Sunday, January 10, 2010

Diary A

The Dear Diary season on BBC4 gets off to a disjointed start with Richard E Grant visiting friends and family of diarists Joe Orton and Kenneth Williams, talking about the death diary of John Diamond and visiting Rosemary Ackland's actor husband Joss who compiled and edited her diaries after her death, emphasising all the bits where Joss made "exquisite" love to her.

The most controversial subject, however, was prison diarist Erwin James. If you look at Erwin's biography on his website you will see a story of triumph over adversity, a previously ill-educated man who took a degree and wrote about life on the inside in a very truthful, real way, giving Guardian readers a special insight the string 'em up readers of the Daily Mail will never have. Erwin now works full-time as a freelance writer and the Guardian still loves him.

On the programme, Erwin's work gets a big thumbs-up from "prison reformer" Jonathan Aitken who praises the authenticity of the diaries.

Prison Reformer, Jonathan Aitken

Oh, by the way, did I mention what Erwin was in prison for, which he glaringly omits from his biography?

I'd better not say it here. Instead I'll direct you to the third paragraph of his Wikipedia page.

It's wonderful what an education can do, isn't it? Aitken calls James a "remarkable rehabilitated ex-prisoner". He is the product of a forgiving Christian society which dismisses revenge as Old Testament and realises that people do change over time and if given a second chance may well become good, literate people who can hold their own at nice intelligent dinner parties.

James was in prison for twenty years.

Former England cricketer Chris Lewis is currently serving thirteen years for smuggling cocaine into the UK.

Yes, cocaine, the stuff hidden in judges' white wigs to keep them awake.


  1. The media are wonderfully forgiving. Look at Piers Morgan and Alistair Campbell for example.

  2. "Rosemary Ackland's actor husband Joss who compiled and edited her diaries after her death, emphasising all the bits where Joss made "exquisite" love to her."

    Well you would wouldn't you.

  3. What's in the bin bag?

  4. Is this part of a series?
    Promise you won't mention Jeffrey Archer.

  5. Have you come across this guy?

    I find it hard to remain reasonable (develop a twitch under my eye and have to go for a brisk walk, that sort of thing) regarding Aitken and the like...funny how when they 'find' God they have to tell everyone about it and then become members of churches funded by the very rich.
    Twitch, twitch....

  6. Rog - Gutter Press. But I suppose the tabloids wouldn't employ a convicted murderer. Or would they?

    Billy - Joss edited out the bits about his toilet habits.

    MJ - His winnings from his games of poker.

    Kaz - It could be. It's Mariella next. Jeffrey Archer is a remarkable rehabilitated ex-prisoner.

    Arabella - I hadn't heard of him. Nice bloke and a darling of intellectuals. Maybe there's a career for Peter Sutcliffe. Has he got an artistic side? Funny how a disgraced former Tory MP and the Guardian are bed buddies in their admiration for this bloke. "Education education education".

  7. As a former inmate at Her Majesty's pleasure* Geoffster, I can only concur...

    Yes, I'm with Samuel Beckett on this one: "my crime is punishment". (Or in Aitken's case: my slacks are my punishment. That is, surely, the reason he's been made to wear them...)

    Hard lines in the Cup btw - if it's any consolation, we'll be going out to Stoke in the 4th round anyway...

    L.U.V. on ya,


    *I bet you can guess what I was in for too...

  8. You weren't in for defacing library books, were you?

    We did pretty well in the cup match considering our bench was half the age and talent of yours. And as for the players sitting on it... I see Sol's back. You can't beat experience.

  9. It's a fair cop, Guv - society's to blame. (Well, Joe Orton, actually...)

    Yes, I wonder how long til Sol throws another paddy? Was against the Hamsters that he went AWOL a couple of seasons ago, wasn't it? Mind you, he came back and scored in the Champs League final I suppose... Just hope he's not as abject as Silvestre (or Tweety Pie as Mrs. S. is prone to calling him)

    Oh well, now we just need to find a centre forward who's over five feet tall and we're all set to....

    finish fourth.

    I'm sure the Irons will be on the up in the New Year.

    L.U.V. on ya,


  10. A top four finish ain't bad this year.

    I can't wait to see who our new owners are going to be.

  11. Probably some Icelandic bank knowing your luck!!

    Shame about the Scousers, what?

    btw - how's Betty? Left a comment on her blog, but she's not been on for a week or so. Pass on my fondest regards if you see her...


    Hope you're both well,

    L.U.V. on ya,


  12. Whoever it's going to be they've got the entrepreneurial bug. Benitez must go, surely. Then Torres and they'll be screwed.

    Betty's fine but lost her blogging mojo somewhat. We both fondly remember the good old days.

    Cheers, Bob.

  13. An interesting programme nonetheless.

    I didn't really expect Mr Erwin to be any better than he was to be honest.

    And happen to be in favour of the death penalty for murder (if only there were a 100% foolproof means of proving a murderer's guilt as it is the risk of an innocent man or woman hanging that renders it not worth the risk).

  14. I just think a life sentence for murder should actually mean banged up for the rest of their lives.

  15. Abject sorrow for hurt caused, true contrition for the crime, being born again, finding God, etc, etc. All very well, but somehow the person who really does now, this time for sure, honestly feel so sorry for the hurt and suffering they meted out - somehow never feels they should therefore serve out a full term inside. Funny that. Them being so sincerely sorry and all.