A 1980’s community center, or a parish jubilee hall, but with cheap carpets no blinds. Three chairs facing a single chair over a low coffee table. This could be a bar in a sports club that never wins. Certainly, all who sit in the single seats have lost.
The roller shutter rises on the corner cafe. The black liquid cannot be coffee but it is sold as such, perhaps it’s free and the 50p charge is for the polystyrene cup.
Plastic boxes, clear boxes with passable cakes, flapjacks, scones and yellow polysteryene folding boxes of fried food, better to just pass on, but surprisingly popular.
One inmate on a court visit last week was taken by the Screw to McDonald’s and the con concluded that it was the best food he had had in 4 years. A sad indictment on our canteen culture.
A Screw collects names and happy children appear at the double swing doors and run to hug daddy dearly. The difficulty is the coming and the going in emotional waters. Always dangerous getting in or out of a bath one can slip, hugging the kids, kissing girlfriends or wives. The upset is too much for too many.
Many guys can not face a visit.
Some visit halls are more brutal. The shakedown of guest more severe. Some have vowed never to attend again due to the power of a pat down and another blow to separate community and family.
The children are happy with a chocolate bar and a cake. Maybe they are visiting a daddy who is working away. Maybe they will be told today by other older, wiser but foolish that “your daddy and my daddy are in prison together.”
Information that will linger as an act of betrayal for many years.
The leaving starts. Teenage tears, daughters crying loudly, cons sobbing surreptitiously. No lingering, no looking back from the doors. Don’t go slowly, come back quickly. One two hour visit, every two weeks, is over.
The running and laughter of the departed children fill the silence. This is the saddest prison scene. As each adjusts back into prison life: pack away feelings and put back on prison head.
Solitary, low men sat on a single chairs.