30 Mar

I struggled to sleep last night. No nightmares just a shocking cellmate. The snoring is unlike any I’ve heard before, it’s intermittent, you can’t fall into a sleeping tolerance of it. Just as it peaks and troughs rhythmically, it scatters all sense of sequence and erupts into asphyxiation by mucus. There’s even a momentary struggle followed by silence, where my ears prick up in case it’s his final breath. It never is and just as this sound softens, constant gas adds to the orchestra. Eventually I drift off, until woken at 5 by a torch shone in my face by a night guard. Part of the 5am ‘Silent’ roll check. Silent it may be, very visible it is also.

As 7 am draws round, I rise early on a saturday, conscious that there is an alleged rush for the first gym session at 8.15. I choose to ignore the cooked breakfast as it seems like an easy distraction from exercise. I toast some bread I kept from yesterday’s dinner, have a cup of tea and stand outside the billet door, waiting for the release bell. Poised as an Olympic sprinter set for the start of the 100m, waits for the starter gun.

Shar, a lad in my billet seems disappointed as he moves about, noticing others too with the same fitness inclination as he. I look out across to other billets and finally believe the truth in the statement:

“The first gym slot fills up fast”

The rumours are very real, a sense of anticipation sits in the air. Leave your billet before the morning release bill and risk a nicking. No-ones tempting fate.

There’s a maximum 35 man capacity and if you get in last you run the risk of having barely enough equipment to use, to do starjumps.

A little later and i’ll be queuing for an hour until the next session.

My foot is pushed against the wall, prepped on the balls of my feet – this is my starter block.

Anticipation persists.


I launch past Shar, driving my arms; I zip past the billets and I’m out onto the wide expanse of the cricket pitch.

In front of my toes I see other inmates flooding from all directions like rats leaving a ship. One chap stops sharply in front of me – the look of resignation on his face as he realises he has forgotten his all important ‘Take Everywhere’ ID card. I care not, as I get closer


Nearly there

YES! I take up my place and feel a sense of pride coming in, in the top ten. I breathe out hard, my lungs pump aggressively; everything I was told about the amusing morning rush was true. I feel ready to go back to bed now.

As the gym burned to the ground, a number of inmates risked injury to rescue equipment through the night from the former fitness centre. Had they not done so, the prison would be lucky to have so much as a football. Such foolish yet fore-sighted action is never going to be acknowledged. But with the gym still a long way from completion, hundred of residents at Ford have been afforded some form of physical conditioning time thanks to a handful of good blokes. They’ve broken the law and are doing their punishment, don’t think for a second it detracts from this good deed.

The gym occupies the visits hall, with weights moved back out into a storage area at the end of the alloted times, to create visiting space. It works, surprisingly well. That said, the best run department is the sports department. Without them, Ford would have had more frequent disturbances. With limited gym time, sessions run for 45-60 minutes depending how lucky you get. I crack on with a workout written down for me by Daz, I remind myself to write to him today: which I duly do.

Not in the mood to return back to a dark acridly scented room, I do some power walking. I notice Delroy keeps the remote by his bed and has at no time asked me if there is anything I’d like to view. I consider submitting an application to halt the weekly 50p tv deduction on the grounds I am not interested in having a tv set. To polite to say anything, I fancy seeing how much confusion I can create by my alternative proposal. If I don’t want the service of a tv, can they still deduct me money for one? It’s a service I don’t require.

I have begun to take some pleasure in submitting applications that are redundant in desire moments after submission. I know it will cause paperwork and hassle for the screws. It’s the WW2 British Forces POW approach:

Colonel Luger the Great Escape says:

“It is the sworn duty of all officers to try to escape. If they cannot escape, then it is their sworn duty to cause the enemy to use an inordinate number of troops to guard them, and their sworn duty to harass the enemy to the best of their ability.”

Replace officer with prisoner and subject content with pointless paperwork building application submissions.

I can’t walk forever, I resign myself to my fate and head back. Lets see how long I can stretch out a shower.



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