16 December: An escape from Alcatraz took place on this day in 1937

The above escape took place before the 1962 one immortalised in the Clint Eastwood film. But the two episodes and their outcomes are quite similar: files and sharp objects to pierce the fortress, old tyres used as rafts, no news of the missing fugitives: did they survive among the fogs banks of San Francisco? Who knows, maybe they all went back to school…

After all, school is the collective noun used to describe a group of fish swimming together in synchrony and whose only purpose is survival. The fish turn, twist and perform “Cirque du Soleil”-style acrobatics in the water solely to confuse predators. There are no head teachers telling pupils what to do in a school like that – it’s a bit like the relationship that was presumably struck up between the five convicts who planned their escape from the infamous jail.

On the other hand, if the five were a motley bunch, theirs is more likely to have been a shoal, rather than a school – a softer-sounding word, to be sure, but with a sharp edge to be found in their wits and tools. Making a getaway is fishy business and no doubt required cutting-edge planning. Alcatraz may not be Devil’s Island, but the Devil is always there, lurking in the details.

Name Day
St David, King and Prophet