In an attempt to get “Enhanced” (more visits, more canteen money), the boys have taken on roles on their spur. Rob is now the official go to guy for Racial Equality, Charlie is Disabilities (somewhat appropriate as he is currently dealing with severe back pain for which he is receiving precisely no treatment or care) and Keith is Sexual Orientation (I think it may be something to do with the hair – all those corkscrew curls).
A large black guy comes to give Rob a special T shirt and looks him up and down with evident misgivings. He is clearly a huge disappointment. With his usual perma-tan pretty much erased by the months inside, and despite undeniably impressive facial hair, it’s going to be a stretch to pass him off as anything other than 100% white male. The other day, someone did call him “blood” though, which is as good as it gets in terms of respect from the brothers, and no mean feat in a place where the exercise yard is almost entirely racially divided, just like in the movies. It was a big moment.
Of course the well honed skill sets that each of the men will bring doubtless bring to their new positions will be entirely surplus to requirements. All that will happen now is that their names will be put up on a noticeboard somewhere so that everyone can ignore it. If they are lucky they’ll get laminated.
The big news is about what happened last Happy Monday on G block. (Mondays are always happy as that is when all the meds for the entire week are handed out and generally consumed immediately.) Added to this, a large batch of hooch was released onto the market, and these two elements proved to be rather volatile bedfellows, engendering a massive riot and causing great excitement on the other spurs. Small acts of violence don’t raise an eyebrow here – (last week a badly beaten body was found by chance, locked inside a cupboard to which no prisoner should have had keys), but mass actions like this are less frequent and altogether more thrilling.
As the situation deteriorated, the alarm was repeatedly sounded as wave after wave of screws failed to cope, so that eventually the remaining wings were left almost entirely unguarded as even the really reluctant officers hit second gear and broke into ungainly trots in the vague direction of the action.
I have to confess to feeling rather as if Rob has missed a trick here. Surely this was his chance to pull off a well executed prison break? We have the box set after all and watched it faithfully to the end, long after it stopped making any sense at all. What were all those years of script reading and film making for God dammit, if not to rapidly devise a faultless escape plan, parachute in through my window, pausing only for a bit of long overdue ravishing, gather the children and enough pots of Nutella to dangle in front of them on fishing rods to get them to swim the channel, and blend seamlessly into the Calais camps before they all get burnt down. Despite my earlier disparaging comments, I reckon that with couple of days of autumn sun and a bit more growth on that beard, he’d be a dead ringer for the Syrian terrorists that are presently occupying Northern France en masse according to the Brexiteers. The girls and I have had our niqabs ready for months.
Finally however, the situation was brought under control and the cells were spun, (searched to you and me) and it will be busy in “seg” for a few weeks. The massive hooch raid will doubtless make Christmas rather dull this year, but there may still be time to get the Jacobs in and rustle something up with a few apples before the scurvy hits after the inevitable blanket decision to ban fruit (and presumably Jacobs, though perhaps they don’t know about that one and I should watch my big mouth), in the interests of removing all possible sources of fun from the lives of the condemned.
Out in the free world a bailiff from HMRC turns up at the house on Friday, as it happens on an entirely unrelated matter pertaining to estimated corporation tax for 2015 on a company that has been dormant since 2012 and doesn’t even have a bank account, so can’t possibly have received income or owe tax! Is it a good thing that my heart doesn’t even miss a beat over things like this nowadays? The very charming collector asks if I will give the letter he is brandishing to my husband. I say that this might be tricky, but offer to pass it on to an accountant which seems to satisfy him and he dispatches himself forthwith.
Tala is frightened that this will mean more years for Rob. When she hears about the fight she fears he has been involved and either hurt or in trouble. An extension of the sentence is something she worries about a lot. We all do. It seems that Highpoint keep turning people down for category D transfers, particularly if there are any overhanging issues.
The confiscation of our assets is going to be a long and drawn out process exacerbated by the fact that due to current disputes in the legal profession, Keith doesn’t even have a lawyer yet, and there is every possibility that this won’t be resolved prior to the cat D transfer date. Cat D means that, if you can get to the right prison, (usually one of the really bad ones where they just haven’t got time for the noncy blue collar guys who are unlikely to stab anyone), there is a chance you will be sent home on a tag.
This is what we are dreaming of. We have already talked about moving to another area of the country to provide reasonable grounds to get Rob to an alternative prison that is less draconian. It would be a disaster for us: Okha would have to move out to keep her job, Tala would have to leave school and ballet which are the love and light of her life with Rob gone, and I would lose the support network upon which I feel entirely dependant at the moment, but it could effectively make two years difference to our separation – of course I’ll do it.
Everything is uncertain: shifting sands over which we have no control. I try to reassure Tala, but her angst comes from a deep, visceral place that doesn’t respond well to logic or lies. There is nothing to hold onto in our lives anymore. Curiously though, if you stop trying to grasp on to certainties and unfurl your fist, there is real liberation in going with the flow and trusting. I feel like a beggar with my bowl held out in front of me, waiting to see what will be thrown in. A little scary, but also exciting and fresh. New and alive. Strange as this may sound, the overwhelming feeling I have in my life at the moment is one of gratitude. There is so much love in the world.
In Rob’s last letter I read the words that have brought me the most relief of all in the time he has been gone:
“I don’t feel “locked up” . There are obvious physical constraints, but they fade into insignificance compared with the freedom that I increasingly feel in myself. Sounds kind of cheesy, but “awareness awareness awareness” my darling, nothing more, nothing less.”
(Highpoint South, 27th September 2016).