Russian Roulette

25 Mar

Getting a new cell mate is a ‘Russian Roulette’. I’ve said this before; spin the chamber and see what comes out. My new cellmate is a Russian with only days to go. I don’t have anything to chat about, so I break the ice by laying my small green prison towel on the floor. Getting onto my knees and lowering my head to pray. The look on his face was a picture, I translate the international language of facial expressions easily. I smile, I’m not sure if he’s got my joke or if he thinks it’s a nervous smile by an unfamiliar cellmate with alternative religious habits to his own. An uneasy awkward silence descends upon an already awkward situation. The Russian heads outside of the billet for a roll-up. I cringe.

The cell unlike Wandsworth has no desk, so I am forced to use a prison pillow as a writing surface and sit hunched over on my bed scribbling my correspondences. I’m surprised by this absence of work-station, surely it is something they encourage in prisons?

I use the evening to make some calls out, let loved ones know that I’m now at Ford, I’m now very ready to have a visitor and I speak excitedly home about the improvements in my life I can see:

– I can use the phone when I wish*

*Caveat: When a long termer who has accumulated hundreds of pounds on their phone account isn’t on the phone to his mum

– I can pop out of my cell whenever I like to make toast

– I can run around the compound to jog of an evening

– Outside of the core working day, I can don my own clothes

– I can look forward to a melted cheese baguette every day instead of those ghastly warm meals I got accustomed to before. However did I cope? 🙂

– I’ll get the weekends off unlike Wandsworth.

– There is no gym, old inmates burnt it to the ground.

I have my heart set on moving to Hollesey Bay up the coast from Essex, a little pre-sentence research saw it provides a good deal more in the way of prisoner re-training than Ford. This includes plumbing, electrical and languages. Ford focuses primarily on literacy and numeracy. I’m some way past this, there isn’t really much in the way of rehabilitative offerings here for myself. Still, I’m sure there will be some other equally dubious investment sales opportunities I could always go into on my release*. Something the FSA will ignore until it’s done untold damage to private investors; at which point they can slam the stable door.

*For those unable to interpret dry wit, this is it. It’s important I make this clear.

Hollesey Bay will however remain a pipe dream, until I put a formal application in to the Governor. In it, indicating why given HMPS makes a song and dance of its track record in ‘Maintaining Family Ties’, being moved even further from Essex is a contradictory move. Buses don’t go too often between the two prisons and I hear sometimes prison to prison moves between D Cat establishments allow an inmate to make his own way there. That would be nice, a road trip with the family and a chance to visit some of my favourite road side services. I am informed that I can expect to wait between 8 and 10 weeks before such a transfer request is considered, I resign myself to the here and now.

The sunny daytime has made way for a damp evening. I put on my trainers and run for 6 km. The compound has a 1km circumference, I lap it 6 times. It clears my head, a cold shower and my first roll call (More on this tomorrow) gets me a little more settled. I write a to-do list of things to research now I’m here:

– Unused visit allocations

– Arranging visits

– Transferring canteen funds

– Application to move

disoriented yes, but enjoying the distinctly more peaceful surroundings I have landed in. Temporary or Permanent, time will tell.



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