Who is Graham on……….


“ A propensity to hope and joy is real riches: One to fear and sorrow, real poverty.”

( David Hume )

Someone once said to me that they didn’t know how I did it ( prison ) and that there must be something waiting for me at the end ( I took this to mean someone ’special ‘) Well, the short answer is that , bar a few loyal members of my family and a few friends, there is nothing and no-one ‘special’ who will be waiting for me at the gate ( or the doors of the Court of Appeal ). When I get out it will be ground zero. No money, no prospects, I’m pretty much on my own…how exciting will that be!

So how do I ‘do it’ ? One word – hope. I believe that this is something innate in us all. It’s only the vagaries of life that knock it out of some people. As unwelcome as it is, prison has just become another chapter in my life. Another obstacle to overcome. Another character defining challenge. It would be all to easy to drown in the injustice of my incarceration and the oppressive nature of this environment; and turn into all that I despise – negative, bitter and angry. This will never happen.

To be able to generate hope in the most adverse and relentlessly spirit- crushing environment you have to embrace the unpredictability and, at times, callousness of the justice and penal system. I find myself saying to many of the guys in here – “ there’s always hope”.

“ Nil desperandum”

( Horace )

Never despair.

Hope in prison requires self- discipline, focus and patience. It requires a strength of character which only reveals itself through adversity.

“Into each life some rain must fall,

Some days must be dark and dreary.”

(Henry Wordsworth Longfellow)

We all know as day follows night, sunshine follows rain. Without the darkness of life there would be no light to illuminate the beauty.

So, without hope what is there? A lifetime of negative expectations? One of the joys of life is our ability to imagine and to dream.

“To see a world in a grain of sand

And heaven in a wild flower

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour”

(William Blake)

It is a little ironic that I’ve had to go on this prison journey for my hopes and dreams to become so lucid. So, whilst there is nothing and no-one ’ special ’ waiting for me at the end, just the expectation of the unexpected gives me hope and keeps the light bright in my eyes.

“I’m not a dreamer…but I believe in miracles.

I have to.”

(Terry Fox)

With hope comes miracles. With miracles comes rebirth. With birth comes hope. This is how I ’do it’.

Graham Coutts, 28th April 2015

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