Eric Allison and I corresponded throughout the 1980s and 90s, when I was the director of the Mass Observation Archive at the University of Sussex. Eric had heard me being interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour from his prison cell and liked the idea of contributing to a project concerned with everyday life.
He explained that he was a “kiter”, writing cheques that bounced so high they flew like kites. Educating those of us in what he called the ivory towers of academe about the realities and languages of everyday life was important to him.
The thousands of pages in his handwriting now held at the archive comprise an extraordinary firsthand account of the daily goings-on in a category B prison. More seriously, they also represent his searing and articulate critique of the establishment. I enjoyed his acute observations and appreciated his socially aware (and socialist) perspective.