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Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan
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Oct 13, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: chasingmytail, comicgenius, gifteduponme, i-fought-the-law, staffpicks
Recommended for: those who appreciate human beings
Read from October 13 to 17, 2010 , read count: very many

In 1939 sixteen year old IRA man Brendan Behan was arrested holding explosives which he was going to use to blow up the Liverpool docks, to strike a blow for Ireland against its age long imperial oppressor. Held on remand at Walton Prison, he was ex-communicated and suffered the occasional beating from the "screws". Sentenced to serve time in England's Borstal system for young prisoners, he was thrown in amongst the dregs of the British Empire, and found them to be splendid fellows.

"John Howard, the Quaker, invented solitary [confinement] they say. He must have had terrible little to do. These religious bastards, they have empty minds on account of not going in for sex, or sport, or drink, or swimming, or reading bad books. And Satan will find work for idle hands. To hell with him anyway. I always get grateful and pious in good weather and this was the kind of day you'd know that Christ died for you. A bloody good job that I wasn't born in the South of France or Miami Beach, or I'd be so grateful and holy for the sunshine that St. Paul of the Cross would be only trotting after me, skull, crossbones and all."

"But like that again, from my point of view I was as comic as I was pathetic and as comic as I was sinister; for such is the condition of man in this old world (and we better put up with it, such as it is, for I never saw much hurry in parish priests in getting to the next one, nor on parsons or rabbis, for the matter of that; and as they are all supposed to be the experts on the next world, we can take it that they have learned something very unpleasant about it which makes them prefer to stick it out in this one for as long as they can).

If there is a next world, and I'm offered the choice of where to spend my eternity within it, my choice will be simple; I'll just ask the honcho "which part is Brendan Behan in, and which part is Pat Robertson?", and follow Brendan Behan.
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