14 Feb

With Alex gone, I have for an indeterminate period of time some artificial solitude. I’ve been told it’s the disorder of the ‘System’ that makes the punishment. The phrase identifies the prison system’s ability to punish as one founded ‘Luck rather than Judgement’. A constant flow of new cell-mates has the desired effect on the nerves of its current occupier.

As the door is still not locked from Alex’s departure, I slip out onto an empty landing,  disguised amongst the lucky few who have the privilege of doing so: the Wing Orderlies. The dark-skinned gent, circuit training earlier, walks over and chucks his palm out:

“I’m Darren – you wanna job?”

It’s why I’m out of the cell I tell him, I was off to grab an activities form.  It’s an a4 sheet with a few tick boxes that indicate to the wing officers you want more from your time in jail than to sit inside your cell, smoking your lungs away masturbating to some left over nuts magazines.

Darren’s got that London drawl that blends with an Asian background. He could be a Colombian, a Turk, Moroccan or Arab. Tell you what, he’d make a blinding spy. He’s interesting from the outset, you can’t pinpoint one particular trait about him, other than that he’s a perfect Chameleon. He’s friends with everyone, he walks around like he knows the place and the place knows him.

“Yeah I want a job” I reply; “Just get me out of bang-up.”

He smiles: “Easy.”

I introduce myself and we exchange reasons for being. He’s on remand, waiting for trial – there’s nothing more I can say about that.

He said he can get a feel for people very quickly here. It’s not hard to pick out those clucking for a fix and those who come in here from a different walk of life. I sense he’s probing me a touch, the glint in his eye says I’m probably right.




I notice there aren’t many screws about, its late afternoon and a couple of the wing offices on the 2s and 4s landings are shut. Lights on and  a face is buried in the web; life doesn’t change just because you wear a uniform. It allows me time to nip down to a cleaning orderly’s cell and ask for spare loo roll.

I have a habit of dripping the kettle all over the floor, with minimal towel stock, I’m using sheets of toilet paper to clean the floor – I haven’t used it for any other purpose since I got here!

My cell door and others too, states the name of the occupants and if they’re smokers. My own door sign suggests I’m either ‘OBUKTO’ or ‘DZINYCSTRA’ and both are smokers. I can only imagine what else those two had in common. I wonder, but not for long, if this failure to update such information is down to database inaccuracies higher up the food chain. Do they ever lose prisoners in somewhere this big?

I drop an activities form into a yellow box marked ‘Apps’ outside an office and get back to my cell before I wind up in trouble. I’m almost feeling adventurous.

I decide to wash my tee. By tee, I’m talking singular. I’ve got one t-shirt to last me till an unspecified day. It pen and inks. I stuff the condom full of ‘something’ into the plug and try to fill up the sink. The sink is a moulded fixing straight into the wall. They don’t have taps they have push buttons. Taps get removed, popped into a sock and swung at someone’s Brain, plus push buttons can ensure that cells can’t be flooded. They work a little like the push button showers you get in a gym, the only difference here is you can’t push it more than 3 or 4 times in a minute. The wing has a limited water supply and come a morning with everyone getting ready for court or their association showers, the water stops working completely. You can go hours with no running water, this goes for the toilet flush too. Thankfully the latter is more reliable. Everything is set up to reinforce poor sanitation, brushing your teeth can be a nightmare a mouth full of toothpaste and no water to wash away.

I use the sachets of body and shower gel to create a soapy lather to clean my t-shirt. Thick cotton I think I’ve taken half the water out in the garment. I place it on the cell-window ledge. A trickle vent can be open and closed by the prisoner, I adjust it to it’s maximum in the hope that it helps the drying process. A game of football out on an astroturf catches my eye, some luckier inmates run around free within the confines of another fenced area. I watch them for a while.’ Team Left’ score against ‘Team Right’ It’s not exactly the North London Derby but it beats ‘Flog It’.

———–<Do you want to read about my City Adventures? Maybe I should write a book>—————–


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