Lee says: “but it’s like when the judge says four-and-a-half years, you think “oh shit…”

“I was on bail for 18 months and I couldn’t take a contract on because it would’ve been in excess of 12 months. I’d already put a tender in, I’d got a job basically, but I couldn’t take it, so I had to sit around doing bit-part jobs while I waited to go to court. When I went to court, I’m on ESA. What I do for a living isn’t mentioned because you’re not allowed to. The barrister’s the one that speaks for you, you sit down and shut-up… After the initial shock and you’re sitting in a prison cell, “f*#+*ing hell, I didn’t expect to be in here”, but the harsh reality is, you are, so you have to accept that. You’ve just got to smile and get on with it and that’s what I’ve done, basically. It’s a learning curve in your life…

You go into a horrible routine. You go to sleep just after 11… My horrible routine was, 11 o’clock, as soon as ‘Big Bang’ starts I turn the telly off because how many times can you watch ‘Big Bang’ and I was asleep by 11.15 until roll-call. Well, tell a lie, 6 o’clock I’d wake up, look at the clock, go back to sleep again, 7 o’clock look up, go to sleep again, then just before 7.45 I’d get out of bed, put all my clothes on, clean my teeth quick, time for roll-call. Roll-call is 7.45 or when they can actually be bothered to get upstairs and shout ‘roll-call’…

I had my chat [with the LandWorks Counsellor] yesterday. It was my second, third time. She’s chiselling away carefully. It’s like I tried explaining to her, I couldn’t begin to explain myself. I’ve been so busy trying to sort other people’s problems out, I’ve never had problems of my own to … and if I do, they get sort of stored … because I don’t like to worry, I suppose it’s been one of my things, I’d rather just ‘do’. Don’t sit and worry about it because that stresses you out and you get it wrong. So, when someone says “can you do this?” – “yes, I can do this” and you go and do it. I suppose that’s one thing people have always liked about me, I solve their problems, I don’t have any problems, it’s “I’m too bloody busy sorting all your bloody problems out”.

My priority isn’t to go down the pub. My main priority is how’s my dogs, how’s my kids and what jobs I’ve got to do… I’ve already held back the tears for all my dogs that have died. It was a down moment. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s my own fault for not anticipating … but it’s like when the judge says four-and-a-half years, you think “oh shit…

Fortunately I can turn my hand to anything, so I can pretty much walk into any job I like, but I do like my fencing. [Why?] I suppose it’s because you’re in the fresh air. I must admit I don’t like digging holes in the winter. Normally, when the ground goes hard, I normally down tools and I go in and I start doing motorhomes. I’ll do that until it starts warming up again. People say I’m bloody mad, I could earn a fortune over Christmas, but I say it’s not about money, it’s about enjoying yourself. I enjoy putting fences in and digging holes. I do enjoy digging holes, I keep bloody doing it, but I don’t like digging hard holes when the ground’s frozen and that’s when people seem to think you can earn the most money. I say “yeah, but that’s when it’s the most difficult”. Why do you want to try and spend twice as long digging a hole when it only takes you half that time when the ground’s nice and soft? The reality doesn’t click with people. I think the enjoyment goes out of it when the job becomes really hard. It’s hard enough as it is, but to make it extra hard because of the weather, it’s not really a good idea, but like I say, needs must this time…

At LandWorks I’ve been doing a bit of wood-turning, helping with the pizza oven, mixing and turning stuff with the digger, made some breadboards, some cheeseboards. Everything I’ve been doing I can trim down to a minute. I did a lot of work in the gardens… I just keep doing little jobs, odd jobs here and odd jobs there. I did my first mirror the other day and I quite enjoyed that. The lathe-work I really do enjoy. I don’t like to do the same. I like doing all different bowls. Those dark ones, I got a good price for them. It was two people that actually come here that bought them…”

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