Things I thought

Wednesday 17 August 2011

47 hours in a locked room

I'm tired and I need a pillow.

Yesterday my captors moved me upstairs to a cell with a spotlessly pillow-free bunk for me to sleep on. Despite Splinter's spirited efforts to get the boys with the keys to rectify this, along with my own, meeker entreaties, I'm still without a cushion for my head. This is not the only reason I'm tired.

As anyone whose ever really tried it knows, doing nothing is exhausting. The mind and metabolism grind to a halt and even staring into space feels like an effort. We're supposed to be let out of this little room for about half the waking day - 6 hours worth if the posters dotted on the landings are to be believed - but in practice what we get is about an hour, split into two chunks. Today we didn't even get that.

Our first daily dose of diet freedom, the exercise yard, was rained off. There was no big announcement, no wet play, it just didn't happen. Then the clock rolled round to rec time, (or "S&Ds" as it's apparently called) and it kept on rolling. After a while the reason became clear - the weekly canteen delivery (the snout, supernoodles and sundries prisoners buy with their own money) was making the rounds, and it got scheduled for the same time as S&Ds. So S&Ds got cancelled.

It's hard to know whether such a mistake comes from callousness or incompetence. Both events are regular, predictable, part of the vital clockwork of the prison. Both are important. But somehow the institution couldn't schedule them for slightly different times. Even moving things round by half an hour would have made all the difference, to us anyway. I guess it doesn't seem quite so important from the other side of the door.

One of the first things I realised in here was that when you've got next to nothing, what you still have means the world. The bright side of this is that a friendly conversation or an unexpected cup of tea brings more joy than I ever remember getting from the games and gadgets that occupy me on the outside. The dark side is that, when even the little you've been told to hope for is taken away, it's devastating.

Part of me feels ridiculous, whining about being locked away in here. This is, after all, a prison, and missing out on 30 minutes respite sounds like small beans, but when you're in here, it means a lot. Not being let out means we can't shower, we can't call home, we can't apply for visits or doctors appointments or jobs. It means we can't talk to each other or take a walk or just get a little space. It means we'll spend nearly two full days in a locked room, smoking and sweating and bickering with each other, staring at the walls or, worse, the TV, wondering if the next break will come round or if some further fuck-up will cancel that, too. Most of all, it means the glum exhaustion of doing nothing.

It's 10 PM now and a guard just came round to check we hadn't somehow escaped through the 40 foot tunnel I've been secretly building. I managed to get his attention before he breezed past.

"Can I get a pillow please, guv?" I shouted at him through the slit.

"Office is closed." he barked back dismissively. "You should 'ave asked during S&Ds".

So ends day 3.

You can read about day 4 here.


  1. Boredom is a mind killer, harder still under grim circumstances.
    You did not deserve to be incarcerated for throwing a
    pie, ridiculous sentence. We can see just how out of proportion the sentencing is
    by the sentences being given to some of the rioters.

  2. What the fuck are you on about, Sanctuary0014 ?

    Are you trying to infer that the rioters got lenient sentences? Do you read the news?

  3. I am not going to argue about the appropriateness of the sentence - however, I agree that the digger needed pulling down more than a few pegs - great TV - thank you for that.

  4. Thanks for another excellent post.

    If anyone is in touch with Jonnie's partner and child, please send them my best. I know what it's like to have a partner in prison for political reasons. I know how important it is and how hard it is.



  5. Fantastic posts man how are you even writing it in jail? Seriously I think it's a disgrace that you pied a criminal yet and people are getting referred sentences for LOOTING?!!!!!
    anyways mate keep up the reports you have many supporters