I’ve noticed that it is ‘Strictly’ season, so I thought I should let you into a ‘Strictly’ secret, well I say secret, it’s not, I just haven’t mentioned it before.
It all began a couple of years ago, before we had our new building with its lovely kitchen. We were in our old porta cabin; looking back it was a bit basic. Anyway, it was coming up to lunch and things were a little hectic to say the least…
Our Baby Belling cooker with two rings and smallish oven was going full steam or at least as full steam as the temperamental generator outside would allow. The pressure was on, the oven was not, and we had two Cottage Pies to get ready for our special ‘Strictly’ guest, who had specifically requested Cottage – not Shepherd’s – Pie: “did we know the difference?”
We had met previously and talked at some length about her time as Prisons Minister and Shadow Home Secretary, she was great fun. And seemed keen to meet some “more prisoners.”
I pointed out that our lunch was often soup, of a vegetarian nature. At the mention of vegetarian, the former Member for Maidstone and The Weald started banging her head on the desk… we agreed to make a cottage pie!
The first pie was looking more or less edible and we all squeezed into the porta cabin. Our dancing queen seemed very at ease, impressing us all with her knowledge of prisons, having visited every single one in Britain.
The second pie was not so good; in fact it was a tad on the cold side, a point that our guest quickly noted. I thought I could take her mind off things by getting her to talk about her Strictly dancing experience and she did, she loved it….
Awkwardly nobody seemed the slightest bit interested. Strictly is not a great crowd pleaser in prison! So, I tried to get onto more common ground for all: drugs. I asked her what her views were on drugs and indeed the war on drugs?
The stage was hers! And she let rip, giving us a full-on House of Commons recital in a rather confined space:
“Drugs are the scourge of society and, Mr Parsons, there has never been a war on drugs and there bloody well should be, a proper zero tolerance, stamp-it-all-out war on drugs is much needed”.
At that moment, the generator finally packed up and most of the lads went outside for a smoke.
Over the years, I have met a good number of drug dealers, most happy to balance a possible ‘lie down’ (sentence) in prison against the vast amounts of cash they can make dealing. The war, whether full on or not, keeps the money rolling into their pockets.
But if there is one thing that gets a dealer worried, it is making drugs legal. Cos the value just goes and so do they.
It’s a thought!