Got a light mate?

Tobacco is known simply and descriptively as “burn.” HMP Slade is a non-smoking prison. The corollary of this policy is it’s constantly full of smoke: an acrid plastic fume fug that induces nausea and gives a headache.

Tobacco products are banned. No: pouches of rolling tobacco, cigarettes, cigarillos, Cuban cigars, snuff or cheroots. Any incendiary devices are banned too: no lighters (Zippo, cheap plastic or Magnum mockup) and of course no matches.

So, any prisoner arriving from another jail or from the court will have all of his smoking paraphernalia taken off him and binned. The Screws give out the healthy option of a nicotine replacement patch and in return are given a healthy amount of abuse.

The presence of only a replacement therapy is not going to stop a resourceful lot like criminals from smoking. Contraband tobacco will make its way in. So, the ban is not exactly working. Dimps from all of the above are in the showers. Snuff is not to be sniffed at these days and pipe smokers are clearly Holmes’ types who leave no clues.

Any product that can be made into a roach or a cigarette paper will be used. Covers and pages from books torn off and out, notices pulled down.

The central tube from a toilet roll will be pulled out. The tissue binned so a taper can be lit in a long coil card,  that will smoke and burn all night but mainly smoke. This is usually hung out the window.  The result of this is:

1. The plastic windows are burnt.

2. A plume of smoke leaves the window beneth and enters mine.

Sometimes, it’s windy and I’m reprieved the whiff of the worse joss stick ever from below and get it from the window next to me instead. I would close my window but there is no glass in the frame.

How to get a light? Simply pull the wires out of the kettle or T.V., to leave plug in the wall with cable and insert the two live wires into a cup of shower gel. The current combusts the gel and you have a flame, light your taper and you can smoke all night. You can’t watch T.V. or use the kettle as these are now scrap and will be removed the next day.

In the absence of smuggled in stuff, a ciggy is assembled from the contents of a tea bag tipped onto a piece of paper with the gluey gunk of a nicotine patch on top. In fairness, the tea bags probably make better cigs than cups of tea. There must be marketing possibilities for a prison brand cancer stick: PG TIPS? Yummy,  just makes you want to take up the habit.

My new copy of the bible is being looked at eagerly by next door neighbors. They are feeling the pages and saying it looks a “good book”.  There is nor irony is the use of that phrase. One holds my book and reads it under my nervous gaze. Or he would be if he was not holding it upside down. Bibles burn best but not mine. I recount the above to the Chaplin. She is unaware of the jails smoking ban she has only worked here for four years and the ban in place for 18 months. She is a plump lady as unfamiliar with cock as she is with the real world.  She misses the point, as she is delighted her only read is referred to as a good book. I inform her of the uses of the bible in this establishment and conclude with the simple statement:

“Clearly the light of the Lord burns brightly in HMP Slade”

She laughs loudly and for too long. As she is locking me back in my cell says,

“Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

I meditate on her message for most of the evening while reading chunks of a gospel and I have a clear vision: I have no idea what message her God is conveying here……. but nothing new in that.


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