would appear that the only way hardened criminals can go “straight” after
being released is by having a “tell all” autobiography published. This
week’s book is one of those. Blink (ISBN 978-1-780-57575-9, Mainstream
Publishing, 2012) is the story of a Glaswegian, Ian MacDonald, as narrated
to ghost writer David Leslie.
The book begins with Ian MacDonald relating his childhood. It is almost pure
psychological case textbook stuff, with a drunken abusive father eventually
turned out by his mother, expelled from school in his teens, to hang around
street corners and associating with petty criminals, to then being picked up
himself and sent to borstal (junior prison) by the time he was 16 years old.
By the time he was 21 he had made up his mind to be a career criminal, and
with the ‘easy’ pickings of petty thievery as his apprenticeship, he marched
on from there.
What is interesting, is that despite incarceration in borstal (Scottish
junior prisons) which did produce “black holes of depression and emptiness
after visits from the family,” and heavy attention from the police, this was
no deterrent for the youngster, so it can be argued that the penal system is
not producing the correct end results. But what does? Of even more interest
is the fact that his two younger brothers all followed him into lives of
crime, incarceration, crime and incarceration. Ian MacDonald musing that the
three brothers never experienced freedom at the same time.
During his (many) stays in prison, MacDonald describes incidents of
brutality by the warders, and when on those rare occasions he was ‘outside’,
police brutality. However, brutality by criminals seems to be accepted, and
many murderers were his “good friends” such as the Kray brothers.
His insight of himself is extremely poor. He comes across as an aggressive
psychopath, but then writes, “I have never sought out trouble, it just seems
to follow me.”
It is difficult to understand the criminal mind, but this quotation might
guide you, “David is unfortunately serving life after being convicted of
murdering a guy in a Cumbernauld garden center.” That one sentence (pardon
the pun) is almost enough to show the mind-set of the hardened criminal. It
hangs on the word “unfortunately”. The word should have been “deservedly”,
but when you have spent your entire life unabashedly thieving one obviously
gains a different viewpoint. A sad reflection I am afraid.
For B.545, this book reads as a directory of criminals, with every page
having mentions of his relationships with similar law-breakers. Another type
of society populated by gangs who owe their allegiance to differing groups
based on religion, drug territory or even opposing football teams. The
lifestyle was one of spend, spend, spend with the money coming from theft
and drugs, but hedonism was certainly more attractive than any form of
gainful employment. This is probably true for us all, but somehow childhood
lessons of cause and effect keep the rest of us on the straight and narrow.
This book shows that Ian MacDonald did not learn those lessons.
If you come from Glasgow Scotland, read this book and feel embarrassed.