Things I thought

Sunday 14 August 2011

So, prison is scary, right?

As I got back from my medical this morning E Wing was on lock down. From floor 4 I could hear shouting and screaming, the banging of prison doors. It was a right kerfuffle. “You're fucking dead, mate” shouts one prisoner, which is a pretty unfriendly thing to say to your mate. Floor 4. The floor I was about to be moved to.

The exercise yard is tense. I feel exposed walking laps on my own until a guy I recognised calls me over and I take a seat with his crew. They talk gangster shit I half understand interspersed with a quiz regarding my own illegal antics.

“So, why'd you do that, Blood?” asks Ruxspin. I give him the long answer: Beyond hacking dead girls phones, Murdoch supports despots in both dictatorships and democracies and has poisoned the public discourse with racism, class war and ever shriller cries for harsh and punitive “justice”. The short answer is simply that he's a cunt.

“You shoulda thrown a grenade, mate” suggests Ruxspin. While I might not agree with Ruxspin's tactics you can't fault the boy's spirit. Particularly not to his face.

I get back to my cell and am told I'm moving in an hour. I pack my things, say goodbye to Mr. Magoo and steel myself. I've already gotten the knack of moving round the prison, avoiding eye contact, spotting the nutters with my peripheral vision and keeping a wide berth. It's not too hard - after all, I was raised on the mean streets of Windsor. These tricks only work on the wings, though. It's a different story in a 6x8 cell.

“You taking the piss, guv?” opines Splinter, my new bunk buddy. He is the very man many of my haters wished on me after my light hearted prank/vicious assault on our democracy: a big black bloke from Brixton who likes neither me nor my proximity to him. Maybe we could both take it up with the Judge?

“I'm Jonnie” I offer, hand extended. No response. After a few silent minutes I try “I sense you'd prefer to be on your own?” I'm curtly informed that Splinter does not actually give a fuck.
Splinter gruffly orders me to make my bunk up, which I do. “Nah, make it up proper, I don't want you fucking about later when I'm trying to sleep or watch telly”. By way of apology I tell him that I'm new at this. “What do you mean you're new at this?” I explain it's my first day in prison, like, ever.

“Why, what you in for?” he asks


20 minutes of laughter and gossiping down the wings later and the mood has lightened considerably. Splinter gives me some hard won prison advice. He's been in and out of the system for 30 years.

“If someone comes at you in here you gotta come back at them hard. You've gotta smack them up” I tell him that I value his counsel, but suspect that I might not be the hardest bloke in Wandsworth.

“That's what I'm saying, bruv, people are going to come at you and you gotta show that you ain't no dickhead.”

We break for rec. time and showers. I drop the soap, slip over and hurt my arse. Write your own joke for this, you lazy pricks.

During rec. time I also fail to get a phone call. Some bureaucratic fuck-up is still working its way through the system and the guards are unsympathetic to my plight. I've yet to speak to anyone in the outside world.

I get angry for the first time and kick the walls of my cell impotently. My problems, of course, are neither remarkable nor surprising. Wandsworth houses over 1600 inmates and, like everything else, is spluttering under the cuts. That means fuck-ups, and a penal system that does not keep to its already deliberately low standards. The daily frustrations must take their toll after a while. It's no surprise people kick off.

At this point 4 huge blokes block the doorway to my cell, peering round expectantly as another slips through and squares up to me. He looks, well, hard.

“You Jonnie?” he quizzes me. It seems silly to argue.

“Yeah? Well Murdoch sent me”

I scan his face for a hint of a smile but I find none, a look I'm all too familiar with from the stand-up circuit. Who is this guy? A Wendi Deng fan?

“Murdoch sent you?” I reply, remembering Splinters words and trying to hide my fear.

“Yeah, he's my uncle” he says. We both break into grins and the familiar dance of how, why and hellos plays out. I give him the short answer first, then the long one. Five minutes later Beebop, my newest lag friend, is getting me to sign his copy of The Sun. He says he is going to sell it on e-bay. Maybe I'll buy it.

So, prison is scary, right? Yes and no. Yes, there are men of violence here, and others who have simply coped with the system's bullshit for far too long. So far, though, the philosophy that brought me here has served me well. Everyone is human and none above another, whether they're a billionaire or doing bird.

As I write this Splinter is passing the time by watching Top Gear - a reminder, if one was needed, that there are far worse people than the ones you find in jail.

You can read about day 3 by pointing your cursor here and pressing click.


  1. Please keep writing your impressions. Imagine if the Suffragettes had had the internet...! Seriously, most of us have no idea - keep reporting and take care *hugs*

  2. How are you getting this stuff out of prison? Is there a computer in the library or something?

  3. This is great. 2 weeks ago, I was in jail for a mere 3 days and formed a lot of the same impressions. Stay strong, you will be out soon enough... Solidarity and best wishes.

  4. i am so pleased that you are in jail. sincerely, deeply, gloriously pleased. you think you "spoke" for me when you did what you did? you did nothing of the sort. i am delighted that you are rotting a part of your life inside. karma.

  5. Great posts Jonnie, well done for maintaining your sense of humour so far - stay strong, and I'll buy you a massive drink when you're out.

  6. conquer

    Just to let you know, I pictured you typing that in your bedroom whilst crying and wanking.

    Great posts Jonnie. I miss you.

  7. ellie,

    you are entitled to your assumption. however, i assume johhny may be doing a lot more wanking and his son may be doing more crying than i though.

  8. Bloody great report Johnny, so cool that many of your fellow inmates recognise the common class enemy.

    Conqeur, go FY, you and Murdoch deserve each other.

    Solidarity Jonnie!

  9. Just wanted to add my support Johnny. Regardless of whether your pie gag was a good idea or not the injustice of the establishment's reaction should have us all up in arms.
    Keep smiling mate, ignore the morons like conqeur - they troll around the net looking for anyone and anything to argue with. Sad sad people.

  10. I actually liked this, particularly the top gear comment. How are you able to tweet and write this up in prison though may I ask?

  11. Hi Johnny, I like many others thought you were a massive prick when you threw that pie, turns out you're probably the closest thing to justice we'll get so good for you. It's disgraceful you're in jail when charges were dropped.
    Also conquer, you were DEFINITELY wanking when you wrote those things

  12. Keep your pecker up, Jonnie! Oh, er, maybe I should have used a different expression there... ;) Very much enjoying reading your reports and thinking what a thoroughly nice guy you are. :) Hope the time passes quickly for you and you'll be out with MiniMarbles again in no time.

  13. It's great to hear that Top Gear is still able to piss off The Left even when they're in prison.

  14. Great to discover your blog. Sending my support

  15. Great post. This is hilarious. I'm enjoying reading your experiences in prison. You should make your blog into a book or a Woody Allen film. I love it. Keep writing more.

  16. Great blog, really intresting and touching. Gives hope and reality to my pictures of other friends inside. Was great seeing you last night, hope you're well (for any readers, these blogs are published retrospectively, Jonnie is out now)

  17. Love from America!

    Great writing, interesting blog. Keep it up!

  18. Happy to discover this blog through Bright Green, please keep writing!
    Love and solidarity x