Day 12

28 Feb

A new cell, a new window and I’m in luck, I’ve got sunshine views ripping through the cell, like colour has returned to my world.

With weather forecast for sunshine in the late 20’s, over the weekend; this could be bitter-sweet, considering the oven effect of Wandsworth. I turn down an opportunity to visit the gym to make a good example to my work party supervisor by being present for my first shift. I pick up my new uniform, effectively the same as before but this time I have the freedom to choose items that fit me. 3 of us together then sweep the 4’s landing, clean the officer’s toilet and tidy vacated cells. The latter is likely to yield some stories in time.

Marked out as  a worker in my fetching green cargo trousers, brown steel boots, i sense a cursory elevation in respect offered to us from the screws, though this belief is short lived when we return to the officer’s toilets later in the day. I can only imagine someone is trying to making our day uncomfortable, surely no one uses a toilet in such a manner otherwise. I shall see little more than, ‘the floor is being misused on a wholesale scale’.

We clean the landing as the other inmates are still banged up. It’s almost surreal, walking around the wing of a prison unhindered and for the time being in this controlled environment, free. I sense a mini milestone coming….. the first time my pre-prison plan reaches an objective.

I spent time before prison as this diary mentions, in researching, learning, absorbing, everything I could find out about incarceration. Addicted, it was never far from my mind, constantly above me in my thoughts. I know much already about prison law, more than many serial residents and I am also aware, in order to make my time tolerable inside, I should work as an orderly. Getting an orderly job was part of a mental to-do list I took on with me. Getting a job has given me some sense of control upon my own destiny. This is how I handle prison.

Nev and I seize a tv remote left behind and a watch discarded by it’s owner. Nev keeps asking me the time in the short while I’ve known him, this will cure that. Plus its an Arsenal watch, his team and my own’s rival. His need to know the time I think is down to his clear fascination in soap operas. He watches them all, a former armed gang member sedated with a big smile, as he deciphers and untangles the cobweb of relationship dramas that are the staple of British tv. Serving a 6 year minimum sentence, he’s not your normal ex-street punk from London. He is an infectious, warm man, with an obvious love for his wife and kids. He has good manners and has some interesting life experiences which he regaled me with last night. For me, coming from an entirely different background, its eye opening to see into the life of those I’d never normally cross paths with. Such moments of discursive intrigue are I feel, cathartic.

Work in the morning takes little more than an hour, which gives me the time to head back to my cell and continue with my writing. I switch on BBC’s Homes Under the Hammer and begin a secret affair with daytime TV that will be my ‘secret shame’ for the next year. I tuck into a peanut butter and jam sandwich with a black coffee, pleased with the spoils of minor achievement in my prison life.

I endeavour to enquire after my radio plug again today, empowered and emboldened with a sense of social standing, I am more positive over my chances of a successful resolution.

I head out to use the phones, a perk of the job, I can use them when I wish rather than join a queue during association. I pick up the phone glancing at my watch. Rachel will be up, I wonder if I can hear her voice, will she have her UK phone on? I find out…

ANSWERPHONE! I leave a message, that way one of us can hear another’s voice. I long to hear her’s. Less than two weeks without contact but so much turbulence in our lives, it feels strange not being able to discuss it all. That’s a punishment of prison, the loss of something you take for granted. It’s funny that the development of modern communication, so embedded within the framework of our lives, has in itself become a dependence that we experience noticeable emotional discomfort when it’s withdrawn. I’ll learn to live with it, I hate phones anyway! 🙂



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