Life Begings at Forty – A clip.

H.M.P BRIXTON
7/10/07
10.05pm
Well, what can I say HMP fuckin Brixton. ‘Of all the places in all the world….’ Should’ve known better.

Still on ‘High Risk,’ will try to stay that way for the rest of my time inside. Met the Governor (not the actual governor, one of the many subordinate or substitute governors), Doctor, SO (Senior Officer) etc. For now, I’m happy. The last two days have been hell, just had a sink shower; not like at Catford, but a real head to toe one. Made my bed up and had a nice cup of coffee and a fag. The prison is situated a stones throw from my old friend Basils house. He’s dead and gone now ‘inconsiderate git’ and I miss him terribly. Back in London, back to my roots.

Just over twenty years ago I lay on top of a bed in the Gunter Arms, a couple of miles away, over the river. Remember very vividly listening to the planes on their descent into Heathrow. Now, as then, was filled with many anxieties, hopes and unfulfilled dreams. For the moment, I’ll be fine. Can breathe properly again, mentally and physically. It was strange being met by laughing officers who made a bad couple of days end as painlessly as possible. They’ve made me smile again, but how long will it last I wonder? The Doctor I spoke to was from Bangor (back Home) so he was able to fill me in a few of the do’s and don’ts. Going back to Lewes will probably be a non starter so I’ll have to think about my next move over the weekend. Mr David Bowie (officer) helped me steal a TV and Arial from another cell, he’s a black, and about six foot four wide and takes the piss. Having to start all over again. After the past couple of days things can only get better, no more looking back, only forwards for me.

8.55am
Tigger was on the TV a minute ago, got five channels now, but no Movie channel. One hand giveth and the other taketh away. Been awake most of the night, new bed, new room and new surroundings. On top form, can’t wait to be let out into the jungle for my next set of adventures. At the back of my mind there’s always a niggling doubt, ‘how long will this good will last.’ In exploration and intelligence gathering mode. My change of address has put the thoughts of MI5 out of my mind. Maybe that’s what they intended, is this all part of a cunning plan. To lure me into a false sense of security.

Being here’s a bit like when you start a new job; you’ve been up half the night with worry, but feel excited and confident at the same time. Managed to write a few letters, eight in total, simply letting people know where I am and thanking them for being in my corner these past few months.
I’m full of enthusiasm, waiting for my door to be unlocked and if I’m not mistaken I here the jangle of keys.
Is this my door being opened?
Good morning Mr Irwin how are you today?
Nope, false alarm. Must be quarter past nine before they open up here?

Outside there’s the jangle of keys, the laughter and the sounds of people who are happy going about there business. Even the atmosphere sounds and feels different, totally positive, will just have to wait and see.

Used to love the sound of London, the city waking up, coming alive, especially in the morning. Lived over the river in Chelsea for many years, now for the first time HMP Brixton wakening. The London hum and the roar of descending planes in the background.
Hurry up, need to get out, get the feel of the place, see who’s who and what’s what. What’s the regime like? Which wings are best, or worst? Pavarotti is on the telly singing ‘Nessun dorma’ again, feeling a bit better than the last time I heard him. .

Shit, this place sounds big, couldn’t really take it in last night. It was dark and I was totally out to lunch. We’d spent the afternoon and early part of the evening going through the committal stage. There where thirty of us crammed into a room with our belongings and over the space of eight hours we were shouted for, summoned and generally pushed from pillar to post, filling in forms and having interviews. Guys were smoking dope, fighting, throwing up. At some stage we get fed and there’s food spilled all over the shop, it was fuckin mad. All the time your sitting there, trying to look nonchalant, but inside your kaking yourself or want too rearrange a few peoples faces; especially the two Nigerians standing beside you. Ggrrrr.

Oh, nearly forgot, after we left Catford we drove to High Down, where we sat outside for an hour and a half before they turned us away. They were full up and the only prison with any beds left in London was Brixton and they to get there pronto before the courts kicked out. Arrived at Brixton around three; I got into bed around ten. Where does the money go?

2.45pm
Woke up to the sound of pigeons flapping outside my suite, the vibration of ‘Boom, Boom’ music pulsating through the walls, some psycho on dettox. I’m going through the horrors and the noise of the mini gym on the next landing. Sounds like someone shagging – friggin hope not – if so I’m not going out, ever. Hope I haven’t made a serious error in judgement.

Now this is more like it. This is how I imagined a real prison looked, can half understand the psychology behind it now. Had a wee stroll and a few chats, generally sussing the place out. Officers seem to be polite and turn a blind eye to certain minor offences that you’d ‘ave been hung for at Lewes. Fuckin hate the loud music and the clatter of pool balls, won’t be long before it’s over and everyone is banged up again.
The noise! Only us convicts doing time bruu.

Time to chill and do some more writing. After all it is the weekend, there’s no point asking for anything as sweet fuck all gets done. Eventually things start to become clearer, more regular, finding a routine once we get onto the main wings and a normal regime. This is ‘C’ wing, the induction wing at Brixton; seems fine.

Still waiting to phone my dad. Normally I’d be going crazy by now, especially if I didn’t get what I wanted, something tells me to play it cool, after all this is Brixton with a reputation; the officers smile a bit too much for my liking. Plus I’ve achieved so much in my first twenty four hours; trying not to draw unwanted attention. Think I’ll put the feet up and watch Snoop Doggy, Wallace and Grommit in da Brixton Hood, respect, Awyite innit.

15.52pm
Association is definitely on, can hear music blasting and YPs flexing their still growing muscles. Hear the buzzing of hair clippers. Maybe a YP is getting shagged at the Multi–gym whilst his mate is having his pubes shaved. Must get out more often. I’m still banged up haven’t yet worked myself into a frenzy. Wonder why I haven’t been let out. Are MFI still involved, waiting for me to crack, waiting to step in and take another piece of me. We’ll try and see how tough he actually is – bring it on you shower of shit. My conscience is clear; all I want is to tell the truth after all the law is there to protect you. Although, like the man that I am, I’m already resigned to taking whatever punishment is dished out to me.

My mate Reno (same age as me, black Ghanain) also from Lewes as well. He’s in exactly the same boat as me; if we can stick together life will be a bit more bearable. We’ve spent three months talking about the more serious aspects of our wrongdoings and the affect it’s had on our loved ones.
Can feel a good friendship developing. One strives to have a bit of faith in human nature even when your neck deep in a crock of shit. Although like everything else in prison, we’ll just have to wait and see, you simply cannot afford to second guess the machine, it’ll only fuck you up.

Now that I’m in Brixton, maybe I shouldn’t shave my head anymore? Maybe I’ll grow some dreads. My hair used to be half way down my back. Smoked some radical sensimilla (grass) in Basils, just down the road. Take a fit of the giggles, laughing at the full circle my life has come. For twenty years I’ve travelled half way round the world, meeting thousands of people along the way and have some fantastic stories to tell, only to end up on the wrong side of the prison wall half a mile from where I first started.

As I watch the telly someone is giving Michael Keaton a philosophical lesson on where he went wrong with his life. Spookily, uncanny! This happens to me quite a lot, used to shrug it off and have another pint. Can’t blame these events on the weed or chemical intake anymore. The movie with Michael Keaton is called ‘My Life’ I flick channels and there’s an advert playing ‘lust for life’ by Iggy pop, the theme from ‘Trainspotting.’ Wish someone could see what goes on in my head. Sometimes if I think about something; they end up happening. Here goes, dad wins lotto, dad wins lotto. Ha ha, ho ho, he he. OK, take a tablet, have a wee lie down.

Was watching one of those diet programmes earlier on whilst eating my sausages, waffles and baked beans, mixed in with a tin of a ham and a pot noodle. Compared my tongue to the picture shown as it should be on the telly. According to the TV Doctor I’ve a serious liver and digestive problem, which could lead to a heart condition. No fuckin kidding? Want to go to the gym, but I’m too worried about my sphincter – it remains in tact by the way. Had a strip search yesterday, but they took one quick look at me, made me do a twirl and that was it.
What where they frightened of?
Do I look that mean?
Does my bum look big?
What?

Finally got my aerial to work properly. It’s a wire hanging out of the wall. Apparently they are gold dust in here, getting nicked all the time. Looking forward to phoning my dad tomorrow and the England game. If England scores, cell doors will be getting banged and kicked up and down the country. I’ve still got my remote, purchased from Steve. Wonder if I can hold on to it until I’m free. This could be a few weeks or ten years depending on the outcome of my impending trial. The SO looked totally pissed off when I spoke to him earlier. Was standing on the landing trying to balance my dinner and other bits and bobs. When I asked him about making a phone call to my father the purple face and the point blank ‘No’ seemed to suggest that I wouldn’t be getting my phone call. Don’t push it, me thinks.

The landing officer opens my door for the third time in twelve hours and asks me if I’m on my own. Alarm bells start to go off in my head. I know they’re trying to double me up, but they can’t cos I’s on ‘High Risk’ innit. The inefficiency of the system rearing it’s ugly head again. Still, the officers seem cool, so I’ll presume this is just the way the place is run. Grumpy Old Men is on the telly, can see my dad and me, having a good laugh making the comparisons. We’re as bad as each other, but I love him to bits. Just want to hear his voice and let him know where I am. Two minutes is all it will take.

I’ve just realised I’m on the 2s a bit of a disappointment as I’m sure the views of London from the 4s is much better. A brief description of ‘C’ wing (induction wing). There are four landings on both sides with a high Victorian roof. The suites are proper two man jobs with a separate bog. On my earlier fact finding mission, was rather surprised at the size of the place. It’s massive. Couldn’t get a proper sense of it last night. Shows how disorientated I was. Hope ‘A’ wing’s the same set up, this place looks fine. Spoke to an Irish guy called Sean earlier he told me it was best to stay on here if I could; even with the constant flow of junkies, weirdo’s, psychos and alcoholics all going through some sort of dettox. Know that feeling, all too well. Prison has already taught me not take on board words of wisdom that are so readily available from other cons. Simply put, ‘don’t trust any fucker.’
Smile, look interested and do the complete opposite to whatever that someone mentions or suggests. Or ask several different people the same question and do the mean, the mode and the median. You can hone these hidden talents after a period of time. So, what once took you weeks, even months to figure out by trial and error can now be sorted out in a few sessions of association.

Spoke to a shrewd character called Murph. He’s a frequent visitor to this establishment; knows the ropes. It’s a shame he forgets everything five minutes after he’s done it. Not joking, but it is fuckin funny.
He has a medical condition where forgets something just after he has done it; that’s why he’s been in and out of prison for years. Keeps going to the same Post Office. Every time he told me about some of his antics I was in bits as I knew where each story would end up – Jail. When I took the piss out of him he’d forgotten it by the next day. Mind you it was a bit of a problem if you lent him something. We used to make him write an I.O.U. Poor bastard had to sign for everything in triplicate. He says he can see his house from here, but I don’t believe him. We know some of the same people from the same manors in London so, we’re getting on well. He told me how he’d picked out his cell mate when they where all going through the induction process. It was very clever and I’m not telling.

‘The Deadliest Catch’ is on the telly (a bit like the previous); my thoughts drift to a day I went Cray Fishing off Cape Point at the southern tip of Africa with three other men. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life (apart from the company). Have some precious memories of that day. Looking up at the cliffs, towering above me I could see people and they where like little dots. A couple of hundred meters from where we fished, Cape Point, next stop The South Pole. Now that did blow my mind!
It’s a bit like when you look up at the stars and you see how many there are and how insignificant and small you are. Don’t forget I grew up in Belfast, never thought that I’d be sitting there one day. My thoughts turn to the pricks I was with. I’ve always said, ‘there are more sharks on land than there are in the water.’ These guys ripped me off and all I can say is, ‘long runs the fox.’
One day they’ll get theirs, one has a heart condition and one has too many enemies. Tick, tock.

23.29
Dave Gilmore (Pink Floyd) is on the telly playing a live gig. Listening to the music brings back so many memories and emotions, remembering who I was with and who I was doing. Getting stoned just thinking about the good times. Can remember the very first time I heard Pink Floyd when I was twelve, getting a BJ from a young girl underneath her friend’s parents piano in the front room. Hadn’t yet discovered sex, drugs and alcohol then so, can remember it quite well, then as now floated on a warm high when I listened to Pink Floyd. Seems like yesterday.
When I close my eyes my memories play like a slide show in my mind.
Can smell and taste every scene.
Sitting smiling as if I was there all over again with the people who were so near and so dear, so many have gone and in my heart I wish they were still here to remember our innocence, our loves, our fears and sheer lust for life.

Dave Gilmore kicks into one of his hypnotic lead breaks (Shine on You Crazy Diamond), float back in time to the live gig at Wembley Stadium with Delia all those years ago. Then to my bedroom in Glendun that crisp November, when I moved in with my dad, was fourteen. The song goes ‘remember when you were young…’ of all the places in the world I could have been. Instead I’m sitting here listening to Pink Floyd surrounded by all the drugs a person could want, all I want is a Golden Virginia roll up and a cup of coffee.

Always wanted ‘Shine on you Crazy Diamond’ and ‘Bijou’ by Queen played at my funeral. These songs represent how I am, my true core and the lyrics sing the story of my life. Now I’m not so sure, sobriety casts a different spell. ‘I have something to say it’s better to burn out than to fade away,’ The Kurgen, Highlander.

This crazy diamond will shine on, the people who are in pain because of my actions, will be paid back in kind. It may take a bit of time, the world doesn’t know it yet, but I’ll be coming back, bigger, better and stronger than ever before and more determined to fix the damage I’ve done to myself and others. Passing on my knowledge and beliefs, knowing that if I can help just one person then some good will have come out of this whole sorry affair. Bring it on.

Temporary feelings of guilt are taken over by an overwhelming will to be a better person. Time will only tell. ‘Momentary Lapse of Reason’ and ‘Learning to Fly’ are now playing bringing back horrible memories of anger I’d felt in my Twenties, nearly killing my father in a drunken rage. Then helping to put his shirt on before we hit the pub for a cure. The emptiness I’d felt when we discussed what had happened, over a few beers. Then the disbelief, when he apologised for not being there for me when I was younger.
Another one of those turning points in my life.

Remembering watching Concorde about two hundred feet up on it’s approach to Heathrow on a foggy winters evening, with Gary out in Hounslow. It was. We were both out of it on sensimilla, one of those ‘Wow’ moments.
This is not the time or the place to be remembering such stuff. I’ll have to write about them in another book. Feel as if I’m heading in a direction I need to save for another day, a day when I’m better equipped to deal with the emotions.

Tobacco getting low again, I’ll have to find out what the canteen situation is. Can’t believe how quiet it is. Almost a still silence. They’ve taken Wilson away.
‘How I wish, how I wish you were here, two lost souls dreamin, year after year.’
I’ll have to take a wee nap, starting to overload with download. Getting dizzy, my heart’s pounding. Wish I could write to my friends and let them know where I am. Maybe I don’t have any friends anymore?
Mind you, don’t want anybody to know where I am. I’ll have a think about it after my trial.

So much for having a good sleep. Can’t blame Wilson or MI5, only myself. Got nothing to read, going round in circles, way to calm. Need chaos in my life. Need a lot of things. Don’t want to go down that road either. Starting to get frustrated again, think its called boredom. I’ll sit and flick aimlessly through the channels until I fall asleep. No food, no milk, no books, no nothing until Monday.
I’m being starved of activity again.
Maybe I’ll beat some one up, just to see what happens.
Now I’m just being stupid; or am I?
How many others will think the same as me?
How many people will get up to no good; just because they’re bored?
The never ending cycle continues.

As kids we get up to all sorts of mischief when you we’re bored. Oh, let’s start a riot, especially on Friday night. No school the next day. Anybody got any gum? Let’s go rob a Post Office. A mate of mine went to rob a Post Office once. He had a plastic replica gun, which he had to tape the end back on as it had snapped off. When he went into the Post office he accidentally hit the Perspex and the end snapped off. He had to give up as the girl behind the counter was pissing herself. Laughing.

Maybe they put a different type of drug in the food here. Somehow MFI have found out that I’m happy and are trying to catch me out. Hear a helicopter go overhead, didn’t know Battersea heliport was open this time of the morning, maybe its MI5 checking up on me with their zoom lenses. Sitting thinking about others who will inevitably get wiped out, self harm or commit suicide because they are bored. Its ironic I know, but at times like this you wish you had a call out (as a Listener) just for something to do. Will never be able to fully explain theses situations. Paranoia creeps back in all the time, my fears and anxieties, never far away.

Remember I said about the anticipation of getting unlocked. This is the zombie hour. You are alive, but dead.
Fuck, I could murder a Kentucky.
If I only.
No, stop, can’t think of the ‘If’ word.
Can only deal with now, the present.
Can only deal with the facts and each situation as it arises.
Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Glad I’m on my own.
When I was sharing I couldn’t have gotten up every half an hour to have a fag or go to the bog. Would have to lay there smouldering, stifling farts, not disturbing the person above me. Was lucky before – the guys I shared with – they were cool. Not all convicts are of the same ilk and it would only have been a matter of time before the murders would have had to start. There is tightrope us convicts have to walk every day; violence is only a heartbeat away. Suppose it’s a bit like being a soldier or cop. Nothing happens for hours maybe weeks then – bang – it’s kicked off. All hands to the pumps. A bit like scraps in here nothing happens for ages – then like buses – three come along at once, as soon as you light up.

MFI don’t ever get bored, they are always awake, always scheming planning ahead, always waiting to fuck you up. Probably torturing poor Wilson in some darkened room as we speak. Can imagine his constant screams in my head. Why, oh why did he not listen? Because he was a pain in the arse that’s why. Poor bastard, initially though he was part of MI5, but now, I’m not so sure. You see how your mind starts to play tricks with you, especially in the zombie hour.

9.00am
Woke up around eight thirty feeling OK. Must go for a shower, although I’ll be on sphincter alert, must speak to dad, getting angry again. Not for me, but for him, still waiting for my personal phone call.
My fears and anxieties are coming back,

9.15am
Still waiting, too tired, trembling, can’t settle. Fuck I need to get out of this room, have a shower, heart racing, can feel the volcano just below the surface. Want to start killing dead things again. Unlock, thank fuck for that. False alarm. Bang, smash, kill, wreck, hurt, pain, tears, severe anger. Heard keys outside my door. Then, off they went again. Feel my earlier optimism rapidly slipping away. One has absolutely no fucking idea how frustrating this place is becoming.

My TV aerial is up the left and every time someone walks past the picture goes all fuzzy. I’m too frightened to fiddle with it in case it doesn’t work and end up smashing the thing to pieces. Poor TV is in mortal danger and the volcano rumbles yet again. My heart can take much more of this. Took my last Beta Blocker about half an hour ago. Mind you, with the state of my digestive system, won’t get the benefit for about an hour or so. Hear music playing, jangling of keys, some sort of activity going on. Banged up since lunch time yesterday. For fuck sake somebody help me. Aaaggghhhhh. Trying to roll a fag while still smoking – can’t do it – my nerves are fried.

9.40am
Nothings happening. My TV’s fucked.
I’m a fuckin Aries what chance do I have?
Imagine being in a state of mental meltdown, going up to an MFI ogre and saying, ‘Good morning kind sir, how is your day going thus far, I’m an Aries could you please help me? I require your presence in my suite to assist me with the plugging in of my aerial.’
The fuckin mind boggles!
‘Four and twenty black birds baked in a pie.’ Ha ha, ho ho, he he.
Wonder why my moods are all over the place?
Shrug it off, think I’m getting used to it.

This place is more intimidating when compared to Lewes.
The education wing was opened by Frank Bruno in 2003 according to the bronze plaqu. It’s a long walk from ‘C’ wing to the education block so; I was able to have a good look around me. Certain areas of the prison are strewn with rubbish and god knows what type of debris thrown from the windows ay night. I’m always on the look out for needles and shit. Realise why the outside workers all have heavy duty safety boots.

7.05am
It’s bloody cold. My quest to buy a Duvet begins today. The jungle drums tell me it’ll be next winter before I receive one. My Dad will be off to the Post Office sorting my postal order. Hope he’s OK. Hurt like hell when I think about pain I’ve caused him. He says he has big shoulders, but they aren’t as big as they used to be. My mate in South Africa hasn’t been in touch yet, hope he’s well. I’m worried about loosing my house and my possessions, alas there is sweet f-a I can do about it at the minute. Have asked my cousin to try and sort it out. If he can he will. If not?
It’s a strange old world; I’ve got customs an excise trying to seize my assets, property developer trying to seize my assets, one asshole and a handful of sharks trying to seize my possessions, to steal my identity and I’m stuck in here trying to sort out a Duvet.

09/09/07
I’ve finally managed to sort most of my bits and bobs out. My previous problems have all paled into insignificance after chatting to a fellow Irish con yesterday. He was staring at a notice on one of the boards. He stopped me to ask what the notices where saying. Was looking for the Chaplains number. Couldn’t read, but could read numbers. Turns out he was being deported, had just killed his brother in a car crash and been done for ‘death by careless driving.’ Poor bastard, he looked rough as fuck. I’m frustrated as hell, people like him should be getting help not banged up and vulnerable.
Maybe I need therapy, who knows?

If I wake up, it’s Thursday and I’m in Broadmoor, feeling cool, I’ll have my answer. Constantly splashing cold water on my face; trying to cool down. My lists are getting shorter as things that used to be important simply don’t matter anymore. Slowly, but surely becoming institutionalised, going with the flow, fuck it, don’t care anymore. Its first come first served in ‘ere and you never do get things sorted, being ‘White’ doesn’t help matters. I’m able to clearly see how difficult it is for the staff to cope. It’s the same shit different faces every day. Yet nothing is done about it. The machine just trundles on regardless. So, getting an aerial sorted out and phoning fathers doesn’t cut mustard. A news report reels of the endless problems within the prison service.
Ha!
If only they knew?

My TV has become a radio, due to the lack of signal.
Could have had a Hi–Fi by now if I’d have stayed at Lewes. I’d ordered a heap of stuff from Argos, suppose I’ll have to start the process again.
Hear a lot of heated voices outside, maybe I’ll just stay in my cell it’s probably safer. Haven’t fully got to grips with this place yet. Starting to get that bad gut feeling again, seems all is not well at HMP Brixton. I’ll have to have another sink shower. Went to the shower once on the landing. Fuck that!

The flight path to Heathrow is as busy as ever. My thoughts drift to images of my past life almost twenty years ago. Then snaps back to the reality of now. What a weird and wonderful life we lead. I’m at a loose end, what to do, what to do? The cleaners are out cleaning, making a racket and the phones are ringing in the background. A bit like the bells in my head. Ohhh, the bells, the bells. Clear out the logic and pump up the volume.

Still none the wiser about this place and how it functions or dysfunctions. It’s ten o’ clock and ‘we just haven’t got a clue what to do,’ The Sweet. Think I’ll have a wee lie down. So pumped up, can’t settle. Writing is making me more agitated. Feel torn, trying my best to hold it together, but the Volcano still simmers below the surface. Not a good place to be.
Know it’ll be OK, but when?
Need it too be soon, want it too be soon. Want this insecurity, this madness to dissipate. Not knowing, the outcome of my future, my life in the hands of others. My destiny to be tried and judged.

The cons are playing pool, the music coming from the wings Plasma TV is at full blast, playing some fuckin jungle beat. I’m going stir, want to explode, want to wreck, want to hurt, want to maim. Nobody can ever understand how fucked up you get when your banged up, ten feet from others who are having a blast. Have to keep shtum, don’t upset the apple cart, don’t cause any aggro, and don’t get yourself into a situation where you will end someone’s life. Because they laughed, while playing pool?

The cravings start again. The drink, the drugs, the chocolate, the cheese, the sausage, bacon and egg soda. Ten thirty now, presume we’re out this afternoon.
Think I’ll put the feet up and watch the radio.
There’s ghostly images of a cookery programme on, want to cry.
Nothing is funny anymore. Depression envelopes me like a warm, soothing comfortable blanket. All positive thoughts have been erased, simply out of strength. Time to switch off and try to find the numbness; without the assistance of drink and drugs. Hope I don’t wake up.

‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson is blasting out from the landing and my thoughts turn to my Granda. Was fourteen and spent most of my time staying in his house and going to school in Lisburn. My Grandfather believed in reincarnation – he was stationed in India during the war – and wanted to be reincarnated as a dog.
‘Why a dog?’ I ask.
‘Cos you can shit and piss wherever you want, lick your own bollocks and shag any bitch walking down the street.’ He was a major influence on my life and I’m glad he’s not around to see me in Prison.

Unpacking the rest of my stuff, arranging my cell and sorting out my paperwork. Don’t want to unpack as I’m sure I’ll get shifted tomorrow. Put my pics up anyway, they brighten the place up.

11.47am
All done.
There’s half the day gone.
Managed to put all of my odds and sods in some sort of order – not the normal state of organised chaos – now I know where everything is. Glad I can now pack and unpack with ease – something you will be doing a lot of if you come to prison. Have a few more letters to write then its feet up until lunch time. Fuckin Lee Marvin! At least I can look at my pics and drift off to my favourite places.

The Serenity prayer is right in the middle and it helps me through each day.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

12.36pm
TV Arial is driving me nuts. Had my Sunday dinner, it was cold by the time I got to my cell and was informed ‘You never know from day to day in this shit hole when you are getting unlocked’, by a screw. That filled me with a greater sense of urgency in the quest for a TV Arial. Did I mention that I had to steal the TV from another cell on Friday night, with the help of Mr Bowie?

This is why I’m not shouting too much. Managed to rig up some spaghetti type thing in the back of the telly and can get three out of the five channels – well chuffed. Seem to remember – when I used to live in London – the reception was always bad. Mental note: put in an App’ for cable or satellite in the morning. Just been told association is at two.
I’ll not hold my breath, eh.
Can’t be bothered to talk to anybody anyway.
Got three channels and the Grand Prix is on. Did I mention that you have to pay £1 per week for TV rental in this safe, secure, rehabilitating environment?
10/09/07
8.15am
Managed to relax for the rest of yesterday. Didn’t want to avert my gaze from the TV – move from my bed – fart – in case I lost the reception. The S.O. fixed it for me – how kind. Mind you, the haste in which he fixed it makes me think that it wasn’t the first time and the fact that he carried a pair of pliers in his pocket was also a bit of a giveaway. Perhaps the pliers are for some other purpose – torture – interrogation – need to lie down and take a tablet – getting increasingly frightened with my train of thought. Can’t lie down, I’ve only just got up.
Ready to face the challenges of a new day.

Find myself in a military frame of mind today, my army training kicking in. My suite is immaculate. Will be able to pack and move anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat; just like the gold old days.
The new gang and I are requesting to move to ‘A’ wing, first light. It’s purely a tactical move. Safety in numbers. You can form friendships very quickly in prison, but as per usual my advice is don’t trust any fucker. Follow your gut instinct, don’t tell anybody anything about your personal life, everything should be on a need to know basis. Take Reno – I’ve known him for three months yet he knows very little about me – don’t trust him, he seems to be alright, but I think he would drop you in it if he had something to gain. Trying hard to keep myself to myself, my trusting nature has landed me in this predicament so forgive me if I seem a bit harsh.
Had my first proper shower yesterday.
Washed away all of the stress, all of the pain, most of the worry. It was good to get clean – all over – again.

The showers are fucking disgusting.
When you walk in you have to wade through all sorts of crap empty shampoo pkts, discarded clothing, used congealed soap, god knows what else, glad I’ve got sandals on my feet. My early optimism about Brixton is starting to disappear, very fuckin rapidly. However the power shower was good, it was great to get clean and my sphincter remains in tact. Had started to miss the showers at Lewes, they where always spotless and there was plenty of room unlike here.

Still, mustn’t grumble after all it’s my fault I’m here and everything that annoys me in prison is my fault for getting sent here. Had a bit of a rant at the night guard last night, I’d been trying to get my phone call. The SO said he would tell the night staff, but he must have forgotten or was simply fobbing me off. The SOs minor indiscretion has been overlooked; after all he did fix my arial. Was told that he was Ok, but – one thing I’ve found out in here is – take as you find – if you think someone is a prick then they normally are.

Should be able to speak to my dad today or tomorrow. The letter I wrote will probably get there first. Wrote eight letters yesterday and was able to get a lot off my chest, mostly positive. My mood has changed for the better, but there’s still a niggle and I can’t quite put my finger on it yet. Fingers crossed, hope it continues. Still think this place is too good to be true. Nothing can be done at the weekends so, I’m patiently waiting to see how much help I’ will get in my first week.
Just filled in a fruit list.

Yes – you heard correctly a fruit list which accompanies the canteen – ordered twenty quids worth. What a result – can get healthy now – go on a fruit and veg diet – loose some weight – sort my guts out. I’ve ordered watercress and herbs and have visions of a little herb garden growing in my cell. Maybe not – might be mistaken for a different kind of herb – could be classed as unauthorised items. Even though you could order herbs individually from the canteen the collective title of ‘a herb garden’ would be unauthorised.

This can only improve my state of mind. Do hope there are no problems. Feel as if it’s all too good to be true. Don’t risk it me thinks – herbs and watercress rapidly scrubbed off list. Expectations reduce joy – even more so in prison. If the experience of the past three months has taught me anything it’s want for nothing, ask for nothing because at the end of the day it’s easier to be self sufficient and nine times out of ten you will get nothing – but a headache. Managed to suss out the do’s and don’ts in here. There are more don’ts than do’s.

If like many you believe that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do in life. Then for fucks sake – whatever you do – don’t come to prison! If you do happen to find yourself in this situation then – whatever you do don’t get sent to HMP Brixton. Personally I think I’m lucky, as I’ve travelled and lived in many different countries and am well aware of the inevitable delays and cock –ups, but nothing in this world can compare or prepare you for the prison system. Was lucky enough to be standing in the SOs office patiently waiting to phone my dad. Don’t want to repeat what I heard. Fuck it, I’m going to get ten years anyway.
What are they gonna do?

This place is being run illegally. There is not enough staff on duty to cover the day to day running of the prison under Health and Safety laws. The officers where discussing this in front of me and where totally unconcerned about my presence. Presumably because I couldn’t tell anyone and more likely who would believe me. After all who would believe a common criminal?

These guys looked totally resigned to the fact that they where up shit street without a paddle and seemed to have lost all interest in what was or wasn’t correct procedure. On one hand you had prison policy to follow on the other you had one hundred and fifty men who had been banged up for three days. They decide to let the prisoners out and ‘to fuck with the consequences.’ Think they’ve heard and had to deal with this type of bollocks way to often.

Now I know what to look forward to in Brixton – sweet f-a. If I want anything done I’ll just have to sort it out myself. Look after numero uno – take some of my own advice for a change. If there is a way of getting something done and not going through the normal channels, do it, then fill in an App, but don’t wait for the reply. People keep going on about ‘Duty of care.’ Feel as if the Governor can only provide with what he is given. The government want cut backs, then the prison gets rid of staff, the population increases and the only people who suffer are the prisoners – banged up for twenty three hours a day.

Being ‘Enhanced’ counts for nothing here as there are not enough staff to supervise ‘safely.’ The officers have given me some free advice ‘keep your trap shut and get the fuck out of dodge as soon as possible.’ Now I can see why the best thing to do is keep thy gob shut. At the minute all I can do is wait. My chest pains are getting worse banged up in an empty cell, hungry, packed and ready to move at the drop of a hat. None of our names where on the list to move yet three of the gang where moved to ‘A’ wing. The first fuck up of what I’m sure will be a thousand more. Aagghh!
It could be worse.
It could be someone else.
Someone who doesn’t have the same integrity.
Someone who can’t cope.
Someone who doesn’t possess the basic life skills in communication. Someone who is suicidal.
Someone who has nobody.

If I’m prepared for all the crap and I’m still going nuts then what chance do they have? Found one Weetabix in the bottom of my bag. Life is good.
Trying to smuggle the kettle and TV Arial with me to the other wing. You can get into shit if you get caught, but everyone does it. You have to ‘cos when you get to your next cell everything has been nicked by people moving to another wing! The well oiled machine doing its magic.

12.55
Phew, got lunch and phoned my dad. Believe it or not it only took five days – five minutes – all because of a simple visit to court. The phone call was in the SOs office and he had a good laugh as I was telling my dad that Brixton was a shit hole and all the screws were wankers.

My dad and the SO laughed at the same time, but for totally different reasons. If I’d have had a bit more time I could have manipulated the situation, although at the end of the day I was able to reassure my dad and can’t ask for more than that.
Lunch is a different set up here.

Had three baby Vienna’s, a bap and eleven chips. The chips were bloody marvellous; think I’ll start my diet today.

[Its 11.20am Christmas Day. I’m typing this in a wee room on the ground floor of ‘B’ wing HMP Brixton. The ‘Snowman’ by Aled Jones is blasting out and the lads are playing table tennis. I’m holding back the tears – not . Phoned my family – everybody fine – life is OK. Was offered a drink of ‘Bells’ this morning by my Maltese neighbour, one of the screws had brought it in for him. Took one sniff and said, ‘No thanks.’ It was very tempting, but I’ve stuck to my word. ‘No drink or drugs whilst I’m in jail.’]

Moved to ‘B’ wing (Foreign Nationals and High Risk) I’m still on High Risk and in a big double cell on my own. Put the two mattresses together, it’s comfortable, although the bottom bunk is a bit like a coffin due to the added height of the two mattresses. Looking forward to a stress free kip – hope I wake up – feel the stress leaving my body as we speak. Think it’s because I know what to expect now – nothing – look after numero uno. Don’t ask for any help – don’t expect any help. Stick to this and nothing can be taken away from me. My dignity and integrity remains steadfast throughout, after all it’s all I’ve got left.

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About micsirwin

I'm a Postgraduate student at Queens studying Criminology, writer, poet and lover of integrity, dignity, respect and morality
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