Committee Business

There was more chair-shifting and shrinking. A florid sweaty man to my left wrung his hands. The very small elderly Chairman, (a man with pretty eyelashes under rimless glasses) laughed with a forced, high jollity –

Haha! now then, now then, we don’t want any “outrageous assertions”. Haha, we all know you Ken. But the Governor has been kind enough to explain just how the service has changed from your days. (and at this the Chair paused, to nod and smile at the Governor). Then he added more quietly And I will be grateful if you would remember that I’m Chairman here – we are not in the Social work Committee now. 

Ken smiled very graciously and said You are all fools if you believe there has been any change for the better.

Business moved on. I had stopped note-taking. 
It was clear the scene that had been long in the making. That at the very least it involved a history of personal and political antipathy. I had that spine-shiver that intrigue always provoked. I was studying  Ken with real interest now. Clearly he had been in the Service. But for how long and in what capacity? What did he do now that involved the Regions Social Work Committee?
There was a break for tea and biscuits. A prisoner, small dark and elderly wheeled in the trolley. He bobbed his head to left and right acknowledging the Committee members who were indulgently praising the quality of the tea. One said not long now then Alec. Eh? Not long at all. Eh? The sweaty florid man chipped in, with a laugh least you’ll be able to make tea out there when you go! and continued to laugh at his own words   as he looked around the room for appreciation.

 http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2007/oct/11/guardianobituaries.prisonsandprobation

(follow link for background info re Ken)
(to be continued again…)

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7 thoughts on “Committee Business

  1. You read the obit then – I laughed at that bit too! The thought of him doing lumberjack service – not that he hadn't the frame for it. Big bear of a man. He was an astonishing man. A force of nature. Amazing self-belief – and you either loved or loathed him. And I loved him of course.

  2. I would have loved him too. Having been part of The System I have an enormous respect for those who have the courage to buck it when they have the conviction and ability. One of the reasons that I retired at 50 was that government had changed so dramatically I no longer felt part of it. I feel another post coming on by way of explanation.

  3. He sounds a wonderful man Yvonne. Particularly liked this point in his obituary:
    “The creative potential of prisoners was explored and the facilities made available for it to be developed. Murray firmly believed that such an environment was liberating not only for offenders but also for prison staff.”
    A man who did real good in the world.

  4. I am so glad – but was always so sure! – that you feel you would have loved him!
    He was a genuinely good man. And he achieved many good things – touching many, many lifes…
    I was very fortunate to be a colleague – fortunate to be able to learn from him.

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