27 Mar

As fast as one disturbance leaves me, another replaces it.

Roll Check.

What’s roll check? Its 3 blasts on a fire bell, followed by a 4th and then a 5th, to ensure we stand at our doors ready to be counted. It’s a primitive system and the fact it requires 5 bells before it even begins is absurd. There is no consistency in the bell duration, the pauses between each sound and the wait one must hover around their doorway for. The process can be broken down a little more like this:

The first 3 blasts are to let you know a roll call is due.

The next means get ready

The last means they’re on their way. A couple of days tick by and a new Governor arriving with a ‘Shake up’ in mind, reduces it to 4 bells and a fifth after. Just to let you know its completed. Big change, what’s a man with ideas like that wasting away in Prison Management….. ahem.

You stand by your door and along comes a man or woman at the death of their career, with a clipboard and poor numeracy. A struggle often occurs as confusion reigns on the whereabouts of an inmate on home leave or day release. We stand around a little more, fidgety and with Eastenders or some other brain development retarding agent belting out of the tv.

“I’m missing the end mate!” Shouts an In-Person. A newly acquired politically correct term for a prisoner who you have no opinion of. This is fictional, my writing hand is wandering. I’ve made some pals this evening. Femi and Lol. Both in for fraud, both not their first time. Femi loves the chat and immediately strikes besides his conviction for deceit as a fairly conscientious person with a decent heart. I’ll verify this judgement now. He never asks me for anything and always has time for hello. When I bid him farewell months down the line, it is with genuine thought that I wish him good luck. Lol is no different but a little quieter. Notable details, he is a Chelsea fan and bald, yet looks a decade younger than he is. Swings and roundabouts I spose. He seems like a little fountain of knowledge and is earmarked as a good egg.

Russian is chain smoking out the door, the billet is a non-smoking hut but as I learn over time, rules are meant to be:

a. Ignored

b. Not enforced

On a cold evening when every fraggle has their radiator up to max, the act of opening your cell window, draws every bit of filthy smoke-filled air into your cell. Through the gaps round the door, the hidden killer makes its way into your boudoir and up your conk as you doze. You wake up with a throat sealed by expanded glands and a smoker’s cough of course. I’ll end up with Nicorette patches just to wean me off sleeping.

A Morgan Freeman movie is on the small tv in the cell, I watch it with my ‘Comrade’, his English is better than I first thought and he seems to laugh along. It’s not really a comedy though..hmm. Tomorrow is my last day of Induction, I dread the thought of working in the gardens or some other dead-end menial task. I’ve grabbed the bull by the horns already and have banged on the door of education. Full time education, will mean I can do my own thing and if I’ve got to be here for the next year or just shy, I have a few things I want to do with that time. Potting bedding plants, or making Poppies for the British Legion (No matter how admirable) is not how I can productively use my time inside. I’ve got Spanish to learn and a Haka to practise.



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