Friday, February 18, 2011

A fragile life

Everything in prison is hard work. Not a single thing is simple. This means that no sooner have you got your life, your cell, your routine arranged into the least annoying shape, the simplest thing can screw it up.
So my washing line broke. This was a length of string - liberated from the workshop years ago - which stretched between two screws on opposite walls. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But where did these screws come from? How were the holes drilled into the walls? Who knows, but they don't come ready-fitted.
Without my line, my routine for washing my own clothes has taken a knock. The whole procedure has had to be re-arranged and it's still not quite right.
Creating a routine which mitigates the pains of imprisonment is a major preoccupation for prisoners. But in an institution based on deprivation, scarcity and dis-empowerment, the simplest things can blow a hole through that delusion of normality.


  1. Ben, this reminds me of a letter I received from my friend in prison. He told me he was put in a double cell to start with and had got it all arranged to his liking. Even the matter of whether it was advantageous for his living arrangements to sleep on the top or lower bunk had been carefully considered. However he was eating his tea in his cell a few days later when an officer came and told him he would have to move to a single cell. Despite intellectually knowing this was on the cards, he said he felt distraught at the thought of the upheaval, it was the straw that broke the camel's back for him, so I can quite sympathise as to how important your cell arrangements are to you serving a long sentence.

  2. Having somebody removed from your life so violently and at such a young age blows a hole through that delusion of normality too. You are lucky you can still fight for your rights. He will never be able to fight for his. RIP B x We will always remember x

  3. please read bens post on remorse. No one here forgets why ben is in prison.

  4. Well said mad albert, and I am sure Ben himself most of all, feels it every day!!

    Not to say I cant understand your comment ANON. No genuine blogger I have come across on this blog agrees with violence, of any kind. The taking of a life is a thing so final.

    Ben has lived with the consequences of his action for 31 years now, and has never committed any other act of violence in all that time. I am sure he will always remember your loved one too.

    I would also like to express my sorrow at your loss all those years ago.

  5. Anonymous, I second Queenie in expressing sorrow for your loss. I'm sure that some things said on this blog must seem extremely insensitive to you at times. It must seem to you that the loss of your loved one has been forgotten and your restrained but poignant words today should be a sobering reminder to all of us who post comments here. I for one would not be a party to this blog were it not for Ben's remorse, and the way he is now against any form of violence. They were both so young, that is the tragedy. God bless.

  6. I'd also like to add my voice to those expressing sympathy for your loss Anonymous.

    As Jules said, it must be very difficult to read something like this blog and see so many of us coming out in support of Ben/John. I only do so because I believe reforms of the sort he is fighting for could stop others going through what you have suffered. I don't know if that can excuse what we do in your eyes, and we certainly have no right to ask it of you, but I hope the explanations and condolences help a little.

    B is often in my thoughts.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.