Tag Archives: prison

offender art

Disappoint Man - Anon

Can music soothe the savage beast inside?

Can art help rehabilitate offenders? I think the answer is yes to both questions Continue reading

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Starring Colin Firth as Hugh Grant…

Starring Colin Firth as Hugh Grant, and Mr Bean as...

How’s this for super quick reaction? Hackgate: The Movie.

It’s here. Well – the trailer is anyway. And what a star-studded cast. Colin Firth plays Hugh Grant. Hugh Grant plays… someone else. I forget. Watch the trailer to find out.

There’s an inspired (or too obvious?) casting for the role of Rebekah Brooks. But Ed Miliband and David Cameron – perfect casting choices. (No, I’m not telling you. Watch the Continue reading

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What I learned from George Michael today

"Hello, it's George here..."

George Michael rang up today. Yes, that one. He wanted to deny newspaper claims that he and partner Kenny Goss had split up. But the conversation soon veered off the subject. Continue reading

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Movie star actually makes a difference. Shock.

What do they know about politics? Why don’t they just stay out of it and carry on looking beautiful or tortured or smug? Actors and politics, huh?

Especially movie actors. Team America: World Police satirised them as patsies for North Korea and aggressively naive and deluded- Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon and the other members of the Film Actors Guild (F.A.G.).

By following the rules of the Film Actor’s Guild, the world can become a better place; that handles dangerous people with talk, and reasoning; that, is the fag way. One day you’ll all look at the world us actors created and say, “wow, good going, FAG. You really made the world a better place, didntcha, FAG?”

But it’s too easy to write them all off. And puncturing thespian  self-importance would work better without the lame homophobia.

There’s a guy just died who maybe did make a difference Continue reading

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I had no dreams before I went to prison

Archbishop of York, John Sentamu

This week the Anglican Archbishop of York John Sentamu spoke out on prison conditions in the UK. The part that made headlines was when he criticised how some offenders are rewarded in jail by being provided with computer games or cable TV. Continue reading

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The inside story…


Crumlin Road Prison by Stephen Shaw. He's a super observant watercolourist in Belfast. Click on the pic for his online galleries. The old prison was said to be the most secure in the British Isles. It hosted many escapes and executions. A tunnel led from the jail to the courthouse opposite, which features in Blackwatertown.

Here comes the inside story of my book. It’s the brief synopsis I’m sending to agents. (Some agents prefer a different approach – longer blow by blow, chapter by chapter efforts.)

The next post will cover my recent calamities and a particularly juicy piece of gossip. But for now, have a peek inside.

Synopsis of Blackwatertown:

Blackwatertown by Paul Waters is a thriller set on the Irish border in the 1950s. The intertwining of fact and fiction is based partly on a murky episode of Ireland’s past, and partly on things discovered about my family’s own secret history.

It is the story of a reluctant and conflicted policeman called John “Jolly” Macken, who is drawn into a conspiracy, accidentally starts a war (the 1950s IRA border campaign) and inadvertently becomes a hero.

It is also the story of how complacency in a time of peace can quickly be shattered, if the underlying tensions in society are not addressed.

Jolly Macken begins with a personal crisis because of his leading role in a police action he knows is legally correct, but feels is morally wrong.

As a police officer, an RUC man, he is isolated from his fellow Irish Catholics because he serves the Crown. As a Catholic (in name anyway), he is by definition distrusted by his Protestant fellow officers and the State.

There are three main strands:

1. Macken is punished after a farcical episode of violence at the beginning, by being exiled to Blackwatertown village, a sleepy Co. Armagh backwater. He is sent there to replace the previous token Catholic officer in the district who died mysteriously. Was it an accident or murder? Were the killers fellow police officers? Will Macken be next?

2. Macken meets an unusually bewitching local girl whose bravado masks a certain innocence. However, is her innocence feigned? Will their romance endure? Is she an IRA spy or is she hiding a much darker secret?

3. Macken is caught up in a police conspiracy and cover-up that has unexpected consequences. Their fakery is so convincing that the conspirators are lauded as heroes and accidentally start a war. Macken becomes part of a web of political and personal intrigue, watching his back as genuine and imaginary sides go to war for real.

An ambiguous fourth strand weaves in and out of the action. It retains its mystery until near the end, when its true purpose and horrible identity is revealed.

As the tension and stakes mount higher, Macken is forced to choose sides when it comes to war and to his personal life. He embarks on a journey through a broken and twisted world to see if it is possible to salvage anything that is good, worthwhile and beautiful.

Blackwatertown conveys a sense of place in the tradition of Ulster writer Maurice Leitch, and is threaded through with flashes of humour reminiscent of Andrea Camilleri’s Sicilian Inspector Montalbano mysteries.

The story transcends time and place, but also parallels the current dangerous political situation in Northern Ireland today, and shows how a seemingly secure peace can be squandered.

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Second Act Drama

Ivor Jefferson, drama teacher Wandsworth Prison.

I went out looking for drama, and watched a woman’s life hang in the balance just inches from my face. Continue reading

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Art Saves Lives

What you could win - note the Picasso in the top left corner.

Fancy picking up a Picasso for a tenner? That’s just £10.00. Or an early photograph of Kate Moss? Or a limited edition from the late Beryl Cook? Or my favourite, Anita Klein? Continue reading

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Filed under art, friends, poetry, theatre

H-blocks in Edinburgh

I was doing some work in Edinburgh, at the Festival, and had the good fortune to see Martin Lynch’s play The Chronicles Of Long Kesh. Great production. I’d recommend it. The performance got a great reception, but even so, the cast surprised me by making it out and down before the audience, so as to be able to thank each person individually for coming to see their show. Bit overwhelming. And lovely too.

After which I checked out the play Go To Gaza And Drink The Sea. Some haunting music woven through it. Rather unremittingly sad. And odd to see someone I actually know being played as a character on the stage.

On a lighter note – Rhod Gilbert and the cat which looked like Nicholas Lyndhurst is the stand-up show for anyone who battles with technology and is suspicious of toasters, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and other humans in general. Very clever and very funny.

Here he is mithering on about something else in Australia.

And coincidentally it Australians who were singing news bulletins in the Dean Gallery. Their song about Jose Ramos Horta rejecting human rights criticisms in East Timor stuck in my mind.  Endearing.

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