I've just got back from Perth prison and an afternoon giving a talk to ten prisoners about writing and Romans. The guys were a great audience, asked some very perceptive questions and generally appreciated me being there.
I even got a laugh when I told them writing Caligula had been like digging an escape tunnel from The Scotsman.
It's a grim place though, based around a prison for French prisoners during the Napoleonic wars, and just walking through rabbit warrens of corridors bounded by twenty-foot high walls topped by razor wire gave a real sense of being in another world. I've heard all the arguments about prisons being cushy these days, but the loss of personal freedoms, like freedom of movement and freedom of choice, and deprivation of liberty, shouldn't be underestimated. If prison is supposed to be a deterrent it looked as if it was doing a good job.
The talk was part of a series I'm doing under the auspices of the Scottish Book Trust and I'll be doing another three across the country over the next month or so.