Amid the dismay at the outcome of the Vicky Pryce trial and the disillusionment with the jury system, one man is quietly pleased – Chris Huhne has been using what freedom he has left to acquaint himself with prison patois in an effort to blend in with his new environment on his inevitable incarceration.
Mr Huhne admits to being concerned that, with his background of Westminster School, Magdelen College and the Sorbonne, his vocabulary might not blend seamlessly with that of burglars and drug dealers. He has borrowed a primer in convict lingo from his local library and admits to spending an hour or two a day memorising useful words and phrases, and frequenting the sort of dives where he has a chance to practise them. “It's fascinating”, he says, “all the things I have to relearn – 'bin' for prison, 'snout' for tobacco, and so on”. He is confident that he will be fluent in felons' argot by the time his ex-wife's retrial draws to a conclusion. He is also practising dropping his H's, and some of his former constituents have been startled to hear him shouting for “'alf of bitter” in their local pub.
Observers have noted that Mr Huhne is now using every opportunity to emphasise that he has always been an advocate of civil liberties and sympathetic to the plight of prisoners. “I've never been a hanger-and-flogger”, he says, but he is also aware of the pitfalls of being perceived as an effete middle class liberal by his new acquaintances on the inside. “Ain't gonna be nobody's bitch”, he warned.