Thoughts on pretty lakes, pris­ons and pri­or­i­ties

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - OPINION | LETTERS -

I went for a walk yesterday. Ren­nie’s Mill brook was run­ning fast, green-grey.

It was rain­ing in a fair to mid­dling way but I grew up in Manch­ester, so a lit­tle driz­zle doesn’t faze me.

As I walked around Quidi Vidi Lake I was alone in the rain-sheeted twi­light. I hadn’t done the cir­cuit for a while so I was sur­prised to see earth mov­ing equip­ment and that a large swath of sod had been re­moved on the far side of the wa­ter.

Some large rocks were al­ready in place, for what I was not quite sure but they do look nice.

I rounded the lake and as I ap­proached the boat house, won­der­ing as I al­ways do why no one swims or kayaks in QVL, I came upon an­other ma­jor earth­work with large holes, new sewer pipes and lots of large Tonka trucks and I was forced to walk through what had been the park­ing lot.

Nor­mal stuff, I thought. Then I looked up at the HMP tur­ret, empty and fore­bod­ing. Then I got to think­ing, lots of money be­ing spent on fix­ing up a lake that is only crowded on Regatta Day and en­joyed sparsely the rest of the year.

There, up be­hind the wall, are men in mis­er­able con­di­tions, walled up in the grotesque blue prison that stands be­tween the lake and grave­yard.

As I passed the groomed grave­yard I won­dered about our pri­or­i­ties.

It’s a mat­ter of pub­lic record that the Pen is a Vic­to­rian hor­ror, a bed­lam in 2018. Why, then, don’t we put the cash into mak­ing into more liv­able be­fore we move rocks around the lake and fet­tle the sew­ers?

Pri­or­i­ties, I guess, but they didn’t ask me as far as I re­call and I’d be happy to forego my pleas­ant per­am­bu­la­tion around the lake if it pro­vided bet­ter liv­ing con­di­tions for the men in HMP.

I don’t doubt that many oth­ers would be of the same mind­set if they were asked.

Wil­liam Rad­ford St. John’s

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