Jailed press magnate Conrad Black - one year into a 6½ year sentence for fraud - is having a great time in his Florida prison. Or at least so he says. According to the Candian National Post, whose Peter Worthington recently spent five hours (!) talking to him in the visitors room, he rises each morning at around seven and then,
I eat some granola and go to my workplace where I tutor high school-leaving candidates, one-on-one, though sometimes I have to deal with up to four at a time, around my desk, and talk with fellow tutors and other convivial people.
The "fellow tutors" are presumably other convicted fraudsters, and perhaps the odd college-educated drug smuggler. According to Worthington, one "distinguished looking inmate" was previously a senior figure in the Republican party in Kentucky. Another was "an officer on a nuclear submarine who got nailed for financial reasons."
I lunch around 11am with friends from education, work on e-mails, play the piano for 30 to 60 minutes, return to my tutoring tasks by 1pm, return to my unit at 3pm, deal with more e-mails, rest from 4pm to 6pm, eat dinner in the unit then, and go for a walk in the compound or recreation yard for a couple of hours, drinking coffee well made by Colombian fellow residents.
I wonder what the Colombians might possibly be in for?
I have also met many interesting people from a variety of backgrounds that were somewhat unfamiliar to me, but are no less interesting for that, and have been quite informative in some ways.
Careers advice, perhaps?
I come back into the residence about 8.30pm, deal with e-mails and whatever, have my shower etc, around midnight, read until 1-1.30am and go to sleep.
So, in that hectic schedule, at most 4 hours might count as "work"; and tutoring under-educated inmates, while no doubt brain-numbing, can scarcely be compared with breaking rocks. All my fondest notions of the US penal system are in danger of being crushed.
All this talk of "fellow residents" and "friends from education" suggests Black has an Archer-like capacity to live in a world of his own delusions. He still hopes to get off - "Being found guilty does not imply guilt" he claims. He makes his new home sound like a cross between on Oxford college and a luxury hotel - only with more interesting people. Perhaps he's just relieved to be away from his wife. Or maybe it comes down to his finely-honed sense of irony. Probably:
My circle hasn't so much changed as expanded. The people I mainly see here are often not unlike people I might know outside.
What can he mean? That most of the people he used to associate with were crooks? That may be the closest to an admission of his own guilt we're ever likely to get.