Tag Archives: prison canteen

Por tu amor, haria cualquier cosa!

11 May

I’m down today.

I can be positive to my heart’s content, but there will be times when I’m reminded I am still many months from any real freedom. I make some bits and pieces in the carpentry workshop for George’s furniture and then proceed to slice open two deep clean wounds with a freshly sharpened chisel.

When you see veins, you know you’ve gone too far.

I see veins

I’ve gone too far.

I bleed like a stuck pig and spend the rest of the morning with my hand clenched around an evermore reddening tissue. I learn 10 new words in my spanish studies. A phrase I pick up seems useful for any budding Casanovas:

Por tu amor, haria cualquier cosa

For your love, I would do anything

………………………………………………….

I admite to myself today a truth: writing a daily diary makes two things happen. It allows me to document every day here, a minor social commentary on a piece of life few ever experience; but it also allows me to be reminded of having to spend many more days here. The activity of writing eats up time but thinking about time served is an unwelcome commentary to my thoughts.

But I can’t stop writing this diary. What have I begun?

ūüôā

Two lads are called out for ‘Random’ drug testing. One of those was smoking something very odour rich at the weekend. It’s unlikely he will last the week. He could follow in the footsteps of the 14 who just escaped this weekend. Absconding as it’s known is surprisingly common. Inmates go out on town leaves, get drunk, fear landing in hot water on their return, so instead leap into a vat of boiling water and just do a runner. A convicted murderer joined the fun this weekend.

Prison is full of rumours, people with few things better to do than make up stories promoting their own false sense of importance. The mill has been working away, today’s news is that ‘Methadonians’ will be allowed into the prison from September. This will likely bring it’s own problems, with a good many suggesting we will not only need a key to our cells but also a key to the billets. It’s not a popular rumour but as time will show, it is only that.

It’s a sad truth that addiction on the world outside is a major cause of crime; the same can be said on the inside. Thieves aren’t popular, nor is the prospect of an arrival of more.

I retire to bed at the end of a drab day.

 

Advertisements

Sports, Football and Mopping ‘Gangsta Style’

10 May

The football season has begun!

FINALLY! It means for a few hours and the odd day every week, time will whiz by that bit faster as I listen to Talksport (Featuring Chris Davies – Thoroughly Nice Bloke Sports Journalist – see later blogs) and Radio 5 Live. I can listen and tear my hair out as Spurs flatter to deceive once more.

The head PE Screw arrives back at Ford off a period of leave: Kevin Allcorn. He takes the time today to pop by our billet and other’s presumably on an otherwise eventless weekend day to introduce himself and see how we are doing.

I am shocked. This gesture of ‘Giving a damn’ means a lot. This is a man earning his keep and showing his value, the type of person to get on with his job without moaning about conditions. It’s a strange irony and topical with talk of public sector strikes; that those who put in the least effort are often the most vocal about dissatisfaction. The response they give is that a better working environment would mean less gripes but having employed the workshy before (My mistake), the reality is they have consistently higher standards in their expectations than their actual output. Back to this screw Kevin; he spots my shock at seeing his head poke around our door and disarms us first by telling us he isn’t coming by to nick anyone. ¬†Thank god, he might have found that mobile hidden in my rectum.

There is no mobile hidden in my rectum. FYI

Anyway, he is a decent fella and this little investment of his time in us does not go unappreciated.

Match of the Day airs in the evening. Hearing that eponymous theme tune bring a smile to my face. I’ve purposely ignored the final results today so watching the show, it is a compendium of for me, almost live mini matches. I’m tickled to hear that Blackburn Rover’s have a player by the name of Goodwillie. It presents a range of amusing sentences. For example:

“When it comes to picking attackers, Blackburn’s manager is likely to have Goodwillie on his lips.”

Priceless and for football fans shall join the dictionary of football funnies alongside:

The Cross-Come-Shot;

Pele admires Butt; and

being a fan of ¬†Jimmy Bullard’s Crack

I could go on all night with juvenile comedy. I’ll cease for fear of alienating my more high brow blog readers.

I speak to R on the phone and am pleased to hear she will be back home in 3 months. I can’t wait to hold her in my arms. I’m visited by my good buddy Mel on the Sunday, where she fills me up with sugary treats and feeds me titbits of gossip of the goings on in her life. I miss just hanging out with my little pal as I have done frequently for the last decade.

She has spoken to my folks and lets me know they can come down next week. Another day of snacking beckons.

Gangsta Mopping? I mopped my cell and sweep it through as we do each week for a bit of self-pride. But mopping in prison, now that’s Gangsta.

 

 

ITTTTS Ground Hog Day

7 May

Tucked away this morning in the carpentry workshop, I sit there and read my mega novel: ‘Shantaram’. This isn’t me dossing, this is me having completed all of the 5 minute task I’d been set for the day. A slow-paced training regime is fine for inclusivity, however in a prison filled with white-collar guys and drug dealing entrepreneurs, we’re in danger of losing interest.

Idle minds are the devil’s workshop. It’s still true.

A letter flies in from my sister with a Telegraph Fantasy XI Selection form for the start of the new Premiership season. I fancy Robin Van Persie’s chances this season, providing he stays injury free. It pains me to say it as a Spurs fan but I think he is different class.

Lunch today is a baked potato and beans, but true to the inconsistency of yesterday’s Stuffing conspiracy, there is no Food Stazi (Secret Police) on the dining hall door to prevent the exit of warm food. I wonder if screws spot their own inconsistency and question them? Answers on a postcard. I can conclude here, that food served on a weekday lunchtime is immune to foodborne bacteria.

……………………………

I’m in the education department using my afternoon to do some studying and writing. A dumpy white inmate walks in with an afro-comb jutting out of his hair. Seriously?

I’m liking this ‘Education’ slot, it gives me some quiet ‘Me’ time, where I can sit at a desk properly. George has been working at knocking up a spreadsheet to count down his days, I’ve crumbled myself and ask him to run a¬†separate¬†sheet for me.

…………………………..

Back in the billet, I have done a DIY job on some prison canteen purchased flip-flops to make into Boxing pads. We can’t have focus pads, as boxing pads are properly called, sent in; so we have to improvise. Apparently boxing encourages violence, this is the mantra touted by those with no experience of the good, boxing clubs have done over the last century. Nor are they familiar with the musty insides of Amateur Boxing Clubs in our city slums and how such humble environments have helped turn the lives around of those who live on the fringes of criminality.

My own boxing club, ‘The Locker Room’ in Essex, does a tremendous amount of work with young offenders in the local area. A sport that requires great discipline to compete in, offers structure to those who lead lives without it.

Spence has an Unlicensed boxing bout on his release, so he has asked me to give him some time preparing for it. A bit of light sparring in the bathroom where there’s plenty of space and the glass is frosted, as well as some laps around the nick should keep him ticking over.

They call it unlicensed fighting as it’s not endorsed by the British Boxing Board or the Amateur Boxing Association of Great Britain; it doesn’t mean pitbulls, empty factories and ‘Snatch’ the movie. These days unlicensed boxing just as likely down your local conference centre and aired on Bravo.

……………………..

Spence’s pretty well hooked into the underbelly of this place and for the price of a 50p Chocolate bar lands us a handful of Playstation games for a console we’d bought for a fiver apiece. I’m reckoning we can flog just one of these games, thus making the rest free.

Buying items on the black market is a bit of a no-no, officially speaking. Some lad got slung in the block last month after a cell spin saw him with a games console that wasn’t on his property card. However this was screws cracking down in any way possible against an inmate who they had obviously targeted. The screws don’t walk around with a dozen arch lever folders listing the present crop of prisoner’s listed property. I’m reckoning we can play this one fairly safely. Still it’s a bit of a worry, so a carefully placed copy of ‘Inside Times’ covers the little black box. ūüôā

That inmate in the end was docked two weeks pay and put on final notice for shipping out. Fortunately for us, our last occupant was an escapee and a regular trouble maker. Screws simply don’t run an inventory of cells when one leaves, this means we can lay the roots of its whereabouts on a now departed person. The perfect crime.

Day 58

Three things happen today.

1. I acquire some coats hooks from an education room that doesn’t need them and we put them up in the bathroom of the billet. Our showers have none at the moment, nor does they have any surfaces or benches to plonk your gear on while using the showers. Spence is put on look-out as we could be nicked for criminal damage here. Using your initiative can be dangerous.

2. I land the job of education orderly.

3. I write my diary in a more italic handwriting.

This is the sum total of purposeful activity that prison provided me today.

 

55/56

6 May

Uneventful, gyming, jogging, greasy breakfasting and quizzing.

After last week’s disappointing team collaboration coloured by the poor conversation, George and I decide it would be better to die bravely than wilt slowly. A coxless pair it would be:

“Up two places to joint 3rd” was born. A name picked with the fundamental component of being confusing. As it turns out we score 35 out of 65, over half marks; placing us 9th out of 12th. With all the other teams numbering 5 team members, we requiring only 14 points to win; were in fact pound for pound danger men. I and George will set about recruiting new members this week. We shall build a team capable of winning. In fact if new members can add only 5 extra points each, we will be untouchable.

We fancy ourselves as serious ‘Quizee’ contenders.

After the quiz, I and Spence watch an Eddie Murphy movie and look forward to tomorrow’s visit from my family.

Day 56

A day no dissimilar to any other day on a weekend, coloured by the excitement of seeing my folks.

The weather cleared up in time for the 2pm visit, meaning we could sit outside albeit at the mercy of a committed wasp. I spotted my father’s aviator sunglasses peeking out his shirt breast pocket and seize the opportunity to put them on. I would do the same on the outside too. While it might have been only a little sunny, my desire to adorn myself with this visual protection was more out of the lust to whack on something that I wouldn’t generally get the opportunity to here. I pop them in my Dad’ top pocket, before he takes them out and motions for me to keep them on. I’m confident the screws won’t clock my new acquisition and I’m equally confident that this is a level of danger I’m willing to take on, however I really can’t justify the space a surprisingly awkward to store item requires. For something so small without a case, glasses are very ‘Space Selfish’ don’t you find?

Sunday Lunch is the usual Roast Chicken ‘Left’ Leg, with an added bonus; stuffing is in the buffet – the help yourself section.

No Longer am I forced to accept meagre rations – one stuffing slice apiece. Like a glutton, I pack my tupperware box with potatoes and stuffing, even a helping of gravy makes its way into the confines of the plasticy haven.

Alas, dark clouds converge to scupper my moment of glory. I’m doomed before I’ve begun, no roasted sandwich tonight, a screw stands on guard at the entrance of the dining hall. He foils my plans and I’m stood over the bin emptying what I’d hoped I could liberate from lunch. It seems after a high volume of food poisoning complaints, the prison takes seriously the issue of food/dining hall liberation.

It’s funny that this Screw has only appeared in conjunction with the free-for-all paxo. It will come to pass, that only on ‘every man for himself stuffing’ days, ¬†a screw will be on the exit door. It’s a fruitless attempt to stifle poisoning complaints from inmates taking food away from the canteen. We aren’t allowed to remove warm food from the dining hall, although this rule ignores the massive contradiction that Jacket Potatoes or toasted sandwiches can be brought back to the cell. It’s funny that HM Prison Service cares given that we are forced to eat out of oversized public toilets in Bang-Up jails.

Joanna Lumley gatecrashes my Sunday evening viewing, chronicling her trails of the River Nile. The show inspires that inner lust within me to see parts of Mother Earth a younger Me may not have contemplated. This planet’s a diverse being and one I know too little of. I look forward to the time I can resume my journeys on this lump of rock. As for Joanna Lumley, I hope my missus looks as good as her when she’s that age.

 

Tuna Price Rise Shocker

4 May

It’s a productive morning in the Screw’s new canteen trying to square away a number of pointless tasks. We divvy out the tasks and I try to motivate a bunch of lads who don’t want to be here. None of us want to be HERE but they just have little interest in the notion of building a shiny new canteen for the screws on 90 pence a day. It doesn’t cross my mind, I’m aware that the morning flies by when your occupied and I enjoy working.

Bruno the education department’s boss and this project’s bizarrely appointed oversight; had nothing to say about the shift we put in this morning. However, considering his inability to spot:

Young men working hard:

For 90 pence a day

Overcoming problems caused by his ignorance to architecture of any kind; and

Using some no small amount of initiative to do so…

…him saying nothing is possible a compliment. He has that fine virtue in being able to find fault in the faultless. Alienating his inmates and civvy staff is a daily regimen he sticks to with no deviation. It is believed he was tasked with managing this build project having received a boxset of 60 Second Makeover out of a bargain bin in MVC last Christmas. The guy lacks friend appeal. . In the real world, someone like this trying to run a development would have been laid in the footings long ago.

The others expect nothing less from a man they dub a ‘Little Hitler’, I couldn’t care less I just like being occupied. If I learn one thing here from this then it’s no major disaster. I’m pleased I can now fit architraves and skirting boards; chop out a lock or hang a door.

Man-Skills

………………………………………

It’s a¬†Friday¬†and my canteen sheet drops the bomb shell. Tuna prices rise from 59p to 75p. This is for the low quality flakes probably farmed by removing the aquatic corpses from the undersoles of an angry fish stamper. I am not entirely sure such a person exists but if they did, they’d wear wellies and end up with fish in their tread. This is then removed and tinned in factories in the East and sold to HMP. Our wage remains at ¬£7 a week but our shopping list inflation hits 20 to 30%. I’m waiting for the price of ¬£1 phone credit to rise too. Nothing would surprise me in prison. With earnings like this it’s little wonder why the importance of employment and good money habits aren’t hammered home to inmates while on the inside. The payphones don’t offer an economical option, prisoner’s earnings are quickly attritioned. This is what leads rise to the use of mobile phones in prison. Far from the stories of gangsters running their criminal empires in prison using smuggled in handsets; it’s mostly youngsters calling their girlfriends or texting their pals in other nicks.

………………………………………..

On George’s advice, we sit down and construct some thoroughly entertaining but irritating freedom of information requests we could send out to the Ministry of Justice and make available to tabloids. Having been inside I can spot the sort of story that ‘The Daily Mail’ could whip up into a hysteria disco. For example:

“Taxpayers fund thousands of Prison Thugs and Serial Offender’s junk food habits”

This translates as:

“Prisoner’s earn less than ¬£1 a day and are able to spend this on a range of items purchased from a controlled list, once a week”

The latter sentence is infinitely less attention grabbing; the top one is the type ‘The Sun’ would churn up to fill a space. ¬†Using buzzwords that are known to anger up Middle England’s blood, it does nothing to give a true insight into our Justice Management System and why it does or doesn’t work.

Interested to know how the bidding process for the Prison Canteen works and why 3 ex-Governors run the business rather than a larger supplier; we prepare letters to this end. Tesco or Asda with massive buying power could offer more competitive pricing, making for more contented inmates and perhaps a few less behavioural problems now and again. Plus, Tesco would love a little business guaranteeing them an extra £25-50 million turnover per annum.

So, how did 3 ex-Governor’s land the gig?

Nepotism?

Stinking barrel of corruption?

Or: just a funny coincidence?

We spot these hypocrisies because we are surrounded by it, the man or woman on the street doesn’t have a scooby.

A little BIG surprise – Day 47

25 Apr

Done!

I complete my final woodwork assessment. (Random things to care about – the modern me)

It’s been a bit of ¬†a marathon test and now I have something to show for my sentence.

There’s a letter from Richard, my brief. It seems that despite having settled up on my Confiscation Order, there is still a matter of ….

ZERO pounds and

Six pence!

The cost of a first class stamp is how much?

I hear this matter has been lingering on for 3 weeks now. It has involved a great deal post between the Courts, the FSA and my taxpayer funded solicitors. Chuck in some legal-time for phone calls and secretarial messages, you can bet your bottom dollar, that this outstanding sixpence is likely to have cost a good deal more. By my reckoning more than a ‘thousandfold’.

You’re reading this and you might be putting this on me. I assure you, had I known I would have endorsed the debiting my prison account of ¬£0.06. This is however the fault of bureaucracy and those tax wasters in the world of Government departments. This latter comment is not a jibe at the army of:

Nurse

Firemen

Teachers…. blah blah blah

But the vast numbers of men and women who don’t consider the value of the taxes that fund them and the cost of their procrastination.

I’m sure the FSA refused to accept my Proceeds of Crime Order had been fulfilled until this 6 pence had been paid.

“It’s the principle!” They stamp their feet. Arms crossed:

“N-O”

Nice one guys, you just cost the taxpayers you serve, hundreds of pounds on this one. A little lateral thinking wouldn’t have gone amiss there.

Lunacy

I fill out my canteen sheet and seek out the prison barber.

You don’t pay to have your hair cut with fags and baccy if you can avoid it in prison. Though invariably barbers differ in their skills and if you require something a little special, then I guess a set of clippers set to grade 1, won’t cut it. Trying to save money on hair products, with my limited funds, I’ve got a shorn head. Being the grey man.

The barber in Ford, Marvin, he’s good on the shears and his little job sees him tucked away in a mini salon. King of his little domain, he lowers ears all day in a set-up not too dissimilar I imagine to that which he worked in before he got sent down. In his late twenties, serving a 5 for drugs, he’s a cool cat and makes his visitors feel that they are indeed sat in a barber shop somewhere close to London Fields or Brixton Hill Road; complete with angry rap music and the white tissue your given at the end of the chop to do what you will with.

NB: I have no idea what that tissue is for.

Nor do I know what the warm towel on a Jet is for either.

Mystery of the Human Race.

Haircuts here are booked and fitted in via a workplace rota. My shift is wednesday morning as I am in education; however after finding the barber likes to down tools and play football on a wednesday, I decide for today only, I work in….

(Checks Hair Salon Rota…)

Injection Moulding. Yes for one day only, I am a folically disillusioned injection moulder in need of a trim for what would be my first visit since sentencing, this weekend.

Heart strings tugged – Marvin finds the time for me, in his 3 hour schedule, despite being chock-a-block with 1 other appointment. ¬†What a guy! ūüôā

He does a banging cut, it’s just a shame he tried to flog Colombian Marching Powder to a Copper; he could be earning enough on the out. He failed the first rule of a good salesman:

‘Know your Customer’

OR

‘NO… REALLY know your customer’

(Read my book: the Wideboy’s Handbook, to learn other sales tips)

I learn from our chat he’s got more important priorities in life these days – time will see him right, I don’t doubt it. Good luck to you Marv.

In the afternoon, I knock out 12 rounds of 2 minutes of skipping before dinner as well as helping my room-mate sort out his washing.

………………………………………

I walk into the dining hall with Spence and join the rear of the winding, snakelike queue.

I feel a presence on me, I’m a little uncomfortable. More to the point, I know someone is watching me.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a figure staring at me.

I spin round and face the figure.

Double take

The imposing figure, the silver hair…

GEORGE IS HERE!!!

 

 

 

Upheaval in Ford

22 Apr

A small upheaval in the world of Ford Prison for me:

Caused by me.

For the better.

After another sleepless night at the hands of Delroy’s snoring and upon hearing that he had today turned down a single cell on the ¬†‘retirement wing’ on the grounds of:

“I’m not dead yet Dave; these people want to throw me away as if I am worthless…blah…blah…blah”

…I made up my mind to take up Spence’s offer of a cell switch. As crazy as it sounds, I felt guilty moving, initially.

Spencer – a young traveller lad inside for affray, had been concerned over who his new cellmate might be. While I realised that I had no right to moan about my circumstances if I was not prepared to change them.

As it happens Delroy’s new pad pal was to be a 70 year old. It seems he turned down a single cell in a block for older inmates as he felt it was degrading and ‘Age-ist’, only to end up sharing a cell – a far worse situation with someone who fits squarely in the retired bracket.

Ah the sweet taste of Irony.

He will of course with his limited mental capacity, have ZERO idea that this situation is entirely of his own doing. No, it will be another injustice to him no doubt.

I am now in G2-05.

It’s light;

airy;

cleaner and;

stocked with the previous occupants abandoned canteen purchases. My cellmate is a twenty something, who accepts that watching the news once an evening is more than sufficient. Neither of us are going anywhere just yet, no amount of missed breaking news will leave us in the dark!

A comfort parcel flies in from Ma and Pa, it contains razors and toastie pouches, while my own canteen order came today too: further topping up my coffee jar and tuna stack. Having items sent in, that I would otherwise have to expensively procure from the prison order sheet, is  a cost-effective move.

One distinct perk of my new cell, is Spence’s dislike of coffee and the large Tupperware container of Kenco now in my possession. Compared to my ¬£1 Maxwell House, this new premium addition to my stores reach me, as if it were a lottery win.

Once upon a time in the City, I might say:

“I’m LONG coffee”

Still without a duvet, I try my hand at a little trick the previous room incumbent tried. He had his mother sew a ‘British Standard’ BS Fire Safety label onto his perfectly flammable rug, which she then duly sent in. As it crosses the prison reception desk, they can do little more than approve it.

I am now in the possession of this label.

My precious.

I send it home with this day’s edition of my diary. Time for mum to get down the haberdashery.

I’m hoping a meeting of minds or material involving a quilt can now happen.

We shall see. In the meantime I have stuffed my duvet cover with a collection of blankets to make a mock-up bed spread. Along with the coffee seizure, I clean Paddy’s old crockery and cutlery. M&S Plates and a Jamie Oliver cutlery set, I sit¬†satisfied¬†with my new things, my treasure haul.

In prison, when an inmate leaves, the hope is the acquisition of new goods. It really makes the headaches of the dealing with property reception at the front gate a little laughable. There is a roaring black market once inside, of goods and services of every kind. On my own arrival here, I overhear a newbie asking an induction orderly the going rate for a bottle of vodka. £40 I hear provides this avenue of escapism.

I am offered Spice and Mumba today for the first time. Both are forms of recreational smoke but not perhaps what you might expect. They are legal highs, but still contraband in prison. I’m using this time to enjoy a clean year of living; I politely decline the offer. Besides, the trauma of getting a duvet on the sly has been hard enough, I don’t think my blood pressure could handle anything racier.

Shattered arms for cutting wood all day, (Not a euphemism) I put down my pen and watch some telly.

Day 41

19 Apr

The billet bell vibrates at 8am, hungry and still weak, I pull myself out of bed to eat the weekend cooked breakfast. I do this before I attempt to join the gym queue.

The conversation amongst fellow gym goers today concerns the events in Oslo, so far resulting in 70+ deaths, at the hands of a suspected far-right extremist. Not one of the tabloid alleged thugs that joins me in the queue, lauds such an event. Quite the opposite, the loss of life is lamented, just as it is in offices and pubs, living rooms and sidewalks, the world over.

I don’t possess the strength to lift weights or even fight my way to a free weights bench. Unlike last weekend where I had plotted up for an hour to get first option on the big iron plates, I opt for the more sedate option of reading my new book “Shantaram” on the cycling machine.

“Shantaram” or ‘Man of peace’ in a Hindi Dialect, was a recommendation from a buddy to my girlfriend to read while she works in Mumbai. The story, one of an escaped heroin addled armed robber, who finds himself mixed up in the Bombay Mafia and living under a false identity, is panning out as one of the finest books I’ve ever read. It arrived from Amazon this week, courtesy of ‘R’ who felt she should share the love. Besides, the book has 700 pages and will keep me occupied for a while.

As I write this, I understand that Johnny Depp will be featuring in the movie of this book later this year. Read the book, then watch the film. Don’t let 700 pages put you off, this is 700 very readable pages.

I manage to get through two chapters this morning, while burning some Prison Chub off. There is more literary skill in just one chapter of Gregory David Robert’s book, than I have experienced in a quarter of a lifetime. Although aiming for age 120yrs is a little optimistic, even 1/3 of 90 would be pushing it!

My afternoon involves me heading to the canteen and then immediately after; binning my lunchtime baguette. I don’t think my stomach is quite ready for a Chicken Balti sandwich….. and I was right.

An afternoon nap cures many ills, the quiz over at the Chapel I hope is the straightener to my present blurry mind state. We score poorly but place well, I am unsure whether this is a reflection of the playing field, or the integrity of the markers. Either way I walk away two oranges and a twix bar richer.

Prizes in prison hark back to the days of the Beano – when Dennis the Menace or the Bash Street Kids, celebrate a ‘score’ with a slap up meal. Winning a twix in prison, IS a big deal; crazy yeah?

After an hour and a half of civility, Alex (Team member) fetches me his copy of Open University courses from his single cell over by the kitchens, before I run back to my billet for the British title fight between Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora. Being a kitchen worker at Ford entitles you to a single cell. It’s a decent perk and is a reason for many to work in that department, that and the ability to liberate extra food from the canteen to pig on, or sell. Back to the topic of Open University, if I can garner the funding, I may use this time for some formalised study.

In other news; Amy Winehouse has been found dead. What a waste of opportunity.

 

 

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.

 

 

Pah

6 Apr

I oversleep, I turn up late for my class after being unable to sleep for the lion’s share of the night, nothing happens.

No discipline… and to think I was a little nervous walking over.

An orchestra of nasal and mucus sounds in the wee hours, had left me only able to finally rest, as the morning arrived.

If you want to use the gym during the education session in the evening, I have to first put my name down on a gym list over in the main education block. The list fills up fast with many trying to sneak into an additional gym session, in the hope the list is not checked accurately. ¬†I get my name down before I’d walked across to my morning’s learning, via a public road. A car or two slow down as the lights change to red. I saunter across, marked out to the viewing public, in my green cargo trousers and grey prison issue jumper. A middle-aged chap, a passenger in a small hatchback stares at me as I cross his field of view. He raises a finger and remarks something indeterminable in my direction. He smirks as he nudges his female driving companion. Emboldened the moment the light turned green; silent before.

Ostracized as I serve my punishment, “Nice”, par for the course I guess. I’m sure he is an infinitely better person than I. Although our views differ somewhat on judging people before knowing them. I wonder if he gives people a chance at redemption once they’ve served their time?

My mum’s list of items comes via email and bless her, I’ve told her a dozen times no food; but she’s still intending to bring in coffee and peanut butter. The influx of drugs in prison means little home comforts once allowed, are now no longer permitted. My mum thinks, just one jar of each shouldn’t matter.

No, it shouldn’t.

But ‘If in doubt, panic’ imposed prison ideology, means it does.

One jar of each will be going right back home to Essex.

My digital radio still hasn’t been approved by the property office as safe following a ‘PAT’ test. A simple electrical appliance test that takes less than 30seconds. Think little green pass labels on the back of your computer at work. It is unsurprising therefore that a jar of peanut butter would incur far more difficulty and as such is contraband. I’m a crunchy fan and we only have smooth on the prison shop list.

Conspiracy theorists here say the contraband on food is perhaps more to do with directing revenue into the prison linked retailer: DHL/Aramark. I’ve heard more than once that Governor’s can earn an annual bonus¬†dependent¬†on the prison’s income through its canteen system. If it’s true, there must be questions over whether there is a conflict of interest here; it would be easy to aid your chances of an annual bonus.

I’ve gone off topic here, I just want my radio. Being out in the country, we struggle to pick up certain stations, digital would mean I can hear Radio 1 again and most importantly shut out the noise of Delroy.