Archive for the ‘Auto-Biographical’ Category

Christmas In Captivity
December 26, 2012

There was a certain collective gloom hung over Christmas in Gaol, as I recall.  On every face you could sense that mood. Especially amongst the first timers.

Come the hour  (midnight xmas eve) you could hear a pin drop, sometimes a tear drop amongst the uncanny silence in the dark.

Individual men were having their ”Dickens of a Christmas” confronting Ghosts of Christmas’s past, Christmas present and Christmas’s yet to come. As with ”Scrooge” in” A Christmas Carol”

Psychologically, Christmas caused them to recall happier moments/or not, in different environments and so ”the seasonal spirit” had their minds elsewhere.

I’m not the greatest of singers, but Prison bars and yards and concrete blocks produces a hauntingly toned vibration that suits my voice and can be heard through every cell and beyond the block.

In eerie silence I began to say the words in rolling rhyme  (slow song)  ”Silent night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright, Round yon Virgin, Mother and child”

After ”Holy Infant” and so on, I caught the sound of the first tears with the words ”Sleep in Heavenly Peace”

For days previously the screws had placed a wee Christmas Tree near to the prisoners phone booth. A wee mind game they enjoy.

As I went to the phone I was singing to the tune of ”Walking in a Winter Wonderland” but changed the words to ”Later on, If you wanta, You can dress like Madonna, ”Walking round in Women’s Underwear!”  (Reverse Psychology)

Being a mixed Religion remand wing I’m surprised I got beyond ”Round yon Virgin” without an uproar from opposing religious based groupings.

Not a word.
Silent remained the Night and the Peace was Heavenly.

snow prison

Trow – 26/12/2012

Christmas Morning, 5am
December 24, 2012

The novelty of untimely bottles
Had passed.
Christmas would mean nothing to you
As we rocked down the stairs,
Cradled in farm animals,
Too early for the radio.

It’s bright for late December;
The kettle coughing to find rhythm.
I tugged a curled curtain cuff,
A sleeve of fleece clustered on the D-rail,
Bonnets perched on post-caps.

We stepped into the dull sound-box
Of snow,
Shallow where the pipes ran.
The ritual of whimpering had stopped
As you strained to pick a single flake,
Big but slow enough to avoid,
I thought.

Your eyes were blue at last
Sparkling twitches
In a silence absolute
And deafening.
A crystal glittering, finds a path
To your cheek
And you smile at me in confusion.

Our first real moment together
But I tell you,
‘She’ll hit the roof if she catches us
Out here.’
So I cóck the door handle gentle behind,
Closing Christmas to the bigger children.
The kettle has boiled.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Image: 5intheface

5intheface – 24/12/2012

Never Again
November 17, 2012

”Never again” was the cryptic clue in a mind game being played by a prison officer I’ll call Billy. [not his real name]

Billy and Lily [not her real name either] had hatched a scheme to get stress leave for the weekend. Working shifts in lieu [not getting paid but on the promise of days off in the future] I guess made them less regular down the pub on a Friday or Saturday night.

The scene was set as I heard them scheming outside my cell. Billy was to provoke a reaction out of me come my turn for the use of the phone, shower and supper.

The cell door opened and I walked out into the arena cautious that something was coming my way. The four Loyalist orderlies had positioned themselves for a ring-side view, wearing their colours [anything red white and blue] while smoky-face Lily almost tripped over herself and swallowed her fag keeping pace with things as she hurried to be near the screw’s panic button. Once she pulled that, it was over to the Ninja’s [riot squad] and like the hounds out of hell, they don’t return to their realm empty handed.

I went about my business and at every turn, Billy boy was in my face trying to get me to bite. As I moved between facilities getting the essentials, Billy was there throwing out remarks and posturing as he paced with his two thumbs anchored in the chest/armpit of his body warmer like you might see cops do on patrol.

I bided my time and as I filled my lighter with petrol, Billy began again…”Never again I tell you.” Staying cool, calm and collected I asked….”Never again what?” To which he went on to elaborate in a biting manner, ”You’ll not put us off the wings again.” He said, referring to Long Kesh were pre-ceasefires, screws weren’t permitted onto republican or loyalist wings.

”Who’s yous? I enquired, seeing as he’d placed me in some sort of collective. He gave no answer but was thinking hard.

”Too many officers were murdered and we’re not going to let yous put us off these wings like the Maze.” [Long Kesh]

I had all my essentials for the evening and although my Mothers teaching words ”Hold your tongue” were with me right through I felt the absolute need to tell Billy boy and I did…… ”It’s Prison officers with attitudes like your’s that get good decent prison officers killed.”  It left him speechless.

I returned to my cell not wanting to give him or Lily the pleasure of ”ordering me” to lock up. There was a silence, footsteps and my cell door slammed.

They’d forgotten to close my cell door flap which was a small metal door, oblong shaped and vertical. I heard Lily say, ‘‘this one next” and thought nothing of it until I heard the distinctive sound of a Travellers voice plead to have his medication and refusing to take a shower. It later transpired that the Loyalists were bullying him and I guess like so many, he felt alone and afraid.

I made my way to the cell door and turned out the cell light to take advantage of my view point and watched as Orange Lily staged managed an assault on herself.

I heard her say ”I’m gonna charge him” to the other screws and ordered the Loyalist orderlies locked.

She approached the Traveller’s cell and entered. I watched and listened as she systematically stitched him up. Out of view of the cctv camera, she smashed a glass vial [containing the Traveller’s medication] on the floor of the cell and stepped out holding her eye.

“Right, you’re on report,” she said and slammed the door, “no need for the ninjas” she said, “ he’s contained”. Lily, Billy and co sat at their desk on the wing conspiring and forging an account of the incident and soon after, Lily left the block using her fingernail to exaggerate her lie.

“See yous on Monday,” she said and as the screws were now a man down and had insufficient staff to continue work ‘for security reasons’, our wing was locked down.

Soon after, the Traveller was transferred to the punishment block and if you ever get to wondering why prisoners might despair and hang themselves and what really happens behind bars, now you know.

Trow 17/11/2012

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