Saturday, January 03, 2009

What a Life

We dealt with a cannabis farmer the other day - remanded in custody. He was Vietnamese, as are about ninety percent of people charged with this offence, and the converted house that he was looking after held 180 cannabis plants. He was just a low-level operator of course - we rarely if ever see the big boys. He is looking at anything up to 14 years, but five or so is more likely.
While the interpreter was being sworn in I had a glance at the list and saw that our man had been born in 1970. So he was about 5 when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese and the Americans left in their helicopters and their big jets.
He's seen a few changes, hasn't he? His war-torn country, reunified by force, slipping over time into a quasi-capitalist then a more-or-less capitalist economy. By the 21st century he had decided to become an illegal immigrant to the UK, and paid his way by farming dope for a (partly) grateful English populace. Now he will have some years' exposure to English culture in prison. I am pretty sure that I know which will be the first word he learns, as he gets to grips with the language of Shakespeare.

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