x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Redemption denied

Stone walls do not a prison make: two British convicts, breaking down a wall to get out of prison, covered the hole with papier-mâché. It almost worked. But what were such imaginative people doing in jail?

Maybe they should have use a poster of Angelina Jolie. That did the trick for Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption, who hid two decades of tunnelling with pin-ups of glamorous ladies of the day.

In a scene reminiscent of that film, adapted from a Stephen King novella, two inmates at Exeter prison in England attempted a breakout by meticulously carving a hole through their cell wall. But where Dufresne concealed the entrance to his ever-expanding escape tunnel with posters of Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch, the two real-life jailbirds covered theirs with fake bricks made out of papier-maché.

Reality, in this case, triumphed over fantasy. As reported in The Guardian yesterday, their elaborate and, we assume, time-consuming plot came undone when a prison warden spotted masonry dust on the ground, while another noticed uneven patterns on the walls.

It almost, but not quite, makes you feel sorry for the two criminals. They had been placed in one of very few cells where an escape route was feasible. What's more, the walls were in such a poor state that digging a hole was possible. But all their scheming, and handyman skills too, ended in tears.

It's a shame that the prisoners didn't put their ingenuity and capacity for hard work to better use before they were imprisoned.