Tag Archives: first time in prison

His and Her’s tale

1 Jun

Her Tale:

My heart is beating so fast, I can feel every single note. Every beat draws time closer to that one moment.

One second closer, two, five….

I think of the last time I was this nervous. My driving test, opening my results letters or waiting to hear what happened to my Masey in my absence.

In those times, as it is for me now; my palms are sweaty, anxiety rips through my very being.

I’m agitated by the woman next to me, loudly telling her children they aren’t having sweets.

I’m agitated by the two men talking at length and at volume about their plans tomorrow.

I’m agitated.

I’m hot and my pulse is racing.

There is a fear within me. A fear I dare not profess to anyone but my own inner demon. I’m scared, I’m scared if it’s not the same.

Finally, the doors open and I’m allowed to walk through with the other visitors into a large square room, tables, chairs and a booth for food at the end. I take in nothing else but my thoughts.

I choose two seats that are together. I sit and I wait.

I wait a little longer

5 more minutes pass and men begin to shuffle through a door at the top of the hall. My attention is on nothing else but that door. Behind that door lies my hopes, my dreams and my future.

Or it crushes them.

THERE HE IS!

I see him, I run.

I run

I jump.

His arms are around me and I’m overcome with emotion AND love. I’m back in his arms.

 

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Cage Fighter Caged in a different life could be in London 2012 Rowing Team

31 May

I stay up late the previous night watching Scorcese’s Departed. Quality movie, but it leaves me sleepy the following morning. I go to bed pretty early these days, its the best way to get the day done. In the gym the next morning is a Cage Fighter and convicted drug trafficked Ken. A mammoth of  a fella and despite his warrior like appearance is very down to earth, respectful and approachable too. A former professional fighter, we strike up conversation over last night’s boxing. He hasn’t been here long and as I sit down to knock out a sedate 10km on the rowing machine, he plonks himself down next to me and obliterates the prison 1 minute distance test. I can only compare his output as an angry speedboat disrupting a leisurely Sunday afternoon’s canal barging. He takes a look at the other times on the different time trial leaderboards and comments casually:

“I’ll get a little fitter and I’ll see if I can beat those.”

Time proved his statement. He ends up holding the 2000m record. Watching the split times he produces in his rowing, they are phenomenal. The man is built for power and perhaps if life had thrown him a different hand, or had he been brought up in a more Tory environment, he could have been competing at an elite level with an oar in his hand.

Instead his life is shaded by organised crime and being paid to punch and kick.

Tall, broad and thickset, it’s funny how many would-be gold medal winners pass life by, completely ignorant to the sporting prowess they possess. I say ignorant, perhaps ‘unknowing’ is a more accurate description. Ignorant would be unfair. Ken, as a I shall call him should be sat in a boat on the Thames come July 2012. He will watch from Prison instead – sliding doors.

George has acquired some washing lines and erected a spider web around our ceiling. It is now our primary means of laundry. I admire his handiwork and listen to my Spurs beat Liverpool. Clarence, spends the day with his earplugs in, so he can enjoy Match of the Day in blissful ignorance. I know the score, I know he owes me biscuits, I see him before the highlights show and hold a straight face. Bless him, he is still confident of winning.

…………………………..

Day 99 arrives and is notable for the fact that it is day 99. More books arrive from R, I’ve got enough now, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get through all I have even with more time whacked onto my sentence.

Day 100 arrives and I feast on a little banquet of treats I purchased knowing this moment was coming. Diet Coke, wine gums, dates and OLIVES. The latter item, I had repeatedly flirted with buying but was put off as it seems a little OTT, ostentatious. But readers, NOW is definitely the time for Olives. As prison milestones go, 100 days is pretty big for me. In two weeks, I am at my halfway point and two after that I can apply for my first home leave.

I settle down for the evening, armed to the teeth with artificial sweeteners.

…………………………..

My 94 year old nan visits me today, the screws even hold doors open for her. That is the first time I’ve seen civility from them here. They may not show a lot of courtesy here, but they did today when it mattered. That ticked the box for me. Touched.

With my Nan came my parents, always a pleasure and these days I feel infinitely closer to them than I have ever been. I am the first to admit that this bad hand I’ve been dealt with is a blessing in disguise.

A new fella in the billet Ben strikes up a conversation. Just arrived here from a closed nick in Kent, he is on a 7 stretch. First impressions are that he has OCD but a good humour too. His cellmate is old enough to be his Dad, they make for an odd couple but it’s nice to get chatting to some new faces.

An ex screw is protesting out the front of the prison today over unfair dismissal or some nonsense due to a stress related injury. The gates are locked up and the local media are alerted. Inmates watch on vaguely interested but with a distinct lack of sympathy.

The World’s Stock Markets are again facing certain doom, I however am tackling a tougher issue. How to eat a bowl of custard with only a fork. I’ve forgotten my spoon for dinner and can’t remove the warm custard from the canteen. A few years ago, the wider financial market news would have etched a pain look upon my face as I would stare at the data screens and eek out an opportunity in a turbulent day of trading. How my life has changed immeasurably, how such stresses have ebbed and how much more content I’ve become.

Two mammoth swans arrive here at Ford, the seagulls seem a bit put out. Prisoners come out in droves to feed them. Lot of nature lovers here.

 

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.

 

Lord Taylor of Warwick Part 2

27 May

A hurricane is a brewing – I use this as an ideal opportunity to dry some clothes outside. On the flipside it could also be a terrible time to do so but I’ll take my chances.

On the news, I hear Lord Taylor of Warwick the Tory Lord jailed for expenses fraud has been given his electronic tag to observe a Home Detention Curfew. To the lay person, this means being released on tag. He will have to observe strict curfews or face being recalled to prison. Today is the 3 month point of my own sentence. Had I only received a year I too would be out today. I didn’t, so I’m not.

Anyone with a sentence between 6 months and 4 years is eligible for early release on tag. This means in the best case scenario an inmate can spend up to four and  a half months doing the remainder of their bird at home. This is providing they have a home to go to, are wanted their and not deemed a danger to the community. Importantly, it clears up bedspaces in our crowded system and makes for  a cheap solution to containment.

Lord Taylor’s first priority was to do some work for penal reform charities on his release:

“If anyone listens to me” He says.

It’s a strange turn of events when a member of the ruling elite need to be disgraced to better understand the plight of the contemporary mass and become more in tune with society. Sadly it also becomes that bit harder to be listened to when you find yourself in such a situation. He aims to see inmates categorised while in the court cells after sentencing. The burden this will ultimately relieve on strained resources would be of untold value. After sentencing, the 5 hours plus sat on a wooden bench in an empty space could be more efficiently used by HM Courts and save having to send sane non violent offenders on a prison merry-go-round just to have them wind up at the correct nick weeks later than need be. George is a case in point. I get the impression that a good deal of problems in the UK Prison system could be eradicated if better use of the money alloted was made.

I busy myself in the education office reminding inmates of the importance of manners when they demand I put their names down for the Education Gym session – many of whom are ineligible anyway. It falls on deaf ears, coincidentally I tend to forget to write their names down too, at just about the same time.

I can’t help but think of R, she sent me 5 emails today, I worry I’m being harsh. I have continued to write to her, I just haven’t sent the letters. I need my outlet, my writing keeps me occupied and it helps me vent the thoughts I don’t feel comfortable telling those around me here.

Today I am halfway to home leave.

 

 

The Prison of henpecked Husband

26 May

A friend comes to see me today. He has until recently had immeasurable success in his chosen field and has fought for this every step of the way. From a troubled upbringing, his efforts have been that much more than others to see him land in the spot he fills now.

He had an affair a year or more back and despite forgiveness he cannot expect it to be forgotten. The trust is gone in their marriage and now a recent business deal has gone sour due to some deceitful actions by an inlaw to an important business associate. His wife not siding with him has put the final nail in the coffin of their loveless marriage. Sat there, shoulders sloping, head down and million yard stare made my chirpy demeanour that bit brighter. I look around at the room we found ourselves in and then back to him. I might have been thinking along the same lines as him, but he speaks first and says the words I was possible thinking:

“I feel like I’m the one in prison, I just wish I was here sometimes free of this dark cloud'”

It’s true, I do feel good on good days and outside stresses rarely get to me (Partner matters aside). Maybe I’m different, I set my future up before I went in; I had made the choice to take a plea and not fight things – prison was inevitable from that point on. I just needed to get through this in the best way possible. So far, so good. Flick across to the juxtaposition I find myself in. A disgraced Cityboy, stripped of his worldly assets, bright eyed and bushy tailed, raring to go – sat next to a grey, aging, depressed shell of a man with troubles poorly managed around him. This sad beast is younger than me but you’d never know.

He has begun drinking too. How many more friends must I see begin to slip my grasp with the unspoken monster that is Alcohol.

Stripped of my shame, sat with a prison ID badge around my neck; I am the Freeman, his problems put my small fears into context.

………………………………

I am woken rudely as happens everyday courtesy of a prison guard’s torch at 5am. George is disturbed more than I and shows his anger clearly. His old cellmate is tolerating the delight of having a new lodger that experiences night-terrors. Lovely

The man in question was sentenced for selling falsely labelled items on Ebay. Notably, a plank of wood as an IPAD. Shockingly, he feels he has been harshly done by:

“If you are getting it for half price – what do you expect?” He exclaims.

“Well…” I consider

“Perhaps an IPAD…. for half price?”

The Rugby World Cup has begun, with the matches on at indecent hours I am planning on formulating a nocturnal sleeping timetable to accommodate the games. One of the more senior prisoners (But youthful in outlook – I know you read the blog) has provided me with a tournament timetable for my Cell to help me in this planning. I am primarily interested in the England games but I love watching the Welsh. Some say, the Kiwis of the North. I say that anyway. In fact I’d say New Zealand are the Welsh of the South.

I set up a biscuit bet between Clarence a billet buddy and myself over an upcoming Liverpool Spurs match. We bet the weekly breakfast pack biscuits that we are given. Here’s hoping I land some Custard Creams or Bourbons; not the biggest fan of ginger snaps.

**Perk Alert**

A fellow education orderly has found a fridge and freezer we can use on the sly. This is massive news in the world of prison. We set about discovering how ice cream can be made. In the mean time I use it to freeze a fruit drink carton for the very fact I can. Plus Ice Lollies are fun.

A cursory inspection under my bed today in a slack moment, tells me the bed is a damp rotting mattress. I apply to have this changed. If I’m lucky I’ll land a ‘bedwetting friendly’ blue plastic mattress.

Safety first

Prison’s Mr Fix It

25 May

I learn about the trading systems in prison today. My gym buddy is also Ford’s product hub. The ‘Go to Guy’ as it were. It’s interesting to see how it works, I’m more absorbed by prisoners such as this who have no concern if they get shipped out to a Bang-Up. They have sources in those too and many of the ‘smarter’ ones have contingencies already prepared. My pal is one such individual.

The prison estimates it mates millions of poppies each year for the ‘British Legion’; I didn’t believe it until today. I’m amazed by some people’s ability to switch off and perform mind numbingly repetitive tasks. It’s been a contentious issue for George and I, so after a satirical discourse I decide to venture over and put the matter to rest. We ask what the average man’s output is and multiply it by the number of inmates working in this department. We put a final figure at 2.25 million each year.

Spence was released this morning, I have a new cellmate and it’s not for the first time I share a small space with George.

…………………………….

I have my first issue with my partner since we have been separated. I miss her desperately and I know she feels the same. I get a letter that is down in the dumps, unsure of what she shall do on her return to the UK, I panic as I sense the first crack in what I know to be something strong. An email comes with it too, but I can’t bare to read it. I should have done, I pen her a one sided letter, make a decision not to call her and tell her that perhaps she shouldn’t contact me again. I don’t want a Dear John letter and I don’t want to face heartbreak.

This is how it’s left. I’m gutted.

For a few days matters remain the same and then I read the emails. I should have read the emails before I’d written to her. I call her immediately, everything’s rosy again. This is prison for you; communication being what it is here: hard, maintaining any semblance of rationality in what are otherwise minor relationship matters can be very taxing. I hear one prisoner yell down the phone at his wife each day; others whine to their parents, more still plead with ex girlfriends – flying off the handle is as everyday as having breakfast.

A bi-polar day splits into it’s brighter alter ego: Talksport’s Chris Davies visits the prison writing class and partakes in story telling as well as lighthearted encouragement. Cake and coffee on hand, this is a fine way to spend an afternoon in prison. I win a book, ex Spurs’ man and onetime racehorse owner, Alan Brazil has signed it.

Ironically it was the flogging of shares in Alan Brazil Leisure by Will’s and Co Stockbrokers, that heralded the beginnings of my career in Penny Share Broking and my route to destruction that sees me here. The company itself was a spectacular fail of an investment but yielded great sales commission to the brokers that pushed it onto largely mis-sold private investors. The brokers, Wills and Co, formerly of Bristol and Horsham, later of London; headed by Peter Shakeshaft and Robert Holgate was a hive of iniquity, debauchery and deceit.

From investigations by the Serious Fraud Office, adultery, embezzlement, punch-ups, drugs in the toilets to being forced to stand until we had sold some high commission stock that would later collapse.

Shakeshaft himself an ex Police Cadet, though you’d never know if he didn’t discuss it so frequently; would go on to make a killing on establishing and promoting a stock called Silicon Valley PLC.

Remember the tech boom in the late 90s?

You’ve heard of Silicon Valley right? (The broker’s asked their investing clients)

Well this company is called Silicon Valley….. (Frantic Buying Ensues)

The shares rose and rose as investors piled in to get involved in the hype, even those not pitched to by Wills and Co were buying shares. Internet searches on Silicon Valley would yield this company immediately. The stock made people like Peter Shakeshaft fortunes, millions even.

The business started in a bedroom and never really got far beyond that level. Shares being promoted for a £1 say, would be made available to the brokers for much less. It’s legitimate deception and goes on today still.

Back to the ‘Valley’ and allegedly Shakshaft has a boat by now named after this stock…Silicon Valley

Then…

The bubble bursts.

People got out as fast as they got in. Silicon Valley PLC was not Silicon Valley. Foolish was he that followed the herd. Those left holding the baby ended with nothing but losses.

And here’s me, sat on a balmy afternoon in prison; holding in my hand a book whose signatory shares a local and possibly much more besides with the men who set me on this merry path.

I, who was sold a lie and sold stories of corporate opportunity.

Many men tell the same tale with nothing but false dawns and twisted morality on a CV that lacks the substance their dreams aspired to. Now, I am moving on and they scrabble for income in a world selling the next pile of steaming crap; land, wine and carbon credits.

Cash Poor, they’re asset poor and they too are heading toward the same type of retirement as those men they bankrupt now. Irony

 

Paperchase – Coventry City FC – Labour MPs

24 May

On your last day here, you do what’s called  a paperchase. It’s all the sign off formalities to clear you for release. Only the guys leaving on tag take it real serious, being released early is deemed a privilege and not a right. Kick up a fuss over this and you could wind up staying for a little longer. For those who are leaving at their halfway point, they can use the paper as bog roll and still walk out the next morning. I imagine a fair number of people enjoy doing the paperchase as it’s that sense of last day excitement you have seen so many others go through.

I’d walk around with a bit of paper if it meant I was going home tomorrow.

The summertime seems to have ended, it’s proper damp here.

It’s making it that bit harder to clean our clothes. The heating isn’t on and the rain prevents drying clothes outside. Struggling to improvise here, in order to simply wear clean underwear – just like a holiday camp eh? The prison has now run out of ‘clean’ towels. So this 5 star resort is now a little shabby, unhygienic charade of a prison. The screws and management can’t sort out the simple matter of laundry; what good are they doing to the minds of young criminals?

At lunch one inmate is put on report after refusing to attend his afternoon work shift. He demands fresh clothes or access to cleaning and drying facilities. His work place is the gardens, so his only pair of prison greens (We are only allowed one pair of work/cargo trousers) are sodden. I don’t think asking for access to clean clothes warrants being put on report and being threatened with extraction to a closed prison.

While the public would wish us to break rocks for the rest of our days, with no opportunity for reform that sees us with the potential to live better lives* – being able to wear clean underwear and workwear is surely no mean stretch of requests; particularly given we are the (relative speaking) well-behaved bunch at Category D establishments.

*I mention this little barb after listening to a Radio 5 Report on an ex footballer being allowed on day release to train with Swindon Town FC. Ex Coventry City footballer Lee McCormick.

The inmate in question has served the good part of a 7 and half year sentence for death by dangerous driving. The tragedy took away two young lives after a professional footballer had been drinking before getting behind the wheel. It is awful and a man with no previous criminal history will be haunted for the rest of his days by this. Some call him a murderer, not a fair tag and not truly realistic but it is an additional punishment our society puts upon such people. I have met a handful of men inside for similar sometimes less culpable offences and often wonder to myself what is an appropriate sentence?

Coppers, Bus Drivers all sorts of perfectly sane, tax paying individuals you would happily have a conversation with and invite into your home. How would you sentence them?

In writing this, I do not seek to undermine the pain and suffering Phil and Amanda Peake have gone through, the parents. Nor would I wish to ignore the tremendous work they have done since the deaths of their two young children to highlight the dangers of drink driving.

Radio 5 gets me going – a separate story on the workings of prison wages, brings a lady on the phones with zero experience of the workings of the justice system yet heavily armed with critical information that has no foundation in truth.  This lady with no exposure or grounding in life this side of the parapet begins:

“Old people don’t get what they have…” Unsure of what that has to do with the prison debate…What do 80 year olds need with free weights or Methadone?

With many of us wearing dirty underwear, using filthy, pubic lice infested towels NOT WATCHING Sky, we are criticised for the lack of productive hours we put in – a prison management issue not ours. Then the very same people who spout this rhetoric demanding longer sentences are the farthest back in the list of people prepared to offer an olive branch at the end of it, to let us earn a second chance.

These holier than thou types seem to brand any person inside, a violent thug or dangerous predator. It is for this reason primarily that the Blue Collar inmates here LOVE seeing a ‘Well to do’ type fall from grace. Do I blame them?

Put it this way, hearing an ex Labour MP has today been charged with £60k worth of expenses fraud puts a smile on my face.

 

That cosy feeling of being inside in the rain

23 May

You know that cosy feeling you get when you’re inside a tinny roofed structure and you can hear the sound of the rain beating an orchestra of drums? In a car, on the bus, the train or in fact anywhere warmer and drier than the surrounding environment. I get that here as I lay in my bunk and see the rain hammer it outside. The gutters overflowing with the workmanship of the unskilled labour that mend them and thin echoing hallways that amplify the noise of the world at work. The night’s have begun to draw in now as the weather turns and the Summer draws to a close.

With all of the footflow of idle shufflers occupying their time with as little output as possible, I wonder what life is like here as the weather turns and inmates are resigned to being forced back into their cells. The winter imprisons many more people than just prisoners. I think of my own Nan, imprisoned by age, bad weather and immobility, spare a thought for your own family, my life choices put me in here but for every person in prison there are millions of people caged on the outside too.

Each day at around 10am, I do the education department’s mail run. It requires me to run across the public right of way and head over to the other side of the prison estate to drop off and pick up correspondence. As I left the residential side I stop and talk to Tom an inmate I’ve known for a while. He is off on his home leave today and is looking forward to 5 days away from Ford and away from prison regime, as I go through the gate, I spy his designated driver – it’s one of my best mates. It’s heartbreaking to not be allowed to stop and talk to him without suspicion. I don’t know what the rules are re: ‘fraternising’ with outsiders, I’ve never been told; but for fear of incurring the wrath of Screws I keep my distance and look on like a bad friend. Not being eligible for leave for another 3 months, it does strike me with a pang of jealousy seeing the queue of jolly day-trippers dressed up ready for departure by the gate; I deal with it knowing my time will come round and others will feel the same toward me.

I put in a complaint today to the IMB – the independant monitoring board over the shining of torches in the faces of sleeping inmates at night time. We are woken at 1 and 5am, by noisy night-time screws doing the inappropriately named ‘Silent Roll Check’. They generally shine the torches in our face to make sure we are in the rooms, then maintain torchlight on us until we move or as is often the case, wake up and swear at them. I sense this is more game than intelligent planned routine procedure.

Spence packs his stuff up and I give him a hand, I’ve had the A-OK for George to move in and I rifle through Spence’s leftovers to see what I can salvage. I gain a book of stamps and a load of envelopes for my efforts.

This morning he sorted out the drama with the rival traveller factions and put to rest a gripe with a gent in here on a 12 stretch for a kneecapping. I think that’s a wise thing to do 🙂

 

The Economist

21 May

I sit on the bike in the gym burning off some chub and talk to a chap called Paul. The gent in his mid 40s shared the same billet as I when I was living in my mini Hell with Delroy.

The man is an economist on the outside and in recent years has worked as a management consultant. He offers this information after spying the book ‘Freakonomics’ I had been reading recently. Take him out of this environment and Paul is every bit the image of a positive Black male role model. Educated, well spoken, considerate, shame about his criminal record check results 🙂

Paul has a lovely dry sense of humour and we spend a while discussing the ‘Broken Window Theory’. This theory dictates that if you clamp down on small minor anti-social behavioural issues and fix visual disturbances (Broken windows, graffiti etc) immediately, it affirms a sense of civic prestige and pride. People become more conscious of mis-treating their community when the small things aren’t left unchecked.

The easiest way to explain this is through the analogy of a ‘fly-tipping’ site. Where someone dumps a load of refuse in a site that was previously clear, a future rubbish disposer is more likely to add to this untidy mess than create their own new dumping site. This is part mob mentality and part distorted rationale. The belief that the latter tipper is less at fault as the site had already been distressed by an earlier dumper.

More simplistically, if kids smash a window in one property and it goes unrepaired, pretty soon next door will suffer a similar fate. Damage left unchecked sees a steady decline in community values.

We apply the ‘Broken Window Theory’ to prison and the idea of reform and rehabilitation, it is an interesting way to kill 50 minutes. Every day I share a conversation with someone that surprises me in the standard of intellect and thought provocation.

I hit the library in the afternoon and am amused to see in the reference section is Criminal No. 1 Charles Bronson’s A-Z of British Prisons. It’s nice to see what forms the backbone of general interest this side of the fence. Having been to nearly every prison in the UK system since his 2 year sentence in the 1970s became a life sentence over the last few decades; Mr Bronson gives his insight onto life in the 100+ barbed wire friendly institutions that dot the landscape.

I spend a bit of time reading the ‘Inside Times’ too. The prison newspaper for prisoners, is ordered to be made available in every prison library; this allegedly didn’t stop our Governor Sharon Williams here trying to put a stop to it. I ask George why he felt she did this. He responded in his usual dry manner:

“Why did Hitler rip up the history books in schools?”

………………………………..

Drama clouds the quiz night this evening.

Our team now called:

“Going for Gold with Henry Kelly” places dead last.

Having a team member who keeps a score tally as the results come back made this news that much more shocking. The indignity! 🙂

Later on we hear a marking error deprived us of 15 points and 2nd place. We get an apology from the quiz master and his sidekick, we are assured we will be given a public apology before next weeks quiz. As the quizmaster leaves my cell, I ask him:

“Is George furious?”

He smiles, nods and tells me our prize will be sorted out in the week. I settle down to X Factor waiting for the big man to drop by, pleased with this re-affirmation of our team’s prowess.

Our rivals, the irritatingly named ‘First Place’ have now been pushed into 3rd place. You know your life is absent real adventure when you have a quiz team rival.

I watch Ricky Gervais’ movie ‘Ghost Town’ and not for the first time. Watching it on my 14inch tv in the cell, is in fact the largest screen I have ever seen it on. The last time was high above the States in a 747. Spence points out its possibly the most comfortable I’ve been watching it then too. Funny that: sprawled out in the nick watching a film I saw before on a jet above New York to do some business and this is my preferred way to view it. At least I get to stretch my legs out.

The Next Day….

Spence days away from leaving is thrown square into a dispute between two rival groups of Travellers. He can’t wait to get out of here now, at the very least it will spoil a prison darts tournament and out regular source of confectionery with his throwing skills, at the worst it will lead to claret being spilled, early release halted and prisoners being shipped out. He’s asked to take sides, something he doesn’t want to do. The matter resolves itself months later when one side is sent back to closed conditions after being caught blind drunk. The other’s resume their roles in the Prison’s Violence Reduction Team!!

 

Bank Holiday Monday

20 May

If I could write anything of interest to describe the day’s events, it would be a grand use of artistic license. I don’t feel like lying, so I shall keep it short. Bank Holiday Monday has been very forgettable.

A feast is laid on for the Muslim inmates to celebrate Eid, the end of Ramadan. The actual figure of inmates here is now 60 who are classified as Muslim. The final toll of observers could be counted on one hand. The prison has spent 4 times the daily budget on these inmates, meaning the food fund for non Muslims is significantly lower. The quality of food has suffered therefore. A number of non Muslim inmates tried to attend the feast of Eid and were turned away. This isn’t equality, this is outright racial discrimination. In order to promote and foster greater spirit and community between racial and ethnic groups, all religious festivals should be inclusive, not simply the one-sided events at Christmas.

This sadly is never the work of the ethnic group themselves, but an ignorant jobsworth public ‘servant’ who is part of a failed system of integration. I am yet to meet an ethnic minority who espouses the opinions that lead to Town Halls banning Union Flags flying from buildings or discomfort over the term Easter or Christmas.

The divisive and dangerous ignorance is evidenced by the fact so few know Jesus is a significant Prophet in Islam.

The £2 per head spending on food each day to the general population is more like £1 per day at the moment. One inmate who works in the kitchens tells me frankly:

“For every tray of chicken served up, another is slipped out the back and sold for Burn”.

Tonight I am served a pitiful attempt at Turkey Stew. There is no meat in my stew and nothing solid at all. I push the food back and eat creamed rice for dinner. I get some bemused looks from the servery staff:

“Yes, I am going to have creamed rice for dinner”

While the prison is failing in the food aspect of operations, the laundry is now closed for the next two weeks. In  prison two weeks is an altogether different measurement period. With the inclement weather it is going to be very difficult for a billet of 20 men to be able to wash their underwear etc.

With no onsite launderette, prisoners here have offered to buy machines for our own use. This multi-million pound operation runs so inefficiently it can’t even take charity from prisoners. This is something you don’t read in the press. Convicts buying the prison equipment… what a farce.

2nd September

100 Days until my first visit home.

Today has been a lush day and I am sure for many in the UK it represents the last vestige of what can only loosely be termed British Summer Time.

Spence has had his release date confirmed for Wednesday and I’ll be sad to bid him farewell. He has kept me company these last few weeks and I hope he can crack on with the rest of his life without returning here again. I feel that pang of envy, that jealousy you feel as those around you leave before you do. It’s awful and you feel nothing short of shallow for feeling it.