A bit of a Stretch by Chris Atkins
I have taken to listening to Audible books when I walk my dog. I’ve even listened to some that are so good that my dog has tapped me on the leg and begged me to take him home!
“Please Mum, can we go, my paws are battered and I’m an inch shorter” he said recently.
I was listening to ‘A Bit of a Stretch’ by Chris Atkins, which is also narrated by him.
It was brilliant, really funny, really insightful but really, really sweary – and I don’t mind a bit of blue. I guess prison talk isn’t going to be all sweetness and light, and to be fair, it was in keeping and not jarring once you get used to it.
Chris Atkins is a filmmaker and, in the pursuit of his art, ended up on a tax dodge to raise funds for his next movie. The tax dodge cost him five years in Wandsworth Prison. We join him as he is taken down and we then spend the following months with him as he settles into prison life. We meet his ‘pad mates’, each of whom has their own funny stories. Atkins soon gets in with the more normal, but still as guilty prisoners, so thankfully it’s not a violent story.
The sorry state of our prisons is enough of a story on it’s own. Our sad lack of rehabilitation, education, health care and support for those mentally ill is criminal in itself. At no point does Atkins moan about his lot, he knows he did it to himself, but we know throughout his journey that he will be fine upon release. It’s heartbreaking and anger inducing to think what will happen to the vast majority.
We leave Atkins as he heads out to open prison to complete his sentence.
I wholeheartedly recommend that you listen to this, so much so that I have bought several copies of the book to distribute to family and friends, who are not on Audible, or tech savvy enough to be able to be, i.e., my Mum. It wasn’t until she asked me if I had mixed up the books with someone else that I remembered with a twisted grin that my Mum and C bombs don’t really fit together.