Tuesday, 23 June 2009

an essay on Bronson (the prisoner, not the actor)

For those not in the know, Charles Bronson’s real name (not the actor) is Mickey Peterson. Mickey grew up in Ellesmere Port and quickly gained a reputation as a feared local hooligan, and eventually ended up in borstal. This is where his road to achieving the title of Britain’s longest serving category A prisoner began.
Bronson, is by my reckoning, the most disruptive prisoner ever to have graced the British prison system. By his own calculations he has assaulted over fifty prison guards (not actually that much when you’ve been in prison for nearly forty years, but still impressive) and is Britain’s most prolific hostage-taker. His solution to everything is to take a hostage, even if a) the hostage is in no way linked to his gripe b) it will only make things worse c) he’s too stupid too see it through to any useful conclusion. He once imprisoned four Iraqis single-handedly and would not release them until he was supplied with a machine gun, some iced cream, a cheese sandwich and a helicopter (with pilot). Needless to say his demands were not met and he only ended up with another five years added to his hopelessly long and continually increasing sentence.
His life is littered with acts of complete stupidity, and he is under the impression that his confinement is unjustified. Every time he is released he attempts to rob a bookies or hijack a car, instantly landing him with an automatic ten-stretch upon apprehension by the (now bored) police.
He has tried in vain to demonstrate that he is a changed man. In 2003 he married a Muslim and actually adopted the Muslim faith for a short while, before getting divorced and reverting to a life of self-pity and violent tantrums. He despises fat people, released a book of physical exercises which featured a legal disclaimer advising the reader not to partake in any of the exercises contained within, has broken world records for endurance and tried to establish himself as a boxer despite having a history of violent and unprovoked attacks. And fought a dog to the death. I mean, can a person sink any lower than to fight an animal for money? It shouldn’t happen in this day and age. It’s not possible for things to get that bad. Is it?
The sad thing is that if he ever was to leave the prison system he probably would crumble under the stresses of normal life. He is so woefully out-of-touch with modern conventions that the modern world would almost certainly confuse him. Even the modern prison system confuses him.
He seems to think that he has earned the respect of the crème de la crème of Britain’s criminal elite. He’s always wittering on about how much respect he’s got for the likes of Joe Pyle, Dave Courtney and the remaining Kray and Richardson twins. But in reality they think he is an idiot and don’t understand why/how he’s managed to make himself synonymous with the key players of the golden era of British crime (remember, he’s the epitome of the chronically unsuccessful career criminal). They obviously are slightly fearful of him so tolerate his name-dropping.
I like it when he snaps and goes on a rampage inside whichever prison he is residing at the time. It doesn’t seem to happen any more, but in the mid eighties he went on the warpath seemingly every few weeks. Nobody and nothing is safe when he gets upset, and he gets upset frequently. He is keen on gaining access to the roofs of prisons, where he has been known to stay for up to two weeks living on nothing more than moss, birds eggs and rainwater. The objective of these rooftop protests has yet to be fathomed by the authorities or Bronson himself. There was a good incident in Liverpool prison in which he stripped off, blacked himself up from head to toe with boot polish, donned sunglasses (where did he get them from?) and a prison staff issue hat (worn back-to-front) and stomped round the prison brandishing a home made spear uttering “it’s all over” whilst indiscriminately destroying whatever he came across. He also had a prison governor tethered to his person with a length of rope for the entire duration.

The total cost of his four decade spell in prisons must run into the millions.

Bronson was a real headache for the government for a long time. He was too dangerous to release but kept destroying prisons and staff whilst inside. Because of his unique behaviour and relatively victimless crimes (let’s be frank – taking a hostage isn’t a victimless crime, but he’s never murdered, mugged an old lady or nonced a child) he is seen as a loveable source of amusement to the public. Therefore the government can’t let him rot. All they can do is give him what he wants, within reason, and hope that he behaves himself. Luckily he seems to have kept his nose clean in recent years, although I bet that it is only a matter of time before he takes another hostage.

Watch this space.

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