The journey this time was much longer and punctuated by detours to other court’s secure areas picking up other pieces of the day’s criminal fodder along with the now familiar verbose and vociferous verbiage. The whole sad caterwauling started all over again. A growing darkness was not just outside in the streets, it was setting into my very cold core. Once the van had finished its diversions it became obvious where it was heading and the darkness continued to deepen inside me.
The journey stopped and started its way around the city rush hour while this compliment of detainees shared each other’s recent misfortunes and anything else that they had in common. Once this was exhausted, they were now looking to pass the rest of the time with some new sport. By a process of elimination, it was possible to work out whom else was on the van and who had not yet been embroiled in the general banter. Fortunately, again, I was not in the immediate line of fire and I was very glad as somehow, someone had found out that there was a ‘nonce’ on the bus. It seemed to be the consensus that they should be exposed. The term is not one that I appreciated even if it might have been technically true in the common parlance of my current situation; its implied characteristics were not true of me.
The cubicle that had eventually become the target of the hunt remained silent although even I could tell that there was someone in there and that they were not very happy about being so. Keeping my face out of view through the small window on the inside, the person on the opposite side of the van tried in vain to see who I might be; for once I wasn’t so curious as to who he was or rather what he might look like. Fortunately for me by this time the other guy had been coerced into playing ball with the bullies but it was not a nice thing to listen to. We were all saved in one way or another by our arrival at the facility and I was right about where we had ended up although its official title was now HMP Birmingham it had always been affectionately known as the district of the city, Winson Green; ‘The Green’.
Entry to the stark walled facility was a lengthy process. Just getting the van into line outside the gates seemed to require protracted negotiation between the drivers. Many of the other vans had to get unloaded and quickly off again to other places that night, some of them quite some distance away. With its place finally won, our van moved very slowly forward in the queue and was eventually let through the outer main gate. It was a local landmark of course and I knew the outside of it very well but had no idea of the inner workings of the place. Even during the major upgrading some years before it had been impossible to see how it was laid out but it was soon to be all too clear.
There was a double gate system where the outer gate had to be closed before the inner one could slip noisily aside and allow access to the inner yard. Before that second event could happen, there were head counts and paper work checks done while the van was in the dismal looking limbo area. Smarter officers in more formal uniforms sported equally formal faces as they took stock of their new charges; again, I wanted to stare but felt it better not to at this critical stage. Once satisfied, the van passed into the inner sanctum where I could see around the large holding area and that there were already two or three other vans parked up, lights still on, obviously waiting. A new chorus of complaint and caterwauling arose from the more frequent flyers on board, those that were used to the system knew that this would mean even more delay and were not afraid to share their thoughts on the subject. Now the van had parked up the heaters had gone off and I felt the chill go through my scant summer clothing; they had been fine for a quick trip to the shops but was hardly adequate now. Tucking my hands under my jumper I hunkered down to keep as warm as was possible and tried to ignore the noise bouncing around the rest of the vehicle.
Boredom soon swept through and the game of hunt the newbie set off once more. This time the other guy cracked and shouted out his innocence with a distinct wobble in his voice, it seemed that this was just what the baying crowd wanted and I hoped for his sake that it wouldn’t last too long.
Eventually the van did move to the front of the line and the noise subsided to a dull verbose grizzle. Having parked in what seemed to be the designated unloading area marked clearly in yellow under the floodlights, the transfer of prisoners between places of justice began. It had been contracted out for some years and during my short time in their custody I had noticed that these parties were obsessed by working to the book; if anything was to go wrong they would have probably been for the chop. Even though we were now inside the thirty feet high outer walls, in a compound with twenty feet high wire fencing topped with razor wire and more cameras than you could shake a stick at, it was still one prisoner at a time, handcuffs always and endless lists to tick off and sign. All this and the other paraphernalia of the task for a walk that was no more than fifteen feet, eventually got you inside what one of the many signs around the walls declared to be, ‘Reception’. There were plenty more signs to be read but for now I had other things on my mind.
Again, it seemed that I was to be last off the van; the chap who had cracked up might have been in a similar boat as me but, rather uncharacteristically, I was only really concerned about myself for the time being.
Once inside the building its warmth was welcome and I could take in what was happening in the surprisingly large space; compared to the places I had been for the last many hours anyway. There were quite a number of officers all sporting the smart bright white short sleeved shirts, black ties and most of them adorned with tightly cropped almost military style haircuts; this distraction was difficult to drag my attention from. After being formally handed over, signed off the transport log sheets and left with the real prison warders I was in prison for real.
As I peered around at all the activity my file received a cursory glance, I received a full pat down body search, was walked through an airport style scanner and my small bag of personal effects was checked off onto another list which I was told to sign after which they disappeared into a back room already filled with similar things.
Self-preservation was waiting for an opportunity to ask about ‘the rule’ but fortunately my mind could work on a practical level and not too distracted by the many other interesting people and things going on around me as my superficial self often was. There didn’t seem to be a right time presenting itself so, I decided to just ask.
“It was suggested that I need to ask to be put on the rule?”
While not speaking to any specific officer in particular it was just a moment when there were no other prisoners that too near or listening. Despite these hopes, my request appeared to raise attention levels up just a notch or two. The officer who was seated behind the high desk in front of me paused, looked more intently and quizzical at me, looked down once more at my file and back up at me rather stonier faced.
“You must be new, it’s actually rule 45, segregation, vulnerable prisoner if that’s what you really mean?” I didn’t have a chance to reply, “You’ll have to see a governor for that.”
His already tough demeanour had changed yet again and not for the better I didn’t think.
“This one’ll have to go in the hole for now,” he was addressing another officer whose face also fell as did mine a little.
Wondering what I had started, all I could do was go along with things and hope that it was somehow competent. Before I was led away to ‘the hole’, the two officers exchanged further instructions.
“Get the paperwork finished and I’ll put in the request.”
My photograph was taken quickly and unceremoniously against a plain bit of wall without giving me time to think of a suitable expression; I would see it every day from then on and wished that it had been better. Questions were answered about any distinguishing marks, tattoos, moles, scars. Warnings were given about getting tattoos done while in the prison; it was against the rules and apparently very dangerous. Further regulations were reeled off the only one I noted was not changing my appearance in any way without written permission; I didn’t understand many of the things they were whipping through but there was no time to question any of it anyway.
That part of the process seemed to be finished and I was passed through to a small room containing some basic medical equipment and a nurse. She asked and I easily answered a long list of questions, most in the negative, they included drugs, other dependencies, mental health, general physical issues, dietary needs, it seemed my clean bill of health did not demand a physically examination.
“I like the easy ones,” the now smiling nurse seemed genuinely relieved.
Having been proclaimed fit for entry, yet another officer told, or rather ordered me to follow him. As we passed through the full length of the reception area we were watched all the way by many of the other inmates with what were not always very attractive or endearing looks; I knew enough to realise that I was just new meat.
Next to the main outer door was another one of similar heavy construction, it was unlocked and opened to reveal a tiny space that could only hold about six bodies and that at an uncomfortable push. Stepping inside, the door banged closed behind me and the lock automatically snapping into place. There were no windows, no ventilation that I could see and consequently the smell was terrible. It dragged back a hideous rush of memories and I could picture well used school football changing rooms only here without the benefits of semi naked boys. Using my peripheral vision to take in the small amount of information I could see that there was just one small bench bolted to the wall and one person on the bench.
“Hi, I’m Jim, what did the bastards get yer for?”
The huddled assemblage of clothing and unkempt humanity would have been well placed under cardboard in some random city doorway late at night. It turned out that I was not entirely wrong.
Without seeming to need any sort of two-way conversation, Jim was more than happy to relate his long and sorry story in very graphic detail. He was indeed homeless and the story, if it was in any part true, did nothing to help what little confidence I was hanging onto. Eventually, once I had gathered more information I thought that he might be more harmless than he first looked. His tales of daring do, the Falklands war and the more recent attempt at murder only a day or so ago, was quite fascinating in its own strange way just as a representation of a very extreme section of society. It passed the time anyway if nothing else. The commodity of time was in ample supply and I found myself sitting, standing, and pacing the four steps the room just to keep my circulation going.
Not being able to help my inquisitive nature I soon discovered that you could stand away from the door but still see out of the small round porthole window at the passers-by. It proved to be an interesting distraction. From this odd vantage point I could take in some of what was going on outside the room. The process was just as fascinating as the selection of people that passed across the mall vista. My well-practised voyeurism soon took me over and taking some comfort from familiar and secret activity amongst all these new experiences I absorbed from view in what I considered to be relative safety. Military style cropped haircuts, smart sharp hard bodies, tattoos of a wide variety and competency, bold crass confidence, rebellious defiant attitudes; everything that I loved but didn’t poses. While Jim rambled on I soaked up everything else, hopefully they were all unaware of being watched.
In one way, I hoped that he would continue his seemingly endless chatter so that I didn’t have to explain anything about myself or my reasons for being here, thankfully he seemed happy in his own world and harboured no interest in mine. The fact that I could not talk about myself prevented me having to acknowledge that I should have been in some sort of terrified state of turmoil in all this. My opposing consciences determined that we were either in complete denial or at the other extreme, total acceptance of my situation; the more unpleasant thought was that none of it had really registered yet. The system continued to operate in an ostensibly chaotic fashion but it continued all the same although Jim and I seemed to be somewhat outside that system for whatever reason.
Eventually we were joined by one other person but only for a matter of minutes. Nothing it seemed was right, nothing was going to be right but he had been advised of the consequences if he didn’t do as they expected although it seemed to make no difference to his attitude. The officers handled the situation very calmly as they were obviously used to it all. He had come in on a later van load and had been protesting from the moment he arrived; it was not just his protestations that had caught my attention as he had been manhandled through the outer door. Despite several warnings, it seemed that the complainant needed to be shown the error of his ways and so duly deposited into the cramped space with myself and Jim. It took two very large officers to manage the transfer but manage it they did; as if there was any question that they wouldn’t. The protest continued without falter with the strength of the door hinges and lock tested fully. There was nowhere to hide from the tirade but withdrawing to the furthest point for my own safety, I immersed myself in the consideration of his very physical assets rather than his less than endearing assertions. Eventually the noise got one of the reactions that he obviously wanted and even less ceremoniously if that was possible, he was removed. Not knowing what I would have done if he had turned his attentions and indignation onto either of us, I did notice Jim breathe a sigh of relief as the amply and beautifully built problem was removed still protesting, to another part of the facility. I didn’t see, or hear him again. We both sat in the now rather marked silence.
The degree of activity and noise outside slowly died away. Presuming that the processing was near completion, I hoped that it might soon be our turn. Although I had no affiliation to my companion despite having listened to his stories and being given the same as-yet undefined classification, he was the only ‘friend’ that I seemed to have in this place.
Eventually something caught our attention and we both raised our eyes to the porthole. A name was being shouted out, repeated over and over both up and down the length of reception; they seemed to have lost someone. Names had been called on and off throughout the time we had been there but only once each time.
“Have you looked in the hole,” it seemed to be the last place anyone had thought of.
An officer peered through the window and shouted the name again. It wasn’t me but Jim stood to attention and was quickly taken out. Once left all alone I found that I was not feeling quite as confident as I had before.
The minutes passed slowly by, stretched in their passage by uncertainly and a growing concern. With little to look at for distraction I think that I jumped as I thought that I heard what might have been my name called.
“Rollason,” silence, “Rollason,” more silence.
“Have you looked in the hole,” it seemed the stock answer for lost prisoners.
A face appeared at the window once more. It belonged to a tall, lean, comparatively young officer, cropped blond hair, solid build; I couldn’t help my analysis and approval.
It was posed as a question this time and I nodded my answer. The door was unlocked and I followed his silent lead out of ‘the hole’.
Looking round I seemed to be one of the last to be dealt with. Other than uniformed officers and the nurse that had seen me earlier, all the other bodies were dressed in either orange or green overalls; it seemed to signify some sort of status but still denoting them rather obviously as prisoners. It was probably just me but all eyes seemed to swing in my direction. It became voyeurism in reverse but most likely for very different reasons.
“Stand behind the line and speak when you are spoken to,” the instruction was finite and I followed it to the letter.
A smartly dressed lady appeared from one of the offices behind the main desk where I had been placed. She put the folder from her hand down on the desk out of my sight although I managed to spot that it had my unflattering picture on the front. She silently read part of the file before looking up and speaking to me.
“You have requested to go on rule 45, I can see that in this case it would be appropriate. Who suggested this to you?” she looked up and, unlike any of the others I had to deal with, she smiled.
“The officer at the magistrates’ court thought I should ask about it.”
“Quite right, it will be explained to you later but I’ll sign the paperwork to that effect,” she did and offered another smile along with, “Good luck.”
Standing up she handed the folder to yet another officer who had obviously been waiting for her to make her determination and left through the office behind her. Although I wanted to thank her it didn’t seem appropriate.
“Let’s get you put away.”
Non-physical brutality is the best way of describing the humiliation that constituted the process of transfer into the prison proper. Following the officer out of the main reception area, we passed through a meandering corridor with glass panelled rooms either side. Most of the other staff seemed to have finished for the time being and were chattering about everything and nothing that I was interested in. What was of more concern was the way in which they were all looking at me; a way that I didn’t much care for. Realistically I knew that it was most likely because I was the last one left to process and I tried to ignore them; covertly still trying to appreciate some of them visually of course.
We eventually came to an area with curtained cubicles, much like shop changing rooms where I was directed to one by yet another officer who was pulling on a pair of latex gloves rather over dramatically for my liking.
“Strip off then, no need to be shy,” he was obviously enjoying himself.
There were at least two other officers watching, leaning nonchalantly against the wall presumably having already done their stint in the general process.
“Put your things in the box,” he was indicating a heavy cardboard receptacle.
As I went to draw the curtain he waged a condemning finger at me and tutted which I took to mean that I should leave it drawn back. Under the uncomfortable gaze of an unwanted audience I started to peel off my few layers of clothing. Trying to fold my thin green jumper I gave up under the pressure of scrutiny and dropped it into the box. Unbuttoning my pale blue cotton shirt I decided to kept it on although it hid little as it gaped open to display my unattractive podgy and hairy stomach. Not being bothered about untying the laces of my shoes they were just kicked off. Beneath them the now rather strong smelling socks peeled viscidly away from my cold feet and got tucking down into the shoes.
“Not so fast there, keep everything separate and shake those socks out,” I did as best I could, “hurry up we don’t have all night,” I noted the contradiction in his instructions.
“What size are you,” I seemed to understand that it wasn’t a question for me to answer.
“Full kit?” A voice came from someone out of sight in another room to the side.
“Large, full fat kit, shoes, 10’s will do,” I didn’t like the estimation of my size although I knew it to be close to the mark. “Quickly with you,” this comment was directed back at me.
“Tell me,” it was one of the less attractive ones chipping in, “what makes a nonce like you go for kiddies then, what makes you so special, what makes you want to be a kiddie fiddler?”
My undressing stopped mid item at the rather direct and unexpected comment. I didn’t reply.
“Shy are we? Do you need some help there, we can find another nonce to help you if you fancy it but don’t think I’m touching that,” he was gesticulating towards my middle regions.
Managing to only stare for the briefest of moments I carried on but the unwanted attention was coming from several sources now; it was difficult to control the urge to react. Knowing that it was just to have some sick sport at my novice expense, I knew that it would be futile to do or say anything; it didn’t stop it hurting though. For a fleeting moment, I thought that the details contained in my file might remain relatively private by way of ‘the rule’ but obviously not, it was all common knowledge down here. They still got no reaction to their continued taunting.
“Drop those kegs, and yer stinking kecks,” I did, again fruitlessly trying to fold them, “come on off with um, squat and cough, don’t you dare shit yourself,” I did, and didn’t respectively, “lift up that hairy ball bag, let’s see what you’re hiding up there.”
My prevailing thought was that this was now all just for their rather sick fun although I didn’t think that my ‘ball bag’ was all that hairy as I kept it shaved most of the time.
Eventually I was completely naked and it was all now just a dramatic freak show; the melancholy image of the Elephant Man similarly exposed flashed across my mind’s eye. It was now that I really wanted to do something to retaliate but knew that I wouldn’t.
“Where are those things,” he shouted backwards, “God, I can’t stand to look at this ugly nonce any longer.”
I felt myself shiver and I think I must have visibly shrank into myself as the others continued to look on, grinning inanely.
The kit arrived. With the dressing operation being far less interesting most of the officers drifted away. Quickly pulling on the pale blue cotton boxers, ill-fitting blue jeans, and oversize maroon tee shirt I topped it all off with a similar coloured harsh sweatshirt. Thick grey socks were welcome to my now ice cold feet but the black shoes, already well worn, only just fitted. They would have to do but I took my time lacing up the footwear up just to annoy the now pacing officer; it was just one tiny victory in a pointless war.
“Follow me.” I did.
We went through another meandering corridor where, from out of another store room, a cling film wrapped long bread roll was thrust towards me.
“Egg or ham?” I must have looked blankly at the cute but disinterested worker, “Ham then,” I took it blindly and continued on my way.
“No time for showers now, wait in here until you’re collected.”
Having already noticed the open shower cubicles I felt relieved but the warder’s last words left me cold but relieved as he walked briskly away.
One of the glass walled rooms had been unlocked and relocked behind which left just me and my ‘mate’ Jim eating a similar roll to the one I had. When I said ‘hello’ he grunted through his mouthful of well chewed ham and white bread. I could see bits of food hanging out of the sides of his mouth and although not a pleasant sight it made me realised just how hungry I was.
“Did you get some scran?”
I held the roll up for him to see in answer to the question.
“Are you goin’ to eat it?”
He looked disappointed when I said that I was; sorry, but I was hungry. He went back to his own not seeming to really mind. We ate in silence, it didn’t take very long.
After that was out of the way there was more waiting, this was obviously going to be the general activity in here, you could just tell. To break up the time I wandered around the room reading the different notices that adorned the non-glass walls, then re-read them all over again but there was still nothing of interest. We both remained silent although there was nothing much to say.
Several of the coverall clad workers passed the room and some of them seemed to make an obvious note of who we were and why we were in the room; I had assumed that Jim was also on the rule as well, hence us being in together. One of the passers-by seemed to recognise my companion and shouted out some inaudible comment, I didn’t hear it clearly but obviously, Jim did and gave his reply in a very forthright street vernacular. It was just the reaction that the other was fishing for and it became obvious that the two of them had known each other before. The version of the story Jim shared afterwards was rather pointless and nonsensical but at least it made me smile for a few minutes.
There seemed to be no obvious idea for what or who we were waiting for now. Being ‘collected’ was obviously some form of job demarcation within the regime but eventually another officer came to the door, looked at the front of the two manila files in his hand which must have confirmed that we were the two he was looking for and unlocked it. He was an older man, still in the same smart uniform but with the addition of a heavy outdoor fleece lined coat. He didn’t enter the room just asked our names and nodded as we had obviously given the right answers.
“Follow me, we’ll get the rest of your kit and get you put away.”
There was that phrase again and I really didn’t care for it; ‘put away’, too many connotations. We followed him anyway, me at the back of the line not wanting to be the first to make any obvious mistakes if I could help it.
Further down the corridor was a rack full of rolled up cellular blankets. Although I couldn’t see what else was in the roll it was obviously the things that we needed for the next part of the process. Jim grabbed one and with a nod of his shaggy head silently indicated that I should do the same.
“If it’s not all there we can sort it out later, let’s get on and sort you out for now, it’s getting so late,” he reinforced his comments with an exaggerated look at his watch.
The tone of the officer was completely different to any of the others I had encountered so far, softer, and friendlier, welcoming even, almost granddad like perhaps but I was very tired by now and probably hallucinating.
Jim and I waited as a heavy metal door was unlocked, swung inwards to reveal an equally heavy steel barred gate which, when unlocked swung outwards. We walked through. The night air was chilly but refreshing after the sticky almost foetid reception spaces and I felt much better as we waited for the door and gate to be locked again behind us. The door manoeuvre was stored away for future reference as it would become a staple of movement anywhere within the estate.
We moved across the small yard to one of the four storey red brick Victorian blocks, it struck me how the towering brick edifice was what most people would think of as the archetypal prison building, here made more foreboding and dismal in the deepening gloom of the evening. The shadows in the window recesses were intensified by the harsh yellow glow from the floodlights high on their stanchions keeping everything lit but nowhere bright. We stepped up a flight of stone steps where, behind another heavy gate the equally heavy wooden door swung silently as it opened; I had expected it to make a creaking noise but it was possibly more eerie with no sound at all.
Inside I immediately recalled television interpretations of prison life. This reality, although similar was really nothing like it. The confused space seemed so much smaller, darker, and more severe. The older officer seemed to instinctively understand my concerns as a first timer and was smiling at me.
“We have to get through some paperwork, standard stuff. You’re both VP’s but you won’t have to be around the others for long. The quicker we can get this done the quicker you can get your heads down until tomorrow, it will all seem much better then.”
Although I hoped that he was right, I still didn’t yet understand all the implications of being a VP, as long as he did I hoped that it would all be OK. Jim didn’t seem to be taking any notice of anything but it was not his first time. We went to separate tables, I sat with the original smiling officer.
Tucked away under the steel stairs he went through a lot of the same medical information that the nurse had done before plus all sorts of questions about how I was feeling, my mental state as I saw it, any instabilities or problems in the past. As before, I seemed to have a clean bill of both physical and mental health; as far as I wanted them to know anyway. Having no medication, no special requirements it made me wonder if I should have had something to justify for why I was in here; it might have helped to explain a few things perhaps.
Having gone through that section of the paperwork relatively quickly I had the telephone system explained. Computerised, both cash and card-less, it seemed simple enough. The complaints procedure and other general rules and expectations all of which were systematically laid out within a thick sheaf of papers and none of which I really took in. As if the immediate situation wasn’t stressful enough, there was too much else going on around us, too many people trying to see who we, the new ‘marks’, were most of whom I was trying not to be caught looking back at; the concept of new ‘meat’ worked for all of us.
Signing the paperwork in several places to acknowledge that I had been fully briefed although I couldn’t imagine that I had, we were done. Jim must have got through his induction much quicker but he did have a file that was a lot thicker than mine having been here many times before. He was actually nowhere to be seen and I felt rather alone again. Still torn between taking in my surroundings with the menagerie of people that were milling around, or keeping out of the way and out of their sight, the practical decision was made for me as I was shown into a cell right next to the stairs.
“Get yourself sorted out and your heads down till the morning, you’ll be fine.”
It was difficult to tell if it was intuitive perception or simply repetition but at least he seemed to care, in comparison to my earlier entanglements anyway. Jim was already finished and never in a million years would I have thought that I would be glad to see anyone like my new compatriot. His familiarity was the only comfort that I had for now.
He was busy putting his things in order and didn’t seem to notice my rather lost persona but as I looked pitifully round the cell, this was definitely not like it looked on the television.
“You can have the top bunk, I can’t get up there these days,” he didn’t look up but I realised that he hadn’t given me any eye contact at all.
“Thanks, I’ll try not to get in your way.”
He was already on his bunk by this time which left the rest of the small space for me to fill.
Unrolling the blanket and its collection of ‘stuff’, I found that it contained two sheets and a pillow case, pale green, smooth if rather thin cotton but they seemed to be clean and fresh smelling, a darker green hand towel, surprisingly thick if a little harsh and that was the kit. Already on the buck were two slabs of dense dark grey foam which seemed to be what constituted a mattress and much smaller, a pillow. Following my fellow inmates lead I made up the bunk as best I could. He hadn’t forgotten his military training and had paid close attention to the corners of his mattress and several more moments making the surface of the sheets neat and flat; I thought it only proper to try and match his expectations but struggled to get it quite right. The thin mattress offered little chance of comfort and I wasn’t looking forward to feeling the steel sprung mesh of the bunk’s frame through it.
With all that done I could take in the other items that must have already been on the narrow worktop cum table. A blue plastic plate, a mug and a bowl; Jim had already re-laid his out neatly on the foot of his bunk.
“You ain’t got a breakfast pack or a smoker’s pack and we should both have a first night pack.”
Although I didn’t understand to what he had referred, he had got up again and was banging on the steel door demanding that we get what we were supposed to have; I felt a measure of embarrassment but could do nothing about it. Eventually some of these things were obtained for us but once I saw what he had been demanding I could have gone without it if I had to; apparently, you couldn’t let the bastards get away with stuff. It was time for bed I think.
Still not knowing what time it was, once I had tried to settle I realised that my body clock was screaming for me to just lie down. Once that was done I also realised that I should have considered using the toilet; the prospect didn’t fill me with excitement. The facilities I knew were only relatively recent additions to the cell blocks and didn’t seem to readily fit the layout of the already cramped cell. Modesty was obviously out of the question between you and your fellow cell mate and my assumption was that all you could do was avert your gaze if you had to; after further consideration, I decided that it could wait a while.
Later in the night I did slip quietly off the bunk as the pain in my bladder got just too intense and had woken me. Managing to get down with only the minimum of creaks and metallic scrapping, I sat on the cold seat-less pan trying not to make any noise onto the naturally resonating stainless steel. Trying to distract myself I stared out of the open, tall, narrow window; there were only the wire fences and slate covered roofs to see. Business done I didn’t flush. Jim turned over as I clambered awkwardly back up to the top bunk but I didn’t really think that he could be disturbed by very much at all. Having lost the urge to sleep I went back to staring at the dingy paint-work. The onslaught of the last few days finally taken their toll and despite the circumstances with the help of relative calm outside on the wing and the safe separation of the cell, sleep must have eventually rolled over me.