Monday, August 27, 2012

The First Day

As incompetent as ever to the end, I knew a full 4 days before the prison actually bothered to tell me that I was going to be released on 22 August. Worse, when I was given the parole board's decision I asked just how and when I would be released? "Nothing to do with us" said the nick, leaving me to wander around with a parole answer and a befuddled mind.

It was a strange feeling to have that knowledge of a release date. So many years have been spent attempting to stay approximately sane in the face of endless vistas of incarceration that to acknowledge its end left me in a somewhat befuddled state. How did I feel? How should I feel? This was a novel experience for me in every way.

The last few days were occupied with me attempting to juggle money around in order to settle my accounts with various parties around the prison. And I almost succeeded... People - I mean outsiders - have little appreciation of the prisoner society and its many interwoven strands. The idea of economic independence and isolation may appeal but in a society where poverty and scarcity are the norm (by official diktat) then an unofficial economy flourishes of necessity. Being given a handful of days to square the many circles involved in economic and social survival helped to fill the remaining few days.

There were so many people to nod goodbye to, so many best wishes for the future exchanged. Some of these were perfunctory ("who was that bloke..?!"), some deeply sincere, and others which were sad because both of us knew that their release was distant and profoundly uncertain.

Arrangements needed to be made, practicalities attended to. Top of that list was property and travel. On being discharged, the prison coughs up a travel warrant. But with my mountain of accumulated crap and paperwork, public transport was impossible. Offers to collect me by car were made and swiftly accepted. Only with difficulty though, as I had run out of money on the prison pay phone; my request that they put a £5 of my money onto the phone was brusquely refused, as if arranging my release was a procedure I was intimately familiar with and should have foreseen. Unhelpful to the end, the prison service seemed as loathe to release me from their malign clutches as I was to remain.

Thirty six hours before I was due to leave the prison finally told me I was about to be released. After a good nights sleep, assisted by Mamba (highly recommended by the way), the final full day was occupied with "the paperchase". A sheet of paper listing various departments around the prison which I had to visit and get to sign me off. Utterly pointless, particularly the stipulation that I needed to return a pillow to Reception. As pillows are as rare as rocking horse shit, this one was a mission that I failed.

On the morning of my leaving I had helpers to cart my stuff on a trolley to Reception. People going on home leaves were dealt with first. Having been ready since 6am, I finally made a trip to the gate at after 8 - only to return briefly. My property had to be dragged down the long drive past the Gatehouse, where I received my final bollocking. My brother had parked near the Gate and was wielding his iPad to take a picture of my coming out, which is positively frowned upon. That I paused and stood still to enable this to happen blew my story of "nothing to do with me, guv" right out of the water. Having loaded up his car, the trolley had to be returned and I had to sign the last pieces of paper - my Life Licence.

The Lifer Senior Officer had me read and sign a form. It ended with "Do you have any complaints?"

Ha! "Only one page for that?" I asked.

We agreed I would cover the main issues in a book, or I'd be there forever.


  1. I can't wait to read it :D

  2. 'We agreed I would cover the main issues in a book, or I'd be there forever.'

    Fu*king Brilliant!

  3. I laughed out loud thanks Ben

  4. I think maybe the prison officials resent helping you leave, because you're leaving, but they have to stay...

  5. Classic Ben HMP cannot get anything right LOL............Chris B

  6. Its good to be here, very nice post, the content is amazing, keep posting friend it will be very helpful for everyone, Thanks for sharing. I really liked it.
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  7. good luck glad you are finally free looking forward to the book