Fragments from Prison, Extract 1

Below is an extract from my prison notebooks. With the exception of grammar corrections and bracketed information, nothing is altered.

HMP Bedford
HMP Bedford, where I spent my first 57 days in custody.

DAY 57 THE GREAT WRENCHING

Yesterday was the best and worst day I’ve had since arriving in Her Majesty’s Care. In the morning I woke after sleeping peacefully in my new cell on F-Wing [vulnerable prisoners wing]. Csongor [cellmate] and I had settled in, I’d bleached the floor, we had work and Jordon [who sexually/physically assaulted me] was away on C-Wing. We also just started on education, entering the ‘upper’ echelons of prison life — civilised, muted and less mercurial. I began to settle in, relax, dive into the shock. I had a 15:15 visit from Alex [my husband], where I was also receiving a number of books, clothes and this notebook. I was rushed to the visit by a Senior Officer [SO] — a woman of mid-forties with blonde hair (perhaps the same two-striped [SO] who laughed as holding Whitaker’s oxygen tank after his jump). Alexander — oh my love! My own heart, numb by prison walls, chains of the mind, still beats and burns for you! [At the visit] he looked tired, older, frustrated and awkward. He was, of course, incredibly sweet — wanting to buy me pizzas, cakes, lattes and misc. He beamed with pure love; he is pure love to me. Did I make him feel too guilty when I said (in all truthfulness) that I worried about him and wanted him to know we are both going through this (love & a dash of sadism?)? Did I — he almost cried — say it too strongly that I cared for his health whilst I am in prison? Didn’t I speak too quickly when I said they couldn’t take me anywhere, and I was settled now? And not but five minutes from then a guard came and said, “I am going to have to stop this visit [heart sinks] … you haven’t done anything wrong; you are being sent to HMP Norwich” (Or is it Norwhich? No Norwich). I replied “When? Now?” “Yes, now.” Alexander and I ten minutes together, the move from the four man cell to F-Wing, living more comfortably, having education and a job, all of this — all of the hope collapsed into a great abyss. Norwich — that one word acted as a Model of Instability. After the traumatic events with Jordan, sitting in that filthy four man cell with the rabidly racist Alf; all of them were ameliorated by the move to “my own” permanent cell — I thought I’d be there for sometime. I was rushed back to F-Wing via the workshop/rec room, where I announced: I was being transferred right now. People thought it a joke, then they didn’t. The wing rustled with movement — the first person I bolted to see was Csongor, my dear friend, who had a double dose of bad news and I wanted to help with a great palliative: being there. I love him as one loves a brother. Adam was very loving. Csongor was despondent as he just learned he was to receive an IEP (disciplinary) warning as he signed a paper to not see children but added his daughter and broth to the visit list (or his nephew?).

He also just learned his application for the Early Release Scheme [time off sentence for taking a deal to be deported; in his case: to Hungary] had been denied — meaning another six years here! Stunned/stung he just looked at me with a face of shock! Shock, shock and more shock — absurdity of it [all] … He said to the Offender Management Unit person “This place, prison, is designed to destabilise people!! Of course I am not well! ” — This — an apt response to “How are you (After I deliver the knife jab that we had prepared for you some two or three days ago?)” What a ridiculous question — “How are you?” In prison is how I am. Six years for Csongor! I’ve taken his details – he packed my things, I ran to the laundry [room] after saying goodbye to my tutor, Mr. Paul Scott, “Stretch” (Colin); I met Alex [another prisoner] who was in the process of washing my laundry — love from this group of people is the best thing I’ve ever experienced. Alex thanked me for my help — looked me in the eyes — I almost cried. I felt, I felt … Speechless… Csongor said I saved his life — how can they wrench us apart? The pain — his intense presence as an absent figure/body, his friendship, the deepest bond — followed me on that transport van … [Before I left] Jay, the former prison guard [locked up for selling supplies to prisoners], well he’d been kind to me since his return [from HMP Norwich] — he helped me pack with a devotion of a great friend. [Notorious] Nick Taylor offered various suggestions [as he was prone to do] on how I could stay (climbing on something, taking Csongor hostage, etc!); he also said they can’t interrupt my visit as I am entitled to it. I will ask Alexander to bring this up with Kesar & Co. [my prison attorneys] … All of those people are gone from my life now. From the dusty corridors of HMP Bedford’s A-Wing to that room with Csonger (Cell C-2-9), to the four man cell [four people shitting in one space!], to F-Wing to here, HMP Norwich — a bizarre place! Let me describe it…

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