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What old lag could possibly smile and feel a form of affection, almost homesickness, upon spotting a prison from his not-so-distant past and then offer almost a salute to the 19th Century edifice as he recalled happenings behind the barred windows?

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Ahoy, seafarer! ... The luxurious Latchmere House which has had almost as checkered career as many of its residents. Here it is back in its civilian state. Thanks to Wikipedia for this Ken Bailey shot.
Sad to admit, but here's me holding up a hand, as my old prison mates would put it, to such a crazy notion.

Has he really flipped his lid, or more likely been breaking prematurely PM Doris's lockdown rules over pubs and booze?

Relative insanity

That excuse for relative insanity won't do for your scribe has been teetotal for 20 years, 10 months, three days, and nine hours (not that anyone's counting).

However, sane or not, I really did experience a strange form of warmth yesterday as I stood at the gates of HMP Latchmere House, near Richmond.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
A Latchmere lodger ... The Capture of William Joyce, Germany, 1945. William Joyce lies in an ambulance under armed guard before being taken from British 2nd Army Headquarters to hospital. He had been shot in the thigh at the time of his arrest. Thanks to Wikipedia: Credit Hardy, Bert, No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit - http://media.iwm.org.uk/iwm/mediaLib//35/media-35946/large.jpg Catalogue number BU 6910 Database number 205192927
To be strictly accurate, I was actually sitting in a smart Zipcar, and that old prison as I knew it was certainly not looking back. On its foundations stood a decidedly upmarket mansion.

It was the last prison I was sent to in a crazy bout of injustice, and decidedly the best, because it was the final step before release.

An interrogation centre

A lot of notable folk had known that upmarket gentleman's residence since the 19th Century.

In the second world war, for example, it became an MI5 interrogation centre where Nazi agents were said to have been interrogated and apparently 'encouraged' to become double agents.

Several notable Nazi leaders were held there, including Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess and Lord Haw-Haw himself, William Joyce, the infamous Germany Calling radio voice in the war, before the state hanged him.

Why was I there?

A so-called justice system

I was one of probably many used by a totally dishonest and now abandoned customs department, aided by a so-called justice system that cares little for innocents ensnared in the, er, 'envy of the world'.

My fight for justice certainly continues, as my forthcoming book about the crooked prosecution and secret trial and long imprisonment will tell.

My sentence was 19 years but it was reduced considerably for 'good behaviour'.

The real reason is more than likely that the authorities saw through the gross dishonesty of that discredited government department.

I went home after eight years and a week – not that I had a home any longer. The State had snatched that along with my possession and life-savings.

However, sitting in the Zipcar yesterday, looking at my last prison, I recalled the amazing way it eased the return to society.

If you're willing, I'd like to tell you a little more of that very weird turn of events, all of which happened on the eve of my retirement from the sea, from my swallowing the anchor voyage.

Thanks very much for visiting the mostly Tuesday and Thursday blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, which are introduced each time on Facebook Facebook dot com/Sailingtopurgatory

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The blogs for Sailing to Purgatory are introduced on Facebook.