Thursday, October 22, 2009


Although I insist that the research fails to reveal significant psychological damage from long-term imprisonment, this doesn't mean that we don't develop our little quirks.

Whilst we are often allowed to buy a duvet, I stick to prison sheets. Only sheets have an edge that is sharp, and as I fall asleep I run this edge between my toes. It keeps me happy...

Famously, I eschew drinking from cups or mugs. As I drink around three litres of tea or coffee a day, drinking out of a mug would see me forever hopping up and down to make more. Instead, I use a plastic one-litre water jug. As these are no longer issued to us, I guard my two and take them with me on transfers. Why two? One is for everyday use, and is never scrubbed clean. On the same theory that holds that teapots shouldn't have the tannin scrubbed out lest it affects flavour, so my jug long ago ceased to be transparent. It is brown-black, and looks disgusting. The other jug is a clean one, saved for use should royalty ever pop in for tea.

And I cannot sleep in silence. The TV or radio must be on in the background, preferably News 24 or the World Service, in order for me to get a decent night’s sleep.

As quirks go, these aren't too bad after thirty years, don't you think?


  1. As regards not being able to sleep in silence, that seems perfectly reasonable to me. While I can sleep in silence, if there's no background noise I can't get to sleep.

    I blame the fact that I used to live by a busy road as a child and got used to the background traffic noise...

    But as for the browny-black tea jug, you're on yer own, mate. I'd expect to be treated as 'royalty' if you ever made a cup for me :-)

  2. The problem with trying to all asleep to silence is that any tiny noise grabs your attention, including your own breating or the movement of the bed clothes. If there is background noise incidental noises are subsumed into it and do not jerk your attention from sleep.

    When we moved up here to Scotland after 5 years in London between the A1 and M! and a main rail line we had great trouble getting to sleep initially. I'm used to it now, but I knwo what you mean. Also I have met lots of people who fall asleep to radio/tv/computer/iPod.

    Your tea jug sounds like my hot beverage mugs except I have the luxury of 3, one for coffee, one for tea and one for cuppa soup. The microbiologist in me knows that boiling water is an effective sterilent so washing is extremely intermittent. As you say, it affects the flavour. Your consideration of visitors though does you credit.