Can I take this opportunity to once again thank everyone for their steady stream of cards, letters and press cuttings. One of the officers in my new hall joked the other day that I need a separate mail box such is the quantity of mail I receive on a daily basis.
It is really appreciated and although it takes me a while, I will reply to everyone, as long as you attach your address. Many lovely cards have been recieved from strangers whom I can’t thank because no address is attached, so please remember to add that.
Among the many improvements to prison life since being moved to the semi-open conditions of Letham Hall is the opportunity to play my beloved Scrabble. Fortunately, a good number of the lads already played the game before I came over from D Hall, so now we have regular games & competitions.
Gail sent me in my delux board which swivels to prevent having to displace the pieces every time you change turns. It has led to some great games and certainly takes up several hours of time. I’ve certainly liberated more chocolate bars than I’ve had to surrender, but it hasn’t been easy street!
Many of my fellow cons are clever and good with words. Of course, inevitably, some “appropriate” words appear regularly – Cell, prison, jail, appeal, judge, jury & court!
One guy who was being liberated the next day insisted on playing for his final stash of chocolate bars before he left. Fortunately, I managed to beat him on the final turn of the tiles with a magnificent ‘radiant’ which attracted the 50 bonus points and saw me triumph despite his one time heavy lead.
That one game saw me win six chocolate bars in total!
Talking of chocolate, I took part in the hall’s ‘Man Of Steel’ competition yesterday. You run 1,000 meters, take a minutes rest, cycle 3,000 metres, take a minutes rest, then finish with a 1,000 metre row. You aggregate your times over each excercise to arrive at your competition time.
Well, it is now clear that I am closer to chocolate man than steel man!
My times were very poor, and left me an embarrassing last out of 15 or so competitors. Methinks I’ve been consuming too many of the chocolate bars I’ve been winning at scrabble.
In my defence, weak as it is, none of the other competitors were over thirty years of age. In fact, all but one was in the 20-25 range. So, when you factor in my handicap for number of wrinkles, chins and spare midriff tyres I think my position would have improved.
From last to second last.
Then again, at least I completed the circuit. Incredibly, three lads, who shall remain nameless to save their considerable blushes, stopped during the rowing complaining that their legs had given up on them! A disgraceful lack of spirit and character for which they were duly criticised by yours truly!
On more serious matters, the mess that is Libya and the west’s imperialist interference grows more murky by the day. NATO bleats about their intention and 1973 resolution restricting them to protection of civilians only.
Regime change, they say, is explicitly not part of the UN resolution. Then UK, French & US Government officials say the bombing and no-fly zone is not about removing Gaddafi but Libya has no future with Gaddafi still in charge.
Do these people think we are daft?
Who gave them the right to decide Libya’s future? Their gross stupidity and crass & arrogant interventions so far have actually strengthened the Gaddafi regime, not weakened it. Whoever ‘the rebels’ are, they have undermined their cause by relying on UN interference and bully bombing.
Is there a nation state in the world who if faced with an armed uprising wouldn’t organise to try and crush it?
That’s a fact of life.
Just as I can’t legitimately condemn Iraqi citizens, or Vietnamese citizens who organise and arm themselves to fight occupying armies by whatever means at their disposal, nor can you condemn a Government for using force to repel an armed uprising.
We have the right as individuals to take sides in such conflicts, but the French, US & UK Governments don’t have the right to speak for us by taking the side of a group of armed rebels who want to overthrow a Government.
I don’t know who the rebels are, what they stand for and how they would govern differently. If the will exists in the country to overthrow the Gaddafi regime then good luck to them, but so far the evidence on the ground is the rebel’s support base is weak, diluted and increasingly compromised by western Government military support.
So, the Scottish elections are less than two weeks away.
The difference between the main parties is as thin as a cigarette paper. Watching the coverage in nightly news bulletins is akin to watching baldy men scrap over a comb. In the land of the blind even a one eyed king can reign supreme. Hence Salmond, with his more assured approach and decades of debating experience is head & shoulders above the others in leadership qualities.
They all support the agenda of making ordinary folk pay for an economic crisis made in the boardrooms and banks of the greedy bosses, but given the policy convergence the issue of personality is allowed to assume extra importance. I expect the SNP to win the election, and maybe even to be able to govern outright.
That’s no bad thing.
Although their cuts package has to be fought tooth & nail, and the alternative of fighting for more resources to avoid cuts and the need for public control of Scotland’s economic assets like the oil, gas, electricity, water, rail and financial sector has to be put on the table, an SNP victory would underline yet again how distant Labour has become from it’s roots.
In days gone by the Labour vote in Scotland was weighed, not counted given their dominance. These were the days policies like public ownership of key industries, significant wealth redistribution through fair taxation and trade union rights were in their manifesto pledges.
Nowadays New Labour are just a pale imitation of the ‘Tories.
Blair & Brown dragged them into a right-wing abyss of free market worship and warmongering immorality. The spur of electoral defeat could lead them to change their direction, but I won’t hold my breath.
Sure, on a UK scale when the choice is Tories first or New Labour then the latter is more palatable, but in a Scottish context the SNP offers, however superficially, an alternative that is more radical than both the ‘Tories and New Labour and an activist base that is increasingly left of Labour.
I would vote for Chris Stephens of the SNP with my first vote if I was able to, and George Galloway and the coalition against cuts with my second vote.
Until New Labour abandon their ‘Tory adopted philosophies and policies they deserve to be electorally kicked in the private parts.
I hope the second vote for Solidarity elsewhere and for George in Glasgow will be significant.