I came out of prison in January. I did nine months in the Czech Republic for a political cultural protest. They were going to close the opera house in the town where I lived and people were unhappy, but the Czechs don’t know how to protest after so long under Communism. So I stood up in the opera house one night and said, “what are we going to do to stop the mayor?” And I did it again the next night in the interval of Swan Lake. The audience clapped, but nobody would do anything. They say if you protest it only makes things worse. So I went out and wrote on the mayor’s wall with a big felt tip: ‘SAVE OPERA. SAVE BALLET. GET ANGRY.’ I got told off and they painted over it, but I did it again. Then I did it five more times and on the last time they were waiting for me. I was 63 at the time, standing there with a felt tip, and they were there with three police cars and 6 policemen. I was accused of punching a policewoman and was in there for nine months.
At first it was horrendous. I was beaten and had my fingers crushed for expecting the rule book to be followed. It said in the rules that I was entitled to an English Language newspaper, and they wouldn’t give me one. But after a while I started to accept it. I had a bed, I had food, I had regular exercise. My son brought me books and I was able to read more than I’ve ever read in my whole life. I used to look out of the bars at the courtyard. I would wake up on purpose in the middle of the night to watch the rats because they were the only nature I had access to. And I learned to accept what is and not expect things. And that’s what I try to do: accept and stop expecting. My quotes are shit though; Nikos Kazantzakis – the chap who wrote Zorba the Greek – has an epitaph on his tombstone which says: “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”