Tales of Prison Life

17 May

Dinners tripe today – not tripe but resembling poor quality produce. A roast dinner which features an undercooked chicken drumstick, boiled potatoes and courgettes, is not a roast. Not exactly drama number one, but disappointing nonetheless.

I find food solace in a visit with the folks. Two beef pasties, a flapjack, bakewell tart, Lion Bar and 4 diet cokes form my real Sunday lunch. The visit flies by as they always do as I enjoy sitting around a table with my mum and dad. I enjoy that a lot more than cringing as my mother remarks on other inmates and their choice of partners, in a volume that is distinctly louder than a whisper but with that pretend whisper voice for effect. I am aware that all mother’s likely do this and my cringes are the same shared by many other inmates over the years. Mum’s will always find a way to embarrass you but I can forgive a bit of nosiness, it’s their legal right I believe.

It’s Ramadan this month and my lunchtime food excesses are compounded when a billet mate, Hussain brings round a selection of Samosas, Bhajis and Curries for us to munch away at. Ramadan here started with 40 inmates observing the principles of fasting during daylight hours, it is a week or so in and only 7 are still keeping to it. The ones that have fallen by the wayside highlight a common trend in the UK Prison system; Pr-Islam. Many young offenders who come into the system via inner city detention centres convert to the teachings of the Koran. Or more accurately, the firebrand extremist preaching and the immediate clanship that goes with joining the Islamic brotherhood behind bars. As these younger prisoners grow up or move out of the closed system and into an open prison, religion gradually ceases to be of the same importance as it once was; and a breed of fairweather followers emerges. Despite not keeping to the fasting of Ramadan, these others still collect their bulk daily meals after dark as well as queuing up to take the normal prison servings. Kind of really defeats the point that Ramadan aims to teach. Having spoken to one inmate, Chris who takes his beliefs seriously, I understand there is some disappointment that this liberty has been taken.

………………………………

George has created the spreadsheet countdown I discussed before. I have 112 days until I am eligible for home leaves. A blink of a lifetime but a lifetime away to think about.

………………………………

Sunday evening’s bells ring for the following durations:

Bell 1: 10 Seconds

Bell 2: 12 Seconds

Bell 3: 18 Seconds

Bell 4: 7 Seconds

I know this delightfully boring fact as I counted it using the ‘Hippopotamus’ count technique.

I begin to keep notes from now on, on the time that the bells toll, the pauses in between them and their duration. What I will do with this data is anybody’s guess, but it’s a ‘keep me busy’ occupation that I really don’t have anything better to do.

When the screw comes round, I ask him why the ‘Automated’ roll call alarm is so irregular. He explains it’s manual.

“Why then didn’t the guard in the control room think when he had headed north of ringing the bell for 20 seconds, that he should possibly stop?”

I don’t think the screw really understood the wording of my question, I mutter “47 Seconds” under my breath.

Deaf ears.

Ironic.

…………………………..

The mail orderly headed down to the reception with the day’s parcels yesterday, as his job entails; he’s met with a:

“Too busy, bring them back tomorrow” (This is the prisoner’s post by the way. One extra day to wait at least now before it’s cleared)

Today the orderly returns to the reception with twice as much post as the day before and a holdall* to hear the same screw say:

“I can’t do all that mail! I’ve got new arrivals in an hour.”

The orderly advises him that it may be wise then to use that spare hour before they arrive and clear this mail. The backlog will be larger still tomorrow. *Along with the parcels is a holdall containing a note reading:

“Dear Sir/Madam,

this is property for my son’s release. Please take care as a phone, charger and other valuables are enclosed.”

With a sneer of contempt for a caring mother’s thoughtful gesture, Mr Smith throws the holdall into the concrete wall of the reception.

Ironic.

One lad’s about to finish doing his penitence, his debt repaid, this screw’s wanton act of vandalism to other’s property is both petty and sinister. How nasty can you be? Do you want people like this reforming Britain’s broken generation?

Spence has his tag confirmed for next week. I’ll be sad to see him go and will aim to see if George can move into the space coming available. Cellmate roulette is not a game I fancy playing.

 

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