Drugs are around me every day. This morning I’m in the shower room: 4 cubicles in a line. Think Glastonbury but without the sophistication, I’m wearing flip-flops to save my toes from the dimps and debris on the floor.
I’m alone. I strip, hang by pants on the hook, pull back the shower curtain and yelp with surprise. Yelp is not a good sound for a man to make in prison come to think about it is is not a good sound for a man to ever make.
A young con is Polonius-like behind the curtain: ‘A wretched, rash intruding fool’ No water running to alert me, just stood silent. I quickly choose another cubicle and wonder whether the following definitions have any bearing on his actions:
To hold money, contraband between one’s buttocks. See Plugged.
Usage: “I was on a Rotl today, had a shit and forget I had cheeked £40. Must’ave flushed it down bog ”
To hold money, contraband, or a mobile phone in one’s anus. This can be forcibly removed by fellow prisoners or less frequently Screws. See cheeked.
He was lucky I do not carry a rapier to the shower.
“No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be”
I had never heard of Spice prior to going to prison. Prisoners were drug tested for Marijuana so when an alternative arrives, spice, that did not show up on drug tests it was popular. ‘Alternative’ is misleading, for with any new product the consequences are poorly understood. Spice is a different drug; no mellowness, it just brings a banging heart and debt.
Drug barons will abuse the addicted for a smoke: Eat this dimp butty for a drag, A punch in the face for a drag, and worse.
A man on my wing, Willo, has been popping in, to play chess and chat. I suspect he wants something for last week he was not with it at roll call, told a tale of picking up a dodgy ciggy of the floor and has had all his priveledges taken away from him. No canteen, no visits. Ex-marine, which I only believe when he shows me photos. He tells me he is related to Louis MacNeice and produces poems about the death of comrades as proof. Not as convincing as photographs but believable. He is a nice fellow with drug issues that led to burglary, a 5 year conviction but an improvement of his opening gambits and his piece development through the exploitation of open files and centre control.
Some days he can play chess. Some days he literally can’t make a move.
For example, last month I walk past his room as a crowd of four are looking in and laughing. Willo is on the floor curled up rocking. Maybe this is a good day.
I see him less and less over the next two weeks.
I stand next to him in the dinner queue: ‘I’m worried about you”
“I can look after myself”
I want to push the discussion further but I’m a coward and fear connection with a man who is a trained killer. The sum of my formal training relates to Excel spreadsheets from 1996.
The next time I see him, again in the dinner hall, I’m sat eating. Willo is ladling some beans from the servery onto his plastic plate or trying to. 5 minutes pass in trying to scoop beans. He cannot hold his plate level. He cannot really hold the spoon but he holds everyone’s attention and attracts derision.
He is shipped out the next day as is usual this information filters out slowly.
A case like Willo happens every week.
The paranoia swirling mists of gossip point fingers on who told what and to who but the Screws are not stupid nobody had to spill the beans.
“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety its connection” Johann Hari