IT may surprise you to know that I have never been in prison.
In fact, come to think of it, I have never even visited prison or been to one for a story.
I did have a contact in prison who used to get information out to me. Unfortunately, it was always wrong.
Repeatedly, I had to impress upon this lag the fact that small details like the truth could make all the difference in stories.
A story in The Herald on Monday suggested Scots prisoners find life behind bars easier than being released. Miscreants, according to a Glasgow University study, accepted their punishment and realised they just had to keep their head and get on with things in prison.
Not so on the outside, where you're on your own and life is unpredictable. I've some sympathy with this and have often thought about serving time. "And I hereby sentence you to five years in prison for crimes against the English language."
I'd need a cell of my own, of course.
The idea of a shared room with bunk-beds is absurd, and only really happens on overnight ferries to the Northern Isles, as I recall.
I think, too, of other advantages to prison life: no heating bills, all your meals cooked for you, no real decisions to make, and probably the chance to get a proper degree from the Open University, superseding my current one from the Renfrewshire Academy of Marxism and Plumbing.
But then one does hear awful tales about what supposedly goes on in chokey. Reared on a diet of Disney, I simply refuse to believe that sort of thing and just give a little whistle.
However, I'm not minimising the frightfulness of life in prison in any sense.
I can't think the vegetarian option is too great and I imagine there are a lot of bald people, which I always find distressing.
Also, while I envy the idea of having no control of your own life, I would weep copious tears were I forbidden from going for a walk.
I'd miss nature and probably be surrounded by a bit too much human nature.
Still, worse things happen at sea, so they say. However, apart from having to share a cabin on a ferry, I've never really understood what that meant.
Whatever it is, I'm sure it can be defeated by determined whistling and a steadfast refusal to look life directly in the eye.
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