On August 9th the guys are transferred to Highpoint (AKA Knifepoint!) near Newmarket (where?), near Cambridge. Thanks to an insider tip off they did have some warning of this upheaval, but it was kept top secret due to the security issues around moving prisoners from place to place – peak opportunity for a prison break. Had the authorities known that we knew, it would have been cancelled.
Highpoint has had some celebrity inmates in the past. The famous George’s were both here: Boy George for imprisoning an escort and chaining him to a wall – (if you’re going to go down for something, why not that?) and George Michael for crashing into a shop front high on cannabis and prescription meds, but this doesn’t seem to have improved the accommodation. In fact Highpoint could more properly be described as Lowpoint right now and Rob is very much wishing that he was back in good old, bad old Hewell.
They are now back to basic again on the constantly shifting sands of another induction wing, in a cramped pad with bunks, re- negotiating how to manage the remaining 6 foot by 1 foot of space they share under pretty much constant lock up. No pillows again, just a sheet and a blanket. No kettle let alone a TV and most challenging of all nowhere to hang anything. There will be no canteen again for weeks and the same demoralising struggles to get a curtain, washing powder and liquid will inevitably be the work of the coming week. Rob and Keith are still sharing which is a blessing, and Charlie has again landed himself a reasonable cell mate in the form of a low key Nigerian. It is hard to discern much about this new location except that it is pretty grim. It should get better: eventually they will be transferred out onto the wings where, in time, they will have single occupancy cells and considerably less lock down, but how long that will take is anyone’s guess.
It is painful to hear Rob on the phone. There was little at Hewell to really recommend it, but in comparison to where they now find themselves those were halcyon days. Most of all they miss their friends. This is a relentless journey where all comforts are stripped away time after time. As a spiritual test it is perfectly designed and I suspect incomparable. Constant resistance and indifference; nowhere to hide. I book a visit. I can speak to the booking clerks now as if I was arranging a doctors appointment. Shame is an affliction I am glad to be without, tied up as it inevitably is in judgement turned both in and out. Tomorrow we will see him.
It is strange to be back in the grey summer London chill. I have been in a place Tala describes to her best friend Luli as “very hot where everything is bigger.” She means the mosquitos I think, but she is right on another level too. I have been in a wild place these past ten days, swimming in mountain streams and waterfalls where clothing seems like an affront to the ancient untouched landscape. Barefoot on the earth, hot and dusty, falling into bed after long hours of cooking and carrying and not thinking. It has sometimes felt as if I have been branded by what has happened to us; as if I am entirely defined by it, but in the tiny miraculous hamlet of Gravito, created out of an inherited ruin on a wing and a prayer by the vision and love of my friends, a thread is cut and an identity falls away.
I knew that I was coming to a beautiful place where I would be part of a hive, doing my part for a communal good that had nothing to do with injustice and incarceration and everything to do with love and freedom, but I was unprepared for how precious it would feel to make new connections and friends, just as me, no history. My connection to Rob is absolute, coming out of years of love and togetherness, concreted by family and home: two lives bound inextricably together. He has been ripped out of this cosy nest leaving a gaping space. I can either sit in front of this void and stare into the abyss or I can begin to grow something in the bare space that has been created so very much against my will. There is a risk to moving forward, to saying yes to what is new and unknown, but it is exhilarating too and I am definitely coming alive again. I will not sit and wait and grieve. I will live and grow on my own again, as he must also.
All illusion of control is fading rapidly. I feel like a small leaf being tugged and carried and tumbled over waterfalls in the river I have been swimming in for the past 10 days and it reminds me of a beautiful card that Carolyn, (owner of Gravito, Godmother to Okha, incomparable friend), sent to me when I was twenty one and making a total hash of my life already. The card depicted a fairy hanging on to a leaf, skirts billowing, wings pressed back, being buffeted and blown through space by the wind. Inside she wrote: “Sometimes I feel like the fairy hanging on for dear life. Sometimes I feel like the leaf, and sometimes, just sometimes, I even feel like the wind.”
Here is the new address for anyone who would like to write:
Robert Bevan A800 3DT
HMP Highpoint South
If you are signed up the email a prisoner service you need to go to your address book, click on edit and change the prison name from Hewell to Highpoint.