The spiel on the back page of the cover a kiss and tell from Jimmy Boyle: ‘She absolutely taught me how to love’.
Em, as my old da would say, fanny wash.
Sara in contrast has a whole book to tell the reader how it is or was. ‘At the end of the 1970s, I met and fell in love with one of Scotland’s best-known prisoners, Jimmy Boyle. Our two very different worlds collided in an unexpected way…’
I love books, but gave Trevelyan’s away after reading the first few pages. Obviously, it boomeranged back. Trevelyan would find something significant about that. In her world view nothing happens by accident. I stuck it in the toilet. I’ve read A Sense of Freedom (don’t remember much about it). And I was thinking about writing something with prisons in it. What irked me most here was the writing. No cliché goes unused.
‘I spent my teenage years on the sunny beaches of Australia. In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined myself living in Scotland and becoming the wife of such a notorious prisoner.’
We know about Jimmy Boyle. Myth and legend, he nailed a guy to the floor over an unpaid debt. Boyle’s crucifixion in the penal system. His rehabilitation in Barlinnie’s Special Unit.
For a bad yin, Jimmy did good. Nice house in the South of France. Property portfolio. Hobnobbing with gentry. Ditched Sarah Travelyan for Kate, a wee blonde Glaswegian. Said he was feeling a bit lonely. Asked Sara’s permission to meet someone else. She tries to be non-judgemental. If he wasn’t already fucking her then I’m a parrot. Inevitable, I’d say, but I’m cynical that way.
Sarah Trevelyan (she dropped the h from her name) is one of those open-book types (if you’ll excuse the cliché). The joy of being relatively wealthy is you get a second chance and then a third and so on. She trained as a physiotherapist. Didn’t make it. Trained as doctor in London. Came north, worked as a junior doctor in the psychiatric wards of a hospital in Edinburgh. Didn’t sit her exams. Left medicine to become a counsellor and psychotherapist.
Every experience needs to be channelled and learned from, if not in this life, in the one after. My reading of this and I’m sure she’d forgive me, because that’s where freedom is, she’s been taken for a ride. I’m OK. You’re OK.
Jimmy Boyle in the Special Unit is a different man from Jimmy on the outside. I’m sure they fell in love. I’m reminded of William Carlos Williams and Jack Gilbert’s different interpretations and poems about Icarus flying, yeh, he did fly, before he fell, before he drowned. Sometimes we forget that.
Then cynical old me is reminded of the number of women with access to prisoners, number of women that wears the crown of a real-life specimen of a medical doctor, number of women that say they are in love with the bantam cockerel of the Special Unit. Prison is a place where men don’t grow up until they leave. Jimmy in terms of outside years, remains an adolescent boy. Boy with hard on meets women that loves him. They lived happily ever after and have two kids, a boy and a girl.
After the divorce from Jimmy Boyle, Sara reverted to her birth name is one of the lucky few, let’s call them the upper to middle classes, her mother was a doctor, her father was, in effect, Britain’s film censor.
Prolepsis. Sarah before and after her broken heart went overboard with lots of stuff about bridges and crumbling bridges and pillars moving apart.
Sara flits from one course to another, taking stock and getting ready to face the world. Tibetan treks. Angel therapy. She gets a cottage near the Findhorn Foundation. I like her. It’s difficult not to. And I do wish her well. I send her my love out in waves of stamped- addressed envelopes (refundable). We need more people like her. And, let’s be honest, less people like Jimmy. I know he’s rehabilitated and all that, but he still sounds like a selfish cunt. He sounds a bit like me.
Let’s finish with something uplifting. It’s not all bad. Black matter may be the most common substance in the universe, that has no substance, but it’s the light of dying stars that show where we are, who we truly are. Sara in her quest of a new identity and real identity quotes Rama Krishna: ‘The winds of grace blow all the time. All we need to do is set our sails.’