Charles Bronson on prison, his violent past and his wishes for the future
Prisoner Charles Bronson, who has spent nearly 50 years behind bars, gave a colourful account of his time in prison during his parole hearing on Monday.
Giving evidence in what is only the second ever parole hearing to be held in public in England and Wales, Bronson held forth on various topics.
– On the current conditions in prison:
Bronson said in the past he has been on wings that were “cold, empty and f****** brutal”, but now things are much more comfortable.
He told the panel: “I’ve got a telly in my cell, I can’t even believe it.”
But he said unlike other inmates who have their own bedding, photographs on the walls and comforts such as CD and DVD players, he likes to know he has woken up in a cell.
“I don’t want my cell to be a furnished bedsit … Unfortunately prison today is full of fairies,” he said.
Describing his time as an unlicensed boxer, he told the hearing: “I love boxing, my father was a great champion boxer, it is a fraternity, it is a family … we used to box in prison but they are run by namby-pamby people now,” he said.
He said that east London gangsters the Krays had got him into boxing, and that he had six fights – five against men and one against a Rottweiler.
– On why he changed his name from Charles Bronson in 2014:
Born Michael Peterson, he later changed his name to Charles Bronson while forging a career as an unlicensed boxer, he said for tax purposes.
In 2014 he decided to change his surname to Salvador, which he said means “man of peace”, dismissing any suggested link to Salvador Dali.
“Bronson was a nasty bastard,” he said. “He wasn’t a nice person and I didn’t like him. Salvador is a man of peace. I feel peaceful.”
Describing his criminal history, he said: “Out of the 50 years I’ve been in prison, I have probably deserved a good 35 years of it … but I have been naughty. Not ‘naughty-naughty’, but naughty.”
– On how he is now:
He describes himself as “a born again artist” and says he is “almost an angel” compared with the past.
“When I’m in my cell and I’ve got a bad letter, or something’s happened, or someone has been nasty or whatever, I can sit in my cell now and switch off, and go into myself with deep breathing,” Bronson told the panel.
He said he is “just a normal geezer wanting to get on with his life”, and assured the panel: “If some muppet wants to fight me or cause me problems I will handle it in a different way.”
Bronson told the panel he has spent so much time in solitary confinement he wears dark glasses because his eyes are “blown away with the light”.
– On what he wants to happen in the future:
Bronson said: “It’s no secret I have had more porridge than Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and I’m sick of it. I’ve had enough of it, I want to go home.”
He dreams of walking barefoot on a lawn and plans to go and live in the country if he is released.
Bronson said: “I have not walked on grass for over 30 years and I dream of walking on grass.”
– On his mother, with whom he has recently got back in touch:
Referring to the 95-year-old as “my old duchess”, he said it is her wish to see him released.
“You people have got the power to let me out, that’s my mum’s last dream on this planet, to see her son outside, doing well, making an honest living with my art, as you know I’m anti-crime,” he said.
“If you’ve got any heart, any compassion, give it to my mum and make an old lady’s dream come true.”
– On why he took people hostage:
Bronson, who has taken hostages on nine different occasions while in prison, said: “I was a horrible person and I couldn’t stop taking hostages.
“I went through a phase, I couldn’t help taking hostages.
“I was battling against the system … it was my way of getting back.
“There’s nothing better than wrapping a governor up like a Christmas turkey.”
– On enjoying fighting:
Bronson said: “I love a rumble. What man doesn’t?”
Describing one incident, in which the parole review was told he stripped naked and “greased up”, he said: “I took half a tub of Lurpak with me, stripped off and had the rumble of my life. It was f****** brilliant.”
He said during his earlier years in prison he “lost the plot”, adding: “The only thing I knew was violence.”