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...?