Chris’s blog: Negative equity

“Start with I thought LandWorks was weird, proper weird. It’s still a bit odd, Chris.”

…he sniffs, scrunching a fag end between his fingers.

You’re a bit posh, I’m more council house me, you like them olives”. Tab end pings to the ground, touching an olive stone.

I manage to quell the urge to drop me H’s, do a bizarre and frankly embarrassing ‘Dick Van Dyke cor blimey I’m a loveable cockney’ routine. I cringe, thinking I may have heard myself sort of do this… I guess I want to fit in, to be accepted.

But then so does he.

“I ain’t got nothing when I get out. I don’t want to mess up but I got nothing.”

The two of us are the same age; our life paths have criss-crossed; similar work. In a world that often measures success by materialistic gain, or what could be seen as one’s economic capital, he is truly frightened for his future and finds it hard to identify any place for himself out of prison.

If I am honest, I can pinpoint times I’ve felt similar fears; maybe we all feel this. If you are fortunate you have support from your social group, family and friends, your social capital.

Chris I ain’t really into this f#@king hippy arty bollocks stuff, I ain’t doing it”….

Few days later….

Hey hey hey look at this… look at my bowl, feel how smooth that wood is Chris, gooo on touch it. I ain’t never made nothing like it. Can I give it to me Mum?

Bowl hand-crafted by LandWorks trainee
Bowl hand-crafted by LandWorks trainee

He looks so pleased holding the bowl aloft, accepting the cheering and praise from us all.

As you know, Plymouth University are evaluating the project and I have been introduced to a more acceptable sociological term for ‘Hippy Art Bollocks stuff’… cultural capital.

Encouraging individuals to experience new influences, developing and valuing pro-social behaviour. Moving away from anti-social behaviour.

We’ve done it from the start; we just didn’t have a name for it. Always believing it to be core to LandWorks, an essential ingredient to supporting reintegration.

“I’m cooking tomorrow Chris”. We’re sitting together, chairs pushed back, digesting our lunch. He adds, “Bit new to me, all eating together, never done it with people who is straight, I enjoyed that today”.

 I offer him an olive…

F#@k off Chris.

Chris


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