This is a poem of great significance for me as it was the cause of my being banned from the library at HMP Highpoint, which meant no access to reference material and no access to computers for finishing my poetry. An officer decided that these verses were about her! Unbelievable but true; I have the proof if anyone is really interested and can afford to waste a couple of hours. The poem is clearly not aimed at any particular person but at those who, rather than trying to enhance their own lives, take delight in trying to diminish the lives of others. Her inability to see that was perhaps a sign of paranoia.

“Development of deeper diversity” is a typical prison system credo. “Toe by toe” was a prison programme put in place to help non-readers to read. The veiled reference to slavery underlines the little-appreciated fact that, in order for prisoners to be unlocked during the “core” day, they must work. For this work they are paid around £15 a week. Sometimes some prisoners are not allowed to work, as was my case at HMP High Down for three months. That is how you can end up locked up for 23 hours a day in an extended toilet shared with a stranger half your age. I did get an apology eventually, but they can never give me my three months back.

At High Down I finally began, after a few sad weeks in Healthcare, working in the Call Centre where, with bonuses, I made up to £41 per week – that is real prison wealth! Mostly I worked in Education at Highpoint and Hollesley Bay and enjoyed it, and even got qualified as a teacher at my own expense. The trouble is that when some officers see that you are actually participating in programmes assisting prisoners, getting treated with respect by both prisoners and prison workers and even smiling occasionally, they get envious. because their lives are miserable.

But Envy is all about those people whose opinions are obsessively influenced by what others have achieved rather than their own life experiences – those who condemn others apparently more fortunate than they are without knowledge of the facts – whether they be lawyers, jurors, policemen, journalists or voters.


O, how the mighty have fallen, so low

They who now slip through envy’s crack

Awaiting the final, fatal blow

From whiplash crash on weakened back

Has envy not extracted enough

From those once made of stronger stuff?

Where is their greater motivation?

That which moves these men to strive

To improve their life, their love, their station

They who do more than just survive

Why has society, so sore, forsaken

They who, maybe, were just once mistaken?

Bow your heads in shame, you evil envious

Think well before you dare to speak

Of things to which your mind is oblivious

Think on the wilful wrath you’ll wreak

O, praise the creations of those dumbed down

Who have refused to scrape before your crown!

And, so, we sing the anthem of mankind

Not that of a solitary, soulless nation

We need no narrow identity to find

We are of a prouder proclamation

That has appealed to many millions of men

Since time began and begins again

But, let it also be surely shown

In development of our deeper diversity

That the art of the elite or the great unknown

Will ever triumph over this adversity

Though they may suffer these arrows and slings

That egregious envy humanity brings

They burn by night these jealous fires

Or bide by day by smoky screen

Truth destroyed on funeral pyres

Envy invades any scandalous scene

Though the righteous few may not envy fear

The trusting pay their frankness dear

All can be envied of they who rise

The weak, the strong, the friend, the foe

The used, abused, accused by lies

O, shine light on their fight – their toe-by-toe!

Leave newspapers of hatred on their shelves

That they may keep their envy to themselves