Dawn. As the sun breaks through the chill of the night it lights up the sewage works opposite the custody suite. Steam rises from the farm and drifts unerringly toward the intake vents of our air conditioning unit. The stench is dragged unresisting into the building like a police officer into a pub on the promise of a pint and a kebab. It circulates within and mingles with the heady aroma of stale alcohol, uncleansed bodies and sweaty feet. A cocktail stench of biblical proportions. This place, say workers here, is the closest thing to hell on earth.
Everyone here is innocent. Maligned victims of alcohol and drugs they took voluntarily with little heed to the consequences. They lie here in various states of slumber only to rise, bang on doors and demand medication and meals to satisfy their human rights. Filled with self importance they claim respect and human rights whilst abusing the rights of the staff simply here to care for them. Like spoilt children, demands refused are repaid with caterwauling and continual door banging in the vain hope this will engender compassion from the staff.
Yet despite this experience they keep coming. By normal standards not a bad night. 27. But there will be more tomorrow and the day after.
As another Saturday night in custody draws to a close I found myself drawn to thinking of those who REALLY suffer. You may note a similarity to Micheal Buerk’s Ethiopia broadcast that led to Live Aid. It is wholly intentional. Whenever in a hole and feeling sorry for myself my mum would always say, “No matter how bad things may seem. There is always somebody worse off.” I’ve carried this into my adult life and tell my children the same. It is TRUE no matter what you may think at the time. We really don’t know how lucky we are. Most of us have homes and food and provision of healthcare. Yet the minute things get tough we complain bitterly, feel wronged and claim our rights are being violated. What about those in this country or elsewhere who have no home? What about those who are starving? I try very hard, and it is hard, to lead a humble life. But in comparison to many in the world I don’t lead a humble life… I lead an affluent one. Poverty and starvation have a known cure.
I look down my wings, listen to the complaining, moaning and demands for human rights. Rights that are simply not known to some people. I hope and pray to God that one day these people, despite their misdemeanours will find some humility and realise how lucky they are.