Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Complicated Life

Having expended so many words when my keepers have not fulfilled my (high) expectations, it would be dishonest of me not to reveal the opposite.

Having got myself nicked just to get space in the Block in order to starve myself to death, staff could have responded in any one of several ways.

They could have ignored me, merely fed me into the bureaucracy that comprises suicide-prevention measures.  They could have adopted an entrenched position as if I was on hunger-strike.  Or they could have packed me off to become another prison problem.  And these were my expectations, based on decades of experienced cynicism.

It was a surprise then that one or two staff took the time to actually talk and listen and try to get some small grip on my threadbare psyche.  They decided that they could help me to "sort my head out", with the leeway given by senior management.

And so I find myself still in the block, but now employed as the resident cleaner.  (Hmm, manual labour!?!) The idea being that this helps give me a break from the usual prison grind that was so corroding me, time to gather my inner resources to keep ploughing on with this sentence.  Those of you who were dusting off your black armbands will just have to be patient!

There may be hope yet.  Even though staff are as constrained by the carceral machine nearly as much as I, they did manage to find a space within the grinding bureaucracy of prison to be human.

Alas, that means that you have to put up with me for a little longer...


  1. It is with great relief that I put this post up this morning. It landed on the mat with a letter from Ben telling me that "after reaching rock bottom emotionally and mentally, the only way is up". He even seems to have regained a little of his sense of humour.

    The letter and blog post about his decision to stop eating were dated 5th September, and were waiting for me when I returned from a week's holiday. Last week I was blogging from the sunny Med, and unaware of Ben's predicament. It was a shock to find that he had not been eating all week.

    I managed to speak to the prison Chaplain, who has been visiting Ben and was kind and supportive. Ben is getting the help he needs, and having a job is also a good thing. There is nothing like being broke to add to one's misery, especially in prison, having to scrounge for tea bags and baccy!

  2. Great : )

    Best of luck Ben, thinking of you xx

  3. Brilliant, am really glad you've changed your mind, and are slowly climbing back out of the dakness which you were finding so difficult.

    And fair play for reporting the humanity and 'good practice' of CJS staff! We're not all bad!!


  4. Thank goodness for this blog Ben. It confirms what I already knew that there are some sensible prison officers - just not enough of them! And I, and feel sure that many others too, are delighted to 'put up with you a little longer'. Keep strong and keep writing.

  5. Ben,

    I'm glad that some way forward has been found. Hopefully, you'll now have the breathing space to consider your next moves.

    Nil carborundum, and all that.

  6. Wonderful news. So glad Ben is getting help in his time of need.

  7. Good news, but PhD to cleaner does not say a lot for the re-settlement process!

  8. It's a step in the right direction, a baby step, but a step none the less.

    Thanks to the staff who showed a willingness to make a positive difference. I knew there must be some out there, it's great to finally find some :)