04 Oct 08

Job & Reading

I just returned from Harley Street, London where I met the owner of a counselling and education services company. He offered me a job travelling around England speaking to thousands of young people about my life experiences in the hope of alerting them to the dangers of drug use. This is a good karma thing to do, so I am going for it.
He said the average age of the audience is 17 (almost at the age when I popped my first Ecstasy pill), and the average audience size is 150. I will be speaking for an hour total per presentation, divided into 40 minutes about my life, and then a 20-minute question and answer session. He wants the 40 minutes about my life divided into three sections: the events that led up to my crimes, what I actually did, and what the consequences were.
So if all goes well, the youth of England will soon be hearing about Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s red death, green bologna, pink boxer shorts, and las cucarachas. Having this blog will help because they’ll be able to check out Jon’s Jail Journal for themselves, which should further hammer the message home.

I shall be returning to London on the 20th of October to do my first reading. I am a guest at the Koestler Exhibition in the Southbank Centre Royal Festival Hall. I shall be reading some of my story “Amazing Grace,” which won first prize in the Koestler/Hamish Hamilton awards short story fiction category.
Admission is free. Here’s the specific information:

Monday 20 October 7:30 – 9:30pm
Blue Room, Spirit Level
Southbank Centre Royal Festival Hall
Belvedere Road
London SE1 8XX
Switchboard: +44 (0)871 663 2501
Ticket Office: +44 (0)871 663 2500

Poetry and fiction by offenders. Reading by Koestler Award judges and Not Shut Up, a magazine of writing from London prisons. Admission free. No ticket required.

I don’t yet know the exact time I’ll be doing my reading, but I will post further information when it becomes available.

Email comments to writeinside@hotmail.com or post them below

Shaun P. Attwood


Sue O. (aka Joannie, SS) said...

Woo hoo!! Good for you...knew it would happen, only a matter of when!

Anonymous said...

Does this mean you are now off the dole? Go for it! Sounds good.

Weird Al

Jayne D said...

Way to go, Shaun!! It's all really happening for you. Enjoy this time!!

Chris Phoenix said...


Hm... you'll have an interesting point to resolve in structuring your message... although you did do drugs, and did get caught, many of your subsequent experiences were the result of a vile punitive system (I say this as an American) rather than an appropriate response to your crimes.

So you might say that e.g. the cockroaches were a result of doing drugs - which is stretching a point and which takes pressure off Arpaio...

Or you could say that the arrest and incarceration were a result of doing drugs, but that Arpaio made it a lot worse than it should've been - which implicitly argues that you should've received lighter treatment for your drug use...

Or you could say that, whatever the consequences, they were part of the legal system you lived under, and it was your bad judgment to do the drugs - which implies that doing drugs would be less bad judgment in, say, England...

Or you could sidestep some of the above by talking about Arpaio's policies in terms of their effect on other prisoners - which is not quite what they're paying you to do...

Of course, there are ways to gloss over such points to that the audience thinks about what you want them to think about, instead of being tripped up by relatively subtle points like the above. American politicians sidestep far more glaring issues all the time.

If you have a viewpoint that actually resolves the above issue, I'd be curious to hear it.


Anonymous said...

Jon, off topic:

Considering the built-in cruelty that so often is a part of politics, declaring any campaign the "worst ever" is dicey territory. There are lots of candidates for the title.

That said, the effort to destroy - not simply beat, mind you, but utterly destroy - the Democratic candidate for Maricopa County sheriff this election will stand among the most demeaning political efforts we have witnessed.

For their salacious attacks on Dan Saban, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the character assassins dwelling at Arizona Republican headquarters should be ashamed of themselves, if it were possible.

The Arizona Republic firmly believes that, if elected, Dan Saban would make an effective and professional county sheriff.

Retaining the self-serving, Grand Guignol circus surrounding "America's Toughest Sheriff," on the other hand, would gain the county neither competence nor professionalism.

It would gain voters a continuation of the parade of pratfalling sycophants surrounding Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to say nothing of the tens of millions of dollars lost in lawsuits, and the completely unnecessary alienation of entire communities of Arizonans.

Let us repeat: The unnecessary alienation of thousands of perfectly legal Arizona citizens.

By retaining Arpaio, voters will likewise retain his retinue of double-dipping lieutenants whose sole justification for their bloated salaries appears to be their ability to dig up dirt on their boss' political foes. They'll get to keep the venal, petty "media spokesmen," who take exquisite delight in denying press releases to small newspapers that dare to displease them.

They'll get another four years of headline-grasping assaults on American liberty, such as Arpaio's infamous 2006 SWAT team invasion of the home of Maricopa County Schools Superintendent Sandra Dowling - an attack that ultimately netted a misdemeanor charge against Dowling for hiring her own daughter to a minimum-wage job. Oh, and a $1.75 million Dowling lawsuit against Arpaio and the county. Another lawsuit to throw on the pile.

In a perfect world, Arizona voters would come to see the costly trade-off of electing their law enforcers and would choose to hold their county board of supervisors accountable for selecting a true pro. Is the mystique of this perpetually angry and intolerant man really that important to the prosecution of crime? Other communities find and hire sheriffs and police chiefs whose primary duty is law enforcement, not self promotion.

Regardless, voters have before them an opportunity to "hire" a tough law enforcer who has no interest in rolling like a tank over his political opponents and other citizens. Voters can hire Dan Saban on Election Day.

The former police chief of Buckeye, Saban has more than three decades of law-enforcement experience in Arizona, most of it with the Mesa Police Department, which he departed as a commander, functionally in charge of hundreds of department personnel.

Saban last ran against Arpaio in 2004 - a Republican primary despoiled by many of the same rancid and twisted personal accusations recently resurrected by Arpaio's functionaries in the Republican Party. The strength of character it takes to march, yet again, through that gauntlet of personal vilification says volumes about Saban. He's standing up to the sheriff's toadies.

Despite his foibles, Joe Arpaio enjoys great popularity. He has money and notoriety. In many respects, he is bigger than life.

All that given, it takes a remarkable smallness of character to allow the county's Republican Party to attack Saban the way Arpaio let GOP Chairman Randy Pullen, et al, attack the sheriff's opponent last week. And make no mistake about it: Arpaio could have, and should have, condemned their slime and forced them to stop. He did not.

Dan Saban has proved his worth as a cop on the job. Now, Maricopa County voters have the opportunity to elect a lawman, not a showman.

They should use it. The Republic strongly supports Dan Saban for Maricopa County Sheriff.


Jon said...


By presenting my story to them, I feel, the consequences of abusing drugs will register in quite a shocking way. I take full responsibility for putting myself in pink boxer shorts, and I don't intend on getting sidetracked into legal issues. Just telling them what happened to me and what the consequences of my actions were (including the hurt to my family) will allow them to form their own opinions. The fact that the conditions I experienced were horrendous, should at the very least make them think about the consequences should they be offered drugs.

Shaun Attwood

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Shaun. I think this is a great oppertunity for you, and the young people of England. Your a bigger person then I am, and I'm happy for you. Good luck.

Mr. D.

Suzanne said...

Congratulations! Happy for you getting opportunities to make good for others the pain of your ordeals. I agree that there will be challenges in framing your talks so young ones aren't intruiged by the party aspect. Your experiences on the payment side of fun are sobering, so I'm sure that will stick.

Anonymous said...

Great. Good luck, it will be a tremendous boost for you.

Chris Phoenix said...

Shaun, thanks for the details. It sounds like you'll have a very effective message!


Anonymous said...

Heartfelt Congratulations! This is great.

Kate said...

Will try and come along to the RFH gig, sounds interesting. Will come and say hi if so, I've been reading your blog for years.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering what your actual view on drugs is? Do you seriously think drugs are the problem? Archaic drug laws? Poor societal views? What?

I'm not sure a speech about your experiences would put me off drugs at all, perhaps just make me want to get caught even less. (Once was enough, thankgod I got lucky and didn't have any serious consequences)