Throat drier than a desert goat’s gonads, the Governor shivers a winnowing Cockney sparrow before the cattle-grid and catflap of the Great Gate. Gird the stomach, pluck the loins, brace the bollock-strap, brick the walls with our English dead.
A stretch of green linoleum hard-baked like a June football pitch. Staircase to Heaven (or Hell) centre-circling like the iron creepers of Jack the Beanstalk. A blanket of chicken-wire overhead rusted and holey. The stench of rotting Life soars to the bridge — to the hilt — to the scabbard — Stand by your beds!
The overpowering rabbit-hutch punch of putrefying men.
A Gerbil on the promenade deck!
Come to praise Caesar, the great unwashed of the Nelson Mandela Prison Block overbearing and overly keen to relay from iron rails their warmest wishes — suppressing and mill-stoning the shoulder-blades, sickening the stomach, scampering and retching and stretching, the heavy grey door slap-shut. Safe. Buggy snug. And a richly deserved mug of glorious brown sewer-fluid to ease the stresses and strains of a backbreaking day. Ah. Bliss. The smallest splash of spirits you can imagine. Barely a drop. Good enough for a refill. Glug glug glug. Down the hatch it flows. Warming the blood. Another. Ripples of peace to pacify the dry storm of body tremors.
Boom — boom on the door: not good for the Governor’s poor fraided nerves.
Leading belly-bowl and brass buttons, Deputy-Dawg Blunkett bursts a blue barrel of bluster. Droopy bushes of grey overhang rheumy eyes not of a younger pup. Impudent improper pig-rude dumping of deep-pile top-secret files, buff-fingered folders, upsetting the Governor’s golden pick-me-up.
Behold! Mark how the face of the Governor lights as when a boy at boarding school and receiving rumour of a present at Christmas.
He contemplates the lavish spread, delicious documents very very tasty, reports from the High Court, reports from the Most Serious Crime Squad, reports from desperate university deans and under-worked students, reports from the highest-paid Shrinks out there.
Stamped Top Secret and cover-sporting skull-and-bones, yellow and black hazard signs, Warning Notice, steel dead-bolt trip-lock: greedy fingers claw each embossed letter J-A-S-O-N K-N-E-E-S, Governor James caresses the cover, ‘My my,’ and ogles for a golden moment the gift fallen from the lap of the gods now laid before the greenest of eyes. He hovers with the lust of a Fagin. Scaly fingers rasp the yellow ribbon and clasp the goodies inside. Revenge served hot with rabid relish.
‘I suppose my thanks are in order.’
‘You’re out of condition,’ rails the Governor before a trough of red mist and to the dumping of Blunkett’s bulge into the overspill of paperwork. ‘No, don’t thank me ...’ The Governor raises the firm hand of management — ‘... but you’ll be pleased to hear I’m pushing you forward to run my next management training course in the Welsh mountains.’
‘Could mean a promotion in a five to ten stretch, say.’
‘Funk you, sar.’
A strong steady slug to civilise wild overstrung nerves and he is quivering high normal. Hot on the trail of the enemy he cold-fingers a sheet of long, incomprehensible scribbles and symbols — ‘I’ll let you into a secret. That bastard lunatic Jason Knees has bent out of his way from day one to make my life a misery. A misery.’
‘Hat’ll be two lunatics, sar.’
‘Knees is ruining our lives without lifting a finger. Knees is a nutcase. A twisted crackpot psychotic nutcase.’
Big-blustering Blunkett doffs a blue flat cap and ruffles a grey rug of wool — ‘Hiff you don’t mind me asking, sar, but how mad is our Knees boff exactly?’
‘Well, Blunkett, we’d be talking barking cuckoo mad. Like herr ... Jeffrey Archer mad.’ Archibald Hornblower James, hero to the people, grails in wild circles the dregs at the bottom of the cup. ‘Why couldn’t they send the bastard to a loony-bin? Uhmp? Why’d they have to pick my prison? Where’s the justice in that? They should’ve left t’ bastard to rot.’
Bars bars everywhere but never a decent drop to drink. ‘I can’t think in this place.’ The Block banging a bedlam of brain-damage worse than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The Governor drags from the bottom drawer the bottle of blended varnish-remover reserved for the rainiest of dog days. Life. Life is a conspiracy. Life likes to rip the rug from under your feet, boot you in the ribs and laugh in your face. For the Hell of it. Life. If the Governor had his time over again, next time he wouldn’t bother.
‘How is it possible — you explain this to me — how is it possible for one man to be bagging government funding for six doctorates?’
‘Should be a law against it.’
The hit to the bridge of lively spirit reviving the memorial corpse of a murderous week wasted in the High Court and high public stink of pleading for mercy before their Lordships.
‘Now Knees claims he can’t do a proper day’s work ’cause he needs reg’lar eighteen-hour naps — ’snot normal.’
‘I swear on the wife’s grave ...’ The gyrating ghosts of grisly judges in satanic red robes demanding fresh prisoner’ or Governor’ blood before the fake pine management desk. ‘... I proved beyond a fiddle of doubt Knees is as mad as a church mouse and the bastard judges had me thrown out of Court ...’
‘A stupendous day for British justice.’
‘Thank you, Blunkett. At least somebody is listening.’
‘Ho it’s nothing, sar.’
A Life sentence to the heart every kick and barbed tail of every message scratched into the Wailing Wall of white bricks.
‘I tried pushing our pycho-bollock-boys into the witness box —’
‘Our what, sar?’
‘You mean our psycho-geologists.’
‘Has I remumble as they tooks a keen interest in you when they last charged the door.’
‘Ghastly people. Pestering and poking their noses in your private life …’
‘Missus James says you haven’t got a private life.’
‘Missus James ...’ barfs the Governor, imbuing the anathema with as much venom as a birdie frame can muster.
‘Steady on, sar. Missus James says ewes not a well man.’
Their Lordships’ electric execution of earthy language a burning blow to the fusebox. Their Lordships’ multiple threats of open violence against the body of the Governor and bawled through loudhailers marking a precedent in the annals of the All England Law Reports. The Governor sinks cowering into the cracks of the high-backed management chair — ‘Now Knees is suing my butt for every penny ...’
The pressures are immense. Daily demanding a vice-firm grip.
‘... Knees is suing the hind pants off every single one of our sicko-bloody-pinko-ologists for negligence, malpractice and hurt feelings ...’
Bottle sinking quick.
‘... Knees is bleeding me dry!’
Simply he must get a bigger office. The whitewashed walls and barred poky window unbecoming a Hero of Privatisation.
The bulbous nose of Deputy-Dawg Blunkett unearthing a bone: ‘Sar, you’ve a letter on file from a er ... Professor Stephen Squawking ...’
‘Nerder heard of him.’
‘... “Knees is a Loony of National Interest” ...’
‘... “Knees is the world’s highest Astro-Recidivist and can we please take care of him”.’
The wilting fungal affront of compost confounding the Governor’s concentration on matters of national importance. ‘What’s that smell?’
‘And what, pray, is Chef dredging for our delight?’
‘And the surprise?’
‘I’m afraid, sar, we won’t be satisfying the breast men …’
‘No use crying over split milk —’
‘… Or the leg men.’
With the balls of a Hero bouncing the basket of a bony frame he will ensure Knees suffers just deserts.
And Justice for the deserving classes gets done.