17 Aug The Importantance of Tea
31 days down and after hearing about prison I honestly didn’t think I would survive this long. Everyday I’ve been writing down the things I’ve seen, the feelings I’ve felt and the hopes I’ve had for my time here and my release next year. Naturally, there’s some things I cannot mention until I’m out but will be as open as I can.
As I write this, I am sitting on my bed watching an old war movie on Film 4 with a cup of Yorkshire Tea in hand. It sounds like the life right? – Unfortunately not. The weeks are long but the weekends longer. I’m glad I’ve managed to sort myself a job sewing boxer shorts. It’s certainly humbling and I actually look forward to work – anything to pass the time.
I’d say one of the hardest points is being locked up every day from 5.40pm until 8am. No quick phone calls, text messages, or contact with another human being for all of that time. The only saving grace is getting a letter through the door from friends and family.
Routine is the key to survival here. I use all the time I can at church, the gym or learning another language. TV shows save the day – I love channel 4 in the morning with the likes of Fraser, Everybody Loves Raymond and Undercover Boss. Later in the day I enjoy Simpsons along with Come Dine with Me. Bear in mind I never watched TV before I got in here.
However, coming to prison, your priorities definitely change. Out there, I was scared of wasting even a single day. Things personal to me mattered and they just don’t in here. Where outside I was concerned about what the press would say about my situation, in here I just want to save enough for a CD player. Outside I was fed up of constantly being pestered by my family – now I can’t wait for visits, or enough credit on my phone for a 10 minute chat. The fact I can’t just get up, leave my room and go to the shop is such an odd thing to me. You just don’t think of these things when you go to prison. For example, one of my happiest moments was on Friday 31st after 4 weeks of being here when I finally received a ceramic cup and proper Yorkshire Tea bags. It doesn’t sound a lot but I was so happy just because of that!
Despite it being like a school playground, the odd fight, different groups of lads, canteen food and all sorts of hierarchy I can’t even begin to explain, there are some genuinely great lads here – ones who wouldn’t have crossed my path on the out, yet we play cards, chess and sometimes just chat. It’s far from perfect, and I know I deserve to be here, but we make do with what we have although I certainly won’t be coming back!
Showering isn’t anything like on the films. I feel like I have to mention this due to all the letters I have received from friends ending with, ‘P.S. Don’t drop the soap’ VERY FUNNY – HA BLOODY HA.
The oddest part was using the loo at Armley. There was no door and my cell mate was less than a metre away on the bed. After 2 weeks I got used to it, but can you imagine how weird that was?
Now, I’m at another prison with my own cell. It’s still a little bare but I have lovely photos of my family on the wall and can’t wait to get more in. It’s strange not being able to send photos out. All in all, I never want to be back here but I do want to be a part of it. I am determined to use my time here effectively. I want to make a lasting positive impact on this place. I am applying for a keyboard in my cell so I can learn piano, focusing on my fitness and also learning Spanish and Urdu.
The part I do enjoy is being able to help a few of the inmates write their category D application letters (better prison for well-behaved prisoners) and ones to their friends and family.
I have no idea what I will be like when I leave but my very clever niece summed it up perfectly:
“The world is your very shitty enclosed oyster, but it’s still yours…”
I think we could all learn something from her! I know I have.
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