‘I have him bitched, balloxed and bewildered, for there’s a system and a science in taking the piss out of a screw and I’m a well-trained man at it.’
So writes Brendan Behan, poet, writer and literary legend, of the episode that coloured his life. Arrested in Liverpool as an agitator for the IRA, he was tried and sent to reform school. He was sixteen years old.
The world he entered was brutal and coldly indifferent. Conditions were primitive, and violence simmered just below the surface. Yet Brendan Behan found something more positive than hate in Borstal: friendship, solidarity and healing flashes of kindness. Extraordinarily vivid, fluent, and moving, this is a superb and unforgettable piece of writing. Borstal Boy was adapted into a film in 2000.