A couple of years ago, I was trawling Google in search of freelance writing jobs when I came across an advert from a company looking for “academic ghost-writers”. They wanted university graduates to produce papers for students, who would presumably then submit them as their own essays. It sounded a combination of boring and morally dubious, but I was struggling to find enough writing work to live off at the time, so I applied anyway. What can I say? The life of a freelance writer isn’t easy, and I had to eat!

I was asked to submit a scan of…


Terry in Northern Ireland prior to her arrest

In most Christian countries, it’s safe to say that no one really cares what denomination of Christianity people follow; it’s probably equal to someone’s eye colour in terms of relevance. Those who wish to hold prejudiced beliefs based on religion usually direct them at another race or religion, not variations of the same religion. In Northern Ireland, it’s a different kettle of fish though; having a traditionally Catholic surname is enough to get you shot dead in the Protestant part of town, and vice versa. Terry Daniels knows this better than anyone, as she once found herself locked up on…


Imran Zeb in China

When Imran Zeb first came into this world, his British-Pakistani parents were shocked to see a white-skinned, blonde haired baby looking up at them. He was one of only 3,770 people in the U.K. with albinism, a genetic condition involving a lack of melanin. As he got older, he became acutely aware of the fact that he was different from the rest of the Muslim community, and started to feel alone and isolated. He sometimes struggled to make friends, and found it hard to get a girlfriend.

All this changed in 2005, when Imran travelled to China to carry out…


Moroccan atheist activist Imad Iddine Habib

Figures suggest that organized religion is slowly on its way out. Let’s face it; after the pope started promising Catholics less time in purgatory for following his Twitter, it all got a bit ridiculous, so you can see why. Predominantly Islamic countries are often portrayed as being places with a consensus of opinion when it comes to faith, but they aren’t immune to the changes; in recent years, underground atheist movements have sprung up in a variety of different nations where apostasy is still illegal and people can be jailed for failing to believe in God. One such movement is…


Religious extremists are often looked at as being almost the polar opposite to regular common or garden criminals. In the public perception, the former is governed purely by their beliefs, whereas the latter is motivated by wealth and status. In reality, this isn’t always the case though, and Mexico’s La Familia Michoacana narco-cult were a case in point until they eventually disbanded in 2011. Although they operated as a drug cartel, they also had their own holy book, and the head honcho consulted a mystic known as “The Wizard” when it came to making key decisions. Anti-corruption investigator Eduardo Salcedo-Albarán…


Multicultural Saudi hip-hop group Run Junxion

Saudi Arabia isn’t exactly the type of place where you would expect to find a flourishing hip-hop scene. The likes of Public Enemy and KRS-1 could never exist there, because criticizing the government is a big no no. Gangster rappers are even less likely to find their way onto the Saudi airwaves, given the country’s ultra-conservative culture. The chances of a local equivalent to N.W.A. springing up are extremely small in a nation where camera phones, walking a dog and foreign-sounding names have all been banned for ‘promoting immorality’. In spite of this, the country is still home to a…


by ‘Barry’, as told to Nick Chester

Every other week, there seems to be a story in the papers about anti-paedophile vigilantes, who lure paedoes into meeting them so that they can beat them up, blackmail them, or simply expose them. Those responsible have been touted as everything from heroes to reckless idiots intent on ruining lives. Around a decade ago, a friend of mine tried his hand at anti-paedo vigilantism, but his motivation wasn’t heroism or trying to destroy anyone’s future; he just though that it could be a laugh. As it turned out, he was shit at it…


Paul on Interpol’s list of undesirables (top centre).

With recidivism rates being unfavourably high, reformation seems like an unobtainable goal for many criminals. No matter how much they promise themselves that they’ll go straight, more often than not, they end up going straight to the nearest post office armed with a shotgun, or straight to the next bag of heroin. The government tries punishing them — it doesn’t work. For the most part, nor do the various courses and educational schemes they’re forced to go on in prison. However, one thing that is achieving surprising results is yoga.


A couple of years back, I got chatting to a nice looking Colombian girl called Paola in London, and arranged to go for a coffee. She didn’t speak much English, which might have put some people off, but made her seem more exotic and beautiful to me. She had soft brown eyes, a smile to die for, and curves like only a Latin American girl can have — who cared about the language barrier?

We went on a few more dates, got to know each other, and were soon officially an item. For the most part, it was a happy…


Colin and friends during his criminal days

It goes without saying that in the vast majority of countries, trying to escape from prison is a pretty fucking serious offence. Most governments hand out harsh sentences for jailbreaks under the logic that if they didn’t, prisoners would spend their entire sentences attempting to do a runner. I say most and not all though, as when it comes to law and order, there’s always one country that dispenses with basic commonsense and does something completely out of the box. In this case, it’s Germany.

The Germans believe it’s natural for people to want to escape when they’re confined against…

Nick Chester

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store