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AMO personal Diaries

 

Diaries from Prison


Click for background on Prison Diaries


This series of diaries will be brought to you from the pens of 2 inmates in UK prisons during the Coronavirus epidemic. For fairly obvious reasons the 2 authors will not be named or identified in their diaries nor will the institutions in which they are incarsarated. 

What is becoming apparent is that like the care homes in the UK that are looking after our elderly, the prisons have the potential to be the next hotbed of COVID19 spread. The real and present danger to the prisoners that is presented by Coronavirus has had an enormous impact in the prison population. 

At the time of writing this introduction the following statistics have been released by the Home office.

  • 59 Prisons affected by Coronavirus
  • 15 Prisoner deaths
  • 10 prison guards dead
29th April 2020

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Corona Virus (covid-19) in prisons By TJ (name chosen to protect his anonymity). 

Updated 16th June

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Sunday 14th June

For the life of me, I can’t find my diary.  Been looking for it all day.  For some reason I’ve only written in it 2 or 3 times this week.  This morning I feel inspired to write but I can’t find it.  Most probably good because it’s full of shit anyway.  
This week has been very weird to say the least and half of it I can’t remember.  I’ve had to stop a fight, had to calm people down, had to mediate, get real assertive at times, compromise, get fucking honest with myself and reaching out which I don’t find easy. 

So yeah, there’s been racial incidents this week.  Nothing new, it’s just more highlighted cause of whats happening.  I used to hate racist officers, but it’s not their fault.  There is one in there who is intensely racist and I’m unable to find any compassion for the fucking tosser.  The thing is, most rich people don’t even understand their own history.  Not the history published by the education institution but the history they don’t tell publicly.  They don’t know how much people of colour add to this culture.  We’ve been here longer than some and been in peace and harmony.  It wasn’t just people of colour economically migrating here.  Did they stop to think about Joseph of Arimathea, was he white?  He built the first chapel in this country before the Roman Catholic Church, before the Knights Templar .  Where do they think the word Moor comes from.  How many moors are there, especially up north.  All these changing names of people and tearing down statues know that its madness, fair enough, we don’t honour people who benefitted from slavery or oppression but they are reminders.  

Pubs in streets with names like Blackboy, Blackamoor, anything that represents us ought to remain, we hold just as much claim to England.  We’re not looking for power, but harmony, security, not a handout, just want to make a living and raise our families. Dennis Brown said in his song ‘every man has an equal right to live and be free, no matter what colour, race or class he may be’ but as we know, racism is unequal and only serves those in power.  
I’ve got childhood friends who I owe so much to, who included me, mentored me, supported me.  Most of them were and are not of my persuasion.  Even though I am what I am, what I am and my culture is embedded in me.  
I remember when I was 12 years old I was sniffing glue.  This Rastaman sat me down and asked why was I doing it, to which I replied ‘I don’t know’.  He called me a careless Ethiopian.  It hurt even though I didn’t know what he meant.  Then he continued to tell me who I was, where I came from, etc etc.  That chap changed my perspective forever.  What if all black people turned up and said ‘oi, we want the Earth back!’, what then?  What would they say to us I wonder, yet it won’t happen and they won’t want to release power, thats their agenda, total control.  

Old Babylon the great, how your kingdom is falling and it’s going to be the people you claim you’re representing who will spearhead the revolution.  There will be and is more white people in the ranks.  I’m not a religious person, yet I’ve studied some and it’s not in a man’s skin or language that makes a man or woman or a child.  It’s the spirit in the DNA.  We must be in some sort of astrological shift cause the world is turning again.  Surely this is a time of mass awakening which David Wilcox spoke about which is affecting men and women of hue and different kinds of human, meaning people of colour, human, meaning different kinds of men.  This is stuff I’ve been processing all week with the bits of the news I saw once or twice this week.  So these are my thoughts and reflections.  

It’s very strange the stuff I reflect on, some I keep to myself for various reasons.  The access to information in here is very controlled so I have to glean from different sources plus what I’ve been already exposed to.  Being in prison I’ve so much time to reflect, this is when you’re faced with yourself and you see self and the extremes could be a good trip or a nightmare.  I don’t need to see it anymore.  All I need to do is fit into my body like my favourite pair of chinos, a nice satin shirt, or an Egyptian cotton shirt and a couple pair of trainers.  
I’m ok being me, like really ok being me, warts and all.  But you know what at the end of the day, we always give Jah the glory.  Always.
Diary 25

This morning I got up, done my usual stuff.  Another guy went home opposite me, I didn’t know he was going home.  The came to tell him he was going home and he went ‘what?!’ and someone said to me if they came and asked you or told you that you were going home, how fast would it take you to leave the prison?  I told the guy if they told me I was going home, I’d say ‘like fuck I am, I’m staying here’… and they looked at me in amazement , as if to say, are you mad?  And thats the difference innit, I know why I’m here and I know the work I’ve got to do.  Other people have other agendas and if they want to go around doing what they want to do in life they can, it’s there choice , you know what I mean, just like its MY choice to do what I want to do.  Ive found that power of choice, I call it Grace under fire because no matter what happens, I have a choice.  The decision if mine.  However I respond, how I react and thats right across the board.  Sometimes it takes times like this to see, like I’ve stated before, I’ve found gold.
Diary 24

Got up at about 8 o clock, gone through my daily routine, still this morning I feel kind of sombre, not low, not slack, yet not high or full of energy.  Didn’t train yesterday, just gonna go on the cross trainer and rowing machine this afternoon.  

Ive got a mate who I was speaking with this afternoon, he’s a lifer x 2 so he’s really done his IPPs and got another one and he has some real talent as a rapper, dance hall UK grime and he’s got loads of demos.  I told him when I’m around him I feel sad as all I see is wasted talent.  I really wish I was in a position to support and help , not just him but IPP and lifers .  I see the person not the offence.  I really take offence when others refer to me or others as offenders, I prefer convict or inmate.  I used to lose it a little bit when I was addressed as such, now, even though I’m offended I receive it as coming from a place of ignorance.  

12.30
It’s so sad that there is so much talent and experience in here and 3/4 of it won’t ever get an audience it deserves.  Oh well, just got my  “Enhanced Status”, have been asked if I’m going for a “D Cat - open prison conditions.  No thank you, I’m not D Cat material.  Being a seeker reminds me of where I am.  

My question is, is it worth it?  And over what?  I can see how easy it is to lose perspective, the impulsive behaviour we adopt or justify , gets down to principle or loyalty.  Fucking mad!  Me, we have to look at ourselves if there is to be any order or peace in this place.  Im not putting myself in any form on any moral high ground but as Eek-a-mouse sings… how can a wise man build his house on the sand, on the sand there is no foundation
And…. How can a foolish man build his house on the rocks when he has no wisdom.  

And Garnett Silk says “what is the difference between the wise man and the fool, because the wise man lives and dies, likewise the fool”.  

Im on the special unit and there’s 4 of us on two spurs. Out of 40 guys, there are 6 black guys and 1 asian, yes, we all have our opinions about this current situation, yet what I sense more than anything is the emotion, pain and fear cause every time its decided its going to be reported and given coverage about racism, even though part of me has a mixture of anger and joy at exposure, its traumatising because of racial memory and my experience.  All lives matter but to some parties its in their interest to keep their foot on our necks. The universe is everything and guess what, BLACK LIVES DO MATTER AND THEY’VE ALWAYS MATTERED.  Ain’t nothing new about police brutality or racial brutality and prejudice, its always been there.  If I just kept it in, the 20th century they pressured and locked up Markus Garvey and he died.  They killed Malcolm X...Locked up and killed MLK. With their counter intelligence program, they infiltrated and sabotaged the Black Panthers.  Jim Crow laws in South America.  Who’s got the bottle to lead?  The list goes on.  I’m British and proud to be British also and this is the only country i’d defend because this is all I know but because Im black skinned in heritage and because of prejudice and every ism and scism, early in my life I suffered cognitive dissonance concerning my identity .  What a wicked thing.  If I didn’t have the teachers along the way I would have been totally lost.  So I’ve been fortunate to  pick up levity which helped me to survive regardless of the perceived situation I’m currently in.  

Im grateful to be blessed 1000x .  Bob Marley’s WAR just came on the radio.  Talk about synchronisation.  Whoever is reading this, please go to youtube and listen to Bob Marley’s war which is so relevant, like now.  And in the New Testament in the book of Euphrasia chapter 6, verse 10,  it states, we fight not against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Sometimes we all have to be warriors in this armageddon and I know plenty warriors, both male and female from many back grounds, amazonian and anglo Saxon warrior princesses.  I have friends of all races and I know people ain’t having it no more and thats only the people I know.  Colonialism or colonial propaganda is a scar in the psyche of society.  

This covid now thats its easing up this ugly part of racism has popped its head up or its something that is being played out here.  As deadly as covid may seem, we fear not the deadly pestilence nor the arrow that flies by day.  I love the unity of communities, all I see is people coming together and its happening in here.  I know I’m very opinionated yet I’ve been around long enough to experience and see change.  Change don’t wait but change does come and it’s coming now.  I sit and wonder what the fuck are the government playing at.  Have they nicked this police officer as a political stunt or has he really been nicked, you know what I mean!?  Why did they take days, I mean, I’m sure if I committed a murder, the police would come for me straight away, yeah?  So they nicked him 3 days later.  So it appears, this is political, and racism is white political and racism is political  because otherwise they would do something to change that attitude of people but nothing has really been done and you can’t blame people for being racist because all it is is learned behaviour, you know and I really don’t like staying on this subject because it starts bringing up emotions so, I’m going to leave it here.  Sorry about all that.
Diary 23

Same ol same ol.  Been listening to Eek-a-mouse all morning and giving out style tips, trying to explain formal and informal wear and how to mix it up.  Sometimes I take my formal and informal education for granted so I didn’t realise stuff that I knew.  Not that I’m well educated, more of life experienced.  Versed in all sorts, it’s like I’ve got to write things down to digest what I’m saying.  First of all it’s that bollox or that shit, then in the morning it’s you’re right, just remembered, don’t worry about it cause I’m being taught patience and tolerance on a daily basis even though I feel like shit sometimes and me of all people, I do fall short.  
Diary 22

Up and about, just had breakfast, 2 cod-liver oil capsules, 3 garlic capsules, 1 multi vitamin, 1 vitamin C, 1 zinc and a strong nitrixol and a very strong cup of coffee.  Black and sweet, just like me.  
Had an early night last night , good sleep, feel good for the new day, health and life.  They’re calling the workers off the wing, I ll wait for them to go before I start doing the landing.  Been hearing things are loosening up out there and Bournemouth beach was packed, wow.   Still affects us, no gym, no visits, no contact.  There’s a new guy on the landing been recalled for not social distancing.  What the fuck!  Say he was non compliant or defiant , can the recall you for being defiant!  Man, they can recall you for anything.  Bastards doing a bastards job.  

11.30. 
Nice shower.  Workout, smashed it, fuckin hard though and another IPP recall just been released.  I didn’t really talk to the guy although we did groups together.  His going in a rehab so at least he stands a chance.  Man they have drug and alcohol treatment for long term prison leavers but if one commits a crime in my experience its from pressure and lack of personal skills that send people back in prison and it’s not fair cause you pay for your mistakes for the rest of your life.  Some people are fortunate to have support or they get lucky.  Ive been on the wing all day and at the best of times it’s like a wing for naughty boys at best a big boys club and I feel like an umpire who has spent a lot of time mothering some guys, making sure they get emotional support or not getting themselves into tension with each other so I’ve got to mediate where applicable.  However, its not without it’s rewards.

1.45
Someone just informed me that a guy who was here is having trouble getting employment.  Now this guy is very humble and in my opinion a role model.  He applied for 7 jobs, got an interview for them , disclosed his record and got blanked on that account .  So on the last interview they gave him the post, only to inform him later, it’s company policy not to employ anyone with a criminal record and he wrote and spoke with the area manager and the director, only to find out its not policy but the director says so because he is prejudice.  Whats the point of doing courses when you’re up against that.
Thats how easy it is to lose faith.  Even though I feel a little sad about this, the information I still have hope and faith.  Just when I hear shit like this it diminishes a little.  This is why I need to believe there is a bigger power, force, looking out for me cause if I’m not full steam, I just say fuck it , fuck them, even though that attitude don’t get me anywhere , Im still prone to push the fucking button and live with the consequences and I’m not even going to mention now whats happening now with the racist stuff, like its anything new.  I offer all to be black and marginalised for one month then tell me you ain’t got a chip on your shoulder.  Not that I have.  We get to share the glory in our successes and our disappointments because sometimes we got our best.  If I didn’t have ground underneath me, I’d be bang in trouble.  

Diary 21

Back on the job again.  Monday morning a fella went home, was released today, I wished him well.  Makes you wonder what its really like out there.  People tell you and you hear and yet you want to hear people’s experiences and get your own.  All in good time.  Still work to do.  The most important thing for me on release is going to be accommodation.  That need to feel secure and structure.  The whole of Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs”, self actualised and independence is very important.  My man’s gone this morning and his going to an AP. Approved Permission, what a joke.  I ain’t heard a good story about them places, none, but what can we do.  God, some of these places .  
Not my will, your will still.  
Right, need to sort myself out.  Do a circuit and it’s only 9.30.  

Been a lazy day, done a circuit about 10 then just been sitting with myself the whole day, did go out for some sun, I came back in and went to sleep.  Also had to go over healthcare to do a listen, not my cup of tea and not exactly what I’ve been trained for yet if they want to talk then so be it
Diary 20

Lazy day, didn’t do much of anything, just chilled all day and only went outside for 20 minutes, knackered anyway.
Diary 19

One day blends into another and the only consistency is me to add structure to my day.
Some fella hanged himself the other day, couldn’t take anymore.  The fella was an IPP prisoner, been recalled no less than 4 times and he’s already done 18 years.  Fuck I feel sad about that.  Stuff like that, don’t matter how many times it happens, can’t be normalised.  Puts things in perspective, wow, surprises me sometimes the attitude people have.  I know a lot of IPP prisoners and they are great cause to hold it together, not knowing when you’re getting out , to be told to do this course and that course, instead of just letting you go, year in year out , fucking wind-up.  Or you there for 3 years and 9 years later you’re still doing Micky mouse courses, ticking boxes , crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s and still all the waiting, not to mention all the red tape and politics.  Its all bollox.  The machine is broken. 
I don’t know about prison being a melting pot but I know the pot is melting and we’re the unimportant ones.  Fuck sake, in jail you have the best of minds, creative souls and untapped talent.  If big industry tapped into this talented reservoir, this country would excel in the world market and attitudes would change across the globe.  If half the guys had the opportunity to transfer their skills, society would benefit from it.  We need effective programmes, developed to succeed and not for show.
Diary 18

You know today is Saturday and I was up with a swing in my feet.  The days I have off from training, I am up and about instead of resting.  Do my do, make my bed, clean floor, put the kettle on , sweep the landing , have a coffee and a chat and it’s still only 8am.  I retreat back to my cell as I can hear dramas.  It seems like some people need a drama a day, talk about making mountains.  I’m not saying I ain’t quirky but like wow, the patterns of behaviour, everything I encounter on a daily basis would lead me to believe I am on more of a psyche ward or an asylum and that goes for most establishments across the prison estate.  HMP this HMP that.  

I feel grateful, some of the girls sent me some photos, pictures in bundles.  I miss our little gatherings, our dancing and the moments when you let someone into your soul or they allow you to witness their vulnerability.  Real human contact connections.  I miss these beautiful most amazing moments.  

I’m ok being me today.  Whoever made me knew what he was doing.  I’ve heard it said that I’m born to believe that when God made man it took him under and hour then he used the other 23 hours to make woman.  Women are fucking amazing and powerful beyond measure.  Respect is due respect is due.  Any man who don’t have women upheld, well, he’ll learn.  After all, Mother Earth, Mother Nature and karma who’s a bitch or your lover, however you want to put it.  

Today’s my chill day and try and stay in my cell, only come out for meals.  On Saturday I try and do nothing, reading, praying, dancing and reflect.  My dance this week has been like water, I’ve had to be fluid, adapted to situations, some I’ve encountered and some I’ve found myself in.  Plus changes in perspective.  

Ok so that’s it, it’s almost lunch.  Going to make an effort to eat whatever it is.  
Today has been something else and I’ve surprised myself.  Considering my life path and my experiences, why am I surprised?  I guess when you use tools that you haven’t used for a while, it’s weird how it becomes familiar very quickly.  

I went out and done another circuit and when I finished I done it again.  The sun is really out so you can imagine the sweat pouring off of us, the rest of the afternoon will be spent talking to my mental health worker who says I’m to be discharged from her services because I appear to be ok.  Does she know how nuts I am?  Now I’m being referred to counselling, I’ve informed them that I need an outlet, someone neutral to talk to as my innermost feelings I keep to myself.  I’m surprised at the stuff we, me and the guys, do talk about because it’s not really general conversation.  Mostly it’s about relationships with people, places and things.  
Anyway that’s me for now.
Diary 17

8.30 am.  Reluctant to get out of bed this morning.  Up anyway, swept my cell, made coffee, cleaned landing, back in my cell, lay on the floor stretched legs, back, shoulders.  Heard a bit of banter outside, just noise.  Trying to have a quiet 10/15 minutes.  Going outside to do some circuit training.  Bad boy circuit.  Worked.  It’s all in the head.  Seem to be able to do more so I shout out again… let’s do more!… the guys get the hump.  My training partner smiles and says that was just a warm up.  
Again we go.  

Had lunch, it was shit as usual but I got to look at the nutrition of the food otherwise I won’t eat it.  I must say, this plant based diet is holding me and that’s why I feel a lot stronger and less sluggish.

Nice shower, going to read and chill till later, maybe do another circuit this afternoon if my body allows it.  Still I believe that sticking to this commitment to train daily, pray, read and have time to reflect, take inventory, loving acts to myself, paying attention to my needs and taking responsibility. 

I found some more duck feathers outside as well.  Going to treat them and put them on my altar.  Taking in some tunes on the radio, nostalgic.  “There’s nothing like this” …. An old tune, a bad tune anyway. 

I guess I wouldn’t mind being with someone, however, I’m not.  Cool with that for now.  
Haven’t written for a few days and now I notice the difference.  It’s a nice way of taking inventory, oh well, still in the game, as sane or as insane as I can be in this situation
Diary 16

Was up 5.30 dancing this morning.  Was wicked.  Was in that moment when I’m led by intuition, I go into my body, I’m so free from all constraints.  Without limitations, expectations, no models, no systems, just is and what can be because I am.  I can unlock the doors.  I can rewrite the story and the biggest lie was I didn’t have the power, that I was not enough, that I needed more of this and more of that, that I couldn’t, wouldn’t or shouldn’t and I believed them all so they told me what to write.  No my gut has answered, it’s taken 53 years to see, feels it, knows it.  Lay myself down to meditate then woke up at 9.  No worries, swept the landing, going to have a coffee then work out.  

Mad work out, I can actually feel the muscles on my body feels like body armour.  Had an orange, 

I’ll put my lunch into a container for later.  Eat in a few hours.  

I didn’t watch TV at all today, all shit and propaganda even though I fell asleep with it on.  

In these quiet hours looking out the window at the night sky allowing my soul to drift for a while.  It gave me a little perspective of my life, this life, just imagine what all the eyes are dreaming.  Would love to be a dream walker so I can walk in and out of people’s dreams and witness them.
Diary 15

Up at 8am.  Got pulled, someone wanted to chat.  You got all sorts in here and clashes of personalities, cultures, knowledge, ignorance, all kind of clashes.  It’s a daily occurrence.  Especially with authority.  This is a place where you have to be grounded to get through.  

Swept the landing then went out for exercise.  As I couldn’t get off the Spur, I had to reign it in as I nearly had an emotional outburst with an officer, anyway I came back in and mopped the landing .  Gonna work out this afternoon,  feeling a little busted.

12.10 pm Feeling blessed.  It’s easy to say good people should not be getting such fucked up karma but who can escape life.  Our humanness growth, I wonder what the middle ground is between or the difference between, patience and procrastination.  Looking back I realise and I see how wonderful women are.  If only I could remember all my mum’s sayings.  Most of the advice she used to give me.  

What I did get from her was:
1.  Nothing is for nothing, there’s always a payoff and you have to work and plan.  
2.  You keep true friends, real friends.  You know them by their works and they’re worth more than gold.  If you have real friends, a true friend, you are wealthy indeed, rain or shine. 
Diary 14

Well it’s 6.15 and the day for me is just starting.  I feel like I’m in a different time zone.  I was up at 5 this morning and managed to fall back to sleep without remembering.  All I remember is banging on my door asking if I want to go outside and do circuit.  So that was that all my normal stuff I do was a very rushed job yet before I left my cell I stopped for a few moments because all I felt was how the fuck am I going to do this.  No coffee, no bananas, my bones and my joints aching, no pain killers.  You have a choice, no one is forcing you to go out there and train.  At the moment I think I’ve hit another level because part of me was like, fucking hell and the other part was you can smash it, it can only benefit and that’s why I went and done it, smashed it and went back for seconds this afternoon.

Just read Psalms 87 and 90.  Had a run this afternoon, played dominos, early dinner which is a T bone and a pastie.  The T bone is tea bags, yuck, 5 or 6 sugar sachets, powder milk, a small box of milk, soya, I don’t drink cow’s milk and a bread roll and a packet of crisps.  That’s tea folks.  Me, I live on porridge and noodles and whatever plant based food the kitchen can conjure up.  All I’m saying is I’m not complaining, it is what it is.   

Tried to phone my kids again, no one answering.  Had to phone their aunt to make sure things are ok out there.  She said children are fine so I’m cool, gonna chill, take a shower and read for a bit.
Diary 13

Struggling to get out of bed this morning.  Crawled out about 7.30 with effort, done my bits, cleaned the landing, put all the rubbish out, swept the floor then had a nice sweet cup of coffee.  Ended up doing a circuit outside, they wonder how we fly through them.  Making it longer, harder, so we’ve been asked to bring our own circuit outside to see what we’ve been doing.  Now it’s just been revealed to me what circuit we’ll be doing, man, I’ve turned into a fitness junkie, and however, as today is Friday, I’ll have the next two days off so my body can recover. 

Had to phone in.  I phone into the Samaritans every Friday for supervision.  Just checking really.  

Was up at 6 this morning, just gave thanks and went back to sleep then woke up again about 10.15.  Had early lunch, finished off my letter.  Swept the landing, just chilling.  Going to phone the kids later.  Ain’t been smoking for a couple of weeks, it ain’t from lack of trying.  
A very good friend of mine wrote a book and sent me a copy.  It’s been in my box for about a month or so, so I think I’ll start it in a bit so I can phone him and discuss the character.  I need to phone some of the girls anyway, I ain’t spoken to anyone for a week or so, I find most human contact I have, I find it difficult to have small chat, however, I ask myself, does it have its uses?  I just stay in the pasa pasa, can’t be fucked with all the mix up in all the prison politics.  

I found in discussion this morning, different types of alcoholics or addicts, the difference between garden variety, acute and the hopeless variety.  The ignorance about addiction and alcoholism is astonishing, just like the persistence of the delusion that any alcoholic or addict can drink or use safely.  Because it is astonishing that is.  Anyway, there is still a lot of work to be done around drug and alcohol treatment and it needs to be tackled on all fronts.  

I believe there needs to be more of a spiritual content, bespoke for the individual and their families.  To some extent there is, however, the options for the treated needs to have a broader spectrum.  Some places are trying now with new therapies and that’s cool.  But what about patients that can’t afford it?  It seems like cohesiveness needs greasing.  Just a few opinions.  I’ve learned not to attach any emotions behind my opinions or I end up in resentment which is the route of all spiritual sickness.  
Diary 12

Didn’t want to write yesterday, kind of weird day still.  Couple of guys went home, got out and a couple of new guys here instead.  Even though the dynamics have changed, things remain the same.

Done some running, the sun was out, it was good to wake up and work up a sweat.  Played some dominos with the guys then called it a night.  

Had a really good heart to heart with my mate, its good when two men can sit down and have a really meaningful and real conversation about ego.  I thank my higher power for everything.  For everything and anything. 

Finished off a killer workout, knackered.  It’ll be lunch soon.  Funny how we haven’t had an AA meeting since all this bollocks started and I seem to be doing ok.  I say we because things and a few of us, when it all got locked down, used to gather but that’s faded.  I do know a couple of the guys still do meet up and talk, along with myself.  At the moment I don’t think about going back through the steps, it’s more like putting in the actions.  How many times do you go through the process?  I read my big book, I pray, I do a gratitude list, I take to helping others when I can, I trust God, clean house, help others, that’s what I’m sent here to do so that’s what I’ve been doing.  Live and let live, not try to regulate anyone, just myself to what is.

When I’m asked, what you were doing through the corona, I’m going to say I was getting my spirit together.  Body, mind and spirit.  And if this is going to be a landmark in time, it’s going to be a landmark it’s going to be the time I found something more precious than gold and it was in me all the time and it’s always been there.   All my mistakes, my failures, my successes, pleasant and unpleasant experiences have all led up to this point in time.  So why should I regret the past or shut the door on it.  I am who I am and I’ll play the cards that’s dealt, like in any game you play, the cards are stacked against you or the dice is loaded.  You learn to get better.  Some would argue that life is not a game.  If you live in society then you’re a player, that’s it.  


Diary 11

Up at 7am.  People on the landing arguing.  Same old same old.  Instead I start singing Rastaman Vibration, Bob Marley song, and I quote, 'if you get up and quarrel everyday, you’re saying prayers to the devil I say.  Make way for the positive day, live if you want to live.'  

Said a prayer then on the landing, started singing the song “lava”.  Sometimes gotta burn the fire gently.  More life.  And this is all before 7.30.  Wow.

Kitchens and yard party have left for work.The laundry guy is stressed out. I really don’t know why people get their knickers in a twist. But this is prison life.  Thank God I’ve got full sight, hindsight, insight, more sight. Doing a bit on the landing, more coffee, read a bit. Just reading poems from Rumi, one stanza stands out, ‘I know these dances, day and night I sing these songs, in this phenomenal cage’  fucking bang on!
 
Diary 10

9am.  Eyes open early this morning.  For some reason wondering how I’m going to have this conversation about being an absent father for my boys.  Part of me wants to prepare a speech, another part says let it happen organically.  Too much brain power being used.  Hand that one over for now, need to ask my higher power for guidance on that one.  

Up, prayers, ablutions, clean cell, normal stuff, coffee, clean the landing and prepare for workout.  Not feeling it today but doing it still and read for a little while.

12pm. On reflection, practicing detachment has it’s advantages.  I listen to these guys worrying about their relationships, wondering if they’ll last under fire because they’re in here.  Guys for the first time in prison with very short sentences, guys who breach their injunctions and want to blame their partners or the system.  The question I always ask is: what about you?  How have you been responsible for the outcome?  And they always look dumfounded, I really don’t know.  Horses for courses I suppose.

Wicked circuit training seems to be getting harder,  maybe cause I’m pushing harder.  I’m 52.  Guys half my age struggle  with what we do.  

I’ve been experiencing a paradox.  There’s a guy in here for race crimes, very timid and anxious.  I’ve been coaxing him out of his cell daily because he don’t come out but I find talking to him stimulating.  The others look at me like WTF!  But we share the same interests, read the same stuff and it’s an odd combo as he a skinny white guy.  I’ve nicknamed him Hitler but he looks more like Harry Potter. Bins (glasses) and all. He and me, a black guy, popular, confident and I must say, I’m looking pretty good, I root for the underdog and protect the vulnerable.  It’s part of my makeup. 
Diary 9

Slept longer than usual, woke up to banging on my door, wanting to know if I want to do a circuit outside.  No, not really, ain’t had my coffee, or orange, or taken my supplements, fuck it I’ll do it anyway.  Not without a coffee though.  Circuit was hard this morning, finished it though, putting these young bucks to shame.  I’m in good shape.  Some decorum and balance going on.
Someone complaining about me not cleaning the landing today.  I had to ask him if it looks like I really give a fuck.  Fed the ducks outside and the ducklings.  Early dinner again today.  That’s cool.  Going to have some chill time and then read a bit.  That’s what I seem to be doing mostly, train, eat, read, sleep, train, eat, read, sleep.  Everything else revolves around that.  Anyway, chill time.
Diary 8

Wow, just come out of process and realising or re-realising that I wanted to turn back every time life has become challenging.  There is no escaping life, as to me, it seems like life is the path in all it’s shapes and forms, as we, I, am the creator of the darkness, the story, my story, and cast a spell and write the sentences, fill in the punctuations, make the paragraphs and chapters and it’s only 9.30, wow, my chill day.  I’ll do a blowout circuit at 2pm.  
The trees are in full bloom and filled with buds, they have no worries, no problems, they do what is in their nature, maybe that’s what God’s will, for me, looks like.  
Ok so Im going to clean the landing then get back to this later.

This lock down what everyone keeps talking about is the norm right now and I feel so unattached from it all.  My world that is.  If anything, it’s given me so much, always a silver lining. 
Diary 7

It seem like I’ve got a lot of the boys on this positive thinking by telling everybody who is being getting on my nerves that they are amazing.  That everyone is doing it.  I feel a wide shift in myself and in this environment.  I can’t speak for those in the main but I know that positivity is just as contageous.

First thing this morning someone knocks on my door, telling me how he feels much better, as yesterday he was like a bear with a sore head.  

Been thinking about the ways I’ve been given help and support in the past and has been sent to me and in hindsight the Universe or God, however you want to put it, has really had my back.  My AP6 group, who I think about a lot, have been and are, amazing, loving and awesome and truly my people, out of the many people I know, who haven’t judged me and they have been consistent.  Movement Medicine has supported me in my relapses and now in my incarceration.  The Movement Medicine practice has kept me grounded plus my programme.  

I’m very fortunate and very blessed.
Diary 6

Usual morning for me.  However, it’s Saturday morning so more people about.  Not that you see them, as I’m up early doing stuff.  Dancing in the grey area, being aware of different parts of my life which needs to balance, to be maintained and seeking a right language to communicate the inner self.  What can I do better, how can I do it better.  My prayers seem to be be evolving and the dance become deeper, visualising a stable and balanced life.  In my inner personal relationships, with self, the universe, with people, stuff and situations.  

Went in the yard with guys and done a circuit again even though I’ve gone flat out, balance, I’m not competing, just maintaining and conserving.  That’s the law of attraction, seems to be working in my life and compliments the programme because I’m not focussed upon my defects of character but on the solution.  Daily practice, an attitude of gratitude, keeping it simple.  Had (**to listen? 9.38) this week, which I discussed in my supervision.  These are the moments that make me realise how much I have and got to give.  Gratitude, Im grateful for the small mercies.
Diary 5

Another day.  Same ‘ol, same ‘ol.  Was praying this morning about 7.30 when an officer opened the door and asked me if I was alright,  (*laughs)  course I am, what the fuck, then he closed the door and told the people, a couple of lads, I was under the bed.  Div.  Or ignorance.  When I told people what I was doing, who do you think they believe?  Me of course, as the guys know what I’m about and they know I keep it as real as I possible can.  I hope.

I was given a secret CD so I’ve been listening to it all day.  It’s been a really chilled day, been in the zone.  Ain’t worked out for a couple of days, was told to rest plus saw the psychologist yesterday  and we spoke about balance and staying in the grey area.  I said I don’t know what the grey area looks or feels like, so I guess that’s my new dance.  Dancing with the uncertain, the unsure, I guess you can call it faith.  I’m going to enjoy this as I need to get my teeth back into my AP project.  This has inspired me to start dreaming again.  Not fantasising but letting the universe know what goals I would like to achieve and how I would like them to manifest.  I’m a believer so I know I’m heard.  So the practice really is raising my vibration in order to reach the right frequency so I can receive. Yea. Thank you.  
Diary 4

10.30am.  Woke up later than usual this morning, maybe because I fell asleep around 11 or 12 o’ clock and woke up around 3.30am for an hour or so.  Watching a movie for the first time in ages.  I didn’t really want to get up, until an officer came to my cell with a letter, an email, nice.  Anyway, up and about, my day.  Funny thing is I’m realising even though I’m here, I’m also in the heart of many.
Many people wanting the best for me, also trusting me with their intimate thoughts and feelings and resolutions to change.  Quite empowering to know.  

Landing clean and time to read, write and reflect.  Going to read a little now, not much activity on the landing, surprisingly most are still in bed, don’t seem to be any energised yet.  No matter, just being me.  Feeling grounded with my little dance with the trees, giving thanks for life in it’s many forms.  

Yea, oh you in the highest, accept my gratitude for your grace.  You and you alone will determine the time and the place.  May you be exalted throughout the earth, may all give each other glory.
Diary 3

Woke up at 5.30, wondering if I ought to just lay there for another hour or get up.  What’s the day gonna bring and what am I gonna learn.  These and many more thoughts run through my mind all at once.  Fuck it! Got up, washed my face, hands, put the kettle on, brushed my teeth, start to pray.

Some days my prayers are just thank you’s repeated at least 20 times.  
Want to start on the landing but some are doing early morning work out, only to wait 20 minutes, sweep and mop the landing.  Finding it therapeutic.  I find myself humming and singing, I’m feeling blessed and getting used to it. 

Familiarising myself with this feeling and spiritual adjustment, just loving my karma there  whenever I want.
They come round asking who wants to do circuit training, silly question really,  only a few of us do it consistently, everyone else just comes and goes.  Good workout.  Little chat with the P.I. then a shower.  Waiting for my lunch now.  Going to finish off my letter, clean my cell and (**shut??) things off till this afternoon.  Just started reading one of the books that was sent to me, Milk and Honey.  The poems in this book are powerful, there’s a spot of resonance,  I’ve had to let the poem go in my heart for a while before I read another one. 

Well the work doesn’t stop for me, every day is something new.  I’ve taken a lot for granted on this path.  Been given so many gifts.  I’m only starting to recognise that.  I’ve so much to give so I’m allowing myself to accept, just accept.  Yea, I ‘ll have that thank you (*laughs).  

Done another circuit this afternoon, then played dominos, it’s about 7pm.  Now I need to have another shower so I’ll shower then read and listen to Beethoven or Mozart.


Diary 2

Yesterday had a good chat.  Also read out my diary, always feel better after talking with Rachel, my sanity bar, or insanity, depends upon how you see it.

Feel weak enough from training.  Mind and body needs to recover, feel so fucking knackered, ain’t had no emails for a few days but that’s cool.  

Received 3 books from two of my Movement Medicine sisters, they seem good reads.  Just waved at the tree, it’s waving back at me.  Rude not to acknowledge and respond.

I gave thanks today that my life path is guided by a power greater than myself which has restored me to a degree of sanity, but I’m happy to be of service.  My Boss knows, competent, wise.

Came back and cleaned the landing.  My mate was doing haircuts, he asked me if I wanted a trim, saying women would be more attracted to me.  Had to explain that my hair and beard is my

precepts, my covenant with my higher power and until such time my hair shall grow. No shaving or styling as I’m not a fashion dread...cause they don’t know the difference between dreadlocks and rasta but it’s all good, we give Jah glory.

Diary 1

Woke up this morning, like every other morning, dark, quiet, the sounds of birds chirping, the trees on the other side of the fence, maybe 30/50 yards away and I listen, because listening to my head just leaves me frustrated, like a rambling mad man.

The meaning of life, where do I fit in? It’s all a load of bollocks, my head don’t stop.
 
Hope my boys are ok, maybe I’ll phone them later, maybe not. I ought to be there, how the fuck do I make up for all this loss of time with them.  My Kids Mum, hope she’s alright because she’s been having to hold the fort for all this time, fucking hell, and on and on and on and on my mind goes. That’s why I listen to the birds. 
 
Like every other morning or each morning, have just finished my circuit training, something me and the boys do, part of our daily structure, since the corona lock down. Forced to do that on our own pace.
 
Good time for reflection, just had my lunch. Same crap different day. I’m having a moment of silence while the kettle boils. Surprisingly I’m feeling physically good and grounded.  A far cry from when I first came here, broken and busted, desperately vulnerable. Right I need to make a phone call. Got to phone back later. Playing some dominos with the lads.
 
Oh, just been told, I’m the temporary landing cleaner. After the landing, got to have my afternoon nap because I don’t watch the TV till about 9 o’clock most days.  It’s all programming.  Somehow it’s only half rule for us.  Me, I feel safe in here and apart from hygiene, I’m in lockdown anyway and socially isolated but free.  Corona this corona that, apart from myself and the guys that have to work every day, we seem to be locked in a box. Good luck to them, if they only knew, because…
 
Just finished our circuit training outside for exercise which we have now, once a day. Used to be twice a day but they changed it. Something about social distancing… oh yeah… anyway we were out in the rain, playing catch, drop the ball and you’re out. It feels good, light rain coming down on my head, kind of refreshing. In them moments, even though you’re surrounded by fences, you forget you’re in jail.  It’s all madness on the other side. So much for that nap I was going to have this afternoon.
 
Well, we played monopoly for an hour and half and dominos the same and it’s about 8.30pm. The boys are on the landing and the spirits are high, they usually are, even when it kicks off or someone is down, we all seem to encourage each other and get through another day.  I still haven’t switched on the TV, all I can hear are the guys on the landing and the birds chirping in the trees. I’m calling it a night.  If I don’t write any reflections down later, that means I’ve slept right through.
 
Wednesday, don’t know what time it is. Prayer is always good once awake. Again I hear the birds chirping away. Prayer and listening, a good antidote for not being in self first thing in the morning. 
 
Boiling the kettle for a cup of coffee and wondering. Trying to work out why my past is messy and why people behave the way they do around me. For most part, I get respect, then I get my challenges. ‘Oh why do you do this, why don’t you do that?  You this or you that.’ 
 
Oh yeah, ‘you Tony need to be less reflective when sensitive and use this as a chance to be more compassionate and understanding.’ Oh well, all the ramblings and everything’s quiet, it ain’t even 6am yet. 
 
Went back to sleep for a couple of hours. Got woke up at 10, whoops. Had to have a quiet coffee, my supplements. Had a change because I was meant to start my circuit training at 10. Done that, better late than never. Wow and I mean wow! What a work out, what was the thinking when he wrote that one out, got through it though. I feel physically immense for completing it without cheating. Everyone still gives me compliments, saying I look better ‘Don’t you feel it?’
 
Then I clean the landing and the door handles as is my new commitment. Lunch, then some dominos. Love it, my favourite pastime. 
 
Just had a nice shower and waiting for exercise to play catchball or dodgeball. 

Everyone here is cool and chilled, apart from the usual prison politics, I don’t get involved.
 
Was really nice to talk to my people yesterday. Do I need a therapist if I have good strong loving people beside me? Life ain’t all bad. The universe knows what she is doing.
 
Anyway, just done some more cleaning with dusters on the other landing to catch up with a mate of mine. Then some more catch ball in the yard.  Fucking hell, I’m knackered.  Had to finish mopping the floor up here and now I’m just chilling, doing some reflecting, trying to get some perspective on my life and purpose. Just for today. 
 
Been clean a little while now, had a few spliffs here and there but no hard stuff.  Just thinking the amount of relapses I’ve had.  I’ve had enough. Enough of what though.  I know some people don’t get it but at this time I’m so glad to be off the street. Do I need the rest or what?  And I need the time and space. Maybe I use because I’m just an addict. If I’ve had enough, it’s an incomprehensible demoralisation so again, just for today… If I hand my will and my life over to my higher power… I’m an extreme example of self will runs riot, before my life becomes unmanageable.
 
Thursday. This morning I was up and around 6.30 because the fire alarm went off.  Usually I’d go back to sleep or sit or lie there thinking about shit. However, I was up to do what I always do. Agree and make a decision to get out of bed and pray to be of use. Do my usual readings which I chop and change according to how I’m feeling. Boiled my kettle, supplements, a couple of pain killers and a dance, or not. The dance, I’ll go into another time.
 
The landing, empty bins, collecting cleaning products then was back in my cell for another cup of coffee. 10 o clock, ready to start circuit.  We worked out for around an hour. 1000 reps. This discipline seems to be working out better for us. 
 
I ended up doing the rest of the cleaning, mopping and cleaning the stairs. Since this lockdown it’s been hard work getting off the spur (an area of the prison) as they keep the gates locked and they seem reluctant to open them unless it’s prison movement. There’s no free flow, very frustrating.

Again, lunch, then me and my man I’m playing dominos or ludo or ludi till they call exercise.
 
But today I had my weekly meeting with the mental health worker. Discussions have been hard because had low mood, also shame and guilt, also finding it difficult handling these emotions in a mature and steady way without being self-defeating or negative. 
 
Stop with the associations to my emotions and just accepting them and I asked the worker of their perception of me as I want to be challenged as I’m ready for change. I know that incremental change can have a profound effect and I know I feel the space for something new. They agreed and I read and have some work to complete and reflect on for our next session. 
 
So it’s Sunday and I’ve had my lunch. I haven’t recorded anything for a few days because I’ve just been feeling the echo since I had my last session with the mental health worker. 
 
You know you or I go down a stream of thought and end up somewhere else.

Usually when this happens I go into ceremony and dance it out. Dancing is my escape, my medicine. I put fresh fruit and a feather on my altar, play the music, clean my cell, create a clean space, say a few prayers, call in the corners 4 directions) of the Earth, set my intention, then I’m off.
 
Feet first,  legs, hips, torso, spine, arms, neck, head, awaken the dancer, feeling the energy in my head, move it from my body, taking in light through my head, positive energy and the darkness coming out of my feet, negative energy then positive energy, nutrients through my feet. Wow!
 
All the time containing a ball of light in my stomach, this is so I can go straight into my mesa practice.  I do this when I need to process stuff which I’ve been doing for the last few days. I’ve been doing all the normal stuff throughout the day and at night I might do work.  I’ve only been reading my daily readings and my daily reflections. My big book along with a few psalms or two, especially in this day and time, in this climate, Psalms 91. Rastafari who lives and rules and reigns over all living things, animates and sustains all life, thanks be to Jah.

Corona Virus (covid-19) in prisons By Richard (name chosen to protect his anonymity). 

Updated 22nd May

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Day 17

Two weeks since my last blog and still no change to anything.

Nothing, nada, zero, zilch.

In fact things might not change anytime soon as there’s speculation around a second wave of Corona aka Covid 19, apparently much worse than the first.A much more mutated version than the first.

Just as everyone thought things were about to get better “BOOM”.

Personal space has become the “norm”...An official way of living life and will most likely be the way of life in the near/distant future.

To collect lunch or dinner only one person is able to be served at a time due to social distancing although that is inconsistent due to inconsistent staff.

In prison though, we are already in lockdown or in quarantine so the aspect of a quarantine doesn’t affect us personally “we’re already locked up”.

But we are affected by our attachments to the outside world. Worry is our only concern. “Worry about our attachments”
Day 3

Lockdown has been going on for approximately six weeks in prison, we are locked down and locked up simultaneously.
I interviewed two prisoners who have spoken with me and have listed the impact it is having on them and their mental health amongst others.

Tenny explains “no gym, no education, not allowed off the wing whilst being secluded to one designated area. I used to have weekly visits and not being able to see my family has hit the hardest as it’s the moral support that counts for so much in here. I have now been given my D-Cat (open prison) and that has also been put on hold, just like every other prisoner in my position, worrying about my move and the safety of my family. I know two people who have died due to the pandemic and I’ve just been helpless”

Luke says:
“It’s affecting me with my family. Not being able to see them is really hard as this is my first time in prison. I’m finding it real hard not knowing when things will return to normal. Constantly worrying about officers bringing the virus in, as we’re isolated to one space. Generally no routine. My mental health has deteriorated. No structure. Mental torture.”
Day 2

  • Corona virus-(covid 19) has turned prisons upside down. staff shortages are amongst reasons to be blamed.
  • Prisoners are becoming increasingly frustrated at the delays to recategorisation, HDC (Home Detention Curfew), the lack of physical contact with loved ones and child/ren.
  • Most of us are finding it hard to get our heads around the fact that the public are now prisoners in their own homes ( a psychological prison).
  • Nevertheless, I am personally honoured to be involved in a piece of history that will be remembered a hundred years from now. Just like the pandemic in 1920. It’s now 2020. De-Ja-Vous boys... Look out (2120).
  • We as a global nation or individually, are unaware how this will affect our previous lifestyles once all is said and done. But for us, we will surely be stepping out the time machine into a world unknown.

Day 1

  • All establishments are in lockdown leaving prisoners with half an hour to an hour (maximum) out of their cells to shower etc. We have 23-23 and half hours lockdown in our cells per day. 
  • All visits have ceased due to social distancing. Contact with the “outside” is not as great as it was (although originally poor), leaving letters and phone calls as the only option. Letters are also taking over a week to be delivered.
  • No movements from one prison to another meaning those waiting for a transfer to open jails (as they are low enough risk to be managed in the community) have to wait. No one knows what tomorrow holds, let alone the near future. 
  • Most prisoners feel its part of a bigger plan. Some feel it’s a strategic move of “cause and effect / problem-reaction-solution”. 
  • Most believe the world they once knew will not be the one they will return to..

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