landworks - Prisoner Training & Placements


You would be forgiven for thinking him completely ‘out of his mind’ as he repeatedly smashes his frail body against the window. Watching is distressing, he just can’t seem to stop.

It’s not until you realise that it’s a mirror window (the porta cabin just came with one), you understand that Mr Wagtail is not completely ‘nuts’ (to be fair there is not much data available on the mental health of small birds) but he is considerably angry about the intruding Mr Wagtail, a reflection that is of course himself!

It’s not just wee birds that use this window of reflection, many times I have caught folk fluffing hair, or a just a quick sideways glance to check themselves. But like angry bird, humans tend to see a superficial reflection and not much more.

Rabbie Burns wrote about bestowing a great gift: “To see ourselves as others see us”. Of course, this was more about a louse… but it’s aye relative!

An addict often has great difficulty in seeing themselves as we may see them. Many is the time we use a verbal hand mirror encouraging somebody to really look at themselves.

Addiction can make people fantastically good at deceiving; family, LandWorks, everybody, but most tragically themselves. I don’t want to overdo the Scottish quotes (time of year) but: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.” Walter Scott. Often such a tangle.

It is hard going standing face-to-face, confronting the obvious truth and just getting a load of lies back. Even when it is stark staring obvious, the evidence of a wrecked body, shakes and sweats, the addiction is talking, talking about anything but the truth.

It can be incredibly destructive, I don’t really understand why we (society) don’t deal with this issue in a better way… Addiction is a treatable condition, not a failing.

I sometimes think as a counter to all the deception of being an addict, there can be a refreshing honesty around an individual’s recovery.

This week was such; a young man suddenly talking with a new-found sincerity. We were sat outside the porta cabin (below the troublesome window). I stood up to congratulate him, at the same time catching a glimpse in the window… An aging man who for split second looked like my dad!

Spring is coming and for the sake of our battered feathered friend, who is already bristling with anger issues (all puffed up to have a go) at himself, and perhaps my own vanity… I may change the glass in that window.