“I’m getting the hang of this. It’s a bit of a head f@#k… like my life”.

Nicholls is dry stone walling. It’s his first time, he’s good and I’m just a touch jealous. We’re chatting about life, criminal life, and recurring patterns that trip you up.

How do you convince a man in his fifties who’s done a load of ‘bird’ (time in prison), that getting a job on minimum wage is better than making a couple of dodgy phone calls and earning a few ‘K’ in as many hours?

Breaking behaviour patterns is difficult. Especially hard, because the underlying reasons are often not clear, buried in a subconscious. The action, the criminal action, may even be an emotional response to a trigger, such as an argument with a loved one. Perhaps it’s even a sort of addiction, certainly a default setting.

We support one man who does really well for a while. His life starts to stabilise and then he hits a sort of invisible ceiling and he comes crashing down. We start over, picking up the bits. We identify the trigger, sense and hope that we have perhaps broken the pattern… but no.

So, I slightly hesitate to write this next bit and please don’t all unsubscribe! But I can’t help but wonder if at times there is something else going on, something in the ‘ether’ or ‘weirdy’ planetary type alignment stuff because other patterns just occur…

For example; a few months ago, suddenly in one week several trainees are all in crisis with various relationship issues. Why then? Why all together?

A few weeks ago it was a spike in drugs use, a few individuals, separately, but bang at it!

Last month (painfully) it’s been cries for help; three individuals texting suicidal intentions (everyone is okay and has help). But why all in the space of a few weeks? Does this sort of pattern happen in the NHS?

There are happier patterns, such as a recent outbreak of marriage engagements…but still happening all at once!

“It’s the randomness of the stones that I like, it’s good for my head.” The wall is progressing, and our ‘Waller’ is becoming philosophical.

It is difficult to see patterns in his wall; it is wonderfully random.

Perhaps that is all it is…that random occasionally comes together and looks like a pattern?

I am not totally convinced.