Pigeon on the Wing – Chapter 11 – Visiting Time

  Visiting Time

Foreword: All chapters of Pigeon on the Wing published on this website are in draft form only. The final version may include grammatical, syntax and content changes, as well as sidebars and illustrations to maintain a level of interest and to stop readers’ eyes from glazing over. All comments and / or criticisms of content or writing style would be most welcome. Masterpieces like this don’t just write themselves, you know.

Seriously, though – this is your book just as much as it is mine. I couldn’t have even begun to write it without all of your help and support. Thank you so much for everything you have done for me, and I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Tim Burton

Pigeon on the Wing – Chapter 11 – Visiting Time

Tuesday 30 May 2017 – For some weeks now I had been looking forward to the prospect of meeting someone from the outside, in the form of a process known in the prison as “Visiting Time.”

For those of you familiar with soap operas such as Coronation Street, East-Enders and Emmerdale, where characters are being banged up every other week, and subsequently visited with a never-ending procession of their loved ones at little or no notice, it might seem like an obvious and integral part of the humane and considerate prison environment in the UK.

However, in reality the process is fraught with bear pits and elephant traps, no doubt designed to bring home to all those involved that incarceration is not meant to be a walk in the park, and communications with loved ones on the outside of the prison should be only conducted with extreme difficulty.

It wasn’t all the fault of other people, as I was to find out. In order to initiate communication with people on the outside, it was necessary to employ a certain level of handwriting skills, in order just to send the most elementary of letters to prospective visitors on prison notepaper.

Although I had access to a computer terminal in my cell, there was no word processing software, no email software and no way of electronically communicating my thoughts to the outside world, so I would have to call on those very same handwriting skills, painstakingly perfected in the British educational system after years of being rapped over the knuckles with a wooden ruler by the formidable Mrs Anderson, head of English at my local primary school, St Norberts in Carshalton Beeches, Surrey.

What could possibly go wrong, I hear you say? I will tell you what could go wrong. I used to win prizes for my handwriting skills at school, but half a century later I would find that those handwriting skills had deserted me.

Half a century of conducting my communications via a typewriter and a computer keyboard had left me with all the calligraphic skills of a dyslexic chimpanzee.

A chimpanzee, furthermore, who having been tasked with writing the complete works of Shakespeare, along with an infinite number of other chimpanzees, had unfortunately found it all to be too much to cope with, and seeing no other way out, had overdosed on a combination of crack cocaine and methylated spirits.

I had received letters from several good friend and colleagues who had expressed a desire to come and visit me, and all I could do was to scrawl a missive on prison notepaper that looked as though a demented spider had decided to dip its feet in an old-style ink-pot, dance the Light Fantastic across my notepad and gracefully expire in a blob of noxious fluid  in the bottom right-hand corner, signing itself off as “Best regards xxx.”

I found this extremely disconcerting. As I said, I had won prizes at my school some fifty-odd years previously – at the time, I had invested in a plethora of Parker pens, numerous bottles of Indian ink and other writing implements – and with broad brush strokes, judiciously placed full stops, expertly located commas and quotation marks, I had swept the board with my calligraphic expertise.

Where had it all gone? I had no idea. The phrase “use it or lose it” came to mind, and I resolved to recover my handwriting skills in prison by writing “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” on innumerable sheets of notepaper every single day until I could at least write a coherent letter to someone on the outside.

In the meantime I had been fighting a battle with the prison authorities to have them accept some nominated names, addresses and telephone numbers for potential communication. This was a problem because I was not allowed to communicate directly with anyone from Liberty GB, and it was only with great difficulty that I was able to nominate some good friends of mine, who I will from now on refer to as Margita, Karen and Chris (although not necessarily in that order.)

These three fine people had attended my trial at Southwark Crown Court, and they had very kindly distributed the details of my trials and tribulations far and wide through the counter-jihad support network. Now, they had expressed a desire to come and visit me, and I had to pull out all the stops to make that happen.

I had to nominate the appropriate telephone numbers and have them approved – a process which took over a month – and once the approval came through, I had to set aside some of my weekly allowance to contact them via telephone and set up a meeting.

Every time you make a phone call from prison, it costs you a substantial sum which is deducted from your minuscule £15 weekly allowance, and setting up a meeting is a process fraught with difficulties which could have been derived from Dante’s seventh circle of Hell.

My potential visitors then had to submit a request to the prison for a visit, the prison administrators would let me know, and then I had to inform the prison administrators that I would agree to such a meeting taking place.

It sounds simple, but as I said, it takes a long time to arrange. Of course, time is something that most prisoners have a lot of in HMP Thameside.

That the one visit I had took place at all was something of a miracle. Nevertheless, the promised day arrived, and on the Tuesday before I was released, the visit from Chris, Margita and Karen took place.

For me, it was one of the best experiences of my life.

It was up there with my earliest childhood recollections – of a day in the park with my parents in the summer sunshine, the day I managed to ride my bicycle without falling off and the day I made the acquaintance of a large number of very attractive black and yellow winged insects whilst I was eating jam sandwiches and subsequently ended up at the local hospital A&E with multiple wasp stings. Good times.

“Oi, Burton, you’ve got visitors.”

Two prison officers handcuffed me and collected me from my cell. (Over the previous few weeks, everything involved in moving me from one place to another had been done in the presence of at least two prison officers. I was obviously a hardened criminal who – left to his own devices and with a series of mighty leaps and bounds – would stop at nothing to escape the clutches of the prison system.)

Having been securely handcuffed, I was led to the preparation area and instructed to don a vivid fluorescent purple and yellow vest over the prison greens that I had been wearing for the previous four or five weeks.

I have to say that the colours clashed more than I would have liked. I could think of more than one camp performance artist from the world of theatre who would have said something along the lines of – “Oh dear – That purple and yellow does NOT go with that green, darling.”

I don’t wish to be overly melodramatic, but I could see how that colour combination would produce nausea in someone of a delicate disposition.

From the preparation area, I was led to the visiting area. At that point my handcuffs were removed and I was made to sign in using a secure fingerprint recognition system. I made a mental note of the process that I would have to employ in the future if I were to make my escape (which would probably involve sawing off a prison officer’s finger and using it to fool the fingerprint recognition process.)

I’m only kidding. It’s surprisingly difficult in prison to obtain a saw that would be suitable. I would probably have to resort biting the finger off with my teeth. (You can see that I have thought this through.)

Strangely enough, I had been approached a few days previously by two members of SO-15 (the counter-terrorism police.) It had been the same routine (“Oi, Burton, you’ve got visitors.”) and I had been led through to the visiting area, having been prepped with the same fluorescent purple and yellow that passes for haute couture in the prison system, and the same fingerprint recognition process. (I was still using my own finger. I hadn’t as yet found a prison officer prepared to donate a finger in exchange for a packet of cornflakes and a month’s supply of toothpaste, which was all I had in the way of bargaining chips.)

At that time the two SO-15 police officers introduced themselves to me with a cheery “Don’t worry, we’re just here to conduct a random survey on how you are being treated at HMP Thameside.”

The hackles on my neck rose. No police officer conducts a “random survey.” Random surveys are the prerogative of organisations such as the statistical gatherers of information such as Pew and Mass Observation. The police only target people of specific interest.

“So how are you getting on?” said SO-15 counter-terrorism officer No. 1.

“I can’t complain,” I said, “but I can’t help but wonder how you selected me for your visit to one of Her Majesty’s Prisons. I’m sure you have better things to do.”

The officers looked at each other. “Actually we wanted to ask you about what you were planning to do once you had been released.” said SO-15 counter-terrorism officer No. 2. “You know, whether you had seen the error of your ways and were remorseful, or perhaps had decided to repent.”

Remorse and repentance might have been high up on their agenda, but it was not even on my radar. “You must be joking,” I said, ” I am going to be making speeches, writing articles and transmitting my thoughts concerning Islam and its deleterious effects around the globe on radio, TV, social media and You-Tube channels until the Grim Reaper knocks on my door and invites me to participate in some scythe-sharpening exercises.”

This was obviously not what they had wanted to hear. “But why would you persist in publicly expressing anti-Islamic views after having been locked up?” said SO-15 counter-terrorism officer No. 1, “and please call me Ray.” He gestured to his colleague.”This is Dave, by the way.”

Ray and Dave were in for a surprise.

For the next forty-five minutes I proceeded to explain (quoting chapter and verse from the Qu’ran) to Ray and Dave as to why the entire counter-terrorism narrative was flawed, and why they would never achieve any success while they clung to the view that Islam was at its core a “peaceful religion.” (instead of the reality of it being a genocidal totalitarian ideology with ambitions of global supremacy at the expense of all non-believers.)

I also explained (again quoting chapter and verse from the Qu’ran) that their media-inspired world-view where so-called “Islamist terrorists” were essentially twisting and misinterpreting the so-called “peaceful religion” to justify their violent attacks on non-believers – was likewise essentially flawed.

I told them in no uncertain terms that I felt that it was my duty to make every single non-believer aware of the dangers of allowing the ideology of Islam to occupy the public space in any capacity whatsoever – even if that awareness meant that some politically incorrect decisions would have to be taken by those in power to maintain and reinforce national security.

I spoke of the need to halt Moslem immigration and the building of new mosques, the need to monitor existing mosques, and the need to remove Moslems from positions of power in local and national government, the police, military, judiciary and educational infrastructure, primarily because of the divinely-commanded duty of every Moslem to promote Islam at the expense of the non-believer at every opportunity.

At the end of the forty-five minute interview there was a stunned silence from the SO-15 counter-terrorism officers. “You seem to know an awful lot more about Islam than all the other people – including Moslems – that we have talked to in recent months,” said Dave, “maybe we could talk to you again once you are on the outside in a couple of weeks?”

“Sure,” I said, “no problem.” But they never followed it up. They did telephone me a few weeks later to claim that they had been called away on a more pressing engagement  – would I mind very much if they postponed or cancelled their visit?

I could sympathise with the myriad priorities that the officers of SO-15 would have to deal with. Perhaps Anjem Choudary, locked away up the road in Belmarsh, urgently needed somebody to clip his toenails.

Or – perhaps – his wife, on the outside, urgently needed assistance with the collection of some heavy shopping from Harrods (the exclusive department store) on account of her having mislaid her burqa and being unable to leave the house.

Anyway, I digress.

On the day of the visit from my three friends, having been kitted out in the aforementioned purple and yellow vest, and having been signed in to the secure fingerprint recognition system, I was allocated a table number and was led to the seating area where my three visitors were waiting.

It seemed to me as if I had never met three more beautiful human beings in my entire life. When you have been incarcerated behind bars for almost six weeks then you really appreciate the company of people who share your worldview, and Karen, Chris and Margita were together and separately the epitome of human kindness.

And I’m not just saying that because they bought coffee for me – proper vending machine coffee too (supposedly meant for visitors only) and not the ersatz coffee supplied as standard for consumption by prisoners.

When I say this, I don’t wish to cause unnecessary offence to the no doubt highly respected purveyors of coffee granules to the prison population of the UK. And I suppose at the end of the day I should have been grateful – I could have been restricted to a bread and water diet with the odd tin of tuna thrown in. But if they could have chosen something that tasted a bit more like coffee and a bit less like second-hand grit from the bottom of a budgie cage, then I’m sure it would have been met with much appreciation.

I sipped at my vending-machine coffee. Nectar from the Gods would not have tasted any better. We talked about all the things leading up to my trial, the trial itself and my subsequent imprisonment. I tried to make light of it but I started to get quite emotional, which is something that doesn’t often happen to me.

I don’t remember everything that I said, but in the heat of the moment I do remember kissing each of my visitors on the cheek several times more than I should have under the circumstances.

This produced a variety of interesting responses.

Karen was a beautiful young lady with blue / grey eyes that looked straight into your soul. She had a flawless facial complexion that could have come straight from a Chanel cosmetic advertisement, and as she was being subjected to my unwarranted attentions, she blushed fetchingly. I loved it.

Chris was a retired insurance underwriter and a professional musician. He was a quiet and thoughtful man, as straight as a die and around the same age as myself, which probably explained why he spluttered profusely at my thoroughly inappropriate exhibition of tactile enthusiasm.

Margita (who was married to Chris) seemed to take it all in her stride. As a college teacher (and as another strikingly beautiful woman with a soft and sexy Eastern European accent) she was no doubt used to having to fend off the attentions of randy old reprobates like me.

I’m sure that under different circumstances, all three of them would have reported me for sexual harassment. I only had a week to go before my release date, but I remember that I was ecstatic that these three wonderful people had taken time out of their busy day to visit me.

You know who you are, and I will love you for always.

The visit ended, and I was escorted out of the visiting area, across the courtyard back to the Category C block, and from there to my cell. The door clicked shut behind me with an air of finality, and I was alone once again with my thoughts.

Tim Burton

End of Chapter 11

Please donate – whatever you can – to the Tim Burton Legal Defence Fund

Help to overturn an unjust conviction and strike a blow for justice.

http://www.paypal.me/followthecat

 

 

 

Pigeon on the Wing – Chapter 10 – A Mohammedan in the Nick

 A Mohammedan in the Nick

Foreword: All chapters of Pigeon on the Wing published on this website are in draft form only. The final version may include grammatical, syntax and content changes, as well as sidebars and illustrations to maintain a level of interest and to stop readers’ eyes from glazing over. All comments and / or criticisms of content or writing style would be most welcome. Masterpieces like this don’t just write themselves, you know.

Seriously, though – this is your book just as much as it is mine. I couldn’t have even begun to write it without all of your help and support. Thank you so much for everything you have done for me, and I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Tim Burton

Pigeon on the Wing – Chapter 10 – A Mohammedan in the Nick

Thursday 25 May 2017 – I was settling in to my new life on the wing of Category C block in HMP Thameside. It was Thursday morning, and I had assumed my accustomed position in the communal area, hunched over a chess-board whilst drinking a lukewarm mug of tea – courtesy of the hot tap in my cell (in the absence of a dedicated desktop plug-in water heating device.)

The absence of such a device, (a.k.a. an electric kettle) while not exactly leaving me disgruntled, was leaving me far from being completely gruntled, and I had been debating with myself for a couple of days about whether or not to lodge a complaint with my Trip Advisor representative.

No doubt he would have told me that kettles occupied a similar position on the HMP Thameside scale of desirable accoutrements as co-axial TV leads, Tasmanian alligator feathers and the excrement of rocking-horses. I surmised that it was just one of those things I would have to put up with.

In the meantime I was simultaneously contemplating my next move against an opponent with all the charisma and chess-board skills of a village idiot on his day off. He had left his king exposed in a fool’s-mate position, a basic error that was about to cost him dearly.

All of a sudden, a Mohammedan hove into view from the other end of the communal area. I noticed that he seemed to be heading in my direction.

This particular Mohammedan looked as though he was trying extremely hard to win the “HMP Thameside Devout Mohammedan of the Year” award, and I felt that his appearance warranted further examination.

He was in the possession of a large bushy black beard reaching halfway down his chest, which made him look like a Pakistani version of Father Christmas, but without the red suit and the accompanying jovial ho-ho-ho disposition.

He was wearing a multi-coloured prayer cap which looked as though it had been made in a kaleidoscope factory by an over-zealous operative who had just been told that silver glitter was all the rage this year, and who had been instructed to spare no expense in the manufacturing process.

The final touch was a long khaki-coloured djellaba reaching down to his ankles – an ensemble which contrasted fetchingly with his olive-green fur-lined parka jacket and matching olive-green socks and fur-lined slippers.

Most tellingly, he also had the notorious terrorist instruction manual – in the form of a green and gold hard-backed Koran – tucked under his arm.

Yes, I thought, that was definitely a one hundred per cent stove-enamelled, copper-bottomed, dyed-in-the-wool Mohammedan without the shadow of a doubt.

He bore down on me with all the unnerving accuracy of an incoming Exocet missile zooming in on an unsuspecting squirrel. I braced myself for the worst. Just because someone sports a natty matching parka, socks and slippers combination, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get you, and in prison it is a good idea to be on the alert and to prepare accordingly.

Never let it be said that life in prison makes you paranoid about such things.

“Hey Grand-Dad,” he said – which I had found was the standard greeting for anyone over the age of 60 in the prison – “My name is Rohani. Can you help me with my English language homework? I hear you’re good at this. We need to complete all the tasks before my personal liaison officer visits next week, insh’allah.”

Word of my proficiency in the assessment process while I had been in the Category B section of the prison was something that had obviously spread quickly. However, something about his opening statement intrigued me.

“Personal liaison officer?” I thought. How come I didn’t have a “personal liaison officer”? I was rapidly coming to the conclusion that there was one rule for some people and another rule for others in the prison system. It was almost as if there was a privileged group of inmates whose demands and needs took priority over the rest of the prison population.

Surely not, I hear you say. What group would that be, I wonder?

Now it would seem that “personal liaison officers” could be added to this ever-growing list. No wonder conversions to Islam in prison were on the rise. If it had not been for the beguiling attractions of the young ladies of the South East London Gospel Choir (who were currently playing a starring role in the overnight maintenance of my nocturnal fantasies) then I could easily see how a conversion to the satanic world of Islam might be worth a try.

Only kidding. I am not so easily persuaded. It would take far more than the prospect of my own Personal Liaison Officer for me to convert to a genocidal totalitarian ideology with global ambitions of supremacy.

Even the prospect of seventy-two virgins in Paradise wouldn’t be enough. I am sure that most Mohammedans don’t realise that seventy-two virgins imply the additional prospect of seventy-two potential mothers-in-law, ready to nag you for all eternity if you don’t keep the house tidy, make sure that the lawn is mowed regularly and the hedges are kept neatly trimmed.

     Islamic Paradise

However, the delights of Islam obviously do appeal to many prison inmates. For example, it is not unknown for self-declared Mohammedans to enjoy a raft of extra privileges in British prisons, such as halal meals, extra time out of one’s cell for communal prayer on a Friday, and even (in some of the more progressive prisons) toilets orientated to face away from Mecca on the grounds that if Mohammedans knowingly defecate while facing Mecca then it would be the first step on a slippery slope to eternal damnation.

The metaphor “slippery slope” is probably not the most tactful one to use in such a context, but I am sure that you know what I mean.

While such privileges are no doubt meant to assuage religious sensitivities, it only encourages the Mohammedan community to consider themselves as superior to the rest of us mere mortals. Unfortunately this ridiculous notion is reinforced by the teachings in Islamic texts – such as Koran 3:110 – where Mohammedans are informed that they are “the best of people.”

That would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic. Since when did the ideology of Islam produce people superior to any others on this planet, when even a casual glance at the statistics available reveals that in every country where the ideology of Mohammed holds sway, the inhabitants of that country are right at the bottom of virtually every measurable yardstick of success?

If the teachings of Koran 3:110 were not bad enough, another verse – Koran 98:6 –  informs Mohammedans that non-believers are “the worst of creatures.” Apologists for Islam frequently argue that this doesn’t apply to each and every non-believer, only to those who reject Islam, “even though they know it to be the one true religion” – which of course is nothing more than sophistry.

Sophistry, the use of clever but false arguments, with the specific intention of deceiving the unwary, are meat and drink to Mohammedans when it comes to defending Islam in front of non-believers. I know this from my own personal experiences leading up to the Birmingham Taqiyya Trial in April 2014. (See Chapter 6.)

All things considered, I was grateful that I had made the decision to keep the real reason for my detention to myself. A conviction for Religiously Aggravated Harassment might be somewhat complicated to explain to a devout Mohammedan, and I didn’t want to generate any unnecessary ill-feeling whilst confined inside the enclosed space of HMP Thameside.

I glanced down at the chess-board. The fool’s mate gambit would have to wait. I murmured my apologies to my opponent, and moved over to another table to sit opposite Rohani.

“So, you’re the Pigeon, eh?” said Rohani. “I have heard about you from my friends. You blow pigeons apart with a .44 Magnum, eh? Or was it a .50 Barrett? Like Dirty Harry, insh’allah. Maybe I should call you Dirty Harry.”

I wasn’t about to enlighten him concerning the limitations of my armoury. This was because my trusty .22 air rifle was nowhere near approaching the capabilities of a .44 Magnum or indeed a .50 Barrett (with its 2800 FPS muzzle velocity and effective range of over 2000 yards, it is obviously the ideal weapon for discouraging our feathered friends from nesting under the roof panels, and I had resolved to save up for one after I had been released.) “Oh yes,” I said nonchalantly, “no pigeon is safe from me and my .44 Magnum. Do you feel lucky, punk?”

I pointed my fingers at him and with my best Clint Eastwood impression, mimed the action of a hammer being pulled back on a .44 Magnum. It was obviously a good impression as far as impressions go.

Rohani regarded me impassively for a moment and then smiled broadly.

“Ha-ha! You and your famous British sense of humour! You and me are now good friends, yes? Now you can help me with this homework. I have to atone for my sins, insh’allah.”

Rohani’s homework was indeed an act of atonement. It comprised a series of questions relating to his offences of car-jacking a few months earlier. It was obviously designed to appeal to the conscience of a wrong-doer.

There was of course – implicit in this process – the premise within the prison homework questionnaire that the conscience of a Mohammedan was identical to the conscience of a non-believer. This is not necessarily true and is a frankly dangerous supposition which is, in my humble opinion,  at the root of many if not all the differences, fallacies and misapprehensions between  Mohammedans and non-believers. They simply do not think the same way as we do, which is – without a doubt – due to the teachings of the Koran and the Islamic Prophet Mohammed.

This was not something I was about to point out to Rohani at this time. In my experience, Mohammedans for the most part do not take kindly to points of view that may disagree with the Koran or indeed disagree with the views or the behaviour of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed, no matter how heinous such views and behaviour may be to those of us brought up with the honest and decent traditions of our Judaeo-Christian heritage.

I looked over Rohani’s homework and started to read out some questions.

Question 1 – “Describe how your victims must have felt when you attacked them in the street and stole their vehicle.”

Rohani: “Yeah, I suppose they might have been a bit upset. But then that’s infidels for you. Serves them right for having a posh motor though, innit. ”

Me: “No, Rohani, Moslem or not, they were more than likely extremely traumatised. It isn’t nice having your prized possessions taken away from you by a knife-wielding psychopath.”

Rohani: “Oh. Yes. Right. I suppose.”

Question 2 – “Describe how your family must have felt when you were arrested for your crimes.”

Rohani: “Yeah, well, they probably thought I was a chip off the old block. My dad was a senior commander in the Taliban, you know. He could shoot the eye out of a chicken at fifty paces. My mum was always telling him off about that. She needed those chickens for the eggs to sell at the market.”

Me: “No, Rohani, as Moslems living in the West, they would have been extremely ashamed that you had failed to live up to the high standards expected of a well-integrated law-abiding citizen in a civilised democracy.”

Rohani: “Oh. Yes. Right. I suppose.”

Question 3 – “Describe what you would do if you were faced with the same situation in the future.”

Rohani: “Yeah, well I would try harder not to get caught, wouldn’t I?”

Me: “No, Rohani, you would have seen the error of your ways and resolved to be a good citizen in the future by not stealing from other innocent law-abiding citizens, Moslems or not, and by making amends to your victims.”

Rohani: “Oh. Yes. Right. I suppose – I suppose we had better be writing this down. My personal liaison officer will want to see this. Please write it down for me. You want a Kit-Kat?” He held out a chocolate bar in front of me. He obviously felt that I was easily bribed.

I sighed inwardly. This was going to be hard work. I could see that he was expecting me to be his personal scribe. To be fair, Rohani’s handwriting and grasp of written English left something to be desired. Not to mention his moral compass.

“What did you do with these vehicles that you car-jacked?” I asked. “You obviously wouldn’t be able to keep them for any length of time.”

“You’d be surprised,” said Rohani. “My first cousin makes a good living churning out forged documents and cloned number plates – and my uncle has a chop shop in Bradford where you can get pretty much any car part that you might want.”

“Not only that,” he said, warming to his theme, “top-end Range Rovers and Jaguars fetch a fortune in the Middle East, where they are not so fussy about the paperwork. They are ever so easy to steal and disguise. I just change the plates and drive them to a container ship in Hull, where – ”

“Don’t tell me,” I said, “you have a relative who is a container ship captain. And another one who is a Customs Officer, perhaps?”

Rohani smiled at me, a big gap-toothed smile full of innocence. “I suppose some people might say that I shouldn’t have got involved, but it’s all part of the family business. In Islam, family is everything.”

He continued, “And it was great fun! So much fun! The expressions on the infidels’ faces when I held a knife to their throats and threatened to behead them!  And of course I only ever stole cars from infidels, which is the most important thing, insh’allah.”

He uttered the last words with some trepidation, and glanced behind him, as if half-expecting to see the archangel Gabriel himself standing there, a frown etched into his brow and his wings gently rustling in disapproval as he thumbed through a sheaf of paperwork relating to a dodgy Range Rover.

Or worse still, a Range Rover that had mistakenly been taken from an innocent Mohammedan – which would have been in dire contradiction, naturally, of the numerous edicts concerning Range Rovers and other top-end vehicles that had been handed down by Allah over the centuries and subsequently incorporated into the Koran.

I was reminded of yet another verse that never made it into the Koran, having allegedly been written down on a palm leaf and eaten by a goat in the seventh century:- “O ye who believe! Never steal a camel from another Moslem, because he is your brother. But verily, the camel of the infidel is yours to do with what you will. And one day that camel will have air conditioning, adjustable suspension and reclining seats, and you will be at ease while the infidel gnashes his teeth and walks upon the desert sands.”

Oh well, that’s OK then, I thought. That’s the most important thing. No Moslems had been harmed during the execution of these crimes. I could definitely see Rohani being a productive member of society when he was finally released. All things considered, I felt it was my civic duty to help him.

Not only that, but I felt that it was right to show some compassion. I could see that Rohani had been to Hull and back.

In any case, you never know when you might end up needing a particularly hard-to-come-by distributor cap for a Ferrari. Or more likely, a set of tasty alloy wheels and tyres and some furry dice to hang from the rear-view mirror of a souped-up Ford Fiesta. Last but not least, helping Rohani with answering the questions in his English Language homework wasn’t entirely without its compensations.

A day or so later, there was a knock on my cell door. It was association time and the cell doors had been unlocked a few moments previously. A familiar face appeared.

“You want a kettle?” said Rohani, looking around my cell and expertly assessing my electrical appliances – or lack thereof. “I can get you a kettle.”

Tim Burton

End of Chapter 10

Please donate – whatever you can – to the Tim Burton Legal Defence Fund

Help to overturn an unjust conviction and strike a blow for justice.

http://www.paypal.me/followthecat

Pigeon on the Wing – Chapter 9 – A New Wing for the Pigeon

   A New Wing for the Pigeon

Foreword: All chapters of Pigeon on the Wing published on this website are in draft form only. The final version may include grammatical, syntax and content changes, as well as sidebars and illustrations to maintain a level of interest and to stop readers’ eyes from glazing over. All comments and / or criticisms of content or writing style would be most welcome. Masterpieces like this don’t just write themselves, you know.

Seriously, though – this is your book just as much as it is mine. I couldn’t have even begun to write it without all of your help and support. Thank you so much for everything you have done for me, and I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Tim Burton

Pigeon on the Wing – Chapter 9 – A New Wing for the Pigeon

Monday 22 May 2017 – A couple of days after my assessment in English Language, Mathematics and Computer Skills, I was approached by a prison officer as I was preparing for another exciting, fun-filled day on the wing. I have heard it said that being in prison is like being in a combat zone with the army – long periods of boredom punctuated by short bursts of terror.

It’s not a perfect analogy of course – for example, I hadn’t as yet been issued with my own sniper rifle, nor indeed had I yet been enrolled on a high explosives handling course, but I dare say that the Howard League for Penal Reform would be addressing these very issues as I write.

Maintaining prisoners’ morale is a high priority for the HLPR, and I am sure that a series of courses based on the correct handling of small arms, heavy machine guns and high explosives would have an overall positive effect on the mental well-being of most prisoners.

To be fair, the officers at HMP Thameside appeared to be working diligently to reduce the possibilities of boredom setting in, at least during “times of association” when prisoners were allowed out of their cells. My cell-mate John was in the prison gym and pumping iron, and I was halfway through a game of chess with another inmate in the communal area.

The prison officer said to me, “Get your stuff together. You’re moving.”

I thought for a moment. “Is this a good thing or a bad thing?” I asked. I had got used to the prison routine and there didn’t seem to be any immediate threats to my well-being, but perhaps someone had complained that I was winning too many games of chess.

Was I likely to be thrown into solitary confinement with only bread to eat and water to drink until the end of my sentence? Or had someone at the RSPB – the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds – been pulling strings to have me transferred to a “Cat A” prison with the other pigeon murderers?

The nearest Category A prison was HMP Belmarsh, just up the road from where I was in HMP Thameside. It wasn’t all bad news, if that were to be the case. Maybe I could get the “Mad Mullah”- Anjem Choudary – to sign my autograph book. He was currently cooling his heels in Belmarsh, serving a five-and-a-half year sentence for glorifying terrorism. A signature from him in my autograph book would definitely earn me some brownie points at the next meeting of the Sutton Coldfield Wheel-Tappers and Shunters Club.

“We’re moving you to Cat C,” said the officer, “be ready in five minutes.” On hearing this, I was somewhat relieved. Category C was one step down in terms of serious crime and psychopathic behaviour from Category B, and while it was not exactly a five-star upgrade to my current circumstances, the chances were that it wouldn’t be any worse.

“Do you know why I’m being moved?” I asked.

“No idea. Orders.”

I was later to find out that Paul Weston, the chairman of Liberty GB, the organisation of which I had been Radio Officer, had written in no uncertain terms to the Governor of HMP Thameside, reminding him of his duty of care towards vulnerable prisoners such as myself.

By vulnerable, I don’t mean physically or mentally weak – many years of studying the Japanese martial art of Aikido had toughened me up to the point where I could probably handle any sort of one-on-one confrontation – but the risk of large numbers of Mohammedans ganging up on me if the true nature of my conviction were discovered had obviously given the Governor pause for thought.

It would not look good for public relations if I were to be harassed – not to mention brutally slaughtered, systematically dismembered and turned into kebab meat for the benefit of the local Mohammedan prison population.

Picture the scene. A gaggle of Mohammedan prisoners are sitting around a makeshift barbecue pit in the exercise area during a summer evening. Flies buzz around, quietly murmuring as the sun sinks below the horizon. A row of kebabs is being gently grilled, hissing and sputtering over the flames.

A guttural voice is heard, swelling amongst the sound of the insects as Arabic music plays in the background. “I must say, Abdul, the kebab meat is especially tender this evening. It has the texture of soft yet succulent lamb, or perhaps camel. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.”

“Oh yes, my friend, it is indeed especially tender this evening. Praise be to Allah, for he works in mysterious ways. Oh, look, there’s an eyeball. It seems to be regarding us with a somewhat reproachful expression.”

I scooped my belongings together into a large prison-issue polythene bag and was escorted out of the Category B prison block by two prison officers through an interminable series of imposing metal doors which were mysteriously unlocked as I approached and then locked again behind me.

Prison officers must spend years choreographing this seamless operation, although I never tested it to the point where they might be persuaded to unlock the main door leading to the outside of the prison. I thought that there would be little point pushing my luck at this stage in the process.

However, I made a mental note to recommend the officers as candidates for the forthcoming series of Strictly Come Door-Unlocking, an innovative TV entertainment series that I had invented during idle hours of reverie, and which I intended to host once I was released. In my mind’s eye, it would have all the attributes of a hit TV show, a cross between Strictly Come Dancing and Prison Break, but with more sequins and less of the brutal on-screen slaughter. I think that the officers of HMP Thameside would win it hands down.

I was led across the prison grounds, past the football field and the prison garden to another prison block, virtually identical in appearance to the one I had just left. I half expected to see a welcoming party with balloons, party poppers and signs on sticks saying “You made it! Welcome to Category C!” but I was sadly disappointed. They might have at least baked me a cake.

The prison officers who had escorted me to the new block handed me over to another two prison officers. I hadn’t been handcuffed or shackled, but obviously they weren’t going to take any chances with a hardened pigeon murderer like myself. A large sheaf of paperwork changed hands. One of the new officers scrutinised the paperwork carefully.

“Let’s see. Oh, yes, Burton. You’ll be in a cell on your own.” I still wasn’t sure whether this was a good thing or a bad thing. Did this mean solitary confinement? Apparently not. “Doors locked at 6:00 p.m. Open again at 7:45 a.m. for medication. Other than that you can use the communal area apart from lock-up and roll-call between 12:00 and 14:00. You’re not going to cause us any trouble, are you?”

Trouble? Moi? “I sincerely promise to be on my best behaviour, officer.” The officer regarded me with a certain degree of wariness. “Is that right? Follow me, then.”

I was led to a cell on D-wing in the Category C block and the door was locked behind me. I surveyed my new surroundings for a moment or two. Not so very different from the Category B cell I had just vacated, I thought. On the desk in the corner was a battered-looking computer terminal, comprising of a screen, keyboard and mouse, which I had by now established was for use as an ordering system for meals and for general prison enquiries such as arranging library visits and medical requests.

The terminal also doubled as a TV, and it was perched precariously on the desk in the corner of the cell, next to four or five dog-eared hard-back books from the prison library. There was a single bunk (with the obligatory thin blue mattress and a pile of soiled bedding, presumably left behind by the previous inmate) and an open cupboard with shelves for personal belongings.

For ablutions, there was an en-suite shower area, toilet and hand basin. There was only one chair, which prompted me to note that it was going to make it difficult if I wanted to host any dinner parties in my cell. For that matter, there was a distinct lack of candelabra, napkins and wine glasses.

But most importantly, there was no kettle in the cell. This was going to be a problem. If I wanted to offer any of my guests tea or coffee I would have to make do with lukewarm water from the hot tap. Still, worse things happen at sea, I thought, and I started to unpack my belongings.

I reached into my polythene prison bag and extracted my precious co-axial cable. I plugged it in to the TV system and it immediately burst into life. It had apparently been pre-tuned for the mainstream TV channels! No more having to negotiate for the acquisition of a TV remote control with a chronically sex-starved TV maintenance man! Things were looking up.

I switched to the DVD box-set channel. There was Series 1-4 of “Line of Duty” (a gritty and realistic police detective drama series.) Hey, not bad at all! Better than Prison Break by a long chalk. I could get used to this! And indeed, for the duration of my sentence, whenever I had nothing else to occupy me, I would watch the entire box set many times over, to the point where I could recite verbatim what words the characters were going to say before they actually said them.

I don’t want you to think that this was all I had to do with my time. Over the next few weeks, I spent as much time as was allowed in the prison library and I tried to play as many games of chess as I could each day. In addition, I tried to set aside at least two hours a day for meditation – my Aikido training had acclimatised me to an hour every morning and every evening, and the hours of enforced solitude in my cell contributed immensely to the transition to a meditative state at those times.

Aikido meditation is a technique that is for everyone, not just for martial art enthusiasts. It is definitely worth cultivating as it brings long-term benefits to the average human frame. It simply involves positioning your body into a comfortable (and preferably kneeling or seated) relaxed stance, and then focusing on taking a series of deep, regular breaths until your mind drifts away from your immediate surroundings.

Once you have your breath under control – maybe four breath cycles in and out every minute, one every fifteen seconds or so, after about five or ten minutes your mind enters a different phase – and you start to leave behind material concerns and to be more open to contemplating a veritable wealth of abstract concepts, such as life, death and the meaning of the universe.

An hour or so of Aikido meditation really does bring with it a more positive outlook on life, no matter what your immediate circumstances may be, and I found it to be of immense help to me over the subsequent days and weeks, which at this moment appeared to be stretching interminably ahead.

I know this sounds weird, but it’s true. Don’t take my word for it. Try it and see. I highly recommend it. But if it doesn’t work for you then please don’t sue me, or send round a bunch of heavies to teach me the error of my ways.

As my Aikido teacher used to say – You may not be, at least at the moment, completely in tune with your spiritual side. My advice to you is to persevere.

There is a Buddhist saying – “When the student is ready, then the teacher will appear.”

(I remember pulling this very statement out of a Christmas cracker and reading it out in front of the family over a turkey dinner, when admittedly there was a high degree of inebriation and a certain lack of philosophical awareness around the table. The response was along the lines of – “That can’t be right! The teacher should be in the classroom waiting for the students to arrive!”)

Sometimes you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

The communal area was very similar to the Category B environment I had left behind, although over time I did notice that the Category C prisoners seemed more relaxed than those in Category B. There was very little aggressive confrontation between prisoners and guards, or between the prisoners themselves as far as I could see.

However, I reminded myself to be aware of the possible dangers from the Mohammedan population of around ten to fifteen per cent (as far as I could ascertain) in the Category C environment of HMP Thameside. It only needed one leak of the real reason behind my criminal conviction to the general prison population and I could be in real trouble.

I finished unpacking, left my cell and sat down at one of the communal tables with a chess-board in front of me. I had found that simply doing this was enough to pique the interest of at least a few of the chess aficionados on the wing. Sure enough, scenting new blood, a steady trickle of prisoners introduced themselves and challenged me to a series of chess games.

My chess-playing skills were still at a comparatively high level and over the next few days I managed to chalk up a respectable number of victories. Not too respectable though, it never does for the “new boy” to appear too clever, something I had learned early on in my life while growing up and attending a typically middle-class English grammar school.

I remember one such “new boy”, Watkins Minor, who had been transferred to our school during the course of Year Six. He was a rotund, bespectacled boy with a mop of blond hair, and he appeared determined to demonstrate his superiority to the rest of us by coming top in all the school activities he participated in.

No doubt he felt that by demonstrating such superiority, reminiscent of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias – “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” it would stand him in good stead during his remaining school years and earn him our undying admiration.

However, in the manner of most healthy pre-teenage boys with a sense of social justice in what was a typically middle-class English grammar school of the 1960s, we systematically disabused him of that notion with the standard school punishment of tarring and feathering, and then tying him up and locking him with a bicycle chain to the apple tree in the garden outside the school staff room.

Admittedly he was somewhat subdued for a few days after that, but I still maintain to this day that we probably did him a favour by teaching him such a valuable lesson so early in life.

All in all, “Category C” life in HMP Thameside had much to recommend it. I wouldn’t say that I would be sorry to leave at the end of my sentence, but I resolved to upgrade the facilities to at least a three-star rating on the travel site Trip Advisor.

Trip Advisor representative: “So, Mr Burton, how do you rate the facilities of Category C at HMP Thameside?”

Me: “To be honest, I did notice some dust on the top of my wardrobe. It was only faintly detectable on the outside of my white glove, but it was definitely there. And the sheets on the bed should have been changed prior to my arrival. Other than that I would give it three stars.”

Damn. I forgot to mention the lack of a kettle. But it was too late. The Trip Advisor representative (figuratively speaking) had left the cell, the door had been locked behind him, and there was the gradually diminishing sound of footsteps in the corridor outside, faintly reverberating until all that I could hear was the sound of silence.

Tim Burton

End of Chapter 9

Please donate – whatever you can – to the Tim Burton Legal Defence Fund

Help to overturn an unjust conviction and strike a blow for justice.

http://www.paypal.me/followthecat