Thursday, February 25, 2010


Visits are hugely important for prisoners, giving us the only real way to connect with our families and friends. They are brief moments when we can touch, an isolated oasis in which we can again be a lover, father, son, brother; anything but 'prisoner'.

And so we tend to take them seriously, making sure that we dress in our best clobber. Before we had any of our own clothing, it was a case of trying to get a prison-issue striped shirt slightly tailored and ironed, along with dark grey trousers instead of jeans. We want to look our best for 'our people' visiting.

One hot summer’s afternoon I needed a pee. We only had small plastic chamber pots (piss-pots) then and mine was nearly full. Drink three gallons a day and it comes out at some point...

The only solution I could see was to empty my piss-pot out of the window, then work on refilling it. A very practical plan in the circumstances.

If only I had given it more thought. As I poured two pints of stale piss out of the window to fall three storeys, there was an instant uproar of abuse.

The lads on their way to the Visits Room were passing beneath my window, carefully dressed in their finery. Our families forgive us a lot, but not turning up stinking of piss.

At the time, no one worked out which window the deluge emanated from and so I have escaped until this day. If there is anybody who was in that crowd still around - sorry, mate!


  1. I love it - but bet they didn't!! Please everyone - accept Ben's apology.

  2. Ben is indeed at fault, the social convention to emptying a chamber pot from a wall opening is to shout 'Gare de liue (forgive my French spelling which is almost non existant). From where we allegedly get the term loo from.

  3. Indeed, as anyone who has done one of those Medieval horror tours of old Edinburgh will know only too well! - suggests that spelling is optional and possibly over-rated.