A week is a long time. Last Friday I sat in the austerely gloomy surroundings of Room 8 of Auckland District High Court, listening to a sour-faced judge proclaim Omar Hamed such a danger to decent citizens that he could not be bailed, even with a twenty-four hour curfew. Five rows of family and friends wept and blew their noses. Today Omar and five others are free on bail, after the announcement that neither they nor the rest of 'Urewera 17' will face terrorism charges.
Skyler and I weren't expecting such good news on Wednesday, when we called in to the antiseptic visitors' centre at Mt Eden Remand to drop off some magazines. I told Greg, our new, 'no-nonsense NDU man' flatmate, that I'd brought Omar copies of New Statesman and New Scientist to help pass the long hours ahead of him. Greg threw his head back and guffawed. 'You're not serious, mate. You know prisoners share their zines around, they're like a currency. Do you think anyone's going to swap a pack of ciggies or a copy of Wheels or Penthouse for your friggin' New Statesman. That thing's gonna have a pretty small readership...you're not very democratic, are ya?'
I'll have to be more thoughtful next time, but I hope I won't have to go shopping for political prisoners again for a while.