Por qué me molestas? or Porky me molestas?
The Sydney Morning Herald notices that after David Hicks showed up overweight at his hearing, the charge that Americans were starving him changed to the accusation that they were making him a 2.5X American.
Prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are offered a diet of up to 5000 calories a day, 2½ times the recommended daily intake for Americans. David Hicks' father, Terry, has criticised the food his son has been given while in captivity.
David Hicks has put on weight while in the prison and at Monday's hearing observers were surprised by his chubby appearance - he looked nothing like the photos that had become familiar to Australians.
The US military on Thursday showed off the selection of meals that it offers the prisoners in an attempt to show how well it treats suspected terrorists. Prisoners could choose regular, vegetarian, vegetarian with fish, bland (with no salt or seasoning), high fibre, or "soft" food meals. There were also fruit juices (but no straw, because of concerns about self harm), fruit and nuts. And to eat these meals they get a plastic "spork".
Afficionados of jailhouse life in the Third World will probably have indelible memories of the catering contractors who provide the prisoners with what must charitably be called food. Several decades ago in the Philippines the contracts for jail food were held by a pair of contractors named Gumangan and Avendano. They provided meals which were colloquially referred to as rantso, from which the Tagalog slang world karantso is derived. In its original meaning it loosely meant "messmate" but people on civvy street think of the term today as meaning your circle of friends.
The prisoners sustained by Mssrs Gumangan and Avendano regularly vied with each other for the dubious crown of the who could tell the most horrifying food story. In truth the food wasn't that bad, compared say to what a person in a slum might eat on the outside. But the contractors by no means provided the inmates of selection of menus like "regular, vegetarian, vegetarian with fish, bland, high fibre, or 'soft' food meals". You got a few buns for breakfast, filled mostly with air. It was the custom of prisoners to save their bread for a week to eat it all on a Sunday in order, as some would say, to "feel full" at least once in seven days. There was meat once a week, usually fatty pork sitting in a bowl of watery stew or some sort of dishwater. On occasion there was seafood.
The seafood, you understand, was typically fried until it was one degree removed from carbonization. This was done in order to make fish which could presented in no other way somewhat edible. Many an elderly prisoner probably has fond memories of his karantsos gnawing on fish done to such a crispness that you could whack it against your bunk (called a tarima, BTW) and get it to break cleanly. But never mind. It was the company, after all, and not the food which made the meal, if your taste in friends ran to the heavily tatooed multiple murderer with shifting, expressionless eyes.
And when the dishes were gathered away, someone might begin a song. The song of someone who knows he is going to be forgotten. That the visits from outsiders would eventually decrease in frequency until finally they stopped; when his whole world, indeed his entire family became the men he shared his Gumangan or Avendano meal with. One ditty went:
Little by little time passes.
And the pages of the calendar fall away.
My dearest love, I can't forget you.
But that you should remember me I cannot ask.
Hicks will be out in a few months, having confessed to the crime of supporting efforts to murder innocent people. Many a prisoner in a Third World jail will die old behind bars for having done less. Pass the bread and pour the coffee.