Tag Archives: clive connors

Comedy Club

9 Jun

Boxing Day

I was never so aware as today, quite how many animation movies run on our tv over the Christmas period. The prison breakfast is gradually running shorter each day of available items, such that I expect a right hook on the final day from the kitchen staff, instead of a warm dish.

Today’s insomniacal boredom is punctuated by a ‘Strongman’ competition, contested by only 4 inmates. Given the braggadocio within these barbed wire fences, it surprises me so few are willing to prove their physical prowess. Perhaps talking about it is less strenuous, or maybe they are taking a winter break from being ‘Gangsta’. In other avenues of occupation, George obliterates the rowing record on the 2000m by 20 seconds. I was sure at one point I could literally see him developing a body wide hernia.

Team ‘Going for Gold’ also made a long awaited return to the prison quiz after many weeks of sitting it out due to what is best termed as: A decline in standards. A change in atmosphere at what was once an enjoyable, sedate and high brow evening; saw the introduction of easier questions to equal the standards so the quiz was more inclusive. Not wishing to seat myself on any intellectual pedestal, (Mine would be only half elevated I assure you) but isn’t the whole concept of a quiz, to determine who has a better spread of knowledge or grasp of a particular area? To dumb down the standard of questions kind of panders to the stupid. A stupid idea for stupid people. I like to think that a halfway functional human being can come away from a quiz after a poor performance and think:

“Hey, you know what? Maybe I should read more – I’m not as smart as those other chaps.”

Instead the mindset here must be:

“Hey, those questions were beyond my limited knowledge range, this is a fundamentally unfair system, that rewards those who make the effort to learn. I’m demanding the questions are made easier.”

For those people, perhaps a raffle may suit their insecure sense of self-worth. Like a quiz, but with no questions. You simply need to turn up and hold a ticket. Or steal one, if that suits those here more.

Back to the quiz, I don’t want to dwell on a result that I had initially thought saw us taking away free phone credit. Instead we placed in that position made famous by British sportsmen and women throughout the years. 4th.

Yes, a BRAVE 4th.

Andy Murray, Paula Radcliffe, Bobby Robson’s Heroes, Terry Venable’s Heroes, a bit more Radcliffe and probably a lot of white British 1500m runners.

The billet has turned into a bombsite over Christmas, a cleaner with an altogether different take on personal hygiene is ‘running’ things nows. The screws don’t do spot checks, so we have to live in squalor. Making matters worse, we have a phantom sh*tt*r  operating also right now. I believe it ‘s just the one, I don’t think these people work in teams. Parcels of human excrement keep turning up on the floor of the bathroom. Maybe it’s a statement to the cleaner, to start doing his job.

NYE

On it’s way is the first anniversary of the Great Fire of Ford Prison. The Riots, as they have been dubbed. The governor and screws are panicking that this year will see a repeat of last year’s events, despite the prison being made up of entirely different people…

I look forward to seeing how this day pans out.

Advertisements

Christmas Day in Prison – Scrooge to be Screwed

6 Jun

After a sleep disturbed by midnight Gangsta Rap and my own snoring, I awake to a warm Christmas Day. A cooked breakfast of sorts has been arranged for the next 3 days, so I grab mine at 8 before joining in with a 10am circuit down at the gym. It’s what you do Christmas morning, yes?

The big lunch is only a mild improvement on a usual Sunday ‘Roast’ – the one parsnip making that differential leap. Definitely ALL of the trimmings. 🙂 I don’t expect Claridges and many of my gripes or comments are tongue in cheek. At the end of the Servery queue, the Chapel staff hand out a Christmas card and a mars bar on behalf of the ‘Mother’s Union’. A lovely gesture by the charity that strives to help inmates maintain family ties while inside. It promotes a cheery smile too.

I’m smiling. This is my first and hopefully only Christmas in prison and part of me has a macabre fascination to go through with it to see what it’s like for those less fortunate in decision-making in society that go through such experiences. A handful of chaps from our billet who are united by military ties and a sense of sanity, sit down together for the meal, having made the effort to wear civvy clothes and stay out of prison issues for the day. It’s nice to spend the day in a manner that reflects freedom of choice and expression, as best possible given the circumstances.

The phone in the billet is busy early in the day as prisoners call home, whisper sweet nothings or return to form and yell at their spouses. George has to deal with an inmate who feels that his own Christmas Tupac message should be able to filter through to George’s mother via the background noise on the phone. Even on days such as today, it’s alarming how many people lack self-awareness or possess a consideration for others when it comes to noise or in fact any aspect of life.

Is this education? Parenting?

Whatever it is, it strikes back to that sense of entitlement that society seems to harbour more and more in recent decades. Agitation grows over George’s riposte to the lairy adolescent with music at such volume. Our Grandparent’s queued for fruit, lost school friends in ‘Just Wars’ and were thankful for hand-me-down clothing. Our generation and it’s offspring, cannot envision a time without convenience, luxury or their opinion being heard. The cries of the few are heard over the tolerant silence of the many.

Don’t listen to angry music and delude yourself that the lyrics of a commercially minded businessman are anything other than that. He plays to an audience that thinks they’re kindred spirit, he lies for you to buy. The reality is, your fellow man is all around you and looks nothing like you imagine. Aim high but don’t tread on another to get there, the footings are weak.

Don’t daydream for a decade or double to realise you didn’t make hay while the sun shone. The wannabes in prison exist in the droves as they do on the outside. Year after year spent wishing for  a life of someone else, when all the tools you needed to make your own could be had too. 20 years later you wished you’d learnt that trade, that craft, that skill, that profession. Biggie didn’t wear a boiler suit and mend central heating systems, but Biggie got shot dead and my plumber’s got pots of cash. Smell the coffee boys and come back to the real world.

The notion of knuckling down and putting up with the hand that God gave you, seems to be disappearing as fast as the faces of World War veterans on Remembrance Sundays. Life isn’t always glamorous and life isn’t always fair but if we don’t start living for what we have and making the best use of it we can, then it will pass you by and that will be your time over.

Next stop, you and I are disparate atoms lingering in the void of cold dark space after the Sun has ceased burning and the Earth has stopped living. The galaxies merge and neighbouring stars die too. Billions of years pass by and we are in the infinite nothingness of the Big Freeze. Cosmologists and Astronomers will tell you we are insignificant in all of this. Maybe we are, but I’d like to think that even if our generation’s existence can be measured as a fraction of one heartbeat of a single human lifetime, at least let it be a beat that shows signs of a cathartic, energetic and fulfilling pump of life and not a whimper or trifling whine. Life truly is too short to waste idle.

Philosophical rant over, it’s not unsurprising that if an inmate can’t think how a neighbour might be disturbed by their activity, you hear they wound up in prison after failing to spot a policeman quite overtly monitoring them.

Christmas Day over, touchwood, I’ll never need to spend another 25th of December considering the prospect of Prison.

 

A day after delight

3 Jun

I spend awhile this morning in the drop in centre, my office since I transferred to the Diversity team helping ex servicemen utilise the charitable provisions in place for them. I talk to the senior officer Sheridan about my life thus far. He is a sound guy and a man I won’t call a screw. I have more in common with him that 50% plus of the prisoners here. He is respectful and takes the time to listen. Possibly for him hearing a frank tale of an inmate’s journey helps him understand those his job involves managing. An informed Prison Officer is undoubtedly better equipped to do his job.

In the Billet, days away from his Christmas home leave, in fact days away from his first trip outside in 3 years, a young lad Jamie we’ve befriended has been contacted by outside probation and told that due to the emotional nature of Christmastime and the fact that his probation office will be closed – it’s not wise for him to be allowed home. This is spite of him being given the green light weeks ago, raising his hopes and making plans at home. Mum was happy, the brothers too, their boy Jamie was coming home for Turkey.

Now, he’s devastated. But… his attitude in response to it all speaks volumes about his character and how he has matured. Having friends who won’t see outside for a decade  makes him philosophical about his situation. To an outside observer however, it’s obvious, moments like this can have a hugely negative impact on the long term rehabilitation process. You wouldn’t be wrong to suggest this creates a contempt toward the ‘Superiors’ negligence. This arbitrary approach, a top down attitude really has no place in the Prison and Probation Service. It ignores the individuality of every situation – one size does not fit all.

Back to Jamie, he will not know be rewarded for his hard work. I buy some extra mince pies instead to put a smile on his face come the 25th of December.

I count down the days until the 18th, my pretend Chrimbo, 4 days away until I can sleep in my own bed and be fawned over by the women in my life.

 

Part 2 – His and Her’s Tale. His Tale

1 Jun

His Tale:

51/2 months down, more than 6 since I’ve seen her last. I wake up nervous, my stomach filled with butterflies, today is the day I’ve dreamed of.

I keep myself occupied with a visit to the gym, setting  a new 30 minute distance row PB, 7631m. I see myself making improvements in personal fitness, it means my time here is not entirely a waste.

I have little appetite as my mind is focused on a date with destiny. I wonder where she will be sat, will she find it okay? What will she be wearing? What will we talk about? Will she cry? Will I cry?

So many thoughts drift, well, race across my mind as the minutes tick by.

I kill the hour before the visit deciding what to wear, showering and making sure I look as good as a man can whilst being in prison. I fear she will see something less than she has in me, in visiting me today. For the first time, a sense of shame crosses me as I think about my whereabouts. She is this travelled, articulate, intelligent and unique creature. Special in so many ways. I am a prisoner, stripped of liberty and often times dignity.

She tasted foods until recently from the magical east and the Orient; I queue up for mine with a plastic bowl. I know my worries are likely ill-founded, R would love me still even if I wore orange overalls today. It’s her best quality of all. She makes Mase feel young and wanted; she get’s my humour and inspires creativity within me, when other’s have only stifled it. My feet are shuffling and my knees are bouncing. I can;t take my mind off my anxieties: “Why am I so nervous?” I tell a friend who knows about my visit.

“MASON” is called out by a screw on duty, I scamper off to the visit’s hall so I am as near to the front as possible. I don’t want to lose a minute with this girl who waits for me.

As I walk through the door to the side of the hall, I am patted down by a guard and then look ahead of me.

Slightly to my side, my eyes lock on to the most beautiful sight, I can’t believe what I can see. It has been so long and yet I see nothing but the very best of that person I said goodbye to at the airport all those months ago. More beautiful than ever, tanned, lithe and running toward me at a concerning pace. She flies into my arms and wraps herself around me. It is all I can do to keep myself on my feet. In that moment of power blessed with her affection, she crashed into me and holds me close; as I hold her the same.

I feel like I’ve been set free.

I could be acquitted.

I could have been found not guilty.

I feel every emotion that equates to happiness. Today is marked down as one of the happiest days of my life.

When you have nothing but emotion, no material obstructions and no insincerity, you can find  a piece of true beauty, true euphoria that even drugs cannot deliver. In losing my freedom, I have tasted what it is to truly feel liberty. You may never envy my location, my whereabouts, my happenings and my failings but I will never envy your lives if I could go a lifetime without an experience that I shared with her today.

I spend the next two hours, nervous, giggling and an inch from the prettiest nose on earth. Tomorrow she comes again, I’ll sleep like a child waiting for Santa.

Life in Prison

28 May

So today is 3 months since I was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court and it feels like a good deal longer. Life is not tough, though a little boring at times, still, I can exercise each day, read the papers/books and have  a laugh. It’s just that I can think of more constructive things I could do with my time. I’ve seen a lot in my time inside and experienced such a spread of diverse peoples, a range perhaps I shall not see in my life had I not been “Behind the Door”.

I’m entering a writing competition with the literary class, I spend a bit of time today, completing my entry. I also am introduced for the first time to ‘Speed Solitaire’. A variation on conventional computer solitaire, using the one card draw method; by two inmates in the Education Department and who use my office, who are counting down the days until their release.

**BAD NEWS**

I’ve run out of visits and am likely to have sunday’s visit with my sister knocked back. How irritating that the most efficient system, in fact possibly the only efficient system is the visits booking schedule. I do still have an ‘Emergency Visit Order’, I am waiting to hear that it is still valid. The prison has cracked down on abuse of the system of late after complaints made by some inmates who missed out on visit slots. I’d sympathise with these grasses if I didn’t already know these same people were the type to be so badly organised that they have left something as important as arranging a visit with ‘loved ones’ to the last minute.

I speak to R finally and things seem okay, it’s a weight off my mind. She lets slip a surprise that she may be home earlier than expected. I’m thinking she probably had to do this just to appease me, like a spoilt child. Back in the kitchen, someone has stolen our worktop and our wheely bin. The residents of G2 are fuming at this inconsiderate action. Rather than ask prison estates to replace items, aggrieved inmates just nick someone else’s. To demonstrate the intelligence of those that dwell here, the billet stereo was left plugged in and put on the wet sink top. Perhaps this says more about the lack of training in practical skills than in the lack of common sense present. Who nicks a bin?

Tonight in the gym I train without my Ford Mr Fix It; the last time I saw him today he was off to pick up 10 bottles of Vodka. I think the worse when he doesn’t show up for training, With his release dates approaching its not like him to miss training. I needn’t have worried though, he falls into my cell stinking of booze to borrow some pegs for his washing after evening roll call. With only weeks to go until his release an ineligible for tag, any nickings of adjudications he picks up now will have little or no effect on his release date as he will be gone before they are sat before a judge. He therefore cares little about bending rules in his final days. He is a funny fella despite his criminal temerity and I enjoy hanging about with him. I like knowing how the real prison works and he can be assured I am very good at keeping mum; it’s why I’m here.

 

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.

Day 48

28 Apr

Sunburnt

I fell asleep in the late afternoon sun and succumbed to the affliction of the Englishman who has seen little sunlight for a while.

I sit on one of the numerous scattered benches with a cup of coffee and a George. We watch the inmates play football and in the process kick-off with one another. The sound of studs on shin pad echo out with all the aggression the sound was created with.

Having taken in a cooked breakfast and a trip to an over-crowded gym session, my day is almost complete.

While the weights are heavily crowded , the CV (Cardiovascular) machines are often left collecting dust. With a capacity of 35 each session, its irritating to be denied access when all you want to do is sit of the rower. I’m surprised that it hasn’t been seen as logical to separate the two areas and run separate sessions. This would open up fitness to those who feel intimidated to exercise for fear getting int the shadows of the Alpha Males. Many of the older chaps here don’t want to have to fight to hold their spot in the queue with some of the steroid enhanced, tuna drinking, meat-heads that overpopulate the prison system. Darwin would have a seizure if he saw the evolutionary level of some of the inmates who vye for the limited gym places. Would blow his theory right out of the water.

That said, I guess there will always be the anomalies.

Football

I love football but many don’t. The sports department gear a lot of fitness sessions around Soccer, so it’s with great irritation that our idea of ‘Touch Rugby’ was thrown out as an idea for being too dangerous.

I think they’ve miss the point of ‘TOUCH’ Rugby. The very game breaks down if you exceed this level of contact and it misses the point of having phases. Football however with it’s flying tackles, constant injuries requiring days out of the prison to physio’s and sneaky trips to the missus’; is allowed to crack on. This is the inconsistency of prison though, small minded people’s misapprehension of conflicting and perfectly straightforward regulations, means one prison encourages and another prohibits. This invariably wastes time further down the system when an inmate complains over blocked property and why he’s not allowed his shin pads now.

As George and I sit there talking about the Proceeds of Crime Act and Confiscation Orders; I think again about the notion of ‘Touch Rugby’ being two violent – about the same time, two inmates limp off the field of play after chasing a round ball.

Prison Logic.

Quote Good

Back in the billet, banged up for bed, Spence tells me a line he read on a cell wall when he was in Cat A Woodhill.

“They can lock the locks, but they can’t stop the clocks”

I think it’s mint, I write it down. It says everything about the mind of a prisoner sat in a Bang-Up, thinking of the time they’ve got to serve.

 

 

 

Family Time

18 Apr

I hear my name called out…

“Mason” the usual bellow

I wander over to the screw’s reception window and deep in animated conversation he  and a colleague connected via the end of a telephone, discuss me. For a second or ten I worry that right at this moment those on duty, have spotted my recent liberal approach (Some say ostentatious) to booking visits. I’m put out of my misery soon enough. As it happens, the visit had been booked for saturday not friday. So a little paper-shuffling later and possibly some grumbles over a minor workload spike and I can get across to see my parents for the second time in 5 days.

I see Dad first, I greet him with a warm embrace, one from a boy who appreciates these days how valuable time with your Dad truly is. I used to be a nasty piece of work and had little time for my parents. I cherish the ground they walk on these days; adolescent behaviour long since passed, you only get one chance at being a good son. No more days need spoiling, I love them dearly.

I suggest we sit on the picnic benches scattered outside in a grassy quad. Moments later a little blondie appears, hands stacked with snacks; its my second sister Mel. It’s the first time I’ve seen her face in 6 weeks, the last occasion was a brave faced pal sat smiling at me from the gallery in Southwark. A softening smile, pushing away the grim prospect of the near term as I awaited my fate. She was a gem to my family and offers support like it’s going out of fashion.

At Southwark she sat there, with my mother’s hand in hers and when my mother cried she was there, being the crutch for her to lean on. When my father was sad, she was there too. As my uncles gave brotherly kindness to my father, Mel was there for the ladies in my life.

She is a diamond and I am blessed for someone like her to be beside my parents at such a difficult time.

Today in comparison was almost one of jubilation. I’m not free, not for a while; but to my parents and my pal, those two hours of fizzy drinks, flapjacks and sweets felt like I was.

Time flies when you’re having fun – tell that to an inmate on home leave or a dad cradling his newborn baby in the visit’s hall; time is but an apparition, an oasis. Never long enough and always uncertainty, whether there’ll be another time.

Back at the cell and I’m a human again. I fall fast asleep and miss dinner. I still feel ropey but Cuprofen is good stuff!

Friday Classic, it’s fish and chips – I miss it, I must be duff.

I remember to tune into Annie Mac on Radio 1, a shared favourite show with R. I listen to the sounds of the latest electronic music and imagine better times with my little princess. The music I feed from with earphones that isolate me from my surroundings, is an orchestra of pleasure. My own ears have been subjected to Aural poverty. Cell doors’ slamming, snores, guard’s bellowing, it’s all I’ve heard since Rivlin sentenced me.

Now here, sat on the end of an undersized, creaking, worn out bed, surrounded by a room and it’s fittings soiled by life and sadness – I am hunched over my glimmer of happiness.

Like a school stressed teenager, this is my window into a happier future. My digital radio, playing the latest house music; that in the not too distant future, I will be able to stand on a moon soaked beach with my sweetheart dancing to.

Day 33/34

9 Apr

A new lad has joined us on the carpentry course. Tim, he’s come in from Highdown, a young lad, all the signs of the usual tearaway simply needing some structure and boundaries in his life. Nice kid, a bit needy.

I spend some time putting together my study folder and am buoyed by the news that come August the prison will have the follow on course for that which I’m currently on.

I’ll know my wood by the time I get out of prison.

Funny, that’s what my mates said would be the case before I got sent down.

Day 34 and it’s the end of my first ‘working’ week at Ford. Friday is a half day here, I don’t know if it’s because of some special event or it’s just the norm. There is always another item you’re yet to learn in prison. I’m hoping however, that it is the norm; I can get used to half day Fridays. It’s a sunny day so some sun worshipping can be accommodated this afternoon before I hit the gym at 6. Sounds like I’m in Spain, but I’m not.

I’m in prison and tonight I go to bed in my single cell bed, in a share celled with an intolerable man with a weak grasp of hygiene habits. My family aren’t here and my girlfriend is thousands of miles away.

You make the best of a bad situation if you’ve got the right marbles to do so; but prison’s still prison and the weather is good in Hell too.

The week’s meal card is on my bed waiting to be filled in when I arrive back to my cell. It’s a fun little diversion to occupy me for ten minutes, I’ll hand it back in before I can use the reverse side for doodling.

Airmail

A padded letter stamped from India, screams ‘A message from my baby’. I’m excited to take it in my hands from the screw in the mail room. I’d never expected to receive letters from my girl directly. I have got used to the proxy means of her sister, that we currently use.

I squeeze the letter, like a child at Christmas tests his presents for signs of a clue.

Inside is a hand written letter complete with doodles – it’s beautiful, they’re beautiful, she’s beautiful. I save it, there’s no way I will read it all now, it would be such a waste to spoil it in a dinner queue; besides ‘R’ doesn’t write in small measures. The letter even smells like her. It’s been 7 weeks since I said goodbye to her now, the scent of this woman, to me is the smell of forever happiness.

Before I left, she had put together a scrapbook of our time, it’s the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me and here stashed inside this envelope is a photocopied version of every page. I wonder where I’ll pin new pictures and her doodles, I’m desperately shy of available surface space around my bed now.

In contrast to these moments of fleeting happy thoughts, I put a complaint in about the delay in passing me back my radio (This is an ongoing issue in prison clearly) and fetch my Cajun Tuna Baguette from the lunch hall. It sounds better than it tastes.

As the afternoon roll check is done, we are passed our canteen sheets and I sit down to figure out how I can spend my £34.75 allowance.

 

 

WORLD Cafe Day… here? In Ford? YES!!

7 Apr

A slip floats it’s way under my door to deliver the news.

I’ve selected to represent a section of the prison and will be attending World Cafe Day. This seems to sound an awful lot like an international cuisine exhibition. I momentarily lose awareness of my whereabouts.

This can only mean one thing with the word ‘Cafe’ in. It’s definitely going to involve food. Like a Victorian Urchin, the prospect of free nourishment (This includes bread) is a dreamy proposal. In prison, extra food is both a luxury and a comfort. In-fact scrap that last word.

Food is a wondrous joy.

I set myself up for an emotional fall of ‘Dropped pizza on a night out’ proportions.

First off, a late start means a little lie in. The event is to be hosted by the governess – or Governor as it’s appropriate to call them now. Short of offending. Although why the use of the masculine term as the overall term for a professional title, is any less misogynistic (Sexist) is beyond me.

The meeting held in the dining hall is screaming out to be a food based event.

Cue massive anti-climax

Being in the dining hall is the nearest I get to food.

No food.

What is this torment that has befallen me?

Seemingly, world cafe day is a fancy moniker for a:

Governor/Prisoner open forum. A focus group. We are asked a range of questions with groups answering different elements. The findings within each group are then presented to the open forum. The idea being is a useful event to address concerns an generate new ideas. The reality, is the last prison inspection bemoaned the absence of such a forum. This is a box ticking exercise therefore.

What I ascertain from the meeting can be summarised with the words:

“Nothing much changes”

One thing that did shock me however was the following:

Prison Industry at Ford produces £187,000 income per annum. This is in spite of it having a 500 man population who are paid less than the price of a pizza each week. With a captive labour market, the type only businesses in China can boast, the best the prison’s business director can do is raise little more than the price of an iPad per man each year. They’d be better off having us all here manning an outbound charity raising call centre. This is an overpaid manager in the public sector, who will no doubt have more job security during the next round job cuts than a teacher; yet offers infinitely less to society. He will not be held accountable for his dismal business performance, but bask in the shadow of the ignorant bliss cast by the closed-shop nature of the Prison Service.