Suicide Watch

12 Feb

My pillow is still a jumper and towel combination, I’ve produced page upon page of notes about my experience so far, but in reality less than 1% of my sentence has been and gone. I don’t quite know where or when I can fix the bedding situation. It’s not a priority.

When you get to prison you learn very quickly that the rules change fast and often the powers that be don’t know them themselves. You rely on the prison grapevine and the advice of your fellow inmates much more than you can ever hope to, from those paid to manage the population. I put together another to-do list of questions I want answered.

I’ve been given two grey jumpers and two grey jogging trousers. They don’t fit and I’ve always been cursed with long arms, though that has its benefits when I’m boxing. At the moment I wear one set and I use the other as neck support when I sleep. But if the weather keeps up as its set too, very soon I’ll be wearing and sleeping on the same sets of dirty, sweat soaked clothing. Alex tells me they do a kit change once a week and it’s not uncommon for the wing population to be unable to shower more than 2 or 3 times weekly. It’s a surprise to me, I expected that hygiene would be forced upon us all,  there are definitely some here that need some guidance. In the films you get hosed down!

I realise now why Alex burns the incense sticks, it masks the smell of body odour, feet and decay.

I don’t really understand how post works in here but I have a couple of pages of stamps, snuck in between the sheets of a book let through. Some prisons aren’t happy on you having reams of stamps, its currency they say.That makes little sense as they can be bought on the weekly prison shop list. Maybe its a way of squeezing what little money many prisoners have out of them, maybe they will extract a bit from their families and loved ones too. I have enough to keep me going for a while. I came to prison thinking if I have these, I’ll be minted; it didn’t take me more than an hour  in the court cells to figure out literacy standards may be low. Contrary to what you may have read about, stamps aren’t the currency some would have you believe inside – tobacco (Burn) all the way. Stamps require the ability to read and write; and tragically more than half of prisoners in the UK have the literacy standards of an 11-year-old. Ofsted gave the prison system a damning report.

Still, I’ll certainly have use for them.

I pen another letter to R, away on an exotic adventure exploring India and having her own marathon of experience as I am. I ask her if she’s still moving to Delhi tomorrow, how was a dog they’ve rescued and how are her pals, goodness knows when she will see these questions.

Unlike other inmate’s relationships, we both resigned ourselves to being able to talk for little more than a couple of minutes a week. Prison phones, ‘The Blue Box’ as they’re called are not known for their cost-effective pricing structure, calling India and a mobile at that won’t be cheap. We have to write and we have to write every day, I know she is worth every second of that time and I dream of the day soon when I can start receiving her letters.

I look at her 3 photos again that once more I’ve neatly laid out upon my desk. I experiment with a popular glue substitute, prison toothpaste and put 1 of those 3 above my bed. Just looking at the smiles captured in time melt me, nothing else matters, screw the courts, screw this place, just me and her locked in a gaze that no-one can seize from me. My greatest asset, worth all the riches, the girl that’s stood by me throughout all of this and weathered every storm as if it her own. I touch her smile in the photo and I’ll do this every night.


My pensive silence is shattered as I hear those same whistles, heavy footsteps and chain rattles again. A flood of rubber soled combat boots cascade down a steel stairwell within close proximity.

From a point a little further away, my ears pick up the wailing of a man, not cries of sorrow but more obviously those of panic, cold gutteral yells rise up through the wing, the landing becomes a cauldron of noise and shouting. A banging, a frenzied banging, digs into the door of one isolated cell:

“Shut the F*** Up!!” Offers a voice on another landing

The rubber soled combat boots that shattered my pensive silence, collide with that one isolated cell from a point a little further away. The half-inch thick space down the side of my cell door gives me a grandstand view as I watch with stunned silence, the man’s dragged out dead.

Not on suicide watch, his cellmate busy chasing the NHS dragon – Methadone; a tragic story reached a climax.

Alex taps me on the shoulder:

“Cup of tea?”



2 Responses to “Suicide Watch”

  1. Jen February 13, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    I am absolutely gripped by this.

    • disgracedbanker February 13, 2012 at 11:22 am #

      Thanks Jen, Please share it on to others where you can.

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