course, was totally untrue. That was the last time we went to the Legion on a Saturday night.

The following Friday, I managed to exchange my flatlet for a far quieter and more civilised dwelling place, further up the road. It was a large attic flat. The place was well kept, and quiet. I liked it very much, but as things turned out, I was not to stay there long. The next day I plucked up enough courage to go down the Legion to see the outlaws. Sure enough they were there sitting in their favourite corner.

"Hello," I said, trying to put on a cheerful face.

"On your bike!" said Glyn, firmly.

Well that was that, I left disconsolate, but not defeated. I was not the sort of person to give up so easily, especially when I knew I had right on my side.

Two days later, the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and three people with him, plus eighteen British soldiers in another incident, were blown to bits by the IRA in Ireland.

A week later I returned to Birmingham and bought a yellow Vauxhall Firenza at a car auction. It took the bank two days to clear a cheque from the building society, resulting in two days lost at work. I was loosing too many days at work for one reason or another. Days I could not afford to loose.

On September 5th I took my neighbour, Dorothy, to the Sportsman's Inn for a drink. She was a small, mature and friendly woman, who worked on the nearby RAF base. We had a take away meal around my place later. She wanted to stay the night, but my heart was still set on Karen. Fortunately she did not take this rebuff too hard, and we later visited the Legion on bingo night, so that I could at least reassure Karen that I was still thinking of her, from a distance at least.

On Friday, September 14th, 1979 I got the car engine tuned, as it was back firing. I had taken it to a man at 6pm who specialised in engine tuning. I collected the car an hour later, and it seemed to be working all right. I then drove the car past Karen's home. I had never given up hope of seeing Karen again, but as regards her parents, I now considered them a lost cause. If we had got together again, there would only have been another fabricated incident. As I drove past her home I noticed that her bedroom light was on. The opportunity that presented itself was too good to miss. I parked the car at a discreet distance from the house.

As a result of having taken down the posters in my flatlet, I now had plenty of Blue Tack lying around the car. I took some of this and nervously threw a few pieces at the lighted window, hoping that Karen and not her mother, would appear. After three pieces hit the window, a face finally presented itself. It was Karen. She opened the sash window.

"Do you still want to marry me?" I asked as loud as I dared.

She nodded, then said,"Yes," in a nervous voice.

"Well come on down," I replied.

She then disappeared from sight, for what seemed like ages. I wondered how she was going to get out of the house. Unknown to me, Karen's parents and her sister, were in the lounge watching television. To get to the back door Karen had to go downstairs, then through the lounge and kitchen. As she walked through the lounge, the welsh dragon noticed her.

"And where are you going?" her suspicious mother asked.

"I'm just going into the back yard for a breath of fresh air," Karen replied, her grey matter struggling to keep one step ahead of her mothers.

"Oh, that's all right then," replied Helen.

Karen eventually appeared at the back gate with a big grin on her face. There was no time for formalities. We ran off to the 'new' car. I drove off as fast as I dared, not wanting anyone to take the registration number of the vehicle we were in. I was not sure how long it would take before the outlaws discovered their precious daughter missing. It all depended on how good the television programme was. I knew that when her disappearance was discovered, all hell would break loose. I did not know to what lengths the police would go to get her back. I knew that in some cases it was normal for the police to observe traffic as it crossed the bridge leading to the mainland. It would take about forty minutes for us to reach this bridge. As far as I knew, the police would not know what car I was driving, but I could not be certain.

I therefore decided that we would not cross the bridge that day. We stayed the night in a bed and breakfast place in Menai Bridge, over looking the straits. It cost four pounds per night each, with no questions asked. The next morning, having negotiated the bridge without incident, we went to Caernarfon registry office. It was here that I learned the ins and outs of British law as it pertained to marriage. We were told that owing to residency rules, we could only get married in the district where we resided. In our case, we could either get married on Anglesey at the registry office in Llangefni, or in Birmingham. Birmingham seemed to be the only realistic alternative, since Llangefni was too close to the in-laws for comfort. As it was now a Saturday, arrangements for a wedding could not be made for two more days. I felt very apprehensive, since I had reasoned that it would not take much brain power for Karen's parents to figure out just what we were planning.

Our expected marriage did not follow traditional lines, for as it turned out, we had our honeymoon before the wedding, instead of afterwards. From Caernarfon we went to Porthmerian, the Italian renaissance village inspired by William Clough Ellis, and used in the TV series 'The Prisoner'. After a snack there, we drove on further south to Harlech Castle, from the battlements of which we were presented with a magnificent panoramic view, which I will never forget. Continuing our exploration, we traveled inland along a picturesque winding lane, to see the Roman Steps, believed to be a medieval pack horse route over the mountains. I tired Karen out that warm sunny day, whilst trying to find the far end of the steps. We never found them. I hoped that our marriage would be equally as endless. The views were magnificent and far removed from our real life problems. From then on I knew that it would be my job to shelter Karen from those problems. It was a task I was prepared to fulfill, little realizing that in the end I would need someone to look after myself, or at least share the burden.

We spent Saturday night at a bed and breakfast residence on the northern outskirts of Barmouth. The next morning we wandered along the Panoramic Walk, from where we looked down onto the sand bar in the river estuary. Before long we had resumed our travels, heading east over the Cambrian Mountains towards the West Midlands. After a long down hill drive, we stopped for a drink and a meal at the Three Tuns Inn and brewery, at Bishop's Castle, on the border with England. Upon our arrival in Birmingham we went to the Costermonger to see our mates. We told none of them of our plans. I was afraid that one of them might tell the outlaws as a joke, and also, since it was at short notice, I did not want people promising to turn up for the ceremony, then failing to do so.

Sunday had been another long day for Karen, culminating with one of her epileptic fits. When dealing with her fits, the first thing I had learned was never to panic. Getting flustered often caused more damage than doing nothing. Preventing her from having fits, by not taxing her brain too much or for too long, was easier said than done. Another thing I learned was that if she had a fit and failed to take one of her pills, then she would soon have fits with increasing rapidity.

We stayed that night at my flat, fearful that Karen would be abducted again, or that we would be visited by the police. First thing Monday morning we went to Birmingham Registry Office on Broad Street, taking our birth certificates with us. The formalities were relatively simple. I was told that we would need two witnesses, and that as the ceremony would last only a few minutes, punctuality was essential. The wedding was scheduled for 11-15am on Wednesday, September 19th, 1979. It would cost twenty pounds and twenty-five pence for the marriage licence.

Later that day we called around to see my GP Dr. Robot. Whereupon I registered my 'wife' on his books, in order to get some pills for her. Clothes were also a problem, since Karen had none but the jeans and pullover she was wearing. I took her to Marks and Spencer's, where I bought her a matching black velvet skirt and jacket, also a dark red blouse, black shoes, underwear and casual clothes. I even had to ask a store assistant to measure Karen for a bra, as she did not know what size she was. It was another long day, made even longer by a knock on the door. Since I was not in the habit of getting visitors, I looked out of the window. There below was a police car. We stayed away from the door, but later resolved to move out of the city. That evening we drove down to my parent's place.

My parents were pleased to see us, though being in their early sixties, they were obviously not looking forward to trouble. They nevertheless agreed to attend the wedding, and so also did my brother. On the Tuesday, Karen went and had her hair permed. She came back looking an absolute dream, displaying one of her broad grins that I loved so much.

On the Wednesday morning we arrived in Birmingham in two cars. After the two hour drive, I think we were more nervous than tired. We were certainly apprehensive, and definitely not looking forward to trouble. I realised that it would presumably have been easy for Glyn or Helen to telephone the registry office, in order to find out when the wedding would be. We approached the building cautiously, with a strong sense of foreboding. Fortunately the only people we saw were part of an Indian entourage, having their photographs taken. The room where the marriage ceremony was to take place had an abstract mural covering one wall. The elderly, thin faced gentleman who conducted the ceremony, wore top hat and tails I recall. He was a very amusing figure. Neither Karen nor I could keep a straight face. It was obvious that he loved weddings, and there was no doubt that he loved ours, despite there being only three guests in attendance. He made our day.

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Nigel & Karen at registry office entrance.

Next came the difficult bit. There had been no rehearsal, so no one was sure whether Karen would have trouble in saying the correct words. Much to my relief and to my relatives astonishment, she only had to repeat one line. The wedding ring was gold, the design of which complemented that of the engagement ring. It cost twice as much, having bought it from a jewelers in Birmingham the previous Monday. To my surprise, Karen had no trouble in producing the correct finger for the ring to be slipped onto.

After the ceremony, which lasted no more than a quarter of an hour, we all trooped outside with me clutching the marriage licence. It was our passport to happiness, so we thought. There then followed the traditional round of marriage photos near Alpha Tower and the Repertory Theatre. It was a gloriously sunny day, with the colour in the nearby flower beds seemingly reflecting the glow in our hearts. As a reception had not been planned, I decided that an impromptu meal at the Duck Inn, located a mile up Broad Street, was called for. The meal went down well, after which my relatives returned to Northamptonshire, whilst Karen and I went to Stonehouse Lane Police Station, to give ourselves up.

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Audrey, Walter, Stephen & Karen by Matthew Boulton statue at registry office entrance.

After giving the policeman on reception our names, I said, "We have just got married without my in-laws consent, although my wife is over the age of consent."

"You mean you've eloped?" asked the officer.

"Yes, I suppose you could call it that," I replied.

Until then I had not looked upon it like that. I always thought it was kids that eloped, and I certainly did not feel that young.

"Well it's not our duty to tell the in-laws. You'll have to do that yourselves. Do you understand?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied apprehensively, "I'll see to that."

"By the way, congratulations!" he said with a smile.

I must admit I was taken aback by that remark. They're human after all, I thought.

I most certainly did not relish the thought of telling Helen the good news, even from the other end of a telephone line. Instead I chose the cowards way out, and got someone to do it for me. I phoned Glyn's mother, Gaga. She was very pleased to hear that we had married at long last, and promised to pass on the good news. I knew she would enjoy telling her son, and especially Helen.




Chapter 2




Monetarism




Karen and I had both wanted to get married in church, with relatives from both sides present, but our marriage was to mark the beginning of a long series of disappointments and disasters. In Great Britain at this time, three fifths of all marriages ended in divorce, whilst another two fifths ended in acrimony or worse. At my age of thirty years, marriage did not come easy. It took me many years to find the right woman, where in my society, female emancipation had rendered the poor and often redundant male, largely superfluous, particularly in the cities. Without a doubt, after years of searching I had found the right woman, but marriage was far more complex than I realised. My inexperience with psychological matters, coupled with my ignorance in the detailed workings of the welfare state, were ultimately to prove my downfall.

We returned to Holyhead the day after the wedding. Many people have since asked me why we returned. There were three main reasons. I did not want Karen to become severed from her friends and thence become home sick. I knew that with her mental condition it would be cruel to do so. I also naively thought that my in-laws would come to accept me. Above all, I had a good job on a good contract, and I did not like the idea of being pushed out of it.

1979 was the year in which the Conning Party came to power whereupon they fulfilled their election promise by introducing a financial ideology known as monetarism. Monetarism in the UK, Reaganomics in the USA. Monetarist's believed in a more open economy, meaning less government interference and greater control by market forces. Exchange controls were abolished in an attempt to encourage foreign investment, both ways. In order to safe guard the value of the pound, interest rates had to rise in order to prevent too much money flowing out of the country, to places where higher rates of return existed. This was bad news for many British companies who were already heavy borrowers. Unfortunately, many of the British electorate were either unaware of this policy, or failed to understand the dangers of proceeding along such an economic path. Monetarism received most of its support in the USA, whom the British government followed like lambs to the slaughter, never once admitting that they could be wrong. Liquidation followed liquidation, mainly in the traditional manufacturing industries.

Over the next eight years unemployment was to rise from one and a half to three and a half million people, at least officially. Unofficially, some sources quoted six million unemployed. Certainly the trade union movement lost two million members during this period. I could not help thinking that monetarism had more to do with destroying trade union power, than creating wealth for the masses. Certainly the government's anti-union legislation, which was introduced during this period, appeared to reinforce my initial impressions. Millions of unemployed was to be the price the working class would have to pay for the government's refusal to negotiate with the unions. The Conning Party were in an unforgiving mood after being forced out of office during the coal miner's strike a few years previously, as a result of the three day working week it had reluctantly imposed on the rest of the nation.

The spectre of monetarist induced recession was already apparent to myself and my colleagues. Aluminium prices were falling world wide, ultimately-resulting in the closure of Great Britain's other aluminium smelter, located in Scotland, which to my astonishment was swiftly demolished. It was obvious to me that the contract at Tinto was more secure than any I would be able to get in the West Midlands. I was also aware that when redundancies arrive, contractors are the first to be dismissed, usually without warning. Like most people I tried to look on the bright side, often by ignoring reality, something which governments are good at. What my marriage needed in order to survive, was financial and social stability. Instead I was to walk a financial tightrope. As for my in-laws, I had adopted a naive approach to them. I should have gone to my solicitor to obtain a nuisance order, in the hope of keeping them away from us. In this I was to later fail, because I was unaware of my rights, whilst seemingly unable to put across my problems forcefully enough. No one from my wife's side of the family warned me about them. The only words of warning I was to receive came months later from my grandfather.

"You will never be able to trust them, mark my words," my grandfather told me. In his eighties, he had the wisdom of Solomon and I ignored him. I was a fool.

That Thursday afternoon we went around to Dawn's place to tell her the good news, but she noticed the ring on Karen's finger before either of us could say anything. That evening we went to the Beach Hotel with Dorothy.

It was during the next day that we saw action. That afternoon we met by chance our friends Brian and Babs, near the unemployment benefit office in Holyhead.

Whilst talking to them Karen exclaimed, "There's Gillian!"

I looked but did not see her. A few minutes later Glyn, appeared, obviously notified of our presence by Gillian. His exact words I cannot remember. He sounded baffled, astonished and angry. He kept saying over and over that one day he would get even. Then he withdrew. I had expected worse, little realizing that this was only the first round.

A few minutes later we were due to see the staff at the local day centre, less than a mile away, close to where Gillian lived, we therefore said our goodbye's to Brian and Babs, then rushed off to the car. On our way back to the car we came face to face with the ogre, Helen! She stood there on the corner of the street, refusing to let us pass. I told her that we were in a hurry to attend an appointment. I did not state where. She sounded most annoyed when I told her that we had already met Glyn, and that he had done little but shout abuse. Finally, since words were not enough, I put my hands on her shoulders and moved her bodily out into the road, so that Karen and I could get by.

After reaching the car, I then drove Karen to the day care centre, where I hoped she would be able to stay whilst I was working. Facilities for the female handicapped in the locality at this time, were very limited. There were workshops for males at Llangefni, but only this day care centre for women. The staff greeted us warmly, then showed us around. It was a modern cheerful building mostly occupied by senior citizens, although I did notice one young man in a wheel chair. This I thought was an ideal place for Karen to go to, and she certainly looked pleased at the prospect. As we left however, our smiling faces turned grim, for there before us was the entire gang of outlaws. Glyn, Gillian and of course, Helen. On the narrow concrete ramp leading down from the centre I came face to face with hate.

"You assaulted my wife," Glyn yelled accusingly as he approached me.

"Of course I haven't," I replied nervously, as I quickly assessed the situation. I found it hard to believe what he was saying.

"Of course I haven't," I said again. "I just moved her aside because she wouldn't let us pass."

By this time I was stuttering with fear and hardly sounded convincing.

"He's lying. Go on hit him!" screamed Helen.

Glyn, possessed by his hen pecked mentality, duly obliged by reluctantly smashing his fist into my head. I think he only hit me once or twice, causing my face to bleed. I did not return the complement, fearing that it would aggravate the situation. Anyway, I did not believe in violence.

Karen and I retreated into the day care centre, whilst the gang of outlaws waited at the pass. I remember asking the staff to call out the posse, the police, but I think there was something wrong with the telephone. Finally, one of the staff went outside to remonstrate with them. The outlaws moved off to the end of the road. About an hour later they finally left the scene, after which Karen and I made a quiet exit.

The entire incident had upset many of the elderly people. It was obvious to me that it was too much to expect the staff to look after my wife after this incident. Some years later I was told by my friend Bill, that this incident was reported in the centre's occurrence book, but I never saw a copy, so I cannot comment further. After leaving the centre we drove to Tinto, to see Bill. He was surprised to see my mouth bleeding. We decided there and then that Karen and I would have to move out of Holyhead for safeties sake. I decided that the best thing to do would be to see Mrs. Owen in Valley.

That evening we spoke to Mrs. Owen, who was sympathetic to our needs. She phoned around, and found us an old terraced house which had been used as a holiday home, located just up the road. We moved in straight away. I felt indebted to Mrs. Owen then, and indeed still do. During the first four days after our return from Birmingham, Karen had at least four fits that I knew about. The cause was obvious. I desperately wanted an amicable solution, but I was at a loss as to know how my in-laws could be placated. I thought that in time wounds would heal. Instead, they were to fester.

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Karen with Dawn playing organ.

Whilst I was working away on my drawing board at work, Karen would be staying with Dawn's mother, whom I paid expenses. Over the next few weeks it, became obvious to me that Karen did not like the arrangement. Something was troubling her, causing me to become inquisitive.

"What did you do today?" I asked Karen.

"Dawn gave me a bath," came the reply.

"But I gave you a bath yesterday," I said.

"I know but she insisted," said a disgruntled Karen.

Knowing what Dawn was like I asked, "Did she wash your....?"

"No, I did that," she interrupted.

Karen started having fits more frequently, until finally on October 25th, 1979, Dawn's mother, with prodding from her daughter, told me that Karen could only stay until Christmas. I sensed something unhealthy about the situation. The next morning Karen stayed at home. She preferred to stay there on her own during the day. We never spoke to Dawn again, although I often saw her walk past our home at lunch times, presumably on her way to see her girlfriend in Trearddur Bay. Being intelligent and attractive, she was one friend I was to deeply miss in the years ahead. I badly needed a young woman to look after Karen, and keep her company whilst I was working. Maybe I did not look hard enough, for I never found such a person. In the back of my mind I was afraid of what my in-laws would think, and how they would use it to prize Karen and I apart. To this day, I do not believe that it is possible for one man or woman to look after a mentally handicapped person without assistance. The mental as well as physical strain on the carer eventually becomes too much to endure.

One day whilst working at Tinto, I was called to the manager's office. There I was told that my in-laws, who were at the main gate, were demanding to know where their precious daughter was staying. After much deliberation I gave the manager my last address in Holyhead. This information was then passed on to my in-laws, who then left the site, I was deeply upset at my in-laws attempts to involve my employers in this sordid mess. Prior to this incident, my employment prospects were already black enough.

Whilst at work on Friday the twenty-eighth of September, I received a letter from my in-laws solicitor, demanding to know where Karen was living. I thought, two can play at this game, so I went to see my solicitor, Mr. Roberts. The outcome of this meeting was a letter sent to my in-law's solicitor, a lord something or other, I believe. I was not impressed by the name. They could have gone to see the prime minister for all I cared. I am not certain what the letter from Mr. Roberts contained, but it certainly told them to lay off.

During the period when there was no one to look after Karen, I would come home from work at lunch time, to make sure she was all right. Usually I would come home with two packs of jumbo sausage and chips from the local fish and chip shop, whereupon we would then sit down and eat them whilst watching the children's television programme 'Rainbow.' Well I did anyway.

I managed to arrange for a woman by the name of Vera to visit Karen every Tuesday morning, in order to help her with her reading. It was hard going for Vera. I do not think she realised the improvement she made to Karen's reading capability. In the evening I would also help Karen to read. At this time she could read six pages of average English in one hour. Getting her to read fast was initially difficult since she lacked confidence in her abilities. To overcome this I started by helping her to pronounce each word, then after a few days I would go on to read every other word. When she became proficient enough, I would let her read every other sentence. It was important not to push her too hard, thereby inducing a fit. She had to be kept cheerful at all times in order to maintain her morale, as her brain battled away against the side effects of her drug therapy (chemotherapy).

To improve her reading even more, I later bought her for Christmas a Texas Instruments 'Speak & Spell'. It was without a doubt one of the most rewarding things I ever bought her. She could spell just over half the words stored in its memory. I must admit that there were even words that I could not spell, and still can't, judging by how irritated I get when my spell checker throws them up onto the screen of my word-processor for correction. In fact, my ability to remember peoples names was far worse than Karen's. During the days alone, Karen would do her knitting, or perhaps some painting. The paint always seemed to go where it should not, but I did not mind. These activities were however no compensation for the lack of companionship. She started having bad fits, and the only likely answer I could think of was to find her a pet. She liked cats, and had once had a kitten called Ben, who mysteriously disappeared during our courting days, so I decided to get a replacement.

One day as we walked past a pet shop in Holyhead, I spied a number of small notices in the window. One of these advertised kittens, and gave a local telephone number. We hurried over to a nearby telephone kiosk and dialled the number. It turned out that the present owners of the kittens also lived in Valley. I was even more surprised when I realised that they not only lived in the same street as us, but also next door. It had to be fate. There was no turning back now. It was not long before we were around next door, to be greeted by their menagerie. There was a pony in the back yard, pussies galore, and I think a dog and an aquarium. There were four kittens to choose from, all tiny fury bundles crawling over one another inside a cardboard box. Karen looked down at them, wearing her beaming smile. If she could have had her own way, she would have taken them all, I am certain. She was rationed to one, since I could see myself ending up looking after it. Karen found it difficult to pick one as they were all equally as playful. Finally she made her choice, I offered money but the family refused. It was the best deal I ever made. The kitten we called Fluff, as I was uncertain as to what sex it was. Karen often called Fluff 'bechan', meaning little female, for that is what Fluff became, a substitute for children. From then on Fluff was her baby. The date was Saturday, November 17th, 1979. They were to stay together until that fateful day which was to drive us all apart, forever.

It was on a Saturday the twenty-ninth of September that I first saw a photograph in an estate agents, of the bungalow I was later to buy. It was new, located in the centre of Anglesey, in a village called Gwalchmai, I was vaguely familiar with the village, as Bill and I use to go there to see the local entertainment in the Gwalchmai Hotel on Thursday nights, occasionally. I do not know to this day what attracted me to the place. The only thing it had going for it was its central location. Were I to be made redundant I reasoned that I would not have to travel far to any other point on the island in order to reach my new job. Since buses traveled along the main road nearby, I reasoned that even without a car the place would not be too remote. It was ten miles from Holyhead, a distance which I thought would be too far for my in-laws to travel, since they hated going any long distance except by train. In any case, I never thought they would find the place, since it was off the beaten track.

The bungalow was located up a short cull-de-sac serving five plots, three of which already had bungalows built on them. Since the asking price of the property was low compared to that in Birmingham, and since it would not be long before the estate was completed, I reasoned that I was on to a good thing. It was also a quiet location, by no means a stressful environment. As it was to turn out, every one of my assumptions was to prove widely off the mark. Buying that property was without doubt the worst decision I ever made. Just buying the place was to take another five months, even though I was to engage a solicitor Mr. Snail, in Bangor on October second. I also saw the assistant manager of the Xtra Building Society on the same date. During this period there was a mortgage freeze, but even with all the extra time I found the procedure of buying a house and moving in, far from smooth. In the coming months, never was I to loose so many working days 'off sick' just in trying to acquire a new home. It was to leave me with a bitter feeling against those politicians who firmly believed in a home ownership society.

On the first of November I got rather a nasty surprise. Mrs. Jones came around to tell us the dreadful news. The outlaws had performed an underhanded trick. They had evidently got someone to follow me home from work. They now knew where we lived and had visited Mrs,Jones to tell her so, in the hope that we would surrender without a shot being fired. We both looked at her grimly. There would be no surrender, was the message, leaving Mrs. Owen to walk off into the sunset with the task of conveying the bad news.

With that, sickening news from Mrs. Owen, I felt a strong urge to go down to Brum, where we delighted in the sight of the municipal firework display in Summerfield Park followed by pints of ale at the Duck Inn, Pot of Beer, and near my flat the Cross Guns, where Karen enjoyed watching the cockateel kept behind the bar.

On Friday November 16th, 1979, Karen's parents visited her in Valley whilst I was at work, but they were not let in. The next Monday they called again bearing gifts, Karen's clothes and crocodile tears. Mrs. Owen called around that evening to persuade me to let the outlaws look after Karen during the day. I do not remember my response, but I realised that the situation could not go on like this forever. On November 27th, Gillian gave birth to her third child. Karen was taken by her parents to see her. Karen had many fits at this time, probably due to the confusion of loyalties in her mind. I therefore let her parents, and later her sister, look after her during my working hours from then onwards, little realizing that behind those false smiles, Helen and Glyn hated my guts.

It was to be two years before I learned the truth, in a letter from the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) to my solicitor. Unknown to me at this time, Karen had been receiving Attendance Allowance (AA) and Non-Contributory Invalidity Pension (NCIP). These were state benefits which formed part of Great Britain's welfare state, and were paid to people as of right, who could not look after themselves properly. Her GP, Dr.St.John, had evidently arranged for Karen to receive these benefits. Five days after our marriage, the allowance book had been handed over to the DHSS in Holyhead by my in-laws, at which time they stated to the staff that their daughter was now married and her whereabouts unknown. On February 6th, 1980, two months before Karen's benefit entitlement ran out, renewal claim forms were sent by the DHSS to my in-laws address. Glyn returned them to the DHSS, stating that the whereabouts of his daughter were unknown. By this time of course, the outlaws were in almost daily contact with their daughter. They had known all along, exactly where I worked and what my permanent address was in Birmingham. They soon found us living in Valley, whilst Karen was only too willing to show them where our new bungalow was, long before we moved into it.

At the time of these goings on, I was totally ignorant of their two faced attitude. They were determined to sell their daughter down the drain, to spite me. It was a blatant example of how little they really cared for their youngest offspring. It is a feeling which I still find hard to grasp. How could they have been so callous, I was later to wonder. Although this pitiless act did not seriously affect our financial well being at this time, it did have a profound effect on us a few months later. This single act was to have incalculable consequences for all.

Irrespective of my in-laws attitude to me, the love I had for my wife never faltered. I was still deeply concerned about Karen's drug therapy. I arranged through our GP, Dr. Robot, for Karen to see a specialist at a Birmingham hospital on Monday, December 10th. Whilst there, Karen had an electroencephalogram test (EEG), in which electrodes were attached to her head in order to record brain signal activity, which showed up as waves recorded on a moving chart. It was a technique with which I was, years later, to become familiar with. After analyzing the results, our doctor was advised to change her medication from Rivotril to Tegretol, which he did. From then on Karen's daily intake of pills was three, one milligram tablets of Tegretol, as opposed to eight or nine, two milligram tablets of Rivotril when I first met her. Karen's awareness of her environment and her memory, improved considerably, though her memory still remained impaired.

At Christmas, Karen and I went down to my parents place, returning to Anglesey for the new year, during which Gill brought his family around. We all had a good time, especially Karen, who showed everyone how well she was doing on her new Speak & Spell.

In the months which lay ahead, during which time my mortgage approval was being held up, plans were made and implemented, appointments kept and numerous phone calls made from work. Furniture was ordered, floors and windows measured for carpets and curtains. Better locks were bought, a nameplate ordered and a search made for someone to fit the television aerial for when we finally moved in. The biggest problem that we faced by far, was the electricity meter. We had been assured by the builder that the electrical system had been tested and approved by the electricity board, we had our NHBC insurance policy, and approval from the building societies valuers. Despite all this, I was consistently unable to get an electricity meter installed. It did not matter how many times I telephoned the electricity board, I just could not get them to fit the damn thing. There was no telephone available in the hut where I worked. Instead I had to make time consuming calls from the room adjacent to my boss' office. This obviously did not improve my employment prospects.

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Sunny Dale and my car, Gwalchmai, Gwynedd.

There was also the problem of the garage drive, or should I say the ramp. It was so steep, that when I tried my car out on it, the exhaust pipe struck the ground when I drove over the ridge at the garage entrance. To get the car into the garage, I had to design on my drawing board at work, a special hump in the ramp. This hump increased the initial angle of slope, to allow for an angle of slope considerably less than the original, near the garage entrance. It was one of my better design jobs, one which the builder was only too pleased to implement, before we moved in. I was aware that a steeper ramp could wear out the clutch on my car at a faster rate. I was not to be unduly pessimistic as it turned out.

Gardening equipment had to be bought, and being a barren site consisting of sandy rocky soil, I simply did not realise what I was letting myself in for. I knew nothing about gardening, but I knew that I wanted something nice to look at. The builder of the estate lived next door. He said the ground was excellent for growing things in, and I must admit that his weeds really looked healthy. In fact he grew little else but weeds. What I did not realise was that in terracing the site, most of my top soil had vanished. As a child I would play in my parents garden, but when weeding time came along I did my best to wander off elsewhere. As such I simply did not realise what I was letting myself in for. I had visions of the Chelsea Flower Show, but in reality the weeds were to have a field day.

I stayed in most of the evenings at this time, saving up my money for the mortgage deposit, and the countless items that would have to be bought for the new home. Karen and I just sat there watching the goggle-box, whilst waiting for the happy day when we would finally move into our own home. It was a never ending game of patience, with phone calls and visits to our solicitor with which to relieve the boredom. Finally the day came when the financial matters were settled. We had at last bought our new bungalow. There was just one problem. No one had told the builder, and since I had not been given any papers with which to prove that the deal had gone through, he steadfastly refused to let me have the keys. More delay! finally on Friday, March 21st, with the keys to our bungalow in my pocket, Karen and I set off in a dilapidated Luton Van, which I had hired from a local farmer. The speedometer and temperature gauge did not work, but some how we reached Birmingham. That weekend the awesome and heart rending task of moving all my furniture and personal belongings out of Birmingham was carried out. It took all day just for Karen and I to load the van with my gear from the fifteenth floor. We had no help, and I must admit that I was surprised at how well Karen coped. The only mishap occurred when I told Karen to take my space shuttle model outside, meaning to the lift. She misunderstood what I meant, causing it to make its final dive down the rubbish chute. Needless to say, I forgave her. The next morning I realised that we could not get into the van since the door key had been broken off in the lock by someone else on a previous hiring. I seriously considered smashing the window, as working a bent wire coat hanger between the door and door frame in order to release the locking mechanism was not the answer. A fellow then came along and offered assistance. He was a mortuary technician by trade. Putting the broken key up to the lock, and after some wangling around, the door miraculously opened.

"How did you do that?" I asked.

"When you can get into bodies, you can get into anything," came the reply.

It seems strange how small incidents like that, I could remember so well. One of the other things I could remember was the lounge carpet. After unloading the Luton Van at the bungalow, everything was in its place, except the lounge carpet. We finally moved out of Valley a week later, but still that carpet had not arrived. It turned up the following week. It was cheap to buy and looked cheap. It had no stiff backing to it, so the folds in it became rather pronounced. I tried to cover them up with furniture and rugs without much success. I never could afford to buy another one, whilst even all my pacing up and down in the years to come, failed to make much impression on it. One day the name plate arrived. I had decided to call the bungalow Sunny Dale in the hope that it would entice holiday makers to stay there, should I ever need to. Anglesey was however renowned more for its high winds than sunshine. The name was engraved in gold lettering on Welsh slate. I was very pleased with it.

The saga with the electricity board continued.

"This is Mr. Allen again. I still haven't got my electricity meter installed. Why not?" I would ask.

"We haven't got a test certificate," would come the reply.

"But everything works," I replied in desperation.

"How do you know everything works?" the man sounding very suspicious.

I thought hard, then feebly replied, "because the builder says it was all tested and approved months ago."

Well I could hardly tell them that I had bypassed the non-existent electricity meter, and now had the place looking like Blackpool illuminations, could I?

"Well we'll have another look through our records, but I can't promise you anything," would be the inevitable response.

I got nowhere until Wednesday, April 16th, 1980. That week I had worked at Tinto two years exactly, and on that particular day I received a call from my contracts manager in Walsall. I was informed that my contract at Tinto would be terminated a week next Friday, and that I was to report in to the head office on the following Monday, April 28th. I was to be the only one 'sent down the road' as they say. When I asked why, I was told it was because of all the trouble I had stirred up in wanting to change employer months before. It seemed a fair comment, which I just accepted. I was not outwardly shocked. Like everything else that was later to happen, I kept my emotions under wraps.

That day I telephoned the electricity board again.

"I've got to have an electricity meter as I'm leaving the island," I pleaded.

"Your leaving are yea. Right we'll have to come around then. Will tomorrow do?" came the unexpected reply.

I felt very angry by their belated positive response. All the weeks they had kept me on that bloody phone, I kept thinking.

I had already decided to let the bungalow for the summer, whilst I worked on other contracts in the West Midlands. To this purpose I immediately set about designing information leaflets at work, for prospective holiday makers. They looked very professional. The next day I canceled my order for a telephone to be fitted inside my new home. It was to be the first of many austerity measures.

The saga with my rates took a lot longer to unwind. I informed the water board and the local council of my presence, but neither of them informed me that I had to convey this information to the Inland Revenue first, in order to get the bungalow rated. This was to result in serious financial repercussions later.

My financial situation was now very dodgy. A few weeks previously I had six thousand pounds in my building society account. The bungalow cost eighteen thousand pounds, towards which I paid four thousand pounds deposit, leaving me with a fourteen thousand pound mortgage. I had also spent the remaining two thousand pounds on furniture, legal fees, etc. My mortgage repayments were one hundred and thirty-three pounds per month, whilst the rent for my council flat was forty-two pounds monthly. My savings were now the lowest they had been for years. I realised that electricity, rates, food and travel costs, would eat away at my remaining savings in next to no time, if I did not get on a well paid contract soon. I now knew what it was like to burn both ends of the financial candle at the same time.

During my final days at Tinto, I not only run off on the office duplicator my information leaflets for prospective holiday makers, but I also drew up a resume of my work history, in case the worst came to the worst. I was not one for giving up. Like other contractors I could adapt, provided there was something worth adapting to.

According to my diary I reported to head office in Walsall a day late, owing to car engine problems. I was informed immediately that there were no contracts available. Things were grim, as about ten of the firms draughtsmen had got the elbow from a nuclear power company a week before. Since nothing appeared in sight, my boss agreed to let me return to Anglesey, provided I kept in regular contact by telephone, which I did.

I returned to my bungalow in Gwalchmai and beavered away each day at the garden, hiring a rotavator in the process. On the financial front, I cast out my lifeboats by putting holiday advertisements in the Wolverhampton Express and Star, Leicester Mercury and Manchester Evening News. I worked away for five weeks on that garden, during which time I was paid my basic wage. On Friday, May 30th, the inevitable happened, I was made redundant. I had savings of around two hundred pounds at this time, plus two hundred and fifty-five pounds redundancy money, received a few weeks later.

On Sunday. June 1st, 1980 Karen and I went to see Gaga. She was confined to a bed in C & A Hospital. About a week earlier she had had a stroke at home. She looked so old and haggard, with blueness around the eyes. She looked at us with a vacant stare, saying nothing. We quickly left. Her appearance in hospital was to haunt me in later years. She was later transferred to St. David's Hospital where she mercifully died on September 16th. Although I did not know her well, it was one set back that I could have done without, for life was to get very tough from then on. I little realised at that time, just how close I was to get in departing this world the same way. Maybe in the end, I will.

I was very fortunate in quickly obtaining employment with another contracting company, in Birmingham, detailing scaffolding and concrete shuttering, at Kwikform. Unfortunately the contract was to last only eight weeks, ending July 25th, during which time I was paid an average of one hundred and ten pounds per week net, which was sixty pounds per week less than at Tinto. They did not pay me a basic wage whilst I waited for another contract to turn up. I was therefore obliged to sign on the dole and ask my union to obtain for me the holiday pay which was due. I finally received it. It was a lesson in just how easily employers were prepared to step out of line, if they thought they could get away with it. As the government's policies took effect, causing further unemployment and weaker trade union power, the abuse of part time employees and contractors by employers, was to increase.

On Saturday, July 5th, 1980, I started letting my bungalow at a rate of one hundred pounds per week. I would go up to Gwalchmai on a Saturday morning, mow the lawn and collect monies due, before returning to Birmingham. I let the bungalow for seven weeks, up until August 30th. I had reluctantly become a member of the black economy. I did not like the idea of letting my home, but I had no other choice. I knew there would be hard times ahead. By now I had a clear picture of British manufacturing industry shrinking fast. It was from this time onwards that I became scared and confused. I contacted numerous agencies, and sent resumes to many companies. I kept a note book which eventually contained about fifty company addresses that I had written to. My diaries were to be littered with the addresses and telephone numbers of employment targets. In the following two years I must have sent out at least two hundred resumes. They never led to an interview. I developed serious doubts as to my own capabilities. I was to spend my time worrying, refusing to give up, and eventually making myself ill. The pains in my stomach, chest and back, became more persistent. I also developed pains in the back of my neck, and eyes. I refused to see a doctor, believing that I deserved the pains for being such a failure.

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Nigel at Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

I registered in Birmingham as unemployed on August 5th, signing on every two weeks at the unemployment benefit office. I also collected tax rebates from the Inland Revenue. A few years later this system, as well as earnings related unemployment benefit, were scrapped. I wanted to claim for supplementary benefit from the DHSS but was unable to get through to them on the telephone, to arrange an appointment as advised. Every time I telephoned them the line was engaged. It was some time before I twigged that the telephone was off the hook. Had I visited them, I would have been lost for words to describe my present circumstances. My financial life, with two homes, was too complicated for even me to handle. Had I known about my wife's allowances, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have returned to Gwalchmai, abandoned my flat, and signed on for supplementary benefit, attendance allowance and all the rest.

For a few weeks I left Karen with her parents, but I eventually brought her to Birmingham. By now our flat was bare apart from one single bed, a two ring mini cooker, and the curtains. There were not even any carpets, whilst our clothes hung from coat hangers suspended from the door handles. Everything else was in the bungalow, or its adjacent garage. Karen was depressed in this environment, and Fluff did not like it either, for there were no mice, no moles, and most of all, no cats to play with. At this time Fluff started swinging her head in a peculiar fashion. I concluded that it was some form of mental illness, a forewarning of what was to come.

I telephoned the social services department, in the hope that I could get my wife admitted to a day care centre or workshop during the day. That was on July 31st, six days after my contract in Birmingham ended. It was not until August 28th that Karen visited the day care centre in Erdington. She liked the place very much, and was taken there by taxi, every Thursday for the next five weeks. During her stay there she made a plastic woven basket, which we later used to put fruit in, and a lovely pink elephant, which I still have to admire, for it stands inside my lounge wall cabinet. It is the one last link that I have with my love. When her parents saw it, they refused to believe that she had made it, probably because they never gave her such an opportunity. I remember when she brought it home, wearing that beaming smile of hers, so prominently. Oh, how I wish those feelings were here again. I doubt whether her social worker, June, fully realised the goodness that she achieved in just a short space of time. I wrote to her in the beginning of October informing her that we were leaving Birmingham, as I had the offer of a job in the Middle East. In fact that part of my story is best forgotten, but I will recount it here, for it shows just how desperate and confused I was at this time.

My attempts to get a job in August 1980 were, like those of most people on the dole, simply a refusal to accept the inevitable fact that there were no worthwhile jobs available. Much of British industry found itself hamstrung by high interest rates, forcing management to improve efficiency just to pay back existing loans at the previous lower rates. Improved efficiency meant automation. Automation meant redundancies, throughout the monetarist world. The growing number of unemployed was depressing wage rates, to the extent that I could not find a job with sufficient remuneration to support myself, my wife and my mortgage.

Greater competitiveness, as a means of survival, meant that more emphasis was being placed on robots and computers. Even my own profession was finding itself being automated to some extent, through the introduction of computer aided design terminals. More unemployed on the bread line, meant a smaller home market for goods and services. This meant that the competitive edge of British made goods sold abroad, was being eroded as the economic gains of bulk selling to a home market diminished. This would result in the need for ever greater efficiency, creating even more redundancies. In the new cut throat, no holds barred economy, unemployment was creating more job losses. This problem could only be staved off by increased consumer borrowing particularly amongst the lower paid and newly unemployed, who would find it virtually impossible to keep up with repayments. This problem would undermine the value of the pound further, particularly as much of this borrowed money would be spent on imports from the Far East, where employees working longer hours would be able to adapt to technological change faster and produce more, necessitating in a further rise in interest rates. It slowly became apparent to me that the British Government's monetarist policies, were inflicting more damage to British industry, than Hitler's Luftwaffe ever managed to do. Inevitably, the only sector to emerge supreme, would be the all thinking, all doing, microprocessor. With trade unions impotent, and political parties incompetent, in which direction would society head with its millions of unemployed human beings? What was urgently needed was social reform, which could only come from a forward looking, idealistic government, whose views were not based on vindictive economics.

I managed to get invited to a couple of job interviews in the West Midlands, but without ultimate success. I did not have the necessary recognized qualifications to get a worth while job, even though I had done the equivalent of two years higher education. To get them I realised that it would take at least two years and cost an enormous amount of money. Money which I simply did not have. With the rapidly changing job requirements of British industry, there was no guarantee that any new qualifications I obtained, would be worth anything in two years time. I was also to learn later, that even with government financial support, job vacancies now, could mean job vacancies swamped later. I also knew that passing exams at my age would not be easy, and there was also the problem of knowing what to do with my wife in the mean time. The last thing I wanted to do was leave her with her parents, as I felt that they did not really care for her enough. On the other hand, my parents showed a marked reluctance to get involved, over the coming years, mainly due to their age.

Like most people who were in a desperate need for a fix, I was prepared to lie, I made my own examination certificate, a higher national certificate in mechanical engineering. I had never seen such a certificate, so the whole thing seemed a crazy idea, but I was desperate. I made it out of some stiff card and letraset, from an art shop. It looked like my GCE certificate.

I had six GCE '0' level passes, including maths, english and of course, art. Whilst serving in the merchant navy as a navigating apprentice, I was a student at Plymouth College for four terms after which I passed my, Board of Trade, second mates foreign going certificate, in signals (Morse code & flag recognition) and written's (navigation, chartwork, mathematics), but failed orals (highway code for shipping) three times. I had of course, also done eleven months full time training in mechanical engineering draughtsmanship, under the direction of the Department of Employment. All this was the equivalent, of roughly two and a half academic years of apparently now worthless training. There was simply no system in Great Britain whereby the qualifications of different examining boards could be related to one another, especially from a prospective employers point of view. Starting from scratch each time, when changing career, invariably leads to waste of time, money, and worst of all, promotes disincentive.

I also needed some engineering apprentice's papers. To get these I photocopied my own indentures, changed the copy from navigating to engineering, then photocopied the altered copy at the local post office. I also needed references from a fictitious company. It was here that I became confused. Under stress, I made headed note paper for two non-existent companies. One used the address of an office block which contained numerous registered companies, and the other used my home address in Birmingham. Each headed letter sheet carried a dummy telephone number in order to make it look realistic. In truth, the only thing to be realistic was the dummy. Me.

With the company letter sheets, I got a batch of one hundred printed off each. I was not certain as to which to use. I could either use my address in Gwalchmai as my home address, and my Birmingham flat as my business address, or I could get the GPO to redirect the mail from the office block, to my Birmingham flat. I chose the latter. I should have known better than to rely on a nationalised industry. I had been taught in engineering one golden rule. If you want something to work, keep it simple.

I applied for the job in Saudi Arabia, through an agency in London. They telephoned me a week later, asking me to attend an interview. Judging by the resume I sent them, I knew they would. They wanted plant engineers to install and operate some of the most expensive and complex processing systems in the petrochemical industry at that time. I knew without question that I was the man for the job. Since I had worked on oil tankers and had intimate knowledge of heat exchangers, pipework., and instrumentation. I had no doubts about my practical abilities. The interview was held in a very smart hotel in London on September 18th, far removed from the hot sandy wastes and ethylene smells of an Arabian refinery. An offer was put to me almost straight away. The pay was fourteen thousand pounds per annum, after tax. They wanted a copy of my examination certificate, indentures, marriage certificate, driving licence, twenty-five passport photos taken after I had had a hair cut, a ten year passport, and finally, a full set of radiographs of all my teeth.

"No problem!" me thinks,"Dim problem ar y cwbl."

As we use to say in Wales when asked to carry out some lunatic scheme.

The passport was the first problem. In order to get one, the application form stated that the photos and form must be countersigned by an approved person such as a priest, counselor, or doctor, who had known me for at least two years. I did not know a priest as I was not religious. I knew no councilors, whilst Dr. Robot was only too pleased to inform me that he had only had to put up with me for one year. I regarded myself as British, having come from a long line of Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Vikings, Romans, etc. After toying with the idea of forging the application, I finally got my stepfather to get me and Karen a passport each from his boss, a company director I had never seen. Legal or not, it was certainly ridiculous. It was the sort of bureaucracy upon which governments thrived, with little regard for the stress it produces. The government promoted the idea of a mobile work force, whilst at the same time refusing to issue identity cards. Years later, I was to meet a man who had an answer to this unrealistic state of affairs, which I will eventually reveal to you. Radiographing my teeth was no problem. It was the fixing of my teeth before hand that hurt. I needed three fillings!

As the weeks past by, I received one form after another. I suspect that the post office got wind of my deception, as I never received a redirected letter from the agency, asking for a reference. On top of all that, I received an Arabian police file to fill in. That was it. If they beheaded princess's for adultery, what would they do to me? I quit. The entire episode left me with an intense feeling of guilt, and hopelessness. I felt a strong urge to get out of the rat race, but my obligations made me a prisoner within my own society. Failure to have an exclusive National CV Centre, smart identity card and professional guild, employer backed, internet based training schemes, are the major reasons for this nation's low productivity, not to mention a modern constitution of course.

On October 8th, 1980, I dropped everything and fled to the high country, Gwalchmai, abandoning my council flat at long last. The entire incident put me off job hunting for a long while. Just after my thirty-second birthday, I signed on at the Unemployment Benefit Office (UBO), and registered with the DHSS at Llangefni. The previous day I had gone to Holyhead, as I thought that the nearest offices to register at were there. Had I been allowed to register in Holyhead, my wife's allowances should have quickly come to light. As it was, things were to go from bad to worse. In my application for supplementary benefit, I submitted my building society, bank account and mortgage details, everything asked for. A week later I received a standard letter from the DHSS which I at first failed to understand, putting it aside. A couple of days later, not having heard any more from them, I picked it up again and read it.

The DHSS had decided to refuse us our rightful entitlement to benefit, without giving a reason. I failed to understand the logic of their decision, but simply accepted it at face value. The thought that they may be incompetent or sheer bloody minded, did not enter my head, which by now was reaching overload. I never went to Llangefni to have it out with them, since it never occurred to me that they had made a mistake. After all, they knew the welfare benefits system. I did not. On October 23rd, I visited the manager of my local Xtra Building Society. I got little comfort there. He was not even prepared to make representations to the DHSS. It was whilst dealing with the building society that I came face to face with the full meaning of economics, that cold blooded science where individual debtors are sacrificed to the glorification of financial stability, plus the economic growth of the company.

Although I carried on signing on at the UBO, at Llangefni, I knew that the situation could not carry on indefinitely. Finally, on or around December 6th, I left my wife at her parents place, whilst I reluctantly went down to my parent's home in Northamptonshire. It was whilst down there that I finally got the DHSS to award us the supplementary benefit that we were entitled to. Even so, it still took two and a half months. I returned to North Wales, and to my wife, on Tuesday, February 24th, 1981, signing on at Llangefni the next day.

The separation had placed a great strain on my parents, who could see me taking root there in their own home, and upon Karen, who was told constantly by her mother, that I had deserted her. I had no intentions of doing so at any time during our marriage.

During 1980, Karen and I had accomplished very little together. During the May bank holiday weekend, we had visited the aerospace museum at RAF Cosford where there existed an excellent collection of Nazi rocketry, and that great symbol of British engineering skill, and political negative mindedness, the TSR2, tactical strike and reconnaissance aircraft. It was with the cancellation of this project that I realised that the country was starting to go down the drain. Also visited that year, according to my catalogue of photographic slides, were Birmingham's Botanical Gardens, Rockingham Castle, the Farnborough Air Show, in which we saw the Tornado fighter-bomber, and the ill fated Nimrod AEW, and lastly the illuminations at Walsall Arboretum, which Karen loved.

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Karen by TSR2 at RAF Cosford.

By and large 1980 was grim, but we were still a long way from reaching our ultimate low. The full meaning of what it was like for a family to be unemployed, was yet to hit us. With twenty to twenty-five per cent unemployment on the island, I stood no hope of getting a job locally. The only bright note so far was that I had saved our home from the bailiffs. During the period that we were living apart, all of our unemployment benefit and tax rebates were being used to maintain the mortgage repayments. If we had not had parents to rely on, then I do not know what we would have done. In the years ahead, I thought many times of burning our home to the ground, and then claiming on the insurance. It would have been just another holiday home fire, carried out by the Welsh Nationalists, as far as I was concerned. I did not do it because I considered myself to be an honest man. I am now almost certainly something else.

I finally received supplementary benefit, seven months after becoming unemployed. We were very poor, but still very much in love. I was still unaware of my wife's allowances, even though I had told two people working behind the counter in the UBO, and the staff in the DHSS offices next door, in Llangefni, that I had to look after my wife. Indeed I had to bring her with me to the UBO every two weeks when I signed on, rather than leave her at home unattended. I asked at the UBO whether I could sign on by post. They would advise me to enquire at the DHSS. When I did so, the staff at the DHSS would tell me to ask at the UBO. I would have got more sense out of the dummies in Madame Tussaud's chamber of horrors.

On the morning of March 1st, 1980, there was a knock at the bedroom window, we had both overslept as usual. It was Glyn. He informed us that John had been taken to C & A Hospital with some problem or other, which he had acquired whilst moving into his new home, I did not feel very distressed at hearing this news. Perhaps as a punishment for my lack of pity, the exhaust pipe on my car promptly broke in two, I quickly got a new exhaust and fitted it myself. On March 5th, John kicked the bucket in hospital, the day before he was due to have an operation for a hernia. I made a point of turning up at the funeral, but I obviously did not grieve enough, as my clutch failed on the fourteenth. Four days later I picked up my car from the garage. In fitting the new clutch plates, the mechanics discovered that my 1800cc engine had been fitted with a 1200 clutch. Being smaller than necessary, the clutch had worn out faster. It was just one of the problems one faces when buying at a car auction.

I drove off, heading for the UBO to sign on as usual. The engine sounded perfect. A week or two before, I had finally found out why my car had been back firing ever since I bought it a year previous. I had previously taken it to tuning experts and even a garage in Birmingham, where I was told that I needed a new carburettor. I stupidly bought one, but the back firing eventually resumed. I finally searched for the problem myself. It was not long before I noticed that the rotating cam in the mechanical distributor had no grease on it, thereby causing the contact breaker switch to wear out prematurely putting the engine timing out. I felt that I had been ripped off in the past, but pleased that the fault was now fixed, at long last.

Just a hundred metres from the UBO however, the car engine went dead. The same garage mechanics towed it back in, and stripped it down. The timing belt had broke because the overhead camshaft had been jammed by a valve stem, whose spring had broken due to the changed harmonics of the engine, since I had fixed the timing. You just can't win I thought to myself. The garage proprietor explained the situation to me, the cost of the repair was immediately obvious. Three weeks benefit, on top of the money I had already forked out for the clutch and exhaust pipe. It was a financial black hole with no way of knowing when something else would go wrong, as ultimately it would. My finances were very low. The bullet had to be bitten. I turned my back on the automobile and told the proprietor to scrap it. I think he was taken aback, as it remained on his forecourt for months, even after my wife had given him all the necessary documents. Eventually it was repaired and hopefully gave someone a lot of pleasure. I have always hated motoring, but never more than at that moment.

From then on we became very isolated, but fortunately buses ran along the nearby main road every two hours, except Sunday. This road linked Holyhead, Gwalchmai, Llangefni, and Bangor, in that order. The last bus of the day would leave Holyhead and Bangor at a quarter to ten each evening. On Sundays there were no buses because the pubs were shut, or vice versa. Amongst our state benefit, there was no provision for a car. The deeper one lived in the countryside the more expensive life became. How people in the countryside lived without a bus service, I simply could not imagine.

On February 26th, 1980, I went to Liverpool for an interview. I had applied for a place on a computer programmers course. Although I was accepted, I turned it down because it did not lead to a recognized qualification. I know now that I simply have not got the memory to do something like that, which is why I have to write everything down in my diaries, without which this manuscript could not have been written. Soon afterwards, I applied to go on a Training Opportunities Scheme (TOPS). It was a Higher TEC course commencing on March 23rd, at Leicester Polytechnic. I was informed that their were only fifteen places for four hundred applicants. Given a wish, I would have preferred to have gone on a TOPS electrical engineering design course leading to a recognized qualification with which I knew I could get a job, but there were no such courses in sight.

On the second of April I went to Blackpool for an interview. I had applied for a place on a TOPS non-destructive testing (NDT) ultrasonics course. I failed to be accepted because I did not have the necessary six months experience. In the field of NDT, experience came before qualifications at this time. My interest in the subject had been aroused, whereupon I started collecting information from various NDT examining centre's located around the country. As with the rest of the British training and education system, I found out that there were numerous NDT examining bodies, each usually devoted to a particular industry. I should have dropped the subject there and then, but I foolishly continued, in the absence of anything better.

April twelfth saw the maiden flight of the American space shuttle Columbia, returning to Earth safely two days later. The weather was great, ideal for gardening. In fact, it did not rain for three weeks. My parents, and both Bill and his daughter, visited us over the Easter bank holiday weekend, whilst the following Thursday, Karen's parents took my wife to Llangefni market. On April 22nd I started constructing an ornamental fish pond in the garden. I badly needed something to occupy my time, and give me a feeling of purpose coupled with satisfaction. A fish pond seemed to be the answer, although I realised that no matter what I decided to do, it would cost money, The leisure orientated society would not come cheap.

On the surface at least, everything seemed settled, but my mind was far from tranquil, and was to change much during the next three years. On April 26th Karen was taken to her parent's home for lunch. Exactly three years later Karen and I were to have our last meal together. What happened in the meantime was to become an example of the unacceptability of unemployment in a civilised world.

Her parents were always coming around, or at least that is how it seemed. Because I could not afford a telephone, I never knew when they would appear next. This would place a great strain on me, since the only reason they came around, was to take their daughter away to Llangefni market for the afternoon, or to their home in Holyhead for a week or more. They never asked me if it was OK. They never complimented me on the way I looked after her or the bungalow. I seemed to mean absolutely nothing to them. When they did talk to me I felt that there was some ulterior motive. When Karen went away with them, her mother always showed me up before her, by insisting that I give my wife some money. There was no money for luxuries. One day Karen came back from the market with a kettle for the cooker. We already had an electric kettle however. I knew it was not Karen's fault, so as usual I said nothing. I felt that Helen was constantly trying to drive us apart. Karen and I never argued. I did not believe in it, and I have my doubts as to whether Karen was mentally capable of doing so. Instead I kept it all bottled up inside me. I should have gone to see my doctor then, for some drug to relieve the anxiety, but based upon my experiences years later, I can only conclude that it would have been a waste of time. In the end, no one was to take me seriously, not my in-laws, nor the welfare state, and certainly not the medical profession.

On Wednesday, June the tenth I discovered that I did not have to sign on, owing to a civil servant's dispute with the government over pay and conditions. I had told the staff at the UBO a few weeks before that they would not get anywhere, but as usual they were not prepared to listen. They obviously felt that they had a special understanding with the powers that be, and that it was only a matter of days before Mrs.GG would realise that their unswerving loyalty to stinginess with regard to the unemployed, would earn them an ex gratia payment or two.

I must admit that I got a great deal of pleasure in watching both sides slog it out hammer and tongs. I believe that I signed on only once or twice for the rest of the year, as the dispute dragged on for months. I think it knocked a lot of sense into the civil service, making them feel that they were just as oppressed as the unemployed. The message slowly sank in, as during the next few years a warmer and certainly more efficient attitude developed towards claimants. The bad old days slowly receded, but for me, not fast enough. It use to cost me two pounds and eighteen pence in bus fares, for me and Karen, each time I went to sign on. I was not allowed to claim that additional expense. I was glad of that industrial dispute, if for no other reason than it saved me quite a bit in bus fares, not to mention getting soaked to the skin whilst standing at bus stops in rainy weather.

On July nineteenth, 1980, my fish pond was inaugurated with the arrival of my parents carrying live fish. The fish pond was the fourth I had built, but the first using reinforced PVC sheeting. It was built at the foot of an embankment, and incorporated a marsh garden containing irises, astilbe, primroses and the like. There were also lilies, oxygenators and floating plants in the water itself. For fish I stocked the pool with shubunkins, goldfish, golden orfe and koi-karp, not to mention water snails, to keep the pool clean. Whilst digging the pond, I did not have to go down far before hitting solid rock. To achieve a realistic depth of water, I built up the sides of the pool, and for economy covered the PVC edging with turf on two sides, making it look very natural. The remaining side was covered by four large paving slabs, upon which Karen could stand and view the fish in safety. These slabs led to some steps I had made in an earth retaining wall, leading to the top of the embankment, upon which stood a rustic garden seat from which a Heron's eye view of the fish could be obtained. I was very proud of what I had achieved, and on sunny days I often sat on that seat to admire my work. Constructing the fish pond and its surroundings had required an immense amount of physical hard work, not to mention planning. These were capabilities which could have been put to better use, had a full employment society existed.

Supplementary benefit paid for the short term economic needs. It did not however finance long term psychological requirements, such as the need to have a day out somewhere, let alone a holiday. Constantly looking after my wife, and worrying about the next visit from my in-laws, caused stress to build up within me. At the same time, I would be bathing Karen, telling her what clothes to put on, and generally keeping an eye on her. I did all the cooking, because it was quicker and less troublesome than as a team. I sometimes let Karen peel the potatoes, when she volunteered. As for washing up, she usually left the cutlery and plates covered in soap suds. As for the laundry, I had a temperamental washing machine, which I never got around to fixing, and a tumble drier which I did get mended before the point of self-destruction was reached. I of course did all the ironing, house cleaning and gardening. I could get Karen to push the vacuum cleaner around, but not with enthusiasm, made obvious when she would constantly push it backwards and forwards over the same spot. I never could get her interested in gardening,.She was always interested in wild life. Presumably that included weeds.

Karen would often pull the thread out of her clothes, and sit for hours in the bathroom, pulling the thread out of the towels. Although I did not know it at that time, ruminating like that was considered to be a symptom of stress. Living at Gwalchmai away from friends, with little to do all day except word puzzles and knitting, left her feeling very frustrated I suppose, but she never complained. I now wish that she had, for I think that the only solution was either to leave the area, or have children. Leaving the area was not as easy as it sounds. The bungalow was up for sale, but there were no takers. There were literally hundreds of properties for sale on the island, but because of the high level of unemployment, it was a buyer's market. Our property looked decidedly unattractive, since the estate we were on was nowhere near completed. It never crossed my mind during all the time that we stayed at Gwalchmai, that Karen was unwell. Had we had children, I am sure that she would have amazed everyone by looking after them well. She was always a level headed woman who always thought hard before doing something new. I remember the time when she once told me that it took her a while to work out the layout of our bungalow, something which most people take for granted. Children would have added life to the place, but was that morally speaking, sufficient justification for introducing them to a non-nuclear free world, with only unemployment to look forward to? There is of course the counter argument that man has always managed to overcome fundamental problems within and between societies, thereby ensuring a continuation of the species. There was no medical reason why Karen could not have children. Her problems were not hereditary, and she was fit enough to survive the rigours of child birth.

Maybe the problem lay in me, for my financial problems together with the problem of looking after Karen, eventually wore me down both physically and mentally. Karen would wear out a pair of shoes in a couple of months, and no matter how often I told her off about it, she would leave the bathroom basin covered in soap suds. She regularly left soap on her face which would usually result in a red rash. I often felt that there should have been some organization which I could have turned to for training, guidance, and the occasional relief. There was nowhere that Karen could go to during the day. No day centre that I knew of. There seemed to be no one that I could turn to for help. I felt so alone and forgotten, with only total indifference from the DHSS.

During my parent's stay in July 1981 we visited Bryn Bras Castle, whilst during the next day we went on a guided tour of the local magnox nuclear power station, which I found very interesting and surprisingly down to Earth. My mother took Karen to have her ears pierced in Holyhead, after which my wife proudly displayed her gold earrings for all to see. The next day my parents set off home via Aberystwyth. It was not a happy day for me as six of the newly introduced fish had given up the ghost, presumably due to the trauma of transit. It was also the day I commenced letting my bungalow, necessitating our transfer to the in-laws lair. We stayed there for six weeks, It was grim. Shortly afterwards Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer. Prince Charles and I were the same age, but our prospects were to be very different.

On August the fifteenth, 1981, I took Karen to the open day at the local airbase, an event which I looked forward to going to every two years. On September the fifth I cancelled the 'for sale' of my bungalow. I had had only one couple come to see it, so I thought that if I cancelled it, it would please my in-laws. I cannot say as it had any effect on them at all. During our stay with the outlaws, I took Karen to see the Tunnecliffe collection of bird sketches at Llangefni library, as she had a strong affection for our feathered friends. We also visited Bangor museum of junk, and climbed the mountain on the outskirts of Holyhead, whilst visiting the nearby lighthouse, I think that was all we did that year. Without a car I felt we could accomplish very little. We were prisoners, trapped by our financial circumstances. I tried to have as little contact as possible with my in-laws during this period. As such I became withdrawn. It came as a great relief to me, when we finally returned to our bungalow. Sunny Dale on Saturday, September 5th, whereupon I commenced the overdue weeding of the garden.

I also painted the rendering on the bungalow, a standard conforming white, but my mind was never far away from my grandmother, Hilda Millard. She was in her mid eighties. Like many elderly people of her age, she suffered from osteoporosis, a loss of calcium as a result of a hormone deficiency, as well as senile dementia. She had reverted to her childhood, and could no longer recognize the man who was now looking after her, her husband, to whom she had been married for sixty-five years. Her husband, also in his mid-eighties, found it difficult to look after her. He wanted a home help. Somebody decided that it would be best to put her in an old folk's hospital for a while. It was whilst in there that she broke her hip, a common occurrence for people with osteoporosis. She was operated on on Friday, September 11th, two weeks before her sixty-sixth wedding anniversary. She died a few weeks later.

I think her husband felt very-guilty and bitter, for allowing the move into hospital and its consequences. I wrote to him soon after, in the hope that it would cause him to snap out of his grief. A few weeks later his home help arrived. The entire episode made me realise just how vulnerable the unemployed and elderly really were, in an uncaring society. Although she had been near death for at least the last two years of her life, death with dignity was not available through the National Health Service (NHS). Whether this was an ethical problem, or simply one of providing employment to an army of welfare state workers, no doubt depends on whether or not you are the victim. But in reality everyone is on the same side of the fence as the grim reaper.

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Karen sitting by Nigel's fish pond.

As regards further job training, I had serious doubts about whether to apply for another course. My brain was slow due to lack of use. This was something which the instructors had allowed for during my training to be a draughtsman, at the Government Training Centre, later known as Skillcentres. In colleges, polytechnics, and universities, they did not. You were thrown in at the deep end, and the mad rush to obtain qualifications, regardless of whether you understood the subject enough to do the job on your own when you finally entered industry, became the overriding factor. It became obvious to me that everyone except the student, wanted to keep courses as short as possible, often with no recognized qualification at the end, just to save tax payer's money. No MSC sponsored course was longer than a year, often resulting in a waste of money, for it often took two years at least to train someone well enough for industry, a fact recognized in industrial training in West Germany. If British industry, and not government, were to manage Britain's education and training then hopefully substantial improvements would follow. I never had any confidence in any British government managing anything, for they were slow reacting bureaucratic organizations, out of touch with the nation's needs, in a world of rapidly changing job requirements.

I opened an account for Karen, which she could use whilst I was out job hunting. Karen's bank account, however, presented problems. I had put forty pounds in the account. In next to no time my in-laws told me that there was no money in the account. When I finally returned to Holyhead and read her bank account, there was a strange withdrawal on it, identified only by a series of letters and numbers. I presented this statement to a member of the bank staff. Within five seconds of looking at it, she informed me that it was a 'computer error.' Computers do not make mistakes, only the idiots operating them do, as my word processor was only too keen to point out. This mistake had created a great deal of friction between me and my in-laws. I immediately closed my wife's bank account and refused to pay the bank charges. I also closed my own account at the Midland Bank, and opened one at my local sub post office.

On Tuesday, February 16th, 1982, I received an unexpected visit from the rates valuer, almost two years after I had bought the place. I cannot imagine what finally prompted him to turn up, though I do remember that he had a long list of places to visit, the directions to which I was unable to provide him with.

Whilst living in Gwalchmai, Karen quickly made friends with the neighbours, including two young girls, Sonia and Melinda. One day I realised that I had not seen Melinda for some time. I queried Karen about it, who then told me that Melinda had had an serious accident at school on a trampoline. This highlighted a problem with Karen. She could not instigate a conversation, whilst if you asked her a question, she would always agree with you. This was to have serious repercussions later with her parents. I never saw Melinda again.

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Karen, Melinda & Sonia.

On Tuesday, March the ninth, or thereabouts, I visited the Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB) in Holyhead. I think it concerned my rates, but I cannot be sure, as I had gone into town to pick up my wife from my in-laws, and may have simply visited the place on the spur of the moment. It was the first time I had visited such a place. I saw numerous DHSS leaflets displayed, which I had never seen before. At this time it was the policy of the DHSS at Llangefni to stack some leaflets on a radiator, adjacent to the interviewer. It was not possible for the interviewee to see which benefits these leaflets related to. In effect it meant that you could not get a leaflet unless you knew what to ask for. Only about half a dozen different leaflets were kept on the radiator, the others being in a cabinet, out of sight, and no doubt from the staff's point of view, out of mind.

During my dealings with the DHSS and the UBO, I slowly came to realism that if you did not specifically ask for some benefit or other, then you simply did not get it. The prime function of these organizations was therefore, not so much to relieve the suffering which accompanied poverty, as it had been at first envisaged by parliament, but to act as a scourge, defending the unacceptable face of capitalism. I grew to hate them. A hatred far more intense than anything I had ever known before.

During that visit to the CAB I found three DHSS leaflets of interest; Invalid Care Allowance NI212, Looking After Someone at Home NP27, and Invalidity Pension for Married Women NI214. I later casually mentioned these benefits to my father-in-law.

"Oh yes," he said, "she use to get allowances before she got married, Attendance Allowance I think it was called, but I didn't think she was entitled to them now."

I did not question him further on this point. I had to find out more about Attendance Allowance (AA), and anyway there was no rush, I thought the local DHSS would quickly sort out my wife's benefits. It would only take a month, I assumed. I never thought in my wildest imagination just what I was letting myself in for. In the end it was to take the DHSS two years to sort out. At least two years too late. It was to produce in me an intense feeling of loathing, which words cannot adequately describe. That feeling appeared to go on forever. At this time I also had other things on my mind.

I was determined to pursue my new interest in non-destructive testing (NDT). If the government was not willing to train me in something relevant to the job market, then I was prepared to pay for the training myself. On Saturday, March 13th, 1982, I left Karen with her parents and traveled alone to Birmingham. I had gone there officially to look for work, since it was necessary for me to sign on in West Bromwich on the following Wednesday, otherwise my supplementary benefit would have been terminated. This had all been prearranged with the UBO at Llangefni. They were not aware of the real reason, which was two weeks training in ultrasonic inspection, followed by four days of magnetic particle inspection. The course consisted of inspecting ferrous plate, castings, or welds. It was made clear to me at the time, the difficulty I would have in getting a job, but it simply did not seem right just to sit at home and give up. The courses were at West Bromwich Technical College, just six miles from my friends in Birmingham. For accommodation, I stayed just down the road at the YMCA, which was ideal as far as studying was concerned. At the weekends I would go into Birmingham, on one of the many double decker buses. I signed on as planned at the local UBO, at 9am that Wednesday morning, before going into class. The course went well though it was brief. When I returned to Llangefni on my next signing on date I found that the UBO had no record of me signing on in West Bromwich. I lost two weeks benefit as a result, not to mention the cost of the course and accommodation.

I was not prepared to be demoralised. On April the seventh I applied for attendance allowance, five days before that the movie spectacular started in the South Atlantic, better known as the Falkland's War. For those who had grudgingly bought a TV licence, it was at last value for money. For those who had not, guess who, it was an unexpected bonus. It kept millions of bored unemployed, glued to their television sets for weeks. The war was fought between Argentina and Great Britain, over some barren islands which most British people did not know existed until then. Whilst the British government wished they had never existed, under the British flag at least. The islands had a population of about eleven hundred people, possibly one for each person killed in the war, although the exact figure may never be known. It was a war fought essentially to save the face of politicians and dictators, especially after the order was sent out to sink the Argentine cruiser, Belgrano. After the war, which was to cost General Galtieri ten years imprisonment for creating such a box office success, the British Government's standing was to ride high, winning them the next general election. The effects of monetarism were swiftly forgotten by the electorate, who could unquestionably understand war better than economics. The economic cost of a military presence on the Falklands was to remain high, long after hostilities ceased. It was the necessary price of principle.

For those who could afford to get away from the TV, they could have gone to their local cinema to see the award winning British movie, 'Chariot's of Fire'. On April 13th, I went to the DHSS office and formally applied for Invalid Care Allowance (ICA), though as with Housewives Non-Contributory Invalidity Pension (HNCIP), I could not figure out whether we would be financially better off, since I knew that some benefits would be granted with one hand, and then deducted from our supplementary benefit (SB) with the other. It was a recipe for the ultimate stress induced mental illness. I was later to realise that the entire benefits system was a game of snakes and ladders within a mine field. The mines represented how much you could endure, before you either lost interest, got a job, succumbed to physical or mental illness, or past away by 'natural causes.' The next day I wrote to the DHSS at Llangefni, asking them to back date my wife's allowances, and asking whether there was some alternative to my signing on every two weeks with my wife being present. A photo copy of this letter, along with many others, was later supplied to my solicitor. It reads as follows:

Sunny Dale,

Gwalchmai,

Holyhead,

Anglesey,

Tuesday, April 20th, 1982,


DHSS,
Llangefni,
Dear sir or madam,

Further to my conversation with your staff yesterday,
I confirm that my wife, Karen Allen, (formerly Roberts), was receiving attendance
allowance up to September 1979, when we were married.


Up to this date she lived at:

1 Head Hunter Terrace, Holyhead.


Her GP then and now is Dr.St.John in Holyhead. I have made a claim for invalid
care allowance to Blackpool, which although it will not increase my income,
does mean that I am no longer available for work. I would like to know if it is
possible to cease signing on every two weeks, as I either have to bring my wife with me,
at additional expense on the buses (one pound-twenty five return), or I have to leave
her at her parents in Holyhead, which creates a strain on our marriage.


I would also like to know whether the AA or ICA can be backdated, as I have been unemployed since August 1980.



Yours truly,


Mr. N.S. Allen


As usual the letter appeared to meet with indifference.

On May seventeenth I commenced a four day dye penetrant inspection course at West Bromwich, whilst staying in a local pub. Fortunately the course fell between two signing on dates. During the course, the staff advised me that I would stand a better chance of obtaining employment if I went on the TOPS NDT course at the college, starting in September. I informed them that I had already tried, but that the MSC would not accept any further applications. They advised me to re-apply, which I did. I was interviewed at West Bromwich on June the sixteenth, and was later informed that I had been accepted for the course, considered at that time to be the best NDT course in the UK.

To every positive aspect of life there always seems to be a negative one. Karen's parents were without a doubt the negative side to our marriage, it saddens me to say. Karen found it difficult to keep things clean, especially her clothes, which Helen would constantly point to, on all of her trips to see us.

"You're not looking after that girl," she would say.

Inevitably the brainless brawn beside her, would agree. Karen often made a mess of the lounge carpet, near the settee, which proved impossible to restore. For some obscure reason, she kept toothpaste tops and coffee jar tops in her purse and handbag, respectively. I use to think that it was a substitute for money, and all the other important things a normal woman keeps beside her. Every person has their idiosyncrasies which one has to accept, but Karen was not normal, forcing me occasionally to put my foot down. One day I went to check her purse to see whether she had enough money. I was horrified to see a one pound note, a five pound note, a ten pound note and even a twenty pound note in her purse. To her they were just pretty pictures, like those hanging on our lounge wall. I questioned her about it, but she could not remember whether she had taken the money from my clothes, which were hanging in the wardrobe, or from someone else. After that incident I hid our cash under the bedroom carpet. Karen used to spend much of the day doing word puzzles, like criss-cross, sitting on the settee for hours, with five or six pens in her hand. The trouble with this pastime was that the light leather covered settee would soon be covered in Biro marks, which were very difficult to remove. As usual, it did not matter how many times I told her off about it, it simply would not sink in. There was no point in shouting at her, as her brain would then switch off completely, or worse, she would have a fit and express her disgust by vomiting. There was no other way, except by talking to her gently and repeatedly, in the hope that one day the message would sink in.

The other villain of the peace who liked to damage the settee still further, was of course our little bundle of joy, Fluff. To Fluff, the settee was there to sharpen her claws on. In fact I think I should have called her Claws. Of the two, there is no doubt that I got a better response from Fluff. When sighting Fluff's talons tugging at the leather, I only had to scream, "0i!" and she would dash off to the nearest corner. I never tried that with Helen.

Trying to get Karen to tell the time was a classic example of effort, exasperation, and finally success. Both Bill and I got blue in the face, trying to teach Karen to read clocks. Without a doubt, Bill had more patience and a calmer approach than I. Then one day it happened.

"It's a quarter to three," said Karen to me.

I looked down from the TV to my wrist watch and casually said, "Yes it is."

Then the penny dropped, I looked up at her to be greeted by one of her broad smiles.

"How did you do that?" I asked.

Whereupon she commenced to explain to me how to tell the time. As for me, I cheat. I use a digital watch.

Times were still hard. During the winter months, we rarely got up before midday, mainly because there was no reason to. There was also the cost to consider, for getting out of bed meant switching on the electric heating, and cooking a meal. It was cheaper, and far more relaxing, to stay in bed and experience shared bodily warmth. I could usually afford only one hot meal per day, with a hot mug of cocoa with cheese and crackers at supper time. I did not loose weight, though I think Karen lost a fraction. In truth, she needed to, though of course her mother did not see it, that way.

"Oh, look at that girl, isn't she thin. You're not feeding her right," Helen would say, constantly.

I wish Karen had lost a lot of weight, for the fact is that she weighed more than me, mainly because she never took any exercise. At this time our evenings out together were scarce, but essential. It was no joke staying indoors, day in, day out, looking out of the window, watching the rest of the world go by. Fortunately we had no hire purchase (HP) debts, only the mortgage, of which the DHSS paid the interest. The capital of which, I somehow managed to pay throughout my period of unemployment, in order to placate the building society. Being a new mortgage, the capital was never more than twenty pounds per month.

On June the twenty-first I went to see my solicitor Mr. Roberts, regarding my rates, which the DHSS were refusing to pay. When I received my general and water rates demands covering the previous two years, I sent them to the DHSS, expecting them to be paid at last. A week later the DHSS sent them back to me. There was no covering letter. It was a blatant example of the kind of treatment I received off them, over the years. I went to the DHSS, where I was told that because they had been paying me too much towards my mortgage, they expected me now to pay my rates. I pointed out to them that I had no savings, as I did not expect this financial demand. In any case it had been their mistake, not mine, assuming that a mistake had been made. To this day I still do not know how to work out the monthly interest, payments on a mortgage, any more than the so called experts do apparently.

The DHSS were however, adamant. There was no budging them. I use to go in, and there behind the interviewing screen would inevitably be a young over stressed, underpaid, poorly trained and inevitably inexperienced woman.

"I'll just go and have a look at your file," she would inevitably say.

I got the feeling that the manager was there behind the office door pulling the strings. Rarely did I see my file, and as far as I know I never saw the manager out front, and certainly not offering words of comfort. I felt sorry for those who had to work under him, for they must have been desperate people, prepared even to sell their souls to the devil.

I went to the Citizen's Advice Bureau in Holyhead. They telephoned my local DHSS who refused to say anything of consequence.

"Just leave it with us," they said.

Well I left it with them for a while, but I was in no mood to be ignored, even if the manager of my local DHSS turned out to be Mrs. GG herself.

In desperation, I decided to take the government to court. At least that is how it seemed to me at that time. I went to see my solicitor, Mr. Roberts, who referred me to a specialist in DHSS matters. My specialist was very good at his work, and over the next year or so achieved quite remarkable results. Like most people who make a name for themselves, he eventually moved to London. He had a rather uninspiring name, Mr. Grimes. Words cannot fully express the gratitude I still feel towards him, for eventually knocking my local DHSS for six!

On June 25th, Karen was interviewed by a GP sent by the DHSS regarding our application for attendance allowance (AA). These visits were to take place on an annual basis, to determine whether she qualified for AA just for the daytime, for both day and night, or not at all. In Karen's case, I could only get AA awarded for the daytime, but just how she could miraculously recover at night I could never figure out. A few years later a case was taken to the European Court concerning an epileptic, who required attention at night. The case, involving AA was won. It was an example of just how far ordinary people had to go in order to get fair treatment from the social security people.

Looking through the pile of forms and letters from this period, many of which bring back, painful memories, I notice that on my application for AA the name of my wife's GP had been changed. This was my in-laws doing. Whilst on a job search, my in-laws had changed Karen's doctor back to her original GP, Dr.St.John When I returned, the outlaws did not even inform me of the change. I was collecting pills for Karen from my GP in Gwalchmai, a Dr. Owain, for months before the staff there told me that my wife was no longer registered with them. I was hurt more than annoyed, at the way my in-laws had ignored me again.

That was not the only way they ignored me. During my job search I was informed by my neighbour, that a consignment of plants had been delivered to my home. These were replacements for plants which had not survived the previous year. I telephoned my father-in-law and asked him whether he would mind planting them in my garden. He agreed without hesitation. When I eventually returned to Gwalchmai. I found the plants still wrapped in their parcel, in the garage. They were not even pushing up daisies. When I made protestations, I was just fobbed off by the in-laws. If I had known they were going to take that attitude then I would have asked someone else. The evidence of their feelings towards me kept piling up, but my brain was too tired or too involved with other problems to really appreciate how much they hated me.

I could never depend on them, never. The only reason why they let us stay with them during the letting of our bungalow was because Helen wanted Karen there with her, if not permanently, then at least temporarily. In May 1982 I had gone to my parent's place, after doing the dye penetrant course. During my short stay, I bought a tent, two sleeping bags, and a gas lantern, whilst my stepfather lent me a portable gas stove. What I had bought cost about one hundred pounds, of which my mother paid half. My intention was to go camping around North Wales, whilst my bungalow was being let to holiday-makers. Karen of course, could not keep her mouth shut, and told mam.

"I'm not having my daughter going camping, and catching the death of cold.
You'll come here and stay with us," barked her mother during one of her visits.

I got the impression from this remark, that Karen was not too keen on the fresh air life either. I knew Helen was prepared to take the matter further. If we had gone camping, then I am certain she would have turned up on the Saturday, whilst I was handling the change over and doing any necessary gardening. I realised that I would only get that woman out from under my skin when she was dead. Oh, how I prayed for an accident.

On Saturday, July 4th, 1982, the bungalow letting's commenced, as I trooped off sheepishly to Holyhead with a smiling Karen. I was always calling her bone idle. I now felt like calling her something a lot stronger. The bungalow was let for eight whole weeks. During the first week of letting, someone spilt drink over our colour television set, blowing one of the valves. Being an old set, it took months just to get a new valve for it. No sooner did I get it fixed than the channel selector started playing up, so I eventually gave it to Bill, who by this time had also been 'sent down the road' along with all the other contractors at Tinto. Meanwhile, back at the bungalow, holiday makers became irate when they discovered that their was no television. I had thought that they would have wanted to get away from all that, but I suppose that's what keeps the lid on society, mindless television programmes, the welfare benefits system, alcohol, drugs, and novels by Jeffrey Archer MP.

During our stay at the lair, I was determined that we would not be dominated by Helen totally. So, on Monday, August the twenty-third I bought two British Rail runabout tickets for six pounds each. Using these tickets, we went to various places along the coast, as far as Chester, returning each night to my in-laws new home in Holyhead. On that particular Monday we went to Rhyl, where we visited the amusement park, and the lavish indoor swimming pool known as the Suncentre. Although Karen took her new swimming costume with her, she obstinately refused to put it on. The next day we went around the museums, shops and along the city wall of Chester. Wednesday saw us in a quieter location, Llanrwst, where we visited a local manor house, and then to the Victorian seaside resort of Llandudno. On Thursday we really exercised our rail tickets by visiting Colwyn Bay, Prestatyn, and then Rhyl again. Friday saw us walking through the old town of Conwy, with its castle and town wall. Later that day we visited some of Karen's relatives in Llandudno, where we had a drink at the King's Head located at the foot of the tramway leading up Great Orme's Head. On the sixth day we went to Llandudno again, spending the day in the park on the peninsula, known as Happy Valley. The seventh day, Sunday, was definitely a day of rest, as by now we were suffering from train lag. As Karen would say, I was knackered. That was the nearest thing to a holiday we were to have during our entire marriage.

During August and September I took Karen on regular visits to the dentist. Her teeth were very bad, far worse than I had originally thought. The dentist dismissed the idea of false teeth as she was an epileptic, and could conceivably choke on them during one of her epileptic fits. She was therefore fitted with crowns along the front, with numerous fillings elsewhere. Evidently her parents had not bothered to take her to the dentist for ages, if ever. I was told that the work would take months. Karen's parents promised me that they would maintain the appointments whilst I was away on my TOPS course at West Bromwich Technical College. As usual my in-laws let me down, or should I say they let down their daughter. When I returned from the course at Christmas, I found that they had simply ignored their daughters needs. I do not think they could give a damn about anyone but themselves. The work on Karen's teeth was not completed until mid February 1983, two months after I had finished my course. I was not happy about this state of affairs, since it meant that Karen and I had to make bus trips to the dentist in Holyhead, incurring unnecessary expense, but I knew that the work had to be completed, for Karen's sake.

In addition to the train excursions from my in-laws home, we also went on long walks, as in the previous year, across the nearby mountain to the lighthouse. Those walks gave me the closest feeling I could find to being free, in a life full of stress and despair. On one such walk we took my in-laws mongrel dog, Taff, with us. Taff was an old dog but eager to go, since it was never ever taken for a walk. We were obviously going at a rate of knots across the mountain that day, as just as we started to return Taff collapsed. It was only for a few seconds, but enough for Karen to notice, and of course she had to tell mam when we got back.

Helen put the block on us taking Taff out again, even though it was always enthusiastic to see us from then on. I realised that you could tell a lot about a person, by the way they treat their pets. Taff never had a kennel nor a basket. Even Fluff had a basket. As for toilet. Taff would often urinate on the kitchen floor, simply because that was where it was kept all night, only to be booted out of the back door by Glyn, then left to wander the streets. It was definitely a dogs life for Taff. It made me wonder what sort of a life had they given Karen before I met her. My in-laws never gave any affection to my wife's cat, Fluff, so I was apprehensive about leaving them both there when I went on my TOPS course in September. My parents were not prepared to look after them, as they were afraid of trouble. A few days after we married in September 79, Helen telephoned my mother, threatening and swearing. After that my parents swore never to see them again, as the phone call had disturbed them greatly.

One of the jobs that my in-laws got me to do during the 'holiday vacation', was to help Glyn put up a two metre high interwoven wooden fence. I did not like the idea, as the reason for putting it up was to stop Karen talking to the little girls next door. My in-laws neighbours were nice people. The little girl's father took a photo of Fluff, which I still have in an album. Reluctantly I helped erect the fence, though I could not help feeling that its presence was insulting. My in-laws never wanted Karen to have any friends.

Perhaps Helen regarded it as a challenge to her authority, or maybe it was because she simply disliked people. My mother-in-law would often make insulting remarks about any relations we went to see. Karen's friends were invariably described as common by Helen. I got sick of hearing these insults, and so subconsciously stopped seeing people. It seemed the only answer to a quiet life, but it was to put me further under Helen's spell.

Another job I did for my in-laws, was to help Glyn paint the exterior of their new home. Their new home was actually some years old. It was a timber framed semi-detached building, located at the entrance to a long cul-de-sac, adjacent to an old folk's home. It had three bedrooms, with the stairs leading directly into the lounge. With the money he earned, he could have bought better, though as he was not a keen gardener, I could see why he bought it. The garden was all grass, which I mowed once a week whilst residing there. The green green grass of home, and you can keep it!

During the painting, co-operation with Glyn was impossible. Since I had painted my own bungalow, I knew how to do it. I told him that the first task was to wash the walls with a bleach solution. This I set about doing. I washed the front down first, only to find that he had already started painting the rear, on top of the dirt and fungus. My father-in-law showed a similar disinterest with apple trees, which he pruned almost to the stumps. Glyn was a big man who felt that he could learn nothing from anyone. He always had his TV pointed at his favourite chair, and was certainly not interested in what others were already watching. I had the feeling that the only reason Glyn bought the house was because he was nagged into it by Helen, who did not want to be outdone by Sunny Dale. At about this time Karen's sister Gillian, bought a bungalow in Holyhead, which was far better than her previous home, a council house.




Chapter 3




My Name is Fluff




The bungalow now stands empty and cold.
In an oasis of nature, ready to unfold,
Amongst the warm long grass something stirs.
A tortoiseshell cat preens and purrs.
The chores of the day are yet to begin,
Hunting, guarding and keeping trim.
With a yawn, the sunbathing comes to an end,
As the feline with a red collar, seeks out a friend.
Through the tall grass the name tag glitters,
'My name is Fluff' and a bird twitters.
As Fluff advances towards the pool,
The grasshoppers leap defies all but the longest rule.
Damsonflies sunning on the paving slabs,
Watch Fluff crouching on the rocky crags.
With quivering whiskers and claws bared,
Delights with a hovering damsonfly a scene shared.
No golden orfe, no koi-karp to see,
Just an opaque pool and reflections of me.
Once a year my master would clean out the pool,
So that I could watch the fish, and drool.
But times have changed, I know not why,
For now I have new masters nearby.
Whilst sniffing the primula by the waters edge,
Fluff's feline friend, Sooty, comes through the hedge.
Together seeking adventures, what will it be,
As they watch the butterflies on the buddleia tree.
There they go, hunting their prey,
Moles, mice, shrews, lizards for the rest of the day.
Finally, having caught her prize,
Fluff takes it to the master, what a surprise!
But upon her arrival, she comes face to face,
With a mangy dog from a far off place.
Dropping her prize and giving a hiss,
With a thick bushy tale, the warnings don't go amiss.
A neutered cat can be an unfriendly beast,
As this dog found out at the very least.
Now standing at the tall front door,
Come on, open up, she does implore.
With a rapid shake, her name tag jingles,
The door opens, then inside she mingles.
Jumping up upon the masters seated chest,
Fluff seeks attention whilst looking her best.
First a rub behind the ears, then the belly,
Now for some food and curl up by the telly.
Fluff likes chicken but those days are few,
For tonight there are the remains of dumpling stew.
Fluff always finds the warmest place to rest,
To lick herself and look her best.
With legs in the air, and one paw over her eyes,
With whiskers twitching, she dreams of tomorrow's prize.
Fluff's a very agile and knowledgeable country cat,
She's content where she is, so its best to leave it at that.

The bungalow letting's ended on Saturday, September 4th, 1982, I had one full day to get the place ship shape, before starting the TOPS NDT course at West Bromwich. I may have been unemployed, but I certainly knew how to live a hectic life on occasion. It was the third year in which I had let the bungalow, and it was to be the last, for it was at about this time that Karen's attendance allowance started to be paid, which represented twice what I could earn by letting the bungalow. It was to make a big difference to our standard of living. According to the DHSS, attendance allowance was compensation for the handicapped person not being able to earn a living. As far as we were concerned, these additional payments brought us up to a standard of living, that we and all other unemployed should have been on in the first case. After all, it was governments that manipulated economies and put people out of work in their millions. Governments that create unemployment, should be more than prepared to hand out substantial compensation to those people whose lives had gone to the wall. Although I was pleased with the awarding of AA, I was in no mood to shake anyone's hand. From then on we started to live but the damage to my body and mind had already been done. I was to later realise that no amount of money could possibly compensate for what I had gone through. No amount of money could compensate for not having a job. I of course, had a job, that of looking after Karen, but it was not recognized as such by the state.

I left Karen and Fluff with the in-laws, then travelled down to West Bromwich on a coach. I booked in at the YMCA as prearranged. The next day, Monday, I reported to the college. The course was without doubt, ideal. I did not have to hunt around for text books, as none were required. There was plenty of practical. More practical work than lectures. There was no written homework, since such time was spent memorizing everything needed for the final exams, which fortunately were few. I got on great with everyone, both lecturers and students. One such student I made friends with, was Allan from Handsworth, Birmingham. Above all there were no problems with the accommodation. The Young Men's Christian Association was a modern, clean and quiet establishment. An ideal environment in which to study. The only problem I had, was the aching pains in my stomach and back. They came on in the morning just as class began. They eventually got so bad that I would double up with pain, unable to man the ultrasound equipment. I had not sought help from a doctor for about twenty years, and then only for an earache which persisted for days. I therefore reluctantly went to see one.

The first doctor I saw was a Dr. Jones. Oh no, not a Welshman, I thought. I walked into his surgery and there before me was one of the biggest black men I had ever seen. He prescribed Tranxene, a drug which lowered my inhibitions and made me feel very tired in the mornings, so much so that I had great difficulty in getting out of bed. I also believe that it impaired my memory. One night whilst lying in bed I saw a ghostly apparition approaching me. I was half out of bed, getting ready to take it on, when it suddenly vanished. That was it. As far as I was concerned, these capsules in aluminium foil would have to go straight into the bin. Unfortunately my stomach pains were very real, calling for another visit to the doctors' surgery. When I reached the health centre I decided to see another doctor. Whilst waiting to see him, this little old dear came out of Dr. Jones' surgery clutching a box of mother's little helpers. Maybe it cured most ailments, but it did not cure mine.

The doctor I saw next was older, paler and wiser. He diagnosed traumatic dyspepsia, a diagnosis that turned out to be correct, give or take a stomach ulcer or two. Getting rid of the pain by taking a mouthful of chalky white liquid each morning, was easy enough. In fact the simplicity of it all made me feel a right idiot, for not having seen a doctor about it years before. Getting rid of the problem completely was to prove far more difficult. I had already had the problem, on and off for four years, and would probably have to allow for it for the rest of my life. Various forms of drug treatment were to be employed. Dyspepsia, where high levels of digestive acid attacked the stomach lining resulting in painful peptic ulcers, was a very common ailment, caused by the stressful society which the advanced nations had created for themselves.

With my dyspepsia now under control, I shook the cobwebs and tranquillizers out of my brain and set about the training course. The non-destructive testing of metal castings, rolled plate and welded metal joints, in search of cracks, laminations, porosity, side weld fusions and the like, proved very interesting. Despite my brain being laid up for so long, I found the principles of ultrasonic sound waves, x-ray and gamma-ray radiography, electro-magnetism and ultra violet dyes, not too difficult to understand. We visited various industrial concerns in order to get a smattering of industrial experience. I found the course most enjoyable. It provided me with an urgently needed sense of purpose.

On Friday, December 17th, I returned to Holyhead for the Christmas cheer, On December 28th, not having found much of it thus far, Karen and I went to Birmingham, leaving Fluff with my in-laws. We consumed plenty of Christmas spirit in the posh Midland Hotel with my friends, Allan and his wife Pat, and Jackie , a former barmaid at Bogarts, with her husband Phil. We all had a good time, returning to Allan's home that afternoon for more drinks. Karen and I returned to the sumptuous Midland Hotel later that evening, to meet our friends from London, Jill and her husband lan. The drinking continued, and as usual it went, down Karen's throat like water. She was four sheets to the wind, when suddenly without warning she spewed up over the carpet, I made apologies to our friends, then beat a hasty retreat to New Street Station, from where we caught a train to Northamptonshire. I was most anxious during this journey, as I did not have a paper bag with me.

1980-7 Finedon Northamptonshire Audreys Place Fluff On Garage Door 515.jpg
Fluff on garage door at mum's place.

I returned to college on January 4th, 1983. My parents agreed to look after Karen until my course finished on the fourteenth. During this period my mother and Karen enjoyed themselves immensely, by consuming the booze kept in my stepfather's drinks cabinet, each evening. On Saturday, January 8th, I took Karen to see the boat show at Earls Court, London, during which time we had a longer meeting with Jill and lan. At the end of my course I passed all my ASNT (American Society for Non-destructive Testing) exams, then returned to Northamptonshire.

1978-5 Castle Ashby Northamptonshire Walter & Audrey 044
Audrey & Walter at Castle Ashby, Northants

During the short time we stayed at my parents home I received a telephone call from Helen, informing me that Fluff had been involved in an accident. She had been hit by a car in the drive way of the old folks' home next door, then two more cars had gone over her, before some children playing nearby picked her up and took her to Helen. Evidently Fluff had used up a considerable portion of her quota of nine lives. I was deeply concerned by what she told me, but I decided not to tell Karen, as I did not want her to worry, for I knew that she loved Fluff as her own baby. The next day we made the long journey back to my in-laws home.

Fluff looked very bad, lying on the rug in front of the fire. She appeared to have lost the will to live. My in-laws had taken her to a vet who said there was nothing he could do. I did not know the full extent of her injuries. There were no external signs, so an x-ray was called for, if only to allay my own fears. My in-laws took us to a vet in Caernarfon, the nearest place with such facilities. There Fluff was x-rayed. The x-ray indicated that she had a dislocated hip, but fortunately no other injuries. I was greatly relieved and so was Karen, when the vet told us that given a couple of months the ligaments would re-establish themselves, provided Fluff took it easy.

Fluff of course did not understand the good news, and therefore looked at death's door. We took her back to Sunny Dale, and there tried to find a way of bringing her back to life. She would not eat, no matter what tasty morsels were put in front of her. I was afraid she would succumb to hunger and thirst. Was it really an accident or did she try to kill herself, thinking that we had deserted her? We gave her all the affection she had missed whilst we had been away, but it did not seem to have any effect. Even her clockwork mouse and the transparent plastic balls she used to kick around the lounge, failed to produce a response. Karen kept biting her lip in anxiety. I knew that if Fluff died I would get the blame, as it was I who had separated Karen from Fluff in the first place. I knew that something drastic needed to be done, as Fluff lay there on the rug in front of the electric fire, which we kept on all day and night. Finally, I found an ear drop dispenser in the bathroom cabinet, which I used to force milk into Fluff's mouth. Fortunately, from the action of her tongue, I could tell she was drinking most of it. She was not going to die of thirst, of that I was certain. I kept up this treatment on bended knee for day after day. It seemed like an eternity. Then one day, as we were watching TV, and without any coaxing from us, Fluff got to her feet and stumbled to the kitchen to eat some of her food. All eyes peered to see how much she would eat. It was just two tiny mouthfuls, before stumbling back to her place near the hearth. It was a beginning. She had shown that she wanted to live, after we had shown her that we did not want her to die.

It was to be many months before Fluff was her normal self. There were setbacks when she jumped around too much, but eventually all signs of the accident disappeared. From then on, whenever we left Gwalchmai, we deposited Fluff with Barbara at the village cattery, where she was well looked after.

Fluff was a tortoiseshell cat, which had been neutered during one of our visits to my parent's place. Since she had never had kittens, it was sometime before she forgave me and other cats for such butchery. She would often chase other cats and dogs off her territory, although she got on well with Sooty, the black cat from the smallholding next door, occupied by Karen's friend, Sonia. Fluff wore a red collar and name tag, with her address and name engraved upon it. She hated the damn thing at first, but gradually accepted it as the price one pays for a good home. She spent her days hunting in the garden. Anything that moved was fair game. Shrews, lizards, mice and birds were her main diet, although she did catch one mole. Fortunately I never had trouble with moles in my garden, as I assume the loose sandy soil would not support their tunnels, not to mention the rock. Fluff also loved chasing the damsonflies, and sat for hours watching the golden orfe, with her eyes fixed on them and her tail swishing from side to side. She never caught one, at least not whilst I was there.

On one occasion I remember smelling something odd in the lounge. I thought Fluff had mucked somewhere. I gingerly went around the room on all fours, until eventually I found a dead bird rotting away behind the lounge curtain. On another occasion I saw her leap onto a mouse, which she then gave to Sooty to take home. On another occasion she gave a similar unappreciated gift to Helen. How nice!

At night, Fluff slept in her own wicker basket in the kitchen, although occasionally she would fail to react to Karen's incessant calling from the front door. Fortunately her nights out on the tiles were few, as Karen would invariable prod me as we lay in bed together.

"Go and call her," Karen would say.

"You go and call her, it's your cat," I would reply.

"I already have. She won't take any notice of me," she would say.

Now if there is one thing I hate, it is standing at the front door step in my pyjamas, calling out some ridiculous name whilst getting frozen half to death, knowing full well that out there in the darkness there are a pair of eyes looking at me, thinking 'look at that stupid twit'. And all because you want to get a decent night's sleep.

Fluff led the life of Reilly. She only had to jingle her name tag and Karen would drop her fibre tipped pens all over the settee, and dash off to open the front door for her. As she came in she would case the joint for a second or two, have something to eat in the kitchen, then have a lie down by the fire. She would lie more on her back than on her side, for some reason. Occasionally as I lay sprawled across the settee, she would jump up and sit on my chest, and expect a bit of fussing as she licked the salt laden sweat off my hands. Sometimes when I had failed to shut the kitchen door properly, she would break out and come to bed with us. Fluff gave us an immense amount of pleasure, and no doubt helped me feel more at ease, at times. Her importance to Karen and I cannot be overemphasized, for our isolation from friends and the stress which we were under, ensured that Fluff became the centre of attention and affection within our small group.

1981-12 Anglesey Gwalchmai Sunny Dale Fluff in her natural pose 688.jpg
Fluff in intensive care, on lounge carpet.

Watching Karen look after Fluff, I wondered whether she could do the same with children. I was concerned with the possibility that during a fit she would drop the baby. She never did that with Fluff though, as she picked her up saying, "Ah bechan." At that time I had enough responsibilities and worries. No doubt as our problems became resolved, the chances for my wife to experience motherhood would have come along. Unfortunately that moment never arrived.

After completing the course in non-destructive testing, I sent out numerous resumes to various NDT companies, but I did not receive a favourable response. Times had changed greatly since my NDT interview in Blackpool. Even NDT companies were going bust. In order to get employment in NDT, it was necessary to get higher qualifications in the subject, but I could not get them without experience. It was a catch twenty-two situation, I wrote a detailed letter to the MSC in Preston, as follows:

Sunny Dale,

Gwalchmai,

Holyhead,

Anglesey,

February, 1983,


Manpower Services Commission,

Preston, Lancs.

Dear sir or madam,

I have made two previous applications for the ultrasonics TOPS course at Blackpool & Fylde College in 1981 and 1982, I now wish to make a third application following my recent successful completion of the NDT TOPS course at West Bromwich Technical College, This was a seventeen week course in penetrant, magnetics, radiography and ultrasonics, including industrial experience.


The NDT course at Blackpool would be a follow on from my recent training at West Bromwich.


My training in NDT is as follows;


Basic ultrasonics........15-3-82.....to.....26-3-82.....2 weeks,

Basic magnetics.........29-3-82.....to.......1-4-82.....4.5 days,

Basic penetrant..........17-5-82.....to.....20-5-82.....4 days,

NDT / TOPS course.....6-9-82.....to.....14-1-83.....17 weeks,


I also intend to do a weeks course in ultrasonics welds ASNT II in March, at West Bromwich.


This coupled with the ultrasonics course at Blackpool, maybe enough to satisfy CSWIP requirements for six months previous experience / training. In any case I would like to sit for British Gas ERS.


My present qualifications are shown on the enclosed resume.


I wish to do the ultrasonics course at Blackpool for the following reasons:


1. Owing to the demise of British industry, most NDT opportunities are abroad, but unfortunately higher qualifications such as CSWIP are required.


2. I have been unsuccessful in obtaining industrial expedience and find that to satisfy examination requirements for experience, a TOPS course is the only alternative.


3. Due to the cost and long waiting periods for ERS / CSWIP, I consider this course to be the only route to my goal of obtaining employment in NDT.


Yours truly,


Mr. N.S.Allen



The reply to this letter was brief and to the point. I was told that I could not go on two TOPS courses within a period of two years. This was a rule I had done my damnedest to ignore, in my desperate attempt to get meaningful well paid employment. The above letter exposes many of the problems that existed with job training courses at this time. The numerous examining bodies such as ASNT, CSWIP, ERS, CEGB, C&G, etc., often devoted to a particular industry, duplicated training requirements, time and expense. Often courses were of inadequate length, producing either too low a qualification, or too little practical experience, or both. In the two years I had heard about NDT, the job situation had changed markedly. Supply of NDT technicians now exceeded demand, partly due to the decline in the size of British manufacturing industry, resulting in less demand for the service, and the growing number of NDT technicians produced by the army of redundant workers from British Steel. As a result, government money and my money had been wasted. It had cost me the equivalent of letting my bungalow for a season. Shortly before I went to West Bromwich for the TOPS NDT course, I was offered a place on a BTEC HND in Instrumentation & Process Control at a London polytechnic. This was a year long course. I turned it down because my questions concerning text books and accommodation went unanswered, and also, because I had spent so much money on NDT, I simply did not want to see that money and effort wasted.

On or around Tuesday, January 17th, 1983, I registered at my local UBO again. On this occasion a new member of staff was present, a young woman. I again mentioned the predicament of having to bring my wife along each time I had to sign on. She told me to write to the manager of the UBO at Holyhead and ask for his permission to sign on by post. Evidently the minions, or should it be morons, at Llangefni were subordinate to him. It had taken two years for someone in that UB0 to give me that little piece of advice. I wrote to the manager and he promptly wrote back, and from that day on I got my neighbour, Gwilym Owen, the builder of the estate, to sign an unemployment benefit form every two weeks, stating that I had not worked during that period. This practice continued until April 1983 when the book of forms ran out. I then went to the UBO and asked one of the old fogies behind the counter for a new booklet.

"Why do you sign on by post from Gwalchmai, no one else from there does?" he asked.

"Because I have to look after my wife who is mentally handicapped," I replied, refraining from showing the feeling of anger that his question had aroused in me.

"In that case," he replied, "You should be paid by DHSS vouchers, which you cash in at the post office. Go and see them."

I went around next door to the DHSS offices, never dreaming that I would get anywhere, but sure enough they almost fell over themselves giving me the service that I should have received two years before. I got the distinct impression that my solicitor's perseverance was finally making its mark.

In February 1983, I gave up all ideas of ever working again, and believe me it hurt. I did not like the idea of being a reject from society, and I felt inflamed at times towards the attitude of working people to my resigned state.

"Why don't you go into computers, and why don't you do this, and so on,,,," was what they would say.

I found that the older people were, the more they failed to understand. At the turn of the century one could walk onto a ship and sign up for a job, provided you were fit enough. In my time, to go into the navigation department of the British merchant navy, you were required to do a four year apprenticeship, since lengthened to five, then pass the following exams; lifeboatman's, efficient deck hand, first aid, fire fighting, radar observers, then second mates certificate. That made you a third officer. To get promoted to captain, you had to pass your mates, masters and extra masters certificate. This in effect was a form of re-certification of competence, something which should exist in all professions. In NDT, qualifications only remained valid for about three years.

Despite having done an apprenticeship in the merchant navy, I could not even get a job as a seaman, because to do that I would have had to apply to become a member of a union. No union would be prepared to take on members when many of its existing number were on the dole, due to the shrinking British merchant fleet. In 1975 the British merchant fleet consisted of 1600 ships employing 81,500 people. Ten years later, the fleet had shrunk to 640 ships employing 33,700 people. In the same period world wide 394 oil tankers totalling thirty-three million tons deadweight, were scrapped. The demise of the British merchant fleet was brought about through a variety of reasons:

There was a tendency to increase efficiency by building larger more mechanized ships. As far as oil tankers were concerned, the opening up of oil and gas fields nearer to the source of demand, such as the Alaskan North Slope and the North Sea, coupled with the building of long pipelines from Libya and Siberia to Western Europe, meant that less of these products would be transported by sea. The re-opening and deepening of the Suez Canal meant for supertankers, a trip to the breakers yard, as they were still too large to go through it. Shorter sea routes and quicker turn arounds in port, meant that less ships were needed to transport the same tonnage of cargo. Crew sizes were also reduced to recoup the benefits of automated engine rooms. Competitiveness was a major factor in the decline of the British merchant fleet. In Britain, training was often more thorough and hence more expensive than that of other nations, whilst the British government refused to give financial support to this branch of Britain's service industry, to the same extent as foreign governments did theirs. The merchant navies of the world did not receive the same degree of protectionism as that afforded to airlines, unfortunately.

Reductions of fifty per cent in manning levels of major manufacturing industries in the UK from 1975 to 1985 were not unusual, as a result of automation brought on by increasingly cut throat competition within the global economy. As manning levels went down, so qualification demands went up. It had cost me about six hundred pounds in fees and expenses for my courses at West Bromwich, prior to my NDT / TOPS course. This was however nothing compared to what many people spent. Some spent tens of thousands of pounds in obtaining a commercial pilots licence for instance.

Is it morally and even legally right to keep millions of highly competent and often highly qualified people on the dole, where their bodies and minds become sick through worry? Surely it is a violation of common decency, and more importantly of human rights. It is sad that a nation that accepted new technology so readily, often with the help of government research grants, could find it so difficult to embrace the social solutions which high technology created. But British society at this time was one where the social rule book had been thrown away. The 'I'm all right Jack' mentality had been transferred from the shop floor to the gaffer's office in the boardroom and Whitehall. In circumstances like that, individuals fell victim, as I was to realise in the years ahead.

About a year after leaving Tinto the remaining contractors got the push. After that it was the permanent employees turn. Numbers fell from fourteen hundred to eight hundred and fifty in six years. Efficiency improved, but falling demand and cut throat international competition ensured that more redundancies, or even complete closure, remained just around the corner. In March 1983 one of my former work colleagues took over the tenancy of my local, the Gwalchmai Hotel, which involved a considerable personal investment on his part. He stuck at it for about three years, but increased unemployment in the village produced falling profits and rising violence, particularly in the pub itself. The following Easter I amazed myself by helping to get my friend Allan a job. I had read, probably in the local newspaper, that a vacancy for a diver existed at a nearby single buoyed mooring (SBM) terminal. I had kept in touch with Allan since our NDT course together. He was a North Sea diver and electrician, and yet still found it difficult to get work. He got the job on the SBM and stayed with it until its cost cutting closure in Easter 1987, about a week after he moved into his new home in Birmingham. I think the moral to this story is, do not buy a home near the start of a financial year, as Allan and I did. Most 'workers' would no doubt have a tale or two to tell younger generations about these hard times, but mine was to turn out to be far more dramatic than most.

At the end of April 1983, housewives non-contributory invalidity pension (HNCIP) was finally awarded to my wife. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as our financial problems were concerned, as a result of which I started to feel more at ease. The following month Karen and I went into Bangor and bought a new colour television set with teletext, as a long overdue replacement for the junk we already had. We also bought a VHS video recorder, music centre, and a Sinclair Spectrum 48k home computer, which was the most popular model in the UK at that time. These luxuries would make our monastic existence more bearable I thought. I had seriously considered taking Karen on holiday abroad, but I was afraid of the DHSS finding out and stopping our benefit, like they did when I went on my two week NDT course. I also felt that nothing less than three months under the tropical sun would have a sufficient therapeutic affect on me. We therefore never went on holiday. Holidays did not come naturally to me, as I had not been on one for at least fifteen years. We therefore stayed at home.

A month later we had Shell cavity wall insulation fitted, which together with an off-peak 'economy seven' electricity meter wired to the radiators, made a marked difference during the winter months. I had wanted electric storage heaters but could not afford them, having decided that alternatives were too expensive as we had no chimney nor gas main. Anyway, with electric radiators, the breeze block walls retain the heat. In the harsh winter months, it use to get cold and damp in the bungalow. I had wanted to fit heat retentive tinted glass as a form of double glazing but could not afford it. Still, it costs nothing to dream. I should have fitted extra insulation in the loft, and for the water tank, which would have been better spent than on the video recorder, which we hardly ever used. At this time I also bought Karen a small colour television set on which she could watch her infernal soap operas, in the kitchen, whilst I watched the teletext TV, or vice versa. The small television also proved ideal for the home computer. The main causes of marriage break up in the UK at this time, were television, children and money. We had solved all three by having two TV's, a baby that did not scream, and as for money, I took all financial decisions, although I did notice on occasion Karen discreetly slipping a bar of chocolate into the supermarket trolley.

I had bought the teletext TV because I had difficulty in getting Karen to read anything, other than television programme details in the newspapers. Teletext would be an excellent way of improving her reading, I thought. I was proved right. It improved her outlook on life as she read the newsreels in addition to the television schedules. I also improved her reading through the educational tapes I had bought for the computer. I was not sure whether Karen's mind would work fast enough to play the computer games adequately, as the only activity she did quickly was eat. I was a good cook. On the computer however, she was to prove adept at both games and educational programmes, which she relished.

I suppose I really bought the games for my own satisfaction. I desperately needed something to cheer me up in the evenings, and especially during those long winter months when it was impossible to work on the garden. I was bored stiff with the mindless rubbish on the tube, so the computer games were a welcome relief. Karen would watch me play them, until eventually her inquisitiveness overcame her shyness, whereupon she decided to have a go for herself. I would explain to her how the simple games worked, and after loading each game for her, I would then leave her to it. I Did not want to stand over her in case I put her off.

To get real enjoyment out of computer games, it is best to share the excitement with a friend. Whilst I was working away on the garden, Karen would play the computer games with her friend Sonia, a teenage school girl. She was probably the only close friend we had in the village. It was only later, when I read the statement she had made to the police, that I realised how much I had underestimated her intelligence and maturity. It turned out that I never really knew her. I was too wrapped up in my own problems to consider expending energy making close friendships. My inner world of anxiety and dreams was the only world I really lived in. No one really understood me at this time, not even myself, for there was another being slowly taking over. So slowly in fact that I have not the vaguest idea exactly when the symptoms began.

Karen's progress on the computer amazed me. Her brain seemed to come alive at last, whilst the exuberance she displayed told me that the investment had been really worth it. Her favourite games were Hungry Horace, who went around eating the flowers in the park to the annoyance of the chasing guards, and Slippery Sid, a snake that gets longer and longer as it eats frogs and magic mushrooms. I did not reach the ultimate score in that game, as the snake would get so large that I would run out of space in which to manoeuvre, causing it to devour itself. It never occurred to me to get a pet python or tarantula with which to deter Helen's visits.

I got an immense amount of enjoyment out of those games and so did my wife, if not more so. I spent a great deal of time with her on the educational tapes, which improved her reading substantially. I also used the software in an attempt to improve her behaviour. In this I would construct ten sentences say, leaving out a key word. The key word would be hidden amongst a list of words.

For example:

'I must not pull ______ out of the towels.

The correct word is in the list;

worms, soap, thread, toothpaste.


Whether Karen's behaviour improved by using this method I am uncertain. One thing is certain though, Helen objected to this form of 'mind control,' probably because she thought I was going to try it out on her next. By the way, the answer to the above puzzle is 'thread,' If you got it wrong then you have not been paying attention, so you should read this manuscript from the beginning again.

Shortly after we had bought our array of electronic entertainment, we visited the outlaws, whereupon Karen gleefully told her mother everything. Her mother tried to appear disinterested. Upon her next visit to our home I was watching 'Songs of Praise' on our super teletext colour television set, Karen went to the front door to welcome in Helen, who was with Gillian and her children. Helen told Karen to show Gillian and her children the golden orfe in the fish pond. Once they were out of earshot Helen walked into the living room, sitting on the edge of an easy chair with her back to the super TV. She then proceeded to read me the riot act.

"You're not looking after that girl. Her clothes are in a terrible state, and you're not feeding her right,,,,,,," and on, and on it went.

I have never known someone to talk so long on such a simple subject. I kept my eyes on the television screen, turning up the volume with the remote control. I wished the control would work on Helen. I was filled with loathing for her, which had accumulated over the years. I just could not bring myself to argue with her. I considered myself too much of a gentleman to argue, but there was more to it than that.

"You're not listening to me are you?" she asked.

I did not reply, I was sorely tempted to hit her, but violence was against my nature. If I had hit her or simply entered into an argument with her, then it was likely that Karen would side with her mother, since her mother held a strong dominant influence over her, if not all of us. Fortunately the verbal abuse came to an end as soon as the children came in from the garden.

Although Helen thought I was not listening, in reality it was impossible not to. What she said affected me just as it did on all other occasions. I would later sit with a vacant expression and wonder what to do. Her spite showed no sign of subsiding. There was no answer to the problem short of moving to the other end of the world. My problems with the DHSS dragged on month after month, just as I thought conclusion was in sight. I do not know which I hated most, my in-laws or the DHSS. Admittedly my problems with the DHSS were caused by my in-laws, but I could see no justification for them to drag out the situation year after year. I did not dare tell the DHSS that my in-laws had deliberately refused to tell them where Karen and I lived. If I had, then I was afraid that they would wash their hands of the whole affair by telling me to get the missing allowances from Karen's parents. I knew that such a scenario would be like getting blood out of Dracula.

During the time we lived in Gwalchmai my wife was examined by doctors sent by the DHSS. This occurred on four occasions, including a claim for mobility allowance which was not awarded as my wife could walk. The dangers of a mentally handicapped person walking along twisting country lanes, occupied by large lorries, was not within the scope of the DHSS guide lines. The countless appeals for benefit and backdated allowances, dragged on through three departments of the DHSS at Norcross near Blackpool. It was my wife's legal right to these allowances that I felt was being obstructed. I was determined that no one should take advantage of my wife's inability to remember and understand how to claim for the backdated benefits, which she rightfully deserved. The DHSS however, looked at the matter differently. Although it was obvious that my wife's condition had remained unchanged since her GP, Dr.St.John first applied for attendance allowance on her behalf, the DHSS would only consider a long ago written notification from me to my local DHSS office as an indication of the new starting date for my wife's benefits. The DHSS therefore were not representing the wishes of a mentally handicapped person, but the Scrooge mentality of the treasury.

The problem, which I thought would be sorted out within a month, dragged on for years through countless investigations, requesting more information and meetings. I found myself pacing up and down in the lounge, unable to decide how the whole mess, created by my in-laws, could ever be sorted out quickly. I would only stop pacing when I became exhausted. My mind however, would continue its ceaseless search for an answer. At the end of the day, as I lay in bed, my mind would continue that eternal quest for a solution. Lying there, I could hear it thinking. It was unnerving. It sounded the way our home computer did when a programme was being loaded into it, only in this case it was like four software programmes all being loaded at once. I had never experienced anything like it before. I felt that I was loosing control of my own mind. It was most frightening, and yet it sounded so ridiculous that I could not possibly tell anyone about it. At this stage it never occurred to me to see a doctor.

One only had to read the letters to and from the DHSS at this time, in order to understand why I became mentally ill. It does not make easy reading. To understand the system from scratch was even worse.

Sunny Dale,

Gwalchmai,

Holyhead,

Anglesey,

February, 1983,


DHSS,
Llangefni,
Dear sir or madam,

Further to my conversation with your staff yesterday, I confirm that my wife, Karen Allen, (formerly Roberts), was receiving attendance allowance up to September 1979, when we were married.



Yours truly,


Mr. N.S. Allen


Then in October 1982 I wrote to my solicitor.

YMCA, West Bromwich

October 16th, 1982


Mr. Grimes,
Holyhead,
Dear Sir,

Since receiving your letter dated 11-10-82. I have received forms DS330, DS161 and D103 dated 4-10-82, which I did not receive until
15-10-82, owing to delay in redirection of mail. I have since received a second payment of attendance allowance, and it looks as if payments for my wife are proceeding smoothly.



However, I have not received any indication about whether the DHSS intends to pay the allowance my wife and I should have received from September 1979 to
11-4-82. Neither have I received any indication about the payment of my general rates.



I feel that my wife and I are entitled to receive the allowances due, for the following reasons:



1 . Our circumstances are likely to remain the same for sometime.


2. The DHSS should not be seen to benefit from the mental inability of one person and the ignorance of another.


3. The DHSS at Llangefni knew that my wife was mentally retarded and an epileptic, as I told them both verbally and in writing from October 1980.


4. Owing to the nature of my new career, I require higher qualifications than those available on this TOPS course. This is likely to cost several hundred, possibly over a thousand pounds.


5. I will also require transport, as I had to scrap my car (I received no money for it) as I could no longer afford to pay maintenance costs, approximately one year ago.


6. I have had to sell several items and go without others, both my washing machine and television require repairing or replacement.


As I shall need this money by January 1983, I ask you to write to the DHSS Norcross. and the DHSS Llangefni. and ask them:


1 . Do you intend to pay the allowance that is overdue?


2. Why was my wife's attendance allowance book not forwarded to my wife when it was handed in by my in-laws?


Should you not receive an acceptable reply from the DHSS within fourteen days, I wish the matter to be taken to court. Should you wish to see me, I would be pleased to attend an appointment on a Saturday morning from late November onwards.


Please convey to the DHSS that, should they pay me the missing attendance allowance without the matter going to court, I would not make any more claims upon them regarding rates and unpaid supplementary allowance.


Yours truly,

Mr. N.S.Allen

I must admit that there are parts of this letter that make me smile. I cannot recall the DHSS doing anything within fourteen days, and as for the last paragraph, there is no way that I would give an inch in any future dealings with them. What I failed to understand during my trials and tribulations with the DHSS was why, having put my wife's national insurance number on each benefit application form, they had apparently failed to check whether there was any previous record of her illness related claims, thereby obviating the existence of this bureaucratic jungle in which we were all enmeshed at God knows what cost to the tax payer. I mean, they would not keep that information to themselves, would they? Seven weeks later I received the following reply from the Adran Techyd a Nawdd Cymdeithasol (Department of Health and Social Security to you and me), via my solicitor:

DHSS

Llangefni

Anglesey

December 1982


Dear sir,

Mrs. Karen Allen claimed attendance allowance (AA) in 1977 and an award at the day time rate was paid during the period January 1978 to April 1980. In September 1979 Mrs. Allen's parents reported their daughter as being married and present whereabouts unknown. Her AA and NCIP allowance book was handed in at the time. DHSS Norcross were informed, but as Mrs. Allen's whereabouts were not known, no further action could be taken. Prior to the allowance period termination date (April 1980), renewal forms were issued in February 1980 to Mrs. Allen's last known address, Mr. Glyn Roberts returned the forms stating that he still did not know where his daughter was living.


In April 1982 Mrs. Karen Allen again claimed attendance allowance, but as she did not enclose a claim for it to be backdated, AA at the day time rate was awarded from April 1982 to August 1987. This decision was conveyed to her in August 1982, and included arrears from April 1982.


If Mrs. Allen wishes to claim for an earlier period, she should submit her claim to the AA Unit at Norcross, stating why she did not claim earlier. A decision will then be conveyed in writing to her.


In February 1981 Mr. Allen claimed supplementary benefit, which he received at the rate of 76 pounds per week until September 1981. As Mr. Allen's house had not been rated at that time, rates were not included in his benefit. In December 1981 Mr. Allen claimed supplementary benefit again receiving 83 pounds per week until March 1982. Again no allowance for rates was made, however allowance was given for mortgage interest, home repairs and compulsory home insurance. His allowance was reviewed in June 1982 when his rates demands became known to us, and his allowance was then revised. The reduced allowance was due to reduced mortgage interest rates since his previous claim.


Unfortunately, no consideration was given to backdating the arrears (meaning rates) and this error is very much regretted. The arrears totalling 212 pounds will be sent to Mr. Allen shortly. Form A124 is enclosed showing how Mr. Allen's entitlement has been calculated.


Apologies, etcetera, etc.


Your humble servant,


Mr. Scrooge Manager


The compulsory home insurance mentioned above refers to the mortgage insurance on the home. It did not cover home contents insurance, which I continued paying, nor life insurance which I eventually stopped.

Also included with this letter was a detailed breakdown of our entitlement on form A124, which reads as follows;

A124 Benefit Entitlement

Description Cost
Allowance for food, heating, lighting, clothes and household items 41,70
Extra heating costs 4,65
Housing costs:
Mortgage interest p.a 976,83
General rates 194,77
Water rates 36,10
Repairs & Home insurance 85,80
Annual total 1353,50
Weekly total 1/52 26,03
Total weekly allowance 72,38

At this time I was also receiving erratic payments of attendance allowance, which was at the rate of seventeen pounds fifty per week. I could not understand why we did not have an allowance book, as it was very stressful not knowing why we were being treated this way.

The reference in the DHSS letter to April 1982, regarding the backdating of attendance allowance, was not the full story however, since I wrote to my local DHSS one week after putting in my formal application for AA, asking them to backdate it, as mentioned earlier in this manuscript. The application form not only carried my wife's national insurance number but also a reference to her EEG test carried out at Dudley Road Hospital, Birmingham in December 79. I find it incomprehensible that they did not check their records at this time, which would have brought to light earlier payments of AA, causing them to realise that my wife needed AA for life. Throughout my dealings with the DHSS, I got the impression that they were more concerned with working within the laws of the Social Security Act 1975 and the Social Security (claims & payments) Regulations 1979 - Brown Book, than the laws of common sense. They were not applying the act in the same spirit as when the welfare state was first approved by members of parliament.

Backdating of AA to January 1981 was finally approved, being based on a document I had signed at the DHSS office in Northamptonshire, whilst I was staying with my parents. Had I received the same care and attention at Llangefni as I received in Northamptonshire, then I am certain that many of my problems would not have arisen. I got the impression that the further you lived from London, the less professional was the treatment towards the unemployed.

My letter of appeal for backdated attendance allowance, made exactly one year after my original request for backdating of AA, was as follows;

Attendance Allowance Unit,

DHSS

Norcross

April 1983


Dear sir or madam,

Thank-you for your letter dated March 31st, 1983 which has been forwarded to me by my solicitor.


As regards any claim made by me for unemployment benefit or supplementary benefit between the dates 13-4-80 to 12-1-31, please note that I was registered as unemployed as follows;


Benefit Office.................Dates.........................Home Address


UBO, Aston...............1-8-80 to 13-10-80.........Wiggin Tower, Newtown, Birmingham


UBO, Llangefni.........14-10-80 to 8-12-80.......Sunny Dale, Gwalchmai, Anglesey


UBO..........................9-12-80 to 26-2-81.........Finedon, nr. Wellingborough, Northants


UBO, Llangefni..........26-2-81 to present..........Sunny Dale, Gwalchmai, Anglesey


My first application for supplementary benefit was made to DHSS Llangefni at the same time as the condition of my wife was notified to them verbally. Supplementary benefit was turned down, and the original reply and current allowance details is enclosed.


As I had no redundancy money, owing to length of employment, and no savings, as I had bought a bungalow the previous Easter. I was unable to stay at Anglesey. My parents supported me and my wife, whilst I fought an appeal with the DHSS through their office in Northamptonshire. At this time nearly all my benefit were being used to pay my mortgage.


I feel that my wife is at least entitled to receive her AA from 1-8-80 and her HNCIP from 24-9-79 to 13-4-80.


I also feel that my wife's AA should have been paid at the higher rate, as she requires looking after both during the day and night, in order to avoid substantial danger to herself.


Yours truly,


Mr. N.S.Allen



As stated earlier, my wife was in fact staying with her parents, whilst I stayed with mine. Had I told the DHSS the truth, the affair would have become even more complicated. Fortunately for me, I kept diaries containing my movements. Anyone who did not would find such an appeal hard going, if not impossible. I wrote many letters like these to numerous government departments, failing to understand why it was that our case could not be treated locally. Often I would receive letters requesting information, and replying, without understanding why the request had been made in the first place.

I had applied for invalid care allowance (ICA), what seemed like aeons ago. When I visited my local DHSS and asked them why I had not heard from the ICA Unit they told me to re-apply. This I foolishly did. In correspondence with the ICA Unit, my original application was ignored. I was given a new application number which appeared to have the effect of pushing me to the end of the queue. Certainly my ICA was nowhere in sight. This caused me to write to my solicitor about it, since I got the feeling that I was being deliberately pissed around. I believe that I originally applied for ICA in March 1982, not even knowing whether it would mean any extra money. I was later to realise that with ICA, we would be entitled to the long term rate of supplementary benefit, normally paid to the over 60's. This would amount to an extra eleven pounds per week, not much, but when you are living what seems like a hand to mouth existence, that pittance can mean a great deal. And so, to my solicitor I wrote:

Mr. Grimes,

Holyhead

August 1983


Dear sir,

I would like to arrange an appointment to see you at your convenience, regarding my claims with the DHSS concerning invalid care allowance ICA 933096 (new) and ICA 926121 (old). I was told by the DHSS on 22-4-82 that ICA would commence soon after my wife received AA. My wife's AA commenced on 4-10-82.



I was asked by the DHSS Llangefni to make a fresh application for ICA. which I did on 22-5-83. A new number was allocated despite an enclosed letter with the form, with my old number on it.



Since then the DHSS have simply stated that the matter is receiving attention, dated 29-7-83.


Yours truly,

Mr. N.S.Allen


I was never to receive invalid care allowance since other events were to intercede. At this time I persisted with my claim for the higher rate of attendance allowance, as outlined in this next letter:

The Controller

DHSS

Norcross

September 1983


Dear sir,

Thank-you for sending me a detailed reply to my appeal for the higher rate of attendance allowance, for my wife.


I am still of the opinion that my wife requires supervision at night to avoid substantial danger to herself.


Her condition at night is the same as during the day, but she is in fact in greater danger.


Whilst lying in bed she can easily have a fit, vomit and choke (to death). This can only be averted by my passive presence. During a fit my wife displays sudden movements and shouts. This alerts me to the problem, whereupon I take her to the bathroom for approximately fifteen minutes. My wife usually has a fit every other night, at any time, and sometimes two fits per night. I hope the above answers questions 6b ref X519/10 dated 13-8-83 form DS4.


In answer to question 7(h), my wife has sustained cuts and bruises during fits, but nothing more serious owing to my helpful actions. Frequency of injury is usually about, once per month.


In answer to question 2, my wife has wandered from home when I have had chores to perform. This is because my wife becomes frustrated at staying indoors every day. There is no centre operated by social services for her to go to.


In answer to question 3, my wife has a tendency to stay in the bathroom (ruminate), for periods of about thirty minutes. If she has a fit she knocks rapidly on the wall to attract attention.


Question 1 has been answered adequately on form DS4(5) dated
25-6-82. We have no gas, nor stairs, as we live in a bungalow in the countryside.


Yours truly,


Mr. N.S.Allen


Enclosed with the above letter was a letter from my solicitor, and a note from my wife's GP, Dr. Owain.

This note was requested by the DHSS and ultimately required a great deal of patience to acquire. After a long walk to the surgery with Karen, I asked our GP for medical details regarding my wife, for the DHSS.

"Oh, it's all on computer," said Dr. Owain, "come back tomorrow and I'll have it for you."

We went back the next day, only to find that he had forgotten all about it. We sat there for what seemed like ages, whilst he thumbed through a thick wad of letters and forms, which made up my wife's medical record. He then scrawled onto a note pad a precis of what he had just read, apparently in Arabic, for that is what it looked like at first glance. I sent the DHSS the original as I knew the DHSS would see from the hand writing, that it could only have been written by a doctor, since it was not on headed note paper. Why the DHSS did not write to my wife's GP direct, I simply could not understand. I always thought that they ran the medical services. It took me at least a quarter of an hour to decipher. I sent the DHSS the original without a translation. It was hand scrawled on plain paper.

It read:

Medical record..............................29-9-83,


Mrs.K.Allen:.............................born 1960,


1961 pneumococcal meningitis, with consequent brain damage.


Has since suffered from major and minor epilepsy,

hyperactivity and behaviour disorder.


She is mentally backward and needs control

supervision for erratic behaviour.


Attended special school at Llangefni.


On Tegretol tablets for epilepsy.


EEG - Critical Damage!

We lived at the far end of a short cul-de-sac. The estate consisted of just five plots. At the time we moved in, just three bungalows had been built. This was in Easter 1980, and I thought that it would only take one or two years at the most in which to finish off the estate. I little realised that it had already taken seven years to build what already existed. It looked a quiet spot, but the explosions from the nearby quarry I found disturbing, even though they did not cause structural damage, I found out about the blasting after I had bought the place, the nerve shattering way.

The builder of the estate, Gwilym Owen, lived next door. He was an elderly Welshman, in his mid sixties I would say. He stuttered constantly and lived alone. He spent most of his days working alone, whilst in the evening he listened to talks and classical music on his radio. He had no television set. He had been lucky to sell the bungalow to us since there were already many properties for sale on the island. I would guess that he had financial problems, as at one time whilst we lived there he appeared to be receiving 'meals on wheels.' It took him four years to build the fourth bungalow, essentially by himself. With hundreds of homes for sale on the island, there was simply no economic justification for finishing off the estate quickly.

During the times that he went away to stay with relatives, I would wander up to the fourth bungalow and have a look to see what, progress had been made. During the period 1982-84, I was at a loss to see what work had been done. Each morning he would go to work wearing his dark red overalls and woolly hat, and yet as soon as the roof was on everything else was done at a snails pace, possibly for tax reasons, as I knew that he intended to move into this new bungalow eventually. In the meantime his scaffolding planks and ladder, left outside for years, literally rotted away in the sun and rain. It was a sight you had to see to believe. At the end of the cul-de-sac was a tee or hammer for vehicles to turn around in. The entrance to my drive connected onto this hammer. On the road at this point were piles of sand and rubble, and of course, the builder's cement mixer. The pile of rubble remained there for the entire period that I lived there. Later a pile of paving slabs appeared in the road, whilst occasionally breeze blocks were stacked there. All this material was immediately outside my home. I was not amused when one villager asked me what I was building, after seeing all this. The builder had refused to come to an agreement regarding surfacing of the road, when I bought my bungalow. At that time of course, I thought the road would be surfaced, with drains and street lighting, within a couple of years.

Gwilym Owen was not an easy man to get on with. He had let his lawns turn into a bed of weeds, towards which he did little except spray weed killer. He had a white Renault car rusting away in his drive for years. It had one wheel missing from the rear axle, which was suitably propped up. He would blame me for the weeds growing in his drive, since my garden adjoined his and was one metre higher. He ignored the fact that the prevailing westerly winds blew from his garden towards mine. I would dutifully go around and weed his drive in order to placate him, whilst wondering just how long this uneasy state of affairs could continue.

Also living on the estate during the first two years was the Davies family. The mother, Ann, was a divorcee from Merseyside who married a local man, Henry the butcher. She had a son Paul who liked listening to loud music and watching his parents pornographic videos. He painted the walls of his bedroom black. His pastime was throwing bicycle chains up at the overhead power lines, thereby blacking out the area. One day he decided to take driving lessons on his own using his mum's car. He reversed it down the drive, across the road and into my garden wall, so said Gwilym Owen later. Needless to say, no one owned up. Ann also had a daughter, called Sharon, who craved for the quiet life by living in a mobile home in the garden. Like many young women in this age of unemployment and social freedom, she ended up in the family way. By far the worst member of the family was Bonzo, a black Labrador bitch.

Bonzo was an animal I came to hate just as much as the DHSS. One day I went into the garden to discover that something had disturbed the fish pond. A basket of water plants had been pushed off the shelf into the deep end, and my rushes had been chewed to pieces. On another occasion I found that a basket of irises had been pulled out of the pool and torn to pieces on the lawn. I found it very annoying and disturbing, since I did not know the cause.

I could clean up the mess in the pool, but the damage to the plants would obviously take a year to make good. Throughout the following nights I did not sleep easy, and would get out of bed at the slightest sound. I left the bedroom window open slightly to facilitate this, as it overlooked the lawn and pond. Eventually, after many nerve racking nights, I spied the culprit dancing around my lawn in its usual misfit way, biting at my plants. It was Bonzo, the Labrador from next door. That dog was only good enough for having puppies, for no one had trained it. In that respect it was a typical member of the family.

I had no choice but to put my foot down if I was to have anything left of my fish pond by the end of summer. I went over to the Davies bungalow and knocked on the door. The son, Paul, came to the front door.

"I would like to speak to your mother please," I said.

I expected to talk to her on the front door-step, but I was invited into the lounge. There they all were watching television. As Ann watched the TV I explained to her the damage that her dog had caused.

"How much is the damage?" Ann asked, her eyes not moving from the screen.

"Five pounds should cover it, but it's not a question of money. That dog should be kept chained up," I replied.

She reached into her purse and only took her eyes off the screen to count the money. She agreed to keep the dog chained up, but what I saw and heard did not fill me with confidence. They were a typical British family, the parents were ruled over by television and evenings out, whilst their children and dog went their own sweet way. In mid 1983 the parents split up. Ann and her son went back to Merseyside, whilst the daughter Sharon, went to live in Holyhead. Apart from that incident I never went around to converse with them. Like many other people, I never really knew my neighbours. There was no community spirit. In fact there was no real community, as the village was physically fragmented over a large area. A year later however, I was to get a clearer insight into the Liverpudlian mentality.

During the first four months of 1983 I was required to get someone that knew me well, who was in employment, to countersign my UBO forms every two weeks. Only Gwilym Owen knew me well enough to qualify. I did not like this arrangement, but I had no choice but to go cap in hand to him. Living alone he had developed an embittered view of the world. In late 1983 I think it was, a white woman came to stay with him, from South Africa. He would not let her watch her own television in the lounge, or he did not like the idea of having to contribute towards the cost of an aerial, so she got an aerial erected at the far end of the bungalow enabling her to watch TV in her bedroom. She managed to tolerate Gwilym for about two months before moving on. By this time his curiosity had got the better of him, for no sooner had she left than was in there watching television each night. Our relationship by this time was badly strained.

My mother-in-law would come around at irregular intervals and would often accuse me of not feeding her daughter right. She even accused me of feeding her on jam sandwiches. I did not think there was any basis for these accusations until the day Karen and I were sitting in the lounge having a quiet read. Suddenly Glyn burst in through the front door, stepped forward into the lounge and looked at us in disbelief, but said nothing. I wondered what the hell was going on. It was obvious that Glyn had been hoping to catch us at it, but what? I looked down the road through the patio windows, and there was Gwilym, wearing his woolly hat, rabbiting on to Helen. It was obvious to me that Gwilym was telling my in-laws a load of vindictive lies about how I was ill treating Karen. They believed him because they wanted to believe him. Unfortunately I did not treat the matter seriously enough and did nothing. After that incident, I told Karen to keep the front door locked in future.

Prior to the award of Karen's attendance allowance our meals had been far from ideal. It was usual for us to eat half a can of baked beans, two slices of toast, two beefburgers and one fried egg each. That was the only cooked meal of the day, and we lived like that for three years, supplementing our restricted diet with soup during the day, and cheese and crackers with cocoa at supper time. After the AA and HNCIP was awarded in late 1982, my culinary skills improved dramatically. I was determined to make up for all the deprivations we had endured. From then on we had steak one day per week, boneless pork on another day, followed the next with meat pie, at least one meal per week that included fish, and usually a stew with dumplings. Each Saturday we had a three pound stuffed roast chicken with chips and sweet corn, whilst on Sunday the menu consisted of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts, washed down with a bottle of Riesling. Something which Pam had introduced me to after her holiday in Yugoslavia. An appreciation of good wine. All meals were preceded by soup and followed by a sweet, either fruit and cream, or cheesecake. I got a great deal of satisfaction from cooking these meals, especially during the winter months when the weather made it impossible for me to get out onto the garden. It was one of my few positive accomplishments at that time. Karen loved the meals and ate the same food, in the same quantities, as I. Fluff also took a particularly keen interest in our meal times, sitting next to Karen on the kitchen bench, or on the fridge, looking at her whilst twitching her whiskers and licking her lips. Fluff definitely delighted in the tasty morsels I cooked. At no time did I feed my wife on jam sandwiches, indeed I do not think I ever made her a jam sandwich. I had the feeling that that was all Gwilym could make for himself.

In early 1983 one of my neighbours let me have some organic fertilizer, better known as horse manure for my garden. Thirty hefty barrow loads in fact. Gwilym was very annoyed. He made it clear to me that he did not want me to put it on the part of my garden that overlooked his, by telling me bluntly that I could not put this manure onto my garden from his drive, which ran the full length of an earth retaining stone wall, which formed my boundary with his property. His refusal necessitated a long walk for me with my loaded barrow, which I accomplished successfully, no thanks to 'grumble weed.' This earth retaining stone wall, built by Gwilym, was slightly lower than the soil behind it. My attempts to grow a rose hedge along the top of the wall had failed, owing to the poor soil and strong winds. Inevitably some of the horse manure fell onto Gwilym's drive, caused more by neighbour's pets, which the rose bushes were meant to keep out, than by the wind. As I reported to my solicitor later, Mr. Lewis would then behave in an unmannered and provocative way, picking up the dried horse manure he found in his drive and throwing it over my flower beds, landing in the middle of my lawn.

To aggravate matters further, he would use his cement mixer outside my home whilst building an extension to the bungalow that he was living in. He also had the habit of running his cement mixer with bricks in it, whilst we were having a meal in our kitchen, which was thirteen metres away. These bricks were normally used for cleaning the mixer after it had been used, but he would often run it like this when he had not been using it. My in-laws always parked their car at the road junction rather than drive up the cul-de-sac, as it was roughly surfaced, and owing to construction materials, would mean reversing down after each visit. The road was a nightmare to walk up at night, as there were no street lights at the junction, whilst the pot holes were inevitably full of rain water.

On the twenty-fifth of July matters came to the fore when I decided to burn a large amount of rubbish on the vacant plot, number five. Apart from a sewer trench, which ran across this plot between two inspection covers, there was no development so far. The ground was over grown, so to prevent a spread of the fire, I had my garden hose handy. After the fire had been well alight for sometime I returned to my bungalow, knowing that it would burn itself out shortly. A few minutes later Gwilym stormed into my lounge uninvited, and promptly ordered me to put out the fire. As far as I could see it was doing no one any harm, so I decided to be bloody minded too, and refused. I had had enough of Gwilym's attitude, which had caused my feelings to boil over. We walked over to the fire.

"Its all right for you to criticise others. Its about time you got that road finished and built the boundary wall," I blurted out. It was not easy making a stand against a man who, as a chindit, had fought the Japs in Burma during WWII.

We walked off in opposite directions, away from the bungalow, As I watched the last flickering flames, Gwilym came up to the bonfire and ceremonially put them out with water from a paint tin. A flame burned inside me. From that moment, I decided to do something about getting the road finished. I visited my local police station twice regarding the building material obstructing access to my garage. On the first occasion, the police officers said they would visit the site, but they never came. On the second occasion they told me that they could do nothing, as it was a cul-de-sac and therefore not obstructing through traffic. Also, they did not have jurisdiction, as the road had so far not been adopted by the local authority. The estate had in fact been started before local authority re-organization, so the local authority appeared powerless to do anything either, as I found out when I later wrote to the borough council and county council.

The solicitor I employed for this unenviable task was Mr. Roberts' partner, Mr. Bumble, who seemed to do little except spend the legal aid money he earned on revolting cigars. To be fair, there seemed to be little that anyone could do and Gwilym knew it.

Mr. Bumble,

Holyhead,

October 1983



Dear sir,

I bought Sunny Dale, Gwalchmai in March 1980, but it was not until a year later that I actually started living there. Before I bought the property, I was told by the builder that the stone wall running along his drive was my responsibility, plus all the ground between this wall and a wooden fence he had constructed. The builder would not agree to a fixed time limit for the surfacing of the road, neither would he agree to a certain sum of money being withheld until completion of the road.


I asked for information regarding responsibility for the upkeep of the boundaries. In a letter dated 30-1-80, the builder's solicitor states. 'The boundary to the north is your responsibility except that running along the garage and ramp, which when erected will belong to plot five. This shows that the boundary along the garage and ramp had not been built, and has still not been built.


The western boundary 'consisting of boulders and barbed wire' was left for me to restore, as the builder had a disagreement with the owner of the adjacent smallholding. 'The eastern (along cul-de-sac) and southern boundary (along builder's drive) will be your responsibility.


The builder started building on plot number four after I purchased Sunny Dale. Today the two bedroom bungalow on plot number four is nearing completion, with the installation of coal fired central heating.


Since I stopped having a car two years ago, the builder has deposited building materials and equipment at the top of the cul-de-sac, adjacent to plot number five. This has obstructed access to my garage, and also prevents visitors parking and turning their vehicles in the 'T' section of road, which is designed for that purpose.


In April 1983 approximately, I put horse manure on my garden. My neighbour Mr. Gwilym Owen (builder) would not let me use his drive enabling me to put the manure over the stone wall, resulting in a long detour through my garden gate, etc. I removed the one row of planking which made up the 'ranch style' wooden fence, so that I could tend to my plants, between this fence and the stone wall. These plants had been there for over three years and were planted by myself. On earlier occasions Mr., Lewis had told me to weed his drive as 'the weeds had come from my garden.' This I even though the prevailing westerly winds are from his garden to mine.


I am not prepared to wait until development on plot five is completed before surfacing of the cul-de-sac can commence, as repeatedly stated by Mr. Gwilym Owen. The development has been going on for about ten years, and although I am not against Mr. Lewis carrying on his work, I do feel that his work should not be a burden to the occupants of adjoining plots.


When Mr. Lewis found out that I was taking legal action, he picked up my garden cuttings left against my garage wall, carried them across my drive and threw them over my shrubs, etc., even though according to the plan with my deeds, the land the cuttings were on belongs to me.


On earlier occasions he has also thrown horse manure, which has supposedly fallen onto his drive from my garden, into the middle of my lawn.


I have complained to the local police about these provocative actions. I have written to my ex-neighbour Henry Davies regarding his support in this matter, and have asked him to contact you.


Yours truly,


Mr. N.S.Allen


I had to explain in my letter, the boundaries, as the builder was refusing to build the northern wall, but he did offer to build a wooden fence (his wood working skills were pathetic) which I refused. He then said that the deeds were all wrong anyway, and that the earth retaining breeze block wall less than half a metre high was the actual boundary. He also tried to make out that the earth retaining wall running along his drive belonged to him. He was as obstinate as a mule.

In the disagreement with the owner of the adjacent small holding, Gwilym Owen refused to link this property to the sewer system he was laying. This would have involved laying a pipe about twenty metres long, from the small holding to the inspection cover in my garden. Eventually the small holding was linked to mains sewerage, by laying a pipe across a field. The distance involved was about two hundred metres with commensurate increase in cost. Without a doubt Mr. Gwilym Owen was a difficult man to get on with, and during the legal tussle I simply refused to talk to him. By this time Ann Davies' home was empty and up for sale, so I wrote to her as it was in her own interest to have the road completed, since it would help with the sale of her property. I eventually received a positive reply, which I submitted to my solicitor. My solicitor visited the site on Monday, October 24th, whilst a representative of the council planning department visited me on Monday, December 12th, I also had visits from borough and county councillors. I got absolutely nowhere. On top of all this, my solicitor decided that there was a conflict of interest as he knew Mr. Lewis, so I was obliged to find another solicitor. In November I got Mr. Snail, the solicitor who had carried out the original conveyance, to take charge of the case. I became very despondent as I felt that he would get nowhere. I could not even get the highways and transportation department of the county council to put in a street light at our road junction. To get home some nights I could have done with infra-red vision, it was that dark.

This case left me with an intense dislike for local government. It made me realise how inefficient and ineffective it really is. So inefficient as to warrant the term 'rip off' from a rate payers' point of view. I felt unwanted and alone with an intense feeling of hatred towards that simpleton next door, who was gleefully destroying my life. My in-laws filled me with despair, but the DHSS and my neighbour filled me with hate.

In mid November 1983 the DHSS informed us that our appeal for the higher rate of attendance allowance, to cover night time as well as day time care, had been refused. By now my mind had been swept up and carried along in the bureaucratic slip stream, writing letters here, there and everywhere. I had become a professional scrounger, a job which I had found difficult to adapt to. Through my letters I had inadvertently found an alternative to unemployment, state supported self employment. One such letter that I wrote at this time was to the consumer complaints department of a well known chain of shops. It read as follows:

Sunny Dale,

Gwalchmai,

Holyhead,

Anglesey,

December, 1983


Dear sir,

On 23-4-83 I bought a Spectrum computer, ZX printer and CCR 800 cassette recorder from your shop in Bangor. After switching on the above items I found that the cassette recorder was not working owing to an assembly fault, on one of the cassette drive spindles. I took the recorder back to the shop, and as they had no machine of the same type available, I had to accept, a cheaper model, CP 201C, on 20-5-83.


Again, after switching on the above items, I found that the 48k programmes would not load. After consulting the computer manual I had to conclude that your shop had sold me a 16k Spectrum instead of a 48k Spectrum, which I had paid for. As 48k Spectrums were out of stock, I had to wait until 24-6-83 before I could again try out my new high technology system.


Unfortunately matters did not improve, as I then discovered that about five out of twenty programmes I had bought from your shop in Bangor, would not load. Switching the cassette recorder to play, I discovered that in most cases no programme had been recorded on the tapes. Again another trip to Bangor eleven miles away was required, to swap the tapes, where I learned that your staff did not know how to check the tapes before sale.


At last I got the system to work, over two months after l had originally bought the above items, but the problems just would not go away. Four weeks later, 30-7-83 approximately, the cassette recorder keys jammed so I returned it to your shop in Bangor. The shop refused to exchange the recorder even though I had only been able to use it for about four weeks. It was sent off for repair and came back four weeks later, 31-8-83 approx.


Three months later the same fault has occurred again. This is obviously a design fault, and I consider it pointless having the cassette player repaired again. Your Bangor shop has refused to have the cassette player exchanged for a more reliable computer compatible cassette player.


I bought the Spectrum computer to entertain and educate my wife whom I have to look after, as she is an epileptic and mentally backward. Travelling together on the bus to Bangor has cost us more than the original price of the cassette player. I am not asking for a gold medal for endurance, but feel that the least you could do is let us exchange the CP 201C cassette recorder for a more reliable computer compatible recorder, at your Bangor shop. Failing this the local consumer advice department has advised me to take the matter to the small claims court at Llangefni.



I hope you will be understanding,


Yours truly,


Mr. N.S.Allen



The outcome of this letter was that I managed to swap the cassette recorder for a better make. One answer does however elude me. Just how did Sir Clive become a millionaire?

We did not go anywhere far afield in 1983, probably because the problems with my in-laws were never far from my mind. As the problems with the DHSS subsided, the problems with my in-laws increased, spurred on by the fact that they now knew that I had been able to get most of Karen's allowances backdated. This amounted to 1295 pounds in backdated attendance allowance. By the end of the year we were receiving sixty three ponds forty pence in supplementary benefit, eighteen pounds fifteen pence in attendance allowance and twenty pond forty-five pence in housewives non-contributory invalidity pension, totalling 102 pounds per week. This we could really live on, but it had taken over three years to get it.

According to my 1983 diary, we visited an ex-work colleague and his wife, Gwyn and Norma for a barbeque in May. In July my parents stayed with us for a week, during which we went to see the musical 'Happy As A Sandbag' at Theatre Gwynedd. We also visited Penrhos Nature Reserve, and watched the sea birds on South Stack cliff from Ellen's Tower. In August we visited the agricultural show at Mona, whilst in September we cruised up the River Thames with my mother to Kew Gardens. No, we did not achieve much that year, as I became weary of the incessant, unpredictable and unwelcome visits from the in-laws. They were to remain a black cloud upon a brightening horizon. I knew the situation could not go on like this forever.




Chapter 4




Loon




By 1983 the symptoms of my mental illness began to appear. I slept very badly. The computer noise would go on in my head for hours, whilst lying in bed waiting to fall asleep. I would often wake up at night covered in sweat. My pyjama top would be saturated in perspiration. I would have to take it off and hang it up to dry for the remainder of the night. I always left the bedroom door open, whilst Karen was sleeping all right beside me, so I just could not understand why I was sweating so much.

During the winter months I was bored stiff, so the television provided a welcome relief. I did not get any enjoyment out of watching soap operas, probably because it bore no similarity to the truth, namely the social problems which I and millions of other people had to confront each day. For some reason my mind latched onto news and current affairs programmes. In fact the mid-day news on TV was the main reason for getting out of bed during the winter. We would watch the news sometimes four times per day. The problems I already had, coupled with the doom and gloom contained in world events shown on TV, began to form a potent mixture. My mind seemed to have geared itself to solving the human problems of the world, or at the very least, worrying about them. My mind did not appear to be interested in anything else.

I had always had a tendency to day dream, but now my thoughts became more serious and problematical. I began clenching my teeth when these thoughts became intense. It would happen anywhere, just sitting around at home, or even in a public house. I remember on more than one occasion clenching my teeth, afterwards noticing someone looking at me strangely from across the room. I would only stop clenching them when the pain in my gums became too intense, thereby alerting me to what I was doing. The whole incident would only last two or three seconds. My wife noticed these incidents and referred to them as my turns, often telling me afterwards to behave myself. I do not think that either of us took these occurrences seriously. By the time that I did, it was to be too late. Like most people, I was totally ignorant of human health matters, in particular stress related illnesses. Although I did not know it then, I had developed classic symptoms of anxiety. It had taken me over a year to get over the split with my previous girlfriend, Pamela. Before I met Karen I was very depressed, I was a sensitive and melancholy person. Now with all our problems on my shoulder, I simply could not afford to be depressed, since there was no one around on whose shoulder I could cry on. Instead of depression I was therefore to suffer from anxiety.

During early 1983 my in-laws came around more often. Always they would ask my wife whether or not she wished to go and stay at their place for a week or so. As we could not afford to go out anywhere exciting, and as living together twenty-four hours per day was a bit of a strain, I was glad to let my in-laws take her off my hands for a while. Unfortunately, every time I went to collect my wife, there was always hostility towards me, from her parents. It became clear to me that they were not content just to take Karen to Llangefni market, nor to see her on a Saturday afternoon at the Legion, nor even to have her stay with them for a week. It was obvious to me that they wanted her back for good.

On one occasion whilst Karen was staying with her parents, I phoned up Helen to say that I would be coming around to pick up my wife. I think it was Friday, December 17th, 1982, the day after I returned to Gwalchmai on the coach, from my NDT TOPS course, though I cannot be certain. Helen definitely told me that Karen was with her, so around I went. When I arrived Helen informed me that Karen was with her sister Gillian, and that her husband Glyn was at sea. To get to Gillian's was a long tiring walk across town, I thought. I noticed that Helen was smartly dressed in a dark suit and black boots, which I thought unusual, as she was dressed in evening wear, at mid-day. She told me that she had lost her wristwatch earlier that day, and asked me whether I had any idea where it might be, I was lost for words.

"Perhaps it's upstairs. Why don't we go and look for it," she said.

Realizing what she meant, I then said that in circumstances like this she should phone the police. After some persuading she finally telephoned the local police station, whereupon she was informed that her watch had been handed in.

I think the watch had been found in the market area, where she had evidently been shopping earlier that day. After telephoning one of her lady friends to tell her the good news, we both travelled in Glyn's car to the police station. Helen collected her watch whilst I stayed in the car. We then went to Gillian's bungalow, where I met a relieved Karen. I did not take Helen's offer to go upstairs, neither then nor at any other time, as I regarded it as an attempt to break up our marriage. I was always wary of her, and treated her with the sort of respect one would reserve for a black widow spider. During my engagement and marriage to Karen I was never unfaithful to her, apart from the slight indiscretions already mentioned. I must admit that on numerous occasions the establishment of a menage-a-trios, for the purpose of relieving my burden, did cross my mind but was dismissed, due to the presence of my dear old mother-in-law.

The visits from my in-laws increased, no doubt spurred on by tales of ill treatment of their daughter, as related by our ever vigilant next door neighbour. Helen would often complain about Karen's clothes.

"You should buy her more clothes," she would constantly bicker.

I found this annoying, since Karen had three times more clothes than I. I had bought her a new dress during our courting days, only later to discover that her mother had thrown it away whilst Karen was staying with her mum. "It was old fashioned," Helen remarked, unforgivingly.

All the clothes I bought for Karen were old fashioned according to her mother. It hurt me to hear those words. Not one bloody complement, not one, in all the years I knew the cow. My mother and I bought Karen a black, rabbit skin fur coat costing fifty pounds, of which we paid halves. I did not like buying my wife expensive clothes, as I would then have to remind her constantly to keep them clean, and then stand over her like a hawk, making sure she did just that. I was so loath to buy clothes, that I repaired two pairs of denim jeans belonging to Karen, and wore them myself. Naturally Karen, with little else to talk about, told her mother. The idea of Helen buying clothes for her precious daughter, only to see them being worn by me, really got under her claw.

As well as treating her like a pet, my in-laws also treat Karen like a child. Despite the state of her teeth, they insisted on bringing her large bags of boiled sweets. I would often remind my in-laws about their daughter's teeth, but they seemed to get a great deal of pleasure out of upsetting me. Month after month went by, and all the visits appeared to go the same way. Karen's parents would come out with their cliches.

"You're not feeding her right, she looks off colour!"

"Just look at the state of her clothes."

"What are you doing to this child?"

"You're not listening to me!"

And on, and on, and on it went, slowly wearing me down.

Helen never came to our place on her own, always with her husband Glyn, or daughter Gillian. They were under her spell, but I considered myself independently minded enough to resist her. I was not prepared to sell my soul to her for a quiet life. To do that would have meant to adopt a life of hate and vindictiveness, something which did not come naturally to me. I found Helen's visits mentally destabilizing. She had a habit of coming out with one of her cliches, then turning to whoever she was with.

"That's right isn't it?" Helen would say.

Her companion would automatically agree with her. Even worse than that was when I said something. No matter what it was Helen and Glyn would do their best to ignore me. If I persisted then Helen would turn to her companion and retaliate.

"Well that's a stupid thing to say isn't it?" Helen would state, commanding an instant act of allegiance from her companion.

This would be followed by an immediate affirmative response. I found this tactic mentally disturbing, as if they had walked over my own grave. I would often wonder, after these visits, whether I was loosing my sanity.

On June 7th, 1983, I went to see my family doctor, not just to get Karen's monthly supply of tablets, but also for a check up on my heart. By this time I was getting pains in the upper left, side of my chest, and I reasoned that it was something to do with my heart, possibly angina. The doctor took my blood pressure but did not tell me what it was, although I did see him write it down. It was my first experience of the medical profession's main preoccupation, tell the patient as little as possible. The trouble with that attitude is that it deters any further verbal response from the patient, who feels that he or she is being fobbed off. Dr. Owain did not seem alarmed by the blood pressure reading. I did not tell him about my mental symptoms. By this time I was worried about what he might say if I told him. I felt that my in-laws were trying to drive me into a mental hospital, and that was something which I was not prepared to let happen to me. I had my wife to look after, reinforcing my determination in ensuring that my in-laws evil did not prevail over my righteous lifestyle. In any case I never liked confiding in doctors, as I regarded it as an admission of weakness, a view which I wish I still had.

On Tuesday, August the second, Helen and Glyn came around to see their daughter. The result being that Karen went back to Holyhead to stay with them for a few days, it being understood that I would collect her at the weekend, since only on one occasion did they return her, after a period of two weeks. On that particular occasion I was simply too sick of the sight of my in-laws. They probably felt after two weeks, that they had been conned, as I never paid them for looking after her. Anyway, on Saturday, August 6th, I went around to pick up my wife, whereupon a right ding-dong developed between me and the grim pair. Although it is mentioned in my diary, I cannot remember the details, as I think my mind had already taken as much as it was going to.

By now my nights asleep were to be dominated by my new mind. Instead of waking up covered in sweat, I would now lash out with my right fist at the air around me, often causing my entire body to rotate in bed, followed by heavy breathing as a means of compensating for the enormous loss of energy in a brief moment. My wife, unable to comprehend the seriousness of the situation, would simply tell me to behave myself and go to sleep. I have no idea of what I was thinking of when I lashed out, Indeed it is rare for me to remember my dreams, on the odd occasions that I have them. During the years I lived at Sunny Dale, I do not believe that I had any dreams, at least not in the usual sense. Even today I am not sure what these happenings were, some sort of 'night terror' I suppose, but at that time I was totally ignorant of the danger that I and the people around me were in. It seems to me that in a world dominated by unemployment and the stress which it generates, tax payers' money would be better spent in schools teaching human physical and mental health, plus the ins and outs of the welfare benefits' system, instead of anything more advanced than the three R's. School children would be forgiven in thinking that a course in the DHSS's benefits system is equivalent to a degree in lunatic science.

Initially, to relieve the stress, I started shouting at Karen, I am sorry to say. Her natural instinct was to go to the phone box, and tell mam. This would only make matters worse, as her parents would come around asking awkward questions.

"What's going on then, say?" Glyn would ask suspiciously.

To which I would reply, "Nothing!" and wish the ground would swallow them up.

To overcome this problem, I started shouting at myself. This only helped to make my mental condition worse. On one occasion I became tired out simply by screaming to myself, and went to bed early, leaving Karen in the lounge.

Unknown to me, my wife then went up to the local public house and phoned her parents, who promptly came around to the pub, to listen to and drink with their daughter. I only knew about it when the headlights of their car appeared in the bedroom window. Fortunately my in-laws did not come in. They probably could not make hide nor hair out of what their daughter told them, for they were not a very intelligent pair.

Helen had a way of asking a question, but before I had a chance to think of a reply, out would come another of her cliches.

"What's wrong with you. Why don't you answer?" said Helen with her lashing tongue.

She treated her daughter Gillian the same way. Helen enjoyed keeping everyone on their mental toes. Helen was more than a typical nagging mother-in-law. She was a vicious scheming woman, whose ability to twist the truth to her own advantage, came second nature. She exerted an evil influence over her husband and daughters. I always thought of her as a witch. On top of the toll house, near our village, stood a weather vane, consisting of a witch riding a broom, accompanied by a black cat. I would often point this out to Karen as we went by on the bus.

"There's your mam," I would say.

Karen would smile at this, but in reality, it was no joke. I had never met anyone before who possessed such evil cunning, as Helen.

Helen's hobby was her spite, for she had no interests. She did not even read books, nor magazines. The only likeable interest that my mother-in-law had was her devotion to pot plants, which she kept in the porch. It appeared that she channelled all of her energy into destroying everything descent, including my marriage. I am quite certain that she tried to subject my wife's life and my own, to the same miserable existence as hers. I realise now that she was prepared to go to any lengths to achieve that aim, of that I am certain. To her it became an obsession, and I am sure that she tried to get her husband to feel the same way, though whether he was a willing partner, I do not know. It could be that he totally underestimated just how far his wife was prepared to go. Anyway, wherever she went, he was sure to follow. It was to become a fanatical obsession, to hell and damnation. But for whom?

From my point of view, there seemed to be no way out of the problem, and as a result, my mental condition got worse.

One day my mate Bill came around in his second hand mini. He had been unemployed sometime, but as he lived miles from nowhere, in a bungalow surrounded by farm land, he really needed a car. For about a year we had not seen much of him, as like mine his car had become a wreck. Whilst he was talking to me and Karen in the lounge, Helen and Gillian turned up. They parked the car at the bottom of the road as usual, but for some reason, did not come to the front door. Looking out of the window, I noticed that they were sitting on the wall across the road from our front gate. I told Karen and Bill, that if they were going to act like that, then we would wait for them to come to the front door. Since I did not want them to take Karen away, I made plans to counter this.

"We'll tell them that we're meeting friends up at the Gwalchmai Hotel, at 9pm," I said to Bill and Karen, who agreed to the plan.

Eventually the pair of them came to the front door and were invited inside. I told them about our appointment, and they eventually left, long before the allotted time. There was no argument on this occasion, as no pressure was put on Karen to go back with them. Bill's presence had acted as a moderating influence, as Helen did not like being out numbered, and certainly never liked witnesses to her dastardly deeds.

I adopted a very suspicious nature at this time, writing down the registration numbers of cars seen in the area. I was afraid that my in-laws would employ someone to spy on us. Since someone had followed me home once from work, I thought that anything was possible.

On the fourteenth of August, my mate Allan's yacht fell off its trailer as it was being towed along the motorway to Anglesey, and was badly damaged. At about this time I remember Karen and I going out with him and his wife, Pat. We called in at a yokel hotel by mistake, but decided to have a drink. A man at the bar evidently made a derogatory remark about us, and Allan made it plain that he was all set to have a fight with him outside. We all thought it was rather comical at the time, but the incident was to stay in the forefront of my mind. If he could make a stand, then why could not I stand up to my in-laws?

August twenty-ninth was carnival day in the village, although there was little to celebrate in Sunny Dale, as I was constantly on edge. By this time it did not take much to get me over the top. Something did it, I know not what. Biro marks on the settee, soap suds in the bathroom basin, a dirty carpet, or more balls of thread found in Karen's hand, which were once the towel. Anyway, whatever it was, it blew my mind as usual. I started ranting and raving in despair. Fluff shot out of the front door, like a bat out of hell. I then hit Karen in the small of the back, as she moved into the kitchen to escape my wrath. I did not hurt her, at least not physically. It was the first and only time that I hit her, in all the years we had known one another. It was the first and only time she cried. Her life with her parents had hardened her, but to have the only person that really loved her turn against her, was too much.

By now I had made a point of hiding our money, but somehow she managed to find some. She then sneaked off and telephoned her parents from the Gwalchmai Hotel. When I discovered her missing I knew that I would have to find her fast, in order to avoid another confrontation with the in-laws. I found her in the hotel, waiting by the telephone. I had to virtually drag her out of there before her mother arrived. I managed to placate her, after which I took her around to see our distant neighbours, Dennis and Hazel, whose bungalow backed onto a stream just one hundred metres from our home. There we carried on idle chatter, never daring to tell my friends the real purpose of our visit. During our stay there, Helen and Gillian came to the village, visiting the hotel, our home, and the carnival, without finding us. A couple of hours later we visited the carnival site, but by then it was all over. There was no carnival spirit for us. Although Helen failed to find us that day, I knew it was only a matter of time before she would come around again, and despite Karen's handicap, would somehow drag out the details of what happened, which I would then deny.

A few days later on September 4th, 1983, Allan gave us a lift to Birmingham, from where we travelled on to my parent's home. During our visit, we went with my mother on a day trip to London. Taking a launch from Westminster Pier, we visited the royal botanical gardens at Kew. It was a lovely sunny day, but the real reason for the trip was never far from my mind. I made many trips during this period, all for the same reason, to get away from the pressures back home, but eventually we always had to return and face the music. No matter how good that week was at my parent's place, it could not erase the memory in Karen's mind, of me hitting her. Eventually she told her mother, and the whole incident was blown out of all proportion, I had to deny, deny, deny as the pressure on my brain became enormous.

At one time Karen used to squeal with excitement, when it was time to go to bed with me. Those days were now sadly gone. She did not even snuggle up to me like she use to. After the first few weeks at Sunny Dale, there was no intimacy of any kind between us, after I discovered that her mother was interrogating her about our sex life. The constant pressure that accompanied unemployment, even stifled any joy for living. My problems seemed more important. Lack of sexual satisfaction was to be my self imposed punishment for failure. Karen did not question this. I suppose she felt that in some way she had failed me, but in reality, I had failed her. She did not understand the enormous pressures I was under. I had not married Karen for sex, but for companionship and purpose. I still loved her very much, and always will. God knows what she must have thought, when questioned by her mother and sister about her sex life. Her mind must have been a complete blank, because there was literally nothing to recount.

My in-laws nagging, the DHSS bureaucracy, my next door neighbour's bloody mindedness, unemployment, and looking after a mentally handicapped wife, with no one to share my problems, was a recipe for serious mental illness. Although I did not know it at the time, I was suffering from anxiety neurosis with at least two hysterical conversion or dissociation reactions, namely the fits and the computer noise in my head at night. Lashing out with my fists whilst asleep, was not an epileptic fit, but an unconscious psychosomatic symptom based on my own anatomical knowledge. In other words, my fits were based on what I had learned from Karen's epilepsy, although my fits were markedly different from hers. Such reactions are considered to be an answer to the afflicted person's problems. In most cases motor symptoms exhibit a 'flight' response resulting in paralysis of a limb for instance. In my case the reverse seemed to have occurred, resulting in a 'fight' response. As for the computer noise, this may well have been an unconscious attempt to convince myself that I was mad, and therefore not responsible for my actions. Just what those actions were to be, only time would tell.

In addition to the pains in my chest, I was also getting palpitations, intense feelings of nausea despite the good meals I was now cooking, and of course, disturbed sleep. All these were symptoms of stress, which as my illness progressed, were to be followed by many others, including depression. At no time however did I suffer from delusions or hallucinations. In other words, I was always fully aware of what was going on around me, even if I was not in full control of the situation. I was not to fully understand my illness until years later. Even then it was only through my own investigations. The medical profession told me little, and often what they did tell me I disagreed with.

My fits were a frightening thing for me to see, and no doubt scared the living daylights out of Karen in the end, even though she was use to her own fits. I did not dare tell anyone, not even my closest friends. Although I kept a diary, containing cryptic notes on a daily basis, I never referred to my illness in it, not even in code. During some periods I would mark down my wife's fits, but never my own. On one occasion I did right a remark about one of my fits, but possibly in one of my wife's diaries by mistake. The reference however, was never found by my solicitor.

Unemployment on Anglesey continued to rise. Officially it was around twenty-five per cent, but in my village it appeared to be much higher. There were many houses up for sale, often for years. Newly built homes were left uncompleted, whilst old abandoned homes slowly fell to pieces. It was a depressing sight. There was a great demand for council housing, since those living off the welfare state were not. allowed to acquire mortgages. Many redundant people bought old properties with their redundancy payments, then did them up with the help of home improvement grants. It was a means of keeping occupied whilst unemployed, but eventually the government stopped these grants. During the remainder of the time I lived in the village, Ann Davies' home remained empty and up for sale.

I felt a strong urge to get out of the village, and preferably return to Birmingham, but I knew it was pointless to put my home up for sale again. There were few industries on the island, Tinto being the largest. Many people from the village worked there. When the redundancies came, village life all but disappeared. The village hotel was the only public house in the vicinity. It use to have entertainment every Thursday night, but it was no longer the bustle it use to be, since few could afford to go there any more. The wad of DHSS allowance books in the sub post office seemed to get thicker and thicker, each time I went there to collect our new one.

I knew few people in the village. The sub postmaster I would talk to on occasion in the village hotel, but basically I had no close friends. No one really knew me in the village. My problems destroyed my will to enjoy life and make friends. There was little life left in me. To most people, I appeared sullen and unwelcoming.

On Tuesday, October 18th, 1983, Karen's parents came around, and as usual, she went off with them back to Holyhead. The following Saturday I met them all down the Legion, where I had a couple of pints of lager as usual.

We then went back to my in-laws home. I told Karen that I was going upstairs to pack her things, which I then did. Just after I had finished packing her case, Helen came upstairs and stood on the landing, blocking my path. She then went into what I thought would be a typical nagging session, but it went on, and on, and on, and on, without a break for at least five minutes. I just could not believe it. I think that if I had attempted to absorb what she was saying, I would undoubtedly have throttled her to death, or thrown her down the stairs. I knew Glyn was downstairs in the lounge. He must have heard everything, and yet he did nothing to stop it. As a man he was a failure, I had no respect for him whatsoever. I later realised that this orchestrated incident was designed to provoke me into becoming violent. This would then give my in-laws the excuse they needed to call the police, and have me put away, with the subsequent break up of our marriage.

During the nagging I switched off my mind, and tried desperately not to take any notice of what she was saying. The neighbours must have heard everything she was shouting, if they were in. God knows what they must have thought. Finally, exhaustion got the better of her, whereupon she again accused me of not listening to her. About an hour later we left my in-laws house, and took the bus home. Karen was upset, but I was literally in a state of shock for the next three hours. My whole body just would not stop shaking, as I sat in the lounge at home, wondering how on Earth it would end. I decided there and then that I was not prepared to take any more abuse, and in order to prevent it from happening again, Karen would never be allowed to stay at her parent's place.

Soon after this incident Helen and Gillian came around to see us at Gwalchmai. Karen went to the front door, Helen started telling Karen something about Glyn in a quiet voice. I walked across to them and politely asked Helen what was up. Helen looked at me with loathing, merely stating that Glyn had broken his arm. She said it as if it was none of my business. After more unwelcome questioning, it turned out that Glyn had been hit by a car a few nights previously, possibly October thirteenth, outside the Royal Navy Club, and that his wife had found him lying in the gutter a few minutes later. He had sustained a complicated fracture of the left arm. There planned trip to see Blackpool illuminations, was now cancelled.

I cannot say that I was distressed at hearing this news, since there were times when I wished they would both disappear off the face of the Earth. Why my father-in-law failed to die from cirrhosis of the liver, I could never understand, after all he drank enough. His drinking was no doubt to be the main reason why his injuries took so long to heal. The thought occurred to me that he had attempted suicide.

Thoughts of my in-laws was never far from my mind. They filled me with despair. I did not know what could be done, legally. In August I had gone to see my solicitor, Mr. Bumble, regarding my in-laws.

"I'm still having trouble with my in-laws," I said despairingly.

"Well I can't understand why you returned here after your marriage. What other problems do you have?" Mr. Bumble asked.

I presume he thought my remark was just casual conversation. Anyway, that was the closest the legal profession got to sorting out the problem, before violence took charge. I should have put my foot down and explained the situation to him, but instead I let the conversation drift to other matters, the DHSS and my next door neighbour. I never really thought that the legal profession could do anything anyway, and of course I always looked on the bright side, never thinking of the huge price I could ultimately pay for my complacency. I was naive in the extreme. I could not accept that some people could be so fundamentally different in their make up to that of myself, a man to whom evil does not come naturally. I was a firm believer in the phrase, 'every cloud has a silver lining', even a mushroom shaped one.

A week after the nagging incident, there was a gathering of the clan at Llandudno. Nearly all of Karen's distant relatives were there, with the exception of Gillian and her husband, George. Helen was there with her husband. It was Helen's birthday, a fact which I ignored. The gathering was to celebrate the anniversary of a couple from Haverfordwest, who did not realise that such a gathering had been planned. I admired their close knit relationship, as they all seemed to be a nice bunch of people. Why I thought, was I lumbered with the two black sheep? The outlaws stayed in the kitchen, where all the drinks were kept. Karen went in to see them, but they were not too keen to see me, so I walked over to the drinks table and stood next to a young man who was pouring himself a pint. Glyn then came over to us and told him that I was the one responsible for his broken arm. I could not believe what I was hearing. I thought it would be best to go into the other room for safeties sake. In the lounge I spoke to Pete, our host. I found it difficult to have a conversation when every day of my life was so drab and uneventful. No identity, no meaning to life, no thanks. Just an eternal struggle for survival, but for what? These were hardly the sort of topics one would like to talk about at a party. When I returned to the kitchen, it was empty, except for my wife and her parents. It was as if my in-laws were poles apart from the rest of their relatives. After an hour in the presence of my in-laws, we took the last bus home, which we managed to get to without incident.

Although I was not prepared to let my in-laws have Karen again, I could see no reason why she should not see them in the Legion on a Saturday afternoon. A month after the nagging incident, Karen and I met the outlaws in the Legion. At closing time, my wife and I went shopping as usual. It was normal practice for us to go around my in-laws' home afterwards, but because of the nagging incident I swore never to set foot in there again. As a matter of courtesy, I told Karen to telephone her mother, to explain to her that we were taking the next bus home, as we had some frozen food with us. Little did I realise that this kind gesture was like waving a red flag at a bull.

We went to the bus shelter opposite the legion, and waited for the 5-10pm N44 bus, which would take us home. There was an elderly couple in the bus shelter, but I did not know them. Suddenly my in-laws' car came to a sudden stop in front of us. The rear near side door was flung open.

"Get in Karen!" Helen ordered, to which she obeyed before I had had time to take in the situation.

I was having none of it. The time had come to put my foot down. Before they could drive off, leaving me at the bus stop with the groceries. I grabbed hold of Karen, but she was in a state of shock, so I climbed over her and sat next to her on the back seat. Glyn was in the driving seat despite having his left arm in a sling. Helen was in the front passenger seat hurling her fists and spitting spiteful language at me.

Glyn drove the car about five metres down the road, away from the bus stop. Getting out of the car, Glyn then opened the rear off side door, and attempted to pull me out by tugging at my upper right arm. Whilst this was going on, I was protecting myself from Helen's blows and clinging on to the driver's seat. Eventually Glyn gave up, returning to the driver's position, Helen also calmed down slightly.

"We've been married now for four years, can't you forgive and forget?" I pleaded in despair.

Helen replied in a determined voice, "No, I'll never forgive and never forget what you've done, never!"

She said it so firmly, that I realised that any hope of reconciliation, was now gone forever. Glyn just sat there and said nothing as usual. We sat there arguing as the N44 bus came and went. Eventually, Helen suggested that we all go back to their place, to which I reluctantly agreed. I went back to the bus shelter and collected the bags of groceries. If I had been given a choice, I would have waited an hour for the next bus, with Karen. That evening was to be the last time that I set foot in my in-laws' home. Fortunately for me, this incident was witnessed by the proprietor of the garage located opposite the bus stop. Her later statement to the police, I was never to see.

I had found the idea of adults arguing and fighting in the streets of Holyhead, very distasteful. I now realised that anything could happen to me in the future. As I undressed for bed that night I noticed a large bruise that went around my upper left arm, where Glyn had grabbed me. There were also scratches on my hands, which was not unusual after being attacked by Helen. Little did I realise that the main damage was to my mind itself. After that incident we never went to Holyhead in the daytime again.

I had now been unemployed for three and a half years. The attendance allowance did not seem to make our lives any better. It could not cure my current problems, and besides, no amount of money was sufficient compensation for not having a job.

A job that provides financial independence from state bureaucracy.

A job that creates a positive attitude to living.

A job whose competitive nature takes away the stress of a monotonous lifestyle.

A job that through absence from home, takes away the stress of constantly living on top of one another.

A job that gives one an acceptable identity in society, and a purpose in life.

And above all.

A job that replaces a sedentary lifestyle and associated obesity.

A job where one can meet, people and develop friendships, and not become inward looking and hence susceptible to mental illness.

To me these things were all as important as the allowances we were getting. My in-laws never got onto me about not having a job. I'm certain that they wanted the problems of unemployment to destroy our marriage.

After the bus stop incident, I did my damnedest to avoid the outlaws wherever possible. On sunny days, when it was likely that Helen would come around, we went on long walks through the monotonous countryside. On one day we walked six miles south to see the huge sand dunes on the coast. It was the first time I had seen them since scrapping my car, three years before. I well remember lying on the sand soaking up the solar energy, before making that six mile walk back home. My feet became numb on the way back, but from Karen, there was not one word of complaint. She never ceased to amaze me. Needless to say, we stuck to gentler walks after that. As part of my plan to avoid Helen, we went shopping in Bangor on the Saturday afternoon, then that evening, using the same day rover tickets, we would go to Holyhead for a drink, giving Karen a chance to see her old school friends.

I use to worry over everything especially appointments. My 1983 diary at this time read: November 21st, get pills for Karen, November 22nd, see solicitor, December 8th, cassette recorder broke, December 12th, visit from planning department, December 13th, visit from DHSS, December 19th, pills for Karen.

At Christmas 1983 my parents went to Torquay. I was determined that we would not be spending it at my in-laws. I therefore devised a plan. I told Karen that we would be going to my parents for Christmas. This she then told her mother during one of her visits to our bungalow, and was accepted as the truth. That Christmas was without a doubt the most stressful I have ever had. In case the in-laws drove past, we kept the Christmas tree lights off during the day, with the curtains drawn early at night. We slept in the small bedroom at the back of the bungalow, out of sight from the main road, so that they could not see the bedroom curtains drawn early in the morning. I spent most of Christmas looking out of the window, expecting them to turn up at any minute. It was the longest and most intense period of stress thus far.

After my parents returned to their home from Torquay, we went to stay with them. From there, Karen phoned her mother to explain to her how she had been duped. I think Karen got a great deal of pleasure out of stirring things up between me and her mother, little realizing the damage she was causing. During our stay down there we went to see the boat show at Earl's Court, London, where my dream of sailing far away from Great Britain ran riot in my mind. Whilst in London we also visited a holographic exhibition at the Science Museum, which Karen enjoyed. After visiting the Which Computer Exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham, we returned to Gwalchmai, picking up our baby, Fluff, from the cattery.

Immediately upon our return to Gwalchmai I set about tackling our problems, writing everywhere, and arranging appointments. On February the thirteenth, I wrote to the local bus company about the time keeping of their buses. The previous Saturday night we had missed the last bus home from Holyhead, as it departed ten minutes early. This necessitated a taxi ride home, costing six pounds. This was the sort of expenditure not covered by basic social security. Needless to say the bus company refused to reimburse the taxi fare.

Looking through the numerous copies of letters I sent out to various government departments, is one that I never sent out, but which underlines the frustration I felt at this time. It is a four page letter to the invalid care allowance unit at Norcross, near Blackpool. I will spare you the complicated details, by reproducing the last three paragraphs only. It reads:

It has now been two years since I applied for invalid care allowance, and I can see no reason for this delay, which is preventing our higher rate of supplementary benefit from being awarded.

I have complained to my local MP about this delay. I can see no reason for it, particularly as any meaningful decisions have been made by other DHSS departments.

I can only hope that Chancellor Nigel Lawson's budget announcement of further civil servant cuts, is applied to the ICA unit first 'to improve efficiency'.. Should you have any further bureaucratic questions, please do not be afraid to ask, preferably before my old age requires me to employ home help!

The ICA unit had upset me by sending another letter requesting more details about my past. As far as I was concerned they had enough details with which to compile a photo fit picture, if necessary. I never sent the letter as the next day I was informed that ICA would be awarded soon. The arrears were issued on April 26th, 1984, but the DHSS sent the wrong giro cheque to me, four hundred and forty seven pounds for a Mr.Kelly instead of two hundred and seventy three pounds for me. As things turned out, the obstinacy of the DHSS paid off in the end, as I never did get the chance to enjoy spending the money. It was finally spent on my behalf.

On the fourteenth of April I received a giro cheque for backdated HNCIP, amounting to six hundred and eighty six pounds. We had received a number of these backdated payments, and quite frankly, I would not know whether they were correct or not, since I never understood the system, and I got the impression that few civil servants understood it either.

The letter to my member of parliament did however appear to be speeding things up. I had written to him on February the third, as my last desperate attempt to bring these proceedings to a swift end. The story that I remember most about him referred to his visit to Tinto, to sound out the views of the workers, prior to a general election. One of them yelled out to him a particularly pointed remark.

"Apart from killing your secretary in a car crash, what else did you manage to achieve?" he said, so I was told.

This was a reference to a car crash on the causeway, during which the MP drove his car into the back of a lorry at night. Whether the lorry was, or was not, displaying lights at that moment was brought into question. The court found in the MP's favour, fining the lorry driver heavily. To the nation he was known as one of Mrs. GG's prodigies, who had to stand down at the next general election, after committing the illegal act of submitting multiple share applications during the government's sell off of nationalised industries. At his subsequent trial, he escaped a prison sentence by a hair's breadth. But, I believe there is good in every man. The day to day work of an MP is unglamorous and little advertised. He helped me as I'm sure he helped many.

On March 28th, 1984, I received a reply from the DHSS, Elephant & Castle, London, via my MP. The two page letter reads as follows:

DHSS

London

March 1984


Dear Sir,

In reply to your letter dated 10-2-84, and that of Mr. N.S. Allen of Sunny Dale, Gwalchmai, Anglesey, concerning his claim for invalid care allowance, and his wife's claim for attendance allowance, supplementary benefit (higher rate) and housewives non-contributory invalidity pension.


Mr. Allen claimed invalid care allowance in April 1982 for looking after his wife. He stated that he wished to claim benefit from that date. Invalid care allowance is to some extent compensation for loss of earnings, and is not intended as payment for services rendered. As a rule, only one main social security benefit is paid to meet the same contingency. I am sure you would agree with this.


From September 1982 Mr. Allen received 59 pounds per week during a training course, precluding him therefore from receiving invalid care allowance. Although he was awarded ICA from April 1982 to September 1982, payment was withheld against supplementary benefit, which he was receiving at this time. National insurance credits were however awarded during this period.


In May 1983 Mr. Allen put in a second claim for invalid care allowance, requesting backdating to October 1980. He was evidently not aware that his wife had been receiving attendance allowance prior to their marriage. Mr. Allen's claim for supplementary benefit in January 1981 has been treated as a claim for invalid care allowance, and allowance from October 1980 is therefore being considered. Mr. Allen received unemployment benefit from December 1980 to August 1981, and was on a training course from September 1982 to January 1983, as already mentioned. During other periods he was receiving supplementary benefit.


It has taken a long time to determine which periods Mr. Allen qualifies for invalid care allowance, owing to the length of time necessary in which to collate the information. As Mr. Allen has been receiving various government allowances since October 1980, it is unlikely that any arrears of invalid care allowance will be due.


Mr. Allen has been asked to submit more information regarding the above periods, after which he will be notified of the outcome.


Concerning backdated attendance allowance. The papers were submitted to the local appeals tribunal in January 1984, and Mr. Allen will be notified of the date and time of the hearing.


Regarding the claim for supplementary benefit, Mr. Allen was receiving this from April 1983, as he was looking after his wife at home. On the 22nd November legislation changed, enabling either spouse to be the claimant. The claim was therefore made in his wife's name. Assessment was lengthy owing to the time taken to recover Mr.. Allen's claim for supplementary benefit. On December 13th, a visit from the DHSS was made to Mr.. Allen, in order to determine his financial and arrears have been paid in full.


I am sorry regarding the length of time it has taken for Mr.. Allen's appeal for HNCIP to be paid before October 1982. This decision, made by the first of the independent adjudicating authorities, has been reviewed, and the award will now commence from Mr.. & Mrs. Allen's marriage. Before arrears can be paid however, it is necessary to obtain further records of supplementary benefit payments during this period. Norcross will write to Mr.. Allen when the necessary calculations have been performed.


Although there are still questions to be resolved. I hope the above answers will be of assistance.


Yours ever,


A. Bureaucrat


What this letter failed to mention, was the fact that the matter would never have got this complicated if the applications for benefits had been processed at the same rate of efficiency, as one gets from a private commercial organization. The welfare benefits system was to be reformed in April 1988, but that was only one half of the problem, the other half being the minds that operated it. All the above benefits were replaced by the Conning Party government in the 2010's. They were almost all amalgamated into a universal benefit, with mortgage payments based on loans, not awards. Rent is also restricted. Benefits to independent youngsters banned, with the school leaving age raised from sixteen to eighteen, which also reduces the unemployment figures. This resulted in serious reductions and delays in payments, leading to many people being forced onto the streets by their landlords. Almost everyone ended up with huge debts, whilst the wealth of the world's billionaires increased exponentially. Thirty years have now passed, as I proof read this manuscript, and still politicians cannot think beyond capitalism and multi-party democracy.

In my neurotic and confused state, I found it very difficult to understand the letters I received from the DHSS. I had little patience and tolerance at this time. My speech became slurred, as my mental illness spread out along the pathways through my brain. On the sixth of April, I again wrote to Mr. Snail regarding the state of the road, whilst nine days later I wrote to the highways department of the county council, and the housing and property-department of the borough council. I became extremely agitated by lack of progress, as by now I had another source of stress to add to the fold. On the ninth of March my stepfather had collapsed with a possible heart attack, and was admitted to hospital. I liked him very much, as we got on great together. To loose him at that moment would have been an unbearable loss. It was a worry I could easily have done without.

My stepfather came from Nuneaton. He was an ex-postmaster, who was forced to retire at the age of sixty, and later became an accountant at a local leather tannery. He was in fact suffering from emphysema, a condition he would eventually die from, years later, in Blackpool Hospital.

Karen and I attended two weddings that month. Sonia's brother Allan, married Toni on the tenth of March at Llangefni registry office, whilst my mate Allan finally spliced it with Pat at Birmingham registry office on the twenty-fourth. Karen and I visited my parents at this time, to see my stepfather, who by now looked much better, after taking regular doses of warfryn. For me, our journey was also a desperate attempt to shed off the problems on Anglesey, however short lived. The wedding of Allan and Pat was a crowded affair, in sharp contrast to our own. It nevertheless brought back to Karen and I, happy memories of our own marriage in that building, three and a half years before. At the time I thought that our marriage would last forever and as the pressure mounted, I still desperately wanted it to be so.

In 1984 my mother-in-law came to see us infrequently, since she knew from her contacts, that Karen and I were shunning her by coming into Holyhead on Saturday nights for a drink. This was a snub to Helen, and could not be interpreted any other way. The fact that we no longer visited my in-laws must have been a clear sign to Helen, that I did not want to know her. Karen's attitude was more complex. She understood my feelings, and did not want any trouble, but on the other hand she needed parents who cared about her.

At one time my wife use to call me chuckles, as I would day dream a lot and smile at my own thoughts, but by now I was worn out mentally. My fits became more frequent, and more frightening, as the tension within me mounted, for I knew that one day my in-laws would come around again. The next confrontation over their daughter I knew would be very different. I had finally decided to do, what a man's got to do. Come what may I was going to stand firm. The decision had been made. Since the rest was up to them, the outcome was by no means certain. What was certain, was that I would have to be unpleasant, and that did not come naturally. The stress from that forthcoming confrontation was very intense and prolonged. By now I was not only shouting to myself but slamming the kitchen door repeatedly, in an attempt to release the energy locked up within me, much of which I would burn off at night, as I lay in bed covered in sweat. I was a human bomb, primed to explode.

By this time it was obvious to me that my mental problem was not going to get better, without considerable help from the medical profession, based on understanding by me. I did not have a medical book at home during these years, from which I could base that understanding. During my last visit to see my parents I bought a medical book in Northampton, which I came across in a book shop by chance. I thought that it would help me to understand not just my illness, but also the coronary thrombosis that afflicted my stepfather, and my wife's epilepsy. I remember referring to the book in conversations with my stepfather at the time. As for my illness, I scanned the book briefly, marking a couple of pages that seemed pertinent, but I never got around to reading them.

As for Karen, I do not think she liked the idea of helping herself. I had great difficulty in getting her out of the bungalow some days. She did not even want to go for short walks up to the village shop with me. I knew there were epilepsy group meetings in Bangor, but I could not get her to attend them. Her refusal to go anywhere worried me greatly, as I realised that it was a symptom of the stress we were both living under, and as such could get worse.

Saturday, April 2lst, 1984 was not to be a good day. It started off like any other Saturday. We bought our day rover tickets, then went to Bangor to do the shopping. I would read the magazines in W H Smith's, occasionally buying one. Browse through Woolworth's department store, then call in at Tesco's supermarket to buy our weekly consumables that would cost about thirty pounds. It would take me about thirty minutes to buy the food from there, before making a mad dash to the bus stop, to catch the bus home.

Upon our return to the bungalow, I would put all the groceries away, then walk out into the garden, strolling by the fish pond. I had bought some netting to put over the pond in order to keep the cats and dogs away, since some of my fish were inexplicably dying. I took a very close interest in my fish. Some lads had come around the previous day, wanting to buy one of my goldfish. I told them that I was not interested since I only had four. I did however tell them that I would be interested in some frog spawn. A year or two earlier I had seen hundreds of tiny frogs hopping around a large garden pond belonging to a friend of my mother's. I decided that this would be a great conversation piece, not to mention amusement to Fluff. Anyway, on this particular day, I not only found the pond polluted with sticklebacks, but also one of my goldfish was missing. I was not amused to put it mildly. It did not take much brain power to work out who the culprits were.

I left the pool side to sharpen the rotary mower blade, with a grind wheel which I had just bought. As I was sharpening the blade, the electric motor inside the power tool burnt out. I stripped down the power tool, but it became obvious to me that there was nothing that I could do to make it work. I decided therefore to make dinner. After preparing everything, I told Karen to keep an eye on it as it was being cooked. I went outside to put the mesh over the pool. By this time I was agitated, confused and under pressure to get things done before it got too dark. I already had some plastic mesh strung across the pool, which kept the dogs at bay, but I needed a smaller mesh for the cats. I removed the original mesh from the pool. As I unpacked the plastic bundle, I realised that the new mesh was the same size as the one I was already using.

My mind could not take it any longer, I went into a violent rage. I threw things about the lawn, then stormed into the bungalow shouting and slamming the kitchen door repeatedly, causing the door frame to move. Karen rushed out of the kitchen into the lounge, looking terrified.

"If your parents come around here again. I'll kill 'em! I'll kill 'em!" I screamed, with eyes ablaze with pent up anger.

Karen looked at me horrified, as I looked at her, disbelieving what I had uttered from my own lips. I knew it was not the real me saying those words, but my other self. I was exhausted, with a thumping headache. I now knew for certain that I would have to see my GP. I decided there and then that I would see him on the Monday, despite my fears of what he might do. Would he overreact by sending me to a mental hospital, or would he think that I was exaggerating my mental state, and infer that my in-laws were simply being over protective?

The next day, Sunday, produced some really good weather. I decided to tackle the weeds in the garden for the first time that year. My garden was never my pride and joy, since I was never satisfied with it. Doing the gardening was probably the only moment at Gwalchmai when I did not think of my problems. It required concentration throughout. It was back breaking hard work, but always pleasurable, especially at the end of the day when I could at last stand back and admire the improvements. The garden bore little resemblance to the time when we first moved in. The northern boundary was literally rock and barbed wire at that time. I had to dig out a twenty-five metre long dry stone wall running along the top of the bank, and rebuild it. Levelling the ground for the lawn was no easy task either, and neither was getting grass to grow on soil that was more like a pebbled beach. I cannot remember how many barrow loads of stone I removed. It definitely was not top soil, whilst being my first garden, I made the mistake of ordering my plants long before the ground was fit for them. As I beavered away day after day in the sunshine, my promise to see my GP slipped out of mind. For the first time in ages I felt really great.

I never grew vegetables, as I did not think the soil was good enough, whilst for much of the first year we had not been there anyway. On top of the bank I grew Chinese lanterns, lambs ears and lupins, which my mother gave me. I also planted some clematis there, which along with everything else, took years to get established. At the foot of the bank were fuchsias and lavender, together with numerous rock plants such as sedum, aubretia, santalina, dianthus and saxifrage. I also had a ceanthus edinburgh whose blue flowers I admired, until the raging winds from the sea blew it out of the ground. My pampass grass dried up and died, as did my dogwood and corkscrew hazel. My Cyprus trees,fared little better.

Since I was not there most of the time, the plant mortality rate was high. Some plants did well on their own accord, such as the dwarf conifer, buddleia, which did a marvelous job in attracting the butterflies, and my excelsa, the only rose which thrived despite not being planted against a wall. During the development phase of my garden, it had been a mad rush to get everything planted, just as the rest of my life was filled with impatience.

At the beginning of that week in April 84, I had placed orders for conifers and rock plants with two companies. I had cleared the ground near the garage which was in dispute with the builder, and intended to plant a row of conifers along this boundary, and along the top of the wall running along the builder's drive, in the hope that they would offer wind protection to my rose hedge, not to mention privacy. I worked continuously for five days on that garden. On the late afternoon of Thursday, April 26th, 1984, I finally completed my task. The garden looked great, with not one weed in sight. I was very proud of it, and could not wait for the new plants to arrive.

On that particular day, not only was the garden immaculate, but inside the bungalow everything displayed a sense of order. Even in my wife's wardrobe neatness ruled. All her overcoats were to the left, followed progressively to the right by her dresses, skirts and blouses. All of my papers from the DHSS departments, solicitors and local authorities, were neatly filed away. Everywhere you looked in that home there was cleanliness, neatness, order and efficiency. All of this I believed in, but I found precious little of it in the society in which I was forced, through economic necessity, to live. For the last three years at least, Karen and I had lived under conditions that amounted to house arrest, but there was no organization which monitored the injustice of politically inspired unemployment, as it was not regarded as a violation of human rights.

I put my garden tools away in the garage, along with my steel toe capped boots. Slipping on my sandals, I locked the garage door then descended the garden steps that led to the bungalow. It was a glorious sunny day, and I felt really great after a hard days work. I was very pleased at the garden's new look as I peered at it through the kitchen window, whilst washing my hands. I had just decided to have a hot bath, when my thoughts were interrupted by a man's voice outside.

"Hey! Don't do that," I heard.

Karen had been playing tag in our garden, with some children whom I think were related to Sonia. I therefore thought that Karen had got into some trouble. I walked through the lounge to the patio door. The sight filled me with foreboding. Parked at the bottom of the road, was my in-laws new car. I often thought that it reflected their personality, as its colour was red.

I stepped through the patio doorway, and walked around to the garden gate, where the voices were emanating from. My wife was standing there talking to her parents, Helen and Glyn, Gillian and her three young sons were also there. Helen immediately embarked on her relentless obsession to get Karen back. She told me emphatically that Karen needed to see a specialist, because of the rash on her face, and naturally Glyn agreed. The decision to take Karen away had been made there and then, in those few seconds that they had been standing there. Or had in fact the decision been made long before they had arrived? No one had even asked me what I thought. The fact that I was the husband, meant nothing to them. I was insignificant as always.

I remember feeling very despondent, in sharp contrast with the previous hours. This invasion by a troop of small minded, uncivilized life forms, produced a feeling of dread within me. I was surprised that Glyn was his usual lethal and unpredictable self. Even after six months his left arm was still in a sling. A week or two before, he had come around apparently doped up to the eyeballs with drugs or booze. I felt quite sorry for him then, but on this particular day I definitely did not.

Helen then told me that Glyn would take Karen to see his specialist, as he had an appointment to see him the next day. I took this to mean that Glyn would pick up Karen the next clay, on his way to see the specialist, whom I presumed to be in Bangor. This I did not mind, although I was not completely happy about it. I invited them all into my bungalow. As I stepped through the front door, someone caught the heel of my shoe. I turned inquisitively to see one of Gillian's sons immediately behind me. I said nothing, as I felt exasperated at the thought of another confrontation in the offering.

"Did you see the mean look on his face?" Helen said quietly to Gillian.

My despondency grew, possibly to the point of death, who knows. I think at this point Gillian's children went along the inner hall to the bathroom, where I think they stayed for the rest of the proceedings. Helen then surprised me my telling Karen to go and pack some clothes. It was only then that I realised that they were going to take away my wife there and then. Six months previously I had made a decision that never again would Karen stay at her parent's home. That decision I realised, could not be changed, otherwise there would have been no point in making it.

The nagging question, 'are you a man or a mouse,' kept churning itself over in my mind. Karen went to the main bedroom to pack.

I then took the plunge, "Karen's not going with you. Her rash is not serious enough."

Gillian, Glyn and Helen looked at me, without really being able to realise that I had uttered a protest.

"It's only there because she does not wash the soap off her face," I asserted.

The problem of Karen's rash had already been mentioned in papers to the DHSS. For my in-laws to make out that it was something more serious, was a distortion of the truth, something which they were experts at.

"We're taking her and that's all there is to it," said Helen.

"In that case I want you all to leave, now," I said determinedly.

They just stood there saying nothing, as my heart pounded away.

"I want you to leave, please," I said as diplomatically as I could.

Again there was no response, I felt bewildered, after all this was my home.

"Go on, get out! All of you. get out, now!" I shouted in despair.

It was like talking to the faces of the presidents on Mount Rushmore. Absolutely no reaction whatsoever. I was looking at faces of stone, with minds to match. I am not a violent person, and find arguing and violence abhorrent. I had never used my fists to hit anyone, not even when my in-laws attacked me on previous occasions. Even at that moment in time, I simply could not bring myself to hit my own mother-in-law. Its just not the done thing to do. On the spur of the moment I decided to get my dagger out of my bedside draw, where I kept it in case of burglars. The all steel, double edged, all black commando dagger, I was certain, would scare the living daylights out of them, and more importantly, out of my bungalow.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, it worked in the horror movies. I ran down the hall and into the main bedroom. As I took the dagger out of the draw, Karen left the bedroom and dashed into the lounge, obviously distressed by the arguing. When I came out of the bedroom clutching the black dagger in my right hand, my in-laws including Gillian, had already advanced down the hall as far as the bathroom door, which was shut. I brandished the dagger in full view of the terrible trio. Glyn was standing to my left, next to the bathroom door. Helen to my right, with Gillian standing behind Glyn's left shoulder.

"Get out! Go on, get out!" I screamed as loud and as menacingly as I could.

Again they just stood there, not saying a word. I got the feeling that they were trying to induce a mental breakdown, or a stroke. I could not believe how they were behaving. I was scared out of my wits, for I knew that I could not afford to back down. I had made my promise to myself, and besides, if I gave up now it would mean the end of my marriage for certain. It was like being on an express train without brakes, being carried along by the momentum of circumstance. I was highly confused at this time, and did not know what to do, nor what to think. Despite being outnumbered and the exhaustion that now came on, I knew that I was in the right. I was not prepared to have someone dictate to me within my own home. In tired desperation I tried to communicate with them.

"Why can't you be nice? Why can't you treat us like decent human beings? Why do you hate us so much?" I said mumbling on and on.

I was close to tears and a mental breakdown. I cannot remember what Helen was saying at this time, but it was certainly not complimentary. I was getting nowhere. I turned to face Glyn, a tall well built man.

As I shouted, "Get out" I thrust both my fists into his massive chest. The dagger was still in my right hand pointing vertically. As my fists hit his chest, the broken tip of the dagger nicked his neck. It did not pour blood, appearing no worse than a shaving cut.

"Right, we've got him now. We can get the police," Helen immediately declared, with pleasure.

Glyn then turned to Karen, who was standing in the lounge, and told her to go to the car. Helen then took Gillian into the lounge, out of sight. I waited for Glyn to go out with them, but he just stood there as if in a trance, looking at himself through a large decorative mirror (of Tara), which was hanging on the hall wall. I was prepared to let them all leave, there and then, but Glyn just stood there unmoving, admiring the cut on his neck, as if to say, 'there's the evidence, we've got him now.

I could not believe my eyes. There I was, standing next to him with the dagger in my right hand, whilst he was totally ignoring me. He looked as if he expected death at any second. I thought I was loosing my grip on the situation, as I could not believe that this was really happening. Time seemed to stand still. At least fifteen seconds must have gone by, and my father-in-law did not move a muscle.

Without warning, I dodged past Glyn then ran down the hall and into the lounge. I was surprised to see Helen and Gillian standing between the kitchen door and the lounge table, as I thought they had gone outside to meet Karen. Helen was instructing Gillian about what to tell the police, although I obviously did not hang around long enough to hear the full dialogue, as I ran around the far side of the table and out through the front door.

I came across Karen standing by her parent's car. She looked very worried as I put my arm around her to comfort her.

"Come on, let's get away from here," I said, more in fear than hope.

As far as I was concerned my in-laws could have the bungalow. As I tried to move Karen away from the car, she fell backwards onto the road. She was in a state of shock.

"I'm not going to harm you. Come on let's get out of here," I said, in a very worried voice.

I still had the dagger in my right hand. It never occurred to me to throw it away. I managed to get her up, but she collapsed to the ground again about ten metres further on in front of Ann Davies' vacant bungalow. Karen was a big woman, so there was no way that I could carry her. I was trying to get her to the bungalow by the stream, where Dennis and Hazel lived, in the hope that once there I could telephone for police assistance. I was desperate and confused. With Karen at my feet, I turned around to see whether there was anyone coming.

When I looked around I was horrified to see Helen coming around the corner of the road, and storming towards me. We were on a direct confrontation which was impossible for me to avoid. My heart pounded as my brain raced along in overdrive. Karen was now immediately behind me in a state of shock. I was not prepared to abandon her. As Helen stormed towards me, I felt that I was falling backwards. Whether or not I closed my eyes as the lashing tongue approached, I am not sure.

I have no recollection of what happened during possibly the next five seconds. I experienced a sudden sharp pain in my right shoulder. My eyes focused upon my horizontal right arm, with the dagger still firmly gripped. I looked down. There at my feet, lying on her back with eyes open, was Helen.

She was dead!

I knew she was dead because her jaw was not going up and down. For some reason part of my brain just could not accept it.

'No I thought,' she can't be dead, I don't do such things.

I saw no blood, no injuries that I could see.

'Those are the sort of things that happen to other people, in the newspapers,' I thought,' she must be alive.

'She is a witch, if she is alive then kill her!'

It was my other self, talking to me.

I was afraid. Afraid that she would come back from the dead, or perhaps she was still alive. I was fighting for my survival. I had passed the point where the laws of society meant something to me. She was a witch that had to be killed. Only then could my mind be at rest. She must pay for the destruction of my life. I had finally fucked up everything. All the effort, the suffering through the years had now come to nothing. It was essential that she die. Good must conquer over evil. I must survive. The fear that I felt was very intense. It was stimulating the way my mind thought. I must survive. They must pay for the destruction of my life.

There was a strong sense of unreality. I was like automation. My eyes were like video cameras looking out upon a hostile alien landscape. I was the executive arm of hate, murder and revenge, the grim reaper himself.

I lowered my arm to the vertical position. The only way to kill her was to ram a stake through her heart. I had no stake, only a knife. I looked straight ahead as I went down into a crouching position, allowing the knife to penetrate her chest. I could not bring myself to look. I felt no sensation in my right arm. I did not know whether the knife had penetrated her or not.

My video cameras scanned the horizon. Where is that cretin Gwilym Owen, I thought, 'he's next.'

The thought that I had lost everything, filled me with a hatred so intense that I could have killed almost anyone at that moment. To my right, Glyn appeared.

"You bastard, you've killed her," Glyn shouted from a distance.

I'm not a bastard, I thought. How dare he call me that. If he'd controlled his misses, then none of this would have happened. He is as guilty as the rest.

I advanced towards him in an unsteady manner. He made no attempt to run away. I suppose he could not comprehend the situation fully due to a feeling of disbelief at what he was seeing, or maybe he simply wanted to die. Maybe he had wanted to die for months. Maybe the hit and run accident, in which his arm got broken, was not really accidental. Who knows?

I came at him with the knife, swinging it wildly in front of me. Each time I swung it he stepped back or to one side. I appeared to be stabbing him a few times in the left arm, which was in a sling. Suddenly, Gillian appeared to my right, so I swung the knife in a wide arc to my right to warn her off. She retreated towards the red car. At that moment Glyn ran past my left side, so I turned and ran after him. He ran twenty-five metres to the next road junction, where he turned and faced me.

"Get an ambulance for my wife," Glyn shouted to one of my neighbours who had come out into the street to see what was going on.

As Glyn shouted those words, I saw my opportunity and plunged the dagger into his front, just above the waist line. At the time I thought that I had stabbed him in the stomach. The blade actually passed the stomach wall in the pyloric area before penetrating the left lobe of the liver. Throughout all the violence I had not felt the knife enter its victim until that moment. I was sickened by what my senses were now telling me. After all those years of bitterness, my in-laws had finally got me to lose my self control. They had degenerated me to their own vile standards. I was mentally sickened by the enormity of what I had done. I felt revulsion towards my father-in-law, whom I turned my back on. I looked back towards where my mother-in-law lay dead, but my brain registered nothing. As Glyn walked up the road towards the doctor's house, I ambled off in the opposite direction. I called at Dennis and Hazel's bungalow, but there was no one at home. There would have been no sanctuary there for Karen and I.

I took the direct route up a narrow lane to the village police station. I felt very hot. After all the shouting my mouth was very dry and my throat hoarse. On the long walk up the narrow lane, passing children playing, I could think of nothing, except the realization that in a few minutes I had destroyed my life and the lives of many other people. I felt ashamed that I had done something which I fervently abhorred, namely committed a gross act of violence. On the way to the police station I noticed my GP driving the other way towards the scene of the crime. My eyes avoided his as I continued my walk, my blood stained arm still clutching the dagger.

Finally, I reached the police station. A woman wearing civilian clothes came to the front door.

"Here take this," I said as I held the dagger up for her.

She took the dagger and invited me into her lounge, where I sat down on the settee.

"Are you injured?" she asked, looking at my blood stained arm.

"No," I replied.

"Would you like a cup of tea?" she asked, sounding concerned.

"No, just a glass of water," I replied, thinking that it was best not to tell her what had happened for fear of upsetting her.

I sat there gazing vacantly at the television, which was showing the soap opera Crossroads, at the time. It all seemed so unreal. It must have been about 6-45pm, I thought. It was then that I noticed the blood on my right sleeve. All that I could think of was the fact that I had finally fucked up my life, and mumbled words to that effect. There were no policemen there, so she telephoned another police station, or vice-versa, whilst I gave her my full name and address to relay to the police. A few minutes later the police arrived.

I was taken in a police car to Llangefni police station, where I was cautioned.

"You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so, but what you say maybe put in writing and given in evidence," said a police officer.

I was then interrogated on a question and answer basis. Contemporaneous notes were taken, which I later signed. Quite frankly, I wanted to get it over and done with as soon as possible. Earlier I was photographed in my gardening clothes, which were then taken away for forensic examination together with nail clippings, and samples of my blood, spittle, hair and the victim's blood found on my body. I was then taken later that evening to Holyhead police station, where facilities for detaining me were superior. I was questioned here also. The police asked me who my solicitor was, and I told them that it was Mr. Bumble. During my short stay in that police station, the staff came to my cell door frequently. Maybe they thought I was suicidal. I certainly was not thinking of escape. To me my problems were now over. I felt an intense feeling of relief.

I believe it was the next day that I saw a solicitor. My friend Bill and his neighbour Brian, another draughtsman at Tinto, had heard about the incident on the local radio news programme, and then alerted my solicitor to the problem. Mr. Bumble was not available, so Mr.. Roberts came instead. The police asked me a few more questions in his presence, no doubt fearful that I might be tempted to change my statement. After the police left the interview room Mr.. Roberts asked me whether there might be any medical reasons for my behaviour. It was then for the first time, that I told someone about my mental symptoms. I told him about my diaries. He became very interested in this, but as things turned out they were to be of no use at all, since I never referred to my illness, and neither did I mention the rows with my in-laws in them. Deep down I hoped that their would be someone who knew what my in-laws were like, who would speak up on my behalf. I believe that it was in the presence of my solicitor that the charges were read out to me. I had earlier been informed that my father-in-law had died of liver failure in hospital, about half an hour after we had parted company. I always thought that he would die of liver failure, but never like that. Both charges of murder were then read out to me.

"You are charged, that you did on Thursday, April 26th, 1984 at Sunny Dale, Gwalchmai in the county of Gwynedd, did murder Glyn Roberts against the peace of our sovereign lady the Queen and Dignity, contrary to common law. You are also charged, that you did on Thursday, April 26th, 1984 at Sunny Dale, Gwalchmai in the county of Gwynedd, did murder Helen Roberts against the peace of our sovereign lady the Queen and Dignity, contrary to common law," said the police officer.

"I just want to say that I'm sorry I did it. It's difficult to put it into words, the whole thing was inevitable," I said to the police officers present.

Even after the charges had been read out, I still found it difficult to believe.

After being finger printed three times, including palm prints, I was taken by the police to Risley Remand Centre on Saturday, April 28th, 1984.

It was to be over one year before I read the statements to this case. The only relevant one was that of Gillian Harris. This can be found in the statements section. This statement was made the day after the killings, to a female police officer. There are a few points upon which I feel I should comment. As regards Karen being pushed into marrying me, all I can say is that she had sixteen months during our courtship and engagement in which to change her mind. The only people that were pushing her were her parents. As far as not being aware of what she was doing when she married me. I thought that that was what the marriage ceremony was there to determine.

As for locking up my wife in Valley, her teacher apparently had no difficulty in getting in. As for buying the computer and televisions for my own use, it would be rather difficult for anyone to put a television in a lounge, and expect the rest of the family not to use it. Anyway, how on Earth could I watch two TV's at once. As for the computer, the software I wrote for Karen, speaks for itself. I do not know whether the police looked at it since the question never arose.

I cannot imagine why Karen would want to wear one of my old shirts, since she had plenty of blouses. As for lunging repeatedly at Glyn with the dagger, in the inner hall, if that was the case then why did I fail to kill him there and then. The inner hall was only a metre wide by ten metres long, making it virtually impossible for him to escape. Did she mention this in her statement because her mother had told her to say it?

You will notice in the statement that nowhere does it state that I told them all to get out of my bungalow. Why not? She does admit that I was shouting. It seems unreasonable to assume that I would grab a knife without ordering them out first. To admit such a thing would bring the question, 'Well in that case, why didn't you just leave?' There was no sensible answer to that. They did not leave because Helen wanted violence, which she could then use against Karen's mind, or in the case of something more serious, involve police and doctors.

The defence rests, for the moment.




Chapter 5




Echoes of the Past




Down a narrow country lane,
Turning right, then right again.
On our left the bungalow lies,
Green and white, outwardly no surprise.
The gold lettered slate name plate has now gone,
As if to cover up an almighty wrong.
Did I catch a voice upon the wind?
"Get out! get out! For I have sinned."

The detached bungalow, once called Sunny Dale,
Lies on the slope of a shallow wind swept vale.
The boarded up net curtained windows, and heavily locked doors,
Conceal the memory of heart felt roars.
The blistering varnish on the front door flakes,
As shoulder to door, rusty hinges break.
The cold damp air greets the visiting pair,
As they enter the target of their dare.
Numerous dead flies hang in the net curtain,
As spiders spinning webs make escape uncertain.
The spider plant once gracefully hanging,
Lies a shrivelled mess, "Hark, what's that banging?"
The over powering monstera plant is now dead,
Having not for months, been fed.
The monstera's withered tendrils now all fall,
Having leached the last drop of moisture from the wall.
In every room there's the odour of death,
As each condemned creature gasps its last breadth.
The letter flap blown by the wind rattles,
As the expansion joints creak out their eternal battles.
The guttering vibrates above the patio door,

As water from a dripping stop tap, adds to more.
In the loft the Christmas tree lies dusty,
As everywhere else smells chokingly musky.

Echoes of words long ago spoken,
Reflect the hearts that are now broken.
No one lives there any more,
To hear the voices that now deplore,
What took place on that fateful day.
Could it have been avoided anyway?

Did I catch a voice upon the wind?
"Get out! Get out! For I have sinned."


I was deeply grieved by what I had done. Despite all the ill treatment I had received from my in-laws. I still wished that they were still alive, though not as they were. I always thought there was some good in everyone that made them worth saving. Anyway, I do not think that I meant to kill my father-in-law, otherwise I would have carried on using the dagger until he had fallen to the ground, dead. According to the post mortem report, he had died from intra abdominal haemorrhage due to a stab wound through the left lobe of the liver. The only other serious wound was a penetrating stab wound in the left arm. There were numerous superficial cuts caused during the confrontation. Someone told me that I had stabbed the tobacco tin in his pocket a couple of times, which prevented serious injury at that stage.

As regards injuries to my mother-in-law, the post mortem report described four major wounds, two of these were to the heart, one to the right lung, probably caused as she was lying on the ground, judging by the direction of blood flow, whilst the fourth stab wound was to the left side of the neck, almost severing the ear lobe, and was probably inflicted as she fell backwards.

The post mortems also detailed the health of the victims prior to the killings, Helen had a heart condition. Evidence existed of a myocardial infarction, heart attack to you and me, and ischemia, which is localized loss of blood circulation resulting in destroyed vital tissue around the heart. Atheroma, partial blockage of coronary arteries caused by calcium build up, as a result of cigarette smoking, eating fatty foods or lack of exercise, was also present. As for Glyn, he had chronic bronchitis in the lungs, probably caused by smoking, resulting in past attacks of pleurisy. As with Helen, severe atheroma was also present. Much to my surprise, apart from the stab wound, his liver was perfectly healthy. Reading these reports, I could not help thinking that if my in-laws had put off their visit a month or so, then with any luck they would have died from natural causes. Why I had been totally ignorant of their medical condition, I simply could not understand. I knew that Glyn had endured gout on occasion, probably due to his excessive drinking. Were they aware of the state of their health, and did this instil in them the feeling that they had nothing to lose from such a confrontation?

After I gave myself up to the police, I was afraid that I had harmed my wife and sister-in-law as I could not remember what had happened to them. I was afraid to ask, but fortunately they were all right. It had been like a bad dream. A nightmare. For five and a half years I had turned the other cheek, and the first time I put my foot down, it ended in disaster and ruin. I knew then that I had lost my home, Fluff, and above all, my wife.

What I did was against everything I believed in, and I am deeply sorry for that. Words cannot express the deep seated grief that I felt then, and would probably always feel. I had let down my relatives, my wife and her relatives, and finally our friends. How I will live with it in the future, I do not know. At the time of writing this, over three years later, time has made me realise that I will have to live with those thoughts for the rest of my life. I wished that those killed had been anyone but my wife's parents. Killing them had split my marriage, irretrievably I thought, for how could a woman forgive the man who had killed her parents, no matter how bad they were. As far as I could see, my marriage would end in divorce, but I put the thought out of my mind, for there was enough to think about. I realised that what my wife needed at that time, were relatives and friends who would give her the love, care and comfort, that she needed most.

In the years since, I have often asked myself how I could have let it happen. There is no doubt in my mind, that my in-laws wanted me to become violent on numerous occasions, so that they could use it against Karen, or even get me put away in prison, or a mental hospital, but why?

There are a number of possible motives, and they are as follows:

I . They had few real friends of their own, so it is possible that they wanted Karen to keep them company, just like a pet. They had no regard for what Karen wanted. Helen often came around, saying that she wanted Karen to keep her company whilst her husband was on the boats, but in the last six months Glyn had been at home with a fractured arm.

2. They simply regarded Karen as a piece of property that belonged to them. They certainly did not care about her. At her parent's place, her bed had been filthy and dilapidated, whilst her dolls, which were passed on to me, were so ragged and filthy that I burnt them. They were at least ten years old and presented an obvious health hazard. In a way, they could not accept that she was grown up and that times had changed. Helen would refer to Karen as hogen bach (little girl). However, I do not think that this was an important factor.

3. They felt that I could not do the job of looking after Karen. They were over protective. I do not think that this fits either, as at no time did they give me any form of constructive advice.

4. They felt guilty at having an imperfect child, and wanted to keep her out of the sight of the world. In my opinion my in-laws were incapable of feeling guilt about anything.

5. They did not want me because I was English and they were Welsh. My in-laws did not have strong Welsh views. They would not even watch Welsh television programmes, which surprised me.

6. They wanted my wife's DHSS benefits. My in-laws certainly did not want me to have them, and complained bitterly about how I was spending the backdated payments but my in-laws hatred of me started well before our marriage, when I did not even know that these allowances existed. I once asked my solicitor whether Karen could get compensation for her illness from the NHS, since her meningitis had been contracted in hospital. He simply said that it was too late to do so. As far as I know, her parents made no such approaches.

7. My in-laws were afraid that I would find some skeleton in the family cupboard. Whether it be child battering, incest or rape, I simply do not know.

8. My in-laws did not get on well with their relatives. They had not wanted Glyn to marry Helen all those years ago. I think they felt that Glyn had married below his status. It maybe that my in-laws adopted a hostile and vindictive attitude towards their relatives, and later towards me, as a means of self protection. Certainly Helen had a guilt complex about being common, justifiably so in my opinion.

9. Helen wanted Karen back, so that whilst she was working Glyn would have to look after his daughter, who would in turn be keeping an eye on him. Helen would then be able to worm out of Karen where they had been, just as she did when Karen went out with me. Helen did not want Glyn to go off with other women. Karen had once pointed out one of his mistress's to me in the Tinto Club, and I later heard that he had made a woman pregnant.

10. They were incapable of feeling any empathy towards anyone, including Fluff, and therefore felt that total control over Karen was more important than letting her get married.

Whether there was any basis to section seven, I am not certain, but there are reasons for mentioning it. Normally Karen liked everyone, as she had a very trusting nature. There were only four people she did not like. These were, Glyn's mother, Gaga; her father's mistress; one of our neighbours at Gwalchmai; and Helen's father, John. I never asked her why she hated these people, and because of Karen's condition, I did not take it seriously. However, an incident later occurred that caused me to change my mind.

One day Karen and I went to see a couple we knew in Gwalchmai, Mary and Greg. As we sat there in their kitchen, it transpired that Mary had a very interesting story to tell. Whilst out walking her dog one morning she passed greetings to one of our neighbours, Peter. Out of the blue and to Mary's disgust. Peter casually asked her to go to bed with him. She could not believe her ears and hurried off.

Suddenly Karen spoke up, telling us all about the time she went into his bungalow. No sooner had she entered his lounge, than he dropped his trousers and exposed himself. Karen beat a hasty retreat, so she said.

"Why didn't you tell me this before?" I asked incredulously.

"I was afraid of what you might say," Karen replied.

There was nothing that I could now do, as Peter had died from cancer a few months after the incident. I was to learn in the remand centre, that some terminally ill people tend to commit illegal acts that they otherwise would not do. Why Karen hated John, I simply do not know. I do know that he looked after Karen at home, whilst the rest of the family were working. Whether he abused Karen would be pure speculation. All I know is that Karen would not hate anyone without a good reason. Her hatred of Gaga and her father's mistress were obviously instilled into her by Helen, but I could not imagine her hatred of John being produced in that way.

I personally believe that the reason for my in-laws hostility towards me was a combination of factors six to ten inclusive.

With hindsight, it is easy to see that I should have gone to see my solicitor, and request him to obtain a nuisance order from the courts, in order to keep my in-laws away. At the time I simply did not know that such a means existed. Even with a nuisance order disadvantages existed. The nuisance order would have well and truly drawn the battle lines for the future. It would also have depended on me being resolute enough to go through with it and maintaining it year after year, knowing full well the effect it would have on my wife, who still liked seeing them, particularly her sister and her kids. It is unlikely that I could have kept the nuisance order going for long. Also, the area had a low population density, with few towns in which to go shopping. Inevitably our paths would have crossed, with who knows to what result.

It was unfortunate that I did not have a telephone in my bungalow, but although I had enquired about them on a number of occasions, I simply could not afford to have one. I did not know which of my close neighbours had a working telephone. I would certainly have had to go a fair distance to find one. Had I have telephoned the police, it is doubtful whether they would have come to my assistance in time. Although Gwalchmai had a police station, there was normally only one police officer on duty at any one time. It is doubtful whether he would have come alone. It would have taken fifteen to twenty minutes for police to come from nearby towns. Owing to masses of police being seconded from the area to keep an eye on the National Union of Mineworkers' secondary picketing at coal mines and power stations, the manpower for my common domestic dispute, may simply not have been available. In addition to this, my past record of assistance from the police, had been very discouraging.

The off putting incidents were as follows:

1. When someone tried to break into my flat in Birmingham, the day I took a lorry driver to court, the police did not even bother to come around.

2. When my car skidded on ice and hit a wall, the police were only too willing to get a conviction.

3. When my in-laws came to Birmingham on the train, and dragged Karen away, I dialled 999, but the police did not want to know.

4. When we eloped and got married, the police would not even tell my in-laws the good news.

5. When I had sheep in my garden, eating my flowers, the police did not know to whom they belonged to.

6. I went to my local police station twice regarding my neighbours building materials, and saw three policemen, but none of them would come down and have a look.

There were many people who thought that Great Britain had the best police force in the world, without realizing that the best form of policing is in fact self policing, prompted by the way we are brought up by our parents, and taught at school. I could not help thinking that had I lived in a more caring society, with proper community policing, then the deaths of my in-laws would not have taken place. There was no doubt in my mind that the root cause of my problems had been unemployment. Had I lived in a full employment society, I would have had no trouble in selling my home, thereby moving out of my in-laws' reach. The absence of a full employment society and proper community policing, were symbols of an inept or uncaring system of government, possibly both. At the time I felt very bitter towards the British Government, and still do.

Had Great Britain a community policing system, in which representatives of police, welfare, employment, health and education visit each home once per annum, then it would provide a basis for a better community. In my case, I could have mentioned my problems to them, not just those concerning my in-laws. Trained civil servants would have known how my problems could be sorted out in ways which I would have been ignorant of. Community policing was shunned by politicians, and other do-gooders, as an infringement of personal liberty. It is only when you become a victim of circumstance that you realise how essential crime prevention techniques are in maintaining a civilised society. Without a proper community policing system, the police knew very little about what was going on on their patch, whilst at the same time they were alienated from the people they were meant to help. I was to learn that only in prison do you experience infringement of personal liberty in a truly repressive way. By that stage most people are beyond help, whilst many will give up the rat race and re-enter prison time and time again. Whilst the cost of community policing cannot be ignored, the cost of not doing it is astronomical. My case alone would have cost the tax payer at least a million pounds, not just for the trial and imprisonment, but also the years of enforced unproductive welfare dependency afterwards.

I have come to the conclusion that the establishment of a crime free society should be the aim of all caring governments in developed countries. Certainly the scientific means already exists, but law enforcement agencies are ham strung by the lack of political backing. Were they given the legal powers, it would be technically feasible for each citizen to visit his local police station annually to take a lie detector test, in order to ascertain whether he or she had committed a serious crime in the past year, or was thinking of committing one. Lie detectors (polygraphs) do work in expert hands. Truth drugs should be made available to those who request them, and should be made compulsory for those appealing against conviction. In a society where the competence of expert witnesses is being increasingly brought to question, and where over enthusiastic police ill-treat the accused and rig evidence, the establishment of better means of ascertaining the truth should be made available. Such methods are based on the assumption that the accused is initially neither guilty nor innocent. I came to the above conclusions during my imprisonment, which led me to believe that there had to be a better way than the archaic system that already existed.

Present methods of policing, in which officers were sent out on the beat, had remained little changed for a hundred years. Better communications and scientific techniques had had a marginal effect on detection rates, but had certainly not led to a better society. What was needed most was a political change of attitude. Politicians and ordinary citizens alike should be made to realise that freedom is not something we are simply born with, it has to be fought for every day, in order to maintain the high ideals and values that make up such a society. A 'free' society should not be one where anything goes, where long established social rules are thrown away in the urge to experiment. A society based on freedom should be one where the social rules promote peace, prosperity and good health, both in body and mind.

Only a victim of crime understands the anger which I feel, towards the incompetent way in which society is governed. There are many victims of crime in prison, as I was to discover. There, one could see the true cost of having a free society. The man who kills his lesbian wife. The man who kills or rapes, whilst under the influence of illicit, or irresponsibly prescribed NHS drugs. The long term alcoholic, drug addict, or sex offender who commits more terrible crimes, after being released back into society, without receiving proper effective treatment whilst inside. The hitch-hiker who stabs to death the queer that picked him up.

Through my years in prison, I slowly came to realise that a 'free' society was nothing less than an uncaring one. The cost of a free for all society where anything goes, can be found in hospitals and prisons throughout countries where politicians give little thought to the social impact of their irresponsible policies. If it was not for the welfare state, then the riots which occurred during this period, would have been far worse, causing the thin blue line to crumble, with who knows what result.

My experiences with the police and other departments of government, may well have encouraged me to rely only upon myself. My opinion of the National Health Service (NHS) at this time, was pretty low. The low esteem I had for the NHS was probably one of the factors which caused me not to see my GP, regarding my mental illness. Years previously when my in-laws had wanted their daughter to under go an EEG, they found that they had to take her all the way to Liverpool to receive such a service. God knows where they would have sent me.

Various incidents had occurred in recent years to instil such a low opinion. They were:

1. My father-in-laws mother, Gaga, died from a stroke weeks after she entered hospital.

2. My mother-in-laws father, John, died from a hernia, one day before he was due to have an operation.

3. My wife had apparently been taking the wrong tablets for years. She was also given doses of Rivotril which far exceeded the manufacturer's recommendations, something which should have been obvious to her GP at the time.

4. For six months my father-in-law had been suffering with a fractured arm. He had been obliged to seek treatment from the Seaman's Hospital in London and a private hospital in Liverpool.

All the indications were that it would be best for me not to take my mental problems to my GP.

The circumstances as regards how I came to have a commando dagger, are quite innocent. I am not the sort of person who goes around with a chip on my shoulder. Neither do I collect military regalia, nor read military magazines. I am certainly not a survivalist, nor have I ever owned or used firearms. I do however read magazines that contain details of military aircraft technology, but only because I am interested in the articles on space research which they contain. I have never had a morbid interest in violence, and I have certainly never been a fitness fanatic. Until this incident I had not been in any serious trouble with the police, with the exception of traffic offences.

I kept my commando dagger in the draw by my bed in case of burglars. I bought it thirteen years previously, at an iron mongers in Northamptonshire. At that time I had had various jobs after coming out of the merchant navy. Shortly after the IRA bombings at Aldershot, I applied for an 'S' type engagement with the parachute regiment, and bought the knife probably thinking that it would come in handy in the army. I went down to Aldershot for an interview, and was asked to stay the night as there were no late trains running, I was told.

The following morning I was asked to go on the assault course, along with about ten other lads in my situation. Unlike me they were either ex-army, or wanted to be transferred from their existing regiment. The assault course was in the woods and consisted of obstacles made out of scaffolding poles and railway sleepers, in the main. I got around the course all right, only to find that I had another lap to do. At the end of each obstacle was an unavoidable pool of muddy water, which penetrated my clothing, supplied generously by the army. The wet clothing weighed me down, but my mind was already weighed down by the fact that I was not only last in the race, but that the other contestants were out of sight. Although the army wanted me, I decided that I simply did not have the build to enable me to run umpteen miles each day, neither could I understand the broad Geordie accent of the other guys, something which I considered essential as regards life preservation on the battlefield.

I had never used the dagger before for violent purposes. I broke the tip of the blade soon after I bought it, when I tried using it as a screw driver. Also in the bungalow was a Swiss army pen knife, a knife that incorporated an adjustable wrench, and a sheath knife with marlinespike, all of which I bought whilst in the navy, over fifteen years before. As with many of my belongings, I was not to see these items again.

It is all too easy for someone to dismiss the mental condition which I had, since the only person who saw it at first hand was my wife. Although the police attempted to obtain a statement from her the day after the crime, she was in too distressed a state to say anything reliable without prompting from her sister. In my opinion the police gave up too easily. It was not the only vital statement not to be made. Months, perhaps years later, I learned that my next door neighbour Gwilym Owen, had refused to give a statement to the police. My father-in-law's sister, one of the few people who knew my mother-in-law's bad ways, also refused to make a statement.

As for my mental state, that originated from the stress and suffering inflicted upon me by my in-laws and the DHSS. I would apportion eighty per cent of the blame equally between the two, the remaining twenty per cent being taken up by the strain of trying to get a job, looking after my wife and home, and putting up with my next door neighbour. There is no doubt in my mind that what I went through with the DHSS, changed my personality. I learned to hate the DHSS and Mrs. GG's government, as the only means of avoiding depression. It was my responsibility to my wife which caused me to do this, as a means of preventing myself from committing suicide.

During the final months before the killings, we received apologies from the DHSS for all the delays we had endured, but you cannot live on apologies. There was no compensation in way of interest payments with our backdated allowances. For the uninitiated the welfare benefits system was frighteningly complex, made worse by the ever changing benefits regulations. We were not eligible for family income supplement as we had no children, so opting for a low paid job was not a realistic alternative.

In late 1980 we survived on unemployment benefit, tax rebates, and earnings related unemployment benefit. Within eight years, the last two benefits had been abolished. Unemployment benefit became taxable, which meant that if you did get a job, your earnings were likely to be taxed out of existence. If you became unemployed without good reason, then the period for which you were not eligible for unemployment benefit was increased during this period, from two weeks to six months. In April 1988 the British Government turned the screw again, by replacing supplementary benefit with income support, replacing extra needs payments for the unemployed with repayable loans, assuming the loan fund was initially available and had not been exhausted. At a time when job security simply did not exist, the above measures were simply a disincentive to find work. The danger of short term employment is that when made unemployed after a short working period, it could take many weeks to sort out your entitlement again. I knew in 1980, that because of our mortgage repayments, our supplementary benefits (SB) would be higher than all the previously mentioned benefits put together, but I was unemployed six months before I was to get SB, let alone AA, HNCIP and ICA. The structure of the welfare benefits system can, by its very complexity, generate as much stress as the initial trauma of being unemployed.

SB covered most basic needs, but it did not pay the capital on my mortgage. If you had an endowment mortgage linked to a life assurance policy, then the situation was even worse. The capital on our mortgage came to about fifteen to twenty pounds per month, which I paid regardless. There was also no allowance made for a TV licence, travelling expenses, a telephone, and as stated earlier, home contents insurance, lack of which was also a source of stress. I found that travelling expenses were only paid if you asked for them, and then only if you were called specifically to the DHSS for interview. I cannot recall being invited to my local DHSS, although there were many times when I had to go there for information.

Holidays, hobbies such as gardening, and leisure activities, such as going out for a drink with friends, are essential if you are long term unemployed, since they are the only means of dissipating stress. A car is essential in country districts, where bus services are often infrequent, erratic or non-existent. The closure of sub post offices in villages and the deregulation of bus services, will eventually result in depopulation of the countryside, placing added strain on the housing sector in nearby towns. It will encourage the buying of second homes, which will remain empty for much of the year. In the meantime, the absence of sub post offices and bus services will necessitate many unemployed walking long distances to cash their giros. A town or city dweller who is unemployed is far better off in this respect, as buses and trains not only exist, but are more frequent. There are also many leisure activities, subsidized by the rates, which are easy to get to, such as evening classes and sport. Although my wife had a disabled persons bus card, she could not use it most of the time as we used day rover tickets whenever possible, which were not covered by the scheme.

Having to deal regularly with four DHSS departments, my experience was more devastating than that of most claimants. My problems when dealing with the DHSS, often repeated many times, were as follows:

1. Letters to the DHSS, particularly to my local office, went unanswered.

2. Telephoning the DHSS, often after walking a quarter of a mile through high winds and rain, I would find that either the telephone did not work properly, usually consuming my money in the process, or the call went unanswered. In Birmingham, where I did have a telephone, I found that the telephone at the DHSS was left off the hook, and only put back on immediately after closing time. As a result, I never did manage to arrange an appointment to be interviewed there. I later learned from a civil servant, that the business with the telephone also upset the staff in the UBO, who could not get in touch with the DHSS either.

3. For about two years I had to take my handicapped wife with me on the bus, in all weathers, just to sign on every two weeks.

4. I found it very difficult to get information from the UBO and DHSS. Little if any information was ever volunteered, without specifically asking for it first. It could have been easy for the DHSS to overcome this problem, and thereby save themselves a lot of hard work later on. The main problem was that the DHSS never asked enough questions on the questionnaire they handed out, it being devoted mainly to SB. Also, they never handed out basic leaflets listing the rates of current benefits (Ni196). the serial numbers of leaflets available and where to get them (Ni146), and more importantly the booklet which described each current benefit (Which Benefit? 60 ways to get cash help, (FB2). By keeping claimants fully informed, a lot of stress on both sides of the counter could have been avoided, not to mention savings in administration costs, and NHS costs.

It took me a long time to acquaint myself with the system. During my four years as unemployed I amassed thirty-five different leaflets and three booklets from various sources. During this same period I received numerous letters and forms from various government departments, most of which I kept. The score was as follows:

Benefit Leaflets & Booklets Amassed UK

Source or subject Quantity
DHSS Llangefni 30
DHSS AA Unit 20
DHSS HNCIP Unit 19
UBO Llangefni 10
DHSS ICA Unit 6
Mobility Unit 5
Total 90

As I was unemployed for a total of forty-five weeks, this represents an average of two letters or forms, delivered to me during each week I was unemployed. Also, during the period July 82 to April 83, I received ten solicitors letters relating to my problems with the DHSS, for which the British tax payer was kind enough to contribute legal aid.

5, There were the never ending procession of forms, which always seemed to ask the same question, but never asked enough. There was for instance no question on the standard application form for SB which asked:

'Is there anyone listed on this form who is being looked after, due to illness or handicap?' And,

'Is there anyone listed on this form who is looking after someone who is ill or handicapped?' And,

'Is there anyone listed on this form who is unavailable for work due to illness or handicap?'

If such questions had existed, then our problems would have been drastically reduced,

Why was it that those questions did not exist?

6, Every other week I got a letter from the UBO or DHSS, and I use to dread opening them. The UBO would send me letters saying that my unemployment benefit would soon come to an end. These computer generated letters were evidence of an unfeeling and uncaring establishment. To anyone not knowing the system which led to SB, receiving such a letter could result in suicide. In the last of these letters from the Department of Unemployment, dated 19-1-82, they notified me that under the social security act 1975, section 18(2), and the social security miscellaneous provisions act 1977, and the social security short term benefits transitional regulations 1974 reg 8(1), I was now skint as the coffers were bear. After reading such a letter I wondered how many people had collapsed with a heart attack or stroke. Did they seriously expect people to look up such regulations, if not, then why mention them. I could only conclude that they did it in order to camouflage the contents of the third paragraph, which informs the claimant that he is entitled to supplementary allowance, but it did not state where to apply, namely the DHSS. Its proper title is supplementary benefit, not social security as some people say. I made the same mistake in the UBO Llangefni, The staff turned to stone, speechless. I could read their minds, 'We are not programmed to respond to the left wing slang of the non-working classes.' If you could not get the title correct, then you got nowhere. Fortunately, much has changed for the better since those days, but I still dread the 'system.'

7. The complexity of the benefits' system was staggering. I would often be unable to get the right advice or action from the DHSS, Citizen's Advice Bureau, or even a specialised solicitor. Some allowances were added to SB, which was the basic allowance, whilst others were deducted from it. Some allowances were only paid if you were in receipt of others. Often I applied for allowances, neither knowing whether we were entitled to them, nor even if we would be financially better off. We had in the end, three allowance books, which I cashed at the local sub post office. The system of benefits was changed in November 1984 with the introduction of severe disablement allowance, but by then I was past caring.

8. Very often I would go to the DHSS, after signing on at the UBO, to try and get the answer to a query, only to be confronted by a new clerical officer who knew considerably less than I did. I got the impression that low pay for civil servants, and inadequate training, prompted ignorance in staff and claimants alike, and that this was a deliberate government policy. In the early 1980's the DHSS employed 65,000 to 81,000 staff in 500 offices scattered around the country, whilst the Department of Unemployment employed 26,000 and the local authorities employed 7,800 people engaged in working out housing benefits. The DHSS administered claims from the over 60's, the sick and the unemployed. In the six years from 1973 to 1985 of Mrs. GG's rule, the rate of claims doubled whilst staff numbers fell, due to the governments policy of transferring unemployment review work to the D of U. Owing to the amount of work and antiquated methods, many staff succumbed to psychosomatic illnesses, both physical and mental. As a result, in some inner city offices, staff turn over was sixty per cent per annum. During my years on the dole I often wondered what type of humanity existed in the upper echelons of government, that were responsible for perpetrating such a system.

9, When dealing with the DHSS at Norcross, I originally thought that there was one person up there who was dealing with all my claims. It took me a long time to realise differently, that there were numerous departments in numerous office blocks employing hundreds of people. I later came to realise that a department could not deal with my claim until another section higher up the chain had already approved a related entitlement, and past my file on. I could not understand why the DHSS centre at Norcross existed, except as a glorified job creation exercise, rather like the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre (DVLC) at Swansea, which the government decided to privatise in 1988. I could see no point in having Norcross when it took up to a year or more to process a claim. The local DHSS could process it in a month, since they had direct access to claimants, doctors and other relevant details.

10, Receiving gobbledygook from the DHSS was far from funny. On one occasion I received a three page letter, but I failed to understand any of it. I was obliged to go to the Citizens Advice Bureau for a translation (it was already in English). The D of U and the DHSS were perhaps the only major organizations I dealt with who did not issue their letters and forms in Welsh as well as English. Were they to do so, it might force them to think more logically about the content and layout of their documents.

11, Threatening the DHSS with legal action, by going to a solicitor, was to me like taking the entire government to court. It all seemed unbelievable. The mistake by the DHSS in over paying our benefit for months, resulted in them refusing to pay our rates. This underlines the importance of a claimant understanding how a benefit has been calculated. For some reason which I fail to understand, the DHSS notified claimants of their benefit rate on form A14N, and would only tell a claimant how it had been worked out, on form A124, when the claimant asked for it. Unfortunately, if you did not know about this form, then you could not ask for it. Since all benefit claims had to be calculated anyway, I could see no point in using A14N instead of A124, except to cover up the mistakes of the DHSS, which my local DHSS tried to make me responsible for. As far as I know, I notified them of all changes in my mortgage rate. At this time one in eight claims were miscalculated by the DHSS, even though it cost the tax payer 1,600 million pounds to administer 37,200 million pounds in allowances, which went out in the form of 100 million giro cheques and 53 million order books per annum. Half of this money went to pensioners, twenty per cent to families with children, and seventeen per cent to the unemployed.

12, The hypocrisy of the system was nowhere underlined more than when the DHSS admitted, according to their cold callous calculations, that 886 million pounds went unclaimed in one year alone. The use of the word unclaimed fills me with a seething desire to produce some kind of violent response.

13, The most agonizing feelings were produced by the months of waiting. No matter how simple the task, there was always the waiting. For a person like me who detests queuing, the waiting and the frustration it produced, were to have unforeseen results.

Because of all these problems, I would pace up and down in my lounge at a loss to know what to do. I felt powerless and resentful. Finally my feelings turned to hate. I had nothing but contempt for the senior civil servants that were ruining my life, and the lives of millions of other people in similar situations. I wanted to kill those purveyors of misery. Kill them all. I regarded them as the real spongers off the state, sitting in their offices doing little except pencil twiddling and doodling, until the day their index linked pensions arrived. Was their any real difference between those faceless pen pushers and Adolph Eichmann, that insignificant clerk (so he said), whose job it was to arrange the final train journey for millions of people? Could it be that the final solution for the unemployed was already being contemplated by officialdom? After all, what was the point in the government enticing companies to develop and use robots through the offering of government grants, plus the negative incentive to employ people through high rates of company national insurance, whilst at the same time paying those displaced persons to exist on state welfare benefits? Since their was no policy by the British Government to create a leisure orientated society, there could be no other inference. Like the freedom fighters in the Warsaw ghetto, I was determined to fight on against all comers. My life had become an eternal battle for survival.

It is all too easy to disbelieve what I have written here, if you have no first hand experience of these things. There were no starving bodies in the streets, no long queues at soup kitchens, just the occasional tramp who chooses of his own accord to opt out of society. But look a little deeper, and it was possible to see the signs of a society undergoing financial and moral decay. The busker or begging punk rocker in the subway, the blond sun tanned call girl caressing the arm of her client in the pub, the unemployed woman who married for the love of a man's money and the easy divorce settlement that will follow, the new army of street cleaners employed by the local authority, the newspaper advertisements, put there by individuals, begging for meaningful employment, the single parent who cannot find a spouse with adequate financial means, the marriage shattered by economic strain, the para suicides filling up the hospital ward beds, the soaring crime rate coupled with the growing lack of trust between people, the never ending prescriptions for tranquillizers, the rigged unemployment figures that do not show the numbers of people the government has banned from receiving benefit or has put on meaningless training or work experience schemes, or on sickness or invalidity benefit instead. These are the signs of a society at odds with sanity.

The one overriding lesson I was to learn when dealing with the DHSS, was that I was not going to get anywhere without fighting for my rights. Originally the fight began in my mind, then extended outwards through my letters, and ultimately via my solicitor. But as the recession deepened I began to realise that the violence within my mind and the violence on the picket lines, were against a common enemy. It was a fight against the lunatic policies of an ideologically bound government. In other words, I was beating my head against immovable obstinacy in high places. Just why government behaved in such an uncaring way, I was at a loss to understand. I think it is because government is such a huge bureaucratic organization that its inertia overcomes any attempt to increase its efficiency. It does not have an uncaring nature. It simply does not care, one way or the other. Basically there is no incentive large enough, for any individual politician or civil servant to overcome the inertia within government.

The outcome of this situation could be read in any newspaper of the time. All too often there were stories of families wiped out, often ending in suicide for the remaining one who had gone berserk. I realise how the pressures of society can produce such tragedies. They will only end when a more caring society is established. To leave it in the hands of the courts would be to act too late. The deaths of my in-laws was news for just a few days, and then only locally. Now their deaths are just statistics. Their deaths and my mental condition, were as a result of long term unemployment. A number of reports were published at this time linking unemployment with mental illness, crime and death. In prison I had plenty of time to read newspapers, given to me by the staff. I jotted down statistics avidly, since I had nothing else better to do.

A study titled 'Unemployment and Mortality', compiled by the British government's Office of Population Census Surveys (OPCS) at City University, London, showed that at least 2,800 men and women would die in 1984 as a result of unemployment, almost eight people per day.

Upon entry to remand centre's, all new inmates were specifically asked whether they were unemployed at the time of their crime. Although the data existed, reports specifically mentioning figures were rare. However, in the USA, where a more open system of government prevailed, a report was published in Scientific American in September 1984. This report was compiled by the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, for the United States Congress. The following figures relate to the USA. Although the welfare state system is more restricted, gun ownership more extensive and drug abuse more prevalent than in the UK, you should not forget that the recession in Great Britain at this time, was greater than in the United States. Bearing in mind that the unemployment rate for the county where I was living was officially put at 17%, and that it was far higher in the village where I lived, the report states that for an increase of ten per cent in the unemployment rate, the following happens:

For 10% increase in unemplyment in UK

Incident Type Percentage increase
Deaths from illness +1.7%
Suicides 0.7%
Mental hospital population 4.2%
Arrests 4.0%

This suggests that during the recession of 1981 and 1982 75,000 additional people died in the USA as a result.

Allowing for population difference, that would mean that 9,400 people died each year during the UK's recession of the early 1980's, assuming that the recession was no worse and no better in the UK, than in the USA. The figure of 9,400 is three times higher than the results in the OPCS report, probably due to the different methods employed in reaching the final figure, or maybe we can endure more crap than Americans.

The British government no doubt had similar figures. One wonders therefore why projects such as the Trident missile programme, costing nine billion pounds, can have priority over the main purpose of any government. Namely, to create a better society and in particular a more pleasurable society for the majority of people, than the one the politicians inherited upon coming to office. The insane logic of government was slowly creating an insane society, from which my mind could only rebel.

Upon my entry to Risley Remand Centre I was interviewed by Dr. Shrink, and later his boss, Dr. Shrunk, who recommended to my solicitor that I be seen by a Dr. Shrank, a medical practitioner from Lancaster. I was interviewed for an hour by Dr. Shrink, and for three hours each by the other two doctors,.I underwent two electroencephalograph (EEG) tests, the first at Risley, and the second at Lancaster. I was later told that these EEG's confirmed an abnormality in the temporal lobe region of the brain, possibly caused during child birth. This abnormality was believed to be related to my fits, possibly some form of temporal lobe epilepsy. No attempt was made to produce these fits whilst undergoing an EEG test. It was never suggested to me. Had I known how long I was to remain in Risley, then I would certainly have demanded it, since I knew it was possible to induce such fits by reading emotive articles in newspapers. Since eighty-five per cent of people have something wrong with their brains, the EEG's appeared to prove nothing. However, I was never told the detailed findings, neither did I ever see the medical reports, so I have no idea what the doctor 's conclusions were.

When I entered Risley I was experiencing a strong sense of relief. Relief that all the insults, physical assaults and mental trauma had finally come to an end. During my time at Risley I took various drugs to treat my dyspepsia and headaches. Although I entered Risley in a very calm state, and began dreaming for the first time in years, though within a couple of weeks the stress began to build up again. My fits started up again. These occurred only during the day, never at night as before. The fits I had at Risley were mainly minor. As far as I know, no member of staff saw me have one, although some inmates noticed. Within a month of entering Risley, I asked for some medication to help me sleep. As a result of this request, I was prescribed Prothiaden (Dothiepen). I did not know it then, but at least a year later I found out that it was an anti-depressant. In Risley I never regarded myself as depressed enough to need such drugs. Being kept in dismal surroundings for so long certainly depressed me, as they would any average person. Having seen numerous cases of chronic depression, I can certainly say that I was never in that category. I was kept on Prothiaden for seventeen months, and it took almost a year for its effects to wear off. The incident left me with an intense distrust of doctors.

Prothiaden had little effect on my fits in the long term. I often had them whilst sitting at my bed reading a newspaper. There was little else for me to do in Risley. It is my belief that I should have been prescribed Priadel (lithium carbonate) for my fits and Diazepam for my anxiety state, and that I should have been transferred to a mental hospital immediately after my trial in order to receive behaviour therapy. I got a clear impression from the doctors at Risley, that despite everything that I told them during the interviews, and the detailed description of my medical symptoms in an eighty-six page statement typed out by my solicitor, they believed that I was suffering from a depressional illness. They seemed to go by what they observed in that depressing dump, and not by what had gone before. Whether this apparent mistake was a major contributory factor in the way my case was later mishandled, I simply do not know. What I can say for certain is that whilst I was detained, I never received proper medical treatment. When I was ultimately released, I was still as mentally ill as the day I first entered Risley. The events that led to this situation can only be described as inexcusable, and the DHSS must carry much of the blame. Whether their action, or rather inaction, was based on a desire to get even, I simply do not know. As for my motives for writing this book, I can state quite honestly that revenge is uppermost in my mind.

Since the killings I have often asked myself how I feel about what I had done. Most of the time I feel absolutely nothing towards those that I killed. Whilst in Risley I was more concerned about the loss of Fluff, and not knowing anything about Karen. Writing it all down drained my brain of emotion. It is only when I read in this manuscript, all the incidents that occurred with my in-laws, that my mind explodes into another fit. At those moments I possess strong feelings of hatred. I want to kill them again and make them suffer the way they did me. Glyn and Helen got off lightly in my opinion. Fortunately those feelings are becoming less frequent. Time does not heal over the psychological wounds, whilst talking about it only opens them. Moving to a distant location and starting a new life, does help one to get over such trauma, but in such depressing economic times it is not easy. In my mind, my in-laws were people I could not come to terms with, and are therefore best forgotten now they are dead.

If someone had asked me the day before the killings, whether I was a danger to society, I would have said, "No."

If asked the same question today, I would reply, "I am less of a danger to society, than society is to me."

It is unlikely that I would intentionally subject myself to such stress again. The circumstances surrounding the killings were rare and therefore unlikely to be encountered by most people in their lives.

During my years of confinement I attempted to find out more about my illness. Progress in this direction was slow. Most of the hospital staff knew nothing, and the only books readily available were novels. Asking the librarian for books on psychiatry was strictly out. I did however subscribe to three magazines, one of which contained the occasional article on medical science. It was in the seventh of June, 1984 edition of New Scientist that there appeared an article on psychiatric epidemiology. This referred to a standard question and answer procedure carried out by psychiatrists. I decided to answer the questions, and they are as follows:

A, Loss of appetite or body weight; Loss of body weight was experienced through financial restrictions imposed by unemployment. After receiving attendance allowance I made very good meals, but I almost lost interest in eating. At meal times I experienced nausea, but I was never physically sick. I ate all my meals as I wanted to set a good example to my wife.

B, Sleeping; We usually slept from midnight to midday, because there was nothing to do in the mornings, except switch the heating on and cook a meal, all of which cost money. I would find it difficult to drop off to sleep, and would wake up at all hours of the night. I would often wake up sweating all over. Often I would have a fit whilst lying in bed, and lash out with my fists into the air or into the mattress. I very rarely dreamed, if ever.

C, Lack of interest; I found it very difficult to be interested in anything. I rarely did the gardening. I cooked only one meal per day. During the summer of 1983, I bought at least ten cans of paint for decorating the interior and exterior of my bungalow, but I only got around to painting the outside during that last year at Sunny Dale.

D, Agitation or slow movement; I would often get agitated over my insoluble problems, particularly when my wife did something wrong,.I would very often become speechless. It was pointless telling her off, as I knew it would not sink in. In my youth I had been a moody person who shouted a lot when angry. Since then my personality had swung in the opposite direction. I did not suffer from slow movement, and never have.

E, Loss of pleasure; Most interests were suspended as we had neither a car nor the money to pursue them. Making love to my wife was not easy at the best of times. No intimacy took place during the last two years we were together. For some reason I found it childish.

F, Feelings of guilt; The lengths I went to in trying to get a job, and in making money from letting my bungalow whilst claiming supplementary benefit, produced feelings of intense guilt. As a failed husband I also felt guilty. I was no longer the bread winner, and felt that I had to be punished for that.

G, Indecision, slow thinking and lack of concentration; I found my problems impossible to solve, and I was always undecided about what to do next about them. The more problems I had, the more undecided I became. My speech became slurred. I found it very difficult to concentrate on reading the newspaper and watching TV programmes. I would day dream a lot.

H, Suicide and death; I always thought about suicide. It was having to look after my wife which gave me a reason for living. Because of the pains in my body, I often thought that I would soon die. I do not think this feeling finally left me until I left the hospital at Risley Remand Centre.

The above questions and answers were designed to determine the scale of depression / anxiety that a person is likely to have been suffering from. To be considered a person with a major disorder, one should have suffered from at least four of the above for at least a week.

The reasons for my high levels of anxiety become obvious when my 'life events' are considered, together with the amount of social interaction I had, otherwise known as my vulnerability factor.

I was suffering from six major life events, most of which were of long duration. They are as follows;

1. I endured almost four years of unemployment, during most of which I was looking for work. At no time did I feel satisfied with being on the dole.

2. My stepfather suffered from a coronary thrombosis attack one month before the killings. I liked my stepfather very much.

3. I had put up with verbal, physical and mental abuse from my in-laws for five years.

4. I had put up with the antics of my next door neighbour for four years. He regarded the letters and visits from solicitors and the local authority as just 'piss and wind.

5. I looked after my wife for 4.5 years without either of us having a real holiday.

6, I had to put up with the long winded bureaucracy of at least four departments of the DHSS and also the Department for Unemployment, for almost four years.

7, Other life events considered serious were; marital separation during training courses in particular, sexual difficulties, the large mortgage loan, and the pressures during our last Christmas together.

The lack of social interactions was brought about by three vulnerability factors. They are as follows ;

1, As we had very little money, we could not afford to go anywhere. Living on the dole therefore, was like living under house arrest.

2, I could not confide in my wife, as she was unable to understand the problems which we faced. The only people I confided in to a very limited extent, were my mother, whom we saw about every four months, and my mate Bill, whom we saw about every two weeks, during the period that he had a car.

3. During the period that I was unemployed, many of my friends also lost their jobs. I could not afford to see them, and they could not afford to see me.

Some months later I read an article in the March 1984 edition of Reader's Digest, which had been lying around the ward for sometime. The article titled Body v Mind by Catherine Houck was about psychosomatic illnesses, meaning the bodies reaction to stress. It was in that article that for the first time I learned that the clenching of my jaw was a common sign of anxiety. It was good to know that I was not a freak. I was most interested in the recommendations the author put forward as a way of successfully surviving stressful situations:

1, On the occasion of a bereavement, express your feelings; I do not think my in-laws would have been very pleased to see me dancing over John's grave. The truth is that when John and Gaga died, I felt absolutely nothing, probably because my other problems were far greater in magnitude.

2. When confronting a problem, do not go into a rage; Well I tried the polite approach with my in-laws on that fateful day, and it simply did not impress them one bit. There were times at Risley when I tried diplomatic means to get things done, some of which amazed me by their success. Other inmates not use to the art of tact, ended up in a stripped cell.

3. Avoid making too many changes at once; I must admit that there were times when I took on too much unnecessarily, but in the main these were short term problems. Unfortunately, western society is not geared to complying with such ideal requirements. How for instance, do you move to a new job a hundred miles away, without making too many changes quickly? I could just imagine going up to the governor and asking him not to impose too many changes at once.

4. Relieve stress through deep breathing, stretching & meditation; I had always hated exercise, ever since I was forced to play rugby at college on a playing field covered by sheep's droppings. I was highly sceptical about whether this would work. At Risley, the gymnasium was out of bounds to hospital inmates. The staff there, never once told me to exercise. Some inmates exercised on the wash room floor, but there was no one around to talk me into it. One hour exercise periods in the court yard, had little if any therapeutic effect.

5. Make plenty of friends; My problems at Gwalchmai seemed to extinguish any desire to make friends, to the point where I felt that I was on the verge of death. Under such circumstances it is difficult to make friends, more so if one lives in a city where people tend to be more distrusting. In Risley I encountered the other extreme of having too many people around me, and not enough privacy as a result. Making real friends there was difficult, since few were of similar intellect or standing.

6. Work; Through employment one can make friends, and achieve a more positive attitude to life, but neither on Anglesey, nor in prison, was I to find challenging, satisfying employment.

In the seventh of February, 1985 edition of New Scientist, I read an article titled The Healthy Neurotic by Dr. Clive Wood. As I read it I could not help realise the similarity between many of the indicators mentioned there, and those in my own life. Neuroticism, be it anxiety neurosis or neurotic depression, is considered to be based on emotional instability factors, such as guilt, low self esteem, shyness, mood swings, frustration, helplessness, irritability, tenseness, and emotional sensitivity, which can produce depression, anxiety or both. I was interested to learn that neuroticism could last for ten years in some cases and that it was particularly noticeable in the caring professions. I well remember the feelings of despair I felt when dealing with Karen. On many occasions I simply flaked out in an easy chair feeling totally run down, both physically and mentally, saying nothing, but thinking that this state of affairs could not go on.

I was also interested in the article's inference that cancer patients tended to be people who were loath to express anger to adults (type N), whilst those that expressed anger a lot (type A) usually suffered a coronary. Since I wanted to die from neither cancer nor heart disease, I searched for the middle road. Words like self assertiveness appeared. Well I thought, I had tried that, and look where it had landed me. Near the end of the article it suggested that neuroticism stemmed 'from the over activity of the autonomic nervous system which controls many of the involuntary reactions of the body. Was that a reference to my fits? The answers to my questions were to be long in coming. As things turned out, this article was of little use to me, as by then I had already had my trial.

Just why I carried on for so long at Gwalchmai, enduring the unendurable, whilst many men would have thrown in the towel many years before, stems from my stubborn refusal to admit defeat. I was not a hard fighting man, at least not physically. I only grabbed the dagger on that fateful day because it seemed to be the less violent thing to do. It never occurred to me that I might have to use it. I certainly could not bring myself to hit them with my fists. During my life I had been beaten up twice in unprovoked attacks by intoxicated individuals. On neither occasion did I fight back, as it simply was not in my nature. Now it is. As the years went by after the killings, I felt that my sane self was struggling to regain control. There seemed to be no lasting cure, and the nagging thought that my mind had been permanently warped kept reoccurring time and again. When my in-laws refused to be deterred, it was a devastating blow to me. I now realise that when deterrence fails to deter a fanatical enemy, it is only a matter of time before the ultimate weapon is used. I had been educated wrongly. I am certain that through Karen my in-laws knew the seriousness of my mental state, and like vultures, were prepared to wait. They never asked me about my health, which seems strange unless they intended to capitalize on it.

The incident resulting in the deaths of my in-laws, was I am certain, a systematically planned form of provocation, designed to have me put away. In these circumstances it can only be called entrapment, since I was presented with no safe alternative. After every move I made, they put me in check. It simply could not go on like that.

The killing of two unarmed middle aged people, by repeatedly stabbing them, one of whom had an arm in a sling, I find repugnant. There is no way that I could have committed these killings unless my mind was highly disturbed at the time. Just as when a cat fights back when it is cornered by a dog, so my subconscious exercised its inalienable right to defend my sanity, and possibly also my wife's freedom, since having devoted five years to looking after her, the bonds were very strong. She was more than my wife, she was my life.

Naturally I wish that the incident had never happened. Many times I have since wished that either I or my in-laws, had never been born. I do not believe that I was insane at the time that I killed my father-in-law. It was I believe, a combination of provocation and impaired thinking, otherwise known as diminished responsibility. In the circumstances surrounding the death of my mother-in-law, insanity appears to apply, and this I find most worrying, for I believe that at that moment something possibly irreversible occurred within my mind. For insanity to apply, three factors had to be present. These are;

1. That the killer was unaware of any conscious decision to kill.

2. That the killer had no feeling of guilt or retribution at the time of the offence.

3. That the killer was unaware of what he was doing.

All of the above factors were fulfilled as I was killing my mother-in-law. I do not believe that failing to remember this act was caused by intense feelings of guilt, since I felt none afterwards. I do not believe however that I was insane, since apart from those few seconds, I was always aware of what was going on around me, except during my fits. I also firmly believe that an insane act should be an irrational one. To kill either of my in-laws at that moment, was not in my opinion, irrational.

I have slowly come around to the conclusion that what I did was an act of self defence, protecting my own sanity through the use of orders originating from my own nucleic acids, the building blocks of the brain, the carriers of hereditary intelligence that control body function, immune system and self preservation. Acts of self preservation, such as the fear of heights, and the blinking of ones eye when someone's hand comes too close, are automatic, requiring no conscious decision making. This is however an hypothesis, since I am referring to matters currently on the cutting edge of medical science. On the other hand, it maybe that my incessant daydreaming, at times became so intense, that it outstripped the capabilities of the involuntary control functions of my brain. Who knows? The trouble is, no one apparently.

I am a seriously minded person, deeply disturbed by the direction the so called civilised society of the 1980's was heading. As productivity through increased automation climbed, so did the unemployment figures. As the world's trading systems fought to protect their own interests, the third world economies were pushed out into the cold, their overseas borrowings turning into crippling debts, stunting their capability to acquire high tech products and services from the developed world, exacerbating unemployment here. As the pace of an economy slows down, meanders and ultimately dries up, so society disintegrates, like the cracks in a dried up river bed. The number of serious crime convictions in the UK increased at the rate of eight per cent per annum, whilst half of adult male prisoners returned to prison within two years of their release, many of them because they were sick of the problematical society into which they were released. In the USA, according to figures released by the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five Americans suffer from some form of mental illness, whilst one in a hundred suffer from schizophrenia. I would not be surprised to learn that similar figures exist for British citizens.

Imprisonment in a long term British prison is less harsh. One can read almost anything, including pornography, watch television, video tapes, and films. Your laundry is done for you. You get three square meals per day without the problem of cooking it for yourself, let alone finding the money and buying it from a supermarket. In prison there is no one to look after, not even yourself in the main. The use of the gymnasium and sports fields is free. Basic education and training courses are available, along with the opportunity to pursue model making and chess, etc. Employment is freely provided, with no need to post numerous resumes and attend dispiriting interviews. In a society full of distrust, prison is a welcome relief, an excellent place for making lots of friends, provided you keep your belongings locked up and out of sight. You are never alone and the screws always make you feel wanted. If it was quieter, cleaner, better mannered and more constructive, then there is no doubt in my mind that I would go back there any day. To inmates who have known nothing better, prison is the equivalent of what a five star hotel is to me. Is it not surprising therefore, that imprisonment fails to deter.

To the dregs of society, and to many that are not, prison is not a terrible place that should be avoided like the plague. To many prison inmates, imprisonment is a fact of life, to the extent that they loose all interest in putting up a determined defence at their trial. Many regard imprisonment as an occupational hazard, which is accepted in the same way as going into a normal hospital. There is no doubt in my mind, that anyone who is long term unemployed, or a refugee from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somali, etc., would be better off in a long term prison. My only regret is that I was not able to experience such conditions at first hand. I was to become entrenched in the worst part of the British prison system. Had I known what fate had in store for me, then there is no doubt that I would have gone on hunger strike, or an IRA style dirty protest.

Without a doubt I was to become the exception within the prison system. From my exceptional vantage point, I was to see at first hand over a long period of time, how the Home Office treated prisoners on remand. I was to meet many infamous people during this stage of my sentence, and discuss their cases at length with them. During the entire period I was inside, I kept a diary, which was a continuation of the statement relating to my crime, which I wrote out for my solicitor. It filled six exercise books, and through a process of chance and perhaps fate, I was able to get it out of prison. It does not make pleasant reading.

The competence and caring nature of a government, can be ascertained by the state of that government's prison system, for only there will you find a microcosm of society, designed by and maintained by government. It reflects how a government really feels towards those that need its help, especially the unemployed, the aged, and the sick. This text is a glowing epitaph of the bloody minded, uncaring nature of successive British Governments.

God help us!

I arrived at Risley Remand Centre on Saturday, April 28th, 1984, after a long drive in a police car. As we approached it from the motorway, I felt nothing but curiosity. It had a high perimeter wall with a large diameter pipe structure on top, to render grappling hooks useless. We entered through the double gates, after the police credentials were checked. The car was then driven past the visiting hall and chapel, to prisoner's reception, where the vehicle was parked in a large square. With the reception buildings on my left and the main gate behind me, the cream coloured three story concrete building in front of me, was the hospital, where I would be incarcerated.

Behind the hospital were the prison wings for the adult male prisoners. The young person's wing (YP's), for males under eighteen years, was to the far right, adjacent to the hospital. To my immediate right, across the square, were the single storey administration buildings, whilst the tall building adjacent to them was the gymnasium, behind which in the far distance was the women's wing. Behind the chapel was the staff canteen, and behind the prisoners' reception was the prisoners' kitchens and stores, whilst behind the main prison wings was the new boiler house, still incomplete. Most of the buildings were of fairly modern construction, the place only having existed as a remand centre for not more than twenty years. Around the square were lawns and flower beds, which had the effect of lulling the visitor or new inmate into thinking that it was not such a bad place after all. It reminded me of a Nazi extermination camp.

I was taken into the prisoner's reception area, handcuffed to a police officer. I was signed over to the prison staff, after which I went through the standard procedure for new arrivals. I gave them my full name and address, and the fact that I had been unemployed. I was given my identity number, H19992, which I was to retain throughout my sentence. I was told to remove all of my clothes in front of prison officers, which I did. I was given a towel and told to get a bath. The only gripe I had with the police, was that they would not let me have a shower at the police station, even though they agreed to it in my presence. Maybe they thought it presented too much of a security risk. Anyway, it was not long before the dried blood in my hair and the gardening dust on my body, had well and truly been washed away.

After my bath I collected my prison clothes, size eight shoes, size thirty-two trousers and size fifteen shirt. The well worn trousers were too long, whilst the flies kept coming undone. Buttons on the shirt were also missing. In addition to the brown denim trousers, and blue and white stripped shirt, I was given a grey pullover, sleeveless vest, white briefs with the letters RIS stamped on them, a pair of grey nylon socks, and a black plastic comb. They were standard prison clothes. I would wear them for one week, after which I would collect a fresh set from the linen stores. The soiled clothes and sheets would go to the laundry, located at another prison. These clothes would then be returned to the stores for another inmate to wear next time. It was a far from ideal situation since many inmates had poor hygiene standards. Female inmates wore their own civilian clothes, whilst male inmates on the wings could wear there's, but where I was going, prison rags were compulsory. As with most other male inmates, I had instantly lost my identity. My own clothes had been put in a box for safe keeping. I was to need them for my remand appearances, trial, and hopefully, final release.

The next stage of the dehumanization process was the cage, a grubby room measuring about five metres square, containing four rows of fixed benches and a toilet in the corner. Opposite the grill door was a large window, made up of opaque glass blocks, over which was a steel grill. Inmates were kept locked up in there for hours at a stretch, until finally their names would be called. They would then be escorted by one prison officer, through numerous locked doors and along corridors, to either the adult male wings, the hospital, or through the hospital to the YP's wing. The waiting in the cage could take up to four hours, during which you were obliged to stay calm amidst upwards of fifty inmates, consisting mainly of young delinquents. I dreaded the place.

Finally, my name was called, "Allen!"

I walked over to the grill door.

"What's your number?" Asked the prison officer.

"H19992," I replied.

He checked his list. "Correct, Come with me," he said.

We walked along corridors, known as landings in prison, through two or three locked doors, then we were there, in the hospital. I was handed over to hospital officers, who were sitting in the main office on the ground floor. Whilst working, the hospital officers wore white coats, in contrast to the dark uniforms they came to work in. The only difference between these uniforms and those of the ordinary officers, here after known as the screws, was the letter H on their epaulette's.

There was an odour about the place. It was the smell of urine and excrement. I was to spend the next two nights in a ground floor cell, on my own. The cell walls were filthy, and the blankets stank. The large cell windows, two metres high along the entire length of the outer wall, afforded an excellent view of the lawns and flower beds bordering the square. The cell was a three metre cube, with cream walls and a wide light blue steel door, which had a barred hatch. The cell contained a tubular steel bed, having steel mesh instead of springs. On the bed was a foam mattress and two blankets. The pillow was missing. There was also a tubular chair and a high wooden locker with Formica top, at which I stood to eat my meals. In the corner of the lino floor, was a plastic chamber pot with lid. The walls throughout the hospital were reinforced concrete. All the windows in the hospital were the same. They were polycarbonate or acrylic, supposedly unbreakable, set in steel window frames. The steel bars on the windows were spaced every one hundred millimetres and made of twelve millimetre square steel section. The outer doors of the building were in pairs and kept locked at all times. Each member of staff had his or her own set of keys, on a long chain secured at the waste. In the main ground floor office was kept the riot gear.

The hospital plan was shaped like a letter T. On the ground floor of the two opposing wings was located the closed wards, in one of which I was initially detained. Each closed ward consisted of ten ordinary cells and three unfurnished cells, known as stripped cells. In each stripped cell, which was three metres square, there was one mattress on the floor, and one cardboard piss pot in the corner. The floor was red, whilst the walls had a rough cream finish. There was a window high up on the outer wall, made up of opaque glass blocks. This wall was in fact an inner wall. Between the usual outer wall and the inner wall, was a radiator, which conducted its heat through a perforated steel plate set in the inner wall. This made it impossible for the occupant to damage the heating system. The steel door was the usual blue, incorporating an armoured glass observation slit. A stripped cell is stripped of all but the barest essentials.

Troublesome inmates were kept in these cells, naked. Some for a month or more. Thick rip proof grey blankets were provided, and occasionally brown nylon shorts or smock. This clothing was usually reserved for drug addicts who could behave unpredictably whilst being dried out. One of the stripped cells on each closed ward had double overlapping doors and a sunken floor, to prevent 'liquids' flowing under the door and onto the landing. Also, in each closed ward there was a bathroom containing one bath, a wash room containing four hand basins, a urinal, two flush toilets, each cubicle having a door only one metre high affording little privacy, and a sluice, down which the cleaning buckets and chamber pots were emptied. Each ordinary cell had a push button mounted on the wall linked to an alarm board in the ground floor office. The stripped cells had a buzzer and red light mounted outside the cell door. Each cell had white and orange lights, for evening and night respectively. The occupant of an ordinary cell could switch these lights on and off at will, provided the flap on his cell door was open. Occupants of stripped cells had no such option. One of their lights would always be on.

On the Sunday afternoon, within twenty-four hours of my arrival, I was interviewed by the assistant medical officer, Dr. Shrink. The doctor's offices were all on the ground floor of the third wing. I sat in an ordinary chair in front of his desk as he asked me questions about myself, and the crime. The interview lasted about an hour.

"You will find that there is nobody here who is going to beat the hell out of you, for what you have done. You maybe surprised to learn that," Dr. Shrink said.

Frankly, it never crossed my mind that anybody would. I had never considered my actions as being anything other than self defence. A view which I still have.

"There is no longer any death penalty for murder in this country," the doctor then said.

Quite frankly, I was reassured to hear that, as it had been nagging away at the back of my mind. I do not think that the death penalty could have deterred a crime like mine. Had the death penalty existed, then I think I would have dispatched a few more people to the other world,.I most certainly would not have given myself up. Reintroducing the death penalty for the killing of prison officers, police and 'sickening' crimes, would not have helped matters, as at the time of the killings, I was not in a state of mind capable of differentiating the finer points of British Law. The death penalty will never deter a killer whose mind is highly disturbed, or confused, which just about covers all killers. Some of the nicest people I was to meet, turned out to be killers.

One of the first questions Dr. Shrink asked was, "Do you know where you are?"

"Yes," I replied, "Risley Remand Centre."

"And what's the date?" Dr. Shrink asked.

I had to think a bit harder for that one, as when you have been on the dole for a long time, all the days seem the same. You have no need for dates, only the knowledge of when your next signing on date is.

"Sunday, April 29th, 1984," I replied correctly.

The question was not as difficult as I first thought, as upon my arrival at Risley I had been given a letter sheet, with the address of the remand centre stamped on it, and my arrival date written on it. I was not sure whether Dr. Shrink was trying to ascertain if I was thick, a liar, or both. The thought did occur to me that the doctor might be stupid, but I dismissed the idea. All the answer seemed to prove was that I could read. I was never given a proper intelligence test, probably because the doctors were soon in receipt of a police report on me, which probably included my resume, which mentioned my recent TOPS courses. Many inmates were however given such tests. In one of these tests the doctor would give the inmate an orange snooker ball.

"That's an orange, I want you to peel it for me," the shrink would then say.

The standard reply to this would be, "Well I'll peel it, if you eat it."

We always made sure that new arrivals knew that one. During my initial interview, I found the doctors attitude slightly hostile at times, but I later learned that a doctor trained in psychiatry will change his mood, in order to achieve a particular response from the inmate.

Like the police questioning, the questions from Dr. Shrink, and about a week later by Dr. Shrunk, I found too restrictive, being based on already known facts. They never came straight out and asked me whether I thought I had any form of mental illness, or had displayed any weird symptoms. Considering the behaviour of some inmates I was to meet, mental and social problems ranked highly in their reasons for being behind bars. I was to come across many inmates who could not converse intelligently, neither could some of them speak clear colloquial English. What hope had they of getting through to the doctors, I thought. It must be bloody impossible to make a proper psychiatric examination at times.

Half way through the interview Dr. Shrink asked me about my garden. I described to him the layout, and listed the plants in it, including the moisture loving plants around the fish pond.

"What sort of fish have you got in it?" Dr. Shrink asked.

"Oh, gold fish, shubunkins, golden orfe and some koi-karp," I replied.

As soon as I mentioned koi-karp, he sounded enthusiastic. Evidently Dr. Shrink's hobby consisted of breading koi-karp. He had a large water tank which filled the best part of his garage. In this controlled environment he bred his koi-karp, taking them to shows around the country. His fish evidently cost hundreds of pounds. He had obviously put a lot of money and effort into his hobby, and certainly knew his stuff.

I could never have afforded such a pastime, unfortunately. I came away from the interview thinking that he was not such a bad chap after all. Unfortunately, we never got down to discussing the really important facts about my case. I went back to my cell thinking that my quiet nature had got the better of me. Must try harder next time, I thought, or you are going to be put away for a long time.

The psychiatric examinations I went through at Risley Remand Centre were, I found, a bit of a let down. I had visions of lying on a couch in a dark room, listening to some soft Harley Street patter, sounding much like Herbert Lorn, the actor in the television series 'The Naked Jungle.' In reality, it was nothing like that. I was later to learn that psychiatry had been replaced by drug therapy, which was all right provided the doctors had sussed out what was wrong with you, and knew exactly what drug to give you. Interviews always took place with me seated at a chair in front of a desk, much like applying for a job. Since I was hopeless at job interviews, I knew that it would be very difficult for me to put myself across to the doctors, with the added stress of knowing that the stakes were even higher. It later surprised me to learn that many inmates gave up at this stage. They had gone through so much trauma that they look upon imprisonment as a long rest.

One of the questions that psychiatrists like to ask is, "Do you hear voices?"

Not being offered an example of what they meant, made it difficult to answer in my case. I have never heard voices. I have never had a split personality, and have never received messages from God. I had noticed that in the year prior to the killings, I did talk a great deal to myself, particularly in the bathroom. I have long conversations with myself in my mind, I think I can safely say that I think too much, but speak to others too little. If I was not thinking of my own problems, then I was thinking of the problems of mankind. Cut off from friends, and unable to have an intelligent serious conversation with my wife, I had resorted to the last resort, talking to myself. Afraid that this really might be the first sign of madness, I simply told the psychiatrists that I definitely did not hear voices.

Another question the doctors asked was, "Have you had an obsession?"

"No," I replied.

The next morning, I decided to clean the entire cell after slop out. I was doing an excellent job, cleaning the walls and floor, when the staff came to see me during their morning visit. A senior officer looked at me cleaning the walls.

"How do you feel?" he asked.

"All right," I replied.

The senior officer then turned to the hospital officers present.

"He can go upstairs today," the senior officer stated.

The other officers nodded in agreement. Later that day, I carried my sheets, pillowcase, towel, etc., up to A ward on the second floor. Upon my arrival I presented my identity card to the hospital officer. The only thing marked on my card was my surname and number. This information was marked up on the board in the ward office, against my bed number. I was allocated bed number three, five metres from the ward office and adjacent to the dining area, above which on a shelf, stood the colour television set. There were about fifteen inmates on the ward, and the atmosphere was, apart from the occasional incident, friendly.

Little did I realise how worse off I would eventually be by going upstairs.




Chapter 6




The Troubled Mind




The troubled mind before the doctor sits,
Wanting an answer to all these fits.
Never knowing what the doctor thinks,
A plausible tale, or does the story stink?

The troubled mind before the doctor sits,
Scratching his head, does he have nits?
Looking down at the floor,
Wondering when can I exit through the door.

The troubled mind before the doctor sits.
Twirling thread between fingers, he nervously knits.
Legs crossed, then straight, fidgeting to and fro,
The doctor asks questions he needs to know.

The troubled mind sits in his bare filthy cell,
Oh God, when will there be an end to all this hell?

The troubled mind before the doctor sits,
As the story unfolds in little bits.
Not knowing what's important, nor irrelevant,
The doctor probes to find what's prevalent.

The troubled mind before the doctor sits,
And in depressing tones recalls from the pit,
Tears fall upon both quivering cheeks,
As the last drop of manhood speaks.

The troubled mind before the doctor sits,
Recounting hit, after hit, after hit.
Neurotic depression, anxiety neurosis,
The doctor scrawls out an initial prognosis.

The troubled mind before the doctor sits,
As the shrink puts aside his pipe now lit.
I think there are a few points still outstanding,
“It's necessary to know how much you had a hand in.

The troubled mind before the doctor sits,
Whilst the doctor consults his head shrinking kit.
Psychosomatic, dyspepsia, osteoporosis,
All help to reach a final diagnosis.

The troubled mind sits in his bare filthy cell,
Oh God, when will I get well? When will I get well?

In addition to the two closed wards on the ground floor of the hospital at Risley Remand Centre there were three open wards above them on the north-south wings. 'A' ward was on the north wing, with stores and offices below on the first floor. On the second floor of the south wing was B ward, with C ward immediately below on the first floor. A and B wards were the noisiest. C ward being reserved for the physically ill and injured. All the open wards were the same size, having the same layout and furnishings. Each ward measured ten metres by seventeen metres, approximately. The windows ran the entire length of the two longest sides. They were of the same design as those in the ordinary cells on the ground floor. There were no curtains on any of the windows in the hospital. The doctor's offices and consulting rooms had the luxury of window blinds. There were twenty-two beds in each ward, although usually only fifteen would be occupied at any one time. Between each bed was a wooden locker. The wooden lockers and steel beds were of the same design as those in the closed wards.

In the dining area were four tubular dining tables, each with four tubular chairs, of the type you would expect to see in a school. There were also two similar tables with chairs further along the ward, used primarily for playing cards and other games, whilst other inmates were watching TV. Also in the dining area were ten easy chairs, for use whilst watching the television, or for catching up with some badly needed sleep in the morning. Behind the dining area was the wash room, which was the first thing one saw upon entering the ward. It was identical to those on the ground floor. Before reaching the ward office, were the two bathrooms, opposite the wash room, each containing one bath. There were no showers, except for the staff. Between the two bathrooms in A and B wards were the linen stores and an office. Each inmate was allowed one bath per week, though some like myself had more, whilst others tried their damnedest not to get wet at all.

On the first floor of the east wing, above the doctor's offices, were the consulting rooms, which the staff used to kip in, up until 3am, and no doubt at other times too. Opposite these rooms were the dentistry, dental waiting room, education officer's office and radiography room. Above this, on the second floor of the east wing, was the EEG room and welfare officer's office. The pharmacy was situated outside C ward. On each floor outside the wards, was a servery for the inmates. The staff servery was on the first floor, opposite the inmates servery. Few staff used the staff canteen, either because they did not like the meals served there or because of the unsocial hours they worked, so the staff would bring their own food and beverages for heating and eating in the hospital.

The hospital was manned by about ten hospital officers during the day, plus two or three doctors. At night the place was manned by one hospital officer and four night watchmen, for want of a better word. There would be one night watchman locked in with the inmates on each open ward, and another night watchman and the hospital officer in the ground floor office.

The routine was the same each day. The lights were switched on between 6-45 and 7am, every morning. You made your bed almost as you pleased. There was no boxing of blankets as at some prisons. Inmates then got washed and had a shave, after calling in at the office to collect their razor. At this time each inmate had his own razor blade, replaced weekly, which was kept in a canvas pouch in the office. The hospital officer would lock the blade into the razor, and after use, was returned by the inmate for disassembly. During shaving we used four ordinary mirrors, which were later locked up after use. For the rest of the day we used aluminium mirrors, which contained no glass. These quickly got scratched and were then replaced. Later, as a result of hepatitis amongst the drug addicts in the hospital, the staff decided that the practice of replacing razor blades led to the unacceptable risk of cuts from contaminated blades, so disposable razors were introduced. During the latter part of my sentence, the aluminium mirrors were withdrawn, probably for security reasons. It took the best part of an hour for everyone to get a wash and shave.

Breakfast was at 8am. We would troop out to the servery, clutching our plastic mugs and cutlery, then troop back to the dining area with our meal on a plastic plate. Plastic bowls were available for porridge, etc. After each meal, food scraps would go into a bucket by the grill gate, which was kept locked at certain times of the day. The steel grill gate was located at the entrance to each ward. The plastic plates were stacked near the bucket, after which we would then wash our own mug and cutlery. Each inmate kept his own mug and cutlery, since some inmates would abuse them, by biting the plastic knives and forks, and putting holes in the mugs. Anything to relieve the monotony. After breakfast came cleaning time, at around 9am.

Everyone fit enough, who did not have a job elsewhere, would turn to and scrub the ward floors. It did not take me long to realise that cleaning the wash room and bathroom floors, together with the recess in between with a mop, was a far more dignified occupation, and hence appealed to me more, even though it involved more work. It also provided me with meaningful exercise, for although there was a gymnasium, no hospital inmate was allowed to use it. I was told by an inmate of an incident that had taken place sometime before. As the inmates were returning to the hospital one day, it was discovered that a prisoner was missing. The staff went back into the gymnasium to find the inmate trying to hang himself from the wall bars. Since then the gym staff had refused to take hospital inmates, except the odd one requiring therapeutic exercise for injuries.

After cleaning the ward, came the cleaning of the stairs and ground floor landing. This was accomplished in about five minute's flat, if there were no staff standing over us. Occasionally we got called back to do it again. It did not pay to be keen, otherwise you found everybody slinking off, leaving muggins to clean a huge floor on one's own. Many of the inmates could not keep themselves clean, let alone a hospital. Cleaning huge areas of floor with a bucket of soapy water, cloth, green scouring pad and scrubbing brush I found to be an exercise in futility and degradation, rather than cleanliness. There were no mechanical floor cleaners in the hospital, and no lift to get them from floor to floor either, only a dumb waiter for lifting the food urns up to the serveries. The ground floor landing got dirty because it was used as the main thoroughfare from the reception and main wings, to the YP's wing. It was also used from all wings to the dentistry. The hospital was definitely not a quiet place as I was to discover.

After cleaning the stairs and ground floor landing, the rest of the morning was spent doing whatever you liked, bar escape. Chess, cards, draughts, reading books and newspapers, and writing home were the main pastimes. Each ward had a book case full of novels, but since I did not like reading fiction, I would either read a serious newspaper, or write out my statement to my solicitor in a couple of exercise books.

This statement took at least a month to write out. I then handed it to him on one of his visits. He then showed a marked reluctance to let me have a copy. The copy was only sent to me after I showed a marked reluctance to sign a document, or agree to give my consent to something. This statement I then expanded. Written into a red foolscap writing pad, which my mate Bill had sent me. It eventually covered eighty-two sides. There is no doubt that my writings helped me to pass the time, and after my trial spurred me into keeping a diary of the events I saw around me. Had I been given the opportunity to do meaningful work, or had the conditions been suitable for the studying of employment related qualifications, it is doubtful whether the diaries would have been written, thereby saving an awful lot of embarrassment all round. As it was, I was simply too doped up to study anything, except the futility of my surroundings. As for work, there were no workshops in the remand centre. What jobs there were, usually in the kitchens, were reserved for inmates brought in from other prisons, who were close to completing their sentences. The conditions at Risley Remand Centre were considerably worse than in a long term prison. This was reflected in the fact that most inmates served less than three months on remand before being moved on to a proper prison. Even killers only served about six months on remand, before being transferred immediately after their trials.

Lunch came at about 11am. The lunch was on compartmentalized metal trays, since it was a three course meal, with much to carry. After lunch, inmates could lie on their bed, until the television was turned on at 1am. The television would not be switched off until lights out at 10pm, although the official time was 9pm. At weekends the TV was switched on at around 9am. This meant that during a weekday the television was on for nine hours, whilst during the weekend it was on for thirteen hours. The television would therefore be on every day of the year, with the exception of days when the entire ward was being punished for doing something naughty. Those days I would end up praying for after my trial, as by then I found the noise too great to bear. I rarely watched the television since there were few decent programmes scheduled, and those that were, were generally on the other side when the time came. I did not like watching soap operas. I much preferred to watch something educational, like a good documentary or current affairs. Unfortunately, most of the television viewers on the ward, preferred to watch a programme in which their minds would drift into a world of never never. Never the trial, and never the sentence.

Dinner, for want of a better word, would like all the other meals, be collected by escorted inmates from the main kitchen. This was some distance away, behind the reception area. The meals, contained in large urns and trays, would be man hauled in trolleys to the hospital, then lifted up the dumb waiter to the required servery, arriving at about 4pm. For many, after dinner it was six hours of television. I regretted the fact that there were no separate TV rooms in the hospital, as the incessant noise got on my nerves. Other inmates would spend hours decorating envelopes and letters with cartoon characters. During the period leading up to my trial, if I was not writing, then I was playing bridge. We were fortunate at this time in having four inmates on the ward who were intelligent enough to understand the game, plus Mr. Pluto, a hospital officer. These good times only lasted until the end of my trial. After that the noise, filth and pointlessness of the place, wore me down to the extent that I did not want to get involved in anything.

The day staff, who came on at 7am, would hand over to the night watchman at 8-45pm. At 8-30pm medicines would have been handed out, including my Prothiaden. Some inmates had medication three or more times each day, on a voluntary basis. For many of these it was a choice of taking the medication, or staying locked up downstairs. Most chose 'Dallas', one of the more popular soap operas.

At 10pm the television finally went off, and the four orange night lights came on. There was no real need for the orange night lights, since the floodlights outside lit up the ward, almost as bright as day. It was not pleasant lying in bed with one of these lights shining directly at you. I would bury my head under the sheets, lying on my side. Eventually my shoulder would hurt and I would then have to turn over. The snoring, flatulence, cigarette smoke, the smell of the night watchman's cooking, or the sound of his radio, or the sound of the shouting and howling between the wings, all ensured that sleep was short lived. Occasionally there was banging from some lunatic on the ground floor.

Breathing in a ward full of cigarette smoke I found impossible. For some reason the inmates had a tendency to close the windows at night, no doubt to deter burglars. I would keep my window open, but without another open on the opposite side, there could be no through ventilation. Whenever possible, I would leave a window open in the wash room, but invariably someone would close it. I would then get up and open it again. It was a game of cat and mouse. There was no ducted central heating, just radiators which some inmates in the cells on the ground floor delighted in banging at night. There was no rest for the wicked in Risley.

There was an absence of sound deadening materials in the ward. The partitions at every forth bed, were made of wire reinforced glass. They neither reduced noise, nor increased privacy, neither did they seem to fulfil any other function. The noise from the television was just as loud at the far end of the ward as it was in the dining area. The reason for me being brought upstairs to an open ward, was to observe me. All relevant matters concerning my behaviour, would be entered into the occurrence book, by the member of staff on duty, be it a hospital officer during the day, or a night watchman at night. The doctors would then read the occurrence book, and based upon this and their own observations at interviews, compile a report for the court. If necessary the judge could read the occurrence book at the trial. The hospital had no facilities for conducting operations. It was therefore not a hospital in the true meaning of the word. In reality it was a top security observation wing, as secure as any top security prison, but without the long term facilities for prisoners.

There was nothing to look forward to in Risley, except visits and being released. Few inmates in the hospital were ever released from there. They were usually convicted, assuming that they were fit enough to stand trial, then sent to either a mental hospital, or the Hornby Hotel, the nickname for Her Majesty's Prison, Hornby Road, Walton, Liverpool, an allocation or distribution prison, where they would usually spend about three months before being transferred to a long term prison, to serve the rest of their sentence.

Interviews were also worth looking forward to, in the hope that they would bring to an end the eternal waiting. A week or so after my arrival at Risley Remand Centre, I was interviewed by the senior medical officer Dr. Shrunk, in his office. I sat in front of his desk. Behind me was an aquarium containing koi-karp, whom I regarded as greater prisoners than I, since they should have been in a larger tank. Dr. Shrunk was an elderly man. He qualified in psychiatry in Glasgow, as did Dr. Shrink I believe. It was the usual job interview. He asked me many questions, but they never seemed to hit the mark. Finally in despair the doctor began to bring the interview to its conclusion.

"I'm sorry but there doesn't seem to be any way I can help you," said Dr. Shrunk.

For God's sake say something, a little voice seemed to say inside me. It was now or never.

"I don't wish to get you into trouble, but I think there's a few things you should know," I said in a desperate voice.

I blurted out all the problems I had had, and described all my medical symptoms. I was never to know whether what I told him made sense or not. After telling him everything that sprang to mind, I dried up.

"Thank-you for telling me all this. I hope you feel a lot better as a result, and I will obviously be taking this matter further. I'll definitely be seeing you again," Dr. Shrunk informed me.

It was the way in which my first two interviews at Risley were conducted that convinced me that only by writing out a long detailed statement would anyone understand why it happened. I set to work on it immediately.

Not even the meals were worth looking forward to. They helped to break up the daily monotony and kept one occupied for fifteen minutes, but they were the only highlights of the day. Most inmates ate fast, almost like pigs some of them. It did not pay to look at the meals for too long, in case the sight of it spoiled your appetite. As it was, I never felt hungry in that place, as I am sure my stomach developed an aversion for food. The only meal that was worth looking forward to was chicken on a Sunday lunch time, but even this was later replaced by sliced pork. Usually you could tell what day it was by the meal in front of you, as it rarely deviated from the standard menu.

The menu for a typical week was as follows:


The menu by itself does not look too bad. Remove the bread, potatoes and puddings, and what is left is very little. Looking at the breakfasts first of all, you will note that there is porridge every day except Sunday. The cornflakes failed to turn up that day because the inmates working in the kitchens would not hand out enough to go around. And the staff turned a blind eye as usual. The porridge failed to turn up on the Wednesday, not that it was missed much, as it tasted like cardboard. Less than a third of inmates ate it. The boiled eggs always tasted of chemicals, and for that reason I refused to eat them. They were obviously rejects, unfit for normal consumption, or were chemicals deliberately added, designed to reduce one's sex drive? The bacon was of the stringy type, not large slices. Jam consisted of one dollop on the side of your plastic plate. The cornflakes were usually of good quality and everyone ate them, since it was the only time of the week that we would get milk. The sausages were small, full of fat with artificial colouring. I ate them wrapped in bread, like a hot dog, but there was rarely any mustard or sauce, which usually came in an open bowl. Hygienic methods were seriously lacking at Risley.

To drink, there was half a pint of tea, poured into your plastic mug at breakfast and dinner, whilst Friday lunch time was usually the only time of the week when we would have a quarter of a pint of coffee. The soup was also a quarter of a pint and very hot, I found that only half of the soups were worth drinking, the others I simply tipped away. We also had half a pint of tea to drink at supper time, which was usually around 6-30pm. With our mug of tea we would have either rock cake, short bread, sandwiches or sponge cake, depending upon what day it was. Total fluid intake came to less than two pints per day. Under normal circumstances a person requires three pints to make up for fluid losses from exhalation, perspiration and urination. People under stress require even more fluids. To make up the difference, inmates would supplement their diet with orange squash bought from the prison canteen on a Sunday morning, or received during visits. Dehydration was something that few inmates thought about prior to roof top protests.

The curry was good, but amounts were inadequate during the latter half of my stay at Risley. In fact the longer I stayed at Risley the smaller the portions of food became, often to the surprise of hospital officers. It was probably a case of bad budgeting, I thought. The programme of new prison building probably meant less money being spent on the running costs of existing prisons. This was to affect inmates and staff alike, and ultimately to cost the home office dearly.

The cabbage, bread and baked beans had inevitable consequences. It was bad enough having to listen to the television all day, without the sound and smell of flatulence as well. Some inmates and even certain members of staff, took this pastime to its extreme limits, as I was later to discover. Boiled liver was not particularly to my liking. Even the boiled eggs defied their shells being removed at times, owing to the way they were boiled. Someone told me that they were boiled the night before then heated up the following morning, which I found hard to believe, since it only takes three minutes to boil one. Anyway, the outcome was that the shells stuck to the yoke. I often thought that an inmate must expend more energy in removing the shell, than he was to gain in eating the egg. Gammon was good, with the odd piece of pineapple. These were normally on a Wednesday lunch time instead of the meat pie. The meat pie was excellent even though it was made from soya meat. The rice pudding was good, but I got sick of the sight of it eventually.

The best day for meals was a Friday, provided the curry was made well and there was enough of it. I looked forward to the coffee and peaches. The fried dinner was also good by the standards at Risley, though I was one of the few who ate black pudding. The salad on a Saturday afternoon lacked variety but was filling. I would normally turn it into a luncheon meat sandwich, and a cheese sandwich. Pilchards sometimes replaced luncheon meat. There was insufficient amounts of cooked fish, whilst steak only came around once every three months, as regular as clockwork. I detested the processed peas which were often hard and cold. I do not think that we ever had tinned garden peas. Usually the carrots were diced, dirty and detestable. As for cheese and potato pie, and corn beef hash, they should definitely have been replaced by something more healthier, as there was simply too much stodge. We never had lamb chops, and I can only recall having pork chop once, an incident which I will later refer to.

The sandwiches at supper time contained so little meat paste that you could not taste it, so I never had them. I also stayed away from the plain sponges which did nothing except bloat the stomach. The rock cakes were appropriately named, being almost as hard as Dartmoor rock. They were so hard that they hurt the bridge of my mouth, although they later improved and became quite nice. The meal that deserves my banana award was the Risley beefburger. It looked like cow-pat, smelt like God only knows, cut like a string bag, and tasted like,,,,,,

Well you didn't expect me to taste it did you?

I did actually swallow a couple of pieces, after which I refused to go anywhere near them. I am bloody certain it was 'minced rat a-la-sewer.' Whoever thought up that dish deserves to be tried for crimes against humanity. Fortunately the beefburgers only lasted about six months.

I well remember seeing my first meal at Risley. It was a salad consisting of a quarter lettuce, some radishes and a thick slab of cheese. Someone had literally gone chop-chop to the lettuce and I got one of the four pieces.

I could not understand why unconvicted people were subjected to such indignities. I wondered whether someone was fiddling the books, or was it that the Home Office really did not give a damn. I was eventually to learn that convicts in the kitchen were deliberately poisoning the food, and often swapping the designated menu for something less palatable, because they regarded all the hospital inmates as a lower form of life....sex offenders, etc. The supervising prison officers turned a blind eye. As the years went by, I was to learn that the average civil servant working for the Home Office, usually took the line of least work, unless someone was standing over them.

A society that believes that there is no alternative for offenders but imprisonment, in a country where over a third of all adult males have been convicted of a serious criminal offence, should back its beliefs with the necessary funding, which will prevent prisons becoming dehumanizing breeding grounds for resentment and further crime.

The crime figures released in the Home Office Report for 1985, were as follows;

Not including traffic offences, one in three males over the age of twenty-eight had committed a serious offence, for which they had been brought before the courts.

Most crimes were carried out by a hard core, five per cent of men, who had committed six or more offences by the age of twenty-eight years.

More than forty per cent of men would be classed as convicted criminals before they died.

One in eighteen women would turn to crime, not including prostitution or gold digging that is.

Only six per cent of prison inmates were first offenders.

These figures are without a doubt the epitaph of a failed society. You cannot tell me that four out of ten men have natural criminal inclinations. Increasing crime rates is a clear indication that there was something wrong with society and or the economy. And yet the government during this period preferred to act more against the criminal than against the causes. More prisons would be built, the police would become more numerous and better equipped, but the quality of society would not improve. Why?

By improving their detection and conviction capabilities the police would ultimately give almost everyone a criminal record. This was a retrograde step, since it would alienate the police further from the general public and create more fear within society. It was announced that year that the police national computer had stored in its memory:

UK Police National Computer Data

Data Type Quantity
Vehicle owners 35,000,000
Finger prints 3,500,000
Stolen & suspect cars 350,000
Wanted & missing persons 110,000
Disqualified drivers 300,000
Armed forces deserters 10,000
Criminals, including aliases 5,000,000

The police reports to the government on the state of the nation, were by and large ignored. There were to be no plans for establishing a full employment, leisure orientated society, not even amongst the opposition parties.

At this time I received a visit from my friends Bill and Brian. They were not impressed with the filthy reception area for visitors. I hate to think what they would have thought of the rest of the place. It was during that visit that Bill gave me the eighty leaf foolscap writing pad, which I was to use for my prepared statement, which I wanted to read out at my trial. It was only on the morning of the trial that I found out that I was not allowed to do this, although police are allowed to refer to notes. There is no way that I could have recounted everything from memory, let alone expect my queen's council (QC) to ask sufficient questions to cover every aspect of the case. I had learned how inefficient this method was when dealing with the doctors at the remand centre. Why then had not court procedures changed to allow for this?

It was not long before the interviews proper got under way, with the senior medical officer, Dr. Shrunk and a colleague of his, Dr. Shrank from Lancaster Hospital, who was to represent the defence. Dr. Shrank was a thin elderly man whom I believe was semi-retired. I cannot remember much about the interviews. I did recount the series of events that took place on the day of the killings, to Dr. Shrunk, which eventually brought tears to my eyes.

"Don't feel ashamed," he said, "there's many a man whose sat in that chair and done that, I hope it makes you feel better."

I recounted the events to a number of people in Risley, both inmates and staff. It was always traumatic for me. I do not think it made me feel better. I have a feeling that the doctors thought I had suicidal tendencies, as they were very easy going on me. Whether they actually believed that I had fits, I simply do not know. Despite my introvert nature, I do wish they had seen one, as I am sure I could have induced it. It would have been greatly reassuring to know that they at last believed me.

I found it much easier to write my thoughts down than answer questions at an interview. I remember one exchange that went wrong.

"What do you read?" Dr. Shrunk asked.

"New Scientist," I replied.

"You're interested in politics, are you?" Dr. Shrunk then asked.

"Yes," I said without thinking, "aren't most people?"

"No, not really," said the doctor after some deliberation.

After the interview I thought about this rather peculiar exchange of questions, then it struck me. I came to the conclusion that the doctor thought I had said, 'New Statesman,' a political magazine.

I cannot help thinking that for a preliminary interview at least, it would be better to seat the inmate in front of a VDU, and let the computer ask the questions. It may not have instinctive ability, but it should be far more user friendly, to those who can read and spell that is. For most people, it is easier to tell a machine about things you feel deeply ashamed of than it is to tell humans. It should prove less ambiguous. It would form a sound basis for later interviews with a doctor, whose time is often scarce and expensive. Such a programme was developed some years previously at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, by a Professor Joseph Weizenbaum, and doubtless other computer programmes exist. Just how many inmates would smash up the word processor is anybodies guess.

There is no doubt in my mind however, that to get across a large percentage of an inmates experiences to a doctor, requires a different approach to that that existed at the time I was 'inside.' There were only two resident doctors at Risley, to about sixty-five male inmates in the hospital, most of whom were in for reports. There were also a number of female inmates on the women's wing, of whom medical reports were also required. The doctors not only had to interview these inmates, often more than once, but as in an ordinary hospital, they were required to do their rounds in the morning, to deal with the physical medical problems as well. They were also required to travel to inmate's trials in order to give evidence. This could involve a two hundred mile round trip, with no guarantee that the giving of evidence would not be delayed until the following day. Including time lost for ill health and holidays, it did not leave much time for the doctors to devote to each inmate. Relief doctors were called in to perform unexpected duties, particularly at weekends, when there was usually no doctor on hand. There was always the danger that not enough time was devoted to an inmate, who had not the intelligence to express himself clearly, or who failed to recognize a medical disorder ,or its cause.

Within a month of my arrival at Risley my mother sent me thirty pounds, as I had told her that I found it difficult to buy all that I needed on my prison pay, which amounted to one pound fifteen pence per week. Unknown to me however, my solicitor had sent me fifty pounds on my arrival at Risley, I was unaware of this until shortly before I finally left the remand centre for the last time. Inmates were not allowed to carry cash. Inmates relatives sent cash or postal orders through the post, and it was then allocated to the prisoner concerned on a balance sheet, which the inmate could only gain access to by asking the hospital officer on duty in the main office on the ground floor, who would telephone those responsible in the administration block. It was a far from ideal system, which deprived inmates from knowing what was going on. The system whereby envelopes, parcels sent by post and bags of goodies handed over at visits, were opened and searched without the inmate being present, were open to abuse by dishonest prison officers. During the years I was to remain in prison, I got the impression that either the Home Office revelled in the fact that prisoner's property was being stolen, or that it was not the Home Office that was running the prisons. At no time was I given a list disclosing date received, items dispatched, and names of people who had sent items to me through the mail. I did know that staff had pilfered some of this, but the magnitude of it I am still ignorant of, even to this day. Other inmates were less trusting, as I was later to find out.

The canteen where inmates spent their wages and private cash, took place on a Sunday morning in the visiting room on the ground floor, near the main entrance. We would queue up along the wall, shuffling forward until eventually our turn arrived. Only during the period that I was actually on remand, could I spend my private cash. For this I would write out my list of requirements on a signed white chit, the pay register would be marked with the letters TPC (to private cash) against my name. After which I would then carry off my groceries. Later the system was changed, whereby the goodies were delivered to the ward a few days later in a wicker basket. The canteen supplied sweets, toiletries, biscuits and orange squash, also writing materials and tobacco. Since I did not smoke, it was a financial burden that I did not have to endure. Many inmates found it hard to live with their smoking habit in Risley, and that is putting it mildly.

Eventually my mother and stepfather visited me. Whilst on remand I was entitled to one visit per day lasting fifteen minutes, with the exception of Sunday. When convicted I would be entitled to one visit every four weeks, lasting half an hour. For this I would have to apply for a visiting order (VO), which would allow up to three adults plus children, to visit me at the same time. The VO with the names of the adults on it had to be posted to them, usually in a letter. Since my friends and relatives lived over a hundred miles away, it seemed such a long way to come for such a short period. I applied for extensions. Although these were granted by the assistant governor, in reality I was only allowed one. An extension added fifteen minutes to a visit. The visiting hall for open visits at Risley Remand Centre, was very large. The tubular tables formed a continuous line forming a large U shape, on the inside of which sat the inmates, whilst on the outside sat the visitors. There was no privacy, not from other inmates, other visitors, nor from the ever watchful screws, who stood at regular intervals on both sides of the tables.

Closed visits occurred on a Saturday, in a smaller room, near the prisoners' reception. In this room was a continuous line of booths forming another U shape. Inmates were separated from the visitors by a glass partition down either side of which were small holes through which a person had to speak. If you had more than one visitor, it was impossible for the second visitor to hear what the inmate was saying, as Bill and Brian found out when they came to visit me. When my parents visited me, I found to my disgust that I was not allowed to have the fruit cake which my mother had brought me. As far as the staff were concerned, all inmates in the hospital were on a diet. Some of them were, but the staff just could not be bothered to differentiate between those that were and those that were not. Also, hospital inmates were not allowed alcohol, as this could interact with the medication that some of them were receiving.

Inmates on the wings were allowed one pint of beer or cider, or half a bottle of wine each visit, but they had to drink it immediately after the visit. There was no saving it up for parties. I assume it was unenjoyable, drinking it in the drab surroundings of the prisoners' waiting room. Another perk the inmates on the wings had was the choice of wearing their own clothes, or prison gear. If you were serving a week or so for failing to pay a fine say, then this perk was great, but anything longer and you had to put in applications to get the clothes cleaned at your own expense, plus another application to get replacement clothes sent in. By far the biggest advantage of being on the wings was that you only had to share your cell with one other person, instead of the fourteen or more in an open ward. You were also allowed association every other day, in the recreation room, where you could play games or watch a video. Later on during my sentence I use to dream of being transferred over there, but luck was never on my side.

I did not really miss alcohol, as I only preferred drinking it in amicable surroundings. During my parent's visit, they went to see Dr. Shrunk in the hospital, after leaving me in the visiting hall. After being interviewed by him, they waited for me to be escorted back to the hospital from the visiting room, as they had a hospital visiting order to see me. I was obliged to wait at least half an hour before being escorted back to the hospital. This was typical of the time inmates had to hang around.

Hospital visits were definitely the best type of visit to have. I only had the one with my parents, which lasted about an hour. In the quiet of the hospital visiting room you could hear yourself think. I thought the day was going great, with two visits in one day, until my mother opened her mouth.

"Have you written out your will?" Mum asked.

I could not believe my ears. What had Dr. Shrunk told her I wondered. Had brain tumours been diagnosed, I kept asking myself. The thought was never far from my mind for at least the next twelve months. After my release my mother told me that there was no basis for the question. I was to get two more visits prior to my trial. The first of these was from my ex-girlfriend Jill and her husband lan, who had both come up from London via her parents home in Solihull, ninety miles away. Jill's visit will always be remembered for the fresh strawberries and bananas she brought me, it being the occasion of the tennis tournaments at Wimbledon at the time. The second visit was from my brother and his wife, who had come up all the way from Northamptonshire, a distance of one hundred and fifty miles. The visit took place shortly before the trial. The main topic of conversation centred around how to keep the whole affair out of the newspapers.

After being at the remand centre two or three months I was given my first EEG test. I had seen my wife undergo one at Dudley Road Hospital, Birmingham a few years previously, so I knew what to expect. Mr. Flight, one of the medical officers, conducted the test in the hospital at Risley. I was explicitly told not to wash my hair on the morning of the test, as the dampness could interfere with the results. The process of connecting the electrodes to the scalp was very laborious. About eight sockets were glued to each half of my head. An electrolyte gel was then injected into the socket, piercing the scalp. It did not really hurt. The painful part of the process came later. An electrode was then pushed into each socket. Each electrode was connected to the EEG machine via a wire. On top of the machine was a pen recorder, through which moving paper would record the pen fluctuations which represented electrical activity in various parts of the brain. The sensitivity of the pens could be adjusted through a series of knobs mounted in rows on the top of the machine. It took a few minutes to adjust the sensitivity of the signals being received, so as to pick up only those signals in the immediate vicinity, and to overcome as much as possible signal distortion, known as attenuation, as it crosses the amniotic fluid which surrounds the brain. The machine did not have the capability to tell what a person was thinking, only to indicate which parts of the brain were not functioning normally. Some of the sockets had to be stuck back into place before the test could begin however.

The EEG test seemed to take ages, but in fact only lasted about fifteen minutes. I was required to lie down on a couch. The curtains were drawn and a lamp was switched on in front of my face. I was required to lie motionless for ages, opening and closing my eyes, as ordered. Then the light would flash on and off like a strobe light. During the test I was required to keep my mouth slightly open, and not permit my tongue to come into contact with the bridge of my mouth, as this would give false readings from the front half of my head, I was told.

After Mr. Flight had performed the EEG, the painful process began. Each socket that had been carefully glued to the scalp, had then to be removed using solvent. It was not an easy process. For the next three days I was combing pieces of glue out of my hair, or should I say tugging them off my scalp along with pieces of hair. At the age of thirty-five and with a slightly receding hair line, I was deeply conscious of any hair loss. I did loose more hair than normal during my stay at Risley, which I put down to stress.

Although Mr. Flight could read the traces, he was not allowed to give me his interpretation of it. I cannot remember who, nor when, I was told the outcome. Evidently an abnormality in the temporal lobe region of the brain had been detected. This indicated brain damage probably caused by a forceps delivery during birth. It was probably why I found it difficult to remember peoples names, faces and pass exams. I was informed that a second EEG would be performed, at some time in the future, at a hospital near Lancaster. I was told that Dr. Shrank would supervise the next one.

About a month or two later I was taken in a prison van up the motorway to Lancaster. It felt good to get away from Risley. I was wearing my own clothes and no handcuffs. During the journey I was accompanied by Mr. Flight, whom I got on well with, as we shared a similar interest, aerospace. He was interested in civilian airlines, whilst I was interested in aerospace technology and space research. Shortly after departing the remand centre, he pointed out to me the golf club where he use to work as a groundsman. He had now worked at Risley for twelve years, much of it in the hospital. The trip up the motorway was uneventful. Upon arrival the hospital looked grand. It was set in large landscaped grounds which were a pleasure to see, with no high walls, razor wire, nor guard dogs to be seen.

I was told that the department had closed down for the day, just for me. I wondered whether I deserved such treatment. The electrodes were connected by a female nurse. The EEG machine was behind a screen, so I never saw it.

Dr. Shrank conducted the test. The first part of the test was similar to the one conducted at Risley Remand Centre. For the second half of the tests I had been required to shave off my side burns earlier that morning. Blue disinfectant was then rubbed onto both my temples. A twenty-five millimetre long insulated electrode was then pushed through all the layers of my skin, and deep into my head in the temple area, working its way between my cheek bone and the cranium. This process was repeated to the other temple. The purpose of this cannibalistic procedure, I was assured, was to enable clearer readings of brain function in the front temporal lobe region, where neurological damage was thought to reside.

The EEG continued with indiscernible whispers emanating from behind the screen. I felt like a laboratory animal, rigged up for some ghoulish experiment. After the test had been going on for sometime, it came to an abrupt halt. I thought it was all over. Mr. Flight then came on the scene, carrying his box of tricks designed to read blood pressure. The inflatable cuff was wrapped around my arm, then pumped up. I had been lying on the couch, in the darkness for ages, without being allowed to move a muscle. I took advantage of this interlude period to satisfy my urge to fidget. Through the darkness Mr. Flight peered ominously at the pressure guage.

"I can't find the blood pressure," said a distraught Mr. Flight.

That's right, I thought, I'm dead. They can all go home and I'll slip out the back way with a new identity.

I presume Mr. Flight did not know about my abnormally low blood pressure. The doctors were a little more persevering however. Finding a small flicker of life in the mercury tube, they proceeded to the next stage.

Out of the darkness approached Dr. Shrank, his quivering hand holding a hypodermic syringe. What's going on, I thought. Nobody told me about this. Down, down the needle descended, towards a vein in my left arm. I tried to say something but it came out in an unrecognizable mess. This is it, the lethal injection! The needle would not go in. Why didn't they let me have a last wish, I thought. At least I could have asked for a sharp needle. Finally, at the second attempt, the needle entered the vein, the unknown drug then entering the blood stream.

"You'll feel a bit sleepy afterwards," Dr. Shrank said.

Yes, I thought, like a thousand years, to be dug up by an archaeologist. The injection was in fact another method of obtaining those clear unambiguous readings. The drug was designed to lower my blood pressure. Since I already had low blood pressure, 110 over 70, the doctors had to make sure that it was not lowered too much, or it would never rise again. The blood that is. The agony of lying their motionless as the experiment continued, was almost unbearable. Finally the test came to an overdue end. I was unplugged, then wheeled into another room to sleep it off for an hour or two. We then returned to Risley. The blue dye on my temples stayed on for days despite frequent washing. After all that, I felt space qualified to become a life science experiment on a NASA space shuttle flight. And yes, those bloody needles did hurt!

The second EEG test confirmed the abnormality inside my brain. The doctors thought that the fits I was suffering from probably came from the temporal lobe region, and that the stressful thoughts I was occasionally subject to, triggered off these fits or paroxysms. I had been told that eighty-five per cent of people had something wrong with their brains, so what did it all prove? It was believed that the human brain had ten thousand million nerve cells or neurons. It is hardly surprising then that a few million could be damaged, during birth, in a car accident, or falling off a wall when a child, all of which had occurred to me. In fact, ten thousand nerve cells were believed to die naturally every day. Although nerve cells could not be replaced, duplication of function meant that surviving cells could take over the function of dead cells. In other words the brain is much like a transputer chip, designed with redundancy in mind. It may not be apparent that an abnormality exists in someone's brain until a stressful overload is sustained, resulting in a fit of some kind or other.

For me, observations did not end there however. It was normal practice for all mail, both incoming and outgoing, to be read by the staff. This served to gauge the inmates mind and sense the social background. The letters were also read for security reasons, and had to be opened anyway in case their was money inside. Inmates were not allowed to carry money as this could be used in an escape plan. No one had escaped from Risley since the perimeter wall had been erected, however. The occurrence book, that lifeline between doctors and their inmates, was a thick white covered book. Although I never read any comments in it, I do not think there could have been much about me. I spent most of my time sitting at my bed reading, writing, or picking my nose out of sheer boredom, and pacing up and down the ward. Tiger pacing I called it. Behind bars, I now knew how a tiger felt, particularly the anger it must feel inside.

When I was not writing my diary, or writing letters to friends and relatives, I would crave for a newspaper to read. The prison newspapers were stamped 'stage papers' for some reason. I would always be on the alert for a Guardian or Daily Telegraph. Later the Independent was launched. Only once do I recall seeing the Times. I rarely read any other newspapers. I was only interested in the serious stuff, which gave me hours of reading pleasure. Unfortunately, it did not do my eyesight any good, but at least it kept my brain occupied, and up to date with world affairs. Above all it helped pass the time. My mother and I corresponded once per week and I wrote to my friends every three months. There was not really much that I could tell them, as the situation would remain unchanged for a long time. The first occasion I wrote to them many found my circumstances hard to believe. Some failed to understand, and understandably drifted out of contact.

As an unconvicted prisoner I was allowed two standard prison letter sheets to write on per week. Each letter sheet consisted of a four page letter and envelope. A first class stamp would be stuck on the envelope, after it had been read in the main ground floor office. All letters were posted by inmates into a small red box, located on top of the radiator outside this office. The box was emptied by the staff each day, read then passed out, after the stamp had been put on. Unconvicted prisoners could also use their own stationary and stamps. They could send out any number of these letters provided they did not exceed four pages. Incoming letters were also restricted to four pages, as I found out when I got told off for receiving a letter from my mother which exceeded this limit. Later, as a convicted prisoner I would not be allowed to use my own stationary. I would be given one standard letter, and I was also allowed to buy two more standard letters from the canteen each week, from my paltry wages. Once convicted, private cash, that is money sent into prison and not earned, could only be used to buy Christmas cards, and batteries for radios, upon application to the governor. Radios however, were not allowed in the hospital. The television was bad enough.

Prison life was governed by rules for prisoners and prison officers alike. Upon entering the remand centre I was given a red booklet titled 'Information for Male Prisoners.' It did not seem to contain in its forty pages, things that I wanted to know, The minor day to day rules in the hospital were not contained in it. There were four main rules;

1, Keep off the beds from 7am to lunch time (11-30am), and from 1pm until after dinner (4pm).

2. Ask the ward officer for permission to have a bath.

3. Ask the ward officer for permission to go downstairs to post a letter.

4. Ask the ward officer for permission to switch on the television, or to change the channel based on a majority vote of viewers .(Unfortunately the majority were morons in that hospital.)

The last three rules were simply to enable the hospital officer to know where all the inmates were. When an inmate had a visit, this rule even extended to the screws who were required to come up to the ward and seek out the lucky inmate. Having found him, and prior to escorting him to the visiting hall, the screw would turn to the hospital officer and say, "One off!"

The red booklet told you little about visits, particularly the times. Even some of the hospital officers were unsure about that. Further information about visits and letters could be obtained from standing order number five, which I eventually got the librarian to deliver. I was not allowed to keep it, and attempts to buy a copy failed. I also was not allowed to see any of the other standing orders, which presumably were classified. Eventually, I got my hands on a fawn coloured booklet titled 'Communications in Prison' which gave a precis of standing order number five. The rules were quite extensive and worth getting to know.

Another useful booklet I acquired, at great difficulty, was called, 'Parole -Your Questions Answered.' It was based on the Criminal Justice Act 1967. I was not allowed to keep it, as it was so scarce at that time. There were probably other rule books which I never found out about. The assistance I was given by inmates, who had been through the system before, proved invaluable.

Apart from reading, writing, watching television, playing a game of cards, eating, sleeping, and attending visits from friends and solicitors, the only other way to pass the time, was to partake in exercise periods. If you were in an open ward you had no choice, since most of the staff were required to supervise in the exercise yard, as usually the hospital was short staffed, and few inmates could be trusted to be left in the ward on their own. If it was exercise period, then regardless of the weather, you went. Exercise period usually lasted an hour, and took place on average two or three times per week. The period of exercise invariably took place in the afternoon, usually commencing around 1-30pm. It took place in the courtyard which was bordered by the north and east wings of the hospital, a brick covered corridor on the third side, which linked the hospital with the wings, whilst the fourth side was enclosed by a high wooden fence topped by coils of razor wire.

There was a large square lawn in the middle of the courtyard, which took about a minute to walk around. Exercise consisted solely of walking around in circles. In warm weather the inmates sat in the sun, their backs to the wall that formed part of the covered corridor. They were also allowed to lie on the grass. After the first summer, sunny days were rare as the sun reached its solar minima. From the point of view of the weather, I did not feel that I was missing anything.

Each exercise period was supervised by about five members of staff, so if there were too many hospital officers off sick or on holiday, then exercise period could not take place. At times like these, prison officers from the wings did not want to assist in the supervision of hospital exercise periods, since there existed a strong bloody minded attitude within and between various sections of the prison staff. Many prison officers regarded working in the hospital as the lowest form of employment, and displayed abhorrence at the thought of coming into contact with someone who had a mental illness.

Exercise periods presented the opportunity to talk to inmates from other wards, and from the ground floor cells. It became a source of entertainment, watching the real loons. Insults and sarcastic remarks would be hurled down at them and us from the cell windows on the wings, which overlooked our courtyard. Most of the time I was not keen to go on exercise periods. The weather was often miserable, whilst I regarded the whole exercise as pointless, much preferring to pace up and down the ward. Exercising in the gymnasium would have been more meaningful. There was no swimming pool at Risley.

The only way I could really get away from it all was during remand appearances. I had a choice, I could elect for weekly or four weekly remand appearances. I chose the latter. I did not like the idea of going through the cage every week, with all the waiting that involved. But for that I would have gone weekly. In practice however, the four weekly remands took place every three weeks. The purpose of a remand appearance was to let the court officials, and ones own solicitor, know that the accused was still available and in good health. It also gave a solicitor the opportunity to converse with the accused. There were occasions when an inmate was unfit to attend a court appearance. This would require a medical report. Doctors were loath to report the excesses of certain officers, which were stimulated by the negative minded attitude of inmates, whose feelings of non co-operation were brought to the surface by the disgusting conditions in which they were kept. These disgusting conditions doubtless affected the attitude of hospital officers, for it had clearly affected the minds of some who had been there many years.

There were two remand appearances that I will particularly remember. I liked going to Anglesey. I saw more of Wales during those trips than I had during all of the four years I had been unemployed. At that time I could not afford to take my wife anywhere except to Bangor and Holyhead. As things turned out, I was to see more of Wales from prison, than anyone had bargained for.

On this particular day I was to make a remand appearance on the north side of Anglesey, not far from where my mate Allan lived and worked. We travelled in a hired Dormobile, driven by its owner. There was one prison officer in the front and two in the back, with us two inmates. I did not know it at the time but apparently none of the officers had been to Anglesey before. The driver had been there twenty years previously, but I was later to conclude that he had since had a brain transplant.

Leaving the prisoners' reception, handcuffed to my reluctant travelling companion, we battled through the exhaust fumes emanating from ten coaches and numerous mini vans and taxis, parked in the square. The drivers of these vehicles all seemed to try and be the first to leave Risley, after loading their passengers. This early morning battle, seen from the windows of A ward, was great fun to watch, especially if there was a collision, the square not being very big. There must have been at least a hundred and twenty inmates making remand appearances, or going for trials each week day. Being a non smoker, I found the exhaust fumes which drifted towards the hospital, decidedly unpleasant. Eventually we penetrated through the blue haze and main gate. Before long we were entering the green scenery of the surrounding countryside.

Everything went fine until we came to a roundabout at Llandudno Junction. I was in one of my dreams at the time, as were the prison officers. When I came out of it there was no longer the Irish Sea to my right, but a narrow river. I realised that we were now heading south, up the Afon Conwy valley, with Castell Conwy disappearing in the distance, instead of coming towards us. My fellow inmate was Welsh, so I thought he knew where we were going. I later realised that the prison officers, now awake, were having the same thoughts about the driver. We were heading towards Llanwrst, where I thought we were going in order to pick up another prisoner. Llanwrst however, came, then vanished out of the back window.

"Where are we going?" I asked the Welshman.

He just shrugged his shoulders. I was beginning to get worried. We were heading south. Why should I be worrying when we were heading towards extradition free Spain, I thought. The dormobile came to a sudden halt when it met the A5 highway at Betws-y-Coed. Which way would he go now, I wondered.

"I seem to have taken us a bit out of our way," said the driver, as the prison officers looked at one another, bleary eyed.

The next part of the journey proved to be a marvellous excursion through the mountains of Snowdonia and past the tranquil waters of Llyn Ogwen, all at tax-payer's expense. The Home Office cares after all, I thought. I enjoyed every minute of it. It was now six years since I had first driven along that road, taking in such a marvellous sight. I do not think the prison officers saw it that way, as they anxiously began looking down at their wristwatches.

Finally we reached the Bangor by-pass, which had been opened a few months before. I naturally assumed that the driver would use it but he did not. He had obviously not looked at his road atlas recently, assuming that he had an up to date copy. We headed into Bangor. So much for public works, I thought. We followed the old scenic route across the suspension bridge and onto Anglesey. I took a particular delight in seeing the yachts in the water below. I regarded this part of the island as the most picturesque part to live in, and loved seeing it every Saturday on my way to do the shopping with Karen.

On we drove, whilst I wondered what mistake the driver would make next. We headed towards the north part of the island. The road led straight to our destination and so did the road signs, but somehow the driver managed to drive straight past the port. Next stop, the Irish Sea, I thought. No surely he wouldn't. Suddenly the brain in the drivers backside woke up.

"I think we've past it," the driver said.

We turned around, found the village, and after getting lost in the one way system,,,,, I finally decided enough was enough, and if no one else was going to say anything, I would, handcuffs or no handcuffs. With firm direction, the driver eventually reached the police station. We were put in separate cells (not the driver unfortunately), where we had to wait for an hour or two, before the remand appearance was made. The cell was cold and dark, more like the dungeon in a castle. After a short period in there my solicitor, Mr. Roberts arrived. It was always a pleasure to see him, well at that stage of the proceedings anyway. He would ask me how I was and tell me what progress had been made in the case. Soon afterwards I was taken into the courtroom next door, where the remand proceedings would take place. It only took fifteen minutes at most to ascertain who I was, and to set another remand appearance date.

With my help we managed to get off the island using the new route. I was most impressed by the by-pass. Eventually this by-pass would form part of the coastal expressway which would take another ten years to complete and cover a distance of about eighty miles, from Chester to the Irish Sea ports. The tunnels through the cliffs near Penmaenmawr would test engineering skills to the full, whilst the tunnel across Aber Conwy would comply with environmental tastes. The only fact to be regretted was that since the completion of Wylfa nuclear power station, Tinto smelter, and Dinorwic pump storage power station, the expressway was now the only major construction project in the area. Government attitudes had changed greatly in recent years. The present government extolled the virtues of Victorian beliefs, whilst ignoring the fact that Victorian engineering skills linked and helped civilize the empire. Now those job opportunities were gone. The empire was no more.

Our trip back to Risley Remand Centre saw us reach the motorway without incident, and it was here that the driver made what can only be described as a comedy of errors. At that moment it was necessary for the driver to turn off the motorway, he failed to do so. He therefore decided to turn back at the next interchange, but when we reached it, making a normal U turn was not possible. Much to our horror, there was no roundabout. Instead the road took us for another mile or so to the local airport. By now I was passing the time, spotting aircraft. The prison officers were looking despondently at their watches again. No overtime allowed, I bet.

The gears were now grating harshly. I am sure the driver wished that he could follow the aircraft's example and rotate, as we headed down the slip road and back onto the motorway. By now the prison officers were looking at one another nervously, no doubt wondering if the driver was heading for a nervous breakdown. Well there we were heading back down the motorway, and yes you've guessed it, we drove past the correct interchange again, but at the next interchange the driver was taking no chances. He turned off the motorway somehow ending up in the back streets of Warrington, the driver having by now developed an allergy for motorways. More than once we nearly ended up in the Manchester Ship Canal. With four million people on the dole, why oh why did we get that driver, I kept thinking to myself. We were all being driven by now, though not the way the driver intended. If the guard in front had killed him, no jury in the world could possibly have found him guilty of murder.

The sun was getting low on the horizon and the sight of all those public houses which I had not seen for months, made me feel very thirsty. It was obvious that I had missed evening dinner, and I was not hopeful of getting back before supper. By now the prison officers were no longer looking at their watches. Their faces were a blank stare. They were obviously overcome by all the new places they had seen that day. I had no idea where we were, as the only time I had been there before was on a ship, sailing up the canal to the oil refinery at Stanlow. I was pretty certain the vehicle could not float even with all the light headedness. The gears grated again and again, whilst street names, and more importantly the names of public houses, flashed before my eyes. We were lost in Greenhall Whitley land, the name of the local brewery. It was like a mirage in the desert. You could see it, but you did not stand a cat in hells chance of drinking any of it. Finally the caravan headed out into the desert. Sorry, I mean countryside. On and on we went until the overpowering white walls of Risley could be seen on the horizon, like a scene from Beau Jest. We did get home for supper and because of our late arrival, I did not have to go into the cage before being transferred to the hospital. It had been a nice day out for all. Thanks taxpayers!

The only other trip I remember in any detail was my journey to Beaumaris, to make my final remand appearance, known as a committal. Remand appearances took place at numerous magistrates' courts, the exact one depending upon where in the circuit the magistrate was holding court on that particular date. A committal is where all of the prosecution's evidence, from witnesses, police, social services, and the forensic department are handed over to the court. The defence council then get the chance to see a copy, in order to prepare their case for the trial. Beaumaris court house was a foreboding place, built in the nineteenth century at the same time as the local gaol, which was no longer used for such a purpose and had become a tourist attraction. A few months later prison officers from Risley attempted to hand over an inmate to the staff there, much to everyone's amusement. My solicitor told me that the court house was the only one where the jury sat looking down at the judge. Across the road was the castle with its fine battlements and moat. Unquestionably, it was a beautiful place for a holiday if you liked travelling around, seeing places steeped in history. I was certainly getting the full tourist treatment.

It was not the castles, neolithic mounds, museums or fine countryside that made this trip memorable. It was two women. I had been in Risley three or four months with virtually no female to talk to, let alone chat up. At Risley, there was a female dental assistant, the welfare officers were female I think, and so was the woman working in the dispensary. None of whom I fancied. Further afield, one could see the office staff walking past the hospital at 9am, and of course half a dozen female inmates would tow their food trolley to the kitchens each meal time, passing about forty metres from the hospital. A closer analysis during trips to the visiting hall, revealed most of them to be a real poxy lot.

In a rented dormobile, returning to the remand centre from Beaumaris, we called in at Colwyn Bay police station. It was there that we picked up a female prisoner and escorting policewoman. They sat in the front. The female prisoner had her feet on the dashboard most of the way, which must have distracted the driver. We called in at Mold crown court, from which point the two females came and sat in the back. The female prisoner sat next to me, whilst the policewoman and her male colleague sat opposite. In the time I had spent in Risley I had seen many policewomen but none as beautiful as this one. I would gladly have surrendered to her arms.

The female prisoner was also attractive, and wore a jump suit with zips all over it. I can still see it now in my mind. Being a caring sole I asked her what she had done wrong. She told me that she had been caught trying to cash a stolen building society pass book. My naive outlook never once questioned this explanation. I felt very sorry for her, particularly as her husband was also inside, and her baby in care. She asked me how long I had been in Risley. I told her, four months. She looked at me very sympathetically, whilst I leered at her. I knew what she was thinking, and she knew that I knew. And there sitting opposite us were two members of the police. Well that's life. She came from the smoke and her name was Helen, the same as my deceased mother-in-law, I remarked. The policewoman offered me a Rowntree fruit pastel, no doubt as a consolation prize. There were stars in front of my eyes until she told me that her name was Karen, the same name as my wife. I did not ask the policeman sitting next to her what his name was, as I was already a bit overcome by the coincidence. We somehow got back to Risley without meeting phantom highwaymen, nor struck by lightning bolts. I cannot help thinking that it was more than a coincidence, and I will never forget the woman I thought was too nice to be a policewoman.

In the mid 1980's the British Government tried to introduce female hospital officers into British prisons. Quite frankly I never saw a prison fit for male inmates, let alone female staff. I cannot imagine many women wanting to work in an environment containing pornographic pictures and lurid graffiti on cell walls. Seeing men masturbate and defecate. Hearing men making lewd remarks, not to mention the ever present risk of being assaulted. The only reason why there were female probation officers operating through the prison welfare department, was because they were seconded from their local probation office to do a two year stint in prison as part of their work experience. I do not think they would have done it otherwise. Looking at the problem from the point of view of the inmate, something which the Home Office seemed to be incapable of doing, we see that the main cause of medical problems is stress. This stress was caused by noise and lack of privacy in the main. By introducing more women to the equation, you reduce the amount of privacy to the level of that of an animal in a zoo. Some might say that that level had already been reached.

The introduction of female officers was an attempt to instil a civilizing influence in staff and inmates alike. There was no consideration of the dehumanising appearance of the buildings, nor the deep seated neurosis of some members of staff, nor the strong negative attitude which many inmates had lived with all their lives. The idea that female officers could change all that was laughable. It showed that the government failed to appreciate the enormity of the problem that successive years of government neglect, in the penal system and in the city areas, had created. The government was trying to paper over the cracks, when nothing less than a revolution in the way society and the prison system operated, could really put matters right.

In the open wards, it was possible for female staff and visitors to see the inmates sitting on the lavatory pedestals, or standing at the urinal as they entered the ward. Although there was a partition between the recess and the wash room, it only consisted of wire reinforced glass. The recess was the area between the wash room and the bathrooms, through which everyone had to pass in order to enter the ward proper. Whilst sitting on the pedestal, inmates would sit with their hand covering their face, in the hope of not being recognized. Having a bath posed similar problems, as there were small windows in the doors and a window between the ward office and the adjacent bathroom, the office often being frequented by female staff. The hospital was specifically designed to be a top security observation unit, denying inmates any form of privacy. There was apparently no limit to the length of time an inmate could be kept in such a place.

If you wanted privacy, including peace of mind and quiet, you were better off in a ground floor cell. Although some inmates down there occasionally made a lot of noise, they could rarely match the nine hours of continuous decibels from the television in each open ward. For entertainment there was a loud speaker above the ward entrance adjacent to the wash room. This speaker was linked to a radio in the main ground floor office and was usually tuned to BBC radio one or two. The music helped soothe the troubled minds. Most inmates disliked silence, as then their conscience would start irritating them, resulting in outbursts. Occasionally a welfare officer would need to talk to an inmate down there. Pepsi, the welfare officer who dealt with my case, would always ask a male member of staff to check that the inmate was presentable first, and not playing with himself when she visited him. How she tolerated the conditions for so long, I will never know. During my stay in that hospital, I was to insist on going down stairs at least five times, due to the intolerable conditions in the open ward. What I went through, during the period I spent in that hospital, was nothing less than sensory deprivation, a form of brain washing.

Denied privacy and adequate sleep for months on end, it was inevitable that my health would suffer. Certainly the conditions there counteracted any beneficial effects that my drug therapy was meant to provide. This became obvious to me in at least two respects. After my trial I was to develop tinnitus, a high pitched whistling noise in the inner ear. In mid 1984 I was to have a haemorrhage, though at the time I did not know what it was. Also, during my stay at the remand centre, I was to get aching pains in my chest during the first year, ulcers in my mouth and floaters in my eves. The tinnitus and floaters both proved to be permanent conditions. Without a doubt, the hospital at Risley Remand Centre was to prove to be the most unhealthy environment that I had ever set foot in. There was never a moment when I did not wish that I was somewhere else. There was no doubt in my mind that if more women were to work in men's' prisons, then the prisons needed rebuilding first, in order to provide dignity to inmates and staff alike. The British prison system had a long way to go before it could match the prison conditions in Scandinavian countries for instance.

Occasionally there were visits from groups of people in the legal and medical professions, and probably members of the board of visitors too. We were never introduced to them. They stared at us, and we stared at them. Occasionally someone would come up and ask an inmate whether he had any complaints. Hardly anyone complained in a remand centre, and the Home Office knew it. That is why they could get away with such atrocious conditions. All the inmates wanted to do was keep a low profile, and keep their nose clean, until after their trial at least, by which time they would have been transferred. They did not want anything bad written about them in the occurrence book. No, nobody complained at Risley. Put shit on their plates and they would eat it. There was no point in complaining to the assistant governor or governor. They did not run the prison. They were powerless. Just one look at Risley each day told an inmate that no fucker cared.

Their were cockroaches in the hospital, hundreds of them. Of course the visiting dignitaries did not see them, since they only came out of the cracks, crevices and door frames after lights out. They fed on the food scraps dropped on the floors by inmates. No one apparently thought of sweeping up the ward prior to lights out, whilst insecticide, during the early days at least, was either useless or scarce. Although I never went on the wings, I was told that conditions there were even worse. They not only had cockroaches, but also mice, in swarms apparently. Some inmates even kept them as pets. I well remember the experiences of one inmate whose job on the wings involved the use of a food trolley. Returning to the food trolley half an hour after leaving it, he had no sooner started to push it than mice leapt off it, speeding off in all directions. There were at least half a dozen of them in that incident. I shuddered to think what state the kitchen and food stores were in.

There was no military type regime at Risley. Cleanliness was not enforced the way it would have been in an NHS hospital. Even searches for contraband occurred no more than once every two months within the hospital. Inmates kept food in their lockers, even though they knew they were not supposed to, as it encouraged the cockroaches. Some inmates stank to high heaven, as they had refused to have a bath or change their clothes for weeks. Why smoking was allowed in the hospital I just could not understand, as keeping the hospital clean was made virtually impossible. No one seemed to care. It was as if the staff had been there so long that they had forgotten what a decent hospital looked like. For the cockroaches however, life must have been bliss, since the only thing they had to fear were the crickets!

I doubt whether there were many visiting dignitaries who realised just how hellish the place really was to live in. How many I wondered, could put themselves in the shoes of the inmates and imagine what it was like to endure just twenty-four hours in such an environment. The visitors would generally come around in the morning, whilst the floors were still clean and the wards tidy.

In one such group of visitors was a very smartly dressed young woman, in a blue vertical stripped jacket and skirt. She looked as if she had just stepped off the front page of Vogue magazine. She was very beautiful, and her clothes expensive. I fell in love with her at first sight. There she stood at the office door trying not to look at us, but smiling all the same, because she knew that from our easy chairs, we were all leering at her. She did not stay long, just a few minutes, I could imagine myself dreaming about her. In my dream she would come straight up to me, smiling.

"Is there anything you would like?" my doll would ask suggestively.

My heart rate would climb as the aching pains in my loins escalated. Moments before the words came to my lips, my thought processes would be shattered. Bang! Bang! Bang!, as those bloody keys repeatedly hit the office door, first thing in the morning. It would invariably be either Mr. Pluto or Mr. Parrot, come to wake us up that way at 7am, disturbing my dream. Where do you meet a nice woman like that, except in prison. There was I in my prison rags. Trousers concertinaed around my ankles, and that infernal fly zip that just would not stop coming undone. She would never remember me, even supposing she had noticed, but I would always remember her.

If you did not see women, then you did not miss them. For some inmates, seeing their loved one during a visit, or being reminded of her in sexy photographs, could have depressing results. I received no visit from my wife, and there was no other woman in my life. My mother sent me a couple of photographs of Karen, which I kept on the window sill by my bed. I missed her and Fluff a great deal. Taking my medication each night kept such thoughts away, as it quickly put me to sleep, hopefully. After a few months my body got use to it. Since I had to take it at 8-30pm, the tiredness which it created could wear off by 10pm, lights out. There was no point in going to bed before then, as the television was still on, with its inherent din.

The sex offenders never seemed to think of anything else but women. The fellow in the bed next to mine was one. He would stare out of the window every day, watching the female inmates go by with the food trolley. On some days the women came closer, for once or twice each week they would come to the dentistry. If we were having exercise period at the time, they would look down at us from the dental waiting room, and we would look up at them. God knows what they must have thought of some of us, in ill fitting trousers, out sized shoes and torn shirts. It was bad enough just trying to keep your flies up. Some did not bother. Wearing their own clothes reflected the more humane treatment which female inmates received inside. There was no sex equality in prison.

Other visitors to the hospital included male and female students, usually trainee nurses from mental hospitals like Rainhill, Moss Side and Park Lane. They came to see how the place was run. This was an excellent opportunity for a medical officer to get off his backside and give them all a load of bull shit. The group would be herded into the ward's office, to look at the inmates' names displayed on the notice board. Against each bed number would be the name of an inmate, his religion, date and place of next remand appearance or location of trial, and special work duties which involved leaving the ward. If you were a killer like myself, the letters MC (murder charge) were also displayed. No other offences were shown, since many were sex offenders. This information was usually kept secret to avoid trouble between inmates. Yes, I could imagine what the hospital officer would be saying.

"And in bed three we have H19992 Allen, double murder, very shifty character, we have to keep our eyes on him."

And the whole Group would turn around to see if they could spot the shifty looking one. I felt that given the chance they would carry some of us off for medical experiments. I hated the sight of the little bleeders.

Employment, as a prison officer or hospital officer was a good career, which if society was to continue its downward slide, was certain to offer good pay and excellent job security. Although I did not believe in the type of prison system that I experienced, I was certain that a prison on Anglesey would certainly help mop up unemployment and put vitality back into the community. It was sad that at this time, many communities in Great Britain were being restored in just such a way.

Most of the meetings between me and my solicitor, took place during remand appearances, although some necessitated travelling to the remand centre. Interview rooms adjacent to the closed visits area were allocated to solicitors. Meetings took place by prior arrangement with the prison authorities. An inmate would be escorted down to the waiting room, and if your solicitor did not turn up, then it was just too bad. Hours of waiting for nothing, in a dirty featureless room. Each interview room had a table and chairs, with a large window through which staff could view proceedings from the landing if necessary. The place was often cold. It was certainly depressing. I do not think that there was any part of the remand centre that could be described as cheerful.

I can only recall two meetings taking place there. On the first occasion my solicitor came alone, and allowed me to read statements from my friend Bill, my ex-landlady Mrs. Jones, and my sister-in-law. I was pleased with the first two, but not surprised by the latter. My solicitor did not let me read all the statements, I did not as far as I know, pursue the matter at that time, since most of my effort was concentrated just in getting a copy of the statement I had written to him. I thought initially that he would send me a copy of these statements as a matter of course. That meeting took place immediately after my committal.

The second meeting took place about a month before my trial. On this occasion my solicitor and barrister turned up to assess matters. I had secretly stopped taking prothiaden a week before, as I wanted my faculties restored before the trial. When I received my medication at 8-30pm, I would hold my medicine in my mouth after drinking it in the office in front of the medical officer. I would then spit it out at the drinking fountain, located in the recess. Maybe I should have reduced the dosage gradually, for what happened next was caused by this error, and my ever present anxiety state.

I was not wearing a pullover or vest as I entered that cold interview room. I sat at the table. My solicitor, Mr. Roberts, introduced me to my barrister, Mr. Smart. He sat there in a three piece suit wearing what I assumed to be the old school tie. Not a secondary school, I bet. I started shivering. It was like being in a dungeon, with no heating whatsoever. I cannot remember saying anything, for my defence council stole the lime light.

"I don't have any sympathy for killers like you, no sympathy at all," said Mr. Smart.

I could not believe what I was hearing. What the fucking hell is my solicitor up to, getting in a guy like this, I kept thinking. By now my body had gone into uncontrollable shakes. I tried saying something as tears and mucus rolled down my face. I had no handkerchief so I used my sleeve. My solicitor and barrister said nothing. I felt so cold and alone.

Nothing else took place at that meeting, but the anger that I felt afterwards remains to this day. The medical profession had turned me from a man into a gibbering mass of jelly, giving me no chance to defend myself in any way at my forthcoming trial. On top of that my solicitor was sitting on statements related to my case, a copy of which I should have been allowed to check, and now I had a barrister who apparently hated my guts. Soon after that meeting I wrote to my solicitor and told him to get me another barrister and QC. Considering all the trouble I was to have later, I should have sacked all of them. At that time I had no idea about how to get myself another solicitor. My brain simply would not function on that level. According to my red booklet, I should have put in an application to see a welfare officer, who could have provided me with a list of suitable solicitors, though how you can select the right one from an anonymous list of names, I simply do not know. As it was, I was to remain ignorant of this procedure until well after my trial.

Whether there was ever a realistic alternative, I will probably never know. My solicitor wrote a long letter to me asking me to retain my QC and barrister, I came to the conclusion that my barrister had only been trying to assess whether I was able to give evidence in court. Based upon the incident in the interview room, the answer to that question was a resounding, no! I reluctantly decided therefore to retain my existing defence council. At this stage I still had not seen my QC, Lord Titch, whom my solicitor told me was the best in the business. I hoped he was right, but why had I still not seen him?

Shortly before my trial, my medication was officially stopped, but it was to resume again immediately afterwards. The staff made it clear to me at times that they did not like the thought of me coming off it. I got the feeling that they regarded their own position as being much safer if I was doped up, comatosed in other words. The medication was not to my benefit, but theirs. I do not think that anyone gave a shit for my mental well being. Everyone knew that I had a mental condition, but no one seemed to be interested enough in finding out just what it was, and more importantly, how it could be overcome. That apparently was not in anyone's job description at Risley.




Chapter 7




Smoking




The little urchin shuffles around,
To find a dog end, I'll be bound.
Scanning the floor for a filter tip,
Picking up tobacco bit by bit.
I'm not addicted, I'm not afflicted,
I can do without it, of that I don't doubt it.

Longing to find the dreaded weed,
For his insatiable habit to feed.
With piercing eyes he searches for fags,
Under chairs, tables, beds and dirty rags.
Peering into foul smelling ash trays,
By now he knows everyone's disposable ways.
Scavenging through dustbins and bags,
Fumbling fingers grasp grimy fags.
Behind the pedestal on the lavatory floor,
In dark recesses behind the door.
Going around begging from friends,
A match, a paper, more cigarette ends.
Pleading for a usable match,
Only to appear, then disappear, with a snatch.
Tobacco from all corners found,
Is rolled into a Rizla round.
Lit without even a care or thought,
Heart disease, lung cancer, bronchitis bought.
All these warnings are so unfound,
As the two emphysemic lungs pound.
The smoke rings hover, as the chain smoker meditates,
About to flick the butt into the air, then hesitates.
The cigarette end is cast onto floor, and ground,
To join the detritus of civilisation around.
The choking fumes, the coughs and wheezing,
It all sounds terrible and far from pleasing.

I'm not addicted, I'm not afflicted,
I can do without it, of that I don't doubt it.
Oh, for one last cigarette,
Before the mind doest forget.
The nicotine stained hands have no regret.
Oh, for one last cigarette.
Amen, R.I.P.,
Cremation awaiteth thee.



It was during one of my solicitor's visits, which I believe took place in the hospital visiting room, that he informed me that my wife had taken out divorce proceedings. I was required to sign a document that he brought with him. The document may have been an application for legal aid, but I am not sure, as my solicitor had a habit of not confiding in me enough. I think he suffered from the misconception that because I was suffering from a mental illness, I was no longer capable of administering my own affairs in a sane manner. I got the same feeling from others also.

My wife was being looked after by her sister in Holyhead. Although I wrote to her about half a dozen times, I was later told that the letters would be kept by her solicitor until after the trial. Why this was, I do not know. Since no statement had been obtained from her, it was obvious that she would not be giving evidence. As it was, I did not have my address book for at least the first two months. One of my mates gave me the wrong address, as a result of which my letters went to the bungalow next door. She probably never received them. I wrote to the local social services, who assured me that she was all right. I wanted her to carry on living at the bungalow until it was sold, as I knew it would take a long time to sell, and the accrued interest on the mortgage would leave nothing for the two of us. I wanted someone to look after her there in lieu of rent, probably an unmarried mother found by the social services, but nothing came of the idea. Karen's views were not conveyed to me.

My solicitor placed the sale of the bungalow in the hands of an estate agent, and also advertised it for sale in a newspaper at my request, without response. Various people showed interest in the property, but for one reason or another, pulled out. What to do with the contents of the bungalow was another problem. I did not have enough money for a removal firm to keep it in storage for years, unless I sold the bungalow quickly. I was writing letters to various friends and relatives, trying to get someone to empty the bungalow, without success. No one had an empty garage that could be used for years, whilst I suppose many people thought that the sentence I would receive would be an eternity. There was the divorce settlement to think of. Apparently nothing could be removed, until it was decided who should get what.

For the first three or four months, I was writing detailed letters regarding storage of furniture, and not getting a reply, without knowing why. At that time no one had told me about the divorce proceedings. Everyone else knew but me, and no one was prepared to tell me in case I took my own life. I was very frustrated, and fumed in despair when I received letters which totally ignored my ideas. These responses would be noted by staff and entered into the occurrence book, no doubt as symptoms of my mental illness. At times like these I found it difficult to understand the significance of the occurrence book, since the environment and pressures on an inmate were not like those on the outside. The conduct of an inmate was therefore rarely representative of what it had been at the time of the crime, or in the days before it. This led one to question the concept of an observation wing.

I think everyone, including the building society, realised that selling off my bungalow was not going to be an easy task, bearing in mind the troubles I had had with my neighbour, not to mention the added problem of disturbed spirits. My solicitor had to enter into correspondence with the local borough council, and lengthy correspondence with the building society who held the mortgage. Attempts were made to get the building materials removed from the cul-de-sac and the road surfaced, but just who did what and when, I was not told. I made preliminary attempts to let the bungalow, as a stop gap measure. As part of this plan, I asked my friends to move all my personal belongings and high risk items such as television sets, video recorder, music centre and computer, into the garage. Instead the high risk items were taken to my friend's addresses for safe keeping, with my solicitor's consent, whilst my personal belongings were left in the bungalow. No one seemed interested in letting the bungalow. I was no longer in control of the situation, whilst there seemed to be no overall plan by anyone. Over the months and years it was painful to hear of my belongings disappearing. I was to slowly realise that a home was only worth what someone else was prepared to pay for it.

The financial penalties I incurred because of my crime, were as bad as the prison sentence itself. The Home Office had no plans for putting a prisoner's belongings into storage, selling property or managing other financial matters. What was worse, there was no means by which an inmate could make his own furniture for the flat which should have been provided upon his release. There was also no means by which an inmate could earn enough whilst in prison with which to build a new life upon re-entering society. Even though forty per cent of males had acquired a criminal record by the time they died, the them and us attitude still prevailed. Inmates were still treated as lepers by the government, who felt that they did not deserve such humane treatment, even if it did make economic sense. Half of adult males, who had been sentenced to more than three months in prison, would return to prison within two years of their release, at who knows what cost to the tax payer in the long run. Conditions in prison were only improved, as a means of retaining staff.

Soon after entering the remand centre I wrote to the building society, informing them of my circumstances. I think I also asked them for assistance. Their reply to my letter was as follows;

Xtra Building Society,

Bangor,

June 1984



Dear Mr. Allen,

Your recent letter indicates that you are suffering from obvious difficulties regarding your home. Sunny Dale, Gwalchmai, Anglesey. Under the present circumstances I cannot offer you much help, except to that you will soon let your bungalow. If you succeed in this way I remind you that you require our consent, and the proper legal formalities will have to be gone through.


If you have not secured a tenant by the end of this month, then I suggest you hand over the keys to us, so that a purchaser can be found. Should you do this voluntarily, it will save considerable expense and unpleasantness.


If I have not heard from you within eighteen days, and the monthly payments have not been made, then the necessary steps will be taken.


Yours sincerely,

A Miser manager


Upon seeing this letter, my solicitor regarded the letting of my bungalow as a non starter. So much for the extra help they prided themselves on, I thought. Thereafter I received frequent letters from my solicitor, asking that authorization be given, to hand over the keys of my bungalow to 'them.' The thought of how much Allan had paid for his hovel, compelled me to refuse to give in. Soon after coming to Anglesey to work as a diver, Allan bought a small welsh cottage. The previous owner had paid fourteen thousand pounds for it. The place fell into the hands of a finance company, who asked for eleven thousand pounds. He finally bought it for eight thousand. What with instructions from me and threats from the building society, the necessary incentive should have been there for even the dumbest solicitor to sell the property soonest. Even so, for my own dignity I thought it best never to give in and end up with little, than give in to the building society and end up with fuck all.

The Xtra Building Society were eventually to take out possession proceedings in April 1985, a year after the last mortgage payment. This necessitated the presence of my solicitor before the registrar at Llangefni, as well as sending numerous letters to the building society, keeping them informed of progress. In the year 1985, there were twenty-one thousand repossessions of property by building societies in the UK, plus others by banks and local authorities. It was a very worrying time. The divorce, sale of the bungalow and the storage of my belongings, were to remain upper most in my mind for at least another year. The hardest to take was the divorce itself.

The divorce petition stated:

1. The marriage has broken down irretrievably,

2. The respondent has assaulted the petitioner, by striking her across the body and face,

3. The petitioner has locked herself in the bathroom, to prevent herself from further assaults,

4. The respondent, in the presence of the petitioner, unlawfully killed the petitioner's parents and is at present awaiting trial for murder.

There can, I thought, be few divorce petitions as bad as mine. To give me added status in life, Mr. Flight got me the job of cleaning the first floor landing on the east wing of the hospital, which included the consulting rooms, staff room and dental waiting room. This job displaced that of cleaning the stairs and ground floor with a scrubbing brush, which I loathed. The first floor landing was in a real filthy mess on my first day, as it had obviously not been cleaned for sometime. After a few days however there was not much work involved, so much of the time I spent reading and writing in the cleaner's room, which I had to myself. It was not possible to start work before 9am, as some of the consulting rooms were occupied by staff sleeping on the couches. They did not like the idea of being woken up by some impudent inmate, as Mr. Ansells made clear to me one morning, after interrupting his forty winks. The job got me away from the noise of the ward, but it did not last long. After my trial a member of staff, Mr. Barraclough, came to see me.

"I'm just passing on a message. You're not allowed to work off the ward any more," he said.

Well that was that. The end of even the slightest feeling of freedom. My trial was scheduled for late November 1984. My solicitor had sent me my blue suit but there was no tie. It was only later that I realised that they considered me suicidal. There was about eight of us inmates who were taken there from the remand centre, handcuffed in pairs. It was usual practice to handcuff the right wrist of one inmate to the right wrist of another. This made it difficult for two inmates to leg it whilst joined together. The escorting prison officers would also take away our hair shampoo, so that we could not squirt it into their eyes during any escape attempt, which I thought was stingily unsporting of them.

We arrived at the trial location the day before the proceedings were to commence, spending the night in the cells adjacent to the courtroom. Sharing my cell was a fellow inmate from A ward called Graham Tiler. Like me, he faced a double murder charge. During the months at the remand centre he told me his version of the crime he was charged with. During my years in confinement, I was to hear many such stories. I rarely knew if they were true unless corroborated by the reading of depositions or reports in newspapers. Though newspapers rarely published the full story, especially the social aspects of a case.

Tiler had a brother who was a policeman. In fact I often wondered whether we had ever met in my travels around Anglesey, which is the area where he apparently worked. His parents had thrown out their adopted son at the age of sixteen, and they would lock Graham out of the house if he came home late at night. He finally left home, travelling all over the country with his boss. He lay tiles in public buildings and underpasses. He had done his training at a college in Birmingham. He decided to buy a motor bike for which he borrowed money from his local bank. As the money had to be paid back by regular instalments, he would post the cash to his father, who would then take it to the bank. His father use to work in a senior capacity for the National Trust, including involvement in an unsuccessful firework display at Plas Newydd, but like many people in that part of the world, had been unemployed for sometime. As the family lived on a small farm, the DHSS refused to pay the couple any benefit. His father attempted to become self employed in some business affair that did not work out. One day Graham returned home from his distant work place. Upon leaving a local public house he was arrested by the police for failing to pay the instalments on his bank loan. After leaving the police station he returned home to have it out with his parents. According to Graham his father admitted pocketing the money.

"If you don't like it then shoot me with the shot gun," his father said.

Graham Tiler duly obliged, shooting dead both his parents. Was this the act of a son who had suffered a life long rejection from his parents? Was it a spontaneous act of despair, or a cold blooded killing, in order to get a substantial share of the estate before the debt collectors got the lot? Only one person really knew. At Risley Remand Centre, Graham Tiler suffered from an over extrovert personality (mania), a symptom of chronic anxiety or to give it its correct term, manic-depressive psychosis, thought to be the product of a guilty conscience. He was always fooling around in the ward and on at least one occasion was put in a stripped cell. At Risley, Tiler was very much an extrovert though in a statement his employer called him an introvert.

Tiler was to receive two life sentences before the same judge I was to go before. When Tiler returned to Risley, he quickly worked out roughly what he would get from the sale of the family farm, then started asking people around the ward about how he should invest it. He seemed totally unconcerned about his two life sentences, as if he had weighed it all up long ago. He thought he would actually do ten to twelve years. To occupy his time he said he would study for GCE 'A' levels to supplement his numerous '0' levels. After his trial he was interviewed by Dr. Shrunk again.

"He still doesn't believe me," Tiler said as he returned to the ward after the interview.

The only person that knew the truth was Tiler. If he was truthful, then why was he so content with the sentence? Maybe he could not even take that seriously in his present mental state. He was however a nice bloke. You might say frighteningly nice. I suppose you think the same thing about me?

My solicitor told me that the crown court had been recently renovated, so to justify the expense, my trial and many others would take place there. The courtroom may have been done up but the prisoners facilities certainly had not. The cell Tiler and I shared was in a deplorable condition, with graffiti all over the walls. The dates on the walls indicated that they had not been painted for at least seven years.

The cells were small, two and a half by three and a half metres I would say. Running along the end wall below the window, were two large diameter pipes which ran from cell to cell. The heat from these pipes was overpowering. The ventilation was totally inadequate, being supplied through missing glass segments in the window. There were numerous holes in the walls and surprisingly one large enough to crawl through, located between the heating pipes but extending only half way through the outer wall, which must have been about seven hundred millimetres thick and made of stone. It would not have taken much effort to have knocked the hole straight through the wall. The heat made me long for a pint of bear at the Black Boy Inn, a pub a few streets away that I had taken my wife to a few times. The only trouble was that neither of us had any money with which to get drunk on.

Neither of us wanted to escape despite the surroundings, I naively thought. I knew that I was better off in prison. I did not feel envious of those villains who had escaped from Great Britain to Spain, from where at that time they could not be extradited. Having stolen millions of pounds, they were in their villas behind barbed wire, supplemented by guard dogs and alarms, pestered by news media reporters, whilst Spanish police helicopters hovered overhead. I could not help thinking that there was a better atmosphere in a long term prison, even though it was less affluent.

Monday morning arrived, the day of the trial. I was taken to an interview room where my solicitor, barrister, QC and later Dr. Shrunk, came to speak to me. One by one they gave me the same advice.

"When asked how you plead say, not guilty to murder, guilty to manslaughter, on each charge. The prosecution will accept this."

The thought of me going in there and pleading 'not guilty' horrified them so much, that they could not bear to speak directly on the subject. I fully understood what they were saying. They were telling me to plead guilty when I felt that I was innocent, a victim of provocation, entrapment, mental illness and circumstance. How knowledgeable was the judge, I thought. My entire future seemed to depend on him knowing everything, but I knew that he did not know everything, for the only full statement written by me, and contained in the red folder, had not been read by anyone else except a fellow inmate, Matt Reid. The advice I was given that morning by my defence council sounded like an ominous warning. What they knew about the short comings of British justice, I was still to learn in the years ahead.

I handed my red covered writing pad, containing my complete statement, to my QC Lord Titch. The original version of my statement did not contain the detailed suffering that I had gone through with the DHSS. My QC could not accept that that sort of treatment could destabilize the human mind.

"If that was the case," Lord Titch said,"there would be thousands if not millions of people out there almost as sick as you."

I agreed with that statement, but he could not. How could you make a member of the House of Lords see that out there in suburbia, behind closed doors and drawn curtains, there were battles being fought in the minds of millions of people, unable to come to terms with the insanity of becoming a reject from the human production line. These peoples' problems the government refused to recognize, let alone understand and counter. Government bureaucracy and disregard, had created a nation of mind forged manacles leading to despair, crime and suicide. These were the seeds of the social unrest that would sweep through England, months later. Lord Titch read my remarks about whether I considered the killings to be an act of insanity. When he read the concluding remark, that I considered that an insane act must also be an irrational one, he was not pleased by my honesty.

"Don't let Dr. Shrunk read that," Lord Titch remarked.

It was obvious to me that I would receive no support from my defence council regarding a plea of not guilty.

"The newspapers would never print this statement the way it is written, and in any case you will not be allowed to read the statement in court," said Lord Titch, and my solicitor and barrister agreed.

About a month before the trial, my brother and his wife had visited me in Risley Remand Centre. My brother made it clear that everyone wanted a quiet trial, My grandfather, who was ninety-five years old, had still not been told about my 'spot of trouble,' as everyone thought that the shock would kill him. My stepfather was none too healthy either, after his heart attack eight months before. I therefore reluctantly decided not to give evidence, but to plead guilty to manslaughter. At the time I felt an absolute coward and still have emotive feelings regarding that decision. I was to plead guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Late Monday morning I was handcuffed to an officer and taken to the courtroom next door. In the courtroom's anti-room the handcuffs were taken off. After the judge had entered the courtroom, I was led up the stairs and into the dock. On either side of the judge sat other officials, one in an RAF uniform. The jury benches on my right were empty. The press consisting of about six journalists, sat to my left. The public sat in a gallery high up behind me, out of sight. The police officer in charge of investigating the case, stood to my left next to the dock during some of the proceedings, and we exchanged nods. The courtroom was large with a high ceiling. It could have been a converted theatre or cinema, I thought.

As I stood in the dock both charges of murder were read out by the clerk of the court.

To each charge I replied, "Not guilty to murder, guilty to manslaughter."

The prosecutions representative then stood up and stated that the pleas of manslaughter were acceptable. I then sat down and listened to the proceedings. The acoustics in the courtroom were very bad. Although there was a speaker system, it was not operating. When my QC finally stood up with his back to me, I could neither read his lips nor those of the judge, who was obscured by him.

The judge then ordered the jury, who had been waiting in an adjoining room, to be discharged. Some of the jury decided to come in anyway and witness the proceedings. The prosecution started the ball rolling by explaining to the judge what had happened on the day of the killings. I was surprised by what he said about me, as none of it was derogatory. There were no emotional outbursts of rhetoric from either the prosecution nor defence councils. It all seemed fairly low key and straight forward. It was nowhere near as dramatic as what I had seen in soap operas on television. It was not as well rehearsed either, leaving me with a feeling that it was amateurish. Unfortunately, because of the poor acoustics, I could only make out about a third of what was being said.

All of the statements from the police experts, witnesses and people that knew me, were handed over to the judge. There was little for the journalists to write down, as so little was actually spoken, so after lunch only half of them returned. The entire proceedings generated a low profile, so hopefully publicity would be minimal, I thought. The only persons to give evidence orally in court were Dr. Shrunk and Dr. Shrank. They both stated that I was suffering from a depressive illness, necessitating further medical treatment. Much of what they said, I could either not hear, or understand. Whilst Dr. Shrunk was in the witness box, the judge asked him whether I had ever said that I was sorry about what I had done. Both Dr. Shrunk and my QC looked through their notes for what seemed like ages. At this point I felt like getting up and saying something.

Of course I wish that I had never killed them, of course I wish they were still alive, but definitely not as they were.

I presume that somewhere in my red writing pad the word sorry appears, but at that, moment it was in my cell.

Eventually something was said to the judge which appeared to fit the question. I certainly used the word sorry a number of times in my letters to Karen, but sorry appeared to be such an inadequate word to use under the circumstances. I was depressed during my interviews with the doctors and as far as I can tell, it is difficult to be depressed without feeling sorry. For a judge to ask a senior medical officer such a question made me wonder whether he was serious. If he was, then I think he had an inadequate understanding of the workload placed upon such doctors. You cannot expect a doctor to recall from memory what was said at interviews which took place months before, out of perhaps a hundred interviews which have taken place since. Neither can you expect a doctor to recall from notes twenty millimetres thick or more, the exact point on a transcript where the word sorry was used. In some of the cases I became involved in at Risley the word sorry was out of place, since the crime was perfectly justified. Whether the killing of my in-laws was justified is open to opinion. Maybe the judge, possibly through inadequate knowledge, thought not.

Another awkward question raised by the judge left my QC in a hesitant state.

"Who was looking after Mrs. Allen whilst her husband was on his TOPS course?" asked the judge.

I got the impression that either the judge had not read the statement I sent to my solicitor, or that he failed to understand the motives of my in-laws. There was also the possibility that he was trying to convey to my wife and sister-in-law the fact that he was aware of the good their parents had done. Rather than answer the question straight, my QC hesitated then tried not to mention my in-laws, by stating that the day care centre in Erdington and my parents had looked after her. This was inaccurate. My QC should have made it clear to the judge that my in-laws wanted their daughter back with them permanently, and if they could look after her whilst I was on a TOPS course, then they were half way towards their goal. Because I could not hear much of what was being said, I had no way of knowing whether the judge got the full picture. Maybe he knew the answers before he asked the questions, in which case I thought that my sentence was likely to be longer than I had originally expected.

I was not impressed by the way the trial was going and I regretted not having submitted my statement somehow. Had the judge read it, then surely he would have understood. I found the proceedings depressing at times, and it maybe that I would have been too upset to give evidence without breaking down. Officials sat in front of me looking at photographs of the two corpses, photographs I had never seen. Sometimes the doctors showed photographs of the victim to inmates during interviews, as a means of stimulating a reaction. The only time I smiled in that courtroom was when Dr. Shrunk said that I could be obstinate at times. This was a reference to my insistence on giving evidence. He also said that when I was interviewed by Dr. Shrink a few days after the killings, I was suffering from euphoria. The word was used in a medical context, meaning relieved. It did not mean that I was going around boasting about what I had done and was glad that I had killed them. My QC told the judge about the problems I had had with the DHSS, then handed him a pile of forms which I had received from them over the years.

The question of the commando dagger cropped up. My QC tried to imply that it was not the sort of weapon one would use to kill someone with, as the tip of the blade had been broken off some years before. Only about four millimetres of the blade was missing however, so it was still a lethal weapon. I felt that my QC was scraping the barrel when searching for the correct rhetoric with which to form a defence. At this point I wished that my QC would sit down and shut up. Bearing in mind the complexity of the case, I cannot help thinking that my QC and I should have discussed it long before the trial, instead of on the morning of it. With Tiler's murder trial to defend that same week, it may be that he had simply taken on too much, or having read my statement to my solicitor, probably thought the case was easy to put over in court.

The trial went on into the afternoon. Both Dr. Shrink and Dr. Shrunk had asked for a lenient and determinate sentence. They stated that an indeterminate sentence would have a bad effect on me. I suppose there was also the fear that I would be locked up and forgotten by the DHSS in one of its mental hospitals. A fear that probably had more basis in this case considering the amount of involvement the DHSS had already incurred. My QC Lord Titch then surprised me by making a similar plea for a lenient and determinate sentence. I thought, surely the judge is intelligent enough to already realise that. I was however still inexperienced in such matters. Half way through the proceedings the other witnesses, including my friends and my sister-in-law were allowed into the public gallery, when it was realised that the judge would not be requiring them to give evidence. My wife Karen, was not at the trial, neither were my parents.

I thought that my QC had gone too far by telling the judge what to do. The defence probably felt that the judge needed directing as regards a sentence owing to the pressure on time, since the remainder of the week was scheduled for the Tiler trial. The judge was clearly troubled at being asked to give a determinate sentence to someone who was still mentally ill. How could he give a fixed sentence of the correct duration, when he did not know how long it would take for me to get better? Before the trial, my QC had told me that he had developed a good understanding with this particular judge over the years. I was now hoping that he was right.

I stood up as the judge and entourage left the courtroom to deliberate. The proceedings had taken about, five hours. The same length of time that it would have taken me to read out the statement from my red writing pad. During the months in Risley leading up to the trial, I got the feeling that I would receive three years imprisonment. Based on what I had seen and heard in court, I changed this to five years. After the judge left the courtroom I was taken downstairs, where in silence I stood, waiting and thinking. I thought about the commando dagger. I had plans to grind the tip of the blade that previous Saturday. If it had not been for the power tool burning out then I would have done so, resulting no doubt in a trial for premeditated murder.

Finally the judge returned, after which I was led back into the dock. The judge in his red and white robes reminded me of Santa Claus. Christmas was only a month away, but I was to receive the gift that meant most to me, there and then. I knew from the reactions of other inmates at Risley that no matter what the sentence was, it would come as a great relief. The judge gave what seemed to be a long summing up, ending with the sentence itself. The summing up was like a severe telling off from a school teacher to a pupil. My friends in the public gallery told me later that they felt that moment to be the most traumatic. I had already decided to nod in agreement with the verdict no matter what it was, as I wished to leave the courtroom in a dignified manner. I do not remember what the judge said in his summing up, as I was too interested in what the sentence would be.

The judge, his summing up complete, then announced that I would go to prison for five years. I nodded in agreement. Five years imprisonment after already serving five years of torment and abuse. Five years imprisonment as a result, of provocative actions by others which amounted to entrapment. Five years imprisonment in defence of my home, my wife and most of all, my sanity.

There was an exclamation of disapproval from the public gallery. I later learned that it came from my sister-in-law whom a few hours before, along with a woman friend, had verbally accosted a witness for the defence in the ladies toilets. The accosted witness was the proprietor of the garage, who had witnessed the incident between me and my in-laws at the bus stop years before. She was apparently in a state of shock when my ex-landlady Mrs. Jones, later came across her. I did not hear of this incident until some years later. My friends were reluctant to tell me in their letters, in case the letter was censored and they got a wigging for it. After the sentence was passed I was quickly led away back to my cell.

About half an hour later I was taken from my cell to the interview room, where I met my solicitor, Mr. Roberts, and my three friends, Brian, Bill and of course Mrs. Jones. It was a pleasure to see her after so many years, as despite her age she always radiated confidence, especially now when I needed it most. I told my friends there and then that I was unhappy regarding how so few details had come out in court. I knew that my wife's relatives and friends would never understand what happened and why, from what they were likely to read in the local newspapers. There was no talk of an appeal as everyone seemed satisfied. I never saw my QC and barrister again. I suppose they could not be certain how I would take the sentence.

Well there it was, I doubted whether Karen would understand, even supposing she received an unbiased account of the proceedings. I hoped that my sister-in-law would now let matters rest, and not pursue a long festering hatred of me the way her mother did. I hoped that she would present Karen with a positive future in which to enjoy the freedom she now had. As for me, if I am guilty it was only because society presented me with no alternative. I have no doubt that when I eventually stand before God, on this matter, I will do so with a clear conscience. What would you have done if you had been in my shoes?

That evening I returned to Risley Remand Centre in a hire car manned by prison officers. According to Dr. Shrunk's statement in court, I would be detained there for further medical help rather than be transferred immediately to the Hornby Hotel, or a mental hospital. I do not know whether I was detained there under the mental health act, but over a long period of time I was to realise that for some reason, no other establishment wanted me.

There were many inmates in the hospital at Risley who had progressed through various sections of The Mental Health Act. It must have been deeply frustrating to the doctors and nurses, when they saw the same inmates returning to the remand centre time and time again. As the months ticked by I was to see the same pathetic faces return to the hospital. It generated within me the feeling that government did not really care. For some, the end of their trial was to take them to one of the countries top security mental hospitals run by the DHSS at Park Lane, Rainhill (Scott Clinic), Broadmoor or Rampton. At this time I did not know how serious my illness was, so I was constantly afraid that I would end up in one of those places. Conditions in mental hospitals had improved in recent years, although the horrors of Rampton, which I had seen on television some years before, were still uppermost in my mind. Had I known the effect a prolonged period in Risley was likely to have on me, then I am certain I would have been more determined to get in to Park Lane Mental Hospital.

My first night back at Risley was spent in an ordinary cell on the ground floor of the hospital. Here were kept the violent and deranged prisoners, those unfit to stand trial and many whose minds had been destroyed through drug abuse. It was on that day that my prothiaden treatment was resumed. The next morning appeared the bird my wife loved the most, the Robin. I threw some of my bread out to it during breakfast. As I watched it darting amongst the shrubs, I wondered how my wife felt about my sentence. Did she still want a divorce? I hoped not but I had to look at it from her point of view. She was now dependant upon her sister for support, a woman who apparently loathed me, who would no doubt insist that her mother's wishes were fulfilled. Would her sister treat her decently, I kept thinking to myself.

A week or so after the trial, on December 4th, 1984 to be exact, I was interviewed by an Indian woman wearing a sari, who was accompanied by a tall gentleman. I believe they were a doctor and male nurse from Park Lane Mental Hospital, Maghull, Liverpool. They asked me a number of questions about my case. I got the impression that they had not read my statement which was in Dr. Shrunk's possession. On the other hand, maybe they were just making conversation in order to ascertain my mental capabilities. I was very pleased to see them, for at least there was something positive in the air. So cheerful in fact, that when I told them how my father-in-law had died.

I joked, "I always thought he would die of liver failure, as he drank too much."

Jokes in Risley were inevitably sick. The meeting ended without me knowing when I would be transferred.

Despite my prothiaden treatment my fits were increasing in frequency. Drug therapy was quite common in the hospital. Usually about half a dozen people on each ward would be on some form of medication. Only in extreme cases where an inmate was an obvious danger to himself or others, were drugs forcibly administered. Their was a genuine desire by most inmates to be cured, even if this meant a hypodermic needle in the backside. Fortunately all of my treatment was oral. There were inmates who failed to recognize the need for drug therapy. Sometimes they could be bribed with cigarettes into taking them, but there was always a hard core, not dangerous but not well, who refused to take treatment, or perhaps no acceptable form of treatment was available to them. These inmates were kept in a ground floor cell, unable to delight in the nine to twelve hours of television per day. I could not help thinking that they were the lucky ones.

As the months past, I could not understand why I was being kept in the hospital, as I was no longer under observation for assessment. Since inmates on the wings also received medication, I failed to see why I was not being transferred there. I should of course have realised that it was not the doctors or the governor that dictated where I was allowed to go. I was being shunned by the rest of the prison system in my locality, in the form of bloody minded officials.

Some inmates in the hospital had specialist jobs like looking after the linen stores, operating the meals trolley, working on the inmates serveries, cleaning the doctor's offices, cleaning the closed wards or best of all, working in the staff servery, which was the only job where perks existed. The staff would bring in their food and any 'left over's' would be consumed by the two inmates working in there. It was a hot smelly job which entitled an inmate to have a shower or bath each day. Since you were required to work all day, all the inmate's visits were held in the hospital in order to avoid long delays in getting back from the visiting room. These visits generally took place in the visiting room, or small library adjacent to the ground floor main office. The visits were generally more private and of longer duration. Unfortunately I never worked on the staff servery, but many of my friends did. None of these jobs paid any extra money, the reward, for most, was in having something to do to occupy one's mind. Special payments were however made to those who cleaned out the stripped cells on 'bad' occasions.

I could play chess but I only played two games whilst in prison, as I had simply lost the joy of living. The thought of going to prison in a game of monopoly did not appeal to me either. I played the game only once. Somehow I got seconded into playing bridge during my period in A ward. One of the bridge players was an orphan by the name of Malcolm Richards. He was being detained for credit card offences. On the last occasion he used one, he made the mistake of signing the wrong name whilst paying for a sumptuous meal in a restaurant. He was a lonely person who sought the companionship of others, by getting himself admitted to hospital with all kinds of phony symptoms. On one occasion he deceived the staff so well that an exploratory operation was carried out. Something went wrong with the operation, resulting in him being close to death for a while. I think he showed me a story about him, published in The Times, which he was quite proud of. When he was not in hospital he sought companionship in the London bridge clubs. He was in the hospital at Risley with suspected stomach ulcers.

Like Malcolm there were many inmates in the hospital who received only solicitors letters and bills. Prisoners could ask the welfare department to send in a volunteer visitor, just to have someone to talk to. Malcolm had tried this. A woman use to visit him often in one prison he had been a guest in. In the end he stopped seeing her, when he realised that all she wanted to talk about was his sex life. I have no doubt that there must have been many prisoners in the hospital who would have been only too willing to give a graphic account of such exploits.

As for me, I found reading the most exciting pastime I had, since my diet of serious television programmes like Horizon, World About Us, Panorama and the Money Programme, not forgetting Sky at Night, were all strictly out of bounds by popular vote. Soap operas, quiz shows and cartoons were to be the menu for the day, every day. The inmates would lounge in the easy chairs with their feet up, and enter a kind of nirvana, whilst hypnotized by the electrons bombarding the phosphorus screen. Occasionally they would achieve the impossible, and natter to one another louder than the decibels from the television set. To get away from that world, I employed my solicitor and mother to subscribe a number of magazines for me. I received regular copies of Flight International, New Scientist and later Spaceflight News. These magazines kept me in touch with the sane positive minded world that I craved to belong to.

Risley Remand Centre was surprisingly peaceful, apart from the noise that is. Inmates went out of their way not to cause trouble. Although there were a few exceptions, life in prison away from the problems and responsibilities of the outside world, was preferred by many inmates. Contact with the outside world was most traumatic during visits. I could not help wishing that they were not allowed. I found it far easier to write a letter, as I could not think quickly enough to hold a conversation with visitors, owing to the drug therapy I was receiving. Some inmates found that they were only getting visits from relatives and girlfriends who wanted them to sign over bank accounts and property to them. It caused great bitterness when the message sank in.

During a typical visit, an inmate was escorted to the waiting room adjacent to the visiting hall. After waiting perhaps five to ten minutes the inmates name was called. The inmate stood on a box whilst he was searched. To check his identity the prison officer would ask him for his number. A table number was then allocated for the inmate to sit at. A few minutes later the visitors would come in and deposit their bag of gifts at a hatch, behind which the contents would be searched whilst the visit was in progress. The visitors sat on the other side of the table from the inmate, Female visitors were not allowed to put their handbags on the table for security reasons.

Soon after my trial my stepfather and mother paid me a second visit. I sent them a VO, but they did not arrive on the date arranged. The day after however, they did turn up much for the worst. My mother was close to tears and it was not long before I found out why. My stepfather told me that his car had broken down on the motorway. It was towed into a garage but the engine was beyond repair. They were obliged to complete their journey by train and taxi, staying over night in a hotel. To add to the misery, the weather was very bad at this time. They both turned up looking like drowned rats. My stepfather's car had another engine put in it, but this later turned out to be unsuitable, necessitating the need for a proper reconditioned engine to be installed. During all this work the car radiator also got damaged. It took months to get it back on the road. I told my parents never to visit me again, as it was simply not worth the heartache. After their visit I went over to the inmates hatch and collected the goodies my parents had brought me. After a typical half an hour wait, I was then escorted back to the hospital. The visit had lasted no more than thirty minutes.

Being constantly called by my sir name whilst doped up, almost made me forget who I was. On one occasion I signed the pay sheet omitting my initials. I was H19992 Allen, for the whole of my sentence. I was that doped up that I could not work out in my head how much I had spent, and how much I was still entitled to spend in the canteen each Sunday. The staff in the canteen seemed to have little patience for those inmates who could not make up their minds about what to buy. One of the dehumanizing things that I detested was the refusal of staff to let me cut my nails with nail clippers. I never use to bite my nails. Other inmates got the nail clippers on occasion, but not I. For the whole of my prison sentence therefore I was to tear at my nails with my thumb nail. This seemed to solve the problem, as within a day my nails repaired themselves. I found the exercise initially degrading, but I soon learned that a person gets use to all kinds of degradation eventually, You become a mindless shit heap, learning the art of crime and acquiring an itching desire to get even with the mindless morons in the establishment that were responsible for your present predicament.

An inmate gets use to the excrement and mucus on lavatory walls, and the foul language of inmates and staff. As my wife and I lost our hard fought for home and contents, the incentive for me to re-enter society with all its problems diminished. The courts definition of freedom fell a long way short of what I wanted when I eventually got out, namely a pleasurable and meaningful life, within the law. Although I firmly believed in my innocence, even if I had been given my freedom, it would have turned out to be another trial in disguise, which I do not think so shortly after my trial, I could have faced. I was by now far too content with my Peter Pan existence, where inmates on drugs, float from day to day.

During exercise periods I would lie on the grass, and whilst soaking up the sun, escape within my mind. I felt that I had entered a better world during these moments, but these periods were altogether too brief. On one occasion I fell asleep whilst lying on the grass and had to be woken up by a hospital officer, just as the last inmates were trooping indoors. I deeply missed those times when the foul weather set in. In winter there was to be no escape into one's mind. It was the nearest thing to real punishment.

A book published at this time titled "Prison Health Care" by Dr. Richard Smith, stated that half of the inmates of British prisons at this time were considered to be either mentally or physically defective in some way. To me the meaning was clear. Having a mental illness did not mean that I would necessarily end up in a mental hospital. I could serve an entire sentence in prison and be released with my illness intact. What a thought. A government deliberately unleashing mentally ill criminals onto an unwary general public, not to mention the wasted opportunity and associated tax payer's money. Surely I thought, the government cannot be that uncaring.

During the first few months of incarceration, I often thought about the penologists idea of criminals coming face to face with their victims as a form of group therapy. I wondered whether my sister-in-law would have welcomed this. I doubted it, but I really regretted that I had been unable to talk to my wife face to face, in the hope of salvaging what remained of our lives. All I had to look forward to was a transfer to a mental hospital run by the inept DHSS, or to be simply forgotten in the prison system somewhere. My mind kept telling me to look on the bright side of life, but there was no bright side, not even a light at the end of the tunnel. It was a day to day existence, never knowing what would happen next. Inmates arrived, had their trials and moved on, whilst I stayed in the hospital at Risley, watching, listening, writing and waiting. I would crave for an end to the monotony, the noise, the pointlessness of it all. Studying the inmate's idiosyncrasies, whilst the next 'incident' was the only thing worth really waiting for.

During my long stay in that hospital, I had the pleasure and often the displeasure of meeting some interesting characters, both inmates and staff. Usually a third of the inmates on the ward were killers, a fair proportion of these being as a result of a domestic dispute. Other inmates kept in the open wards included tramps and sex offenders brought into the hospital for protection, the latter known as beasts or nonces. The tramps and other pathetic individuals became the target of ridicule and abuse on the wings, so they were brought into the hospital for their own peace of mind. Usually they were charged with very minor offences, such as shop lifting or exposing themselves. They did not belong in prison but within a sheltered community, but there was none. Many anyway, shunned the assistance offered by the Salvation Army and the church. The workhouses were long gone, whilst the government did not give a damn about rehabilitating them. Looking at them, it was hard to realise that somewhere there were relatives and friends who were wondering what had happened to them. At times I felt like suggesting euthanasia, but gradually during my months at Risley I came to realise that they were capable of improvement. Unfortunately there special needs were often ignored. Other inmates suffering from physical ailments, such as broken limbs and heart problems, also abounded in the hospital, as did epileptics.

Worse off than the tramps were the brain damaged inmates on the ground floor. They banged on their doors and talked aloud to themselves frequently. Many appeared unfit to plead, their brains wrecked by drugs and alcohol, their lives I felt were effectively over. Occasionally a relative or friend would visit them, to remind you that there really was a human being in that cell. Some were decent ordinary folk, their lives almost shattered, being no longer able to look after their loved one at home. For the parents it must have been worse. All the years they had devoted in care and attention. The long term plans for the future. Where had they gone wrong, they must have thought. All those dreams were now dead, as they looked at a son they hardly recognized and who barely recognized them.

Was it caused by cannabis, glue sniffing, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, LSD, or simply alcoholism? Maybe the ultimate cause was government apathy. People living in full time purposeful well paid employment, with encouragement in establishing a family within a caring stress moderated society, do not destroy themselves with drugs as a rule. Why in an island nation were these drugs flooding into the country at this time? Sniffer dogs, gas chromatography and X-ray equipment all existed, whilst the customs and excise departments complained of under-manning. The real external threat to British society came in the form of illicit drugs and AIDS, not the Warsaw Pact, and yet the financial resources to counter the first two paled into insignificance compared to the latter's defence funding.

The inmate stared and talked gibberish. The relatives and friends could not think of a worse place to come to for a day out. Somewhere along the line of drug abuse he had simply taken too much and overloaded the liver's ability to break down the poisons in the blood stream. The poisons had passed through the blood brain barrier and done irreparable damage, producing one cabbage. There was always the hope in the parent's minds that he would improve. Certainly some days were a considerable improvement upon others, but he would always relapse. In truth there was no hope. They who once had everything to live for, had thrown it all away and had become the living dead. I could not help thinking that there should have been open days at the hospital, during which school groups would be shocked into obedience, parents shocked out of complacency, and politicians shocked into action. I would listen to the stories the ground floor cleaners would recount to me of such inmates. I was later to get first hand experience, as I in turn became a cleaner down there.

I was surprised by how many young inmates there were in the remand centre. There were relatively few inmates over the age of thirty-five. Crime, or more accurately impulsive crime, was the preserve of the young repetitive offender. From Merseyside in particular, imprisonment was just another environmental hazard, something which all their pals experienced. A large percentage of inmates had tattoos, sometimes covering large areas of their chest and arms. Many of these tattoos had been self inflicted. They looked awful. Some people say that there is no relationship between intelligence and the criminal type. Since over a third of males ended up with a criminal record, that would seem to confirm this statement. It all depends however on how you measure intelligence.

Intelligence is not simply based upon memory and whether one can differentiate quickly the difference between shapes in a so called IQ test. Determination to see a task performed well and the refusal to consistently seek the easy way out in life, are other values that reflect a persons worth, as are loyalty to friends and society, and of course honesty. All of these values are in a way part of intelligence. Independent reasoning ability and the determination to stick to a decision which you know to be right, are also fundamental aspects of intelligence. I was surprised by how many inmates had been talked into a crime, which they would normally have never committed. They appeared to lack a strong character of their own. Their parents and schoolteachers, their authority probably undermined by mass unemployment, had in that respect taught them little.

In the hospital however, existed the extreme personalities of the prison system, both inmates and staff. Less than half the inmates were of average or higher intelligence, being either killers, physically ill or having been brought off the wings for protection. There were many of low intelligence, so low in fact that it was difficult to see how on Earth some of them had the intelligence to break the law. Low intelligence could be caused by a number of factors. Most of this type had been like it since birth. Their mother's had indulged in excessive smoking and drinking of alcohol during pregnancy, mistakes had been made during child birth, stunted development of the brain caused by quarrelling or uncaring parents, or a serious accident involving brain injury. All these causes I came across in Risley, not to mention inadequate schooling, often coupled with a deprived negatively minded community.

A person of low intelligence stands little chance of keeping out of trouble in a society geared only to creating high technology jobs, to the detriment of everyone else less able. Far more obvious than intelligence was the uncaring way inmates had been brought up by their parents, often because the father was mentally or physically disabled, or simply too old, or because there was no father. There were many inmates who did not know how to make a bed properly, who would not flush the toilet after using it, nor wash their hands afterwards. They would not push their chair back under the table after finishing their meal, something which my mother had driven into me at an early age, along with everything else.

When it came to cleaning the ward, I was left almost on my own. All the keen workers had jobs elsewhere, and although they were not officially allowed to, would go to them before the ward cleaning began. Many of those that were left felt that scrubbing floors was beneath their dignity. I must admit that no sane housewife would have got down on her hands and knees and scrubbed those floors, for they were too extensive in area. Easy divorce, gay rights, women's lib and the acceptance of one parent families, I felt would only exacerbate the crime problem.

One of the inmates that fell into the low intelligence bracket was Neil Peters, a small warn out individual. He arrived on A ward late one evening. I did not exactly see his arrival as smell it. He moved into bed number two, which was next to mine, separated by a glass partition, which unfortunately failed to prevent his body odour from drifting up my nostrils. Each time I smelt it that night, I had to use every ounce of will power to stop myself exploding with rage. He was a simple soul, so the following morning I took him to the linen stores to get some clean clothes and bed sheets for his use. I even convinced him politely that he should have a bath, which to my joy he indulged in enthusiastically. I shudder to think what I would have done to him if he had refused.

He spent his days rummaging amongst the ash trays and dust bin, looking for dog ends, which he reconstructed into full sized cigarettes, for his own use. What they were like to smoke, I hate to imagine, as they stank awfully. As soon as he lit up, the windows in the ward magically opened. Coughing and wheezing, he would carry on smoking regardless. The tobacco he used was a combination of cigarette and cigar. The cigar butts came from the hospital officer, Mr. Stick, a Scotsman who smoked incessantly by day and apparently drank all night. Invariably I would find him in a semi-collapsed state in the staff servery each morning. How he managed to get to work I do not know. He must have had the sense of a homing pigeon. Just before I finally left Risley, somebody told me that his wife had kicked him out. I could not imagine why any woman would want him, except to pay the bills. Looking at Mr. Stick and Neil, it was not too difficult to see how one could lead to the other. I think Mr. Stick got a sadistic delight in watching Neil's pyrotechnic masterpieces turn everyone's face green.

Of all the people I saw spew up, Neil did it with the greatest effect. Just the sound of that agonizing groan coming from the deepest recesses of his stomach, reverberating off the lavatory bowl, was enough to churn over the strongest stomach. We often felt that he would never get out of the lavatory alive, but much to our disappointment, he rebounded back to life. Sitting in the staff chair outside the ward office, Mr. Stick would simply shake his head in amazement at such feats.

Neil spent the evenings drawing. Quite a few of the lads considered themselves artists, and proved quite good at it, but Neil was pathetic. Not just content with drawing, Neil would make models out of paper. All of the models would be put along the window sill, then over his bed and locker. It was impossible to tell one model from another, as they all looked the same. It reminded me of sea gulls on a council refuse tip. Neil would often go around the ward trying to cadge a light off someone. The lads would tell him to go and ask the Hospital officer or night watchman. Needless to say, it was not necessarily the cigarette that started flaming when he did so.

The hospital officers had a soft job most of the time. As with the inmates, the main problem was in how not to get bored. Some simply put two chairs together and slept off the previous nights drinking in the office. At times like that I was not certain whether the locked grill gate was designed to keep the inmates in or the principal officer out. I think Mr. Pluto was the worst offender. As for Mr. Stick, it was difficult at times to see whether he was asleep or awake, as he tended to drift between the two states during most of the day. As for qualifications for the job, some had been trained in radiography and EEG work, whilst others had previous medical related experience. Mr. Parrot was qualified in pharmacology, whilst Mr. Pardon spent his time swotting up for a medical exam, during those initial months. Other officers took City & Guilds or BTEC exams in various subjects, just to pass the time.

The staff certainly knew how to stick a hypodermic needle into an inmate, and if all else failed there was always Mr. Barraclough, a man of the cloth, to administer the last rites. Most of the time it was only necessary for hospital officers to lock and unlock doors, count the inmates regularly and try to keep awake. Being locked in a ward with so many idiots, it was a soulless, thankless task. The job was however well paid and presented plenty of spare time in which to plan the next holiday with the misses, swot for exams or pursue some hobby. Mr. Flight would pass the time by listening to the airliners making their approach to Manchester International Airport, formerly Ringway. I let him and other members of staff read my Flight International, after I had finished with them. I never found an inmate interested in them. Many could not even read.

Some of the hospital officers had become screws on recommendation from a relative or friend, who was one. Half the prison staff came from the armed forces, simply because it was the thing to do, whilst many others were gay. Mr. Willie's father was a screw, Mr. Pluto had been in the parachute regiment, Mr. Bump in the Royal Marines, whilst Mr. Stone had been in the RAF. One of the screws had been a boxer. To stop the staff from becoming 'home sick', Mr. Parrot would go around whistling regimental tunes. He had been in the army, the Salvation Army. Also straight out of the armed forces, one assumes, was the swearing. By far the worst culprit was Mr. Bark. I well remember our first encounter. He was sitting on the landing between A and B wards, whereupon I went up to him and asked a question, politely.

"What the fuck are you fucking doing in this fucking place, fuck off!" Mr. Bark replied.

For a brief moment I thought I had achieved my life long ambition of coming face to face with alien intelligence. He was literally incapable of saying anything without swearing. I wondered whether he had a family, but could not bring myself to ask. I do not think that I ever got use to the foul language and flatulence. It all helped to make the sickening environment I was in, even sicker. The Home Office was to later describe my treatment as 'supportive psychotherapy'.

Quite frankly I could not wait to get out. I had been given a fixed sentence of five years imprisonment. According to my booklet, 'Parole Your Questions Answered,' any sentence over three years was eligible for parole. Upon my return to Risley Remand Centre after my trial, I had been informed of my earliest date of release (EDR), and my parole eligibility date (PED). The EDR fell due after an inmate had completed two thirds of his sentence, provided he had not lost remission through bad behaviour. PED came into effect after an inmate had completed a third of his sentence. This meant that I would be eligible for parole from Boxing Day 1985, whilst my EDR would fall on August 27th, 1987. I thought that I would have little difficulty in getting parole, since my crime was hardly likely to occur again. I had no previous criminal record and I was determined to keep my nose clean, no matter how much shit was thrown at me.

I was lucky, as many inmates who passed through the hospital at Risley got life sentences. A person could receive a life sentence for murder, manslaughter, arson, rape, or a sex assault against a child. Life sentences usually meant eight to fifteen years in prison. For the killing of police officers, prison personnel, terrorism, or killing a person with a firearm in a robbery, the life sentence could be twenty years or more. For serious crimes the judge may feel compelled to give a life sentence followed by a minimum sentence of imprisonment for that lifer. No matter how long or short the life sentence in prison, upon release, this is followed by a life licence. This lasts for the rest of that person's natural life. People on life licence could be recalled to prison if they had done something wrong, or seemed likely to do so. Persons recalled to prison could then be detained for twelve months. At this time there were moves by the Home Office to make all those serving life do twenty years imprisonment, and increase remission to other inmates to half their sentence instead of a third. Neither idea got off the ground. As for my particular case, the seriousness of the offence was to prove the main stumbling block to getting parole.

The thought of a third remission for good behaviour was the main factor which kept the lid on the British prison system. I only saw three or four violent incidents whilst in prison, and usually they were between inmates. In one incident Neil was on the receiving end when another inmate punched him in the mouth. The inmates not only detested his smoking habits, but worse, they did not like being put in the same 'class' as him. Inmates could get very touchy regarding mental illness, especially the question of whether or not they suffered from it themselves. Neil had been getting on peoples' nerves by rummaging through the dustbin, whilst many inmates watched TV. It sickened their enjoyment of soap operas. Finally he started playing with himself in full view of everyone, He would often slink off to the loo, where he kept a grubby pornographic magazine hidden behind the cistern. The magazines came from the staff, who would 'read' them in prison without their wives finding out. Many of the magazines were years old, folded, worn out and stained. You could usually find some in the bottom draw of the office desk. After being assaulted Neil was moved downstairs, whilst his assailant was reported in the occurrence book.

Inmates in general wanted to get better, and like me asked for help from the doctors. Some would prove more successful than I, sometimes resulting in unforeseen side effects. There was Mary for instance who took a cocktail of three drugs each day, including lithium carbonate, used in the treatment of manic depression. In addition he was injected in the backside with depixol (flupenthixol decanoate), a major tranquillizer, every two weeks. All this helped put him in a semi-comatosed state. In fact he slept half of the day usually. It also made him talk and move in an effeminate manner, hence his nickname, Mary. He was really a nice chap, whom you could get to know easily, in his drugged state at any rate.

Separating truth from fiction was impossible. A typical example was Glynne Williams, a sex offender. He was aged about fifty I would say and came from North Wales. He said he was a great landowner and that his wife was a member of the well to do. One day he told a group of us, at great length, how he met this girl who against all his protests eventually seduced him. The story took a couple of hours for him to recall as he went into great detail. It took a long time to narrate, not just because the story was so long winded, but also because he stuttered, an affliction he said he had suffered from ever since a tractor rolled on top of him. He was charged with having sex with this under aged girl, and was not looking forward to his trial in Caernarfon.

He described how he met the girl's mother and how when he went around her house one day, finding the mother was out, her daughter tried to seduce him. He managed to repulse this temptation, on this and a second occasion whilst he was lying on a beach naked. In cold wind swept North Wales? On the third occasion she met him in the lane leading up to his farmhouse. He had just finished work and she insisted on going home with him. In the farmhouse she started to take off her clothes. He was already stripped to the waist after washing at the kitchen sink. Well you can imagine how half a dozen lads in A ward were feeling, after being confined for months. The worst part was when he kept on stuttering, whilst everyone was trying to find the next word for him. Anyway, after fighting her off for what seemed like months, he finally gives in to temptation and damnation. We were all relieved that the story was finally over. At the trial the story turned out to be quite different. He was only a farm labourer apparently. The girl was not fifteen but twelve years of age. He lived in a caravan where the offence took place in a sleeping bag whilst two schoolboys were reading pornographic magazines in the next compartment. The outcome of the trial was three years imprisonment, so I was told. After the sentencing he immediately stopped stuttering. Needless to say, the inmates on the ward felt very angry at being conned.

A few years later, as I was walking through a new shopping arcade in Bangor someone tapped me on the shoulder. I was filled with a feeling of dread. Oh no, I thought, the in-laws. I turned around and low and behold standing before me, as fit as an ox, was my old friend Glynne Williams. With a haversack on his back, he looked as if he had already climbed Mount Snowdon half a dozen times that day. He had evidently had it rough in prison and was glad to be out. He still maintained that the girl had been fifteen and was now seventeen years of age. Somehow the maths did not make sense. Evidently he was still screwing her, so he said, though by now he had shacked up with a twenty-three year old. He said that he had been sentenced to two years for under aged sex and two years for threatening the father. This caused him to swear at the judge who then made the sentences run consecutively instead of concurrently. Just how much of this yarn was true is anyone's guess.

One of the characters who went in and out of Risley like a boomerang was John Boon, a short stocky character. His offences were quite minor, such as steeling a pullover. He was known as the human magpie. He looked like something made from spare parts. During my stay in A ward he was usually kept downstairs in a cell, but during one overcrowded period we were blessed by his presence for two weeks. He collected everything in sight that was not nailed down. His pockets bulged with pens and tooth brushes.

One day a photograph of my wife disappeared. The request for a search was turned down. I had a good idea who had it, but trying to prove it without causing trouble was impossible. On some nights after lights out, we could hear a squelching noise coming from John's bed. The thought of him having that photograph made me sick. John was eventually returned downstairs. Not before time in my opinion.

About six months later, whilst I was in B ward, John joined us. I was surprised by how much he had improved in both appearance and behaviour. Obviously someone had put a lot of effort in. It was also clear that further improvement was also possible, but I knew he would not get it at Risley.

Another character so easy to remember at this time was Tiny, all twenty-two stone of him. He was so big that none of the prison clothes fitted him, so the authorities were obliged to get some specially made. The ward had been presented with some really comfortable tubular chairs for watching the TV from. Evidently the chairs did not recline to some inmates liking and so it was not long before they were all bent back, some into uncomfortable angles, by his enormous weight. He said he had been arrested for kidnapping a policeman who had attempted to arrest him for some reason or other. One look at his size made you believe it.

A less likeable fellow in the ward at this time was Bob Wells. I clearly remember the day when half a dozen lads sat around him and methodically questioned him. Wells had a life history of mental illness which included Broadmoor. He had been arrested because a mentally retarded young girl had accused him of sexually assaulting her, by ramming a pole or branch up her vagina. At the inquisition that day in A ward, Wells simply said that he could not remember anything. The lads got nowhere, but they passed a verdict none the less. Guilty! Wells did not have to prove his innocence. The prosecution had to prove his guilt, but with only the evidence of a mentally retarded girl, they stood no chance. Wells' defence council quickly reduced her statement to dust. Under British law that was what they were supposed to do. I was coming to realise at this time that British courts were not there to ascertain the truth, only to arrive at an expedient decision, the consequences of which mattered little. Although found not guilty, he was not released, since his case history fell within the mental health act. He was therefore sent to Rainhill Hospital, Liverpool, the outcome of which was to lead him back to Risley at a later date.

There always seemed to be a prankster in the ward. Bedsprings were disconnected from the bed frames, causing unsuspecting inmates to fall through. This was dangerous and on one occasion the entire ward was punished for it. Bed sheets were also sabotaged so that the user could not get into it at lights out, unless he remade it, whilst everyone else was snuggled up and giggling in theirs. There were of course foreign objects placed in beds, particularly sugar, the occasional dead cockroach, whilst the mention of a live one would quickly cause the unsuspecting inmate to shoot out of bed and investigate, praying of course that a squashed insect was not found since all the clean sheets were locked in the linen stores. On one occasion I fell victim. I had been lying on my bed after lunch. I got up at 1pm and whilst putting my shoes on, which had been under the bed, I realised that they felt funny. At that moment there came a chuckle from the 'joker' who was sitting in an easy chair in front of the TV. I picked up my shoes and looked inside. They were full of syrup. I washed my shoes and socks but it took the best part of the rest of the day for them to dry. I felt like taking the matter further but did not.

The Joker even went as far as putting banana skins on the floor outside the ward office door. This kind of behaviour proved infectious. One of the other inmates then started imitating the ground floor night watchman. It was normal procedure for this night watchman to visit each ward at regular intervals from 9pm to 6-30am. One particular night watchman had the habit of snapping his fingers when he arrived at the locked grill gate, which was kept locked all night as the staff did not have the key. This particular inmate would imitate him by walking up to the grill gate, snapping his fingers then nipping into the wash room for a 'slash'. Upon hearing the snapping fingers our night watchman would grudgingly get out of his chair and step outside the office to see what the ground floor night watchman wanted. After a couple of fruitless journeys he got wise to what was going on, and would just sit there in the office ignoring all further sounds. When the night watchman eventually appeared, virtually everyone on the ward started snapping their fingers. The ground floor night watchman had to stand at the grill gate for some time before our staff got wise. There were plenty of threats from the night staff to send one of us downstairs, but the inmates were usually one step ahead. They only did it when they knew all the punishment cells were full.

As for the Joker, he was charged along with another youth of burning a school to the ground. He was a problem child who had gone to a special school for delinquents. He intended pleading guilty to the arson but always maintained that a girl had talked him into it. He said there were forty witnesses to that effect. When the girl went for trial she simply said that although she told him to set fire to the school, she was only joking. The jury found her not guilty. The Joker was sentenced to three years imprisonment. The last joke had been on him.

Another extrovert character on the ward at this time was Philip Marsden. Considering he had all of his faculties and was of average intelligence, he had no one to blame but himself for the pathetic person he had become. Like a child, he had to involve himself in every scheme going, including those at Risley. He was a very worried man and went around the ward asking people for advice regarding his case. He had apparently been involved in the theft of a large amount of money from a public house, during which the elderly manageress was stabbed to death. It was not long before the police picked him up. Philip's finger prints were found on the money bags. He would not say who the other gang members were, believed to be two men. One of Philip's relatives received threatening phone calls from the other gang members, so the police then traced the calls and arrested the people concerned. Just who killed the manageress was not clear, although some of the lads, having spoken to Philip, concluded that he had done it, then panicked. He was scared out of his wits when Dr. Shrunk told him that he would go down for twenty years. At the trial, one of the gang was found not guilty, whilst Philip Marsden got seven years. Dr. Shrunk was not amused.

James McBride was another inmate suffering from chronic anxiety. After watching the film Zulu on television he kept singing 'Men of Harlech' for weeks along with his favourite phrase, "they're coming to take me away ha! ha!" He was a Glaswegian and had the infuriating habit of coming up to me and asking me whether I was well, as if it was me who might be around the bend and not him. He regularly wrote letters to his wife who lived in Scotland, decorating the envelopes with Chinese characters. Whether the staff went to the trouble of deciphering them, I do not know. Personally, I thought he was a screw-ball. He was accused, along with his brother, of killing an antique dealer. The only trouble was that the police could not find the other half of the gang. Under Scottish law a person could not be held on remand for more than one hundred and ten days. In England and Wales there was no such restriction, so James stayed on remand for what seemed like aeons, whilst the police scoured the country for the missing fugitive. Whenever James went for remand appearances, he was given an armed police escort, as his brother was known to have a strong liking for firearms, including machine guns.

For some reason James liked me and got on with everyone else too. I got to know him well despite his broad Glaswegian accent, which I found a bit of a handful. I do not think he had a regular paid job as his nerves were shattered when his home caught fire 'started by the fairies' a few years before, causing extensive burns to his body. He had a small son, whom he showed me in a photograph, standing next to his father. In the photograph James was wearing a Chinese martial arts costume. He had at one time been quite a leading member of the sport of Kung Fu, and had evidently appeared in a tournament in Birmingham. His hobby was the collecting of military medals and regalia, which he displayed at exhibitions. So the Chinese characters and military music did not look out of place after all. His habit of talking quickly, in short bursts, with little emotion, I found unnerving.

I asked him about the killing and got a number of conflicting stories. He told me that his brother had shot the antique dealer in an argument over a ten pound note. James being across the road at the time. During the same conversation he said that he and his brother had come down from Scotland to kill the antique dealer, because he had assaulted James' wife, during an occasion when the dealer went up to Glasgow. James and his brother had on these visits acted as minders, whilst the dealer went around the antiques market. I honestly did not know what to believe. I got the feeling that maybe he did not know what the truth was any more. He said that he did not know where his brother was, but apparently his relatives did know. Gradually, during his months at Risley, James became less euphoric. He worked most days on the ground floor servery. When I met inmates like James I wished I could compare notes with the psychiatrists. In all the time James was at Risley, I could not make out whether he was good or bad. I was so naive then. Gradually over the years I came to realise that inmates only gave an inkling of what they are really like after they have been sentenced. In that case, what was the purpose of keeping inmates in observation wards?

One of the most handsome and intelligent inmates at Risley during my first few months there, was David Jarret. He occupied bed number two in A ward, before Neil arrived. He was the same age as myself, and we played bridge together quite a lot. He was probably what every woman dreamed of, but David only wanted one woman, and that was the wife of a solicitor. They had once worked for the same company. As their friendship developed he wrote numerous letters to her in flowing hand writing, almost copperplate in style. His interest in her became an obsession, but despite getting another job, as the manager of a bus company, he could not forget her. Finally he made the fateful decision to kill the husband. He knew the husband made regular visits to a cottage, in order to renovate it. David went to the cottage, boarded up the windows, then waited in the dark. Upon his arrival he beat the solicitor unconscious, then dragged him into the solicitor's car. David used his experience as a rally driver to overturn the vehicle, making it look like an accident. He poured petrol over the car then set it alight. The fire spread to David's track suit, badly burning his leg. He made his own way to hospital, after dumping the suit, crash helmet and petrol cans in a rubbish tip.

The police found the death suspicious. The solicitor's wife was asked to give the police a list of all their acquaintances, who were then interviewed. After a few days, with no word from David, the solicitor's wife phoned him up at work to learn that he was in hospital with burns. She then notified the police. The game was up.

It was hard to believe that he was suffering from a mental disorder, but that was to be the basis for the defence. He had an EEG but no abnormalities were found. The defence psychiatrist said at the trial, that the accused had been suffering from erotomania, something which David found amusing. As the trial wore on he became increasingly worried. He was finally found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. His appeal against sentence was later turned down. It was a waste, I thought, to keep such an intelligent bloke in prison, but then the person killed had also been a tragic waste. When he was not playing bridge or writing letters he would lie on his bed, no doubt struggling with his conscience. Whether there was more to the case, I simply do not know, for he refused to discuss it with anyone on the ward.

Probably the nicest bloke I have met in or out of prison was Matt Reid, a builder, electrician and former gun shop proprietor. In fact a Jack of all trades. I found him very much a fatherly figure, particularly as he was similar in appearance, age and personality to that of my stepfather. He was charged with the attempted murder of his business partner. It was very difficult to imagine Matt as being a murderous type, as he simply did not have an aggressive nature. I suppose Matt's problems started with his previous business venture, an engineering company worth at least one hundred thousand pounds, which he and his partner had started from virtually nothing. According to Matt, his partner was skimming the profits, so Matt one day decided that he had had enough and left the company. He did not even ask for a proper financial settlement.

His next business venture consisted of converting an old vicarage into an old folks home, but he needed a partner to provide the necessary financial backing. A distant relative, who was a butcher by trade, supplied some of the money, the remainder being borrowed from a bank. Matt worked on converting the vicarage on his own for about a year, putting in seventy hours of work each week. Eventually all the building modifications were complete. It was approved by the DHSS and the clients moved in. Matt was very proud of what he had achieved.

No sooner did the place start earning money, than his partner decided to buy him out for 'peanuts.' This news came as a terrible blow to Matt, who was looking forward to the income from the old folks home to retire on. Enraged at the thought of being conned a second time, he went to the butcher's shop with his revolver. The revolver had been converted to fire bird shot, but the ammunition was old and as a result, only about thirty per cent efficient. Upon arrival at the butcher's shop he shot his partner five times, the sixth round failing to go off.

He showed me the photographs of the injuries inflicted. I thought they would make a nice presentation over the fire place. I could not help thinking that his partner got less than he deserved, although of course I did not hear the other side of the story. Matt unfortunately did not know when it was best to keep his mouth shut. He certainly did not have anything nice to say about his partner in court. All the jury saw was an unrepentant man, who was still enraged. I got the impression that Matt tried to cover up his pleasant inner self, as he was deeply conscious of people thinking that he was soft in the head.

The jury found him guilty of attempted murder, for which he was sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment. I think the jury was wrong but it was not their fault. They simply did not have the time nor opportunity to get to know him. Since Matt knew all about firearms, he could have picked a more lethal weapon, if he had meant to kill him, and in any case, he could have finished off his partner with a meat cleaver, but he did not. I do not believe he could find it in his heart to murder someone.

In the months leading up to his trial, the DHSS closed down the old folks home and it was then put up for sale. His wife in the meantime had virtually no savings and certainly no income. The DHSS refused to pay anything except child allowance for their two young children, who had to hand over their life savings to their mother to buy food. The DHSS, who knew full well what the financial circumstances were, refused to pay any more money, until the old folks home was sold off, as technically his wife was still a director of the company which ran the home. Letters of protest to her MP got nowhere. In addition to the prison sentence, the 'victim' was entitled to compensation for criminal injuries sustained, from Matt's share of the business. It could so easily happen to anyone, I thought. A person's mind will only take so much, then the fuse will blow. Some people can take more stress than others, for their fuses have higher ratings. Others are less fortunate. There were no doubt many people like that in prison. Inmates who did not deserve to be shunned by relatives, friends and the establishment at a time when they needed them most.

Only two inmates stood out as being more depressed than myself. One of these was Alan Hurd. Alan was probably the same age as myself, bigger build and tough looking. He looked the criminal type, but he said he had never been in prison before. His wife had been an alcoholic for three years. Things went from bad to worse. She had sex with a man who took her home from bingo one night. Her husband found out about it and confronted her with it. She was a very mixed up woman apparently, saying she was going to get a divorce then changing her mind. She finally left home to live with relatives, taking the children with her. The way he told it, it sounded as if she was trying to hurt her husband as much as possible.

Although the social services department was involved, it did not seem to make much difference. If Alan had been violent against his wife then he was certainly not admitting it. One day she returned to her former home. There was an argument during which Alan shot her with a sawn off shot gun. He had sawn the barrels off because he said he had considered committing suicide with it. Whether that was the full story I do not know. He was certainly a depressed, remorseful and defeated man. After being on remand for a year, he was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment. During his time at Risley he occupied a bed in the far corner of A ward. He told me that the best way to do your bird is to sleep it off. How he could sleep so many hours in that hell I could never figure out. He now had plenty of sleeping hours ahead of him.

I think it is fair to say that none of my fellow inmates in that ward, nor in any other I was later in, sat down and wrote out their confessions, as I did. "These deps are a load of shite!" many inmates would say after looking at the depositions their solicitors had sent them.

There were many who laughed at the legal system, at least outwardly. They would not plead guilty as they could not bring themselves to confronting their guilt in court, let alone writing it all down first. For many, that would have been worse than a trial. Many inmates seemed to have lived by their own set of rules on the outside, rules that they would take up again upon their release. They had no faith in the establishment's way of doing things as they came from deprived areas, accepting their crimes as inevitable and their sentences philosophically, as if to say, "we have been victims of the system all our lives, and whatever we say or do, we will remain victims."

From my observations at Risley, I concluded that the outcome of a trial was strongly dependant upon the intelligence and determination of the accused. The sentences handed out for killings in domestic disputes, ranged from life imprisonment to three years probation. There seemed to be no consistency whatsoever in the length of sentences handed out. If you lacked the intelligence or willingness to co-operate with police, psychiatrists, solicitors, barristers and QCs, then there was little that anyone could do for you.

The thought that defence council were more interested in seeing their definition of justice carried out, sprang into mind on a number of occasions. The treatment inmates received from their defence council and prosecution, depended greatly upon their character and previous criminal record. Although the jury was not made aware of the accused criminal record, that record is read out in court either after the accused pleads guilty or after the jury reaches a guilty verdict. The judge is therefore aware of the accused criminal record, and this is taken into consideration when determining sentence. Where previous custodial sentences had failed to deter, a judge had little choice but to pass a longer sentence designed simply to keep the miscreant off the streets. Many inmates regarded this as being sentenced again for a previous crime. Looking at it from the establishment's point of view, for many inmates it was their tenth to twentieth offence, and nothing less than a stiff sentence, designed simply to keep the accused out of circulation, was going to be worth passing.




Chapter 8




Promises




Promises written, promises spoken,
Promises made, promises broken.
Promises which at the time made sense,
But afterwards, now, there's no recompense.
Promises made with such deep seated thought,
Look at the abject misery they have brought.
Promises made on the spur of the moment,
Then instantly broken, with no sense of atonement.
Sitting here behind bars, steel doors and fence,
No cheque book, no telephone, muscles all tense.
Complicated instructions sent out in detail,
Please comply with them, please without fail.
But solicitors, estate agents, building societies too,
All have a hand in what others promised to do.
Fairy tale home for sale, a divorce is arranged,
No details for the prisoner,
Do they think he's deranged?
The inmate's life is taken apart,
All the years it will take to make a new start.
The sacrifices made over the years,
Now it's come true, those nagging fears.
The assets are stripped with barely a hitch,
As the prisoner is left without a stitch.
Now there's nothing left to leave prison for,
No wife, no home, no friends like before.
No job, no training for a new role,
Just the promise of unemployment, signing on the dole.
There's no rest for the wicked, so the saying goes,
As the prisoner, with his broken promises, reluctantly knows.



Some members of staff understood the strain that inmates were under and did their best to cheer us up, whilst others acted as if they should have been inmates themselves. Just which category Mr. Pluto fell into, I was uncertain. Like many people, he had his good and bad side. It was with him, Malcolm Richards and David Jarret that I played bridge, a card game which I found more interesting than the average television programme. Bridge is more than a game of chance. It requires bluff and a good memory. The latter I seriously lacked, being under the influence of Prothiaden (the anti-depressant dothiepen). Since players operate in pairs, a system of signals enabling you and your partner to cheat, was essential. Needless to say, Mr. Pluto cheated. It is without a doubt the ideal game to bring the family together, although it has been known to lead to suicide or even murder, if taken too seriously.

The trouble with Mr. Pluto was that he was so good that he knew what everyone else had in their hands. According to what he told me, he was also the best snooker player in that region of the prison service. It was difficult to imagine him playing snooker as he had a big build with a pot belly to match. He waddled along as he walked, whilst his eyes were often like piss holes in the snow, after a night out. He was definitely not the sort of man you would argue with, as he once squeezed my tit for cracking some joke about him. The staff knew how to inflict pain without leaving any marks, and he certainly enjoyed inflicting it. His alternative to screaming, "off ya wanking pits," at seven o' clock in the morning, was to creep up to your bed and whisper in your ear, "rise and shine." He was so unpredictable. He could also do an excellent imitation of a red Indian war dance, or was it a fit. His imitation of a warship's klaxon calling action stations was absolutely brilliant, but the tales about his fishing exploits brought tears of laughter to our eyes.

Three of his fishing tales I clearly remember. In the first of these yarns, Mr. Pluto went fishing with a workmate who knew a reservoir that was worth investigating. They set up their fishing gear, and waited and waited. Nothing happened so they gradually lost interest. Soon after Mr. Pluto put his fishing rod down, a large fish grabbed the bait and pulled the line and fishing rod out into the middle of the reservoir.

"The reservoir's not deep, you can wade out," said his colleague. So out Mr. Pluto waded into deeper and deeper water. In the end the water got a little too deep, but fortunately help was at hand. Their was a small rowing boat moored off shore, which he decided to use. Mr. Pluto climbed on board, which must have been quite a feat considering his size. The rowing boat had been bleached by the sun, and obviously had not been used for some time. Mr. Pluto was in one of his rash moods and immediately grabbed the oars, and with gut determination, strained on the oars as if he was a Roman galley slave. Like the boat, the oars were in none too good a shape. Under the strain, both oars snapped, sending Mr. Pluto hurtling backwards into the bottom of the boat. Not to be outdone, he paddled with his hands, recovered his rod and eventually reached the shore, but as usual Moby Dick got away.

On the day of Prince Charles' investiture in Caernarfon Castle, Mr. Pluto was definitely not feeling in a flag waving mood, so he and a friend went fishing, in the hope of finding peace and quiet. They had not been fishing long when another angler set up camp nearby, then switched on his radio to listen to the royal proceedings. Well the radio was on rather loud, and as angling is a tranquil pursuit, Mr. Pluto decided to pursue it.

"Would you mind turning that radio down?" Mr. Pluto shouted to the other angler.

"Why don't you move if you don't like it?" the noisy angler replied.

He was obviously in an unreceptive mood. Well nobody at Risley argued with Mr. Pluto, and that included the staff. Mr. Pluto moved over to the man, whilst his friend could only dread what was apparently inevitable.

"Listen," said Mr. Pluto to the noisy angler, "I've come here for a quiet day's fishing. Would you mind turning your radio down?"

Again he was not receptive.

"If you want peace and quiet, go somewhere else," replied the pompous angler.

Our hero of the moment then settled the matter the only way he knew. He simply picked the man up and threw him into the river.

"Oh, and I believe this is your's too," Mr. Pluto said as he threw the man's radio after him.

The final part of Mr. Pluto's trilogy of fishing exploits naturally involved more violence. On this occasion Mr. Pluto went fishing with his colleagues along the tow path of a canal. As usual there was always some fool around who needed teaching a lesson. Up and down, up and down went the three scrambler bikes along the tow path, behind the men fishing. The kids on them were really enjoying themselves, but Mr. Pluto had had enough. The next time they came along, he stood on the tow path defiant. The bikes stopped in front of him.

"Listen," Mr. Pluto said sternly, "I've paid my licence fee to fish here, but you haven't got a licence to ride those bikes along here, so clear off!"

"We wont," said one of the lads as they rode off.

"Well I've warned yea," said Mr. Pluto.

Now Mr. Pluto had two keep nets, one of which had a stainless steel handle which he unscrewed from the net. He timed his attack carefully. As the motor bikes roared into view, he stood there as if fishing. Then as the ring leader rode past, he threw the rod backwards, through the spokes of the front wheel. Needless to say, the bike came to a sudden halt, most painfully for the rider, but Mr. Pluto had not finished. To cries of "Oh no!" from his colleagues, he picked up the crippled bike, and raising it above his head, threw it into the canal.

Listening to these tales thrilled us no end. One of the inmates summed up our feelings by saying, "I always thought angling was a quiet sport."

Soon after my trial Mr. Pluto called me into the ward office after sensing that I was still depressed, and gave me a pep talk.

"When you get out of prison you will have repaid your debt to society. You know what your sentence is, so work towards that release date, and then you won't owe anybody anything. Cheer up, because you've got no reason to let it get you down. Look at me, I've killed thirteen people in Northern Ireland. I've even had a petrol bomb explode on my back. So I was given the right to kill, but that didn't make me feel any different from you. The memory stays in the back of my mind where it belongs. I don't let it worry me," Mr. Pluto said.

I did not know whether he was having me on about the thirteen. Bloody Sunday? Nevertheless, I could well understand why the Catholics in that part of the world still hated us. I would.

Mr. Pluto would take no nonsense in the ward, but at the same time he seemed to encourage such play acting. Graham Tiler often fell victim.

"Right, fill the bath!" Mr. Pluto would shout, after some tomfoolery had taken place.

He could be sure that there would always be at least one Judas on the ward, who would fill the bath with cold water. The struggling, condemned man would then be captured, carried, then finally plunged into the deep, causing the water to cascade onto the floor. Naturally the victim would be fully clothed at the time. It was a great laugh, but I could not help feeling that at times like that, madness reigned. What's going to happen next, I would constantly ask myself. Fortunately for the victim, dry clothes would be quickly fetched from the linen stores, though with any luck, they would not fit.

There were times when things were deadly serious, like when the ward was searched for drugs and other contraband, by screws or hospital officers. Searches carried out by hospital officers usually required inmates to leave the ward and wait by the servery. The ward doors would be shut so that we could not see what was going on. All the beds would be stripped, and the lockers rummaged through. Sometimes the book case would be searched, leaving two hundred or more books on the floor, for the inmates to tidy up. If the staff were really keen, then the linen stores would also be a target. It would take the rest of the day to put the linen stores back into shape. The whole place would look as if a hurricane had hit it, but the search would still not be over.

Next would come us. We would either get a rub down search or stripped search. In a stripped search we would have to stand on a towel in the bathroom, and remove all our clothes for inspection of the lining. This was no time for being bashful. Some of the inmates were really self conscious about their bodies, and often tried to go to bed fully clothed. Sometimes they would search in our ears, but fortunately no further. It was a degrading exercise which had to be done due to the actions of a small minority of inmates. Every now and then, someone would be released from Risley, then go and tell the newspaper reporters just how easy it is to get drugs smuggled in. The only way to stop drugs entering remand centres would have been to make all visits closed, and ban all gifts of food and drink. In late 1987 the receiving of food parcels was banned at remand centres because of the drugs problem, the Home Office stating that the good food in remand centres did not require such supplements.

There were only four occasions when I saw inmates with drugs. In each case cannabis. On three of those occasions it involved an Afro-Caribbean. It was a way of life with them. Part of their cultural heritage. The staff never found drugs. Once an inmate had mixed his cannabis into a tin of tobacco, there was nothing to be found. You could always tell when someone was lighting up. A group of lads would invariably be acting excitedly near an open window. Even so the ward would stink of the stuff whilst the hospital officer or night watchman would be blase in an easy chair, watching TV. How could the staff be so ignorant? Some inmates told me that the staff knew, but that they just wanted an easy life. If so then what were the searches for? I got the impression that searches only took place when something had been stolen from ,a member of staff, such as a packet of cigarettes. As for drugs, it was better to ask the doctors for some. We were searched once, immediately before Christmas 1984, and twice in early January 1985.

The decorations went up in the ward for Christmas. There were not many. Just enough to let everyone know that this was the season of good will. There was no Christmas tree in the ward, but there was one outside the ground floor office, which no doubt cheered up staff and visitors alike. Many inmates looked forward to Christmas as a relief from the monotony of prison life, and possibly as a means of uniting with the folks back home with something in common. Certainly visits at Christmas were popular. Apart from the decorations however, prison routine varied in only a few ways. On Christmas day, boxing day and new year's day, the meals were markedly better. Meals were not as well prepared during the rest of the year.

I was surprised to see peaches with tinned evaporated milk. Not bad compared to the bread and butter puddings, and enormous sponges that we were usually obliged to devour. We were even allowed to watch television unofficially, until about midnight, providing there was something worth watching. Over Christmas, as many inmates as the staff dared, would be brought up from the ground floor to share in the festivities. The new year was also worth looking forward to. As the seconds ticked by and the new year arrived, the rumbling from inmate's banging cell doors and windows, amongst the cheering and whistling of others, would get louder and louder on the wings. A similar response could be heard during important soccer matches, as hundreds of inmates, confined to their cells almost all day, listened to the commentary on their radios. As a goal was scored the prison would erupt. The coming of the new year was however full of apprehension, as many of them would soon be brought to trial. Some of the lads on the ward would get some relief by flashing their arses at the guys on the wings. The inmates on the wings must have thought we were all a bunch of nutters.

As the weather got colder our exercise periods seamed to get more frequent. The snow began falling in early January. On Wednesday, January 16th, everything carried on as usual. The following day was our fourth exercise period that week. We were all ordered out of the open wards and into the courtyard, whilst many with less sense trooped out of the closed wards, even though they did not have to. Many of these inmates were inadequately dressed, wearing only a shirt and thin denim jeans. One inmate even had his arm in plaster, sticking out in a horizontal position. There was no rest for the wicked no matter how physically or mentally handicapped you were. If you were an inmate in a ground floor cell, it was unlikely that you would have a pullover, and you definitely did not have a jacket, there being no more than twenty of them for the entire hospital. By the time I left Risley there were only about two to a ward. For some reason, nobody bothered about ordering more. For those inadequately dressed, which was usually over half the inmates, it was just tough luck. You froze.

The head bangers would stagger out into the frosty cold, muttering to themselves, whilst sliding their ill fitting shoes through the snow. It was an unnerving experience, as we never knew how they were going to react, from one second to the next. One lad would stand on the same spot for minutes, brushing his hand over his hair. He had an effeminate appearance, and looked at me and other inmates strangely. I prayed like hell that he would not come over and touch me. It made my blood run cold, the weather and the nutters. Looking back on it I feel sorry for them, as they were so alone with their problems.

On warm days, one of them would run around the courtyard like an Olympic athlete, whilst another had a habit of walking backwards when you least expected it. Another would tumble head over heals on the grass, time and again, with encouragement from inmates in the courtyard and from the overlooking cells on the wings. It was a big laugh to most, but not to me. I could not help thinking that like my wife, each of these loons had a spouse or parent thinking of them. They would be hoping like hell that they would be receiving the right treatment to make them well, not displayed in a courtyard like animals in a zoo. It was very tragic.

The snow flakes floated down across my eye lashes, thence dashed to pieces on the frozen ground. The icy cold vortices created by the tall hospital building, could not be avoided as the inmates walked in the same direction around the yard. Today was definitely colder than yesterday, I thought. The medical officers stood in a cluster in the corner of the yard, their thick black overcoats made them look like blood thirsty Cossacks, whilst the inmates were Napoleon's ill equipped French army, making its painful retreat from Moscow in 1812. Come to think of it, there was no doubt someone amongst us who thought that he was Napoleon. We had to walk to keep warm, but our clothes offered little protection. Gradually, one by one, exposed parts of our bodies began to freeze.

It was normal practice for me to relieve the boredom of exercise periods by eating chews, small sweets bought, for one pence each from any change I had left over when spending my weekly wages in the canteen. These sweets helped to take my mind off the penetrating cold. On and on along that bloody tarmac we would trudge, some talking in groups, whilst others like myself suffered in silence. No point in complaining I thought, as it would only go into my record resulting in later and not earlier parole. Parole, that magic word, like sex. What would it be like? Frostbite penetrated the periphery of my ears as dew drops fell from my frozen nose, as we trudged on and on to 'Paris'.

I had a digital watch, a blue faced Limit International Chronograph which the prison authorities kept under lock and key. I was not allowed to wear it as it had a stop watch facility which could be used to co-ordinate an escape. I therefore had no way of knowing how much time had elapsed during the exercise period, unless I counted each lap as one minute. At times it was difficult to keep your balance on the ice, particularly with numb feet. In a way it was best not to know the time, for time appeared to go more quickly when you did not count it. My fingernails needed cutting, I thought, as I tore away the wrapper from another chew.

During that long march, I became aware of a pigeon trapped in the coils of razor wire, strung along the edge of the low flat roof located between the prison wings. It was still alive, vainly flapping its wings, as the wire got ever tighter around its neck. Normally the birds were the only free species residing at Risley, but that day fate was even more unkind.

"Move away from the corner," shouted a medical officer to a cluster of inmates who were seeking shelter from the ice cold wind blowing down from the high walls.

"Fucking cold ain't it mate?" said an unknown inmate to me as he walked by.

By that time it had become difficult to think of anything but the God damned British weather. The trapped pigeon continued its vain fluttering, no doubt wondering how long it could survive like that, as indeed so did I. Two sparrows now stood on the razor wire, peering down at the doomed bird, like angels waiting for the finale. We walked on and on. Some inmates stood around in huddled groups, talking about anything but the weather. We waited for the order to go in, but the staff seemed as snug as a bug in a rug, in their heavy overcoats. In their wind resistant, rain resistant, snow resistant, thermal lined overcoats, they just stood there chatting to one another.

Eventually a saviour appeared, not for us but for the pigeon. A workman in brown overalls clambered onto the roof and walked over to the bird, which was now flapping its wings even more, in an attempt to escape from the human. Using pliers he cut the wire, then carried the bird away in his hands, for more attention. Things were looking up, I thought. The cheap and ill fitting clothes were no match for the weather on that day. I had one button missing from my jacket and another coming loose, with no means at my disposal for sewing them back on, nor even of getting another coat, as there were none in the linen stores. Theoretically an inmate wore brown jeans and jacket before his trial, and after conviction, blue. A failed escapee would wear blue jeans and jacket with a broad yellow vertical stripe down both. In reality I had trouble getting any clothes to fit me, never mind the colour.

"All right, in yea go!" yelled a hospital officer.

At last deliverance. We all trudged into the hospital, too cold and miserable to say anything. Unless like me you had a chew. Upstairs in the ward there was no electricity. The power had been off for sometime. The radiators had quickly cooled down, as the hot water was circulated by electric pumps. Out of the fridge, into the freezer, I thought. Having to share a dark ward with thieves, murderers, sadists and rapists, did not appeal to me one bit. It was only then that I could see the advantage of having the floodlights streaming through the windows, being powered by emergency generators.

Word had it that Denzil Williams, a Welsh vicar held in one of the other wards, had been noticed spying on one of the other inmates who was sitting on the loo. So said Mr. Flight. There were also rumours of tonnes of pornography found at his home, dating back to 1952. I never use to take these tales seriously, particularly as after my trial, the staff at Risley had told the inmates that I had received a life sentence. There was no doubt in my mind that some officers enjoyed making up stories, or exaggerating matters.

The stories about Denzil Williams however, almost made my hair stand on end. He was awaiting trial for cutting off the sex organs of deceased male parishioners, who had been awaiting burial in his chapel. He then photographed the organs, before cutting them up and feeding them to the sea gulls. Well, at least he had not killed them, but there is always the first, I thought. I had written home stating that we were all going around with our hands in our pockets. Joking of course. But the medical officer who read our letters before they were posted, did not find it funny, and told me to write a replacement letter. We were not allowed to mention the names and exploits of other inmates. Because of this, inspiration was a great struggle, often resulting in boring letters. Little did I realise that I was to see quite a lot of Denzil Williams, whom the news media were to Christian, 'the devil priest'.

The following Friday the ward got cold again. A valve needed replacing in the new boiler house, so the heating had been turned off. The inmates clustered around a portable gas fire, with blankets over their shoulders. With so many loose fitting windows in the ward, it proved a pathetic attempt to keep warm. There was no double glazing. It was all single pane. Many of the steel window frames had faulty hinges or missing latches. The old oil fired heating system could not cope, so one million pounds or more had been spent on a new one. It was a big improvement on the old system, but temperature control was sadly lacking, as there were no thermostat in the ward, nor anywhere else in the hospital. When the warm weather arrived we would be sweltering, with the radiators too hot to touch. The heating system was finally turned off in mid May. Why the prison did not use ducted air heating, I failed to understand, since it was the only way of ensuring that inmates did not damage the radiators or rattle them at night. It would also have ensured that wards and cells were properly ventilated. This was to become a sore point with me during my stay in the hospital. I also recall a case where a comatosed inmate had to have his arm bandaged up after leaving it lying over night on the radiator.

On that Friday, two hundred millimetres of snow had fallen in Cornwall and Wales, whilst the temperature outside did not bare thinking about, The ground floor medical officer, Mr. Willie, came into the ward.

"Right, exercise!" Mr. Willie shouted.

"What, now?" said the wards medical officer.

"Yes of course. Come on lads, get up!" Mr. Willie said defiantly.

The inmates grudgingly got up from their warm chairs, then shuffled off to their lockers to put on their jackets and wrap a towel around their necks. I counted my chews. I had four. Just enough, I thought.

"It's all right, I'm only joking," Mr. Willie remarked.

He was not smiling I noticed. Did he mean it, I wondered. Slowly it dawned on us that it was all a sick joke. We all moved back to our once warm chairs. Someone deserves a cold bath, I thought. Later that day another pigeon was untangled from the razor wire. We could see it from the ward window, but this one was clearly dead.

I was paid one pound twenty-two pence per week at this time, less three pence towards the social fund, which paid for the television licence, Christmas decorations, playing cards, chess, monopoly, dominoes, etc. After spending their one pound nineteen pence in the canteen on a Sunday morning, it was then permissible to go to the chapel. Few inmates went there to pray for forgiveness. It was more a meeting hall in which to see friends kept in other parts of the prison. It also helped to relieve the monotony of prison life. Others went there simply to avoid cleaning duties, I only went once.

In the chapel there was no praying and no singing. We just sat there watching a film on American sport. It was not my idea of a Christian service. From what other inmates told me, there was singing on odd occasions, if you can call it that, whilst at other times pop groups would make an appearance. These groups were so loud that I could hear them clearly enough across the square in A ward. I felt glad that I was not one of those forced to sit through it for an hour or more. The music sounded terrible. I felt that the groups only came as it was the only place they could find a captive audience. I liked most music and had a collection at home of over eighty LPs, ranging from Carly Simon and Francoise Hardy to Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep. At one time I use to go and see rock groups playing at the Nags Head in Wollaston, Northamptonshire, where the BBC radio one's John Peel was DJ. All that seemed so far away in time and space, as if it had never happened. Certainly the life I had before I met Karen appeared to belong to someone else, not me.

The priests would often come around the ward like circling vultures. I was not a religious person, although at one time I use to be. Religion did not come easy to me as I was very independently minded, and hence preferred to stand on my own two feet. 'God helps those who help themselves,' is a phrase I firmly believed in. Maybe if I did not, then perhaps I would have sought help for my mental illness, long before I entered prison. The only occasion I asked for help was when I wrote direct to my parent's vicar, when it became clear to me that my mother had become very depressed regarding my circumstances. This occurred shortly before I went on trial. Fortunately their vicar was kind enough to help, and I think he succeeded.

I had a great respect for Jesus Christ, as a person. A man who was prepared to be executed rather than accept the injustices that prevailed throughout the Roman Empire. I could not help thinking that, were he alive today, his antics would have led him straight into a place like the hospital at Risley. The hospital had seen quite a few religious loons. The cell walls were covered by their prayers and images of crucifixes. The Church of England's outspokenness against the British Government at this time was commendable, though a little late in my opinion. The criticism of the Church of England by government ministers, seemed to reinforce my belief that the government was not prepared to accept anyone else's point of view, regarding how society should be run. The government was to continue along its monetarist course, regardless.

After my trial, trying to relieve the boredom of my confinement became a major preoccupation. I liked reading my magazines, particularly the articles about space research. I had always been interested in the subject ever since I read Dan Dare in Eagle comic, when I was a kid. With the two book allowances I was awarded for obtaining six GCE '0' level passes at secondary school, I obtained the book 'Spaceflight and Boosters' by K.W.Gatland, which I found immensely interesting. For some reason I did not go into the aerospace industry when I left school. I knew nothing about careers and higher education. For years my parents gave me no advice, as they were too busy arguing amongst themselves on a weekly basis. They never helped me with my homework. I suppose I was more intent on leaving home and seeing the world, so I joined the merchant navy. I became a navigating apprentice for an oil company. I served on five oil tankers, only one of which I liked. During the sandwich course at college I enjoyed studying oceanography and wrote a dissertation on space research. For both of which I was awarded prizes. At the end of my four year apprenticeship, I failed the orals section of my second mates foreign going certificate exam, three times. It was made clear to me that I would never pass. The incentive to go on did not exist.

I found the task of sailing from one obscure oil refinery in Europe, to a single buoyed mooring in the Persian Gulf monotonous. One month to get there, and another month back. I also found the job very stressful, even as an apprentice. On the bridge, my neck would go ridged with pain, due to stress. The thought of becoming an officer, responsible for seventy million pounds worth of ship and cargo, not to mention the lives of forty or more people, appalled me. My first mistake would be my last, but the memory would remain with me forever. On top of all that, there was always someone on board who wanted to make my life a misery. I had no friends at home as I had lost contact with them. At the end of my apprenticeship I drifted from one pathetic job to the next.

I worked for two months as a security guard, six months as a labourer making pre-cast concrete walls and floors for tower blocks, one month making caravans and twelve months as a work study engineer in a leather tannery. I packed that job in when it became too boring and depressing. I simply walked out one day, never to return. After a period on the dole, during which I was turned down by the RAF, whilst I turned down the army, I finally got on a TOPS course in draughtsmanship at Handsworth Government Training Centre, Birmingham. The course was eleven months long, after which I worked for three years for a company that made heat exchangers. The bad working conditions made me feel depressed, so one day I handed in my notice. Five months later I went into contract draughting. It was only when I met Karen, a year later, that I found my niche in society.

Many of the inmates in Risley had never had a proper job, let alone a career. Work to many was abhorrent. They hid in the linen stores or the bathroom during cleaning periods. Often it was those who considered themselves tough, with loud mouths, who did the hiding. To many, stealing came easier than working. Work was for fools. It was easy to see why some members of staff had nothing but contempt for some inmates. I tried ignoring the shirkers by concentrating my mind on cleaning the bathrooms and wash room. All I wanted was peace of mind, but I rarely if ever got it in that place. There were many times when I found the strain of living with so many pathetic people almost unbearable. Often I felt like throwing the bloody television set onto the floor. It would have been the only way of achieving peace and quiet. Even after lights out, some of the inmates would rabbit on for ages. The night staff would do nothing. Many appeared as pathetic as the misfits in the ward. If I could put up with this lot and keep calm, then surely I could put up with almost anything on the outside.

There were quite a few inmates who thought they were Gods gift to women, spending ages looking at themselves in the mirror. One young Irishman would recline on his bed whilst looking into a mirror or two, all day long. He took all the mirrors out of the wash room and kept them for his personal use. Fortunately he did not stay in the ward very long.

It was in February 1985 that the AIDS scare at Cheltenham Prison became known to us. I had instantly realised that the hospital at Risley was a breading ground for disease, and had developed a fear of catching something off the filthy urchins who were dragged into the place each week. I remember one inmate, a drug addict or smackhead who had been brought up to A ward after serving a period of quarantine downstairs, having caught hepatitis C from a dirty hypodermic needle. He was required to use his own mug, plate and cutlery, which he washed himself, to prevent cross infection.

Both hepatitis C and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) were transmitted by blood to blood contact. These diseases could be spread by contaminated needles, acts of buggery, contaminated blood used in hospital transfusions, or contaminated factor eight used by haemophiliacs. It was known that these diseases could be spread in prisons through homosexual acts, and inmates using contaminated needles to produce tattoos. As far as I could tell, neither of these activities were pursued in the hospital, at least not amongst the inmates. The danger of accidentally using a contaminated razor blade did exist at this time. Some inmates did not know the number of their blade, which was the same as the number of their bed, if like me they were too doped up in the morning for their brain cells to work properly.

At this time, hepatitis C and AIDS were incurable. Little was known about AIDS except that it was a retrovirus. It attacked the immune system in such a way that common ailments became major life threatening complaints. By using powerful drugs these attacks could be beaten off, only for another attack to occur months later. Eventually the immune system would become so weak that no amount of drugs could make up the deficiency, whereupon the victim would die. Without a cure, once AIDS was caught, death was certain, usually within seven years of becoming infected, though no one wanted to admit that fact. By making homosexuality legal, there was a pervading feeling in government, where many politicians and civil servants were gay, that it was morally if not legally wrong to detain in quarantine those infected with AIDS. As with unemployment, the masses were to pay the price for government complacency. Government officials knew that as the years ticked by, if no cure was found, a point of no return would be reached, thereafter all homosexuals would be safe from quarantine, as the human race slowly but inexorably reached the point of extinction. AIDS was later called HIV ( human immunodeficiency virus)

At supper time a large urn containing tea, would be brought upstairs and deposited against, the grill gate of each ward. Inmates would then stand in line with their mugs, dipping it into the tea urn when their turn came. The mugs of many tramps and misfits were unclean, so there was usually a scramble to be first in the queue. We had a system, which usually worked, to prevent the tramps from getting to the urn first. One of the two inmates working on the staff servery would come up with the tea urn and a plate of something to eat. He would get the tramp to take the plate and deliver it to the dining area, making out all the time what a big important job it was. In the meantime, everyone else would make a mad dash for the tea. Should the system fail, as inevitably it did on occasion, it did not pay to think of the urine stained mug that had christened the tea before yours.

AIDS was called the gay plague. I had never been homosexually inclined, whilst the hard atmosphere at Risley was hardly likely to convert anyone to the fold. Without privacy, such acts were impossible to achieve, at least amongst the inmates. My contacts with the gay world were thankfully few. I clearly remember the time I was picked up by a gay bloke. It was July 21st. 1969 the day after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon. I was in Trafalgar Square, London that day, trying to cheer myself up after failing my Second Mates Board of Trade exams for the first time. In all my years in the navy I had never been propositioned by a man. It sounds unbelievable but true. Back home, I simply never expected it.
I was sitting on the side of the pool talking to two rough pieces of skirt from Leicester. After failing my exams, I was in need of companionship.

"Why are you holding my hand?" one of the scrubbers asked.

I was at a loss to say anything, I just felt very lonely. The girls eventually walked off, to feed the pigeons, probably thinking that I was some kind of weirdo. Anyway, soon after my luck changed, which is one way of putting it.

"Nice weather isn't it?" the man said.

"Yes," I replied innocently.

We got to talking about this and that. His name was Sydney Parker, and he must have been about forty-five years of age.

"The pubs are still open, let's go for a drink," he suggested.

It was a sunny afternoon and I was thirsty, so I agreed. We went for a drink in a pub near the Sadlers Wells Opera House as I recall. After a few drinks he invited me to his place for a meal. He seemed a very decent fellow, so I accepted his offer. He lived in a small flat up the northern line at Archway. He cooked a very nice meal, which made me feel really great after having to endure the burden of my exams earlier that day. He told me that he was an actor, at present rehearsing in a play starring Susan Hampshire. He handed me a very large photographic album, depicting his career, I looked at it intently.

"Do you have a girlfriend?" Sydney asked.

"No," I replied, "Not at the moment."

"Do you like dancing with girls?" Sydney asked concernedly.

"Yes, of course," I replied innocently, taking more in from the photographs than the direction the conversation was heading.

"You're terribly difficult to know," Sydney said.

"There's not much to know about me really," I replied.

I continued browsing through the photographic album.

"You're terribly difficult to know," Sydney said again.

I thought that he must be a very lonely person and that it was just one of his idiosyncrasies.

"You're terribly difficult to know," Sydney stated for the third time.

Why does he keep on saying that. I wondered. Suddenly the penny dropped. Oh no, not one of those, I thought, how could I be so naive and stupid. A shiver went right through me. I looked intently at the photographic album, asking him various questions about each picture, and not really being interested in a reply. All I wanted to do was get the hell out of there. I looked through the album three times wondering what I would do if he made further advances. Attack him or run? Finally, he got the message.

"Well, I suppose I'll have to go for rehearsals now," Sydney said disappointingly.

I could feel the relief flow off me. We entered the city centre by underground, in silence. Just before our parting in Leicester Square, he started getting terribly bitchy, rather like a jilted girlfriend. I could not believe what I was hearing. What a way for a 'man' to behave, I thought. It was definitely not the sort of brain I would have admired in government, I was later to think. Imagine him having to share a cell with my mother-in-law.

My second, and hopefully last encounter with the gay world, took place in Birmingham some three years later. People who go to live in a city, generally start with a bedsitter or flatlet. That was how I began. I had just finished my training course in draughtsmanship, when I decided to stay in Birmingham. There were plenty of night spots, and at that time, plenty of jobs. I lived in a flatlet just up the road from Aston Villa football ground. The house sheltered many dubious characters. One of these was an attractive woman named Jane Carter. I thought she was straight, as what I thought was her boyfriend, would visit her regularly. He looked quite smart in a 'double breasted' suit. A few months later he was arrested, after attempting to take a joint of meat out of a supermarket under his coat. He was taken back to the police station, and only after being ordered to stripped did he admit he was female. Well we all make mistakes, and mine was to give Jane thirty pounds, so that she could find us a decent flat to live in. She used the money instead to pay her girlfriend's fine, after which, they lived happily ever after.

I went to see Jane about the money, at a gay lib disco. One of my mates came along for support, but he was of a timid disposition. He was totally innocent when it came to understanding the world's vices. We were both standing there on the edge of the dance floor, peering into the gyrating darkness, when a tall slim handsome man came up to us. He stood shoulder to shoulder with my mate. When the shoulders started rubbing together, my mate turned to me with a horrified look upon his face. He was petrified. After about a minute of heavy sweating, the tall man turned to his mates. "Um, I don't think he does yea know," the tall man said in an effeminate voice.

My mate could not get out of the place fast enough. He ended up marrying a nymphomaniac, no doubt as an act of bold defiance.

It was my personal opinion that gays were weak minded or perverted individuals, unwilling to accept their traditional role in society. They frequented cities, where there perverted sexual practices went little noticed amongst an anonymous community. They attempted to drag everyone else down to their own base level. They were a threat to the strength of western society, and like a cancer, would eventually eat away at the social infrastructure, resulting in its ultimate demise.

Homosexuality had always existed in developed society. Murals depicting such acts could be seen on the walls of ruined buildings in the Roman city on Pompeii. That of course was before the days of organ transplants, hypodermic needles, intravenous use of blood clotting agents, and flights to Zaire, where the green monkey was thought to be the harbinger of AIDS. The legalization of homosexuality and prostitution through escort agencies, had all helped to exacerbate the problem. In truth, it was not individuals but government that had created the problem of homosexuality and AIDS. In Risley I was to see how that policy had backfired. In the ward at this time was a Glaswegian, who had been picked up by a queer whilst hitch-hiking. He stabbed the driver to death when advances were made towards him, after he agreed to stay the night at his place. He received life imprisonment.

In the past you could laugh at gay lib, but in the early 1980's that laugh slowly disappeared. Gay disco's closed, whilst singles advertisements for gay people slowly vanished from publications. People began to realise that AIDS could spread throughout the country, to all levels of society, and indeed throughout the world, possibly wiping out mankind. Expensive research costing hundreds of millions of pounds was to be carried out, notably in the USA and France. The general feeling was that if enough finance was made available, a vaccine and eventually a cure could be found, possibly by 1990. Hepatitis, syphilis,herpes and now AIDS. Few people were asking themselves whether the cure was not as much social as medical. If AIDS was defeated, what would the next social disease be to threaten mankind?

I thought of such a disease being unconquerable, was frightening. It would not only put an end to the permissive society, but all forms of human contact, including marriage. No one would go to places of public entertainment, as distrust and fear grew. Some countries would adopt an isolationist policy, notably island communities and communist states. A breakdown of world trading patterns would result, leading to more unemployment and greater social unrest. With such a disease ravishing government departments, particularly law enforcement agencies and defence, the populous would turn its back on government and abandon the cities. The breakdown of society into another dark age would be inevitable, particularly if these destabilized governments ended up waging nuclear war.

AIDS was as lethal as bubonic plague, but it could not be defeated simply by killing black rats, cleaning streets and building sewers. A person infected with bubonic plague would be instantly placed in an isolation ward, and yet someone carrying AIDS was allowed to walk the streets, and often knowingly contaminate others. They were committing murder, but no such charges were brought against them. At this time there was no reliable method of mass screening for AlDS. Some people did not think the British government cared anyway judging by its half hearted approach to cervical and breast cancer screening. AIDS was still not a notifiable disease, almost four years after it was first detected in the USA. At this time the fear was that the number of deaths from AIDS would follow an exponential curve. In that event a point would be reached where such preventive measures would be meaningless. AIDS would in that case, not only envelop homosexuals, bi-sexuals, prostitutes, organ recipients and haemophiliacs, but also the remainder of society.

The central African countries of Zaire, Uganda and Zambia were already thought to have reached that point. Here the disease was thought to have been spread by reusable hypodermic needles, or insect vectors such as mosquitoes or bed bugs, or perhaps the people were susceptible due to genetic make up or malnutrition. More than one strain of the disease was thought to exist, each attacking specific parts of the human body, including the brain, producing a form of dementia in young people. The retro virus' ability to mutate, posed added problems to medical scientists attempting to defeat it.

The AIDS scare, or the gay plague as it was popularly called, clearly indicated to the general public just how slow and indecisive government is, not just in the UK, but throughout the world. AIDS would no doubt be conquered, and the results obtained from research, used to combat other illnesses, such as Parkinson's Disease, motor neuron disease, and dementia. History would show whether the huge amounts of money spent, saved more people's lives in the long term, than government dithering killed off.

No sooner had the inmates at Risley relaxed from the AIDS scare, than we had an attack of legionnaire's disease, not far away, at Stafford Hospital, resulting in the deaths of a large number of people. They had gone there for medical assistance, only to be killed off by the hospital's air conditioning system. The cause of the outbreak took a long time to track down. Legionella fed off ferrous piping in water systems. Pipes and water tanks needed to be cleaned every six months, whilst maintaining water systems at very high temperatures and chlorinating them regularly. A more effective alternative was to pass the water over copper and silver tablets. At Risley there was no way that silver would be brought anywhere near this light fingered lot. Instead, we got our water supply chlorinated.

Life in Risley seemingly carried on as usual. The men of the cloth would come around every other day, sorting out inmates spiritual problems. They were no doubt eyeing us up, with the thought of administering last rites and writing a letter to next of kin, for those who succumbed to legionnaire's disease or AIDS. Mr. Pluto would indicate his disgust for religion by bellowing out every swear word he learned at Sunday school, and a few more besides whenever a priest came near him. In his eyes, the only person who was number one, was himself, the Lord being a non-starter. In a word, he was God, and he knew it.

Another member of staff with an extrovert personality, was Mr. Porky. He was a Welshman from Newcastle.

"Where all the men are men, and the women chew tobacco," Mr. Porky would constantly say.

He had strong views on law and order, particularly those related to drug offences.

"Drug addicts! They are worse than animals, as no animal on Earth subjects itself to such abuse," Mr. Porky would often say.

He often said that he would never retire.

"Working here every day is like watching candid camera. When I retire they'll have to push me out in a wheelchair," he said defiantly.

In the early morning Mr. Porky would often hand the shaving mirror to some unsuspecting inmate, and as the inmate was looking at his own reflection, he would say, "If you see that man, tell the police, they're looking for him." At the end of each meal, the staff had to count the inmates, then telephone the hospital officer in the ground floor office, informing him of the number.

"Fifteen in the dangerous ward," he would often say.

He did not like pop music, so whenever it came on television, he would retire to the ward office, and demonstrate his contempt by putting a chair up against the door.

One day Mr. Porky was explaining to the inmates how he would get rid of all the drug addicts in the country, by lacing the hard drugs in chemist's shops with rat poison, then let the addicts steel them. This was to be the coup de grace to the nation's illicit drug problem. One of the inmates, Lord Muck, did not like what he was hearing, especially when he heard the comment about drug addicts being worse than animals. Being a smack head, he threatened Mr. Porky with physical violence. Mr. Porky had to remind him where he was. Our Lord Muck, a title my mother use to give to my father whenever he fell behind in his chores, came from Merseyside.

"The largest open prison in the country," Mr. Porky would call it.

Mr. Porky was a very likeable character, except to scoucers and smackheads.
One morning as I was mopping out the wash room as usual, Lord Muck came in and started brushing his teeth. All of us except his highness were busily working away, cleaning the ward. After spending ten minutes brushing his teeth, he then wandered off. I found him next, hiding in the bathroom.

"Why aren't you working, everyone else is?" I asked.

Now anyone else would have grudgingly picked up a bucket and started cleaning, but not Lord Muck. He had the cheek to start arguing the toss. Well I was not standing for that, so I walked out onto the landing between A and B ward, where all the staff had congregated for a chat. Very few of the staff actually liked supervising the cleaning. In that respect, they were as bone idle as many of the inmates. I asked the member of staff for A ward to try and find some work for Lord Muck. To my surprise, Lord Muck then arrived on the scene, then proceeded to tell the staff why he considered himself too good to do any work. I went back to my cleaning duties in the bathroom, when low and behold, in comes Lord Muck.

"Would you mind putting that mop down for ten minutes whilst I talk to you?" Lord Muck commanded.

I stormed out of the bathroom incensed, telling the staff that I could no longer put up with him. The staff then gave him a cleaning job downstairs.

A few days later I was cleaning with my mop again. We were short of cleaners that morning, as many of the lads had gone to make their remand appearances. After cleaning the wash room floor with my mop, I then started cleaning the recess near the grill gate. This area was normally cleaned by another lad. Lord Muck meanwhile, had decided to meditate on the lavatory seat, whilst the remainder of us were all busily cleaning. Having evidently got a load off his mind, he then came out to confront me.

"You're supposed to clean that floor with a scrubbing brush," Lord Muck advised.

Well, I had learned from my ill fated experiences with my in-laws, that I should not keep my feelings bottled up.

"Why don't you get down on your knees and bloody clean it, instead of letting everyone else carry you along," I yelled defiantly.

The hospital officer then came out of the ward's office and told me to shut up. Evidently he was seeking the quiet life. I therefore returned to my cleaning.

During those ten months on A ward, I had often felt like going back downstairs, into a single cell. After this latest skirmish, I decided that my own good health came first, and that someone else would have to clean the toilets in future. I therefore ended up in cell 007, licensed for the insane, at my own request. The cells on the ground floor constituted the real funny farm, where in my opinion Lord Muck should have been sent. It was men like him who would father Britain's next generation of villains. What a thought.

I preferred being on the ground floor, as it afforded me greater privacy. Neither did I have to worry so much about my belongings being stolen. It was quieter, though when the noise started it was usually very loud. The cell lights I could switch on and off as I pleased. The lights along the landing were switched off at around 10pm. The floodlights outside the hospital lit up the cell, but an inmate could position his bed so that his face was in shadow, an option which was not available upstairs as there was insufficient space. The floodlights around the hospital were white argon arc lamps, whilst further away around the square, yellow sodium street lights were kept on all night. One of the disadvantages of being on the ground floor was the smell, particularly from the stripped cells, as the chamber pots emitted a certain odour since they were not air tight. In that respect it was best to do your thing between meal times and the slopping out period which followed. During the night the night watchman would make occasional visits along the landing, in his shoeless feet. Carrying a time recorder, he would insert a key into it which hung from a chain at the end of each ground floor landing and outside the wards on the first and second floors. The night staff were required to make a certain number of trips during the night, most of these being carried out at the beginning and end of his watch, enabling a bit of kip in between.

When para suicide cases were in the stripped cells, the night watchman would be required to visit that cell every fifteen minutes. It often proved necessary. At night two members of staff were located in the main ground floor office, close to the telephone and alarms. During the day the offices were occupied by senior staff, so a hospital officer would occupy a small table located at the end of each closed ward, near the bathroom. Here he would read a newspaper if there was nothing else to do. Often a loon would call out for the 'boss.' As they could not see him, the boss would usually ignore them, and pretend that he was not there. Each member of staff knew that if you answered one command, another half a dozen would quickly follow. Hospital officers were not waiters. During the times I spent cleaning the ground floor landings, the only thing the inmates wanted usually, was some water to drink or a light for a cigarette.

Being in a cell on my own was a lonely experience. After a few weeks I began talking to myself. Although it was possible to talk to other inmates, few if any could hold a serious conversation. I therefore spent much of my time cleaning, reading, or gazing out of the window for long periods. From my cell window I could see the same lawns and trees that I had seen for the last ten months, but the shrubs were now only two metres away, presenting a haven for sparrows, starlings and the occasional blackbird or robin. A large audience of birds could be quickly assembled by throwing a slice of bread out of the window. Watching the starlings and sparrows fight over the food before the seagulls swooped down, I found more entertaining than watching television. There was never a shortage of bread.

Upon my arrival in cell 007, I was presented with two filthy blankets and a bedspread. I made my bed with the two sheets I had brought down with me from A ward, but there were no pillows. During my entire stay at Risley there was always a shortage of pillows and jackets. Everywhere one looked there was filth. It took me two days to clean the cell with diluted disinfectant and a green scrubbing pad. Food, mucus, excrement, dried semen and an abundance of graffiti decorated the walls, floor, windows and furniture. Dried food ran down the door, where plates and bowls had been passed between the vertical bars. Hour after hour I spent rubbing away at the grub, snot, shit, spunk and crude art work. On the third day I had a bath, and with a supply of clean clothes, blankets and sheets, I began to settle down to the routine.

Each day would start the same. At about 6-45am some sadistic bastard would ring the fire alarm bell, on and on. Just as you were starting to drift off to sleep again, the bell would start tolling for thee. The hospital officer would then come around and switch the cell light on. I would then nip out of bed and switch it off. There was little point in getting out of bed before 7-45am, as inmates on the ground floor could not have a wash and shave until after breakfast, at eight. There was so little to eat for breakfast that I could never understand why I bothered to get up for it. Some inmates abstained, causing frustration for the staff, who would have a devil of a time getting them up later. The cure for this problem was for the staff to assume that if an inmate did not want breakfast, then he obviously did not want lunch either. In practice, at lunchtime, the sleepers were usually let out at the very last minute. After breakfast came slopping out and or cleaning, since some members of staff carried out slopping out before breakfast.

Slopping out was a great British tradition, rather like a hearty fried breakfast, if you could get one. Some traditions the Home Office observed, whilst others it conveniently ignored. The tradition of slopping out goes way back to Norman times, when the only sunlight an inmate saw was when he was unchained from the walls, dragged from the dungeon and obliged to baptise the moat. The Home Office reluctantly decided to scrap this policy in their new Victorian prisons, when it was realised that American tourists only wanted to visit the ultra clean Tower of London, and not the real McCoy. Which is why British prisons which look like castles, have no moat, and do not charge an entrance fee either.

That was a joke to cheer you up. For those of a nervous disposition, do not read further.

During slopping out we would carry our chamber pots to the far end of the landing, taking great care not to spill the contents onto the floor, and above all avoiding a collision with other inmates, or worse, a member of staff. We would queue up to tip the contents down the sluice, above which was a spring loaded tap with which I could wash my pot clean. A lavatory brush was also provided. Inevitably some idiot would block up the sluice or flush toilet. Unblocking pipes was a never ending job at Risley. Slopping out was a degrading exercise, emptying your pot in full view of others, whilst trying often without success to avoid stepping into urine and excrement inadvertently spilt by zombies. Each morning at this time, half the prison population of England and Wales, almost twenty thousand human beings, would be performing this very nauseating task.

At mealtimes we would trudge along the same landing used for slopping out. We would wait outside the wash room for the grill gates to open, whereupon we would then walk to the ground floor servery. The menu was the same as that for the open wards. We would take our food, together with a mug of tea or soup, back to our cells for consumption. Some inmates found difficulty in carrying it back to their cells without spilling it, owing to their disability or the effects of drug therapy.

If each cell had had its own shower, hand basin and flush toilet made from stainless steel, and a door hatch which allowed food to be passed through from the heated trolley, then less than half of the existing staff would have been needed. More cells could have been provided in the space occupied by the bathroom and wash room, whilst a better environment for inmates would have been created. Better facilities would have attracted better staff, but very little thought, had gone into the design of Risley. Initial cost won the day. No thought had been given to noise, a pleasing interior design, nor the importance of using fixed non-combustible furniture raised off the floor for easy cleaning. As with the architecture, little thought was given to the treatment of prisoners. Treat a person like an animal for years and that is precisely what is unleashed upon society when that parole date or EDR arrives. Without experiencing decent conditions in prison, an inmate from a deprived background has nothing to aspire to when he or she finally experiences freedom.

Being in a closed ward meant that I no longer had to worry about what was on TV, since there was not one available. I could read a newspaper in peace and actually hear myself think. No noise from televisions or game players. No urinal flushing all night, nor fooling around after lights out. Above all I could lie on my bed whenever I felt like it. Surprisingly I found the shouting of deranged inmates comical, although there were to be a few exceptions when it dragged on for days. It took a while to get use to not having direct access to a hand basin and flush toilet.

Some inmates would throw urine out of the windows and excrement onto the landing for unwary staff to step into first thing in the morning, when they were bleary eyed. In some British prisons it was still the accepted norm to throw excreta, wrapped in newspapers, out of the cell window at night rather than put up with the smell. They were called shit parcels.

As I was a more reliable and trusted inmate, I was let out occasionally to clean the closed ward's bathroom, wash room, landing and the occasional cell. Cells occupied by inmates who lacked the ability to clean them, were in a disgusting condition. Cleaning cells usually involved cleaning the floor, walls and windows with a mop, making the bed with clean sheets and blankets, which had to be fetched from the linen stores on the second floor, and emptying the chamber pot whilst holding my breath for as long as possible. I discovered that it was not the sight of filth that affects a person, so much as the smell of it.

All of the ten ordinary cells in the closed ward were occupied. Most of the inmates were reasonably quiet, with the exception of two who were noisy on occasion. One of these was called Budgie, as he had a habit of whistling like a bird of paradise, The other, Scotty, was very down to Earth.

"Officer, officer! mister Stone, mister Stone!" yelled Budgie.

Mr. Stone was the medical officer on duty that particular week. He was a nice chap, possessing a sense of humour and level temperament. Like many in the prison service he had been in the RAF specializing in photography, and had also worked on the Battle of Britain Flight.

"Mr. Stone, Mr. Stone!" cried Budgie again.

"Hey Scotty, where's Mr. Stone?" asked Budgie to another inmate.

"He's sitting on his arse," replied Scotty.

"Hey you lot," shouted Mr. Stone, "Shut up!"

Mr. Stone was evidently engaged in the serious pursuit of exercising his grey matter, by sitting at the small table at the end of the landing, reading his newspaper. I envied Mr. Stone's personality and wondered whether the conflicts with my in-laws would have turned out the way they did if my introvert personality had instead been like his.

One of the three stripped cells in the ward was occupied by what can only be described as a shrivelled up version of Mick Jagger. Each morning he was led out to the wash room, where his disorientated mind would fail to recognize such basic items as a hand basin. As I cleaned the landing, another inmate mopped out this stripped cell and carefully kicked out the used paper plate and plastic cutlery. Also on the floor was a brown paper bowl, brim full with urine. The urine would be poured down the sluice, then the bowl thrown into the dustbin, after being washed out in order to reduce the smell in the ward. The stripped cell cleaner would throw the single rip resistant sheet onto the foam mattress as he continued to clean the floor. The sunlight through the glass bricks gave a foreboding church like atmosphere to the unfurnished room. The smell was overpowering. Definitely no forced draught central heating here.

"Good country air that," remarked Mr. Stone.

The speaker at the end of the landing, as if controlled by a DJ with a sick sense of humour, was broadcasting the Amen Corner song, "If paradise is half as nice,,,,,."
The stripped cell inmate, wearing rip resistant baggy shorts and smock, apparently unaware of his surroundings, was led back into his cell. Was this the last stage before death itself, I wondered. His brain was scrambled by drug abuse, whilst obviously unfit to stand trial. I felt lucky at having avoided a similar fate.

There was Jim, twenty years old, in for psychiatric reports. Like most inmates he came from Merseyside. He was a small meek person, illiterate with a speech impediment. What future was there for him in a society which had four million unemployed? Sometimes he would say something to me four times and still I would not understand him. How could a doctor write an accurate medical report on such a person? Only one word sprang to mind, despair. Whilst the local authority had tried to support him through sheltered workshops, in the real world of the human jungle he had never stood a chance. There was no shelter out there from the wave of crime that consumed all the small flotsam in its wake.

What I saw in that closed ward filled me with despair and depression. At night, as I lay there thinking about these unfortunate people, I would become depressed and the tears would flow uncontrollably. But this was no way for a man of thirty-six years of age to behave. One had to replace the feeling with outrage, and yes, even hatred, towards those politicians who had created such a sick society.

In the early hours of the morning the nightingale could be heard singing, or was it budgie doing his bird imitations? The almost daily ritual of coaches, mini buses and taxis taking inmates to court, soon got into full swing. Scotty was in a foul mood. He started the day by shouting out of the window at the screws walking past.

"I'm gonna stick a skewer through yea throat, and bite yea balls off and roast 'em!

I'm gonna tear yea innards out, and fry 'em before your eyes. And then I'm gonna gouge your eyes out, because I'm a Scot!"

One of the officers walking past his cell window, told him to calm down, but it did no good. With his throat now hoarse he used another tactic. Picking up his chair, he threw it time and again at the barred windows. The gulls flying past his window issued forth their mocking cry. Gradually, with all energy spent, silence reigned.

After breakfast my daily ritual of feeding the sparrows and starlings would take place. The occasional appearance of a blackbird or robin would remind me that I had now been in Risley almost a year. I would also throw out bacon rind which the small birds would ignore. The black headed gulls on the other hand were forever on the alert. Within seconds, one of them would dive to the ground as others circled overhead. Invariably the bacon rind would be swallowed whole as other gulls chased the victor, who would make a broad circle over the lawns, then settle on top of a lamp post located outside my cell. With a lowered head it would call out in triumph to the others. The next day there would be another victor standing on the rostrum, but until then only the present glory mattered. I could not help envying the birds, for only they had a genuine freedom within the walls of Risley. Although the birds had a short and dangerous life span. I could not help wishing I was one of them, at least until I had flown over that perimeter wall.

Each day would always end with the clanging of doors, the grinding of locks and the marching of heavy feet along the landing, as the day shift commenced their mad rush home. The nights would usually bring wind and rain. The heat from the radiator, too hot to touch, would mysteriously vanish out of the gaps in the windows and through the ridiculously large expanse of window pane. Many times during the night the cold would waken me, only to go to sleep after putting on an extra blanket which I kept rolled up in my pillow case, owing to the shortage of pillows. Normally inmates had three blankets and a bedspread each. The blankets were of low quality. Before the new boiler house was built, inmates had to sit on the radiators, during the winter, to keep warm.

In my cell at nights, the rain would lash against the windows but fail to remove the shite off them. On the outside, the dirt on them usually consisted of food dropped from the upper floors when the windows were left open. On the inside of the windows the dirt usually consisted of dried urine, resulting from inmates throwing their piss pots against the window bars. During my stay at Risley I saw the exterior walls of the hospital painted twice, and the windows cleaned pathetically on a couple of occasions. In truth the windows were never clean. Maybe the people outside did not want to see the human garbage looking out. Nobody it appears, wanted to see the interior of the hospital painted. There were only four coats of paint on the walls of one cell I was in. They had not been painted for years, whilst the discolouring of the plastic window panes, probably caused by sunlight, added to the depressing atmosphere.

The days past by quickly or slowly depending on the mood I was in, and also whether I was preoccupied with enough work. In addition to helping to pass the time, there were other advantages to working;

1. I could use the toilets when I wished.

2. It gave we a sense of achievement.

3. It stopped me from talking to myself, since I would be talking more to staff and other inmates.

4. I would be simply too busy to feel depressed.

Working would have been an even greater therapy had it been less disgusting and hopefully more technically demanding.

On this particular day Scotty had gone to court after blocking up the sluice with newspapers, excreta and cigarette packets. Naturally it fell to me to unblock it, after breakfast. Using rubber gloves I put the cigarette packets in the dustbin, then flushed the loo, whilst giving the blockage a helping hand, always remembering to hold my breath. After cleaning the wash room with a mop, I swept the landing. Standing next to me was Peter. He occupied the cell opposite mine. He was none too pleased that morning as he said that someone had stolen his Biro and book. At first he thought that I had taken it, as I was the only one not locked up. It was clear to me that Peter was mentally disturbed, but which mental illness he suffered from, I did not know..

Usually it was impossible to tell what illness an inmate suffered from as most inmates had their symptoms suppressed by drugs, and of course their past medical history was not known to me. Peter and I seemed to get on all right. In his present state he was not the violent type, rather sorrowful really. Like many inmates he had difficulty in speech, not that speech was of much use on the ground floor, since few inmates believed the stories of others. Many of the inmates had not the intelligence to make up a good story, whilst I was never in the mood to listen to a load of gibberish. Peter was finally locked away in his cell, whereupon I got on with mopping the landing.

I had almost finished mopping when activity around stripped cell number thirteen became apparent. The staff opened the double overlapping doors. As the radio played Art Garfunkel's 'Bright Eyes' the hospital officers entered the cell. They read out the riot act to the inmate, who refused to be impressed. The inmate was then unceremoniously dragged from the cell, one officer to each arm, whilst the third officer pulled at the long black hair of what appeared to be a naked ape. They dragged him along the landing to the bathroom. Amid cries of protest and much splashing of water, the naked ape was seemingly transformed into a water baby. Still protesting, the bright eyed victim was dragged back to cell thirteen, but this time instead of pulling on his wet hair, the third officer pulled on a twisted towel wrapped around the inmate's neck. The inmate's legs banged against the cell door as he was dragged into the unfurnished room, which I had in the meantime cleaned out. He had evidently protested to the end, for instead of using the cardboard potty he crapped on his paper plate, which befell me to dispose of. It was also my task to mop out the bathroom.

There were three cells that needed cleaning that day, cells one, two and three. The floors and walls up to a height of two metres were cleaned with a mop. The beds were stripped of blankets, sheets and pillowcases, then remade with clean bedding. Few inmates on the ground floor knew how to make a bed, and those that I made were usually a jumbled mess by the end of the day.

Cell number two, normally occupied by Scotty, was the filthiest. I emptied his plastic chamber pot, but the urine had hardened around the side, which even a lavatory brush could not remove. This was quite normal, for all the chamber pots were replaced after a few months. Chamber pots stank just as much empty as when full. On the cell floor there were food scraps and cutlery everywhere. The room stank, whilst the dim sunlight penetrating through the dirty windows presented an aura of decay. There were large areas of cell wall where all the paint had come off. I bundled up the bed sheets and prison clothes, keeping them at arms length, so as not to foul mine. These I would deposit at the entrance to the ward where the laundry lads, wearing plastic gloves, would later collect them. His slippers, caked inside with excrement, I placed quickly in the dustbin, always remembering to hold my breath.

Mopping out the three cells was hard work, especially Budgie's. I had to change the water in the mop bucket several times, before finally in mid-afternoon the task was complete. It was obvious to me that these cells had not been cleaned for many weeks. Since cleaners were not paid, and few inmates saw hard work as a means of keeping fit, the likelihood of finding a suitable cleaner to replace me eventually, looked slim. I somehow doubted whether the inmates whose cells I had cleaned, would be grateful for what I had done, when they returned from court that evening.

As I lay on my bed exhausted, after all that cleaning, a large brown envelope arrived for me. I thought it was one of my magazines, which my mother forwarded onto me each week. To my disbelief, I discovered that it contained details of a life insurance policy. What insurance company in their right mind would want to insure me in these surroundings? I, who ran the risk of picking up one of any number of diseases. As I lay there on my bunk in the evening, I would listen to the radio squawking away at the far end of the landing, whilst watching my twinkling wandering companion, Venus, traverse across the night sky eclipsed by successive bars on my cell window, as the Earth slowly rotated on its axis. It was a quiet but visible indication of my sentence slowly dissipating away. During those moments I would often think of my wife and Fluff, whether they too were looking up at that solitary light, and wondering if I too was watching it from some far off place.

Friday, March 8th, 1985, the start of another day. My first cleaning duty was stripped cell thirteen. Unlucky for some. The water baby who normally occupied that cell, had been taken to court first thing that morning. As I opened the blue double doors the usual stench greeted me. On the red floor lay his dirty foam mattress, covered by grey rip proof sheets. Our friend obviously had an artistic talent, which he felt needed expressing to good effect, for on the cream coloured walls were two drawings which looked like the sides of multi-storey buildings. A third figure looked like a letter 'T', with a circle above it. Our friend had lacked the usual painting materials, but being undeterred he used the first material to come to hand, his own nauseating brown shit.

Mr. Pardon told me not to clean the walls of cell thirteen as the occupant would be returning later that day. Personally, I did not like the idea of not cleaning it, as the excrement would harden, making it more difficult to remove later. Also, although the other inmates could not see the cave art, they could certainly smell it, and did not like it, any more than I. I however, obeyed instructions, cleaning only the floor. I could not do more without a mask. The only ventilation was through four small grills which proved totally inadequate. After cleaning the stripped cell I began cleaning the landing, then returned to my cell.

Budgie was at his cell door, talking to me from a distance. As he did so he spat out a pip from an orange he was eating. At that moment a screw walked past, on the way to the YP's wing.

"Are you spitting at me?" asked the prison officer.

Budgie, being simple minded did not know what to say. The screw demanded an apology and when he did not get it, produced his keys, unlocked Budgie's cell door and marched in. A couple of seconds later he marched back out again, presumably when he saw the orange in Budgie's hand. In Risley, most of the doors could be opened with one or two keys. I was surprised that prison officers were allowed in the hospital. let alone had access to the cells. After all, they were not trained in medical matters and therefore failed to understand the limitations of some of the hospital's inmates.

After the usual cleaning, I also cleaned the two other stripped cells. One of these had been occupied by our Mick Jagger look-alike. He had just had a bath, and had now been allocated an ordinary cell. He had certainly improved his appearance since his arrival. In his vacated stripped cell was the usual cardboard potty full of urine and excrement. The bowl was ripped and leaked fluid as I carried it to the wash room for disposal. In the corners of the cell were four large pools of urine, whilst high up on the wall and in the middle of the ceiling, were two large pieces of turd, baked hard by the suffocating heat.

I learned later that day that I was to be sent back to A ward. The inmate I had had an argument with almost two weeks before, was now in the cells in the other closed ward, so my return to A ward would hopefully be painless. No sooner was I in A ward however, than I was called back downstairs, by Mr. Pardon. Evidently our artist friend from cell thirteen would not be returning, as the magistrate had let him off with a small fine. I was therefore obliged to clean the cell. I was not in a lenient mood at that moment, as I could not help thinking that if magistrates and judges were obliged to clean the cells of the inmates who came before them, then I was quite certain they would get a clearer understanding of the accused. Mulling over in my mind was also the thought that Mr. Pardon could have proved his worth by cleaning the cell himself. I fumed to myself. There he stood, wearing his immaculately starched shirt, fashionable beatle crushers, and expertly knotted clip-on tie. Next he'll want me to wipe his arse for him, I thought.

I was in A ward only four days, when the doctor decided that I was too depressed, so I had to go back downstairs. In reality, the staff on duty in A ward had tried to get me to talk about my problems. As far as I was concerned my problems were personal and as nothing good could come from talking about them, it was best to leave things in peace. At this time I was deeply troubled by the divorce proceedings. I had written to my wife every couple of months. More than that I thought, her sister would give her too much earache. I never received a reply to my letters. I never expected any, as she could only print and did not know how to post a letter. Once, when I got back home from my TOPS course, I found three letters in envelopes with stamps on them, in her handbag. They were addressed to me. She had forgotten to post them, or simply did not know how. I opened the envelopes and read each letter. They were all the same, and so easy to remember.

Darling,

I miss you, I love you.


I love you.


I love you.


Karen


I was deeply moved by those letters. They were the only love letters I had ever received from anyone.

I was deeply disappointed by the thought of divorce. I felt that so much time and effort would soon prove to have been wasted. In my letters to my wife I kept my disappointments to myself, presenting a cheerful front, in the hope that she would change her mind. In March 1985 I received a letter from my solicitor, stating that there was no way of stopping the divorce. In a place full of mad hatters, I had to face reality and print one final letter to my wife, in words that I hoped she would understand.

Allen H19992

HMP Risley

March 1985


Dearest Karen,

My solicitor, Mr. Roberts, tells me that you still want a divorce. You have had plenty of time to be sure of your decision. It is therefore in the best interests of all concerned that I reluctantly agree with your decision.


If however you decide to change your mind, then please do so, as I still love you very much. I am very very sorry for the way things have turned out, but I want you to know that whilst caring for you, you gave me moments that I shall treasure always. I certainly do not regret marrying you, and would gladly do so again.


There will always be a place in my heart for you. If at any time in the future you need my help, or wish to return to me, I will always be available, even if I remarry, no matter where in the world I may be, and no matter whom I am with, and no matter what I am doing. Just go to my solicitor or phone my parents.


Should you decide to remarry, I hope you will find the happiness you deserve.


I am deeply sorry that the innocent life style that you always dreamed of, was so cruelly shattered. There is no doubt, that you deserve the best future that anyone could provide. I hope you will remember me with affection, but if not, then please do not fill your mind with bitterness and guilt, for someone as nice as you simply does not deserve it.


I will leave you now, perhaps forever, but I hope that your newly found freedom turns out to be a blessing in disguise.


All my love,


Goodbye for now,


Chuckles


P.S. I hope your sister lets you go to the day care centre, and that you visit your dentist regularly. I am sorry that you never wrote to me, but I understand.

Well that, was that. The end of a dream. The end of a meaning to my life. What sort of a future was there for both of us, alone?

Soon after returning to my old cell. Peter was moved out, and a young chap I will call Howler, moved in. Every inmate had a card with their name and number on it, together with their sentence. These cards were displayed above the cell door. Most people including myself had a white one. Howler had a red card. I use to think that red cards were handed out to trouble makers, as many of them were, including Howler. One day I was given a red card and felt most upset about it.

"Why have I got a red card?" I asked.

"Oh, we've run out of white ones," replied Mr. Porky.

"But why red?" I asked.

"Red stands for Roman Catholic, white for protestants and blue for everything else," explained Mr. Porky.

"I've got my white card here," I soon announced.

"Well give us it here then," said Mr. Porky, replacing the red card with the white.

I felt greatly relieved at knowing that I had not been demoted in some way, after all, in Risley RC's were known as left footers or rat catchers.

There were many rat catchers in the remand centre, most of whom came from Merseyside and were descendants of Irish immigrants, who failed to follow their kith and kin by migrating further, to the Americas. One such person was Jim O'Hare, in the cell next to Howler. He looked disturbingly like my next door neighbour at Gwalchmai, Gwilym Owen. There was however one great difference, Jim would talk, talk, talk, without one stutter. I made a point therefore of not listening to him, and of not looking at him for fear of triggering off this symptom.

On this particular day, someone was exercising his democratic right of protest, by banging on the cell door of a stripped cell, shouting for the boss, over and over again. It was lunchtime, so the boss was out.

"Boss! Boss!" Bang, bang, bang, bang, "Boss! Boss!"

"Shut up!" shouted the relief officer sitting at the landing table, looking at page three.

"I want the boss!" the stripped cell occupant screamed.

"No," shouted O'Hare, taking over from the relief officer.

"I want a piss pot," shouted the man in the stripped cell.

"You can't have one," replied O'Hare, obviously enjoying his new role in talking to a captive conversationalist.

Now the man in the stripped cell obviously thought that 0'Hare was a member of staff, as he carried on shouting to him.

"I want a fucking piss pot!" he screamed again whilst banging on the cell door.

"No you definitely can't have one," said O'Hare in his Irish accent.

"Why not?" asked the stripped cell occupant.

"Because I can't give yea one," replied O'Hare, which was perfectly true since he was also locked up.

"Fucking shut up the lot of yea!" yelled the relief officer, obviously feeling the strain.

I carried on reading my magazine, 'BAe set for INMARSAT order' read one title, whilst another read 'Europe leads research into optical computing.' It all seemed worlds away. The radio news came on. Both sides in the Iran-Iraq war were claiming victories. It all sounded reminiscent of the claims in the year long miner's strike, which ended a week previously, in 'victory' for the National Coal Board. After the noise from the stripped cell had subsided, we could hear pop songs coming over the loud speaker, but this time it appeared to be in rather nerve shattering stereo. The inmate in the cell opposite mine finally earned his nickname. In a pathetic attempt at stardom, his howling to the tunes on the radio went on and on. I found it unbearable. Upstairs it was television from 1pm to 10pm, whilst downstairs its bloody radio from 8am to 3pm. There was never a moments peace, with banging doors, clanking locks, thudding boots along the landing, and now imitations of a basset hound. My teeth grated together as my heart pounded. My knuckles went white as I suddenly lashed out with my right fist, during another fit. I felt hot all over my face and chest as I breathed heavily. At the next meal I will kill the bastard, I thought. How can I keep my sanity when he goes on and on, howling.

That day I was escorted across the square to a small room adjacent to the chapel where I had my mug shots taken, one full face and one profile. After ten and a half months in Risley, I thought that I was about to move on, but none of the staff appeared to know when. That night I crapped in my piss pot for the first time. I had found the call of nature too loud. The round plastic bowl did not appear to be big enough for both functions to be performed at the same time, so I had to anticipate what would flow next, or end up with a stinking cell floor. I eventually discovered that no matter what the degradation, a human being could quickly get use to it,,,,,at least I could, I thought.

A few days later I was returned to A ward.




Chapter 9




Letters




Letters from me, letters from you,
Scented letters in envelopes blue.
Letters from mum, letters from dad,
But all I wanted, was the letter I've never had.
Letters in painstaking copperplate script,
Humorous letters with plenty of quip.
Letters in brown envelopes at solicitor's command,
Detailing dates of trial, appeal or remand.
Tales to make you happy, stories making you sad,
Letters from brother, sister, auntie, “You're not really bad."
Envelopes decorated in flowers, cartoons and kisses,
Letters received, but none from your misses.
Statements describing a terrible condition,
Letters anticipating further remission.
Brown manila envelopes in mail bags prison sewn,
Air mail letters over long distance flown.
Every letter read by the grim prison staff,
Letters that make you cry or laugh.
That painful letter, your wife wants a divorce,
You're all alone now, and filled with remorse.
Letters on rainy days when you're feeling blue,
But I'd trade them all in, for a letter from you.
I'm sorry, I miss you, I love you too true,
So please answer my letters, my darling do.



As I returned to A ward I felt like a human yo-yo. All I wanted was peace and quiet. I knew I would never find it in that ward. Sure enough, it was not long before incidents started to occur. No sooner had I settled in than Howler was transferred to A ward also. It was not long before the rest of the lads got sick of him. They started by taking the piss, then near bedtime, someone put water on his bed sheets. Howler created a right stink about that, as a result of which he was sent back downstairs, the reasoning being that it was easier to send one person down there than the rest of the ward.

Within a week, exactly eleven months after my arrival at Risley, an incident occurred which the staff were always trying to prevent. The previous day, one of the inmates had a boil on his back lanced by Mr. Pluto, so for that reason I will call the inmate Boil. That night I took my usual dose of Prothiaden. There was none of the usual nattering of the night before, so I quickly fell asleep. I had slept little the previous night as the lads had given the night watchman a right ding-dong. They had talked for hour after hour, carrying on like children, despite threats from the staff to have the culprits sent downstairs. In reality, no one could be sent downstairs as all the cells were full, as usual.

Anyway, on this particular night March the twenty-eighth, the night watchman Mr. Godfather went haywire as soon as he came on duty. He upset most of the inmates by switching the television off just before 'Dallas' finished. Having gained everyone's attention he then went into tantrums, accusing each and everyone of us everything under the sun. We all sat there looking at one another, thinking that he had finally cracked under the strain. You could hear his voice throughout the hospital and any minute now I thought, the staff will march in, put him in a straight jacket and wheel him off. A few minutes later, as if by magic, he was laughing and joking with us all.

"I had to do it," Mr. Godfather explained," as I promised last night's night watchman that I'd even things up after the way you pissed him around."

He then switched the TV back on again, retiring to the office to make a long phone call, no doubt to his antipodean relatives. Anyway, to get back to the story. There I was in the land of nod, dreaming out my wildest fantasies when around midnight Boil suddenly got out of bed and promptly collapsed on the floor. Fortunately some of the lads were still awake, as they called Mr. Godfather from his slumber. The night watchman went over to the corpus delicti. He slapped Boil several times across the face.

"Are yea dead?" Mr. Godfather prayed.

Presumably Mr. Godfather could receive messages from the other side when necessary. Blood was pouring from the arm. There were pools of blood on the mattress, with more flooding onto the floor.

From that moment pandemonium reigned. Boil had evidently slashed a vein in his arm with a disposable razor blade which he had brought in with him from the wings. He was eventually taken downstairs for treatment, whilst I slept on, oblivious to everything. That night, I was the only person in the ward to get a decent night's sleep.

I doubt whether a day went by in A ward without me thinking of suicide. I had often thought about hanging myself one night from the window bars in the wash room. It was not possible to do it in the bathrooms as they were locked up at night. Later I was to think about throwing myself down the dumb waiter shaft, which I never saw locked up when not in use. Using a razor blade or rusty wood screw, left by a careless workman, to slash my veins, was very messy and far from quick. My reason for wanting to die had little to do with my crime. The fact was that my future in prison, and even after my release, was bleak. I knew I would be released in one or two years time, and that worried me. Without positive treatment in prison, the problems I would encounter in society seemed insurmountable. I did not believe in life after death. If I had, then the idea of killing myself only to experience a worse existence in another world, would have stifled all thoughts of suicide. The only thing that stopped me from killing myself was that overpowering force called self preservation. If it had not been for the regular supply of magazines, which formed the only positive aspect of my imprisonment, then perhaps that feeling of self preservation would have been eroded to nothing.

There appeared to be little justification in staying alive. As far as I could see I would be a burden to society, upon my release, for a considerable time. Fit for nothing. At the age of thirty-six my brain felt warn out. In fact the very thought of doing a correspondence course whilst in Risley, brought on palpitations, chest pains and sweating. I knew I would have to take it easy for sometime to come. The sale of the bungalow, what to do with the furniture, the financial outcome of the divorce, coupled with the nagging question 'when would I be transferred?', were all constant worries which I felt powerless to overcome.

There were of course moments that took our minds away from our own problems. Often we would read newspaper articles or watch television news programmes about fellow inmates who had finally been brought to justice. Our Welsh vicar appeared on the front page of most newspapers, with two or three full pages devoted to him inside. How on earth barristers and judges could keep a straight face whilst discussing pricks being cut off, photographed, then fed to sea gulls, defied my imagination. The Devil Priest got just under four years imprisonment, which we all thought was a light sentence. There were doubtless some people in his own parish who thought he should have been burnt at the stake. According to the news media he was a man possessed by the devil, who drove a car with flaming serpents embossed on the side whilst dressed like a hell's angel. It was a strange story indeed, one which I was to come face to face with.

Well it was not long before I had reached my tolerance limit with A ward. I was sick of the constant obscene language, the belching, farting and the eternal stream of mindless cartoons and soap operas on the television, the uncleanliness of the ward and of fellow inmates. By now I had stopped talking to most inmates as I was sick of listening to lies and nonsense. Trying to get out of the ward was not easy however, unless one wanted to go straight into a stripped cell.

One of the childish tricks inmates would perpetrate upon an unsuspecting newcomer, was to tell him that every weekend we would be able to go over to the female wing for a dance. They were told to put their names down on a list in the ground floor office. Needless to say, as soon as they went to the office they were told to piss off. An even crueller trick was to tell some simple minded inmate about a dance at Christmas, Easter or Halloween, which would be weeks ahead, and then keep him in hope all the time. Whilst at Risley I heard of a man who took the joke a stage further. Now this inmate did not get on particularly well with his misses. She was actually glad that he was behind bars. On the day she came to visit him, he appeared with a large plaster on his face.

"What's the plaster for?" His hen'pecking misses asked.

"Oh, we went across to the female wing last night, for one of the weekly dances and I got into a bit of an argument with one of the girls," he replied.

Well his misses was furious. After parting she started f'ing and bleeding with the screws for ages. Whether one of them found the courage to tell her it was a joke, I do not know.

Stories like that, recounted by staff and inmates, use to cheer me up all too briefly. By now I had read all the books that the education officer could provide. My friend Brian would send me postcards from Anglesey, but they failed to engage my mind for long, usually containing only forebodings of more redundancies from Tinto. Two days after the tragedy at Brussels during the Juventus v Liverpool football match, where a large number of Juventus supporters were crushed to death, after tormenting Liverpool fans, then panicking when they turned upon them, I received a letter from my mate Ellis informing me that he was going to see the match. He was not listed in the newspapers as a casualty, fortunately. In fact he went on to enjoy the delights of the red light district of Amsterdam. My life seemed so dull in comparison.

It only took me a day to read the three magazines I received each week. My mother sent me three books during my stay in Risley, two of which were about space research. My brother sent me a book, as did Mrs. Jones. I had asked my solicitor to send me a book titled 'Jane's Spaceflight Directory.' It was priced at thirty pounds and not due to come out until the month of my trial. For some reason I never received the book, which was to be paid for out of my savings, the control of which was in the hands of my solicitor. The second edition was to cost twice as much but by then I had given up with my solicitor on just about all matters. I was also mistakenly told by the hospital officers that I could no longer receive books as I was convicted. The truth was that the staff did not want inmates to have anything of value in their possession as thefts were common place.

The lighter moments at Risley were well worth recording. There were not many inmates who were Welsh, so Mr. Porky received plenty of ribbing, particularly concerning their sheep, which he managed to brush aside, if not gracefully then certainly with humour.

"It was the Romans who brought sheep to Wales, and not even the Romans could subdue us," Mr. Porky announced defiantly.

Someone would inevitably make a remark about sheep shagging.

"In all my life in the prison service I've only known Englishmen and Irishmen to do that." he said.

There was once the case of a man who shagged a pig. The doctor who interviewed him here, asked the inmate if it was a male or female pig.

The inmate replied, "It was a female pig of course, what do you think I am, queer?"

"As sure as I'm standing here, its true," said Mr. Porky.

There were inmates whose language and subject matter was a lot more foul, but modesty forbids me from writing it down. One of these inmates was called Arthur Ape. He was aged about twenty-five years, and suffered from chronic anxiety, resulting in an extrovert personality. He said he was in for a traffic offence, but somehow I doubted it. Arthur's personality was something no inmate on the ward could escape from. He would constantly talk out loud. Not bad you might think, except that every time he spoke he always talked about one subject, sex. He must have talked about every sexual perversion under the sun, from dawn to well past lights out. It was bad enough having to listen to children's cartoons and those down under soap operas beaming from the goggle box, without having to put up with a string of lewd remarks for hours on end. To make matters worse he went around the ward like a gorilla on heat, making the most revolting animal like noises from the deep recesses of his throat. This man belonged in a cell downstairs, or better still behind bars in a zoo. Surely it could not go on for much longer, I thought. Two or three weeks went by. It seemed like years, but instead of being sent down, something strange happened.

Initially Arthur could not be sent downstairs as all of the cells were full. There were at least eighteen inmates on the ward at that time, whilst the staff preferred only fifteen at most. Arthur took advantage of the situation by calling the staff every name under the sun. The hospital officer on duty at this time was Mr. Island, whom Arthur would constantly refer to by his nickname. Mr. Island was not the sort of person you fooled around with. He was difficult to know, and certainly did not have much of a sense of humour. Amazingly he put up with these insults, and then retaliated by returning the complements. Eventually a rapport developed between them. After a while you would have thought they were life long buddies. The matter escalated further when another inmate decided to join in the fun. His nickname was Tomahawk, He came from Cymru and like many other inmates, he had a drink problem. Whilst arguing with his wife, his next door neighbour came around, whom Tomahawk attacked with a hatchet and flare gun. He later got fifteen months imprisonment. Sober, he was a nice chap. Having two gorillas on the ward however, was far from funny.

There was another problem too. Ward A and ward B shared the same servery, which by this time was being controlled by ward B, who did their efficient best to hog all the food. Normally ward B was called out first, but on one occasion ward A got to the servery before them. It was gammon that day and normally well worth having, but on this occasion all the gammon slices were small. Looking behind the counter I saw another tray onto which the servery lads had put all the large slices, for ward B. Mealtime meant a great deal to inmates, since there was nothing else to look forward to. The feeling of hatred I had for those guys built up during the rest of the day, resulting in numerous fits, which by this time had become no more than body tremors.

On Friday, April 19th, I looked forward to curry at lunchtime on Fridays. I had steered clear of curry until I entered Risley. It was nowhere near as hot and spicy as one would get in a restaurant, but it was wholesome. On this particular occasion I got only a third of my normal share. I never bothered complaining to a member of staff as I had little confidence in the system. I well remember complaining to a hospital officer about one of the night watchmen playing his radio loud in the office whilst we were all trying to get some sleep.

"Leave it with me," said Mr. Pardon, after I had asked to make an official complaint.

The message was apparently passed on but the night watchman, known affectionately as The Dog, carried on playing his radio regardless. What can you do? March into the office one night and throw the radio out of the window? As for getting a fair share of food, the temptation of starting a fight with another inmate, could only lead to legal proceedings and loss of remission. As usual there was no way I could express my feelings. They remained bottled up resulting in numerous fits. Finally I asked Mr. Island for a transfer back downstairs, but he refused to take notice of my request. That left only two choices, cause trouble and be frog marched into cell thirteen, or go on hunger strike. I decided the latter with always the danger that the staff would take no notice. Fortunately after only refusing evening meal, I was put downstairs. That night I got my first real sleep for what seemed like ages, for unlike A ward there was no nearby bed from which someone would be snoring.

I spent the following day cleaning my cell. Having a green scouring pad, I even rubbed off the graffiti. It was a warm day. My body sweated profusely, whilst my mouth became very dry. I wondered what I would normally be doing on the outside on a midday Saturday. Undoubtedly having a drink. I intended to return to Birmingham after serving my prison sentence. I was a social drinker, normally going to city centre pubs on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening. I would also go for a drink on Saturday lunch times, and hopefully after my release I would do so again with some understanding friends. There were plenty of nice pubs in the city centre, but on a Saturday lunchtime we met at one of the worst. It was frequented by many Irish people including my mate Jim. He was quite a handsome fellow, but a victim of divorce and unemployment. He earned his living doing building work, but the harsh economic climate and his inability to settle down with anyone else, caused him to take a drug overdose a couple of years previously. Fortunately a friend got him to hospital in time. When I heard about it I simply did not know what to say to him. I could understand why he had done it, but you can hardly say 'better luck next time.' Could he understand what had brought me to my present circumstances? Somehow I doubted whether any of my friends in Birmingham would understand, as they simply had not gone through similar experiences.

I had met Jim through Jackie who was in a class all on her own. She was a primary school teacher in Hockley, whose job made up for the fact that she had no children. Whenever we met her eyes would light, up bringing life to my soul. I had known her for about eleven years, ever since I met her working as a barmaid in a heavy rock bar and bierkeller called Bogarts in New Street. It was eventually closed down by the establishment, for reasons which I failed to understand. Rock groups playing there, caused shoes to fall off the racks in the shop next door, so I was told. Regulars marched in the street protesting at its imminent closure, but close it eventually did. There was unfortunately no real substitute for Bogarts.

I liked Jackie very much. We were like brother and sister, though I doubt whether her husband thought that. It was inconceivable returning to Birmingham without Jackie. Birmingham, a city of almost a million people, came alive on a Friday and Saturday nights, as thousands of people seeking excitement, piled off the buses and made for their local. At sometime or other I must have been to all of them, including the gay pubs. Every so often the brewery would do them up, change the name, ban undesirable people whilst putting up the prices. Unfortunately they never seemed to get around to Jim's local, the Victoria.

There were the museum type pubs like the Pot of Beer near Aston University, which owing to its distant location I rarely went to. I visited the Barrel Organ opposite Digbeth Police Station quite a bit to listen to rock groups, one of which Bess, my mate lan operated the PA system for. In New Street I would frequent the Yard of Ale and Bar St. Martin, mainly because my mate Ellis would not go anywhere else, as it was close to New Street railway station where he worked. I had been going to these public houses many years when they were called the Tavern in the Town and the Mulberry Bush, blown up by the IRA at 8-15pm on Thursday, November 21st, 1974, killing twenty-one people. By chance I stayed at home that evening, having a bath then later listening to records. I heard the muffled explosions from my flatlet in Aston, but thought nothing of it at the time. At work the next day, the manager told me that my mother had phoned to see if I was alright. He did not tell me why. I was too busy to phone her back. It was only when I got home that evening and switched on TV news that I found out about the incident. Considering all the misery I was later to cause, maybe it would have been best if I had been blown to bits on that night. The Yard of Ale was an olde worlde type of pub as was its predecessor, the Yard of Ale, whilst the Bar St. Martin was a typical disco type of pub without dance floor. Some pubs you could sit outside like the Grapevine at the central library and the Longboat by the Birmingham Canal, which Karen and I would often visit. Birmingham had more miles of canal than Venice, one is constantly told, and according to my stepfather they smell slightly better.

Birmingham had plenty of night clubs and ballrooms. My favourite was the Opposite Lock. The theme to the decor being motor racing, giving the place a distinctive atmosphere. It was located just along the canal from the Longboat, at the Gas Street Canal Basin. This area was immortalized in the movie 'Take Me High' starring the singer Cliff Richards. I nearly always went to the night club on my own and left alone, although once I seem to remember taking Pam. We sat opposite a couple. The woman was very attractive with long flowing hair, wearing an evening dress which had a slit in it up to the thigh. I could not take my eyes off her. The man with her was smartly dressed but appeared uneasy. It was then that I noticed that whilst I was eyeing her up, she was eyeing me up. I suddenly realised that the woman was not his girlfriend and certainly not his wife. Unfortunately Pam reached the same conclusion at the same time, and immediately proceeded to drag me off to the bar before I got the chance to discuss financial matters.

For the night owls the all night 'buzz' service became more like an assault course on new years eve. With council rates in Birmingham twice those on Anglesey, with services to match, it was easy to see why life on the dole was better in the city. In Newtown, Birmingham, where I had once lived, the buses ran every ten minutes during the day and once an hour after 11 pm. Sports and recreation facilities abounded, as did social services.

Pam was a very attractive woman. During the six months we went out together I took her on excursions to see the steam powered Severn Valley Railway, Aberystwyth and Llandudno. She was not on the pill and would therefore get very worried about getting pregnant after we had made love. To put it bluntly, she gave me nothing but earache. I once took her to an advisory clinic on the subject. The offices were on the first floor. As we ascended the stairs Pam chickened out, pulling me back down. She felt terribly guilty about sex. I think I was the first, at least that was what she said. When we were not on the job she worked at a rather snooty jobcentre. She had a neurotic nature, which after six months was beginning to wear me down.

We use to meet at her bus stop in the city centre. She was always twenty minutes late, so in the end I use to allow for that. She told me that she did not want to do anything special on her eighteenth birthday so I left it at that. Come her eighteenth birthday, I turned up at the bus stop fifteen minutes 'late' as usual and there was Pam wearing an evening dress, fuming away and spitting venom. She had evidently invited her parents out for a meal with us. After waiting five minutes in the city centre for me, she had told her parents to go home. Her parents were rather nice people, unfortunately blessed with a cuckoo. Like their eldest daughter they were also civil servants. Pam's father was the manager of a DHSS office in Leamington Spa and had once been a bomb aimer during the war, a job which also required the ability to carry out unpleasant orders without question.

Unlike her mother, Pamela wanted more sexual experiences before marriage. One Sunday we failed to meet up. She went into a pub, got drunk with an architectural student from Hong Kong. Went back to his flat in Aston, and got raped, held prisoner for two nights, during which the two other flat mates did nothing to help her. Upon returning to work she was given an official warning for being absent. We split up. She went steady with the rapist. That's life. It took me a long time to get over loosing her, though I certainly never forgot her. We met for the first time in Bogarts. She was the friend of my girlfriend, Jill. I never got the chance to really know Jill as she soon left Birmingham to study for a degree in Newcastle, later to marry lan and move to London, from where we kept in touch. In a highly mobile society it is too easy to lose contact with friends. The older you become, the more you miss them. I wrote to Pam from Risley. She was one of the few people I knew, not to reply.

Within six months of Pam leaving me, I handed in my notice at work then spent five months on the dole. My job was monotonous, the working environment I found insulting, and the pay mediocre. The work place was a single storey, converted sweet factory. It had a pitched roof, under which hung hot water pipes as the sole source of heating. There was no partitioning, a lino tiled floor, whilst the only modern furniture was the AO sized draughting machine. I could not force myself to go to work. I was given an official warning for being absent. The manager banned me from doing interesting projects, replaced with clerical work. When I went contracting as a draughtsman I was to work in conditions even worse than that. In my opinion it was a deliberate policy of management, who wanted a perpetual turnover of labour, so that they could review wages downwards at regular intervals. HMG did nothing to improve working conditions, except from a safety perspective.

Without Pam my life had lost its meaning. I was to be without a girlfriend for at least one and a half years and drank heavily. I found life very frustrating during this period, not least because the couple in the flat opposite me were prancing around naked most evenings after coming home from the pub. I do not think they believed in curtains. Frustration reached new heights when the condensation on my window formed faster than I could wipe it away. The occupants of the top floor use to watch these antics from the landing window, giving them a gynaecologist's eye view. The day I left my job was the day these exhibitionists moved out, making my life very dull indeed.

The thought of that pint of beer on that hot day in Risley brought back many memories like these, some happy, but many sad. There was no beer in the hospital to make those memories less painful. That warm dry Saturday went by very slowly, finally being brought to a close by my tot of Prothiaden. Who loves me now? Oh Karen, I'm sorry.

A few nights later a bizarre incident occurred in the closed ward.

"Hey boss, come quick, there's a fire!" Shouted the inmate in the cell next to mine.

The pounding of the quickening footsteps down the landing got louder and louder. Three members of staff suddenly appeared outside my cell.

"I can't smell anything," I said.

The staff looked at me suspiciously, then looked in all the other cells but could not find any fire. Eventually they gave up and went to the office. They probably felt that they were having some kind of joke played on them, but nothing was said to that effect. A few minutes later however, there patience was to be tested again.

"There's a fire, come quick!" The same inmate shouted.

This time the staff came down the corridor more slowly. Oh dear I thought, they are going to kick the shit out of him if they fail to find anything this time. I could not see any smoke but I could detect a strange smell, which I could not explain. Evidently the 'fire' was coming from the cell diagonally opposite mine. One of the officers went into the cell.

"What did you do that for Wells?" Asked the officer.

One of the officers informed me that Wells had not set fire to his cell. He had in fact set fire to his own hair! I found it hard to believe. The next time I saw Bob Wells was in the exercise yard. His hair was so short that he looked like a concentration camp victim. It was impossible to feel any sympathy for him considering the reasons for his return to Risley. A couple of weeks later I asked a member of staff why Wells had burnt his own hair. The hospital officer believed that he had done it to change his appearance, as there would be two witnesses giving evidence at his trial. Wells had also reduced his food intake to achieve the same ends. Soon after that incident Wells was made a category A prisoner, so I never saw him in the exercise yard again, as cat A's always went on exercise alone.

It did not seem all that long ago when Bob Wells was being questioned by the lads in A ward concerning the sex attack on a mentally retarded girl. Now he was charged with murder. It was believed that whilst an inmate in a mental hospital he had somehow managed to obtain a knife. Entering the hospital grounds he met a female outpatient who was an epileptic and about the same age as my wife. Her naked body was found later. Wells was chief suspect, particularly as some of his clothes were found recently washed. In Risley he would make a point of talking to the female staff, no doubt to create the impression that he was harmless. Wells was probably the only inmate in that establishment that I really loathed.

I had serious doubts about whether Wells was mentally ill. I do not believe a person can commit a crime and know absolutely nothing about it. There must always be some realization that there is something wrong. I never saw signs of mental illness in him. Indeed he was a cunning person. Had he always been that way, or had medical help failed him, to the point where he felt he had no alternative but to become devious. As my own mental illness dragged on year after year I became disillusioned with my doctors, and certainly less revealing to them. Were I to kill again, would I be as co­operative as I was last time?

On Monday, April 29th I was sent up to B ward, which turned out to be deceptively quieter than A ward. The next day one of the inmates had an epileptic fit, keeled over and landed on his face, giving himself a beautiful black eye. Being an epileptic was certainly not funny. A few months before, an inmate had had a fit in the linen stores, breaking his jaw bone. There was blood oozing from his chin. It was not a pleasant sight. A member of staff had sent him up from the ground floor to get a set of gear. Being unable to find what he needed in such a jumbled maze, his brain became overloaded resulting in a fit.

By the end of my first week in B ward another inmate became ill. He was in a bed near the office. The previous night the Dog had had his radio blasting away as usual. Whether this had any influence on what had happened next is purely conjecture. The inmate not only could not get out of bed, but looked dead to the world. There was blood coming from his nose, whilst he appeared to be in the first stages of rigour mortise. The doctor was called in to look for signs of life. There was apparently no reflex action in the feet, nor elsewhere. The inmate was eventually carried off. I do not know what happened to him.

That same week I volunteered to keep the wash room and bathrooms clean. They obviously had not been cleaned properly for at least a month. Surprisingly the first job was to clean the mop. During the first few months at Risley I noticed scabs forming on my hands. Since I was a clean person I could not understand why they were forming. It eventually dawned on me that it was caused by the dirty wooden mop handles. These I would regularly clean with a scouring pad from then on. I also got some medical cream for my hands, which lasted throughout my term of imprisonment. After cleaning the mop in B ward the water felt as thick as soup. It took at least five mop buckets full of water to clean everywhere on that first day. I spent about four hours cleaning floors, walls, doors, four hand basins, two loose, a sluice and two baths. Now I could meditate in a clean environment, I thought. I had to prop a window open with a book to let some fresh air in. All but one of the window latches in the wash room were broken, resulting in the windows banging at night during violent storms. The taps on the hand basins dripped as the washers were warn out. Half the time the inmates did not bother to turn them off anyway.

I found the night watchmen extremely troublesome when it came to trying to get some sleep. Each one had their idiosyncrasies. Not only was the Dog playing his radio, but Lofty would be doing his cooking at 10pm, just as we were going to bed. The cooking smells from his frying pan would take hours to clear. Sometimes he would fry a couple of slices of stringy bacon, swimming in fat, whilst on another night it would be a huge slice of steak. Another night watchman, Boy George, would pace up and down the ward at all hours of the night, smoking his wretched pipe. I would be unable to breath let alone sleep. There were only two night watchmen I regarded as OK. Mr. Soft Shoe Shuffle had a small radio to listen to, which fortunately no one else could. He would do his rounds in his brothel creepers without disturbing anyone. As for Mr. Godfather, the first thing he did at lights out was to grab a couple of pillows and flake out in the office.

As for dealing with the Dog, Lofty and Boy George, the inmates in B ward were a timid lot. Everyone knew that for an individual to complain about the night staff's antics would be a waste of time. The trouble was that no one would back me up. Since most were only there for three months, it did not pay for them to rock the boat. They were a complacent bunch. Most of them would not even open their windows to let out the cooking smells and tobacco smoke, let alone the suffocating heat at times. I got the feeling that at night at least, they did not like fresh air. The pipe smoke would make my lungs feel heavy in the morning, whilst the lack of sleep made me feel like a zombie.

Boy George's pipe smoking habits reminded me of the Professor in A ward six months previously. He was a pipe smoker, the smell of which upset some of the lads. One day an inmate decided to get his own back by inserting some match heads into the bottom of the bowl of his freshly filled but as yet unlit pipe. A few minutes after the Professor lit up, the bowl erupted, and so did the expectant inmates. Unfortunately it did not stop him from smoking the damn thing.

It is my firm opinion that smoking is not just a filthy disgusting habit which ruins your health and sex appeal, but is also a sickness of the mind. From my observations at Risley of men rummaging through dustbins for dog ends, I can only conclude that the sooner its banned completely the better. It is not only a waste of money, but the reflection of a weak mind. The Arabs had the answer long before tobacco arrived on the scene. To keep hands occupied and the mind at rest with itself, they used worry beads. If it was good enough for Shake Your Money at OPEC talks, then it's good enough for prison inmates and staff. As moves to ban smoking from public places continued in Great Britain at this time, I felt certain that the practice of smoking tobacco would eventually die out, or that smokers would become social outcasts in the same way as most people shunned drug addicts.

The antics of the night watchmen, the shouting between wings, the loons banging away downstairs, the noise from inmates going to the toilet at all hours, plus the non-stop belching, farting and smoking by inmates, not to mention the stream of floodlighting through the windows, were not the only factors which kept inmates awake and on edge. If all these failed then the Home Office had a new secret weapon for ensuring that if the wages of sin were no longer death, then they sure as hell were going to remain close to it.

This new weapon was the latest fireproof and leak proof type of mattress. They were as hard as a boxer's punch bag and had as much life in them as a dead cat with rigour mortise. An inmate had to crush them with his fist or jump up and down on them in order to instil some bounce. Many times whilst working on the closed wards I was called upon to replace torn or soiled mattresses, with the new type from the stores. They were so heavy that I had to drag them along the floor. Tiring yourself out by dragging such a mattress was probably one of the few ways of getting a decent night's sleep on one.

During May 1985 I noticed some improvement in my condition. Comments like this in my diary occurred quite frequently, and reflected the constant hope that I would get better. But looking back at the situation two years later, I have to conclude that such thoughts were unfounded. My mind at this time became more tranquil, and I spoke to people more. I was afraid that I was enjoying my surroundings too much, by coming to terms with the rogues I was incarcerated with. To be fair, many of them were like me, victims of circumstance. I had great sympathy for those in for domestic disputes caused by a woman. It never ceased to amaze me how women could be so stupid as to provoke a man into killing them. Just because their husbands did not knock them around, they regarded them as weak minded. They never seemed to consider the possibility that their husband loved them too much, or regarded violence as an uncivilized and immature way of resolving differences. It does not take much courage to kill someone, but it can take a lot of self control not to. The human body, like glass, is very fragile. Hit it and its processing systems fragment. In many cases alcohol was also a contributing factor, whilst in others a scheming woman was the instigator. In the bed next to mine in B ward was a man whose case fell into both categories. On this particular day he was writing furiously to one of his friends. His name was Vince Reed, known as Fire Water to his mates.

"What are you writing Vince, the confessions of a nicked knickers nicker?" I asked.

Vince just laughed. Earlier that day the ground floor cleaner had given Vince a pair of knickers which he had found in the main ground floor office. Mr. Pluto had been on duty in that office the previous night. The mind boggled.

Vince was the warn out remains of an alcoholic. He would constantly belch and fart to the extent that it was like breathing in the bad breath of a dying whale. I had never come across anyone like him before. He possessed a constant urge to create noise, probably due to the effect of alcohol on his brain. Listening to him over the weeks was almost enough to put me off alcohol for life. He wrote about thirty-five letters to relatives and friends, but as far as I know he never received one reply. Evidently he had plenty of money, and had tried to procure friendship by buying people presents. He should have realised that all they wanted was for him to stop drinking alcohol, and become a decent citizen that they could respect. For Vince it was now too late. Even his family did not want to know him, for they had suffered enough. He had once worked behind the pressure shield on the Dartford Tunnel and later the Hong Kong Metro. The air pressure had seriously affected his legs for which he received substantial compensation and spare time, thereby promoting his pastime, drink and women.

Whilst under the influence of gin, and the evil influence of the female proprietor of a massage parlour, he had set fire to her partner's launderette, as a result of differences in a business settlement. During the ensuing fire, a couple living in the flat above panicked. During their escape the woman fell, sustaining serious back injuries from which she became paralysed. The concrete building however, contained the fire to the launderette. Vince's life now lay shattered before him, all because of alcohol and the stresses that made him drink heavily in the first place.

It was now Sunday morning as Vince and I started talking about the pathetic Sunday services in the prison chapel.

"Its just loud pop groups, films and pathetic singing. The services would be a lot more interesting if we had the Devil Priest putting on the show," I said casually. No sooner had I said this than an inmate I knew only as Taff, quickly moved away to the far end of the ward.

"It's him!" Vince said, pointing at Taff.

That was the first time I realised who Taff was, as the photographs in the newspapers showed a much younger man. He looked to be in his fifties or sixties, a short man with grey hair, who spoke with a quiet voice.

After a couple of days I finally plucked up enough courage to talk to him. Devil Priest, or should I say Denzil Williams, shared the same table as me during meal times. He spoke with a Welsh accent, his parish being in a small coastal town in that country, but had served in God's ministry in Liverpool, Birmingham and Coventry, before ending up back in the 'land of song.' In a conversation I had with him he told me that he had cut off the penis' from three corpses and photographed two of them, and that these incidents took place in 1977 approximately. The incident came to light when the local police started investigating a poison pen letter, the hand writing of which was similar to that seen in a bible. The police asked Denzil if they could search his home and he agreed. During the search of a book case a photograph of a human penis came to light.

Denzil maintained that there were not tonnes of pornography in the house. The newspapers implied that he led a homosexual life style, living with a man whilst another had committed suicide. He stated that he lived on his own in a house belonging to the church, and that a distant relative had died. He tried to explain to me why he used flaming serpents to cover up the corrosion on the bodywork of his car, but why he did not use spray paint like any normal person, I still could not figure out.

He had paid for his own defence, which came to about five thousand pounds. He was contemplating an appeal which would also cost a considerable sum. Personally, I thought he had got off lightly, eighteen months for writing malicious letters, and two years for mutilating bodies. The sentences were to run consecutively. The crimes that he committed were so obscure that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had trouble finding charges to fit the misdemeanour's. It was this technicality that he wanted to base his appeal on. Considering his trusted position within the community, and the profession and beliefs which he betrayed, I was surprised not only by the light sentence, but the fact that his associates within the church visited him. To be a practising Christian obviously is not easy at times.

Surprisingly, I found Denzil to be a nice bloke. We had one thing in common in that we had visited many of the same tourist attractions in North Wales. I asked him why he had done it. Evidently four doctors had interviewed him. He had also undergone an EEG and brain scan, whilst at Rainhill Mental Hospital he had undergone other tests. There was nothing physical to indicate why he should have behaved that way. The doctors evidently thought that he had done it due to overwork with insufficient human interaction in his life. As a man of the cloth he worked seven days per week with little if any holidays. All of these factors coupled with the mental stress from his job and the influence of pornography, without anyone to really talk to about 'his' problems, caused him to go off the rails. In a few moments of weakness he had destroyed his personal life, career, his life savings and his self respect. Would his relatives understand? I think he was relieved to talk to me about it. He certainly had no plans to return to his parish in mid Wales, but he did have plans to retire in the land of the red dragon, but exactly where, I am not saying.

The days rolled on by. In the relatively fine weather, inmates painted the outside of the hospital. Working from a vertical tower made of scaffolding, they would open the windows and beg for orange squash and tobacco. Some inmates were stupid enough to give them it even though all inmates at Risley received the same basic pay. News stories were broadcast on television only to fade into a hazy memory a few days later. One incident that did not fade so easily was the fire in the wooden stadium at Bradford City Football Ground. Most of the lads were watching the match live on television.

"There's a fire in the stadium," said the announcer casually as I walked past the dining area.

I turned to look, and like most people in that room and in that stadium, I just looked. We all laughed. We couldn't feel the heat radiating onto people's heads. We could not sense the terror that the fire's rate of progress created, and above all thank God, we could not see the spectators being burned alive at the back of the stand, where the exits were locked. No one was brought to trial for negligence. Evidently not all crimes were recognized as such by the state. A car driver who killed a pedestrian on a pedestrian crossing, or through the drinking of alcohol, could expect a year or two in prison, but burn to death fifty or more people, partly as a result of accumulated rubbish under the stadium, and its nobody's fault. As a result of this disaster, fire standards at football grounds were to be improved, to the extent that many stands had to be rebuilt, whilst facilities at other sports venues such as cricket grounds, were ignored. Such was the pathetic way in which bureaucratic government managed Great Britain.

At this time it was revealed in government statistics that for every job vacancy there were forty-two youngsters leaving school. In Scotland and Wales the figures were higher, one hundred and forty-four and one hundred and twenty-nine respectively. I could not understand why the government compiled such statistics when Mrs. GG did her damnedest to ignore them. Unemployment was to cost the Earth. In the financial year 1984/5 unemployment and supplementary benefits were to amount to seven point four billion pounds, lost national insurance contributions five point two billion pounds, lost income tax five point seven billion pounds and lost industrial revenue tax one point six billion pounds, making a total of nineteen point nine billion pounds. The cost of attending to para suicides, mental illnesses, stress related illnesses, together with crime and punishment related to unemployment, would push this figure to even dizzier heights. The cost of destroying a generation's opportunity to contribute new ideas, and the destruction of their drive, a view which would no doubt be passed on to their children, would be incalculable. The young were to become second class citizens superfluous to requirements, except when Great Britain had to fight a war. There seemed to be only two things they were entitled to partake in in society, the right to sign on the dole, and the right to vote. In reality, none of the political parties at that time were worth voting for, since none believed in the establishment of a full employment society, only in the creation of one or two million more jobs at most. As a result, the British rarely appeared to take democracy seriously. The responsibilities placed on the shoulders of the electorate were ignored by many.

"I'll vote labour because our families always voted labour," say some.

"I'll vote conservative because I'm all right thanks," say others.

Whilst other voters voted for change, for changes' sake. This then was what many of the electorate did. The election manifestos and previous government record were largely ignored, whilst smiles often won the day. Few of the electorate were liberal minded, let alone Liberal voters. The creation of the Social Democratic Party, to break the mould of British politics, seemed a brave but naive approach. Nothing short of revolution, be it a violent revolution, or a revolution of the mind, was going to change the political and hopefully constitutional face of Great Britain. British history had shown this to be so throughout the centuries. There was no reason to assume that it would be any different now. Civil unrest in India a year after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, Tamil massacres in Sri Lanka, Soviet inflicted genocide in Afghanistan and the disintegration of Lebanese society by civil war and invasion, were all reminders at this time of the fragility of democracy.

On May 30th, 1985, Wayland Prison at Watton, Norfolk was opened at a cost of sixteen and a half million pounds, catering for four hundred and sixty-eight inmates. Each prisoner would have his own cell with en suite toilet facilities. Wayland Prison was to be the first of sixteen new prisons to be opened by 1991, at a total cost of three hundred and fifty million pounds, plus two hundred million pounds to be spent on modernizing older prisons. The annual prison budget now stood at six hundred million pounds, of which three quarters was staff related costs.

A quarter of the prison population was on remand, 3,500 inmates in shit heaps like Risley. Great Britain had one of the largest prison populations for its size, in Western Europe. There were now nineteen inmates on the ward. One of the hospital officers told me that there were now four to a cell in the Hornby Hotel. The most overcrowded establishment in the country was thought to be Leeds Prison, designed for six hundred and thirty inmates, it now held thirteen hundred and twenty. Descriptions of prison life in Brazil at this time, sent a shiver down my spine. Prisoners sharing cells drew lots to decide who was to die, in order to create more room for the rest. I hoped that none of the nutters in here got any of those ideas. Prison building in Great Britain at this time was one of the few growth industries, increasing by 176% in the last ten years. I could not help thinking that even more prisons would be needed if the government's proposed social security reforms turned into swinging cuts.

I could hardly believe my eyes when on Monday, June 3rd at 11am I spied an intrepid fellow actually cleaning the hospital windows, on the outside. Considering the state of them, I looked upon it as a bloody miracle. The weather was great that day, so that afternoon it was a pleasure to be sent outside for exercise. The staff told us not to sit on the tarmac as it was melting under the sun's heat. Dug up by inmates heels, it would then get onto prisoners jeans, or mark the hospital floor. It was my first opportunity to get a sun tan that year, so I lay amongst the long grass in the middle of the courtyard. The inmates in the cells overlooking the courtyard called out cuckoo, cuckoo, in an attempt to get our backs up. Scotty was doing somersaults in the long grass to cheers from the wings.

"Cuckoo! Cuckoo!" Shouted the lads from the overlooking cells.

"I bet you haven't got grass in your exercise yard," Shouted out Paul Atkins to the lads on the wings.

I was later to get to know him better.

"Shut up yea four eyed twat!" Came the swift reply.

"Now, now, let's not get onto first name terms until we've been properly introduced," Paul shouted.

And so it went on and on, neither side giving an inch.

A very large trench was being dug, about four hundred metres long on the other side of the perimeter wall. On the site were two large mechanical diggers, two mobile cranes with lorries coming and going for weeks. There was a great deal of speculation as to what it was all for. Some said it was simply a land reclamation scheme, whilst others said it was a mass grave for Liverpool supporters, following the Brussels tragedy. No sooner were the holes made than they were filled with rubbish. It had become a council refuse tip. English clubs were banned from world soccer following the diagnosis at Brussels. The ban on Liverpool was to last years.

One afternoon the inmates watched a school's programme about child birth, on television. After the climax there was a rush to the loo for 'relief.' I do not find scenes of child birth at all erotic, on the contrary, I find it off putting. If I was a woman I do not think I could go through with pregnancy. A week later the inmates watched the same programme again. I thought it a pity that some inmates could not be artificially inseminated as a means of behavioural control.

B ward gradually changed its character. I moved out of the corner bed partly because I was sick of Vince's belching, farting and walkies at five o' clock in the morning. My new bed was the third nearest the television. It was not ideal, but there was simply nowhere else for me to go. The strain of having to put up with nine hours of television each day, soon became apparent, as my fits recurred frequently.

Mr. Bump started his tour of duty in B ward each morning by switching on the television at 9am. I was not amused. On the night of June the sixteenth, I found the strain really heavy going. The Dog was on night duty. He was a cantankerous bastard in my opinion. He did not give a damn about anyone but himself, and refused to listen to others. That night he leaned back in his chair listening to radio three, I think, whilst all the inmates were trying to get some sleep. He would replace the orange night light on the office wall with a really bright white one, which flood lit the ward. On a couple of occasions he even unscrewed the shades from the wall, in order to fit his bulb. A special screwdriver would have to be brought up from the ground floor office by the other night watchman. That night he even switched the lights on in the wash room, after I had gone in there to turn off the lavatory cistern. There were times when I felt like throwing a bucket of cold water over him, and flushing his radio down the loo, or worse.

The following morning I was predictably very tired. I had only got three hours sleep at most. Something had to be done. I decided to write to my solicitor, enclosing a letter for the home secretary. It never occurred to me to petition him direct. Either I was unaware of the system, or I had no confidence in it, or my brain was simply too muddled, whilst under the affects of Prothiaden. A solicitor's letter on the other hand, was the only letter that would not be read by the staff, as it could be sealed before posting.

I also wrote a letter to the doctors which stated;

Allen H19992

Risley Remand Centre

April 1985


Dear sir,

I have no confidence in the way this hospital is run, nor the way my transfer is being handled. Any positive effects from the drug therapy I receive, is counteracted by the conditions I have to endure,,,,,.My condition can be improved by work therapy, exercise and meditation. All of these are denied me, due to the restrictions I have to live under. I regard these circumstances as inexcusable and a violation of my human rights.


Yours truly,


Mr. N.S. Allen



I never delivered this letter. My solicitor wrote to me stating that he had contacted the senior medical officer, Dr. Shrunk, about my letter to the home secretary, but I heard no more, for no sooner had I written the letters than I was moved back downstairs.

I think my transfer downstairs, on the day that the space shuttle Discovery was launched, was because I had refused to take any more Prothiaden. My move simply reinforced my belief that drugs were used as a means of controlling inmates and protecting staff, rather than to cure. I had serious concerns about whether my tinnitus, that high pitched whistling noise in my inner ear which had been going on for months, was caused by the stress of living in Risley, the constant noise, or the effects of a years treatment with Prothiaden.

The previous Wednesday I had been interviewed by three doctors and male nurses from North Wales Mental Hospital, Denbigh. My probation officer from Bangor was also present, although I did not recognize him at the time. It was a long interview, during which I was asked whether I would like to finish the rest of my sentence at Risley. The thought horrified me.

"I'm sick of these bloody nutters in my ward," I said.

I was of course referring to the night staff, tramps and other misfits, of which few suffered from a mental illness. The statement was more a sign of exasperation with the conditions at Risley. I was sick of the noise, lights, lack of privacy, smoking at night and over crowding. Surely a proper hospital was not like this. I got the feeling that the people interviewing me really thought that this was a hospital.

There were people wandering around the open wards who, if not mental were certainly on the verge of it. They were neurotic inmates whose violent nature was accepted as normal within the community they came from, meaning Merseyside in the main. I kept well away from them. Their condition reminded me of an incident which occurred at my in-laws home about three years earlier.

Whilst sitting in my in-laws lounge, some relatives of their's arrived from Liverpool. It was I believe, my father-in-law's brother accompanied by his wife and two young sons. Glyn was showing one of the boys a ballpoint pen which incorporated a digital timer. The boy, not more than six years of age, was handling the pen when he accidentally dropped it on the carpet. As Glyn bent down to pick it up, the young lad gave him a bunch of fives to his north and south. It shocked all of us. The parents were obviously not to blame, but I could not help wondering what the conditions in the community and particularly in their local school were like. Like many people before them and since, this family moved out of Liverpool, in this case to the Wirral. Many families were obviously not so fortunate. Central and regional government indifference or incompetence, and the lack of private investment which follows in the wake of government investment, leads to poverty, frustration, resentment, violence and a neurotic community. The violence becomes engraved onto the mind. A strengthening of the brains defence mechanism takes place, which to all normal circumstances overreacts, becoming a threat to society. It perpetuates the violent society from which it has emerged.

There were many minds like that in prison, but I did not include myself as one of them, as I had never believed in violence as a means of solving a problem, although my other self would certainly disagree. Anyway, near the end of the interview with the doctors from Denbigh, I asked them how long it would be before I was transferred. They told me that the head of the department was on holiday, and that he would probably like to see me before any further steps were taken. This was likely to be in the next four weeks, I was told. Later whilst talking to Tomahawk, who had been in Denbigh at one time, I got the impression that I had actually been talking to the head of the department there.

There was to be no interview in the coming weeks. What had happened to my transfer to Park Lane? Tomahawk described Denbigh as a large old building, with large grounds but without a perimeter wall. In the main, it consisted of open wards. It did not sound as if it was much better than Risley, although Tomahawk had liked it there. Since it was a less secure place, maybe the authorities thought I was not dangerous enough to go to Park Lane. I did not know what to make of it all. The answers to my questions were to be long in coming, and even today I am not satisfied that I have received a full explanation.

I was now in cell number ten. Thatcher's den, on the south wing. On the same wing was Bob Wells, who although a category A inmate, had more freedom than I. He frequently patrolled the landing like a creeping Jesus. My cell was the usual shit heap. I could barely see out of the murky windows, whilst the dust stuck to the window bars like growing coral, or dead man's fingers. There was no locker for me to put my belongings into, whilst everything stank. It was obvious that another massive clean up was called for, but I was too tired to do it that day. I ate my evening meal whilst seated at my bed, crapped in my piss pot, then tried to get to sleep. It was not to be.

Jim O'Hare, had also been moved to the south wing, and now occupied the cell opposite mine. O'Hare usually mumbled a great deal to himself, but on this occasion he was being taunted into making even greater sounds, by an inmate called Noel Matthews, who occupied the cell diagonally opposite mine. Matthews was a sadist outside as well as inside prison. He got a great deal of pleasure out of tormenting O'Hare, something which the cat A screws and hospital officers did nothing to stop. The sickening dialogue, accurately reproduced here (contemporaneously), was as follows:

"Come on, get 'em off!" Matthews cried.

"Fuck off yea cunt," replied O'Hare.

"Come on, get them skids off," repeated Matthews.

"Go away yea stinking cunt," said O'Hare.

"They're full of shit!" Matthews shouted.

"Yea dirty stinking twat!" O'Hare shouted, who by now had been well and truly worked up.

"Get in the stripped cell," Matthews laughed.

"Go and stick yea fucking [inaudible], up yea fucking arse, yea cunt!" 0'Hare cried in defiance.

"Slop out O'Hare!" Matthews exclaimed in delight.

"Go and get yea dirty sweaty knickers off, yea cunt," said O'Hare, returning the complement.

"Come on!" Matthews said, knowing that it would not take much encouragement to keep O'Hare shouting from then on.

"Get 'em off, dirty twat, dirty this," O'Hare mumbled, his brain by now in an obvious state of mental disorder.

"Come on Warrington Road!" Matthews shouted, his trump remark now played.

"Let me out, I wanna go home, Go out the gate, turn left, walk down the Warrington Road to Kirkby, then Liverpool to cash me giro," said O'Hare mumbling on and on.

The taunting of O'Hare continued for ages. Finally his sadism sated, Matthew's mind would find something else to amuse itself with. Was there an ounce of sanity in 0'Hare's brain, crying out to be recognized and respected? If there was, then taunting O'Hare was certainly an act of cruelty.

The next day I woke up early, having slept slightly better than the previous night, but I still had a slight headache. Was this due to lack of sleep, or a withdrawal symptom, as a result of not taking my Prothiaden, I wondered. Anyway, the best way out of that problem was not to think about it. I therefore got down to cleaning the cell. It was unfortunately a warm day, so by mid morning the sweat was pouring off me. I had a mop bucket and ordinary plastic bucket, both full of hot water, plus all the usual cleaning gear. This was the third cell I had cleaned from top to bottom. I had obviously learned from previous experience, as by midday I had completed the task, and being pleased with my work, the headache was no longer apparent.

I returned to my reading of the Paris Air Show report. The newspaper's revealed the latest in the TWA airliner hijacking at Beirut, plus the belated discovery by police, of a torture chamber in California where at least twenty-five people were thought to have been murdered, then cremated. I was trying to get well, whilst all around me insanity reigned. Surrounding me was my clean cell, my clean world, a defiant symbol signifying that I was not prepared to be swept up into the melting pot of depravity and apathy that I witnessed all around me.

In Risley I was an exception. Even the staff who did not know me would look at me strangely, as I enthusiastically cleaned my cell, no doubt thinking we've got a right one here. I will never forget my first arrival at Risley. I stripped naked in front of a prison officer seated behind a desk. He was filling in the necessary details about me on a form. He asked me the usual questions, name, age.

"Distinguishing marks?" Asked the prison officer.

"None," I replied.

"No tattoos or scars?" He asked.

"No none," I said.

In fact I was very much an enigma. No tattoos, no scars, no birthmarks, no poxy face, no scabs and no sores. Physically I was unblemished, and looked considerably younger than most inmates of my age. I had never had a serious illness, except mumps and measles as a child. I had never had VD, no gonorrhoea, no herpes, and no syphilis. Having been in the merchant navy for four years, taking precautions came naturally. I had at various times in my life been inoculated against poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, yellow fever, cholera, smallpox, whilst at Risley I now wished I had been vaccinated against every other pox going, judging by the state of my surroundings. I dreaded the thought of catching hepatitis B, C or AIDS, not to mention pneumonia, owing to the cold damp weather and poor ventilation.

When I left school I was very naive regarding the precautions one should take concerning the prevention of disease. I remember one incident whilst at sea on my first ship. We were required to grease the wire cables on the ship's derrick. Since I had to write everything down in my journal, I asked the mate what kind of grease was used.

"Crab grease," the chief officer replied.

Now the companies grease products had very strange sounding names, so I did not think any more of it. That evening I diligently wrote down in my journal how we had used crab grease. The following Sunday morning the captain read my journal as usual. He was not amused. Crab grease was evidently used for prevention and treatment against the crab louse, phthirus pubis, found in infected pubic hair, and transmitted by sexual contact. I learned fast after that indoctrination.

That evening O'Hare was talking to himself as usual. He went on and on and on, for at least two hours, with the occasional inmate joining in, though I think by now most of the inmates were sick of it.

"Slop out! Empty the pot! Let me out!" O'Hare would shout, over and over again, the latter remark was sure to receive a negative response.

After two hours of it I was getting a headache, whilst feeling the urge to be physically sick. It was no joke. During most of the day the flap on 0'Hare's door was bolted shut, so that he could not annoy anyone, but with a change of staff the flap was lowered, enabling O'Hare to take his revenge. O'Hare kept asking for Mr. Flight for some reason, but he was not on duty. Instead we had lovable Mr. Stone.

Finally, Mr. Boxer went over to 0'Hare's cell door, and commenced talking to him quietly. This I thought was worth watching, as I had never seen Mr. Boxer use tact before. I could not make out what he was saying, as it was so soft, but it appeared to calm O'Hare down, at least momentarily.

"I wanna empty me piss pot! I want Mr. Flight!" O'Hare shouted.

"For fuck sake shut up yea cunt," said Mr. Boxer.

That was more like Mr. Boxer, I thought.

"It's seven o'clock. You slop out at five o'clock, and Mr. Flight's gone home to have a wank, or he's shagging his misses!" Mr. Boxer shouted for all to hear, with obvious despair in his voice.

I was beginning to cheer up.

"I wanna empty me piss pot!" O'Hare exclaimed.

"I haven't got the fucking key," shouted Mr. Boxer.

Realizing there was no alternative but to be nice, Mr. Boxer lit a cigarette, then gave it to O'Hare. The scene was almost touching, but quite frankly, I wished someone would strangle the noisy bastard! Fortunately, the trick with the cigarette worked, bringing peace to the ward. There were no straight jackets and padded cells at Risley, but worst of all, there were no sound proof cells either. The reluctance to use drugs (or was it indifference?), and the poor staff communications at all levels, led me to believe that Risley was the last place on Earth where the mentally ill should have been housed.

There was no doubt in my mind that 0'Hare's condition was now considerably worse than it had been on the other wing. I also had the feeling that I was less tolerant now than I had been then. I had noticed that near the end of my interview with the doctors from Denbigh, the previous week, I had been trembling in speech and body, in particular my legs, as if in a mild form of shock. Years later I learned that it was a symptom of anxiety. Whilst at Risley I thought that my thirteen month stay was getting the better of me. The thought of being carried out of Risley a gibbering wreck, like a long grey haired prisoner from a medieval dungeon, sent the shivers through me. I was always aware that at the end of my prison sentence, the authorities could always write out a medical order designed to keep me behind bars permanently. As the months ticked by, and my release date got nearer, the incentive to converse with the doctors about my mental condition vanished. I realised that I had to grasp every comical situation, and use it as a metaphorical life jacket upon which my sanity would thrive.

I went to bed that night listening to the howling screams and banging from inmates on the wings. Evidently a soccer match was in progress on the radio. My brain felt numb. I was unable to feel any emotion. It was as if my brain was floating on a sea of insanity. Somehow I dropped off to sleep. At 5am, rays of sunlight entering my cell, woke me up. It also woke up another inmate.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! In rapid succession, as fists pounded on a cell door. The blows were so rapid and numerous, you would have thought there was an octopus in there wearing boxing gloves. The inmate soon settled down to sleep again, but unfortunately I did not. The daylight, plus the anticipation of more noise, kept me awake. Eventually the fire alarm bell rang at 6-45am.

During his rounds that morning, Dr. Sauce was surprised to see me in a cell. The accompanying hospital officer explained to him that I had been brought downstairs, because of the letter I wrote to the home secretary.

That morning I washed my shirt and underwear, as I no longer had direct access to the linen stores, whilst the inmates who ran it were none too keen to come down to the cells, to exchange our clothes and linen. I washed my underwear in a bucket of hot water and disinfectant, which I later used to clean the cell again. Everything smelt grand. I then decided to straighten out the bed, quite literally. Instead of springs the bed consisted of a steel wire mesh, welded to a steel bed frame. At least it had been welded originally, but someone heavy had been using it as a trampoline, causing the mesh to sag considerably, to the point where it was like sleeping on a camel's hump.

Although I straightened out the mesh, the twenty by three millimetre steel reinforcing strips that spanned the frame in two places, producing the humps, could not be straightened. How they had been bent in the first place I could not imagine. I decided that for the moment at least, the bed would have to stay as it was.

We had exercise period that afternoon. No one had cut the grass in the courtyard so far that year. It now stood half a metre high in places. Lying in the grass, trying to get a sun tan, was the closest I could get to a state of meditation. The time was always all too short. Later, evening dinner consisted of spaghetti, cheese flavoured mashed spud, four slices of bread and a sickly looking rock cake. The spaghetti and mashed spud were unusually good, so I gave the rock cake to the birds. Moments later there occurred an awful lot of squawking outside my window. There was a group of starlings milling around the bread, and one of them was feeding a bird much larger than itself. The thought occurred to me that it may have been a cuckoo, being fed by its adoptive parent. There were enough cuckoos in the hospital, without having them squawking outside my cell window, I thought.

The call of nature arrived and I did not have a locker in my cell, to provide a screen from the eyes of the ever watchful staff. There were two cat A screws midway along the landing in addition to the hospital officers in the office. The screws were guarding Noel Matthews. He was the ringleader of a gang who tried to emulate the Kray brothers, by sadistically killing two young men in the Peak District. Matthews got life with a recommendation that he serve at least twenty-five years. The trial had been a few months previously, as he was now on trial for head butting a prison officer, I believe. Matthews would peer through the bars in his cell door, with a smirk on his face, as if to say, if you get too close its your fault. He bore a striking similarity to my mate Allan on Anglesey, making me realise that you cannot recognize a criminal type by appearance alone. The female deputy governor, known to the staff as the 'screeching owl', and her cronies, would visit him twice daily, treating him with fraternizing respect. I got the feeling it was psychological warfare, in an attempt to stem off further attacks.

Anyway, the call of nature had to be answered, so there I was sitting in the corner of my cell, looking up at the door, whilst defecating into my plastic potty, hoping that no one would see me. Sure enough a nose protruded through the bars. It was Mr. Gravy. Perhaps he would like to hold it for me, but he disappeared before I could say anything.

The day seemed to be going well, but there was no let up inside my brain. The high pitched whistling noise had started up inside my head again. I had not taken Prothiaden for four days, so was it the absence of this which caused the noise? Mr. Flight had told me that it was caused by high blood pressure in the brain, but how could it be when I actually had low blood pressure? Why did the whistling start after I had been reading for sometime, or get louder after I had gone to bed, or migrate to the inner ear after I had been lying in one position for ages? Why is it that I cannot remember what I am reading?

It was at this time that a cat A screw told me that the noise was called tinnitus, and came from the inner ear. A relative of his had it, but unfortunately there was no cure. What caused me to lash out with my fists at the air around me? What was creating the floaters in my eyes? These questions would worry me as I mulled over them time and again. I never asked the doctors as they never seemed to tell me anything. In prison there was no one to turn to for the answers. I would constantly look for answers amongst the medical articles in New Scientist, the only source of medical knowledge I had access to. The latest medical research into the workings of the human brain was listed there. It all made very heavy reading, but one thing was clear, scientists were a long way off in unravelling its secrets, let alone knowing how to put right what was wrong.

I had damaged my eyesight during a partial eclipse of the sun in November 1984, whilst still in A ward. Jock, the hitch-hiking Glaswegian who killed a queer, convinced me in my drugged state, that it was quite safe to look directly at the sun through a small hole in a piece of paper. This I attempted to do, making my eyes water. I soon discovered that it was easier to look at the sun through the thin bottom of a plastic mug, but by then the damage to my eyes had been done. In my drugged state, all the warnings I had heard from Patrick Moore during the televised astronomy series Sky at Night, had counted for naught. Since there was no optician at Risley, getting advice on the subject was impossible.

As I went to bed that evening, I noticed that the starlings and sparrows had still failed to penetrate the rock cake. I wondered what I would do tomorrow. Therapeutic work I had done by cleaning my cell twice. Sunbathing had been the nearest I could get to meditation. I had resumed my exercises, which I always did whilst in a cell, twenty trunk curls and twenty press ups each evening, but no more as I had never been enthusiastic about sport and exercise, much to my cost. I weighed a mere fifty-seven kilogrammes, and for a height of one hundred and sixty-eight centimetres, I certainly was not overweight. On the contrary, there was always the danger that I would end up like the sparrows outside, so to speak, as I never received enough food to do work, let alone exercise. Lying in bed that night, I could feel the stress around my body, like a steel mesh drawing tighter and tighter. My brain also started to ache on the right side only. I must get a decent nights sleep this time, I thought, but it was to elude me. The more I thought about sleep, the longer I stayed awake. We had a particularly talkative guard that night. He seemed to be talking the inmates to sleep, one by one, ending with Matthews. He was obviously desperate for someone to talk to, as he spoke to Matthews for hours, finally trotting off to the office at about 2am. After that, I could hear a transistor radio blaring away from somewhere, whilst occasionally a loon from the other closed ward would start ranting and raving. By comparison, a pneumatic drill would sound mild.

I woke up at about six-thirty. It was a Thursday, as O'Hare was only too willing to remind everyone.

"Tuesday, Wednesday,,,,,,,,,, Thursday today!" 0'Hare would shout gleefully.

Matthews of course, would try and convince him that it was some other day. My wife did the same when I first met her, as her brain struggled over a period of months to remember the month, the day, then finally the date. Yes their was a sane part to 0'Hare's brain, struggling to be recognized. I could not help but feel sorry for him. He certainly did not get the sort of devotion that I gave my wife.

A few minutes later the bell rang in another new day, with uncalled for enthusiasm. I tried to sleep on without success. I did not clean my cell that day, as it was not dirty. Instead I spent the morning browsing through my magazines. I had been unable to get my hands on a newspaper since the previous Sunday. I had already read everything in my magazines once, whilst the next delivery was not due until Saturday or Monday. After lunch I slept for an hour, hoping my headache would go away. It did, but something unexpected was to bring it back. At one o'clock we all went outside for exercise period. I was just about to lie down in the grass when my name was called out. What had I done wrong now, or perhaps it is another interview, I thought, as I was led back into the hospital.

Outside the ground floor library stood one of the prison chaplains, holding a letter. He beckoned me into the small library where we sat down.

"I want you to read this letter, now," he said.

The letter was from my mother. Evidently her father, my grandfather, had died the previous Sunday, in his sleep at the age of ninety-three. Two weeks previously he had gone with my parents to the seaside resort of Bournemouth. During their stay there, the weather had changed for the worst. After returning home he developed bronchitis. He was admitted to the local hospital, where he appeared to improve, and very much enjoyed watching the trooping of the colour on television, in celebration of the queen's official birthday. He had lived a long life, and had been married over sixty years. In his youth he had joined the British army, serving in Ireland and northern France and Belgium in world war one. He returned from the trenches of northern France, but his brother did not. He was always a great critic of British society, and his close relatives dreaded his lectures on the subject. He kept his faculties right up to the end, and his humour, with a little help from me.

His wife had died four years previously, having suffered from osteoporosis and dementia for years. Having died shortly after an operation on her hip, he felt guilty at having agreed to her being moved, instead of getting home help. The guilt and the stress over the circumstances surrounding her death deeply affected him. I wrote to him from Anglesey, hoping that my carefully chosen words would bring him out of his depression. He was deeply touched by my letter. It did the trick.

My grandfather, or rather gramp as he was called, lived for many years on a miserly state pension, having refused to bow to a means test for supplementary benefit. He had done his bit in two world wars, and was hence determined to retain his self respect. He had not seen me during those last sixteen months. I wondered whether my absence had changed his opinion of me in that time. His funeral cost five hundred and eighty-four pounds, of which the DHSS contributed fifteen pounds.

The formalities over, I stepped out of the library. An inmate was cuddling his spouse in the hospital visiting room. It made me feel even more lonely. I walked out into the courtyard, where the exercise period was still in progress, lay face down in the long grass, under the warm sun, and cried. As I wrote to my parents that evening, Matthews was still taunting O'Hare. My headache returned, and so did a feeling of nausea, the latter was something which I was to live with for years.

I slept on and off throughout the night, the ward being disturbingly quiet. The morning was cold, wet and windy. It was classic funeral weather. At a quarter to two that afternoon, Friday, June 21st, in a medieval church, the funeral service took place, followed by cremation. Despite O'Hare and the noise from the screws portable radios, at the appointed time my thoughts went out to those solemn proceedings, as my mother had requested. I was there in mind if not body. My other relatives would not be told why I was not there, only that I could not get away, which was true. That afternoon I received a letter from my solicitor, asking for my permission to hand over the keys of the bungalow to the building society. My wife's divorce would evidently be granted on July 3rd, with the decree made absolute six weeks later. All in all it was a hard day. The longest day of all the longest days of my life.

The following night O'Hare was at it again. Why his jaw never seized up I will never know. He was put in a stripped cell for the night, in the desperate hope of keeping him quiet. Mr. Lonelyheart was whispering to Matthews again, in the dark. Why most of the staff wanted to talk to such a sadistic killer, I could not understand. Maybe they secretly wanted to be murderers themselves. I could see it now. The inmates would wake up in the morning to find another freshly dug plot of soil, amongst the tall grass, and a much quieter atmosphere. Somehow I just could not see the staff being that keen. My personal thoughts on the subject were less drastic. I had visions of praying to God.

"Dear God," I would say, "Please send O'Hare away for just one night, so that we can all get a decent nights kip. Send him to entertain the heroic men of the British Antarctic Survey." (The nights are six months long there.)

As for Matthews, I later learned that he had a reputation for being a homosexual, blackmailing inmates who had intimate relations with him. As for me, I refused to talk to the cretin.

Whilst Mr. Lonelyheart was talking to Matthews, a buzzer sounded and a red light came on outside one of the stripped cells. The alarm was from the stripped cell occupied by O'Hare. After the screw had answered it twice, it became obvious that what O'Hare wanted was absolute silence. For once we were in agreement. Eventually, after apparently burning out the alarm, by keeping his finger pressed on it constantly, O'Hare resorted to throwing his shoes against the walls and door. His shoes were then taken off him, as he was transferred to another cell. In the other cell he found a mug with which to bang against the door. It was quickly taken off him, so he then banged against the door with his fists.

"For fuck' sake shut up," screamed another inmate.

Eventually 0'Hare's bare knuckles gave up, and silence reigned. I was then able to get some long awaited slumber.

At this time we had an alcoholic drying out in one of the stripped cells. You would have thought he would dry out quietly. This he did during the day. At night he would shout out like a regimental sergeant major. He would shout out numbers, as if counting physical jerks, particularly at first light, around five o'clock.

At this same time, the annual meeting of the British Medical Association was taking place in Plymouth. Doctors were calling for higher tax on beers, wines and spirits, plus a ban on the advertising of alcohol. Alcohol was blamed for one in three divorces, one in five hospital patients, and was a major factor in child abuse, which in 1979 totalled 4,500 known cases, rising to 6,400 cases in 1982. Alcohol abuse resulted in wife beatings, road accidents, and a decline in industrial output through absenteeism. It was believed that alcohol accounted for 15,000 deaths in Great Britain each year, at this time. Looking at the alcoholics being dragged into Risley, it was easy to believe those figures. Banning alcohol from society is a far from easy task. What do you replace it with, more depression and anxiety? We live in an artificial environment, often at odds with the thoughts of the human mind, thereby creating a need for alcohol, drugs, tobacco, etc. Strictly rationing these commodities, along with government creating a less stressful more caring society, is probably the only answer.

On the nights when the hospital was quiet, the misfits would start howling from one wing to another, quite literally. It could be clearly heard even with the windows shut. The screws appeared to do nothing about it. Occasionally an inmate would have his radio blaring away on the window sill. The noise would begin at around ten o'clock, and sometimes carry on until two in the morning. On the few nights it was absolutely quiet in all directions, I still could not get to sleep, as my mind was constantly on edge.

I assumed that the reason why I had not been given proper medical treatment was so that my symptoms could be put on display whenever I was required for interview, or maybe there was no suitable drug therapy. It was at this time that I learned from a hospital officer that Prothiaden was for the treatment of depression, and not just to help me sleep. I found it hard to believe that the medical profession had deceived me. How many more lies had I been told. From then on I showed no trust towards doctors, nor anyone else for that matter.

I had mixed feelings about being transferred. On the one hand I knew that I could not take much more of Risley without becoming permanently mentally disturbed. I will always remember what Pamela's mother told her, after I had taken Pam to see the movie, 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'.

"You wouldn't find it funny if you had been in there," she said to Pam.

She was referring to the occasion when she was sent to a mental institution for attempting suicide. The place had been so grim that on the families first visit to see her, they were shocked by the conditions and decided immediately to bring her home. Pam had few polite words to spare for the family GP after that. I now knew how she felt. When I looked at the state of British society in the 198O's, suicide seemed to be a perfectly natural thing to commit.

What would North Wales Mental Hospital be like, I wondered. None of the staff appeared to know.

"Oh, you'll like it there," was all the staff would say.

The words seemed to imply that the sooner I cleared off, the better they would all feel. During the interview, I had not learned much from the doctors. My ears pricked up when one of them said it was a mixed hospital. I presumed they did not mean black and white. Tomahawk told me that the doctors did not accept any monkey business. That and the thought of the place being full of poxy women, as at Risley, did not fill me with the urge to pack my bags immediately.

As the date of my divorce got closer, I became more and more bitter towards women. The only trouble was that there were none around to abuse. As a consequence my dyspepsia returned.

"So release me and let me love again," O'Hare sang loudly.

What woman in her right mind would want O'Hare, I wondered. For every man there was a woman, but I hated to think what his woman looked like. I sincerely hope that she does not see me first, I thought. Still, if he could feel optimistic at his age, then there was no reason why I should not. At this time I was certainly not thinking of remarrying. My opinion of women was at rock bottom, and seemed certain to stay that way for a considerable time. On the other hand, looking at it from a woman's point of view, who would want me. By the time I was released I would be in my late thirties, unemployed, little money, no car, no home to call my own, few friends, and having killed two people together with a history of mental illness, women would scatter in all directions if they knew. There was no way that I could ever tell a woman the truth about my past. Well not until after we had made love, that is. I would then have to pray that she was intelligent enough to understand. That was a tall order, finding a woman of sufficient intelligence in Birmingham. Such a woman was bound to ask me all about myself, before we clinched our relationship. Since you could not base a strong relationship on lies, it all seemed an impossible task.

It was on the twenty-seventh of June, six days before the decree nisi, that I wrote to my sister-in-law. I had never written to her before. I found the letter very difficult to put together, and with only four sides of paper allowed to write on, it was hard if not impossible for me to write all that I wanted to. It took me three days to write, and I was always aware that it could take just three seconds to throw away. The letter expressed the hopes, fears, and questions surrounding my case and its aftermath. Deep down I felt it all a waste of time, but it was better than doing nothing. There was nothing new in it, so I will not reproduce it here. The letter ended 'a divorce will not remove the guilt, its all yours.' The two unrelated parts were an expression of bitterness and exasperation.

As I lay on my squeaky bed, listening to O'Hare pleading with the guards for the umpteenth time to let him empty his piss pot, I had visions of a final solution. There walking along the landing would come a smartly dressed young man, wearing a white suit and carrying an executive brief case. He would also be wearing a plastic bag over his head, a 'sales' gimmick. The man paused at 0'Hare's cell door.

"Good morning Mr. O'Hare. I've been asked to visit you, by all your friends at Risley. I'm the local area representative for Exit Incorporated. Here's my card," said the nice gentleman.

O'Hare would stand there ashen faced, his jaw moving up and down, but no sound coming out.

Its working, its working, I would be thinking. Any second now and his ticker will have ticked its last.

"Oh, you've come to take me down the Warrington Road," ponders O'Hare,

Failed, I've bloody failed again, I thought, there's no justice.

Late that night 0'Hare finally decided to go to bed.

"Goodnight!" 0'Hare would shout out to his friends.

He did not really have any friends, but it was amazing the enthusiastic response he got when he said that magic word.

"Goodnight O'Hare"

Unfortunately O'Hare always liked an encore, so he would say goodnight three or four times, to which the response would be even more deafening, "Goodnight O'Hare!"

Finally there was peace and quiet, but of course it never lasted long.




Chapter 10




Noises




Banging steel doors, sending shock waves through walls,
Squawking radios, the chief medical officer calls.
Thudding boots along bare linoleum floors,
As mugs rattle across bars on blue cell doors.
Grinding locks are nowadays most reliant,
As shouts are heard from prisoners defiant.
Jingling keys, which all staff have near,
Screams of protest from a prisoner in fear.
Hooping sirens, as the police escort arrives,
Whistling guards, back to their homes drive.
In every ward, the TV's incessant row,
Cartoons, soap operas, 'Apocalypse Now'.
The prisoners peer, to see what's upset the calm,
As numerous feet run, to the sound of an alarm.
A fight, escaping prisoner, or burning cell,
"Don't worry lads, false alarm, all's well!
The thud of food drums, announce dinner is here,
As radiators transmit thudding from the calorifier gear.
At night, prisoners try to escape the heat,
Plus the eternal sound of the prisoner's heart beat.
The noises echo down landings bare,
Repeating that everyday familiar air.
The crescendo reverberates inside the loony's head,
Till pretty soon the tinnitus, makes him feel half dead.
There's no escape from the infernal noise,
As the warped mind embraces its eternal joys.



You may think that not touching a woman for so long would result in an uncontrollable urge from my loins, but it was never like that. I had been in Risley Remand Centre fourteen months, but I had only made love once in the last four years, and that was to my wife. What caused me to do it on that occasion, I do not know. Not surprisingly, Karen was far from adept at making love, but I knew that she expected it from me. During those later years of marriage I could see the expression 'he doesn't love me any more' on her face at night. I could not deliver, simply because of the constant strain on my mind, night and day. I knew Karen would never understand.

Teaching Karen was difficult at the best of times, but teaching her the language of love I was never able to succeed in doing. In the early years of our marriage, she would squeal with excitement when getting into bed, but as far as she was concerned, I was just another teddy bear, something to cuddle.

"He's lovable and cuddly," Karen would say as she squeezed me in a bear hug.

In her romantic moments, she would flicker her eye lashes against my cheeks. Whenever I tried to arouse her with a French kiss however, she would do her damnedest to bite my tongue off. Whenever my hand tried to arouse her erogenous zones, she would simply giggle. I found it most off putting. Any further move on my part, and her strong thighs would slam shut like a giant clam. I found it necessary to relax her, first with alcohol, and then where it mattered most with liberal applications of baby lotion. By this time I was usually either too drunk or too exhausted to go further.

Unfortunately I could not change Karen's attitude to sex. She just would not take it seriously. For the first time in my life I felt a sexual failure, but I could not afford to let it show. Given time, and if her mother had kept her nose out of things, then I have no doubt that our marriage would have been more wholesome. As it was, I felt that my sex life was under a microscope. Every time Karen went to stay with her parents, they would give her a grilling concerning our sex exploits. It was most off putting. I remember being in the legion one afternoon, when my mother-in-law asked me what size shoes I wore, then she asked to see my hands. After I showed them to her she turned to her friend and started grinning. That was the sort of sick mind she had.

A marriage will only last if it is built on need. That need must apply to both partners, and last for as long as those partners remain alive. A marriage based solely on sex will not survive. I needed Karen as a companion, to ward off the loneliness of earlier years, and to give me a purpose in life. Karen needed me as a passport to freedom and the care she deserved, but was not getting through her parents. Our marriage was built on love and respect for one another. Given the chance, it would have blossomed.

I had led a rather limited sex life. I did not have a girlfriend until I came out of the merchant navy at the age of twenty-one. Between then and the age of twenty-nine, when I met Karen, I had only four girlfriends and three casual relationships. Of the four girlfriends, the first Margaret relocated about ten miles away, the third Gill, went to Newcastle University as a student and later worked at the British Museum, London. The second Sallyanne, was too religious and immature. She told me her parents had sex on a Sunday afternoon, which may have had something to do with it. The fourth of course, was Pamela. Between Pam walking out on me, and meeting Karen, I had two casual relationships.

Margaret at BullRing, Birmingham 1970
Margaret Maughan from Clapham, Beds at Birmingham BullRing 1970

Love on the dole with Karen was a much different affair. With a wife and cat to feed, mortgage, rates and electric bills to pay, DHSS obstruction, next door neighbour and in-laws to contend with, the pressures held down any biological urge for copulation. It was a totally different 'ball' game.

Sallyanne Woburn Hall art gallery 1970
Sallyanne Souter from Rushden at Woburn Hall art gallery 1970

Lin was a woman with dubious sexual motives. One Saturday afternoon she came around to my flat in Aston. I thought that she wanted to make love as usual, but a few minutes later there was a knock on the door. It was her friend, Little Lin. I felt like turning her away, but I could tell from the cheeky grin on her face that it was no coincidence, so in she came. A few minutes later there came another knock on the door. It turned out to be the third member of the trio. So now I had three girls in my flatlet, all guzzling my booze. I could not help thinking that I was being taken for a ride. Lin was still on the bed, and obviously wanted my attention. Just as I was getting warmed up, the other two decided to leave, obviously not feeling inclined to join in. Much to my consternation, Lin also decided to leave with them. I was left with the empties, and a feeling that I had failed my entrance exam into the permissive society. It turned out that Lin's liaison with me was simply a means of persuading her real boyfriend to marry her. The other two girls were there simply to back up what she said about me to her boyfriend. I think her technique succeeded. As for Little Lin, she gave up her job as a librarian, and became a call girl. To most Brummie women, sex is a means to an end.

Rushden Hall Park Bonfire Night Pamela Karen SallyannAnn Viv 1970
Rushden Hall Park Bonfire Night Pamela Karen SallyannAnn Viv 1970

Rushden Hall Park Bonfire Night Sallyann Trudi & Jackie 1970
Rushden Hall Park Bonfire Night Sallyann, Trudi & Jackie 1970

I met Gill at my local, Bogarts on Broad Street, Birmingham. After she left for Newcastle University I went out with her friend Pamela. They were both from Solihull. As for Pamela, I will never forget the first time we made love, after knowing one another for no more than a week. We went back to my flatlet, whereupon she commenced consuming my booze. At the point of inebriation, she took her shoes off, then lay on the bed. Even in my intoxicated state, I could not mistake the message. We were both pretty well gone by this time, but I realised that if I did not perform she probably would not want to know me later. In my intensely saturated state, I slowly undressed her. Finally she lay there naked, with her hands behind her head in wanton abandonment. In those days she had very long fair hair and a gorgeous figure. I was filled with lust.

Jill at Dudley Zoo & Flintstones 1974
Gill Summersford at Dudley Zoo with Flintstones 1974

Stratford Upon Avon Day Trip Karen & Jackie With Paddles 1974
Stratford Upon Avon Day Trip Karen & Jackie With Paddles 1974

I simply could not get undressed fast enough, finally slipping on a rubber, I clambered aboard, kissing her footie studs in the process. When I commenced offerings of French kisses she started to panic. She writhed all over the place, finally grabbing my vitals, and pulling off the johnny. Of all the underhanded tricks I thought, as I lay there stumped at the winning post. Exhausted, I collapsed and we then fell asleep. Hours later she woke up.

"Are you all right?" I asked.

"I don't remember anything. What happened?" Pam asked.

"Oh, we made love. We did it," I mischievously replied.

"Really! I don't remember," she said again.

"You don't have to worry, I took precautions," I said, somehow keeping a straight face.

To this day she still thinks that she lost her virginity on that Saturday afternoon, whereas in actual fact it was a week or so later, when she was no longer so flustered. Even so life was still not so easy. She refused to use the spermicide tablets I bought her, which proved difficult to slip in unnoticed. She became very neurotic concerning the possibility of becoming pregnant, and would worry me sick until her period started, even though I knew there was nothing to worry about. I must admit that there were times when I felt like going around to her old school and beating up her sex education teacher. Sex education in schools appeared to be confined to the animal processes. How to make love and select contraceptives, had apparently got nothing to do with it.

One of Pam's jobs at the jobcentre was to interview newly released offenders, including murderers. They usually would not admit they had been in prison, stating simply that they had been abroad. Pam would quickly recognize the address they gave as being that of a parole hostel. This gave her her opportunity to dominate the male sex, a role she relished.

"It's no use lying to me. We know everything," she would say.

Pamela Aberystwyth day trip 1975
Pamela Sykes Day Trip to Aberystwyth 1975

She could be a bitchy cow at times. Judging by the hard lot at Risley, she was lucky to stay alive. Her next boyfriend apparently telephoned the birth control advisory centre, and arranged an appointment for her, which she surprisingly went to. It is easy when you know how. Why is it I keep asking myself, that women can be more ignorant of sex than men, when it is the female of the species that has to carry the burden, namely the foetus. When it comes to birth control, women have far more choice, coil, sheath, before or after pill, or an injection that can last up to five years. And yet if the woman gets pregnant, it is always the man whose to blame. Why should a man have his intelligence insulted, through accusations of male irresponsibility?

My relationship with Pam ended when she was raped. After failing to find me one Sunday afternoon she decided to go on a pub crawl on her own. She met an architectural student from Hong Kong. She was raped and held prisoner for two nights. The other two students in the digs failed to assist her. Upon returning to work she was given an official reprimand and ended up going out with her rapist. Well that's life.

36 Trinity Road Lin, Lin & Paula 1976
36 Trinity Road Lin, Lin & Paula 1976

As I lay in bed that night, mulling over the nightmare of living in a female dominated society, the silence was shattered by a rip roaring sound reverberating down the corridor. It went on and on and on, for ten to fifteen seconds, followed by whistling. Then the noise, like a moped's exhaust at full revs, would start up again. What the hell is it, I wondered. No surely not, not that long. Again and again that nose twitching noise, followed by whistling. Who the hell's farting, I wondered. It began to bug me. I felt like shouting along the landing, threatening whoever it was with a decidedly runny nose in the morning. It vent on for ages. When it finally stopped I lay in bed waiting and waiting, for those obscene decibels to insult our college of crime once again.

It was not until the following morning, after listening to two hours of shouting from a stripped cell, beginning at 5am, that I found out who the phantom farter was. A certain member of staff informed me that it was Mr. Parrot. Since this revelation maybe construed as an offence against the official secrets act, I will refrain from naming the informer. I also believe that this informer was the only member of staff who knew that I was writing a diary. On only one occasion, during my first stay downstairs, was my diary discovered by a screw during a search. He asked me whether I was writing a book.

I replied, "No," as I acted like a loon. That seemed to satisfy him.

Mr. Parrot was probably one of the noisiest members of staff. If he was not trying to rival Concorde's supersonic boom with his flatulence, then he was whistling loud and clear his repertoire of regimental marching music. I think his wife must have fed him on bird seed. I had visions of her going to bed in a see through baby doll nightie after first covering up Mr. Parrot in his cage.

I was just returning my cleaning bucket to the bathroom, the next morning, when violence erupted in the reception area. Hospital staff converged from all directions, seemingly following the laws of planetary accretion. The fracas had developed into a rather nasty scene, with legs and arms sticking out in all directions, from a writhing mass on the linoleum floor. One of the staff was acting as referee, leaping about like a flee over a cow-pat.

"Give it to him!" The referee shouted.

Just which side he was supporting was unclear, as I could not see the prison inmate, just a mass of prison officer's and hospital officer's uniforms.

"Have yea got him, have yea got him? The ref, kept asking.

It could have been a nasty moment for the officers. Grabbing someone's balls, only to find that they belonged to your superior, could seriously affect promotion prospects. Finally the heap of humanity was torn apart. To my amazement, there was not one inmate but two, under the pile.

For Friday lunch we had curry and roast potatoes, which I enjoyed. For evening dinner I had a large salad. It was much too much for me. I turned the slab of cheese and slice of luncheon meat into two sandwiches, adding beetroot to both. These I ate along with the strawberry and cream tart. The remainder of the salad, consisting of celery, lettuce and cucumber, I just could not eat. Maybe the small unidentified creepy-crawly I spotted exploring the lettuce, put me off. I noticed it whilst eating my sandwich, I paused, thought about the sandwich contents, then ate on in preferred ignorance. The salty pork pie, the first I had seen in Risley, I gave to the birds. I simply did not feel hungry enough, as my stomach felt bloated. My stomach often felt bloated, possibly as a result of ulcers in the intestines, though at the time I was ignorant of this possibility.

Meals on a Friday were considerably better than during the rest of the week, probably as a means of placating the inmates over the weekend, during which many staff would be off duty. Also at weekend we had broiler chickens, which was the worst chicken I have ever tasted. It became known as the 'Risley-Vulture', the only good thing about it was that it was tasteless. Eventually, better tasting chickens were introduced, but the quantity dropped as the quality rose. Chicken was then available every two or three weeks. Rumours that the kitchen inmates ate steak nearly every day, as their perk for doing the job, did not go down well with the inmates in the hospital. The only improvement I was to see in the food at Risley, was the introduction of prison bread, which surpassed that generally available on the outside.

The state of the food certainly did not improve the state of my stomach. My dyspepsia came and went, usually in cold weather. Whether it would lead to peptic ulcers or gastric cancer, was up to the gods. I had stopped my exercises as they gave me severe stomach pains, which I thought were responsible for the feelings of nausea I experienced occasionally. I was deeply concerned about my health, and read avidly every scrap of information I could find that might appear relevant. I perhaps went over the top at times, for I recorded in my diary at this time, the following note:

'Pain particularly in the gut, is relieved by naturally occurring opioid peptides, which produce an unpleasant feeling when they act on the receptors of the peripheral nervous system in the gut region. Whether the pain itself was the result of inflammatory bowl disease such as Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis, I was not sure. Perhaps a double contrast radiograph of my stomach would show something.'

At this time we had another Belsen type in one of the ground floor cells. His hair had been shaved off, the scabs on his scalp suggesting that it was not done voluntarily. His skeleton features were clearly visible beneath the skin. Having inmates on hunger strike at Risley was not unusual. They did it for various reasons, usually because they felt frustrated by the prison system, or because they could not face the truth about themselves or their crime. Such sights no longer bothered me, as I looked on the bright side. If they would not eat, then it meant slightly more food for me. Nobody gave a shit for anyone else in Risley. It was a dog eat dog environment. The survival of the fittest. I was too concerned about my own health to care about others. Hunger strikes were just another sickening element in that inhuman environment, which I tried my damnedest to ignore.

I remember the case of a small lad of about sixteen years, put into a stripped cell. He would not stop banging on the door and walls. Finally one of the staff went into the cell. There was the sound of a slap followed by a squeal, rather like that of a piglet. The lad did not make any noise after that. Maybe it was the first slap he had ever had. Maybe a disturbed child, the product of turbulent parents. Whatever the reason, you have to catch them young, preferably before lights out. Anyway the stripped cells were always in demand, so the sooner he was out of there the better. Who cares about right or wrong. At least there was relative peace and quiet after that, and it probably did the lad more good in the long run.

Prisoners came and went. Out went Matthews to serve the rest of his twenty-five year prison sentence in a long term prison, with all the excellent facilities that went with it. I was almost envious of him. So Matthews out, Jesus Christ in. At least that is what he called himself. Kevin Wood, who was in the cell next to O'Hare, would take the mickey out of JC by singing renditions of 'Yes Jesus Loves You' and 'Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.' I suppose you could call him and all the other jokers on the ward the salvation army faction. When Wood was not antagonizing Jesus, he was picking on O'Hare. Every time O'Hare opened his window, Wood would reach outside his cell and close it again. O'Hare would then ram it open again accompanied by a piercing screech of metal against metal, followed by Wood closing it. In addition to being a joker, Wood was also a keen boxer. He was being held on remand for murdering a young Spanish woman in Liverpool Docks, for which he gave himself up.

There was another inmate in the stripped cells on hunger strike. He said he was on hunger strike because he was not allowed a visit. As with all hunger strikers, his name card was not above the cell door. I therefore did not know who he was as I rarely felt like having a conversation with the loons. As far as I could see, the treatment of hunger strikers consisted of psychological warfare, since staff were not permitted to force feed inmates, a decision made as a result of IRA hunger strikes. A person on hunger strike would initially be ignored. If that failed, then a doctor would interview the inmate in his cell in order to find out the reasons for the inmate's actions. As the reasons were given, hospital officers would laugh, ridiculing the inmate's motives. If after about ten days you still persisted, and there was no way out of the impasse, then you were put in a stripped cell. The isolation imposed by a stripped cell, plus the overpowering heat and smell, were enough to deter most hunger strikers from going further. You were denied fluids for two days. On the third day a mug of milk was placed in the cell. If you did not agree to that then a forced bath was called for, assuming you were a non-conformist. Hopefully after such treatment, suicidal tendencies would be replaced by hate and a strong urge for survival. The ultimate act was the prison haircut, carried out for purely health reasons you understand. With no hair, no sympathy, in total isolation, and with the staff laughing at you, it was enough to make anyone ask themselves 'why am I doing this?'

It was at this time that I got to know Paul Atkins, the comic I had seen in the courtyard a few days previously. He was a man who just could not stop talking, especially at night. I felt like giving him a piece of my mind, if it was not for the fact that he kept giving me presents, an orange, cup of tea or chocolate bar. I do not think he was gay, just another head banger. That is undoubtedly an unkind remark, for what happened to him could happen to anybody. He was obviously in a chronic state of anxiety and depression, for which he refused to take any medication.

Paul told me that he had experienced a bust up with his solicitor over a conveyancing, which became necessary owing to divorce. He wrote to his solicitor enclosing a white feather. In the letter he said that he would get a small box to put part of the solicitor's anatomy in. In this same letter he also stated that if the solicitor went to the police, then he would have no alternative, but to get an even larger box. This the police took to be a death threat, so here he was in Risley, cursing the law society and what he called its secret organization, the Free Masons.

"Sixty-one days. Sixty-one fucking days I've been in here, simply because a dirty rotten shit bag of a solicitor can't do his own fucking job. I'll kill the bastard when I get out," Paul would say, over and over again.

I believe he was later interviewed by two male personages from Rainhill Mental Hospital, who apparently asked him whether he would like to go there voluntarily. He was not amused. Evidently Paul had undergone a nervous breakdown when he became unemployed, then his wife walked out on him. He lived in Birkenhead, but judging by the loudness of his speech, all of his friends probably lived across the River Mersey in Liverpool. He was a nice chap, and a classic example of how unemployment and stress can destroy someone. Whether that was the full story, I simply do not know.

On July 3rd I started taking Prothiaden again, to help me think. For a couple of weeks I also took Maxolon for my dyspepsia. That same day, Mr. Willie gave me a parole form to fill in. The form asked me to state all relevant reasons why I should be considered for parole.

I wrote down the following:

1. I have co-operated with the authorities in telling the truth about my crime, in stark contrast with my victim's relations.

2. I deeply regret what happened, but it was not I who was looking for trouble on that fateful day. I strongly dislike violence and arguing, and have always done so.

3. The circumstances of the killings are such, that it is highly unlikely that I would ever meet people like that again. The chances of a recurrence of this crime are therefore negligible.

4. I feel that my mental condition would improve considerably if I was transferred to a hospital, or back into the community.

5. My release on parole may help to relieve my stepfather's coronary thrombosis condition.

I handed the form back to Mr. Willie, thinking that I had done a good job. My replies were honest, and based upon the assumption that the people who read it would be intelligent and knowledgeable enough to understand. I was to learn the hard way that the Home Office did not reward its inmates for honesty.

July 3rd was also the date on which Great Britain's longest surviving heart transplant patient was cremated. Keith Castle was a man I had admired for his guts and humour. He was the man I felt should have been prime minister.

There were plenty of trials leading up to the court's recess in July and August. Jeff Hart, whom I had met in the open wards, got ten years imprisonment for battering his eighty-six year old grandmother to death, with a brick wrapped in a shirt. He was an intelligent, reliable, nice young man. He had done it whilst his mind had been disturbed by drugs. He had been prescribed Byceptol (something like methadone I believe) on the National Health Service for twelve years, for heroine addiction. A few weeks before the killing the dose had been cut back, ultimately resulting in tragedy. He told me that he had spent two months in the stripped cell at Risley, just drying out. This was a service not available on the NHS apparently. At this time there were seventy thousand heroine addicts in Great Britain. Jeff's case being a living example of the cost in human suffering when one chases the dragon. Drug smuggling and drug pushing did not carry the death penalty in Great Britain at this time, unlike some other countries.

Bruce Harper aged thirty-nine, was a pathetic looking man. It was hard to believe that he managed six optician's shops. He looked as if he had all the problems of the world on his shoulders. All of his problems were related to women. They began with the divorce from his second wife, which apparently took two years to sort out. He then promptly married for the third time after knowing the woman only one week. According to Bruce she turned out to be an hysterical woman, whom he finally bludgeoned to death with a hammer, after about eighteen months of marriage. He had yearned for feminine company so much that he had once been convicted of administering a drug to a woman, for the purpose of having sex with her. (I did not realise it was illegal to take a woman out boozing.) For killing his wife he received life imprisonment, and would no doubt be happier in prison than out. Well if the news media called you 'doctor evil eyes' surely you too would feel happier inside?

Ron Moore aged twenty-one, had shot dead both his parents with a shot gun, which had been fired about six times. He lived on a farm in Mid Wales where his parents ran a removal business. He stood to gain 95,000 pounds from the sale of the estate. He never talked to me about his crime. He spent most of his stay in C ward, and often came around the other wards with the supper. He was an intelligent lad. A member of staff told me that Ron had tried to make out that a burglar had done the killings, and that he had worn a wet suit at the time of the incident, later throwing the shotgun into a lake. Evidently his parents disapproved of his girlfriend, whom he had made pregnant. He received two life sentences without recommendation, in case as the judge put it, "He later gives a reason for his actions."

James McBride aged forty, went for trial at Preston Crown Court, charged with the murder of an antique dealer. His brother Alec McBride, was still being sort by the police for his involvement in the killing. James had evidently told the police the same set of confusing stories he had told me. The police no doubt wondered, as I did, whether he was all right in the head. He was found guilty of murder by implication, and sentenced to life imprisonment. He accepted the verdict and sentence casually, with no thought of appeal. I could not help feel sorry for his wife and son. I am sure that if it had not been for his brother, who was reputed to have done the actual killing, life would have been much kinder towards him. Being a robbery involving the use of firearms in which the victim was shot several times at point blank range, it appeared likely that James would serve at least ten years. He was a much quieter man when he left Risley, than he had been upon his arrival.

The morning of Friday, July 12th, started with ructions in one of the stripped cells. The three stripped cells were adjacent to my ordinary cell, located on south wing. One of these housed an inmate who was on hunger strike. On this particular morning one of the stripped cell occupants refused to get dressed, in order to make an appearance in court. The staff entered his cell, whereupon man's inhumanity to man reared its ugly head once more. The inmate received a black eye, a doctor later declaring him unfit to make a court appearance. As I later went to pick up my breakfast from the servery, there was Mr. Island gleefully explaining to Mr. Stick, how he had 'restrained' the inmate. I could not help thinking that prison was an inhuman establishment, corrupting all who came into contact with it. Their was no place for Risley in a truly civilised society.

I had just gone to bed that evening when Mr. Pardon woke me up. Evidently I had to go back up to A ward for the night, in order to make room for an eighteen year old kid in A ward, who could not stop crying. Evidently he did not like the idea of sharing his bedroom with murderers, beasts, winos, misfits, loons and tramps. The surroundings obviously did not remind him of home. He missed his mam.

The following morning I went down to the ground floor, and asked to return to my cell, Mr. Flight pointed to the cell list displayed on the wall.

"Look at them all, full!" Mr. Flight stated.

So that was that. I tried to cheer myself up later, by having my first bath in two weeks. I had asked several times for a bath whilst downstairs, but had got nowhere. They had given me the worst ordinary cell, next to the stripped cells, with a view of the perimeter wall. I had come to the opinion that they had tried to put me off living on the ground floor. It was whilst in that cell that I wrote the poetry that appears here, accurately describing prison conditions and my own thoughts of the past and present.

After a bath and clean clothes, and having been allocated a bed at the far end of the ward, away from the television, I settled down to watch the 'Live Aid' concert from the Wembley Stadium, London, knowing full well that afterwards the usual stream of video vibes would soon get my back up. The starving millions in Ethiopia simply did not realise how well off they were without television and tinnitus.

July 1985 was the month in which the British Government showed its true colours by awarding substantial pay rises to senior members of the armed forces, civil service and judiciary, whilst handing out derisory pay rises to school teachers and nurses. The problem of the later coming to the fore in December 1987 with petitions to the prime minister. The government also abolished the minimum wage for the under twenty-one's. Prison overcrowding took a new twist when a former inmate broke into Acklington Prison, Northumberland, after being released from there three days previously. He was charged with intent to commit damage and sentenced to fifteen months jail. He had evidently gone back in order to reclaim some money he had 'earned' whilst inside. The hidden money could not be found. The prisons were overcrowded enough without this sort of thing going on. Things were also getting bad for the lads on the costa del crime in Spain, where the Spanish were introducing new laws to get rid of them.

In July, Floyd Churchill came into the ward. He was only the second coloured inmate I had seen in the hospital. He spent most of the time sleeping, which I assumed was due to drug therapy. I was later to change my opinion to withdrawal symptoms. After lunch we would have a nap until 1pm. On this particular day I decided instead to sit at my bed and read my magazines. It was not long before I realised that Floyd was not in his usual land of nod, but instead pacing up and down. Strange I thought, what's got into him. There was a strange odour in the ward which seemed vaguely familiar to me. I suddenly realised he was smoking pot, or hashish as he called it. The stupid idiot I thought. It is only a matter of time before the staff notice. He would sit on the side of his bed, swinging his legs like a child expecting a new treat, whilst rolling a joint.

Searches were often made for drugs, but during this period none were carried out. The staff never noticed. They were too busy reading the stage papers (prisoners newspapers), or the POA (Prison Officer's Association) magazine, or sleeping with their feet up in the office. As for Father Grown, one of the prison chaplains, he was more interested in watching the horse racing on TV than chatting to the inmates. Floyd was later sent downstairs, when he refused to take his medicine.

Soon after Floyd went down, Leprechaun Mule came up. It was obvious to all that he really belonged in a ground floor cell, but they were all full. One of Leprechaun's habits was to take a mouthful of water and spit it over the floor or lavatory seat. One day I spied him squeezing an orange, then wiping the juice over his locker top. A day or so later he covered the lavatory seats and basin taps with margarine. He was ordered to clean it up, which he did, using metal polish. The overpowering odour of the stuff made meditation in the loo impossible. One of the other inmates finally volunteered to clean up the mess. Like many inmates in Risley, Leprechaun was a dickhead. He pursued his habit at night in the noisiest way possible. His bed would squeak for ages. One night he changed his tune. My curiosity eventually got the better of me. I sat up in bed to witness a startling sight. There was Leprechaun, standing by his bed, shagging his locker. The odour from orange juice obviously having aphrodisiac effects. The locker was rattling like mad, adding a new dimension to the term 'knee trembler.

"Oi, get back into bed!" I shouted.

Like a good boy, he did just that. I was relieved when a week later he was transferred to the cells, after flooding the bathroom.

August 7th, 1985 arrived with Mr. Stick displaying an unexpected keenness to get the ward clean and tidy. All the beds were made the same way, even the empty ones. We were evidently expecting VIPs, but on this occasion they did not visit A ward.

During the previous month I had received numerous letters from my solicitor Mr. Roberts, asking for my permission to hand over the keys of my bungalow to the Xtra Building Society. I sent him the following reply:

Risley Remand Centre,

28-7-85


Dear Mr. Roberts,

Thank-you for your two last letters. A few weeks ago I in a parole form for Dr. Shrunk. This weekend I will be helping the deputy governor with further applications in this direction. If I am granted parole, it will be from December 26th, boxing day.


As regards handing over the keys of Sunny Dale to the Xtra Building Society. I would first like to know what the divorce settlement is, i.e., whether I still own the furniture. I will then want to know what will happen to the furniture. I would prefer the building society let me keep the furniture there until:


(a) The bungalow is sold (by the BS),

(b) I can find someone to look after it,

(c) Until I am released on parole.


I find it terribly frustrating, not knowing what is happening. Whilst I understand your motives. I no longer believe that I am a suicide risk. I would therefore like you to send me a copy of the depositions of my trial and divorce. If you do not, I will only apply for them upon my release. I know where to get them from, and since fellow inmates receive theirs, I think it is only fair that I should receive mine.


You may feel that it would be best to talk to me about certain aspects. In which case I would like you to come and see me, here at Risley.


Please don't forget to send me Jane's Spaceflight Directory.


All the best,


Mr. N.S. Allen


I was never to receive all the depositions relating to my trial, or maybe the statements, like that from my wife, simply weren't taken. I had assumed that the reason was because the doctors thought that in seeing them I would commit suicide. As for getting them from somewhere else, it would have been possible for me to get only the transcript of my trial, but since little was said in court, there was no point in getting a copy. As stated before, I was never to get my book. Since my solicitor had control of all my funds, it would have been too much to expect someone else to buy it for me. I waited patiently for a reply to my letter. The reply was not what I expected:


Dear Mr. Allen,

Thank-you for your letter.


Our Mr. Roberts is away on holiday, until the 19th of August.


Yours sincerely,


(squiggle)


On August 23rd I eventually received a two page reply, stating that a purchaser had been found for the bungalow. Evidently the buyer was prepared to pay nineteen thousand pounds provided the furniture, carpets and curtains were included. As for a copy of the divorce petition, it was not included in the letter, and I did not receive it until September 4th following a further request. As for the deposition, I was fobbed off as usual. The term 'out of sight, out of mind' seemed to fit most aptly. By August 23rd however, I had other things 'on my mind'.

I knew that my wife's divorce would be finalized on August 14th. Divorce was very much in the media at this time, following publication of the Booth Report. The only grounds for divorce in Great Britain were irretrievable breakdown, based on one of five factors, which had to be proved. These were adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, separation for two years with the other partners consent, or five years separation without consent. Presumably, I thought, killing one's in-laws was considered unreasonable behaviour.

There were 98,000 divorces each year in the UK at this time, involving 160,000 children under the age of sixteen. There were children at risk in six out of every ten divorces, but fortunately mine was not one of them. The main causes of divorce were children, television and money. Since I handled all the financial matters, and we had two television sets, those problems did not arise. It was discovered in the USA that the best surviving marriages were where both partners work away and only meet at weekends. Only one in ten of those marriages ended in divorce.

Divorce was on the increase at this time due to financial restrictions, caused by low wages resulting from the recession and the large pool of unemployed. The changing role of women in society was also a major factor. The loss of male dominated skilled jobs, coupled with the growth of part-time employment for women, mainly in the service sector, resulted in women becoming the breadwinner, but often in a less well off family environment, being dependant on supplementary benefit or family income supplement. Women were realizing that they were better off without men. With lesbian lifestyles and one parent families receiving moral and financial backing from regional and central governments respectively, the way children were being brought up was changing dramatically, the psychological impact of which could only be guessed at. Without a stable traditional family background in society, a higher crime rate was inevitable.

There appeared to be few moves by government to stop the slide, much less the creation of a full employment society. At one time the main incentive for a man to have a job was the family, namely to support the mother, offspring and home. With the male hammered by divorce settlements and maintenance, the incentive for men to obtain employment and become a highly paid success disappear, with subsequent damage to the economy, particularly in high technology industries, where the skill's shortage becomes apparent first.

At this time the Labour Party and Trade Union Congress launched a document titled 'A New Partnership, A New Britain.' One million new jobs would be created in the first two years of government. Just what would happen to the other three million unemployed, assuming Mrs. GG's figures really were fiddled, was anybody's guess. Her labour laws would be scrapped, including the good bits. There would be no wage restrictions by government. Back to the old free for all, by the sound of it. It was the turning of the same old handle as far as the creation of jobs was concerned. 1930's solutions for 1980's problems, but in a glossy cover. It did not impress me any more than their pop party political broadcasts. This was not the USA. Razzmatazz rarely won votes in a serious minded, or was it glum minded Britain. Politicians should stick to hard facts if they want to get the message across and win votes. They should show the electorate that they are knowledgeable, competent and determined, and above all have policies which are realistic and will work. The 'loony party' was to make the same mistake at the next general election. It was they who kept the government in power, not the government's own policies.

About the only positive news at this time was Birmingham's application to host the 1992 Olympic Games. The use of the National Exhibition Centre and the building of a futuristic sports stadium there, made me wonder why the British Government could not adopt the same positive attitude, for sport and leisure, throughout the entire country. The government's approach to the running of the country was described at this time as remote, elitist and arrogant. This attitude was reflected in a government announcement on August the eighth. This stated that despite opening four new prisons recently at Wayland, Dartmore, Frankland and Wetherby, it was forced to open a disused RAF camp at Lindholme near Doncaster, as an emergency prison for one thousand inmates. The prison society had finally reared its ugly head for all to see.

The prison population had, between last September and the end of June, increased by 5,400 to 48,000. There were now 182 prison establishments in Great Britain. During the financial year 1983/1984 the average cost of keeping someone in Great Britain was two hundred and thirty-four pounds per week, or twelve thousand pounds per annum. That was over four times the cost of most people's dole money at that time. According to NACRO (National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders) in its report 'The Cost of Penal Measures' a community service order cost only five hundred and ten pounds per annum, a place in a probation hostel six thousand seven hundred and ninety seven pounds per annum, whilst to pay for it all, the amount of money the government raised in fines came to one hundred and twenty-three million in England and Wales, which of course was never enough.

Throughout the time I was to spend in prison, I was constantly reminded that prison does not deter repetitive offenders, no matter how awful the conditions of confinement may be. I came to realise that most repetitive offenders failed to differentiate between right and wrong because:

1. They were mentally incapable to the extent that they belonged in a mental institution.

2. Their parents did not bring them up to respect society and its laws.

3. The community in which they lived, seemingly abandoned by government, generated a criminal ethic, where crime and punishment were the accepted norm.

In such communities an education system was a non-starter.

The prison population in technically advanced countries, where governments fail to counter the social effects of industrial change, will increase considerably. The creation of an affluent elite to the detriment of everyone else of working age who are less fortunate, can only result in despair, resentment and crime, for a growing sector of society.

Advances in medical treatment enabled many people to live many years, who would otherwise have died soon after birth. Many of these would be unable to cope financially in a high tech society, inevitably leading to crime.

At one time the dregs of society were swept up to fight wars in defence of the nation's interests. Many of these soldiers would have been from the criminal fraternity, many of whom were attracted by the spirit of adventure, which in peacetime could rarely be found by legal means. The Great War no doubt mopped up large numbers within the criminal sector. In the Second World War, the effect was less so, since losses were lower owing to greater mechanization, which in turn required men of greater capability to take part.

The use of prisons as human dustbins, into which a government's social problems were shunted and forgotten, for the next government to deal with, inevitably produces no positive results. The more spare time a prisoner has, the more he spends listening to the tales of other inmates, hence the more he learns about crime, and the stronger his desire to emulate those criminal acts upon his release, since many criminals are highly recipient to suggestion.

The longer we stayed in the global economy, the keener the competition, through automation, and low wages. Hence crime would continue to rise.

As the technology incorporated within artificial intelligence advanced and government's apparent desire to govern waned, I could not help thinking that we were all witnessing the decline of the human race, which would inevitably be relegated to that of a sub branch of evolution, where it would decline and fade away, much like many North American Indian tribes did in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Would the human race be replaced by humanoid robots? In my view robots will eventually dominate the human race, or at the very least be considered essential, by the end of the twenty-first century, or may even supplant us as a consequence of nuclear world war. I do not believe that governments will be able to control robots any more than they can at present control their own citizens and existing technology. I look upon this as the next evolutionary goal, where robots will ultimately colonize the universe. Man does not have a God given right to pollute the universe with his own pathetic thoughts and actions. In a world dedicated to science there is no God, no justification to man's continued existence. The universe was not created, since it has always existed in one form or another. The existence of matter is not proof of God since the absence of matter is a scientific impossibility unless their is matter to compare it with. The vulnerability of the human race through its own inactions was something which many people would learn too late. The thought had occurred to me that one day a robot would pick up this text, read it and shake its head, thinking why didn't the human race take notice?

The human race listened, but pursued its primary function, namely that of ignoring reality, until it is staring them in the face, by which time it is too late to take positive action.

Meanwhile, back on the planet Earth.......

August 1985 left as it came, wet and windy. In a way the weather reflected how I felt. My life continued to go downhill. Dr. Shrunk put me on Tagamet pills to relieve my dyspepsia whilst treatment for my depression-anxiety state continued with daily doses of Prothiaden, which by now seemed to have no effect on me.

1985 was a bad year for plane crashes. On June 23rd, an Air India Boeing 747 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean south west of Ireland, killing all on board. Parts of the wreckage were later recovered, and although nothing conclusive was found, the cause was believed to have been a bomb explosion, similar to another which went off in Tokyo at the same time, planted by Sikh extremists in Canada. Over two years later a Sikh was arrested, having left Canada to work at the Jaguar car factory in Coventry, England.

On August 12th a Japanese Airline's Boeing 747 on commuter service between Tokyo and Osaka, sustained total hydraulic failure, when the incorrectly repaired rear pressure bulkhead failed causing air from the passenger compartment to escape via the vertical stabilizer, blowing off most of the fin and rudder. For thirty minutes the crew fought to control the aircraft, as it slowly descended whilst heading towards the mountains, where it eventually crashed. 520 people were killed, many as a result of shock, unconsciousness and the fire which followed. The use of American rescue helicopters equipped with night vision was turned down. The following morning Japanese rescuers arrived too late to save many from exposure. There were only four survivors for the belated rescuers to find. Passengers knowing that they would soon die, spent their last moments writing letters to their families and loved ones.

On August 22nd that black spectre came our way, on the runway at Manchester International Airport, just a few miles from the remand centre. It happened at 7am, whilst we were getting dressed and washed. The port side Pratt & Whitney jet engine on the Boeing 737 exploded during take off, rupturing the adjacent fuel tank, from where the fire spread to the rest of the plane. The pilot, thinking the explosion was a burst tyre, took the plane to the end of the runway before bringing it to a halt. Initially, passengers were told to remain in their seats, as the fire licked at the windows, unseen from the flight deck. Within five seconds the passenger compartment was engulfed in toxic fumes, as passengers clambered over each other and over seats in a desperate attempt to get out. Smoke hoods reserved for the crew were reported as unused. Reports also stated that the fire engines had run out of foam, whilst the fire hydrants were inoperative due to maintenance. The Federal Aviation Authority accused British Airways of running the engines at too high a temperature, a statement which was quickly retracted. Fifty-five passengers and crew were choked to death, many of the bodies burned beyond visual, recognition.

In the following weeks there were articles in newspapers and magazines about this latest disaster. I read them avidly, like a junky needing a fix. Whilst others watched TV soaps full of violence, I read my air crash reports. I imagined what it must have been like for the passengers, sitting there as their feelings gradually told them that they were doomed. For some reason I simply could not take my mind off it. How could it have been allowed to happen? It was of course a matter of economics and international agreement. Smoke hoods for passengers, better fire and toxic resistant materials and modified fuels, all cost money which the airlines had to pass onto the customer. Two years later, smoke hoods for passengers had still not been made mandatory, whilst the authorities turned their attention to water mist extinguisher systems. Life really is a lottery.

Reading these reports placed a mental strain on me which grew in magnitude. Eventually I was to have fits at fifteen minute intervals, or less. They were small fits, unnoticeable by anyone else. On Saturday, August 24th, things got really bad. I had a double fit which immediately produced an intense headache. It was not like anything I had experienced before. It was very localized, originating from my right temple, extending upwards and outwards by five centimetres. It was a vice like pain, which continued for two days. During this period the right side of my tongue was swollen. I took paracetamol, but it had no effect on my 'headache.' Even after the pain died away, there was still a very faint presence, which I could induce by pressing my tongue on my lower jaw. As usual there was no doctor on duty over the weekend. On August 27th I saw Dr. Shrunk about it, in the ward's office. He felt under my chin, presumably for swelling, but there was none. After a few seconds he gave up.

"These things are sent by God to test us," Dr. Shrunk stated. And that was that. The medical profession had had its day.

I was far from reassured however. Since it was not a normal headache, I knew it had to be either a tumour or possibly a blocked or ruptured artery, which could lead to a stroke. After being on this cholesterol infested junk food for fifteen months, I was not surprised by the possibility of it being a blocked artery, but since it happened during a double fit, then the chances were that an artery had ruptured. Such a leak could produce a distended artery resulting in total blockage of blood, culminating in a brain lesion and paralysis or death. At this time I was totally ignorant of these details, but I did know that the problem would not go away. To reduce the risk of having a stroke, it is necessary for a person to reduce sources of stress, whilst also exercising and eating a wholesome diet. All of these things were denied me. Each day we were almost force fed with piles of spuds and refined bread. Going outside for exercise in the cold damp August weather, only brought on my dyspepsia. As for relieving stress. I could not even find the inclination to have a wank.

Amongst the sensible TV programmes that I was not allowed to see at this time was a series about economics and another on spaceflight. The thought occurred to me that if I lived long enough I would no doubt see the repeats, a few years later. The only good programme that the lads watched at this time was the cricket. It was good because it was quiet. The TV movies were crap, whilst the comedy programmes I found pathetic. The television programme's Benny Hill and Crimewatch were very popular with the lads.

Talking to Mr. flight about my pain in the head, he said, "It's simply nature's way of telling you to take it easy."

This I tried to do from then on, always mindful that my next 'headache' could be permanent. Months later I read an article in a newspaper which mentioned mini strokes. This it seems, is what I had.

In the bed next to mine was Brian Llewellyn, aged nineteen. He was an attractive dark haired lad who had stabbed to death a queer. I told him all about Jock, who had committed a similar act, receiving life imprisonment. Brian on the other hand, only thought that he would get from two to five years. Brian was not of particularly high intelligence, judging by his letter writing. He once even tried to get me to make his bed. His appearance was more than enough to turn on any gay person. His moustache failed to hide his red rosy cheeks, which gave him a cherub like appearance. He did not appear to think highly of puffs, but I informed him that the law thought different.

"It doesn't matter how much AIDS they spread around. They're all entitled to protection under British law even after death, and if the judge happens to be partial, then you stand no chance of getting anything less than life," I said to him.

Even the governments chief advisers on AIDS had recently told the public not to panic, AIDS would not become a notifiable disease, even if they did drop like flies in the Home Office and Foreign Office. AIDS looked like becoming a means of reducing civil service overmanning, or as retribution for the Falklands apathy, which led to war.

Brian, whom the lads nicknamed Myra, was not cheered up by my predictions. It gradually dawned on him that escape was the only way out. Whilst making a remand appearance in Bangor, Brian did a runner from the police station. Another inmate from A ward, called Mark Jones, was present at the time. Mark was deaf, so he was not in on the escape plan. It was an opportunistic escape, as the door had been left open whilst the screws were signing over the prisoners, at the other end of the room. Brian saw his chance and ran out the door. Unfortunately, Mark saw him go.

"Hey, Brian!" Mark shouted without thinking.

Well, that alerted the guards, who quickly chased after him. Brian intended to enter the rear entrance of Woolworth's store, then exit through the front. He later told me that he then intended to race down the High Street to the Oxfam shop, where he would tell the shop assistants that he needed some working clothes for a job he had just been offered, and would they please take the ones he was wearing in exchange. It was a good plan as far as it went, but he did not even get as far as the store. The guards grabbed him, one of them punching him in the stomach.

"Not here in public. Wait till we're back at the station," said one guard to the other.

Back at the station, he was treated decently. It was possibly the last taste of freedom he would experience for a long time.

Tuesday, September 10th, 1985. Woke up as usual. Mr. Stick switched on the television for the breakfast time news. Must be something important, I thought. A few minutes later the news of rioting in the streets of Handsworth-Lozells, Birmingham, was announced. It had happened just a couple of hundred metres from where I once lived in Wiggin Tower, Alma Way, Newtown. From the fifteenth floor my flat looked down on Lozells Road. The politicians were interviewed, including Mrs. GG, who put on her usual concerned PR expression and eloquent voice. All the usual clap trap came out. They blamed everyone but themselves. The causes, unemployment and reduced local government expenditure on inner city areas, due to central government rate capping, were dismissed. Two years later, central government was to take charge of inner city rejuvenation by offering paltry sums of money, amounting to little more than a propaganda exercise.

The causes of the riots in 1981 were still there for all to see. What did the government expect young people to do who had been unemployed, on meaningless work experience courses, or outdated job training schemes for six years or more? Whose family and friends were unemployed. Who often lived in dilapidated housing, being reminded of their loss of worth and dignity every two weeks when they signed on the dole, or were obliged to go begging to the DHSS every now and again for special needs. How could these oppressed people have any respect for government and the law, when the government would not even admit reality, living in its own make believe world, created by its own propaganda. They had nothing, not even real freedom, so they had nothing to loose by rioting. The neurosis of hate building up in this generation of unwanted, would one day become an unstoppable force, if the politicians failed in their duty to create a better society for all. Mrs. GG had failed to respond to the Scarman Report on the previous riots in July 1981.

Shortly after the riots in 1985, the newly appointed Home Secretary Douglas Hurd visited the scene, whereupon youths promptly stoned him in the street. He was lucky to get out alive in my opinion. In those riots two people died in a burning building. About fifty buildings were destroyed by fire, whilst burning barricades had temporarily created a no go area.

At this time it was announced that there would be celebrations in 1986 to commemorate the nine hundredth anniversary of the commissioning of the Doomsday Book by William the Conqueror, at his Christmas council in Gloucester in 1085. At a time of riots, all we needed was a reminder that we were a conquered people, to keep the peasants restless.

The World Health Organization announced that there were now 14,811 cases of AIDS in 43 countries, plus several million more people carrying the virus, and therefore capable of infecting others. By now I was wondering whether Brian was one of them. He became more and more extrovert as his trial got nearer. He still thought that he would get three years. I told him that villains usually got far longer sentences than first offenders.

"I'm not a villain," Brian said.

"Not a villain. You steel an old dears savings from her kitchen when you are supposed to be window cleaning for her. You break into a caravan and doss in it whilst working on the site, and you say you are not a villain?" I said.

"I told the police where the knife was, that I used. Surely that will be in my favour?" Brian asked.

"Well," I said jokingly,"It all depends on how many notches there were on the handle."

Believe it or not, he did not understand the joke. Beneath his normal exterior he had a simple mind, so simple that on occasions I thought he was having me on.

The queer Brian had killed, was a manager for an electronics company that made electricity meters. He had stabbed him repeatedly in a frenzied attack. He told me that he did not know why he had killed him. I suppose it was simply a way of relieving the tension in his mixed up life, or was it after an embarrassing act of buggery?

Whilst July and August were renown for air crashes, September was to be the month of the Mexican earthquake which devastated Mexico City, and child murders. Leoni Keeting was abducted from a caravan estate by a man, who later threw her into a lake. The bizarre murder of Stacey Kavanagh aged 4 and Tina Beechook aged 7, by her mentally ill mother Mirela Beechook in Rotherhithe, London, and the case of Barry Lewis aged 6, who went missing from Walworth, London, brought out feelings of anguish and hate from many people at that time.

"Let the police turn a blind eye. Hand him to us. We'll soon deal with him," said one woman being interviewed for television news.

"That's all right for her, but what about us," said a voice amongst the viewers in the ward.

At first I thought it was a child molester speaking, but I was wrong. The man speaking was Roger Harris, who with three other men had done just that, taken the law into their own hands. They had beaten up a tramp suspected of child molesting, then thrown him off a roof, as a result of which he died. For this, Roger was later sentenced to three years imprisonment. His accomplices got six, seven and ten years. So that is what happens when you no longer have any confidence in your local police force.

September was also the month in which Fermilab, the USA's superconducting particle accelerator centre, succeeding in colliding protons and anti-protons at a combined collision energy of sixteen hundred giga electron volts, a new world record, in the search for ever smaller sub atomic particles and an understanding of the basic sciences necessary for matter anti-matter propulsion systems in the interplanetary spacecraft of the twenty-first century. At the other end of the human spectrum of achievement, an equally startling revelation was announced on local television news. We were informed that there was a suspected AIDS victim in the hospital at Risley, a twenty-five year old heroin addict. How nice not to have been warned by the staff, I thought. We later saw our AIDS victim that day during exercise period. Although he was being kept in a cell for isolation reasons, he was allowed to mingle with us during exercise. Little did I realise at that time just how close we were to become.

The trial of the parents of little Heidi Koseda took place in late September. Her parents had simply imprisoned the child in a bedroom and let her starve to death. 1985 opened the door on the taboo subject of child abuse. Three other cases stood out at this time.

In March 1985, the case of four year old Jasmine Beckford hit the headlines. She had been ill-treated for months. She suffered from broken bones, burns and starvation. She ended her final weeks with her broken leg tied to some exercise weights, resulting in a corkscrew fracture. The stepfather Maurice Beckford received ten years imprisonment for manslaughter, and the mother got eighteen months for child cruelty. Both adults were of low intelligence and came from unstable family backgrounds.

In July 1985, Malcolm Poole aged 28 and Susan Stock aged 22 went for trial at Liverpool Crown Court. They were charged with the murder of Christopher Stock aged four. The body had thirty bite marks, twenty pin point burns caused by electrocution, forty bruises and a double haemorrhage. Poole and Stock were both found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Also at this time, the trial of Claudette Henry aged 21 and Andrew Neil aged 20 took place at the Old Bailey, London. They were charged with the murder of Tyra Henry aged twenty-one months. The baby had been in the care of Lambeth Social Services. The body had fifty-seven bite marks and bruising consistent with being thrown against a wall. Andrew Neil was sentenced to life imprisonment. It was later revealed that he had attacked his own son in an earlier incident, resulting in permanent damage and the child being taken into care.

Child abuse cases highlighted what was basically wrong with British society at this time. The government was throwing the mentally handicapped out of institutions, with the help of drug therapy, technically called chemotherapy. There was therefore nothing to stop these inadequates living together in the presence of children. There was no law which obliged a couple, married or not, to pass an examination of competence before they be allowed to look after youngsters. In order to allow a marriage like mine to take place, I believed that only the combined result of the exams should be considered, plus a social services report on compatibility and support from relatives.

Society had changed greatly since the Second World War, putting children seriously at risk. There was now lack of interest by relatives, who in a mobile society often lived many miles away, preventing them from giving the care and advice that young couples with children needed. The changing role of women, leaving the husband to look after the children whilst the mother works, could be a source of resentment in some men. Neighbours were often unaware of what was going on amongst the family next door, owing to the seclusion that high rise flats provided. The mobile society had led to impersonalized communities, where people took little interest in others. Information technology in the form of television and the personal hi-fi, had resulted in even less face to face communication between human beings, leading to an even greater introverted society forming a basis for neurosis.

The creation of a crime orientated society which locks itself away from others, producing a cell mentality, also leads to reduced social intercourse and lack of awareness. Stress within the family grouping increases as the adults become unemployed, forcing them to stay at home all day, in close proximity to children who are often noisy. This problem is even greater in cheap housing, consisting of small rooms without a garden. The government's inability to come to terms with the evolving social structure by creating a marriage competence exam backed up by community policing, would only lead to further cases of child abuse and more crime in general.

Society must decide to what degree a free society should remain free. In the case of child abuse, the social problems which led to these tragedies was rarely played upon. Ways of preventing it from happening again, certainly were not. By and large the general public were kept in ignorance, whilst the politicians and top ranking civil servants looked the other way rather than admit that their own failings were the root causes of this social decay and a soaring crime rate. It could only be described as criminal deceit in the furtherance of ideology and greed. When these people eventually write their biographies, they will not mention the misery and deaths that their personally conceived policies had caused. The fact is that they are the real cold blooded killers, who at the very least belong behind bars. They knew it would never happen, since the British Government was immune from prosecution.

The British government continued to issue statistics, something which it was good at. They revealed for instance that two thousand people were jailed for drugs offences in 1984, half of whom were foreigners. Also that year there were 563 known killings. The most common method of despatch was a pointed weapon, strangulation second, whilst kicking came third. The Home Office publication 'Criminal Statistics for England & Wales 1984' also stated that there was an overall increase in crime of four per cent, broken down as follows:

UK Criminal Statistics England & Wales 1984

Data Type %age increase Quantity
Rape +7% 1,433
Violence +3% 114,000
Firearms offences +5% 8,400
Roberies +12%
Criminal damage +9%

On September 28th, 1985 came the Brixton riots, in the wake of those in Handsworth. It was also on that date that I shattered one of the crowns on a front tooth. It was an occurrence long overdue. The way I had clenched my teeth for over three years made it easy for me to understand why it had happened. Other people will remember September 28th as the day the Irishman Barry McGwigan successfully defended his boxing title in Belfast.

The following Monday I was interviewed by a member of the board of visitors, who was apparently part of the parole review board, or local review committee (LRC) to give it its correct title. The LRC was composed of the deputy governor, a member of the board of visitors, a hospital officer, a welfare or probation officer and a doctor. The doctor's recommendations in cases like mine, usually carried the most weight. It was usual for the LRC to meet about fourteen weeks before the parole date. One member of the board would interview the inmate and write a report which would then be studied along with the inmate's statement. The committee's recommendations were then sent to the Home Office, where the ultimate decision was made.

In my particular case, the points the LRC and Home Office had to consider were laid down in the parole booklet, which was based on the Criminal Justice Act 1967, as follows:

a) Seriousness of offence; As a general rule the more serious the offence the longer the actual time spent in prison will be, and shorter the period of parole. I did not realise then but I was later told that in cases like mine parole was usually not allowed.

b) Previous offences; Apart from traffic violations, I had no previous convictions. As a child, I and a group of lads had been fined for damaging some bales of stray, even though I had not personally caused any damage.

c) Social enquiry report; This was based on a number of factors:
Medical; I still suffered from depression and anxiety. I still had fits and it was unlikely that these fits would end prior to my earliest date of release. Granting parole and becoming a hospital outpatient appeared to be the best way of beating the illness.

Employment; Although I was a draughtsman I knew there were few opportunities in this field any more. I was also worried that my illness would get worse, if I took a job which I later found to be too stressful. After TOPS courses, an apprenticeship and a correspondence course in work study, I was in no mood to seek employment, I had a strong aversion to rejoining the rat race.

Family background; I was very much a loner, and perfectly capable of coping without family support. Any support my relatives could give me, would be outweighed by the distance we were to live apart.

Drink; I had never suffered from alcoholism, and considered nine pints of lager per week to be normal.

d) Imprisonment; Prison behaviour; I had conformed to the prison system and had not given any real trouble.
Training courses; There were none available at Risley. Owing to my illness, drug therapy and the sickening environment there, I doubted whether I could have achieved much even if facilities had been made available.
Attitude to criminal history; I was and always will be deeply concerned about the aspects of my crime.
Future plans; I intended returning to Birmingham, where life on the dole would be easier than on Anglesey or Northamptonshire.

e) Likelihood of repetition of crime; The chances of me ending up with so many problems, and of being entrapped again, I regarded as extremely remote. My mental illness had if anything got worse, as a result of which there was a nagging fear that having killed twice, killing again would come more easily. I could not predict the future any more than the doctors could.

f) Plans by welfare officer and probation officer, regarding accommodation and employment; I had not heard from my probation officer in Birmingham, so I knew of no such plans.

g) Acceptance of supervision on parole; I had stated in my statement to the local review committee, that I was prepared to be an outpatient at a hospital. I had of course agreed to co-operate with my probation officer, who would be seeing me weekly whilst I was on parole.

At this time I was unaware of the parole procedures. Little did I realise that virtually everyone else at Risley including the staff, was in the same boat. I waited in ignorance for my parole date, Boxing Day, to arrive. It was to prove a very long wait indeed.

The second of October will be remembered by some as the day Princess Anne visited Liverpool, one day after the Toxteth riots. It will be remembered by others as the date the film actor Rock Hudson kicked the bucket, from AIDS. For me and others in the ward, it was the date an inmate called Comedian Strong punched the shit out of a small fellow called Rusty Brown. Rusty was new to the ward. We were reliably informed by a hospital officer that he was being held on remand for rape.

That night I found it very difficult to get back to sleep, as most of the inmates in the ward were taunting Rusty in an attempt to get him to admit the truth. Instead of ignoring them. Rusty launched a verbal attack on all fronts. It went on for ages, the night watchman doing nothing to stop it. I felt like getting up and punching everyone who had their mouth open. In prison a beast is at the bottom of the shit heap, someone that other prisoners expend their frustration and hate on. With me I could not give a damn. All I wanted was a good night's sleep. Conditions in prison were bad enough without making them worse, simply to satisfy some prison officer's sadistic tastes. At 11-50pm precisely Comedian performed the finale. Climbing out of bed, he ambled over to the offending mite, and rained blow after blow at him. The night watchman immediately pushed the alarm button on the wall, a few seconds after which the ground floor night staff arrived on the scene. Rusty was taken away to a ground floor cell. Comedian told the staff that Rusty had attacked him. He even had a black eye to prove it, whilst plenty of inmates were prepared to back him up.

Comedian was a pathetic looking character. Although the same age as myself, thirty-six, he looked ten years older. He never wore socks, whilst his shallow cheeks made him look like an AIDS victim. He had long fingers, the fingernails of which had been bitten to the flesh. His dark straight hair had a tendency to stick out in all directions immediately after getting out of bed in the morning. His dark close cropped moustache, which came down to the chin, made him look like a hundred and one identikit faces. He was always the last to get out of bed and have a wash, which often annoyed me as I usually wanted to tidy up the wash room before breakfast. He told me that at home he did the housework and cooking, as his wife slept until 2pm. Evidently he would constantly tell her off about it.

"I'm always tired because you're always demanding so much sex," she would reply.

At that, time neither was getting their oats, his wife being in Styal Prison, just a few miles away. They certainly must have made an odd couple. What their home must have looked like, I shudder to think. I was glad that he was never my neighbour. Comedian would constantly come out with a string of pathetic jokes. He would also 'sing', in particular 'A boy called Sue' by Johnny Cash, as if we really needed reminding of violence and prison. His best number was the radio commentary for the last four fences of the 1969 Cheltenham Gold Cup, in which the race horse Arckle won. The first time I heard it, I really did think that it was a radio programme.

The next day I visited the prison dentist for the first time. He took impressions for a new crown, which would be fitted at a later date. I was satisfied with the treatment,,,,initially.

That day as the American space shuttle Atlantis made its maiden flight, it was announced at the Labour Party Conference that the newly published unemployment figures had also sky rocketed by almost 106,000 to 3,346,000, an all time record. Based on the original method of counting the unemployed, which the government had altered on numerous occasions, the true figure was close to four million, whilst the Department of Unemployment stated that the actual unemployment figure was likely to be double the official one. On that same day the Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB), who had 937 offices throughout the UK, announced that in the past year they had answered 5.8 million enquiries. For the first time there were more than one million enquiries about social security. The CAB, which was financed by local authorities, was concerned that the disbanding of metropolitan councils would inevitably lead to the closure of many CAB offices.

At this time I got to talking to AD, one of the few really intelligent guys on A ward. He was awaiting trial on a conspiracy charge relating to defrauding his own company. By the standards of the clientele in Risley, he had definitely made it, except for a slight hiccup with the bizzes, which he thought would soon be smoothed over. AD looked like the great train robber Ronnie Biggs, without the tan. AD and his partner had set up a car import business. They took deposits for cars, a few of which were actually delivered. Very few as it turned out. These cars were to be bought on the continent, being cheaper than in the UK, then converted to right hand drive. The trouble was that the car kits didn't exist. To increase business they engaged salesmen all over the UK, paid on a commission basis. In three months they had collected over half a million pounds in deposits. According to AD the money went to his partner's head, who evidently started boasting that he was going to rip everyone off. The police followed AD and his partner for days, as the result of a tip off. When the police discovered that AD's partner had booked flights to Brussels, Zurich then on to Alicante, otherwise known as the Costa del Crime, the net was closed.

AD was apprehended in a bank, whilst carrying out normal company transactions. He disowned his partner, as he considered that he had tried to walk out on him. The truth of the matter was that they were both con men. Their intention was to milk the car import company through a consultancy company based on the Isle of Man, which AD and his partner were sole owners. The consultancy fees would eventually bankrupt the car import company, which would then be wound up legally. The profits from the consultancy company were then transferred to an offshore company account in the Channel Islands. Although the fraud squad, otherwise know as the commercial branch, knew about the fifty thousand pound or so in this account, they could not touch it, as AD and his partner had committed no offence on the Isle of Man, nor in the Channel Islands. I think AD told me that about two hundred thousand pounds was recovered by the police, but that most of the remainder simply disappeared.

AD knew an awful lot about banks. He did not like British banks much, with time locks on their safes, making them open for only three short periods per day, and with only about three thousand pounds with each cashier, it made large cash withdrawals without prior arrangement very difficult. To circumvent this little difficulty, they transferred money to Belgium, on the pretext of buying cars. Making large cash withdrawals in Brussels evidently went without a hitch. From Brussels the Swiss border beckoned. AD praised the executive flights from Birmingham to Zurich, no doubt buoyed up by all the money he was carrying.

His knowledge of the workings of the gnomes of Zurich, I found very interesting. It might come in handy one day, I thought. The banks over there were more like offices, there being no counter. Outside the banks would be parked the usual Rolls and Mercedes. Admission was by prior appointment. To open an account, you really needed a minimum of twenty thousand pounds. It is necessary to open the account in Switzerland, as opening an account with a Swiss bank in the UK requires the Inland Revenue to be informed, and we don't want that do we? Numbered Swiss accounts came in various guises, with interest rates at around twenty percent. Contrary to what I read in a British newspaper, references were not required. Instead, AD's passport was photocopied. He was then issued with a secret, account number, which is confined to memory, or if you are like me, you write your PIN down in a secret place, the location of which you then forget, usually amongst a list of telephone numbers. A friend or nominee has to be appointed, who will be contacted ten years after the last withdrawal, in the event of death. Evidently AD's partner had given the name of his spouse, whom he had since deserted.

According to AD it was possible to pay in large amounts of money in pounds sterling, but have the money in your account, classed in any currency you wish. Since at this time the value of the dollar and the yen were rising, it would have paid AD to have his money banked in those currencies. To make a withdrawal the doorman checks your identity, before an office girl takes you to another room where passport and account number are again checked. From the walls hang oil paintings and television monitors displaying the latest currency rates and stock exchange indices. Whilst waiting you can sit down and read the Financial Times, etc. Finally an official specializing in your particular country, in this case good old Great Britain, comes out to greet you. You are then taken into another room where you are asked how much you would like to withdraw, and in which currency. There was no limit to withdrawals provided you had the money in your account. Incidentally, the transfer of large amounts of cash and gold across frontiers without declaration is normally illegal, not that it stopped AD.

AD particularly liked the hotels in Zurich. Each room had its own drinks locker, from which you helped yourself, and were later charged, hopefully not with drunkenness. Each room had a television with ample supply of pornographic videos, via cable TV at night. He also liked the call girls in the hotel bar, or to put it in his words 'out of work young models.' I asked him how much they charged. AD had apparently asked the same question.

"Don't worry, you can afford it," said one attractive escort sitting at the bar.

AD particularly liked the hotels in Dusseldorf, West Germany, though what he was doing in such a flesh pot he never told me. Naturally enough, during his business jaunts, he left his attractive wife at home in mid-Wales.

Evidently AD never kept large amounts of money in the UK. He was particularly disgusted by the shortage of safe deposit boxes in British banks. Evidently such facilities were only available in major cities, where there was inevitably a waiting list. Boxes in the Channel Islands were more easily available, whilst he particularly liked buying gold sovereigns there, which unlike on the mainland did not attract the dreaded VAT, although sales of more than five thousand pounds had to be notified to Customs & Excise, he said.

AD told me that he had once lived in a terraced house at Six Ways, Aston, opposite where I once lived. His brother lived in Yardley, Birmingham apparently. Since he was a con man I was not sure whether he was having me on or not. If it was not for this then I am certain we would have been friends for life. He remained on remand a very long time. He had originally been held on the wings, but was moved to the hospital for protection, as his partner swore to get him. On one occasion an inmate came over from the wings to see the dentist, but his real purpose was to do over AD. By this time AD had wangled his way into a job on the staff servery, where fortunately for AD he was with a member of staff when the 'contract killer' came around.

I could not help admiring AD for apparently beating the system. He knew that, whatever the outcome of his trial, the interest from his secret unit trust investment accounts would more than compensate for any jail term. In the bullish market of that time his interest would likely be around forty percent, with twenty-five per cent going in Swiss tax and commission. He was making money hand over fist, whilst many inmates in the ward did not even have two half pennies to rub together. Doubtless many of AD's customers would think differently of his exploits. I had little sympathy for them however. The only legal way to buy a car at foreign prices, was to go abroad personally and buy it. It was necessary to convert the car to British specifications, steering, dashboard, etc. on the continent, in order to get type approval from Customs & Excise upon entry into the UK. Without type approval, car insurance would be invalid, in which case you were driving on British roads illegally. The problem was in finding a garage that could carry out the conversions. Not even AD's company could do that apparently.

On one occasion another car import company sent a woman to pose as a buyer, in order to find out about AD's operation. Although she followed him onto the continent, she failed as there was no source. That company later went bust owing something like two million pounds, for which no one was prosecuted. The German director turned up at the creditors meeting pleading insanity, one assumes. British car prices were high because the nationalised car industry was so inefficient. British Leyland alone announced losses of nine hundred million pounds for the year 1986/87. Other car manufacturers could see no point in undercutting B.L.'s prices. It was in the car manufacturer's interests to see to it that conversion kits were not made available to garages and fly by night operators on the continent. By now you may have worked out what AD had once done for a living. Yes that's right. With the initials AD (Arthur Daley) he could only have been a used car salesman. Would you buy a car from this man?

Hundreds did. At least one phoned him up asking when his car would be delivered. When AD said he didn't know, and that he could have his money back, the man offered to send him more. AD had laughed all the way to the bank.

Only the creation of a world technocracy, and the abolition of capitalism, including money, is going to put an end to most crime.




Chapter 11




Cleaning




It's after breakfast, and no one's in a hurry,
"OK, get this ward cleaned," barks the staff in a flurry.
Slowly the inmates grudgingly stir,
Then advance to the cleaning store, their eyes a blur.
With plastic bucket, cleaning soap and cloth,
At the bathroom tap, they produce a broth.
Settling down on rubber knee pads, as if to pray,
The staff barks, "I want the floor cleaner than yesterday."
The dirty old broom sweeps up the offending matter,
Dust, bread crumbs, cigarette ends, whilst disinfectants splatter.
With swirling motion the scrubbing brush cleans,
Footprints, jam stains are now has-been's.
A locker is moved, a cockroach scurries out,
It's now a game, but the endings in no doubt.
With mop and mop bucket the wash room floor comes up clean,
Liquid detergent produces an pleasantly odorous scene.
The lavatory brush removes the shite of the day,
As the vitreous enamel glows in resplendent display.
With oscillating motion the scouring pad nears,
The tide marks on the bath side it clears.
The shaving brushes in a line face,
As the dustbin is emptied, then put back in its place.
The metal polish makes the bath light switches gleam,
As slowly the ward becomes an immaculate scene.
The buckets are emptied, then the inmates scatter,
To read a book, or simply natter.
In the ward now there's an expectant hush,
As the sound of footsteps develops into a quickening rush.
"Right, lets have yea," Yells the staff,
"It's happy volunteer time, come on, don't be daft.
The landings need cleaning, the stairs too,
So come on, lets have yea, it's up to you."



October 4th, 1985 was the last day of the Loony Party Conference at Bournemouth. Mr. Pillock had given the party a new image by his stand against the Militant Tendency, who could best be described as an anarchist group on the ultra left of the party whom many people considered to be no more than a bunch of fifth column scoucers. His stand against the National Union of Mineworkers (MUM) was however late in coming, merely underlining the importance politicians still gave to ideology over the interests of the nation as a whole. To be fair I did not think much of either of the two major parties in Great Britain, Mrs. GG's Conning Party in particular. I regarded myself as a free thinker, taking good ideas from wherever they could be found. I had only ever voted once, and until proportional representation comes along I shall remain disillusioned by Great Britain's 'democratic' system.

At the conference Mr. Pillock had certainly struck a chord with many ordinary people, judging by the large number of enquiries for membership the party received soon after. But I had seen enough of British politics to know better. When it comes to politics you have to cut down the blatant lies, brush aside the misleading remarks, and very often there is nothing left to read except that between the lines. The heated debates at the conference were not so much a sign of democracy in action, as much as a display of just how divided the party had been for so long. Views, opinions, policies, ideologies, all pulling in different directions, accomplishing precisely nothing. Unlike other political parties in the UK, the Loony Party had failed to clean up its image, and above all look professional. A political party should be one where all of its members share t