Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Article excerpt

I ARRIVED at the prison last week to find a car - a battered BMW of the no-tax-and-insurance model - parked outside. In it sat two young male AfroSaxons of the gold-front-tooth persuasion playing the car wireless so loudly that the tarmac juddered to the beat of what I suppose I must call the music. The lyrics were simple, repetitious and easily memorised, even by those with the attention span of a British government minister: FOK DA SIS-TEM, FOK DA SIS-TEM, FOK DA SIS-TEM. Compared with this music, of course, the compositions of Webern were positively tuneful.

I must admit that I have myself sometimes entertained doubts about the system. Any system, after all, capable of producing such a loathsome racket must be pretty rotten, as must any system in which people can tolerate it for longer than the very briefest of moments; but any system that actually permits it so to pollute the environment is - well, near to final collapse.

Once in the prison, I came across further compelling evidence of the thorough rottenness of the system. I saw several prisoners, all in their early twenties, who were addicted to heroin, and all of them malnourished, with the purple tongues and cracked angles of the mouth that bespeak prolonged vitamin deficiency. One of them was so emaciated and rachitic that I could not refrain from saying something.

`If a press photographer took a picture of you in that condition when you left prison, everyone would conclude that we were running a concentration camp and demand its closure.'

The prisoner, who was far from stupid, told me I was right.

`Then why are there no calls to close British society down? …

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