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.
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