This is the second article in a series of four written by Jeremy to mark the anniversary of 26 years wrongly convicted and 27 years wrongly imprisoned.
“I wanted to share some reflections on what I might have done with my life career wise had I not come to prison. My earliest memory about what my future career would be is that I wanted to be an astronaut, it seems a bit stupid saying that now, except that I had grown up with the Apollo space launches and I had watched the first moon landing live on T.V and heard those memorable words from the late Neil Armstrong, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I think I was 8 or 9 years old when I heard those words and it seemed to me that exploring space was the obvious thing to want to do.
There were no street lights around where we lived, so the dark nights meant we could see a million stars in the sky. Dad had learnt to navigate his aircraft using the stars and he would teach me different constellations and the names of particular stars if we were out on a clear night. Dad told me the night sky was important for many reasons, and he always had exciting stories to tell about the moon. I believed the Clangers lived on the moon along with the Soup Dragon and he would make stuff up to make the night sky even more magical. So when I’m peering out between the bars on my window at the night sky I’m hoping to glimpse a star I can recognize, but the prison lights are always blazing, so I’m lucky if I can see one or two stars in the tiny section of sky available to me.
Star gazing would have become a great hobby as I knew from a young age that I’d be a farmer. Dad inspired me with the wonder of growing the things that made our living and he understood that to engage my interest it had to be on an intellectual basis as well as practical and that’s why I enjoy my time in the Braille workshop. Braille can be tricky to learn how to read and write and there is nothing else like it. So there are no skills you have already that allow you to read a single letter – what you look at are effectively a series of tactile dots, as each character is created from 6 dots.
Had I not come to jail I would never have become a skilled Braillist, and I enjoy every moment I am doing it because I know that this will set minds free from the darkness of blindness. It gives my life a value too so that the injustice I’m suffering seems bearable and in many ways my 'career' has been the lifetimes work I have spent seeking for evidence to prove my innocence among the case documents. Searching for truth and working towards freedom helps me to focus on the future in a way that nothing else does.
You never know what is around the corner, but whatever life deals for you it’s important to make as much as possible from each moment. Jail has made my horizons small compared with the dreams I had as a boy and the freedoms I had on the farm.
A quote from Richard Lovelace (1618-1658) inspired me to write:
“Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage,
Life innocent and youthful take,
That freedom’s won’t assuage.”
It’s about never getting the time back, but it’s no excuse to blame circumstance for wasting the time we have. I miss everything from my life before jail, and will enjoy those things that freedom brings but I also hope that I can look back and miss much from jail with few regrets but only time will tell.”
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