Eyes on the Prize: Callan Park, a Modern Saga of Development Vs Conservation

Built Environment, Creative Writing, Heritage & Conservation, Politics

In 1976 the NSW state government consolidated the two mental health care facilities in Lilyfield, Callan Park Mental Hospital and Broughton Hall Psychiatric Clinic, into one body, called Rozelle Hospital (the word ‘Psychiatric’ was discretely excised from the name). Drug and alcohol and psycho-geriatric services were added to the psychiatric care and rehabilitation roles of the hospital.

A watershed moment in mental health with profound and long-lasting repercussions for Rozelle Hospital occurred seven years later in 1983. The Richmond Report recommended a policy of deinstitutionalisation, moving patients of mental hospitals back into the community. From the 1960s, with overcrowding in state mental hospitals rife, there had been isolated attempts to deinstitutionalise starting to happen but the Report advocated that the government accelerate the process on a more systematic basis.

Stairs to a haven?
Stairs to a haven?
The Report’s blueprint advocated moving patients out of the psych wards and into the community at large. They were to be given support through a network of community-based agencies. As well, the plan was to open up new special units in mainstream general hospitals and accommodation facilities to take care of the needs of the former inpatients. In reality however these measures have never been properly supported by successive NSW governments, Labor or Liberal. Cynically but unsurprisingly, the parties in power have tended to manipulate the program to cut back on existing bed numbers and close wards in the mental health care system.

New specialised mental health wards were eventually opened, such as in Western Sydney hospitals Nepean and Liverpool. But the cost of caring for the former patients, providing them with the services and housing they needed once released, has not been adequately met by the authorities. As a consequence, the state’s prisons have returned in practice to a traditional role they had filled in past centuries, acting as de facto psychiatric institutions. Government research points to a high percentage of prisoners (90% female and 78% male) experiencing a psychiatric disorder in the year preceding their incarceration [R Pollard, ‘Out of Mind’, Sydney Morning Herald, February 12, 2005].

A side-effect of deinstitutionalisation at Callan Park was the physical deterioration of wards and other dwellings on the site. As wards closed, their upkeep was not maintained and many fell into various stages of dilapidation, some were found to contain very significant levels of asbestos. In 1991 an extensive DPWS Heritage Study was undertaken by the Department of Public Works with every building, evaluated zone-by-zone, to determine if it should be preserved, repaired or removed. Bizarrely, some of the buildings deemed suitable to be demolished were in satisfactory condition and still being utilised, such as the NSW Ambulance Service!?! Many of the old buildings earmarked for removal were subsequently pulled down but fortunately, somehow the Ambulance building complex survived [‘DPWS Heritage Plan’, (1991)www.leichhardt.nsw.gov.au].

The fallout from the policy to deinstitutionalise continues to be felt in the community. NSW Health’s 2007 ‘Tracking Tragedy’ report identified that there had been some 113 suicides by former psychiatric patients plus a number of patients who had committed homicides upon release [‘Final Government Response to Tracking Tragedy 2007’ (3rd Report)].

A monument to Ward B patients or war?
A monument to Ward B patients or war?
By the early ’90s the Kirkbride Block was being phased out as a psychiatric institution (the nearby wards however were retained for patient relocation) and a deal was struck with Sydney University (USYD) to lease it from 1996 as the site of its College of the Arts (SCA). The University then injected 19 million dollars into upgrading the facilities to make it suitable as a tertiary education campus. At the same time the nearby Garryowen House was repaired to become the new home of the NSW Writers Centre.

Uncertainty about the Government’s future plans for Callan Park led concerned citizens to form the Friends of Callan Park (FOCP) in 1998. Their concerns were well-founded as the Carr Labor Government in 2001-2002 produced a draft Master Plan for the land which included the sale of significant chunks of the site for residential development and the shift of psychiatric services to Concord – all formulated without having consulted local residents (this followed an earlier clandestine arrangement made by Carr to provide land in the Park gratis for a Catholic retirement village). FOCP and Leichhardt Council mobilised community support against the Government’s plan, resulting in a huge backlash from residents of the municipality.

Embarrassed, the state government backed down, ditched the Master Plan and enacted the 2002 Callan Park (Special Provisions) Act which guaranteed that the entire site would remain in public hands to be used strictly for health and education purposes only [‘Callan Park – a Tribute to the Local Community’, (FOCP), www.callanpark.com]

Later, Labor planning minister Sartor (again covertly) offered the the central core of the whole site (an area of 35HA) to Sydney University whose expansion plans for the SCA site envisaged increasing the student numbers to 20,000 and providing for up to 7,000 places in residential accommodation. USYD received a 99 year lease from the Government on the 35HA land. The University was planning to move the Sydney Conservatorium of Music from its present location in the city onto the Lilyfield site (the Conservatorium were very lukewarm to this proposal, as it turned out). This over-the-top development would have required 16 new buildings (some up to 4 storeys high!) to be built, which would have been a breach of the 2002 Act. Again after for a public backlash the Government backed down [Sydney Morning Herald, October 21, 2002;Inner West Courier, November 6, 2007].

Recently USYD has been murmuring about the prospect of pulling out of the Rozelle campus, citing financial difficulties as the reason. It has already flagged its intention to move the Fine Arts School to the main Camperdown site [‘Sydney University abandons art school at Callan Park’, Sydney Morning Herald, November 25, 2015]. The uncertainty about Callan Park’s future has prompted critics like FOCP to suggest that the Baird Government may follow the same path as Labor did in trying to sell-off part of the site for commercial gain. FOCP has accused the Government of taking a “demolition by neglect” approach to Callan Park, this will be a fait accompli, they contend, especially if USYD leaves Rozelle as the buildings will no longer be maintained and inevitably fall into disrepair [‘Callan Park in danger of being “demolished by neglect”, (23-04-15), www.altmedia.net.au].

New uses for old buildings
New uses for old buildings
The next signpost in the Callan Park story occurred in May 2008 when the Government moved the psychiatric patients out of Broughton Hall and relocated them at a new, purpose-built psychiatric unit at Concord Hospital, six kilometres down the Parramatta River. The Friends of Callan Park had campaigned to retain the psychiatric facility, the late Dr Jean Lennane advocated that, rather than closing down Callan Park, the bed numbers needed to be increased as deinstitutionalisation had led to an increase in homelessness among the mentally ill, or had seen them end up ‘warehoused’ in gaols, or tragically, dead. FOCP also called for an extension of outdoor recreational activities available to the patients, eg, establishment of a city farm on the grounds with the patients tending the animals as part of their therapuetic regime.

Leichhardt Council also voiced its disapproval of the Government’s plans for Callan Park. Despite the chorus of opposition, the NSW Government went ahead with the closures. The Council persisted with its criticisms and the NSW Government in late 2008 granted the Council care, control and management of 40 hectares of Callan Park (roughly two-thirds of the area) under a 99 year lease (previously the “physical fabric” of Callan Park as a whole had been managed by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) on behalf of the Government) [http://callanparkyourplan.com.au/ downloads/background/A-Callan-Park-History-Timeline.pdf PHPSESSID=ecd5ab22e072 abe7c43db83d82830b6d].

Sensing the need to be more proactive, Leichhardt Council prepared its own “Master Plan” for Callan Park, which, in a poll conducted by the Council, elicited 87% approval from municipality residents. The plan provides for greater use of the land for a broad cross-section of the community, with new sporting fields and skate parks and other activities.

The land and structures of Callan Park continue to be owned by the NSW Government now under the agency of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (although the SHFA website still confusingly lists Callan Park on its website as one of the “places we manage” [www.shfa.nsw.gov.au]). Some of the wards and halls (those remaining ones not riddled With asbestos) get rented out for film and television shoots from time to time, one building permanently houses a film production unit (building Callan 201) whose management harbours its own designs to expand further into the Park and create an international film production hub (again which would be a flagrant breach of the 2002 Act if it was ever allowed to happen)[‘Premiere plan for Callan Park film hub’, (20-06-13)www.altmedia.net.au]. Other current tenants of Callan Park include the Ambulance Service and a host of NGOs, eg, AfterCare, WHOS, SIDSKIDS and Foundation House.

imageWith Sydney University’s future campus expansion plans looking elsewhere (closer to the city, North Eveleigh has been mooted as the spot to expand into) [University of Sydney, Campus 2020 Masterplan], Leichhardt Council seems to be running most of the debate currently. Very recently, the Council approved (over opposition from The Greens and Liberals) a motion to use the complex site to house some of the 7,000 Syrian refugees due to be settled in Sydney next year, ‘Leichhardt Council approves plan to resettle refugees at former mental hospital’, ABC News, 09-12-15, www.mobile.abc.net.au]. This produced a predictable if minor furore from some quarters of the community, demonstrating that land use in the area known locally as “The Lungs of Leichhardt” continues to be a divisive and hotly contested issue within the community.

Desperately Seeking … a Nerdy Niche for a Needy Nerd

Creative Writing, Media & Communications, Tertiary Ed

Before the academic year begins around 1st of March each year, the modern university secures itself a little respite from the normal grind of being snowed under by an avalanche of undergrad applications for special consideration, extensions for assignments and what-have-you. At this juncture, with enhanced institutional prestige and a lucrative government funding payoff in the offering, universities are all about chasing the elite students and affixing them to the masthead of their little community flagships. Observe this piece if you will from a distinguished regional newspaper profiling one such high-in-demand student’s experience of the academic “horse-trading” that passes for the admissions phase of the tertiary ed year:

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The Girla Sentinel: The Voice of the Dusty Outback

Outback News
National News

Business
Environment
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The 99.95 country girl has the big smoke universities tripping over each other to gain her nod of assent

Date: January 2, 2015

Katerina Asbestocladding
Senior HE Writer

Whose $10,000 smells sweetest? Medicine-bound Ingressa is number 1 draft pick for the 2015 academic season!

imagePhoto: Stefan Severedhead

It’s decision-time for wannabe uni students who must lodge their main round course preferences with the Universities Admissions Centre by midnight on Friday.

For some applicants with modest academic credentials they will take any offer they can get … even if it arrives, proverbially-like, in the mail by mistake (they wish!). Other super swots like Ingressa Alyen-Body of Girlambone Swamp, NSW, are in the fortunate position of being able to pick-and-chose between attractive offers from competing top-tier tertiary institutions. All the universities are chasing Ingressa because she attained the maximum possible ATAR score in the state, a percentile of 99.95. With the lure of a Commonwealth Scholarship worth $10,000 a year, both Sydney and UNSW Medicine Schools have put feelers out for the 2014 HSC over-achiever.

Reflecting on this, Ingressa (better known as “Miss Clever Clogs” around Girlambone) cheerfully indicated that it might come down to which university has the best daggy parties for brainiacs. So far the only universities to make Ingressa a firm pre-offer of a place in medicine are the University of Central Australia, Birdsville, and the University of the Warrumbungles in the Backabyond. Ingressa has rejected both of these universities outright, principally on the grounds (or lack of grounds) that she couldn’t find them on Google Maps.

Ingressa confessed to me in an exclusive interview for the Sentinel that she had been socially ostracised as a nerdy dork by her fellow students at Belanglo State Forest High School. “If it hadn’t been for the kindly old recreational activities teacher Mr Milat I would have been very lonely all the way through my school years”. Even the school’s Ur-Geeks Society which everyone else boycotts wouldn’t let me join, even as a quarantined associate. She was looking ahead to moving forward to an opportunity to make new friends at university … “18 years of unrelenting peer rejection must surely end”, she added in a tone befitting her sense of social isolation.

Photo: Stefan Severedhead
Ingressa hasn’t made her big choice yet but concluded by saying that at this point she was slightly favouring either “Kenso Tech” AKA UNSW or Bendigo Uni. The clinching factor in the end may turn on personal connections and the happy prospect of joining a cohort of similarly awkward, dysfunctional nerdy misfits. Aside from the kudos, Ingressa said that UNSW has two pluses in its favour. She won’t be a total stranger there, a close neighbour of hers from the ‘Swamp’, Mr Alain Stalker, is already an undergraduate at the University studying ontological hermeneutics. Ingressa is also excited at having recently discovered that UNSW has a really active Desperate and Dateless Nerdy Geeks Society, “A chance”, she gushed, “to be accepted – finally, to be amongst my own kind of people … socially-outcast eggheads”.

 

Letters to the ABC: Brickbats, Bouquets, Recognition by any name!

Creative Writing, Media & Communications

Over the years it has been fascinating to see what kind of fan mail on-air personalities at the Australian Broadcasting Commission get from your average “Joe or Jill Blow” punter in suburbia. Below is one such paean of praise received by the popular ABC Television personality Tim Bowden in the early 1990s. Included also is the program team’s deeply meaningful and well thought-out reply to the writer on behalf of the venerable Tim.


 

 

25th February 1992

87b Worthog Road

CAREY GULLY SA 5144

Mr Tim Bowden
Presenter, ‘Backchat’
ABC
GPO Box 9994
SYDNEY NSW 2001

Dear Tim,

I am writing to the ABC because I know that the National Broadcaster (trademark copyrighted) is just as committed to critical environmental issues as is the present Commonwealth Government(?). I am making my concerns on this matter known in the hope that the ABC, through the intervention of your own cutting edge, “finger on the pulse of the nation” [insert additional preferred cliche here] feedback mechanism, will take the necessary steps to preserve a vital endangered species in this country.

The species in question is the Shakespearean Teledrama! This threatened creature, so important to the intellectual and cultural ecosystem of the country, has not been spotted on Australian screens for bulk aeons of time! It was last sighted on Oz TV in the late 70s and early 80s when the ABC ran several episodes of the brilliant and highly ambitious BBC Shakespearean production which set itself the task of bringing all 37½ of the Bard’s plays to the small screen in one series.

Since then the ABC Drama Department has obsessively overdosed on contemporary crime and police shows, meanwhile archetypical dramas in the shape of the great, classic tragedies (Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, etc) have been driven to the point of televisual extinction. I am outraged at the ABC’s flagrant and criminal neglect of the much-beloved ‘Shakes’. I am so ropeable that I could happily strangle the Head of Programming with the ABC’s own Lissajous curves! The ABC has a duty to protect this globally-imperilled species and not let it disappear without trace, denying Australian taxpayers the enrichment to be had from such magnificent Shakespearean fauna.

I must warn you that if ABC TV does not rectify this deplorable omission, I am quite prepared to discipline those responsible for this monumental neglect! If Commission Masthead, Lord Talbot Duckmanton, is not willing to subject himself to a humiliating public act of retribution, I am willing to accept a token proxy in his place, someone sufficiently symbolic of the organisation’s ethos but none the less highly expendable. Tim, I believe that’s your cue to take one step forward …

Yours in good faith, flage-u-later,

SS

Mistress Sloane Snodgrasse
Dominatrix-General

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image

 

March 14th, 1992

‘Backchat’,

ABC-TV,

GORE HILL,
Sydney, NSW

Miss Sloane Snodgrasse,
87b Worthog Road,
CAREY GULLY SA 5144

Dear Miss Snodgrasse,

Tim is very busy at the moment, being tied up with various projects including writing his book on WWII, Hitler: South Hobart RSL’s Part in his Downfall, but he asked that we pass on his best wishes and commends you for your enthusiasm as an obviously avid viewer and supporter of the ABC.

Tim would like you to know that the National Broadcaster always appreciates any correspondence it receives from a fawning public and that every letter is valuable to someone, somewhere, at some time.

Yours sincerely,

D. Hemingway-Browne,

Personal Assistant,
‘Backchat’

 

 

Making News at the UNO 10 Years ago Today

Creative Writing, Media & Communications

Making news at the United Nations General Assembly 10 years ago today!

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P.I.R.I. News Archive

News Headlines in Thu 31 January 2005

imageDespotistan

Depotistani President Abudullah Mutawwa address to the UN: “We have no Homosexuals in Despotistan”

Depotistani President Abudullah Mutawwa in an address to the General Assembly of the United Nations vehemently denied that homosexuality existed in his country.

The announcement was met with a hushed silence from members of the Assembly, punctuated only by Mutawwa’s immediate follow-up: “They are all dead”. “We kill them all!” he somberly proclaimed with a deadpan face. Mutawwa instantly broke into a chuckle and apologised to the Assembly for making what he called his little “infidel joke”!

After an uncomfortable moment, Mutawwa added “Of course I did not mean it”, as if to reassure his audience. The President went on to say that, quite simply, such a thing as homosexuality did not exist in his devout Republic, stressing that it was totally alien to both Islamic and Despotistani culture. “We don’t have this problem in our society” he affirmed, adding, “This sort of thing happens in weak, decadent places like Texas and London … people like George Bush do that with other degenerate leaders from the West, especially Irishmen and Australians.”

“Despotistan is very liberal, peace-loving and tolerant society” he said. “In Despotistan, it is acceptable to have sex with a cat!”, he told the startled General Assembly, “as long as it is a Persian cat … but you cannot perform the “Beast with Two Backs” with members of your own genital group. It is forbidden. Allah would kill the offenders, and those members would have their members cut off! The God of all Gods would have them hanged, brought back to life and then torn apart limb from limb by rabid, frenzied wild camels!”

imageThe Despotistani President rounded off his UN speech by chanting the mantra “God is great, God is merciful” two hundred and fifty times in Ancient Akkadian.

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Email the President: goattorturer@repgov.dp

Down and Out in the Warrumbungles: Student Life at the University Coalface

Creative Writing, Media & Communications, Tertiary Ed

As aspiring students get ready to make the transition to university, it’s timely to take a look back at the story of a typical first-year undergraduate from the class of 2014 in a characteristic regional Australian tertiary education hub.

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The Centralian

All that’s new from the centre of the continentimage

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The pressure of being a fresher
By Kerry-Anne Wilderbeest
May 31, 2014

Manitoba can barely speak without erupting into a flood of tears! Her Reichian Gestalt Therapist has prescribed her sedatives to cope with depression and anxiety, and after this week it will only get worse.

The 23-year-old is one of thousands of first-year uni students who are careening headlong into what counsellors say is the toughest test of their academic careers – getting through their first end of semester exams.

Semester assessments may not seem at all daunting to those annoying little swotting tragics within the student body but to the less conscientious “party-animal” types, it produces visions of train wrecks and beads of sweat around the temples. According to the naturally warm and empathetic University of the Warrumbungles head counsellor, Dr Ethel Molestrangler, it is a flashpoint for many freshmen – when all the external pressures of starting a new chapter in life collides with the reality of coping academically at a tertiary level. Drop-out rates go through the stratosphere at this time of year, low-percentage subjects get ruthlessly dropped and uni counselling units become popular places for new undergrads to congregate.

DET figures show that about 75% of first-years are not sighted again after the end of ‘O’ Week, except episodically in the union bar. Of the 1800 freshmen who enrolled at UOTW in February last year, 1700 had stopped attending classes by Easter (200 of these however were members of the University’s Red Sea Pedestrian Walkers Club protesting against the sale of Vietnamese pork rolls in the University Food Hall during Passover).

“Things are really crook for me … I haven’t slept properly in about three weeks”, Manitoba moaned in a veiled reference to the poor quality of her Sealy Posturepedic, adding unhelpfully that that she needed to remind herself to phone the Bungles’ 40 Winks store to check on the mattress warranty.

At the beginning of the year, having jogged across Jogjakarta, Manitoba island-hopped all the way to the Warrumbungles to join her partner, Winsome Perving, and begin a degree in plant pathology. On top of trying to settle into a new home and earning well below the Henderson Poverty Line from her part-time night job as an exotic crops cultivator, Manitoba has to deal with the unfamiliarity of the Australian tertiary ed system. Having to bribe lecturers with dead fish to secure extensions on assignments has come as a real shock to a girl of her sensitivities.

Manitoba is desperate, this coming week she will sit three exams, two lab tests and submit four assignments as part of the first raft of assessments for her course. “If the University admino-fascists don’t allow my request to withdraw without penalty from half of my semester one program, I may have to chain myself to the Vice-Chancellor’s Rolls Royce … I want the entire administration to know that I’m fully prepared to engage in a futile and meaningless gesture if that’s what is required!”, she plaintively added.image
BREAKING NEWS!

Making News across the Globe from Nuut to Vladivostok

Creative Writing, Media & Communications

A look back at one of the big rating stories pulsating the length and breadth of the Primorsky Krai in 2005.

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Vladivostok Examiner

The World through the prism of the Far Eastimage

(English-language version)

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“Yes, I do read!” Cinnamon Girl protests

09:00 RFET Thu Sep 1 2005

NUUT – Metawati Semicomatoes, perhaps better known under her stage moniker, Enigmatic Cinnamon, is exasperated. She doesn’t understand why people say she is dead ignorant. She does read books in point of fact, the estranged wife of el bizarro boss of Mammoth Books Edwin Droog told the Examiner yesterday. “It’s only that as a young mother of three, I usually can’t finish them”.

“I often start a book but then I always get distracted by Romper Room or Late Night Poker, or its time to groom the boys, so I never seem to get the time to finish a book. I’m sure all mothers with three growing boys know where I’m coming from”, she confided in a revealing, exclusive interview.

“Of course we do read books together at home as a family. My two older boys, Hedwig and Caligula, both love reading stories about capital regrowth accounting, and I often read them fables at bedtime about the dangers of overreliance on long-term investment strategies”.

The Droogs’ third son, Kruiselnitski,image who at six months of age is considered by his mother to be too young to get into books. “I might get him straight on to the iPod instead. Someone in the family needs to learn how to use this damn technothingamee gadget, coz I ain’t got a clue!” the eloquent Metawati gushed.

Semicomatoes was a member of the mega-popular late 80s and early 90s heavy metal C&W girl rap band, the Cinnamon Girls. The question of her reading tastes came up recently when the Examiner’s sister newspaper, the Nuut Daily Soporific, quoted Metawati as saying, “I haven’t read a book in my life”, and going on to indicate a preference for listening to ambience music and reading 1950s American tractor repair manuals.

The busy single supermum went on to say that those people who think she spends all of her day provocatively walking round in high heels and fishnet stockings are dead wrong. “Trust me”, she added, “at home with nobody else around, we are just so incredibly normal!” In a rare moment of philosophical contemplation the aromatic former singer said, “All day long I always find myself just flat-chat, doing all the everyday stuff – supervising the maid’s duties, checking the answering machine and adjusting the temperature on the jazucci. Its just boredom, boredom, boredom, which fortunately for everyone is interrupted by the occasional outbreak of tedium!” she added cheerfully.

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2001: Making News in the Bigglesworth Daily Planet

Creative Writing, Media & Communications

Bigglesworth Daily Planet: The news, the whole news and nothing but the news from Lands End North

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Toxotes a reformed character after stretch in clink

Disgraced Tory peer’s penal ideas labelled ‘authoritarian in nature’ and ‘nunsense’ after speech at prison reform conference

Sid Caustic, home affairs editor, Thursday, September 29, 2001

Lord Godfrey Toxotes, who once fed a starving six-year-old East End urchin to a frenzied and baying rabble at a Conservative Party branch meeting, today delivered a thoughtful plea for prison reform. The conference, organised by the John Howard League and held at the Exclusive Rich Toffs Club at Oxminster, allowed Lord Godfrey to showcase his most audacious theories on a subject much on his mind recently, penal reform.

Toxotes noted that after two years incarceration in Club Wormwood Scrubs he felt qualified to offer the “big nobs” in Westminster one or two of his thoughts for their consideration. In his talk the former “guest at Her Majesty’s Pleasure” admitted that many may see his proposed reforms as a bit on the draconian side, but emphasised that he could never be called soft on capital punishment. Indeed, who could ever forget Toxotes’ strident demands when MP for Great Malvern Bottoms that the then Labour Government get tough on kindergarten rage.

Lord Godfrey defied his detractors, boasting he had a record of supporting prison reformers and other “do-gooders” and “loony lefties” ever since 1969 when they had helped him out with a spot of bother involving a couple of Toxotes’ colleagues in a Turkish jail, some mixup to do with crack cocaine. “Mind you”, he added, “I don’t know how these people got into the Conservative cabinet in the first place!”

Prison fancy dress!
One of the proposed reform schemes outlined by Toxotes involved rehabilitating incarcerated sexual offenders by having them whipped by scantily-clad nuns from the Order of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The life peer exclaimed, “if this doesn’t induce guilt in these vicious working class types for their heinous crimes, then I done know what will!” “At the very least, it will mess with the minds of the tykes amongst them”, he chortled. Lord Toxotes proceeded to explain that although he supported reform of the prison system he did not consider the present sentences punitive or excessive, adding that for capital punishments he favoured electrocution over beheading which is still in practice in some of the minor counties. “Much less messy, no residue”, he reasoned. “You must not ‘mollycoodle’ these transgressive elements of society. You must teach them a lesson they won’t forget in a hurry”.

Toxotes’ eloquently enunciated argument for penal reform was in marked contrast to the unconstrained broadside he launched against the Home Secretary and Director-General of the Prisons Service. The authorities, he fumed, had subjected him to “the shabbiest of treatment”, undeservingly so for “a man of his international stature who could number among his closest friends, Baroness Thatcher, General Pinochet, Rupert Murdoch and several ayatollahs”.

“Lord God” also bitterly complained that the authorities initially housed him in the notorious David Beckham Maximum Security Unit, where he was confined with murderers, terrorists and rapists.
Footnote: Fortunately he was able to make an accommodation of the “cross palms” variety with the governor and move to a low-security, luxury penthouse custody suite in a different part of the gaol. Here, the peer was able to observe at safe distance all manner of hardened proletarian criminality.

Frances Cockup, director of the Howard League, said that she supported a number of the peer’s ideas but she disagreed with his proposal that prison inmates should be coerced into taking part in “human tissue as art” experiments. She commented: “you can’t force prisoners to grow an extra ear on their elbow just because Lord Toxotes thinks it might be good for prison staff morale”.

imageMarkus Golightly, editor of the Prisoners Companion Handbook, labelled Lord Godfrey’s “Sister Lash” notion, “pure nunsense!” “Its a typically wacky Tory kind of policy'” Mr Golightly said, adding that “It wouldn’t be a bad thing if more prominent Conservatives got a taste of life on the inside, mixing with the hoi polloi, it might shake them out of their 1950s ‘born to rule’ timewarp …. or at the very least make them appear slightly more human”. _______________________________________________________________ Breaking News!
Tory Amos to stand for seat of Chutney Bottoms

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