Double Digit Days – Day 10

24 Feb


I’m woken by the sweet sound of a key chain rattling screw, seeking out my cell mate, my roomie!

The momentary freedom of slumber lost for the sake of an attempted shoplifter’s video hearing. Seriously!

These days to trim costs and move with the times, prisoners can appear in court via a videolink. They use it for remote witnesses too. Anthony is due to face his bail hearing in the bowels of Wandsworth, on a video link to Westminster Magistrates Court. If being remanded didn’t already put you at an unfair perceived disadvantage, an unkempt face staring back at the magistrates  (Local busybodies) in poorly fitting prison issue clothing is likely to nicely ferment that prejudice. As a stroke of luck, or someone’s lack of IT skills, Anthony gets to don his civvies and head to court in person.

I wish him luck then roll over and go back to sleep.

I wake again at 8.30 am and find Anthony has left me his 3 milks and a pack of biscuits, bless him, but I’ll wait for the outcome of his hearing before I tuck in. Minutes later the door is unlocked, Anthony’s gym induction of course. I’m actually yet to share a cell with anyone who has successfully attended a gym induction, once again I swoop like a magpie and grab his slot. I make my way to the end of the landing, I’m a seasoned vet now.

Darren meets me with a smile: “Ready for round two?”

I nod cautiously – “I ache from yesterday” I tell him. He smiles proudly. Sadist.

I meet John a pal of Darrens, another lad on remand, all I’m meeting here is men not convicted yet, let alone sentenced, it’s little wonder these places are stuffed to the brim. I wonder where we house the convicted guilty?

The gym session shared with men deemed monsters and men seeming mild, finishes at 10 and we head back to E-Wing. I’m soaked in sweat but time for personal hygiene is not the guard’s priority. Still I’ve acquired two bits of new prison kit: vest and shorts, which I can squirrel back to my den.

Darren grabs me before we go back into our cells, he encourages me to hand HIM a worker application and he will see what he can do in terms of oiling the wheels. Andre suggests this is possibly a better route. Social and domestic comes round and I knock the paperwork onto D; from here I head to the phones and see if my credit has been added.

Good news, I telephone rich! I call my best pal, my sister from sister from another mother, so to speak. I make the call brief then proceed to call, anyone else who’ll have me. I’m conscious of the inconsistent time we get out of our cells on these occasions, so I curtail my broadcast to the outside. If nothing else it’s been great to hear my best friend’s voice, for the first time in 10 days. Sad I’d missed her birthday a week before. My oldest friend and closest confidante. All that is left for me to do is drop my collected sugar bags to Tony, the wing hairdresser/barber. Andre tells me he collects it and I need to arrange a trim. He thanks me, we settle for tomorrow.

I return to my cell to write for a few hours, something that is made difficult as Cell 25 across the landing has pushed his panic alarm and begun incessantly banging on his door. He continues for 25 minutes before anyone sees to him. God help his minders if he has cut his wrists or attacked his cellmate. Perhaps a stream of blood under the cell door may attract the guard’s attention a little sooner.

The disturbance has me walking my cell, I can’t hear myself think, I look out the window and see the exercise yard I dismissed today. Tel’s out there, a pang of guilt swathes over me. I’d left him to walk the circuit alone, a lost member of a herd vulnerable to jackals; prioritising my own writing. It could wait – I watch him, being alone in the yard is not a nice place to be.



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