14 Feb

A new cellmate arrives, I’d heard Ian had requested he be moved in with me but my hopes were dashed. Fortunately, in arrives another ‘trouble-free’ companion.

Mike’s an old boy, he’s been up and he’s gone down, more times than the knickers on a tart. His problem is drinking and gambling. Sober he seems a right ‘bloke’. But the ways of wrong are beginning to take their toll on him and his liver is shot, walkings a pickle for him too. We get on famously, fast. He loves the horses and he doesn’t kill – perfect.

For the first time, I have the balance of cell power, I’m a kindly Emperor though, more Victoria than Nero. I make him a brew and I pick his brain for prison titbits.

The Prison Officer Key Chain

“That sound, beyond the banging, is the single distinguishable sound above all others. A linked chain, housing Dickensian style keys, rattling; mimicking coins in the pocket of the wealthy in front of the poor. Literally mocking you with every movement and strike of metal upon same. How I feel poorer than the man with that chain.”

I start to know what a dog feels waiting for it’s owner by a window. As you while away the hours in your cell, with one ear on the noise of the external landing, every jangle of those chains puts you on edge, expecting your door to swing open at any time. You know when you should expect routine interference and yet you still prick your ears up with a muted hope on the sound of every bang, click and jangle…… this is a sound I’ll never forget.


My new cellmate pops off to the nurse which gives me time to enjoy some quiet moments again – rephrased, I get to use the loo in peace, then I do a little writing. We don’t have a toilet seat on the loo here, no one does, nor do we have any cleaning products. The bacteria that found its way here many years ago is probably continuing to breed comfortably. Lush 🙂

I’ve begun hoarding the thin plastic bags our breakfast packs come in, goodness knows why, they might be useful? Alex left a fresh tomato behind, I’ve stuck it on the desk, it adds a bit of colour, it’s an organic ornament I guess. I haven’t drawn a face on it and I don’t speak to it at night-time. This ain’t Castaway!

Another task* I’ve found myself doing, is building a tv listings from scratch. You can’t have a tv guide sent in, I don’t understand that. So I found an old copy of ‘Heat’ with the weekly listings from a year ago. Its well-thumbed and well palmed, in exactly that order I expect. I am literally flicking through the channels and writing over the old programming schedule. Channel 5’s ‘Cowboy Builders’ becomes an American Pawnbroking shop docu-soap; while Channel 4’s “Pick”: “Will my crash diet kill me?” moved for an equally bizarre – “Diagnosis Live – The Clinic”. The latter, an impressive shock fest of leaky nipples, ‘Moobs’ and dysfunctional rectums.

*Replace with: ‘Pastime’

The Peephole closes always with a finality

Not an anatomical reference from my tv choice but the spyhole the guards check us through.

You know your life is on pause when ‘Kung-Fu Panda’ takes on a prime time slot in your day. I’m sure there are many who will disagree with me. 🙂 But it gets a mention in my diary and on a to-do list.

When Alex moved cells, he left behind his flip-flops, towel and some clothing. I want to get them to him but it seems a request to pass them on falls on deaf ears; now his immigration induction paperwork  comes under the door. He’s gone and missing this will only hurt him. Here I am, the danger to society, locked up and it’s me not the guards who’s trying to help him out.

Dinner is Chicken Kiev, Mash and Green Beans. There is an ice cream pot, but the warm weather means its more like milk. Nice milk though. My days been filled with 8 hours of writing, I don’t know whether it will improve me ability or not, but I’m not exactly showered with opportunities for distraction. I like writing, poetry mostly, I do it for fun on the out, this is my punishment, I’m doing something I enjoy. Day 3 and the smile’s beginning to return.

After dinner our cells are locked. While bang-up can be tedious, I am sure there are many who feel a sense of security behind the door. An open door can mean unwelcome visitors. I think of Ian, he told me about his cellmate earlier. He’s a proper gang-banger. That means he’s one of those new breed of feral inner city youth ‘Gangsta’s’. He got shipped here from Brixton for slashing another inmate. Banged up together, he’s had his cell spun twice already. Cell spinning is prison-speak for searching and Ian has to experience the same heavy measures his ‘Buddy’ gets.

Prison officers control cell movement but then treat you as party to a crime if your arbitrarily chosen cellmate is up to no good. This unwarranted suspicion from the prison staff does untold damage to prisoner/staff relations: it drives a road-train straight through the rift.

Meanwhile Ian lay awake asleep tonight, he fears for his safety.


Another day down

I start induction tomorrow, I’ll talk to Ian then. I never thought I’d spend my own sentence worrying for other’s safety.

I penned  a lot of letters to friends, It’s nice to hear from my mother that so many people have been supportive, by writing I show my gratitude as best I can.

I don’t stop thinking of Rachel, I would love to hear her voice. I don’t know when that time will be, so I guard my 3 photos of her with a vengeance. Secreted within a book on British Art. She to me is my masterpiece.

The one above my head I touch.


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