hey bigmoose blog readers, cheers for pressing the button, how was your week?
seriously, how was it?
out of 10?
hmmm, not bad, not bad at all, but wait until the end of this weeks blog, and watch this weeks darren hardy video about having no regrets, i guarantee you will be inspired to raise next week up a notch, let me know if you do.
and talking about notches, one of my buddies, who shall remain nameless (doogie) text me today telling me since he has been dieting and running preparing for the cardiff half, that he has had to buy new jeans as he has lost 3.5 inches on his waist, and is nearly back to a 32" waist which was last seen twenty years ago, great job rory coleman getting us training hard and eating well.
if you read this blog friday morning i will hopefully just pulling off the m4 to head to regent street for some work, so i am writing my blog thursday night, and as such zero coffee, we'll see if it has any adverse effects, although after just watching an episode of bojack horseman he has a hip flask with pappy van winkle bourbon in it, which i vaguely remembered being a super expensive tipple, and a quick check on 'the google' suggested an rrp of £167 per bottle, but luckily it was sold out, however it had me fumbling in the drinks cabinet for some sourmash of my own.
now i don't really drink these days with all the training i do, but every now and then it's nice to have a little sip, and i wanted to reflect on kris kings tanzanian trip, and toast him as he heads for africa to run up mount kilimanjaro.
kris likes a fine whisky, but i shall toast him with some of kentucky's grain based amber splosh.
last night me and kinger skyped each other as he left his training base in chamonix and set off across the world to his challenge, and even though i know he'll read this, he was the most nervous i had ever seen him, and when we chatted about his plan should the worst happen, i think the enormity of his challenge hit us both, and i won't lie, it was pretty emotional when that skype plink plonk noise sounded.
i will be controlling kingers social media, and feel very honoured that he trusts me to write for him, and if you want to keep up with his challenge on his facebook page below, the new guy writing for him is like billy shakespeare i kid you not!
so, kinger, i salute you man, good luck and may you climb safe.
so bigmoose wise this week has been fun filled week, working on project pritch, details soon to be announced, and meeting up with my mate everest summiteer tori james, who since i last saw her has got married, and her husband has been shot.
yes you read right, been shot.
he went to a wedding in new york, (obviously new york!) with his pal, as tori was working, and whilst in their hotel room, the guy next door who claims he was cleaning his gun shot it right through the adjoining door in a style of a certain institutionalised paralympian, hitting a radiator, and finally grazing his leg, totally bizarre, but just shows how crazy life is, and a slightly different angle of the gun could have been catastrophic, but fortunately he survived to use the free vouchers the hilton gave him with his new wife, the lovely tori.
talking of institutions, that leads me into my main story in this weeks blog.
recently my friend georgina jones, who i have mentioned here before, as the one pushing me to speak publicly, and tell people about bigmoose, suggested i meet a chap by the name of greg fisher at her majesty's prison cardiff, and she informed me he was doing some great work there.
greg's role is head of industries, and as such he is responsible for a myriad of things it seems, from initiating relationships with commercial partners outside the prison, to working internally establishing new ways of working to integrate prisoners into britain 2015.
as i drove into the prison car park i was ten minutes early, and enjoyed the warmth in arriving with enough time to assemble my things to take with me as well as my thoughts, all started well.
unfortunately the next thirty minutes were to result in me creating two situations one of which i was informed could have resulted in me becoming an inmate in said establishment for a two stretch, the details of which could potentially cause mr fisher some embarrassment were i to reveal them here, so not the best start to a meeting!
fortunately, the sun shone, things picked up, and greg and i have similar passions, and i hope we get to work together, and share some cool stories with you guys.
greg took me on 'the tour' which i'm sure he had done hundreds of times, but to a prison newbie like me i was amazed by the things they have going on.
we went through gate after gate and door after door, and i subconsciously thought how does he remember all the key configurations, until my brain, slightly bruised after the potential furore i had nearly caused, and the thought of porridge for 730 mornings on the bounce, realised they were all the same key, derrr man i am so dumb sometimes.
i refocused to where we met danny who was being released next week, and he told me about his daughter who was having chemo, and had kidney problems, and how he was gonna do a skydive to raise money for her, and i automatically kicked into telling him how i skydive, and that my daughter has kidney problems and i know roy thomas the kidney wales grand fromage, and they would love him to skydive for them, and that danny through greg should get in touch with me when he gets out and i would help him take his idea forward, how cool!!!
danny was working assembling stuff for the commercial world outside the walls for one of the contracts the prison has negotiated.
we then entered a workshop where they have a replica ats tyre facility, with ramps, tyre fitting apparatus, etc, which the inmates train on, and enables the good ones to attend interviews with ats at the end of their sentences to get employment, a great idea.
in the same area was a bicycle repair area, where bikes that have been stolen and not reclaimed, as well as old scrappers get repaired and recycled (see what i did there??)
the bikes then either go to a local partner cycle shop where they are sold, and profits are shared or the less saleable ones get sent abroad to i think it was rumania.
this was where i met 'stereo', aka billy hiscox, who works on the bikes, and is being released on wednesday, and we spoke about 'stereo's' future, and how outside 'the gate' it was difficult to get help and guidance on how to apply these new found skills, and this often resulted in old patterns emerging, and reoffending to happen.
now this isn't my forum to get political, but my hand was grabbing my business card for billy, and i told him to call me, and although i couldn't promise anything, i would definitely try to help, even if just giving him support of someone to talk to.
as i shook billy's hand, and headed towards our next department, i worried whether i was going to engage with every prisoner, and if i had enough business cards!!
i told greg this, and mentally told myself to reign it in, myself swore at myself, and told myself what will be will be :)
the tour had facilities to learn painting, decorating, tiling, bricklaying, and other hands on skills, but it was the department for the prisoners who were the most docile, and had mental issues that moved me most, and greg informed that they had introduced classes which i saw taking place, that were designed to encourage these inmates, who wouldn't want to leave their cells, and suffered all manner of psychological problems, which inevitably resulted in them being released, only to reoffend as they were scared of the outside world, and preferred having security, discipline, and order inside, as opposed to the challenges outside the gate offered them.
greg asked one of the guys to tell me how the classes had helped, and as the guy explained that he no longer felt suicidal, and felt more confident, and able to look people in the eyes, i swallowed hard.
i think it was the suicide bit that got me, and greg told me that in his previous role as a warden he had to cut two people down, which really affected him, and my mind questioned my role on this planet.
the next department was the i.t. section, and they have one floor that teaches the inmates to repair and recycle old computers, which are then sent to africa for schools, and there was video of children thanking everybody for their computers, which i didn't see, but was quite glad, as i was pretty emosh by this point.
i chatted to becky who was in charge and asked about whether they taught coding, which they didn't and i mentioned that one of my i.t. guys had suggested that i.t folk would generally prefer to donate their time to charities rather than donate the equivalent worth, and becky agreed coding could be a thing.
the next facility implemented by greg, allows inmates to train for work with network rail, no pun intended, and took the form of a full size section of train track which gives total work experience whilst inside, and allowing inmates to transfer said skills upon their release, amazing stuff.
the last but one thing i was shown was a proper, full size, state of the art print shop, producing top quality professional work, and allowing contracts to be fulfilled in a commercial manner, and with a team of inmates who tried to upsell to me when i expressed an interest in a project i would love them to work on for me, watch this space.
finally greg showed me the open air facility, that had a beautifully clean and well kept run with chickens in it, and a massive garden, that produces most of the fruit and veg for the restaurant the prison runs, called 'the clink'.
i didn't see the restaurant, but i believe the food is amazing, and i have tried at least three times to book, but there have been no reservations available, which i actually love, and i can't wait to eat there even more now.
so, as i went back through the gate, my mind was exploding with ideas, and in the time until now i have had two ideas, one of which is that i have just got confirmation from my running coach rory, and confirmed with greg, that we are going to start to get a running programme put together for inmates, details to be discussed, but extremely exciting for the three of us, and hopefully you can watch this progress.
the other idea, going back to the i.t coding plan, i have spoken to the man who built the software for my business, turning it from a dream to a reality, team bigmoose member, antoine kurukchi, who has suggested that we can provide a coding programme of work which will get inmates to a coding standard that they can actually design webpages, which will hopefully be very rewarding, and lead them onto other things, pretty amazing i reckon, nice one ant :)
so, all in all a pretty rewarding tour, and i think that greg and i will definitely do some bigmoose stuff together, and i hope we can share it with you, and possibly keep inspiring you to rock your world, and leave it better than we found i, and if you are a business that would like more details on anything please get in touch, but for now check out what darren is saying.
i hope that inspired you, so until next week, i'll be seeing ya,
cheeky p.s. i have this morning (friday) tweeted the leader of cardiff council, phil bale, and he is going to meet greg for 'the tour' thank you twitter :)