Whilst pondering my situation and glancing through the reactions to last week’s guilty verdict, I am of the impression that there is less noticeable noise coming from certain self-proclaimed anti-fascist groups and their associates. Perhaps the most usual suspects are managing to resist expressing their Schadenfreude in anticipation of tomorrow’s hearing and possible media reaction. Only time will tell…
A couple of Twitter accounts did tweet their jubilation however – a fact that has been duly noted and recorded. During my time at Bronzefield, I was interviewed three times by prison Security. The first time was after I had been locked up for about ten days, and involved a full search of my cell and my person by two officers. A friend later informed me that the person responsible for this cell spin was in fact telling all on Twitter; that they had phoned the prison to report that I had a mobile phone, inside my cell, and was using it to tweet from inside prison. My barrister, Adrian Davies, also informed me that someone closely connected to Hope Not Hate had tweeted to the effect that he hoped I would be beaten up once I was behind bars.
Both these events I then reported to my Case Manager, also recording the fact that the person alleging I had a phone was also one of the named suspects in an ongoing harassment investigation by the Metropolitan Police.
Twice, I was recalled by Security to discuss incoming mail. In all, two dozen or so letters sent to me in jail were withheld because, I was told, they contained either ‘racial slurs’ or were expressing support for my music and/or requesting more songs. At first, when I asked what had happened to these letters, the officer claimed that they had all been destroyed. It then turned out that several had in fact been returned to sender (including to my co-author, Mr Menuhin) with a curt message from the prison, stating that no further correspondence would be possible during the rest of my sentence. Upon release, I was sent copies and/or photos of letters and cards that were perfectly harmless, that had been sent to my address in prison but were neither delivered, nor returned to sender.
During the prolongation of my sentence following Appeal last August, I was happily left alone. I read, drew, painted and, once a day, sang my way around the exercise yard. Yes, I entertained on more than one occasion, with Caught Covid From the Cat and Anything Goes being the two favourites most often requested.
Artists’ materials are available to buy from the canteen, but they are of mediocre quality. My simple, pencil drawings from my first incarceration are more successful than my attempts at painting with something resembling a Play Skool paint-by-numbers kit; sketch pad and brush not much better. Picture postcards are great to receive, if you enjoy painting. The end result remains a personal reminder of the sender. Also, the prison kitchen supplies plenty of fruit, ideal for practising still life and, if oranges are available, juggling.
Speaking of prison food, perhaps the best, funniest and proudest moment was after I had composed a poem about the choice of breakfast menu. I worked on the rhyme over two or three days, wrote it out neatly and, during association, read it out loud to my wing-mates. One character immediately ran down the landing, returning with an envelope “To The Governor”, scribbled a message that the response should be read out on the wing and, just as energetically, ran back to the letter box to post my poem – which went like this:
PRISON BREAK FAST
Each day depending on my mood
I use “the Pod”* to choose my food
Variety defines the menu
Rockin’ from our kitchen venue
Meaty, vegan, veg with rice
Fish on Fridays
Crisps and snacks
Stomachs never need feel empty.
Yet morning’s promise fails to please
Indeed, I’d say “the Pod” ‘s a tease
It’s there –
Writ large for all to see
But never in reality:
The taste for which I yearn the most
Some sweet preserve upon my toast
So please, Guv’
If you care a damn
Give us our daily bread
Three days later and every morning from thereon jam was served, with breakfast, and throughout the entire prison. Sweet!
* “The Pod” is a large console, a kind of giant iPad on each Spur, where prisoners can order items from the canteen, choose the daily menu and make requests.
So, you see, it’s not all bad news. Still, needless to say, I would much prefer to be at home this Easter rather than lose my liberty once again, for singing a parody song…
Many thanks to all for the kind messages of support. If you would like to contact me or support me in any way, you can find links in the top menu.