Date of writing : 21/01/2014
Well, it’s been a few days, I should probably update you on the gossip. A lot of the time not much happens in here, so I have gaps with little to write about. One disadvantage of having a cell mate I actually talk to is that I get less time for thinking and writing. I probably shouldn’t complain, of course. I’ve been gradually teaching Paul small nuggets of science as they come up in conversation. Yesterday it was black-body radiation, emission spectra and Doppler shifts. Don’t know how much is sinking in, but I’m enjoying it at least.
Ahmed’s new cell mate has obtained the nickname ‘DF’, for reasons I really don’t want to explain. Seems like a reasonably nice guy – I inducted him into the ‘survivors’ club’ so he could perhaps get some tips on coping. As if sharing a cell with Edward trouser-hands wasn’t enough, I found out that he’d also become the latest victim of Geoff and Kyle. It seems Geoff laid it on a bit thick this time, actually managing to break his (plastic) coffee cup and had DF running from the cell with only half a haircut. I gather he was quite traumatised.
Meanwhile, I‘ve been mildly perturbed by someone who sometimes comes and begs me for sugar and whitener. I call him ‘Moody’, because both of his eyes are like the magical one of ‘Mad-Eye Moody’; always open to a full circle, and swivelling independently of each other, apparently at random. Needless to say any encounter with him is slightly unsettling. When he comes into the cell on the scrounge I mostly try to get him out again fairly quickly, but this time he had a story to tell. Like so many in here, he is eager to protest his innocence – I’ve no idea what he did (or didn’t) but he was very upset about being convicted, and he’s just been given life for it. So he ranted about his sentence, and how gutted he was, all the while with his eyes swivelling at high speed. He also has a tendency to get uncomfortably close when conversing – although to be fair, I don’t imagine he has very good depth perception.
So in the end he took his sugar and whitener and left – after I’d made some sympathetic noises to placate him a little. But when he’d gone I started to feel quite sorry for him, and a little guilty; I’ve no way of knowing whether he was wrongly convicted, or if his life sentence is unjust. What I do know however, is that my own instinctive reaction to him has been less than open-minded. I like to think of myself as accepting and non-judgemental, but the unsettled reaction I’ve described above falls short of that ideal. Now if that’s my reaction – as someone with a degree of consciousness of the fallibility of basic instinct – then I don’t rate his chances in front of a jury of the general public.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the ten members who found him guilty had subconsciously made up their minds within a few minutes of encountering his crazy roaming eyes. Much as juries are heavily instructed to make decisions based solely on the evidence presented, evidence is rarely seen without the distorting filter of personal feelings. As I said, I don‘t know anything about his case, but I do regret that it’s likely his chances of a fair trial were probably less than average from the start.
Anyway, as for me, my sentencing hearing has been postponed for reasons I won’t go into. Although this is frustrating both practically, and because it would be good to know what I’m facing so I can start getting used to it – there are also some small benefits. Something I’ve only recently discovered is that cheques sent to prisons take an age to be credited to your Private Cash account. I’ve been left in a financial black spot, since the cheque I receive three weeks ago still hasn’t cleared on the prison’s system. In the interim, I’ve not been able to build up money in my ‘Spends’ account, as there hasn’t been any to transfer from my Private Cash.
Whilst on remand, I believe I am entitled to £47.50 to be transferred each week into the account where I can actually use it. In prison this is a King’s ransom; but when I come back from Court convicted, this will drop to only £10, rising I think to £15 after two weeks. So whilst I am ‘innocent’ my money can build up toward the goal of getting myself a radio/CD player, and ultimately, I hope, a guitar. I really don’t know when the cheque will eventually clear, but in the meantime I hope the stop-gap Postal Order will have been credited in time for Friday’s Canteen Sheet.
Another benefit of the delay is that I continue to have near enough as many visitors as I want. I’m averaging about two or three visiting sessions a week at the moment, which is great. I’m not looking forward to the hassle of Visiting Orders and being restricted to three a month. Speaking of which, I have a visit this afternoon – for which I’ll be called in a short while. I’m looking forward to the contact with the outside world of course, but also the chance to eat and drink something different. It’s probable that I’ll eventually come to associate Rooibos tea with visiting. It didn’t interest me before I came inside, but it now seems like a wonder of flavour compared to what I usually drink (i.e water). Must remember to pace myself with the chocolate bars this time …
(later) … hmm … well … maybe I’ll pace myself next time.