Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Prisoner... OR... There And Back Again...

Wedged in a Sweatbox, there comes an indefinable moment on the journey when thoughts shift from the prison just left, and the destination looms ever larger in the imagination. Hopes and fears intermingle. Will it be a positive, productive and helpful prison? Or am I about to walk into a whole fresh set of unnecessary battles? Excitement and apprehension flow to and fro.
The first hint that the course of the day may not run smooth was overhearing fragments of a conversation between our escort and the driver; "...cancelled...carry on anyway...". We were 15 minutes away from Frescoed. I didn't allow myself to get fraught. After all, no idiot would send us on a journey to be turned away...would they?
Frescoed is tucked away at the end of increasingly narrow roads. At one point, I thought there may be a possibility that we'd be transferred to donkeys to reach the end. The Gatehouse hove into view and the first person I saw through the dark glass of the van was Tim, who left Shepton for Frescoed a few months ago. Interestingly, the housing for Lifers working outside the prison - "Stage 2 Resettlement" - was set outside the Gate. Leyhill, take note!
We waited for the barrier pole to raise and welcome us in. It didn't. Our escort argued with the Gatehouse staff and returned to tell us that we were not being accepted. What did this mean? That there was no space? Or that Frescoed were just not accepting us, today or any other day?
Eventually this argument reached management level and we were allowed through to park in front of the Reception building. So close...I tried to persuade our escort to let us off to use the toilet, knowing that I'd flatly refuse to get back on the wagon. They offered me a plastic bag to pee in.
Lots of discussions took place alongside the van, within our hearing. It seems that Frescoed were not accepting us, were not expecting us, and that was that.
Off we drove. To reach Open prison and be turned away is a thoroughly miserable experience. A few phone calls later and it was decided that we would both be dumped in Cardiff for the duration. The duration of what...?


  1. I cant imagine how you must have felt at that moment!!. You would think it was relatively simple wouldnt you? Dont they check these things before transporting you all that way? Doh, silly me that would take common sense.

  2. Your description of the roads getting more and more narrow as you approach the prison sounds quite frightening, the stuff nightmares are made of.

    Its great that you can make light of it though, with the thought of you making the final part of the journey on a donkey!

    You never know though Ben, it could turn out be a blessing in disguise, they do say that all things happen for a reason...

    Wishing you all the best. Its great to share these adventures with you, thank you so much for your blog x

  3. Cock up or conspiracy? - I favour the latter!

  4. So all that crap written by your "friend" here about you being in fear of your life was, actually, crap and a bit of a marketing promo?

  5. @Anon 11.23 - how do you come to that conclusion? Ben's experiences at Cardiff haven't even been blogged yet!

  6. @Sophie Heh, I guess one person's hell is another's heaven. Ben's ultimate rejection and subsequent unpleasant stay in Cardiff notwithstanding, his description of ever smaller winding country roads sounded idyllic to me!

  7. @Darby or both. All it takes is one person trying to shift Ben on and another person to not notice that the prison wasn't ready to accept him, and if you were responsible for guarding ben don't tell me you wouldn't want him to be someone elses headache (not saying Ben's acts are wrong btw) and eager to get him out the door?

    @Anon 11:23

    You get driven for miles in a van. You then arrive where you thought you were not going to be, all your means of communications are confiscated and you are shoved into a single cell, out of sight from the rest of the world. Probably somewhat tired and disorientated, even if Ben wasn't in danger its very easy to see how he thought he was.

  8. Lol Wigarse, yes, I would've cracked when faced with the ever increasing narrow and winding country roads let alone all the subsequent events that took place, guess I'm just not made of the stuff that can endure these sort of hardships. : (

  9. @Tallguy, With respect, I find your explanation for why Ben was turned away at the gates of Frescoed laughable. I should imagine little of what he says or does, goes unnoticed, and to dismiss what's happened over the last couple of weeks as some kind of simple unfortunate error is very shortsighted indeed. Ben is a very high profile prisoner, and as such, the likelihood of a mistake of the nature you describe is, I suggest, very unlikely indeed. You say that it only takes a guard not to "notice" this or that, and I say.... that's exactly what they are paid for! Cock up or Conspiracy? - I still prefer the latter!

  10. If you read what I wrote, I'm suggesting that it was in part someone desperately trying to get him out the door and other members of staff not being careful enough not to notice that paperwork had failed. Which makes it both conspiracy and cock up. Given his high profile nature it is easy to see why someone would want ben off their hands, not so easy to see why they would do it in a way that would backfire.