Day 115 Saturday 10th November 2001 6.38am It's all an act. I am hopelessly unhappy, dejected and broken. I smile when I am at my lowest, I laugh when I see no humour, I help others when I need help myself. I am alone. If I were to show any sign, even for a moment, of what I'm going through, I would have to read the details in some tabloid the following day. Everything I do is only a phone call away from a friendly journalist with an open cheque book. I don't know where I have found the strength to maintain this facade and never break down in anyone's presence. The final volume of Jeffrey Archer's prison diaries covers the period of his transfer from Wayland to his eventual release on parole in July 2003. It includes a shocking account of the traumatic time he spent in the notorious Lincoln jail and the events that led to his incarceration there -- it also throws light on a system that is close to breaking point. Told with humour, compassion and honesty, it closes with a thought-provoking manifesto that should be applauded by the Establishment and prison population alike.
Prisoner number FF8282 completes his jailhouse trilogy (A Prison Diary, 2003, Purgatory, 2004). Following the pattern of earlier incarcerated writers such as Cervantes, Raleigh, Wilde and Hitler, Archer is now out and free. In this final volume, the diary of the former member of the House of Lords shows him captive for most of the time in a minimum security facility, a place Her Majesty's Prisoners (HMP) never "escape" from, though they may, sometimes, "abscond." A feature of the open prison, for those deserving, is town leave. Even then, though, there's still the stultifying bureaucracy he finds so tedious as the days pass and inmates come and go. Drug testing is a signal event, while noise and naughty language still offend his ever helpful lordship, still noble despite the inequities heaped upon him. He signs a "Change of Labour Request" as "The R T Hon The Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare," and the request is denied. Archer spends time editing and reediting another potboiler (Sons of Fortune, 2003) and hosting a Sunday tea club for older felons. He gets a sinecure as hospital orderly but is still beleaguered by a hostile press and spying inmates. Home Secretary David Blunkett remains deaf to his entreaties, and Mr. Justice Potts, who sentenced him (for perjury), continues to embody unbridled malevolence. Wife Mary remains stalwart, however, and Archer continues to appreciate good art, particularly a modern illustration for The Wind in the Willows depicting Toad in jail. Withal, he must endure "the prisoner's biggest enemy, boredom," a sensation of which he manages to convey quite effectively. Thus his "tariff" passes, from day 89 (15 October 2001) through day 457 (18 October 2002),when Archer, put back into a more secure prison, abandons his journal until day 725 (21 July 2003), when he's released. The R T Hon Lord is once more at large. We can only hope he reamains "on the out," never to serve again.
Jeffrey Archer was educated at Oxford University. He has served five years in Britain's House of Commons, fourteen years in the House of Lords and two in Her majesty's prisons, which spawned three volumes of highly acclaimed Prison Diaries. All of his novels and short story collections--including Kane and Abel, Sons of Fortune, and False Impression--have been international bestsellers. Archer is married with two children and lives in London and Cambridge.
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