The day begins with a jingle. Dylan nailed it. It’s a “jingle jangle morning“. The creaking, whining groan of distant doors opening, always followed by a crunching, closing crash. I’m in a clink but it’s really a clunk.
A noisy, banging, bang up.
The squeak of the wicket flap opening as the Screw checks if I’m alive. I’m not sure.
“my senses have been stripped”.
This inspection happens regularly with Newbies. Ex-servicemen get checked more regularly. One of the legacies of military training is the retained ability to kill, including oneself. HMP Slade is a Victorian hulk and the sounds resonate and reverb.
Voices. Keys. Crunch
The trusted are unlocked first. Cleaners and conversations can be heard first. Details of either are not clear. The only morning certainty is an alarm clock of noise. A car crash call to start the day.
The toilet is at the end of the double bunk bed. No ensuite. No privacy curtain. No seat. Just a stainless steel bowl jutting from the wall. A button on the wall for a flush. Next to it is a button to press in emergencies. Don’t get them mixed up.
There is a small sink next to the toilet.
A salutation to the sun. I begin a half-remembered stretching circuit from that two weeks yoga retreat in Goa some years back. Happy times. I add more press-ups. Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear is a long way away, I can do 7, but by the end of the week, I’m in double figures and have lost a stone. Funny how the Prison diet has not caught on.
I wash my face and especially my hands. The plastic vinyl floor feels sticky. I have mopped it several times but the texture just feels unclean. Everything feels unclean. The sheets are bright green and pitted with cigarette burns. A bright blue door. It’s is a primary palette.
Breakfast. This has been sitting in a poly bag since it was handed out yesterday at 5 pm, a carton of milk and cheap cereal: rice crispies or corn flakes but not Kellogs as this cereal is neither crispy or flakey. I rip the bag and tip the dust into a blue plastic bowl. I wonder whether eating the UHT milk carton would have better nutritional benefits. I finish. Wash hands again and the bowl and spoon in the sink.
Breakfast tea? Coffee? The residents have abused electrical equipment rewired to gain a spark for a ciggy. The upshot of these DIY skills is that all kettles have been removed from cells. The desire to smoke never goes off the boil.
The milk carton sits in the limp big bag (no bin) under the sink. The walls stained by the tea bag splatter of someones previous attempts. There are other stains on the wall the usual mix of semen, blood (human and surely Vulcan) and a combination of industrial solvents, dyes and several strains of anthrax or an undiscovered Jackson Pollack.
Throw those curtains wide? No need the windows are only furnished by bars and bible dimps. Some cells don’t have windows just bars. The glass has been smashed out and not replaced. Those that do have a glazing have a plastic alternative favored by bus shelters in the 1970s. A plastic that forms dense blister bubbles when a cigarette is vaguely near it. You will have seen what I mean if you ever sat on the top deck of a bus in the 1980s. A burnt charred melted scar pane. The remaining glazing has lots of these. So the day is always a hazy one. Small sky and lots “of fences facing.”
“Let me forget about today until tomorrow”
Maybe tomorrow I will still want to forget about today.
Definition: Window warrior
The inane chat and shouting out of a prison window in the early hours of the morning. Organising drug delivery and swapping news. Will often involve repeatedly shouting one name
“Davo, Davo, Davo”
Many times. Perhaps Davo was shipped out last week for he never answers. Davo may never have even entered the prison just the mind of the window warrior. Neither I nor the window warrior can be really sure. This adds to the noise and the unsettling feel.