50 Shades of Grayling – or: The Ballad of (not) Reading (in) Gaol


Audio Version – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIiTHGBIz5s

If you’d been a victim of crime
And the perp was banged up, doing time
Then you wouldn’t give two fucks
If they weren’t allowed to have books

If some scumbag assaulted your wife
They can rot and have no books for life
If you’d been mugged and left there to bleed
So what if they won’t let em read?

And that stance would be normal, not sinister
Unless you’re the Justice Minister
Like Chris Grayling M.P. (tory)
Then it’s a different story

From what I understand
It was the issue of contraband
That prompted Grayling to ban books in their mail
So now no one can send books to people in jail

But for Dartmoor, Long Lartin and Armley
This rationale is quite barmy
For Holloway, Brixton and Belmarsh
This over-reaction is well ‘arsh

For when detained at her majesty’s pleasure
There can be much more to reading than leisure
Like in Alcatraz, that man had his birds
Well, maybe salvation can come, via words..

Oh, Breaking News, at Pentonville prison
In protest at Grayling’s decision
Seems that some inmates are rampaging, loose
And the whole of C-wing are stood on the roof

For a live reaction, an ex-Wormwood Scrubber
Known as Harry The Hatchet, but he’s since turned to Bhudda
So Harry, please can you describe
What life is like when you’re on the inside.

”Reading gives your brain something to do
Away from the drugs you got, bribing a screw”
So what you’re saying then is books can be educational
Rehabilitative and help matters, probational?

‘Yeah, you’re less likely to be giving some nonces a shankin’
If the missus has sent you the new Ian Rankin
You’re probably not going to go off all Charles Bronson,
With your head stuck into some Samuel Johnson

There was this one cell mate I had who could not read or write
All he did was smoke weed and fight
But then he got studying and proudly one night
Wrote his name on the wall, with his finger in shite”

Back to the protest where things have turned moody
They’re demanding a visit from Richard & Judy
So what do you think? Let us know where you stand
New books reinstated or should they stay banned?

If your shop was burned down in a riot
Why would you let them have reading and quiet?
If you’re suffering because of some thieving arseholes
Serves them right that books are banned from their parcels

They’ve ransacked some pensioners’ homes
Why should they have access to poems?
It’s no wonder that viewpoint’s arisen
Unless you’re in charge of a prison

Then this book ban seems perverse and sinister
Like Chris Grayling, the Justice Minister
And so with apols to Wilde, I’m re-naming this tale
The Ballad of Not Reading In Gaol

2 thoughts on “50 Shades of Grayling – or: The Ballad of (not) Reading (in) Gaol

  1. Interesting – shame Grayling not responsible for Scottish Gaols like Barlinnie where the rules will be different.

    Shame also Hindley YOI near Wigan is not better known, though I am not sure it is still open.

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