How to drag out a job

3 May

Torrential rain blankets Ford, so much, that it takes a great deal of my will-power to extricate myself from the warm confines of my billet and brave the squall above. Being late for a working session can generally see you placed on report, I don’t really care right now; it’s pretty nasty.

All inmates are kitted with oversize green ponchos to colour co-ordinate with pretty much every item in our possession. Trousers, blankets, sheets, pillow cases, pillows, gillets, towels… Mostly the ponchos just drain the run-off water down the front and back of inmate’s trousers. It leaves you with sodden legs and excessive rain eventually permeates the poncho too. Me and a course mate, Gary (Not his real name – in for GBH on a bent copper) have spent the first hour of the working day sat squarely in front of a heater to dry off and warm up. This is productive.

The remainder of the morning involves me watching my pal Tim hammer a piece of copper pipe into a handle for a wooden carry box he’s made and screwing in 3 cupboard handles onto a kitchen unit. This is as poor a showing of effort as it sounds. Each handle requires 1 screw. That’s 3 screws that were turned into place for an entire morning. The handles were made by an expert carpenter we have on the course at the moment, a magic touch however was a selection of hidden messages on the underside. Written by inmates for screws.

Given my prison wage of 45pence per half day, I still think screwing in place 3 door knobs across the entire morning, is value for money for taxpayers. How much could you get a chippie to do in your house for 45p?

One day, many decades from now, some one may strip out that kitchen and in dismantling the units, may come across these messages and chuckle. I love social commentary; it’s like a message on a wall written under wallpaper you see when decorating a house. The message, might be one of happiness or angst written generations ago but interesting regardless.

Long Lunch

The first thursday of every month is a Governor’s meeting. This means inmates remain in their billets for longer over lunch. This is fine for us, it gives us a chance to catch up on our sleep or for me: write. The bell finally chimes just after 3, giving us a nice 4 hour lunch. Tomorrow’s a half day and this afternoon I have no intention of going back to my classes just to sit on my hands. I head across to the education department to sit at a desk and practice my Spanish.

After dinner, Spence, myself and a friend Baz, knock out an 8km jog. Baz is a marathon fan and while he looks like any ordinary man approaching his middle ages, he is surprisingly fit and pushes us 20somethings. On our return, Spence being in the building game too, puts on Cowboy Builders (a cell favourite) as we sit down to be shocked at the standard of work of the Charlatans covered. I kill some time, as a I wait for the phone to be free, then speak to my mother to find out the news I’ve waited for, for a couple of years now.

I’ve got my passport back!

Happy Days

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