Capers in the control room – HMP Ford

16 May

The morning bell this saturday sounds at 6.55am – then nothing for an hour. The first morning bell usually chimes at 7.45, so a manually sounded roll check alarm run from the control room, is down it can be assumed to a handful of screws thinking it would be funny to wake everyone up that bit earlier. Given that nearby homeowners can hear the morning bells, it’s somewhat inconsiderate and anti-social to those perfectly law abiding local residents who were woken up that bit early on their saturday morning off. It’s a snidy little action that just makes prisoners dislike screws, where they may have previously been ambivalent.

On some occasions the roll-call bell sounds for a brief moment, at other times it rings off like an overweight screw has dropped his paunch on the push buzzer. Suffice to say, in a quiet wooden hut at 7.30am, we hear the bells no matter how brief they are.

The prisoners wake up with a gripe on their day off, I get some small pleasure from seeing the screw taking our billet’s roll check stack it over the bin I leave outside the door. Living in such a small space, it isn’t a favoured option of mine to sleep with a bin by my face. As no one else chooses to leave their bins outside the door, the guard obviously didn’t have to engage his mind beyond ‘Stage 1 Screw Functionality’.

Stage 1 :

Breath in; breath out, burp, feed hamster in skull, repeat…


With no gym this morning and none tomorrow, I wouldn’t be surprised if some irritation is shown on the prison site. This is evidenced later when a Russian lag here has a plate of food chucked in his face after slighting an ex boxer from London. The Russian has a reputation for bullying the small, a man his own size standing up to him is well received by the onlooking audience. True to form of a bully, he scurries away when challenged. George and I take a walk after breakfast to kill the time that would otherwise have been filled by the gym session and me being encouraged to thrash my self on a rowing machine.

I grab a coffee after we walk for 4km and then catch up with Spence who is on the grass outside the billet being beasted into submission by an old boy who is able to produce an exceptional volume of push-ups. Spurred on by this show of physical excellence by a man in his 50s, I spend the next hour doing shuttle runs and then knocking out 12 rounds of skipping. In doing the latter I generally attract a small audience; today this includes a drug importer, two fraudsters, including one Carousel VAT scamster; and a man sent to prison for using his fists in a public place. All are perfectly normal to talk to and it is only when I am writing on my daily experiences that I consider them as social misfits, offenders the black sheep of society. I do find it harder to skip well with a little team of supporters but it certainly helps kill the time better. I certainly never pictured such a scene in the weeks before I was sentenced. All of those irrational fears and nothing has come of them. The truth is, prison life is what you make of it. So I’m making friends and getting productive.

Match of the Day and X Factor is on, plus the defence of my quiz title. Saturday’s tasty.


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