The reaction to last weeks blog was fantastic, if not a little overwhelming, in a positive sense and it is perhaps a good time to step back and focus on the diary excerpts of a First Time prisoner this week and return next week with some rather exciting developmental news.

Both here on Twitter and over on LinkedIn the response last week was amazing. I take great personal satisfaction that such large numbers from our legal community engaged with it last week as I believe they are the key to engaging a whole battalion to the much needed prevention army.

Enjoy this short blog and I look forward to returning soon with some exciting news for 2020 here at First Time Inside.

The diary excerpt below is taken from 2018 to give you some relevance perspective on the experience ;

“I awoke from my slumber and pleasant dream this morning – in which I was sat at a beach bar sharing a beer with the rather wonderful Kathleen Turner (true story by the way although maybe not appropriate for this ode to happiness I call a diary) –  to the sounds of a fellow guest expressing his unhappiness again, in a fairly descriptive manner, about the availability of breakfast or should I say lack of availability of breakfast materials. His logic and his reasoning were sound even if his chosen vernacular was not best designed to achieving a diplomatic solution. At 7am every morning individual doors are opened and there is a shuffling of tired, depressed souls towards the servery where minutes earlier that mornings breakfast was dropped off.

To explain Mr Brightside, there are three or four loaves and a couple of bags of cereal dropped off and everyone goes along and helps themselves to a bowl of cheap as chips own brand corn flakes and/or a couple of slices of toast with little plastic pods of jam and sachets of butter on the side for spreading. Not a bad breakfast I hear you saying old boy, considering the establishment your are currently residing in would struggle for a listing on Trip Advisor, but there is – as there always is in here – a rub to the situation. You see the servery is unlocked for this self service extravaganza and approximately 60 guys are simultaneously unlocked with the offer of breakfast being made. Sadly the reality is that unless you are there by 7:05am – and I’m being a little generous with my timings here – the loaves and cereal are gone because there are those who simply lift a full bag of cereal, a loaf and half a box of jam pods and return to their cell with those provisions safely secured.

Jesus might have managed to feed the multitudes with a few loaves and fishes but apparently the service here can’t make a bigger number go around a smaller cohort. But then looked what happened to Jesus for living a life of kindness, maybe they are on to something here with the daily degradation. Be kind equals a jaggy bunnet (thanks Big Yin I hope you don’t mind me borrowing that) or be let’s say a little less attentive and avoid such a radical demise. Although in the midst of that they forget that the reward for all that kindness was a rather spectacular, allegedly, removal of a huge stone from the mouth of a tomb facilitating eternal escape. I see the correlation do you Mr Brightside? Alexa, play Mott the Hoople.    

They could of course, rather innocently, be hosting an in cell breakfast reception to which I have received no invitation in which case my apologies will be made unreservedly whilst at the same time exploring the reasons for my social exclusion. There’s another can of worms for another day.

Yes Mr Brightside there are staff watching the process – I’m glad you asked – and when you come along – as I have done – a few minutes later and question where everything is gone they simply shrug and say it was all there a minute ago. Hence my decision to buy myself breakfast provisions via the prison canteen service and rather decadently enjoy breakfast in bed every morning avoiding the daily drama of the missing breakfast supplies. In doing so I am gleefully isolated from the drama of interaction for a few minutes longer and even the nasally, permanently irritating tones of Piers Morgan on breakfast TV don’t quite annoy me as much. I’ve also managed to devise a calculation around the number of boxes of Weetabix – eating the same portion each day seven days a week – I need to finish before I am released and my current dilemma is whether to buy them one by one or buy the job lot and watch the pile slowly diminish as I approach Valhalla. An extension of the same theory that saw me take four days to gather small plastic milk bottles to hang the curtain in my cell for which there no fixings.

Breakfast in bed watching TV, I mean does it get any better than this…well apparently it does.

It was my turn to have a paper delivered today, which means I’ll be weirdly popular later because there are those who follow the delivery rotation and come asking for the same papers later in the day but I digress, and the story which jumped out at me was accompanied by a rather dramatic headline born in the editing room of some media muppet with no idea of reality or perhaps sadly with a clear grasp but with an agenda to paint a specific picture for their readers. One of course which would resonate with common perception perhaps, one which would strike a chord of injustice and of course sell some extra newspapers or operate as effective clickbait for the morally outraged online satisfying morally bankrupt advertisers who demand numbers without paying heed to morality. An over stating of the morality issue? I couldn’t care less it’s my diary they can go stick their faux outrage where the sun don’t shine. No not there Mr Brightside I meant in the darkest recesses of their sheltered souls where they store their prejudices and preconceptions wrapped up in some kind of Norwegian duvet to prevent them having to engage their brain on issues they see as beneath them or that frighten them. 

The author of said article and the subsequent comments supporting the piece were attacking the prison service for running prisons like holiday camps. There were mentions of “lags” playing pool and snooker but if that wasn’t shocking enough they were actually playing pool whilst wearing flip flops and shorts. I mean how fecking dare they. Don’t they know they are a sub human species with absolutely no right to relaxation or heaven forbid a moments laughter to ease them through their day. Now if the article had said the inmates were lying poolside sunbathing, sipping margaritas and chatting to Kathleen Turner then maybe I’d see their point, maybe. But the last time I checked the skies over Scotland remain fairly overcast, outdoor pools are not in the annual prison services budget and debating the UV factor of your sun tan cream is not high on the daily prison conversation agenda.

Perhaps if the same people, blessed with a platform to share opinion took some time to consider why people are here in the first place and invoked a campaign to prevent circumstances arising we could see prison for what it is and not what everyone seems to think it is. This place is a landfill site for broken souls, it is awash with potential lost to the world because we don’t believe sufficiently in second chances and we have no time it would seem to create an environment based more on a mindset of prehabilitation than the myth that is rehabilitation. If society’s aspiration for our citizens who face challenges born out of earlier experiences is so ashamedly low how can we expect the aspiration of those who find themselves rooted in poverty, addiction, crime etc to be anything more than we allow. I grew up listening to tales of communities, of being able to leave your front door lying open and with funny stories about walking down a street looking for a party with your ear cocked listening for music in an tenement building. It’s time to reinvoke community.

With nothing else to do Mr B I think we should spend some time in the coming days and weeks discussing how, if in anyway, I can contribute to that change I keep ranting about when I leave this abhorrent place. Alexa, play Mr Kings I have a Dream speech and don’t mistakingly play that old world cup song or my dreams tonight may not be quite so relaxing.

This community is far from a holiday camp – although I do remember a football tournament which required everyone stay at a rather ramshackle Pontins the week after their close season when the cleaners hadn’t visited the rooms for six months and they called that a holiday camp the difference being of course you could check out at will – this community needs to be integrated into the wider community otherwise this revolving door of society failure will never cease. Unless, Mr Brightside, and I’m aware I’m now ranting at a piece of A4 paper society decides to reinvoke a spirit of community and prepare a plan that is dedicated to creating outcomes as opposed to reacting to them after the fact in a negative way nothing changes.

In a move that would undoubtedly further offend the Victorian horde we were served jelly and ice cream today after dinner I mean don’t they know we are here to be punished?

Tomorrow afternoon I get to disappear down the rabbit hole that has become an art class and try to finish my masterpiece but only after I descend down the Juki mines for a morning at the needle throbbing coalface stitching neck braces for the medical community. I’m not saying I’m finding that difficult but safe to say if you walk past a hospital and see a number of whiplash victims walking around with their heads cocked to one side try and remember the manufacturer tried his best.

Tomorrow I get to submit my food choices for the next week and I’ll make that decision on the Weetabix conundrum. I wonder what decisions those blessed with voices of influence will choose to make. If people see my choices as being luxurious or resembling an all inclusive spa existence I think they need to take a beat and reflect on what their aims really are. Has it all become mirror,  mirror on the wall these days?      

Just remembered there’s a wee writing class this week as well following on from my first exposure to the poetry of Charles Bukowski last week where we were asked to adopt or feebly attempt to his style or close to it, here was mine Mr B…

you say you’re throing a punch

I say you’re weak

perspective or fantasy?

emotions are spontaneous allegedly

choice is considered

you’re choosing to lose

temporary pain for the recipient

permanent agony for you

it’s not enlightenment

It’s common sense

it’s available to everyone irrespective of status

throw your punch if you dare

i’m choosing not to care…knock yourself out!

copyrite @firsttimeinside 2019

So here I am sitting on a rather balmy evening, staring at my family photos on the wall whilst scribbling aimlessly in my diary dressed in a pair of under armour shorts and rather fetching flip flops thinking some people really have not got a clue whilst also considering the fact that maybe they know exactly what’s going on but simply don’t give a shit. If my flip flops offend you then you need to get a life. Alexa, play Come On Over to My Place.”    

As always thank you for taking the time to read this little blog which aims in it’s own style to shine a light on matters we see as important @firsttimeinside out.

 

 

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