I've got two bad habits, smoking, and masturbation. I'm a twenty a day man, and I smoke like a chimney.
Paul Calf in Court
I was up in court last week for ABH, Actual Bodily Harm, not grievous, I'm not an animal I conducted my own defence and I said...
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am not on trial here today, society is on trial. Oh fuck it, I'm on trial, aren't I? But I'm not in contention with the prosecution's version of events. On that we agree. There was a student, he was acting up, he got a slap. But I was under severe provocation. There I was, having a quiet pint, when a student walked past and nudged me, causing me to spill a bit. I did what any fine, upstanding citizen would do. I followed him to the toilet and kicked his head in. Perhaps I should have stopped kicking him when he was in the ambulance. But I did what I did because I want to live in a world where we can have a pint without fear of being nudged by a student. I that a crime? Is it a crime to want to live in a world of peace and harmony? Is it a crime to live in a world of love? Is it a crime to hit a student across the back of the head with a snooker ball in a sock?"
That's where the defence's case collapsed.
When the judge passed sentence I said nothing. I stared him out. He bottled it and looked down at his notes. It was a victory of sorts. I wondered who looked more tragic - me in a Burton's suit handcuffed to a prison officer or his lordship wearing a long black dress and a wig like a girl. I think he knew. I smirked and swaggered as I was led away. I could almost hear the public gallery, 'There goes Calf, cool as a cucumber, down but not out'. In the slammer no one asked what your crime was. We were all criminals. Who cared whether you'd murdered men? Whether you'd masterminded gangland extortion or whether you'd been charged with 'Non-payment of a fine for non-payment of a TV licence fee'? We were all in it together, doing bird, doing porridge, doing a stetch, serving a prison sentence, call it what you will. The language came easy to me. I was steeped in the folklore.
Then there were the screws. They were prisoners just the same as us, except they went home in the evenings. Occasionally there'd be a beating but no one laid a finger on you if you were a personal friend of Mr Big (like I was). I became obsessed with escape. I stole a dessert spoon from the canteen and started to scrape away the plaster from the wall of my cell. I was careful to cover up the evidence of my progress with a topless picture of Linda Lusardi. God how she helped me through those nights. Thank you Linda. You are 'all-woman', except for my mum and my sister of course. I worked out that by scraping four hours a night within six years I could dig a tunnel to Freedom. At times it all seemed so futile. My release date was five weeks away and I'd only been in there just over a fortnight.
Already I'd become institutionalised. Brutalised by an uncaring system. When I left, I'd leave with a scar...I'd be a different man...a hard man. Jimmy Boyle, John McVicar, The Krays, Paul Calf ... just names to some people but this is their story as well as mine. What lay outside for a marked man ... unemployment, rejection, oblivion? I'd probably end up like the rest of them - a publishing deal, a guest spot on Pebble Mill, part of a penal reform pressure group on Kilroy and perhaps a guest columnist in the Independent. Worse still, a one-man show at the Edinburgh festival.
I saw the Governor only once. He looked like Charlton Heston but fatter, with the voice of Larry Grayson. He was not a man to be crossed. He told me there were two ways of doing time, the easy way or the hard way. I told him I preferred the easy way but I was bluffing. I can't remember whose suggestion it was but there was a deal laid out that involved one of us grassing. In the end I let him believe I was going along with him but only I knew that for sure. I had the upper hand.
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