LIFE STORY OF TERRY DONALDSON CHAPTER 8
INTO THE BELLY OF THE BEAST
‘Boys into Men’, ‘Psalm 91’, ‘Hebrews 13’, ‘Haille Selassie’ are a few of the slogans I see emblazoned as tattoos on some of the lads as we queue for food. The menu is macaroni and corned beef, as it always is on Tuesdays, and I am taking stock of the variety of designs available. Most of the tats here really do look like jailhouse –style tattoos. None of the nice tattoo parlour- accentuations here, with colour shadings and embellishments of style. Here what you get is the real thing. It looks very rough, and unfortunately my Irish friend Vino is all set to set his tat in. If I had known about it in time, I would have tried advising him against it. No-one here has sterilized any of their needles. They might have washed them after each use, but to talk of health precautions in this place is a contradiction in terms. He is all keen, my mate, who cam into the jail shortly after me, having got busted for six kilos at the airport while in transit from Guyana, and is working through a similar sentence.
I don’t know hoe much he is paying for his tattoo, but he emerges some three hours later with ‘Laura’ on his upper right arm. It’s not too bad, style-wise, being down out in Germanic style lettering, with an added rose underneath. It is for his daughter, he tells me.
I just hope he hasn’t contracted Hep C as a result. Hep C is something people don’t know much about. The virus can live on a used razor blade, undetected to the human eye, for up to three months, before it expires. Compare that to eight minutes for the HIV virus. It is not easy to get rid of, either.
It is possible to guess just how prevalent it is here- who can say- maybe seventy percent of prisoners here might have it?
Eventually even this little sleepy backwater might start introducing screening before most of the population goes down with it.
People just don’t seem to realize that things like this can eventually come to affect them as well, not just something that happens to ‘them junkies’. Maybe they had the same mentality back in the Middle Ages with the Black Death – that they weren’t going to get affected.
I collect my food, two scoops of macaroni and a small one of the mashed-up corned beef, and back I go up to my new cell, on the upper landing. It’s taken me a small while to get this far. You have to work your way assiduously through the system before you can start amassing enough brownie points to qualify for an upgrade such as this- but the cells this side really are better- fresher air blowing in from the not-too-distant ocean, a better view, too, out over some rolling countryside. Other privileges, too, now that I am in line for an actual job.
I come back to the cell, and sit down on my bed. My bed is on ground level, and I start eating my food with a plastic fork. They have put me in her with a young Rasta man, that turns out to be one of the nephews of the lady that used to come round and visit me at the Ocean Spray hotel- Caroline Williams. But he is a nutter. He keeps popping out of the cell and returning, his eyes popping out of his head, talking deranged and as if he wants to kick off.
He pulls out a blade and waves it near to my face, all the time talking to someone that isn’t there.
After I have eaten most of my food, I get up and resolve to solve this problem. It has been going on for a couple of days now and the time had come to put a stop to it. Talking is no use. Action is the language of communication here. As elsewhere, so I grab a chair and swing it at him. If I don’t do anything now, then things will truly escalate. He is quick, and manages to partially block it, but all the time he is still carrying on this conversation with an invisible person. I swing the chair back, and thrust it upwards, hitting him in the face. He is back, though, with the blade swinging for my face, for my eyes, if he can get them. In a place like this there will be little if any come-back for blinding a foreign prisoner, and plenty of sergeant’s stripes. It will be a nice accomplishment if he can actually do it. But I am not in the mood for giving any leeway, and I notice the chair disintegrating as it collides with his head for the second, now the third time.
But back he comes, and grabs me round the neck. Together we roll into one of the corners, then another. The room by now is breaking up into hundreds of tiny pieces. I had no idea I had this much energy, but I have. The system of shelves which have been erected in this cell over what might be several generations is now in matchsticks, strewn all over the floor. I am free of the headlock, but there is a trickle of blood stemming from somewhere on my scalp. I look at the Rasta man and see he is leaking blood from his guts. He must have cut himself, or got grazed on one of the many nails in the wall that are all stuck in all around. After a few more minutes with him trying desperately to slice me, and me right-fisting him on the chin and into his neck, he wants to call it off.
I don’t mind. I’m a bit puffed anyway, and besides, I’ve made my point. You don’t always have to gild the lily, or whatever Shakespeare said.
We go and clean up, but there is a screw at the gate and I get spotted tying to clean blood off my head from the one sink that is beside the gate.
We are both apprehended and have to make our journeys over to the medical unit, which is not a bad move, really, given the danger of tetanus and other poisonings from cuts and wounds. It turns out the Rasta man is worse off than me, so I am declared the winner of the match, which is a bonus, because it transpires I get a fair amount of street credit even for facing up to the wanker. As the story makes it way down the corridor, I hear laughter coming from down there, and even other, even more distant corridors. It seems as though we have provided a fair bit of entertainment for the lads. I see their pleased expressions the next day. Lots of smiles. No one actually says anything, but it is still there. Well done Tel. Someone had to do it, and this guy was taking the piss out of a lot of people.
He has been given his lesson. The senior screw moves him onto a new wing, me too, I go back to F&G.
My new mate there is Rass Monkey, who is in the cell with Mark Braithwaite. Rass was originally called Rass Monk, but the police put the Monkey part of his name onto him, and it stuck ever since.
That happened when he was arrested for shooting at the police during a burglary, and, after ending up in Glendairy, managed to con a friend into taking the rap for that. Rass was always regarded as something of one of the local counter-culture’s holy-men, as he had then the long dreadlocks right down to the small of his back, and smoked dope practically non stop.
Since those long-gone but heady days, though, Rass seemed to have gone through something like a breakdown, possibly induced by the excessive dope-smoking. After a spell or two at Black Rock, the mental hospital, he was then released back onto the streets to forage around and fend for himself as best he could.
Barbados had many such as this, just wandering around, eventually ending up in trouble with the actual residents and then fining themselves getting sectioned or arrested again. Most of their troubles were related to the rum they would drink, or gear they would get to smoke. Mind-bending stuff, really.
Rass though is clearly not the man he used to be.
He is always desperate for a smoke. Hence his strong interest in keeping me in his cell, back on F&G. In the aftermath of the fight he is frantically trying to get the chief officer Carrington to move me back into his cell, for no other reason than he knows that today is the day I pick up my two packs of cigarettes from upstairs at reception. If I remain on K&L where I now am, he knows as well as I do that when I pick up I’m going to come straight back here- Do not pass Rass Monkey, Do not hand out snouts unnecessarily- Do not collect 200 pounds.
Carrington hums and haws. The whole reason for my having been transferred over to K&L is that I am now being prepared to take a prison job. It is in this section that the workers are being concentrated. They are moving away from the old system of having the workers spread out all over the jail. Moving me back to F&G, I realize probably isn’t going to help with my desire to get out off the wing, and into the outside yard, where it’s possible to swan around a bit more.
Still, I don’t mind just taking it easy. Sitting around with Rass Monkey all day long isn’t so bad. I’ve been here in this jail for getting on a year now, and all I’ve done is lay on my own piece of concrete floor.
Still, it has given me the chance to get my own head together. During that time I’ve read a fair few books. I started off with Jack London’s stories of Alaska, digging out a book from the prison library. It fascinated me how he would weave all his short stories in together, like a series of trails overlapping one another, so that a little cottage which was mentioned in passing in one story became the centre of an Indian attack in another, and something that a dog or a wolf might pass by in the background again in yet another.
But everything would still weave together.
I was able to spend a fair proportion of my time substantially catching up on my reading list. In particular I enjoyed the stories of Robert Jordan in his ‘Wheel of Time’ series. Jordan who was one of the original Conan the Barbarian writers, really brought the Middle Earth theme to life with his tales of sword and sorcery.
A friend of mine, Angie, from Wood Green, would send me boxes of books, sometimes ten or so books in a box, for me to read. I would always be asked by other lads to loan books out, and, in a few cases where I knew my trust was going to be rewarded, actually do so.
Another thing that proved popular as reading mater were the copies of ‘Viz’ magazine. Although the humour in it was often difficult for the local lads to totally follow, the other British inmates really cracked up at the antics of the ‘Fat Slags’, ‘Sid the Sexist’, ‘Drunken Bakers’ and ‘Cockney Wanker’, to mention but a few.
One of the things that really fascinated some of the lads were the photos of scantily-dressed young women in the back pages, pictures which normally might not have made it past the censor, but which did in this case, to our great pleasure.
So, back in with Rass Monkey it was to be for me, then, and, at the appropriate time, I went and picked up my smokes, and shared them with him, and Braithwaite, who also lived in the same cell.
Braithwaite would do what he could, too. He already had a job, going outside in the yard each day, working on sanitation. His tasks included hosing down the yard each day, and sweeping the Mess Hall. Getting out and about afforded him the opportunity to wheel and deal, especially with the kitchen boys, but he would often ask me for three or four cigarettes so as to make a purchase of extra food, such as macaroni pie, which he would then bring back to the cell and share with Rass Monkey and myself. IT was delicious, to get extra food that we all three of us enjoyed, eating it from the foil paper as we did, no one has ever dined more luxuriously on exotic foreign food than we three did, in the half light of our cell, enjoying our own very special companionship. Afterward, we would wash it down with a Lasco, sometimes strawberry or raspberry, but absolutely delicious every time, just like it says on the label.
Then we would smoke a couple of cigarettes each- an unparalleled luxury- at least for us, before sleep finally took us and transported us into the land of our dreams.
By now I had already made a start on the Rehab, as we called it. Its total title was Inmates Drug Rehabilitation Program, and it was presided over by a man called Mr. Sealey.
I first met him as I was trying to get in to see the doctor. That in itself was always a joke as you had to be fighting fit to be able to force your way through to the top of the queue. If you were really sick you just wouldn’t stand a chance of getting in, which is why it had taken me several attempts to get even this far. The doctor would always see just so many of the people who had queued for hours- and waited for days- to get this far.
Most got turned away, often at the extreme fury of the disgruntled.
‘I will see you outside!’ shrieked Archibald Braithwaite once, when told by one of the male nurses that his name wasn’t on the list.
After a great deal of arguing, the nurse had to admit that his name was on one list, but it turned out that there was a list ‘within the list’ which his name wasn’t on. So, he had to go back. Braithwaite, who was suffering from bad back and glaucoma, was almost beside himself with rage. Not that that getting I to see the doctor always did a lot of good. One fella called Medford was brought back to the prison after the Hurricane, with a bullet wound in his leg. You could actually see the hole where the bullet had entered.
‘What happened?’ I asked him.
Apparently, just after the Hurricane passed over, he had gone out to try and get some work, helping people put their places back in order. He had approached one man, whose house need some work doing to it. Medford indicated his willingness to help, but asked for some small money in advance just ‘for an eye opener’, which means a blast of crack. The house owner pulled out his gun on hearing those words, and immediately shot this lad straight in the leg.
Because Medford had been high on crack for so long, he hadn’t even felt the wound, but now, some four or five days later, as the drug wore off, the pain was beginning to make itself felt. Medford went to the doctor, and amazingly succeeded in getting in to see him. But it was no use. The doctor just shrugged, and said it was better for him to let the bullet stay there than for him to try and get it out.
Mr. Sealey was a very dapper man, of small stature, but with the spirit of a lion. He would always wear a ring with a blackbird on it, and a piece of magic coral around his neck. His attire was for African-style suits, I think you might call them safari suits. On his face he would usually be wearing dark glasses. You could see your own face in those glasses until he took them off.
He was originally from Barbados, but had spent a lot of his life in Canada, where he had trained as a therapist.
He was passionate about what he was doing, which was trying to get people off drugs.
In his office he had some United Nations posters put up, along with a UN sticker on the front of his desk, which gave him a very official-looking aura as you sat there and got signed into his rehab program.
The program was quite intense, and required an attendance of three times each week. In the first part, we would receive education, which meant looking at videos about the negative effects of various drugs. We looked at cocaine, marijuana, heroin, alcohol, and tobacco. The second part involved the therapeutic element, which had us in group therapy, looking at various themes and sharing our experiences.
It was quite as much a revelation to sit there and hear what the other lads had been through in their lives, as it was to find words to describe what had happened in mine.
I realized that never before had I had the opportunity to make sense of a lot of the craziness that had afflicted my life, let alone come to understand why I had always gravitated towards using drugs or alcohol as a way of dealing with it.
Slowly, but surely, the thin layer of superficial reality began to peel away, and I came to see myself on a much deeper level than before. This wasn’t any great Cecil B. De Mills light shining in the darkness experience, but a much more low-key and more drawn-out process of realizing that just acknowledging how certain things in my past might have influenced me, didn’t necessarily mean that I was going to have to go to the other extremity and start falling apart, either. There was some middle ground to be found, after all.
It was also the opportunity for a few stories to get told, too, which is also a part of the therapeutic process, or so I came to believe.
Some of the lads had really amazing tales, or being slung out of their parents’ place and having to fend for themselves on beaches. Here, they would form small communities of their own, sometimes getting little jobs here and there to make ends meet, living on the beach, and making a fire at night around which they would all gather round. Others would go off stealing, very often get caught, and find themselves carried off to Dodds, a kind of children’s prison. The stories from there were awful, about the sexual and physical abuse from staff members towards these helpless young men. Very often things would build up so much they would try and escape, and when that happened, they would then be brought to Glendairy, where they would be subjected to bullying and bulling, from the older, more experienced prisoners.
One in particular, Super Ted, an eccentric body-builder, was really unhappy about his well-to do sister blanking him out of her life. She was a doctor, but just didn’t want to know him. Ted told us some tales about his double life as a construction site manager cum- crack smoker, and how he would fiddle and diddle his long-suffering boss in order to get extra money for his habit. Many a laugh he would give us as he described the intense paranoia and hallucinations of demonic persecutors that chased him whenever he would smoke crack. There are many that have similar delusions.
Mario was another one I remember, whose poignant tale of being the sixth child from a woman who had previously had five other children from five different fathers really affected me. It was rare for any of us to find a space in which emotions such as these could be explored, and shared, and these rehab sessions left their mark, I suspect, upon each of us in quite a big way.
From time to time we had the glib ones come along, too, the ones that had ‘done’ rehabs before or been to NA or AA meetings. These would be the ‘wise guys’ who knew the price of everything but the value of nothing. They would be ‘doing’ rehab programs in twenty years time, but would still not be making real progress, as they weren’t prepared to make the necessary sacrifice of stopping taking drugs.
We had three Yankees, Yankee 1, who would spend most of the day wheeling and dealing, by selling people’s biscuits and skin cream for cigarettes. Out of this income, he would skim off a portion, and keep for himself. After he got released, he got rearrested, and pissed himself in front of the judge when she sentenced him back to Glendairy. It was all in the paper. Yankee 2 was about six foot six tall, and would do shadow boxing. His real name was Ronald Deane and he got a job carrying out buckets in security, until he got caught smuggling weed in for someone there. After a night in Solitary, he was out again. When he got out he went off to Verdun House, a halfway house for people still vulnerable and unlikely to make it on their own. There, his intention was to study for some genuine qualifications which would assist him to make his way in the real world. The Third Yankee was Bannister, who was, it was generally agreed, a screaming drag queen whenever he got on the pipe, or ‘sucked the devil’s dick’ as they say. He would go out of the prison on the farm project van every day, smuggling back a few vegetables such as tomatoes which I would often buy from him, in order to supplement my diet.
Eventually I managed to get a fellow Brit onto the rehab- Robert Brown. Robert was a complete queen, even in all his mannerisms he looked effeminate. But a diamond fella, though. We would sit upstairs in a cell and , while playing cards, make out we were master hypnotists, and, as people passed by, snap our fingers and ‘turn them’ into drag queens, or Monica Lewinskis. Some of the lads thought us quite mad. We would laugh hysterically for hours.
Robert was very good as doing other people’s washing, and I would often let him ‘do’ my blues- the con name for the prison uniform. He would turn it around in record time spick and span.
Robert was always ‘in the know’ as to what was happening I the prison, drug-wise. With his expert knowledge, many an aspiring brewer of ‘bombolini’ or prison-made wine would come to him for advice in getting a better quality out of what they were doing. When one of the Europeans succeeded in smuggling a sizeable amount of cocaine into the prison it was Robert who knew enough to be able to ‘wash’ the coke and turn it into the smokeable crack, making quite a few people rich in the process an himself very stoned while he was down on the farm- the extension prison.
Robert was doing well, getting a lot of benefit from the sessions, until a fellow inmate- a very overweight man from Guyana called Humpty Dumpty suddenly died of a heart attack. Humpty had been complaining of his bad heart for some time, but at the medical unit the lady in charge just shooed him away. He died in the Mess hall about an hour after, and even then it took the screws about an hour to get it together to summon an ambulance. Basically it was a case of nobody giving a fuck. Robert was the one to get it together to write a letter and get it smuggled out to one of Barbados’ leading newspapers ‘The Nation’, which published the entire sorry story. There was an absolute scandal as the superintendent of prisons Lt. Col. John Nurse fell over himself in apoplexy trying to cover up the smell of his own shit. But it was too late- the story was out. This top screw
Spent more time and energy trying to track down how this ‘security leak’ had come about that was ever spent in finding out why a prisoner had died totally unnecessarily. Eventually the screws were able to track it down to Robert, and he was sent down into the underground security section, where he was forced to wear leg irons like a slave. Even when the useless British Embassy turned up, which wasn’t often, Robert was produced to them wearing these leg irons, which was the locals’ way of adding insult to injury.
Robert became paler and paler, thinner and thinner, but by now had developed the cult status of a hero leader. Whenever he managed to get out of the security area, for a rehab session, for instance, he would be greeted by cheers from all the lads, a real example of what it means to take a stand against the lazy and ignorant army of screws, led by John Nurse. We even started calling him Ho Chi Minh, after the famous leader of Vietnamese independence.
Robert was something else.
One of the things we covered in the rehab sessions was something which Mr. Sealey called ‘the Medicine Wheel’. This was a way of looking at all your past associations which, as a recovering addict, you might have thought were ‘great relationships’ or ‘great friendships’, but which when you actually analyzed it, simply weren’t. It was the value-added input of the drug-taking, combined with delusions of elitism that often resulted in the addict thinking in glorious terms of their former criminal associates. Effectively, it was a kind of deprogramming that Mr. Sealey was doing, in conjunction with Mr. Lord, the large and policeman-looking assistant that was helping him to run these sessions.
For me at least, I found it very effective in helping me to change my thinking on a number of levels. For one thing, it underlined just how grotty and slimy the cocaine and drug-fueled worlds really are, as are the people who infest them, spreading their illnesses and ensnaring others into their activities.
Doing Mr. Sealey’s rehab program really was like a much-needed bucket of cold water in the face at the time; it woke me up and inspired me to work toward the change that I needed to make.
It was around one of these mid-mornings that Mr. Shorey came along and visited me, inside my cell. Mr. Shorey was one of the officers responsible for allocating people to various jobs, and apparently a vacancy had arisen. It was for a bucket man in H&I, the security wing. This was an unpopular job as it involved going down to where the specially-sectioned off men were kept- and this included the condemned men, too- and carrying out their shit buckets twice a day. Becaue of the fact that these men were under special security, they were not allowed out to where the deep wells were to empty and clean their own buckets. There was no sewerage in the prison; everything got carried out by plastic buckets, even though the health risks were obvious, both to prisoners as well as staff. When the lines of people were in full swing, buckets often got banged or nudged, and when their contents spilled onto people fists could easily start flying. Usually, though, the guards enjoyed all this, because it would give them a chance to see someone get beaten by another prisoner while they stood back and laughed. Later they could arrest the offending inmate, if they so wished.
A more cowardly, lazy, and corrupt group of people I have yet to encounter in this life, although I truly hope I never do. All headed over by their Supremo, John Nurse, a Toy Soldier that has never been in an actual battle in his entire life and so make up for his frustrated soldier boy fantasies parading around in his ridiculous red-banded cap.
Each day- and for twice a day- I would descend down into the depths of the underground section of this awful stinking place. There were always two of us- my companion for these tasks was a man called Springer, a fella who just couldn’t stay away from the pipe, and who seemed doomed to spend most of his life in these corridors.
Springer was the main man who would smuggle weed into this area; it was a booming business, although I didn’t get involved with it. On one occasion I found a big wrap of weed Springer had brought in, in a little spare room where we used to change, but I just left it there, letting Springer know that I wanted a packet of biscuits as my ‘slice of the action.’
The other was Stout, who did the sweeping and mopping. Springer and I concentrated on the heavier stuff of doing the buckets. Moving along this Crimean-War type corridor, each set of ancient, gnarled-looking doors was opened, and their inhabitants would appear, empty out their bucket and wash it with some small amount of cleaning water they had stored, using washing up powder and a home –made scrubber. Then we would move along and when our big collecting buckets were filled, one of us would move out to the well outside for emptying. This was heavy work, and very dirty. Also, because of this, it created repercussions for we that worked this section even back in the Mess hall, where people got angry if they felt we were moving too closely around them, for fear that there might be germs or whatever on our uniforms, or on our hands. To some extent we were treated as ‘unclean’ by the rest of the prison population, and had to watch out step a bit in case we inadvertedly annoyed someone by rubbing against them in the food queue.
Downstairs in H&I it was divided into two sections, the outer and the inner. The former was for ‘badly behaved’ prisoners, such as Trevor Eastman, who was an avowed arsonist, having already ‘done’ Black Rock while he was there as a patient, and ever-since confined to his own company in this hellhole. Another famous prisoner there was Jah Hall, one of Barbados’ leading Rastaman, who had never ‘bent the knee’ to what he believed was a collaborative system of neo-slavery and probably never would.
Further along in the ‘inner section’ of H&I was the area where the condemned men were kept. To enter here you had to pass through a further set of gates, and, as you stepped through, you were suddenly dazzled by the blazingly bright lights that burned away in here. In here were several guards at any one time, all keeping their eyes on every movement of their charges. Here I came across Taxi Man, who was here for a short while before his appeal came through and reduced his sentence from hanging to only four years. Also, I met Mr. Lickerish, also Beckles and Josephs, both of whom are next on the list to be actually hanged.
I got to know Toffee, who would always save his morning cheese cutter for me, and had been waiting there for some seventeen years. I got to know all of them. Apparently I was the first white man to go down there since Ronald Biggs, the Great Train Robber, had been incarcerated there, back in the early eighties following his kidnapping from Brazil and being forcibly brought across the water to Barbados, where the Bounty Hunters hoped to get him extradited back to the UK. As it turned out, they were unable to do so, and Biggs was able to return to Brazil.
I also got to know some of the screws a bit better. Some of those that worked down here were alright, but one or two, such as Carmichael, I could see were itching for a fight, and wore there truncheon I a place where they might draw it in an instant.
I managed that job for about four months, but eventually it was cutting across my rehab time, so, I had to withdraw. The lads were sorry to lose me, but what could I do?
At every opportunity we were bombarded with visits from churches. Just about every evangelical organization under the sun beat its way to our doors in that time, vying with each other to be holier than the one before.
Some of these were the Martin Luther King- mimics ‘I do believe’ which is all very moving the first thirty times you hear it but rapidly starts becoming less effective after that. One elderly man used to come in and deliver a Bible-study course, and I myself was invited onto this, but I wasn’t up for any big religious thing. I was finding that my time being spent on the rehab was more likely to pay dividends in the long run, especially if it enabled me to avoid a debilitating relapse into addiction. Having done intense religious trips before, both with Islam and with Christianity, I knew that they were next to useless in preventing relapses.
One crazy guy that used to ask me to do the worksheets associated with his course was Peter Pan, a huge, half-caste guy that walked around with dyed-blonde hair. He would always manage to get himself rearrested each time he went out on release, coming back to the prison sometimes just days after getting out. He didn’t seem to realize that my filling in the questions at the end of each section of his course book wasn’t going to help him in the long run.
It was the Reverend Daniels that used to come in very regularly and preach on Sundays, his booming voice carrying over the entirety of the prison, railing in his fire and brimstone style against sinners, especially against gays and lesbians.
He always seemed more laid back when Christmas came around and the very young girls from the local village would dance sweetly before him on our stage. Then, his eyes would mist over and it would be smiles all round, especially to one of the girls in particular, for some reason.
On Friday evenings it would be the turn of the Seventh day Adventist people, who would traipse into our Mess Hall, all crinkly dresses and big wide floppy hats. They were mostly women, about twelve in number, who would wave to us as if we were miles away as they entered out little Hall, even though we were sitting about two feet from them.
Up on the stage they would sit, and then Browne, a redband who was in for the murder of his wife, would jump up and try and commandeer the proceedings.
After his introduction, the lead woman of this delegation, Mrs. Phillips, heavily bespectacled and fierce of face with Biblical Righteousness, would start off.
‘Saints of Smyrna’ she would always begin. None of us ever knew why, except that this was some reference to the revelation Of St. John.
Hymn singing, and calls for sinners to receive Christ were always forthcoming, and, time and time again, the same old Bullermen would waddle out to the front and get their poxy blessing, the fucking hypocrites. The same people that were raping and bulling all through the week with absolute immunity were now parading themselves out like fucking saints. Sometimes one of these hypocrites would make out that they were ‘taken with the spirit’ and start going into a fit, lying on the floor and shaking all over.
The screws on duty though knew it was all bollox and would invariably jus laugh, and let them get on with it. Officer Bradshsaw, in particular, was the officer that was good as this duty, and in the end these ‘converts’ would get bored and poke their head up to see why no-one was running around in a panic that they were going into a fit. Then we would all laugh and they would get up, embarrassed at having been found out, the cheats.
Come Christmastime it wasn’t too bad having these churches around. The Sally Army would go into an overdrive and actually bring in an extra toothpaste for each of us. Their exceptional generosity truly had all our eyes reeling in our heads, I don’t think. We did get to hear a bit of semi-live music, with an occasional brass band or a band of bell-ringers, once, which was nice. But it would have been nicer if we had been allowed to have our own transistor radios, to listen through the year at what we wanted to.
I remember once a group of sexy young big-bottomed and tight-trousered young Christian girls came along to do a performance for us. On stage- and off- it was as if they kept dropping things that necessitated having to pick them up immediately, thus giving all us cons a flash of bottom, which was appreciated, obviously. It reminded me of the old Children of God days, though, with young chicks giving to pussy to whoever would believe in Christ. Not a bad deal, really, if you can get it.
They were from a ship called ‘Logos’ that apparently sails around the Caribbean recruiting for its cause. Good luck to it.
Eventually, and towards the end of that phase of Glendairy’s existence, we even had an Islamic lay priest come in and lead the prayers for the Muslims in the prison. He was a long bearded man, very nice and courteous, draped in a long white robe and cloak. It was nice for me to see the boys lining up for prayers, although I didn’t join in, not feeling particularly religious.
Stanton in particular, asked me to join them, but having done religious trips left and right, I wasn’t up for it. In some ways religious thinking is part of the problem for me, rather than the solution.
It was Karl Marx that said that ‘religion was the opium of the masses’ and in many ways this is actually true. It gives hope to people, but how real a hope is it? Did it help free all those slaves that died under the rule of the white- or the Arabs- for all those decades, centuries? How hypocritical, for people to talk of forgiveness when there has never even been an acknowledgement of the massive crimes perpetuated against black people without any idea of recompense. The time is coming when some kind of compensation is going to have to be worked out, and distributed if only to the descendants of the survivors of the worst ever holocaust carried out in history- the enslavement of black people over successive centuries by the whites.
Parcels coming in were starting to get cracked down on. The new Assistant Superintendent of Prisons, Mr. David Brooms was getting fed up with his searches continually uncovering the dozens of mobile phones, the big bags of weed and crack, the bottles of alcohol that kept surfacing in the prison. On one occasion a female officer- a big, hefty, tough looking woman- was discovered with alcohol stashed in her locker- she was sacked by Lt. Col. John Nurse instantly. On another occasion Officer Scantlebury discovered a fellow officer smuggling weed into the building strapped by cellotape to his back. He, too, was suspended. The more The Superintendent cracked down, the more it was his own officers that kept getting caught with their pants down. There was still outstanding the mass attack on prisoners that had occurred immediately after John Nurse took over control of the prison, when twenty of his officers went beserk after a night drinking and began beating the sixty or so prisoners on B corridor, including a British inmate. These men were suspended, but to this day the legal system there has been twisted to allow these violent criminals to avoid justice.
But each new search brought to light massive amounts of contraband. Stuff was coming in over the walls like crazy; officers were bringing it in on the tractor, or up their pussies, as well as the stuff that came in inside the packets of lascos or corn flakes. Even I myself was offered by one prisoner free crack, and turned it down straightaway.
There is no such thing as a free anything, and that applies especially in prison . The Bullermen would offer drugs to those they thought would ‘go for it’- and then try to collect some pussy along the way.
One guy that thought he was being clever in smoking one man’s crack and the reneging when it came to pussy time found himself gang-banged in the shower, needing three stitches in his arse to put it back together. Others would simply go along with it and end up as ‘chichi’ men- that is, receivers.
You could also get raped. It nearly happened to me- one man grabbed me round the back of the neck and suddenly everything was going ‘lights out’- I went quickly into unconsciousness. Luckily, though, another fella-my old friend Baggis, as it happens, intervened, and saved me. But if left to my own devices there is no way I could have fended off this attacker. Others were not so lucky. One night Grazettes –who Rass Monkey had already reported to Carrington for having raped him-grabbed hold of Micheal Thornton, tied him up, and raped him with another prisoner. This was in conjunction with a crack-smoking thing on, too. Grazette was simply placed in a cell on his own on H&I and left alone. He stayed there for about six months, then was back in action down on the extension prison, running around and playing chess, free as a bird.
One white guy- a fellow British inmate- we believe was ‘plonked’, but made out he was unconscious at the time, the lying bastard. He was just too ashamed to admit the truth, which was understandable, because there if you got raped, everyone would laugh, like it’s the funniest thing you can imagine- absolutely hysterical. People would laugh straight into the face of a man that got raped, without any hesitancy whatsoever.
But not all sexual stuff at Glendairy was gay. There was straight sexual stuff going on, too, you know.
On one occasion Miss Ramsey- a counselor who was running the anger management program got caught with her pants down with a young Rastaman in her office in the newly-constructed rehab building. It was known that she was giving away pussy, and one elderly fella- he was a bit nuts too- would keep going in to see her demanding she open her legs for him.
He got led away. On another occasion a pretty young Swiss girl got caught with a local man up in the toilet to the art room. The art teacher – also a woman- got the hump that she wasn’t getting any dicky so she blew the whistle on the young lovers, the jealous old bag. Another time a female prisoner was caught having it off with a male inmate in the upstairs of the storeroom, as was a female officer in another location, who was then sacked.
Miss King- the dragon lady in charge of everyone’s cigarettes- would regularly waltz into the prison dressed in bright red dress, shoes, hat and matching bag, absolutely drenched in sickly-smelling perfume. And slowly do her ceremonial arse-wiggling walk up the stone steps to her office. In those high heels, to which she was obviously totally unaccustomed, it looked more like a dog on its hind legs imitating a human than anything else. It was so bad it was embarrassing. On one occasion she looked round to see if I was drooling like I was supposed to but when she saw my facial expression of absolute ridicule I prayed she wouldn’t see what was really going on in my head, otherwise I feared that all my fags would be due to get lost!
Miss Coombes was another old monster. Everyone in the place hated her. She would walk around with a hammer in her hand clenched tightly, presumably so she could strike someone at will, and freely. The average donkey would have scored a higher IQ than she, and that on a bad day. Big, fat, and ugly, she loved it like a pig in shit when they had finished refurbing the library. It was so well refurbished that there wasn’t any room for books afterwards. But it did give her a flasher office area, and that was all she cared about. A big swivvle chair, from which she could feel herself free to be even ruder and more insulting to the prisoners than she had felt before.
She really did take humiliation to a new, more exciting level than ever before. Even the other screws couldn’t stand her, and kept moving her on from one job to another, eventually losing her with the library post where she was at least out of their sight.
It was from the library that we were able to make phone calls to the British Embassy, or High Commission, as it calls itself. It was only once a week, and after considerable ingratiation with Coombes we could generally do it.
The other Brits were a motley collection. Some were whites, such as myself, Robert Brown, and Lavender, who was a real south London boy, with his talk of ‘motors’ and ‘earners’. He had done quite a few drug runs himself, earning some of his masters tidy fortunes, although all the money he ever made ‘got wanked away’ to use his own words.
Another was Howard, the one we think got plonked; a bit simple, but like a lot of simple people believing in their own cleverness, Howard had gotten himself muled into this place by coming on the run with Lavender. As it was about to come on top, though, Lavender tried to steal some towels from the hotel to pad his otherwise empty suitcase out. The lady from the hotel- also the Ocean Spray incidentally- realized the theft and phoned the police at the airport to stop them, which they did,. Although he didn’t admit it, Lavender had pissed all over the room prior to his departure, a fact confided in us by Howard.
Then we had Murphy, a non stop bread eater, whose mum had been forced to move because of all his rip offs. And |Jason Millar, whose skeletal girlfriend actually wrote him once while he was inside, graciously sending along a picture of herself looking ‘very attractive’ whilst weighing in at about six stones.
I remember a visit from the ruling class once while I was working in the gardens, a job that Mr. Shorey- god bless ya little white socks Mr. Shorey!- managed to swing my way.
By ruling class I actually mean someone with a little badge on their lapel- this is a white person, obviously- with their name on it, and , after this, the intials MBfuckingE.
Member of the fucking British Empire you cunthole.
I couldn’t believe what the fuck I was seeing. It was some geek from Oxford or some fuck doing a survey or inspection of this nick. Standing right behind this clown was Carrington, who, now that this little lady had stopped still and clearly wanted to have words with me, was looking very concerned.
‘What is it like here, in this prison?’ this crystal-cut Oxford accent was asking me.
I looked up off my hoe and saw Carrington’s moon-like face darken for an instant.
‘Oh, everything here is just tickety-boo’ I replied, smiling.
With that, MBE was off, thankfully, and Carrington gave me a fuck-you too smile, and went with her.
, would it?
That was the extent of a visit from the HM Inspectorate of Prisons. They might have saved the fucking air fair, I thought to myself.
But that wouldn’t be the point though
Every now and again the admin of the prison would bring in a little horde of schoolchildren, all lined up and pretty in their uniforms, to traipse around and get the guided tour. The purpose was, as far as I could see, to discourage youngsters from starting out on a life of crime. Ay any event it did seem incongruent to have quite so many visits to the prison from these schoolchildren. I myself had managed to get a job in the gardens by now, just pulling out the occasional weed or two in the shade. Miss Daniels was my senior now, and it was to her that I reported each morning. It was actually a pleasure working for Miss Daniels. Her pride and joy was in the cultivation of roses, about which she was an expert. Her other hobby was looking after a really ancient tortoise, that had already been in the prison for as long as anyone could remember- possibly some fifty years.
Her hut was down along the little lane, which led to the extension prison- the farm, and was immediately adjacent to the Women’s Prison. Sometimes they would bring the women out, and they would come out, quite well turned out, looking quite nice in their long prison frocks, walking two by two up along the pathway. They were always led by a set of fierce female screws as they came and went, sometimes to see the doctor, sometimes to the Mess hall for an event, such as Christmas celebration. The women here always gave of a funny vibe. I wasn’t sure what it was all about. They seemed to connect better with my mate Lavender, who would always shout them a cheery cockney ‘gawdblimey’ or Easy, the black, one-eyed strangeling that no-one could ever fully work out. When he looked at you, you thought he was looking the other way, and when he looked away you felt that he was staring at you. He had lost one eye somehow- how he never let on- but whoever had patched up his eyes hadn’t really put them on straight, if you know what I mean.
They were all freaks anyway, these white chicks, looking at me like I’d just killed someone as they frostily sailed past like a fleet of Spanish galleons. The black girls were OK, especially my favorite Sophie Daniels, who was in for topping her old man. She was a big and beefy bitch, though; one that could take me out and no mistake. I used to call out to my girl Sophie, and, true to form, she would always glare back at me like I was a cunt. She certainly ‘carried a lot of anger’ as they say.
My main activity for a long time was in playing chess, not that I was ever any good at it. But I’d love to pass the time that way, and my old Irish mate Vino would come up from the farm and patiently play with me for hours, through the days and months of our time together. He was a good fella, but had been a bit wayward in his younger years- hadn’t we all? Now, though, he was on the straight and narrow, at least relatively, and was forging ahead with an ambitious exercise program which he was rigidly adhering to.
Sharing his cell was an Islamic fundamentalist we all called Haji- although in jail a true holy man outside he was a total nutter- a real fruitcake especially when it came to getting out of it on crack. The stories he could tell- of shitting himself as soon as he would do a hit, and of climbing through people’s windows whilst high, had us all in stitches. Still whilst inside he would do his prayers, running around to every appearance the fucking holy man with his Mr. Natural beard and little flying carpet tucked under his arm.
At one point Angie sent me in some new game called ‘Viking’ a kind of weird sideways-moving fuckup chess with soldiers on it, and I got Jughead in to help me make sense out of it. Jughead was a weedy little guy, but clever, especially when it came to games. He was one of our better chess players, and after loaning him this game by next morning he had it all sussed out. He and I would then merrily play away on this for hours at a time, amazing everyone with our vast intelligence because they couldn’t understand it.
A lot of the time we would just ‘skive’ or ‘lime’ as it is known out in these parts. That’s when I would slide behind one of the containers and sit on my bucket in the shade, waiting for the sun to creep along and lunch to get served. When the sun hit a certain spot it was time for me to go in, get a nice cool shower and then ready for lunch. Easy and others would join me, especially some of my Jamaican friends, Michael Johnson, the very powerful healer, and Robert Morrison, the elderly man from Friendship Lane, a red light district in Kingstown. Both were great characters, and we had many a laugh round the back of that container, ‘liming’ and saving our energies for lunch.
Sometimes Michael would launch into a philosophical discourse. Some of the others resented this slightly because he could be a bit ear-banging. I could handle it, though, as I knew where he was really coming from. He had a great natural wisdom underneath all of that and an actual ability to truly heal people. On one occasion he passed his hands across my lower back and healed me of my back pain, after I asked him to try healing it. We had been talking of healing power and it just occurred to me to ask him to try and solve the problem.
It’s a funny thing, life. Just at that moment it seemed as though nothing could go wrong.
All we had to do was sit back, do our birdy, and before we would know it we’d all be free men again.
It was just at that point that we were to find out just how wrong we could be.