09 Jul Day 9
Thursday 9th July 2015
And we’re off!
After my ten hour sleep last night, I woke up feeling bright and chirpy. I jumped out of bed at 8am, boiled the kettle, enjoyed my oats and attempted a few press-ups. We were later invited outside for exercise which both Steven and I declined. We became caged animals today. These four walls are my home now, I don’t want to know the outside world anymore. I’m institutionalised…
…Nah, I’m just screwing with you.
I find making a to-do list for association time is essential if I want to get anything done. It is too easy to get distracted by all the information I have to remember when I am asking questions as well as my senses being heightened by my surrounding (you have to be very alert wherever you go). I get asked five times a day minimum by some guy for a Rizla or some burn and I am only out of my cell for an hour. There is so much to process in that short time in contrast to the 22 hours when I am in the company of Steven with our own space, not doing much. My to-do list was quite lengthy; Today was laundry day; I lost my phone pin so I needed to sort that out; library books to return/borrow more; put myself down for the gym and finally make time for a shower. Doesn’t look too complex compared to the ones I had before I came here, however, when you only have a limited amount of time its all systems go to get it done on time. My life right now is all about ‘in here’ and making the most of it and lists are good because they keep me busy!
Embarrassingly, as I was signing up for the gym, there was a form on the desk with ‘Swimming Lessons’ and a few names on it. Immediately, I signed up and the lads behind the desk started sniggering. Which was confusing. As I handed the sheet to them they couldn’t stop laughing and I wondered why. Then it hit me… Of course, there’s no such thing as swimming lessons in prison. Sigh.
Along with the gym, I am due a prison induction today and will hopefully hear back about my job with Catch 22 by Monday at the latest.
Thankfully, I got John Wyndham’s second book in the trilogy from the library today titled ‘The Chrysalids’ I also borrowed a couple of Sherlocks by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Its almost time for lunch now. My last concern is this phone pin. An officer has started sorting it for me however, the numbers I have applied for may not be transferred for a few more days. That’s quite bad as I really want to speak to my family as I’m sure they do with me.
Later that day
Well, I’ve been to my first gym session, how peculiar. We gathered our things and waited to go through for our induction. As in some form of tempting joke we had to wait outside the staff cafeteria. Here, I could smell the fresh blend of café latté which is probably not a very good one but in my situation, I would have taken anything. I simply cannot believe that it will be over nine months until I taste the sweet intoxication and flittering heartbeat of a freshly ground latté with either hazelnut or caramel syrup. As well as getting a piano in my cell, a latte, just one, is on my list of extra privileges to get despite it not being on the ‘approved list’.
The gym was great. It was odd being given a vest and shorts for all to wear. Convenient but odd. My skinny arms struggled to fill the upper garment and I was definitely one of the slimmest in there. I awkwardly walked around the gym, everyone was lifting, I had no idea what to do. To save myself some embarrassment, I did what I do best… run. I hit the treadmill with a speed of 6mph then 6.5 and ultimately 7 miles per hour for 20 minutes. I forgot everything and just ran. I worked up a sweat and felt AMAZING. Afterwards, I joined Steven who pointed to some 10kg weights which would be best for my feeble structure. I waited a while until another guy of slightly bigger build finished with them. Three lots of six reps on each arm and I was ‘puckered’ as they say. That, combined with a few pull downs for the old triceps and it lasted for one great workout. Assuming my legs will look after themselves, my interest will be in the upper body department LIFT LIFT LIFT!
On a side note, back on wing, some poor chap noticed I was wearing my own clothes and hoped I would have a spare prison jumper. Unfortunately, I didn’t but I did what my mother would do and instead gave him the prison shirts. He was happier to at least have a change of clothing available.
Also, Shah (not sure how to spell it), one of the asian elders, has taken my sheet of English to translate in to Urdu so that I can both write and speak the essentials needed for rehousing more people.
Oh, I also forgot, besides my reduced living expenses and free gym membership, every Thursday my clothes get washed, dried and folded absolutely free. I imagine after 41 times of this process my clothes will become well worn out which I hope will be just in time for my release date.
Prison is odd. All of a sudden, what I deemed necessary is not. On the outside I spent hours on my phone, laptop or iPad generally working or pissing about. I don’t do that here and the world still turns. I drank lemonade and lattes which I could spend up to £50 per week on. Not to mention the booze which I’m not buying anymore (obviously). As for conversation, I feel I am coming out of my mildly autistic caste shell. I always felt uncomfortable talking to most people. I didn’t feel I had anything in common because I ran a business. I was perceived to be doing well and most people I spoke to weren’t in the same zone. My self inflicted snobbery made conversation both difficult and unenjoyable. I seldom fit in. However in here, we’re all criminals and we all want to get out. I’m no better than anyone who wants to better themselves and whilst the conversations are just ‘jail talk’ about sentences, offences and such, its easier somehow. I owe these people nothing, my CV is back to zero and I kind of like it. When I’m released, I want to see it as a restart whilst bringing the best bits of my past with me. There’s certainly people and institutions who I will no longer entertain in return for their blessing or support. These emotional anchors can wear a man away over time. I want my life and this experience to be used positively.
One note on my therapy was the ongoing annoyance and awareness of ticking clocks and simultaneously worrying that this punishment would not be enough to rid me of the guilt of selling drugs. I am pleased to say whilst my determination and enthusiasm remains positively unhindered, the fear of time falling away has not only subsided but has landed in perspective. I will be 23 when I leave here. Days are long. There is enough time in a month to achieve something of epic proportions… executed correctly. I realised this: when its 5 and a half years after my release, I will only be 29! Another 10 years until 39 (still in my prime), another 10 until 49 (still able), 10 more until 59 (I should calm down by this point) then another 10 years until 69. I know its simple math but just one lot of 10 years is a bloody long time. I take solace that not only will I recover from this experience long before I turn 25 but I will already have legal vested interests waiting for me, beyond where I left them upon my release. More so, there’s a family and a life still there waiting for me. I will be emotionally, physically and spiritually richer from this experience and it will play an essential part in my life going forwards. I know I’m only one week down (8 days) but I think its just long enough of a sentence, which brings me on to my next point and second elated worry.
The fear was that the punishment wouldn’t be enough to alleviate my guilt and truly repay my debt. Now after being here only a week and realising I have 40 weeks and 6 days minimum to go upon my release, I believe it will be enough and I have no interest listening to any others who say otherwise. Besides, in both criminal activity and in punishment they weren’t in my situation at the time. It doesn’t justify it but it means empathy on their account is difficult as judgment should be. I say this politely and practically, not bitterly.