Madiba – his moral courage made him a giant
It was Nelson Mandela’s moral strength and moral courage that set him apart from every other world leader. A man of determination and persistence like no other – yet a man of humility, modesty, wisdom and compassion. When he was asked how he would like to be remembered after he was dead he answered that he would like it to be said, “Here lies a man who has done his duty on earth.” Who could ever aspire to more?
“Thanks for your honesty Vicky…”
Vicky Pryce and I in conversation at the Hay Winter Festival on Sat 30 November went down a treat with our sold out audience in The Swan ballroom. Talking about her amazing book, PRISONOMICS, Vicky gave an excellent presentation of herself. (All royalties from the book’s sales are going to Working Chance, the charity that helps women prisoners get back on track.) Despite the fact that I got a couple of facts wrong accidentally on purpose when I introduced her people warmed to her openness and humility quite quickly. I expected a little hostility to be honest – now Hay is sponsored by The Telegraph group, I sort of thought there might a few right wing antagonists wanting to score a point or two – especially since I am, ahem, (among other things,) a Guardian columnist.
But even if there was anyone there who thought they might like to have a go for a hoot – when Vicky opened up to my questions it was obvious that anyone who thought they knew her from the myriad lurid headlines and acres of tabloid ”reporting” of her personal and not so personal trials and tribulations this year was in for a very pleasant surprise. The hour went quickly – always a sign that nobody was bored. The questions from the audience were intelligent and considered – even one from someone who worked at HMP Holloway, “Britain’s most notorious women’s prison”, where Vicky spent the first few days of her 8 month sentence for perverting the course of justice. I think what struck most people present was her very evident lack of bitterness and her strength demonstrated by her ability to cope with the whole horrendous saga that had befallen her and her family. Comments to me from the audience as they trooped out when the event was over included, “well done her,” “what a nice lady!” and “hope she keeps up the prison reform agenda…” Hear hear!
Humbling response to my visit to Sydney. After the local media reporting of my potential visit I didn’t expect such a warm welcome. Thank you to all who came to the two events in which I took part at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in the stunningly beautiful Opera House. Thank you also to the FODI team who worked hard to get me over here – and thank you to the Australian Government for letting me into the country. At least it allowed me a chance to speak for myself.
Meeting Vicky Pryce was a surprisingly pleasant experience. Like millions of other people I had read acres of newsprint about her, but hardly any of it prepared me for her warmth, her honesty or her courage. Newspapers have to sell – but I believe the “Vicky Pryce” agenda has been particularly disingenuous. She did something stupid ten years ago – but her biggest crime it appears to me seems to have been becoming a successful, self-made, powerful woman. I wish her well.
Anthony Kelly "I'm a work in progress..."
I’m rooting for Anthony Kelly- the former member of Gordon Ramsay’s Bad Boys Bakery and self-confessed “work in progress” is in the process of building a drug free, crime free life and becoming the contributor to his community in the way that he always had the potential to do. Changing a whole problematic life once you get to adulthood is not easy. If it was there would be armies of rehabilitated, regurgitated, re-assimilated, reformed people coming out of our prisons every year. The vast majority of people who go to prison for whatever reason have the desire to change for the better. For so many reasons more fail than succeed – for some the problems and issues that cause their criminal dysfunction are too deep rooted to surmount – for others the lack of support post prison makes it almost impossible to stay on the right path. Anthony has the desire and the support. He has purpose and people who care a great deal about him. Fingers crossed he makes it.
‘Lets be clear’, as they say all the time. People who come out of prison suddenly face a world full of problems. Their easiest course is to go back into prison. Sometimes, a friend outside their world is a help.
On July 6, we will hear some of the problems of ex-prisoners and discuss whether members of the public can help.
Do you want to reduce crime?
Do you think there’s anything you can do?
Eg: make a phone call
send a text
make a new friend?
Come and find out more.
Worcester Lodge, Didmarton, GL9 1AH
July 6. 11 am to 4 pm.
Margaret and Barry Mizen were generous enough to sit with me for an hour last week and talk about how their family’s life has been affected by the murder of their son Jimmy. Jimmy was killed five years ago on 10th May 2008, the day after his 16th birthday. A book about Jimmy and the aftermath of his murder is available now – it should be read by anyone who cares about the safety of our young people. The book can be purchased here: Jimmy: A Legacy of Peace
Jimmy: Never Forgotten
PLEASE BUY THIS BOOK
Jimmy Mizen was murdered five years ago today. Since then his family have campaigned tirelessly to help young people avoid getting involved in violent confrontations. Margaret Mizen’s book, written with the playright Justin Butcher, tells the story of Jimmy’s killing and its aftermath, the impact on the family and the community and what they hope will come from this tragic, senseless waste of life. The book is called Jimmy: A Legacy of Peace, in writing it Margaret has ensured the Mizen family have created a legacy of hope.
- Jimmy Mizen: His Name Lives on in Hope and Peace
PLEASE BUY THIS BOOK Had he lived, today would have been Jimmy Mizen’s 21st birthday. Jimmy was a young man of great promise, a good hearted boy, when just a day after his 16th birthday he was cut down pointlessly by 19 year old Jake Fahri. Jake had worked himself up into a blind rage because Jimmy had asked him to be a bit more polite in his “request” for Jimmy to move out of his way when they were both in The Three Cooks bakery in Lee, London. Jake’s violence towards Jimmy was out of all proportion of what should have been no more than a minor altercation between two teenagers. Jake picked up a glass dish from the bakery counter and hurled it at full force into Jimmy’s face. The dish shattered firing deadly shards of glass into Jimmy’s neck, severing his carotid artery and his jugular vein. Seeking shelter from the attack Jimmy crawled to a cupboard at the back of the bakery when he was found by one of his older brothers. A short while later Jimmy died in his brother’s arms.
Jake got life.
Two lives and two families destroyed.
But there is still hope…
Jimmy: A Legacy of Peace by Margaret Mizen with Justin Butcher is one of the most compelling and hopeful books about the impact of violent crime that I have ever read. Read it and weep, with shared grief for the loss of one so beautiful – but also with shared anticipation of a better and safer world for our young people – and above all hope…
This article in the Metro which is a rehash of bits of my Guardian piece from Monday’s G2 has to be one of the laziest pieces of “reporting” I’ve seen for a long time. Not only is it lazy, the “reporter” couldn’t even nick the info accurately – the prisoners on Bastoy Island get a food allowance of roughly the equivalent of £70 per month – not per week as the Metro man stated (innocent error or cynical ploy to enrage readers? I think the latter given his juvenile sensationalising tone.) And after lifting the information from my piece he didn’t even have the courtesy to credit The Guardian from where he got it. Instead he quoted from an old Daily Mail piece – what an arse….