John Williams' story is not unusual: it could be anyone's story. Anyone, that is, who was brought up in children's homes and with foster families, who graduated to borstals and remand centres and eventually took to crime full-time. "Silver Threads" is not a cry for help. It is the life of a thief told without apology and with sometimes painful honesty. For John Williams, childhood and adolescence was a period of extreme loneliness and alienation. As he grew older and more aware of being black and, furthermore, gay, his feelings of isolation from the majority of society increased. The camaraderie of crime and the fellowship of the prison cell came along to fill this gap. Originally a matter of expediency, crime soon developed its own ineluctable dynamic. John passed up on his chances to become an athlete, a singer or an actor for a life of greater uncertainty but more excitement in the bars, cafes and clubs of London, Cardiff and Manchester - and prisons like Brixton, Strangeways and Wormwood Scrubs. Eventually joining the French Foreign Legion whilst fleeing arrest for armed robbery, John Williams' picaresque story takes many surprising turns. And when he returned to face the music and a long prison sentence, the story started all over again
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