Memories for me are like beautifully edited copy: all cleaned up and retaining only the good parts. The wife tells me that I’m quite lucky in choosing to remember just pleasant things, and of course I agree. Actually it’s not really a choice; it is almost automatic. Bad things are tucked away immediately, never to return. I suppose many idiots enjoy such forgetfulness, but then I’d rather be called an idiot than a surly grouch, complaining and finding fault with everything and everyone.
Needless to say, I cannot forget Pentonville. Looking back, I recall only fun times among my fellow convicts. There was Warren, the large black man whose appeal I had to draw up because he was illiterate. In it he claimed that keeping him in jail denied the human rights of his four common-law wives who could not reach orgasm without him. ‘Are you dumb?’ I said to him. ‘Don’t you know that all English judges are prudes and they’ll just increase your sentence?’ Warren cried when he said goodbye to me. I left him a few cigarette packs and some socks.
Call me callous, but the cold truth is I think of the time I spent as Her Majesty’s guest as good clean fun: two major fights — a win and a draw — lots of exercise, even more reading, and no boozing. What else could a man wish for? OK, there were no women, but when I think back I don’t remember missing them. Yes, prison is unremittingly bleak, but I recall only how physically well I felt during my time inside.
The same applies to the Big Bagel, which is nowadays filthy, dangerous and inhabited by dimwits glued to screens: a soulless, Dunkin’ Donuts place.