Highs and Lows (26-30 Dec)
Monday being a 'holiday' means the cons in the dorm have nothing to do. Everyone seems to be living on top of each other, conditions are cramped. Even the unpopular 'jail' tea bags are running out and we have no milk or sugar. I seen a con using a sachet of jam in his tea to sweeten it but most just do without.
It was inevitable a fight would break out and it was inevitable the weak would be targetted. A young con, who looked as if he was just out of young offenders, came in with a bad attitude. He was going to do this and he was going to do him. One night he put toothpaste on a guys sheets he didn't like because the guy was stout. The y/o got a supply of pills from the nurse and split them with a young friend. They both retired to their respective bunks and slept for the rest of the day and through till the next morning. The y/o was on a heavy dose of methadone along with a few other junkies in the billes and many more in the jail. When the call came over the tannoy for methadone the y/o was still fast asleep and another con, who must have been desperate for a hit went down and took his place in the queue. Of course someone told the y/o he was missing his dose and when he declared himself to the nurse the con was caught red-handed and put in the digger (punishment cell).
Although it seems plain that this was no fault on the y/o the incident causes some ill feeling towards him as the desperate con was 'well liked'. Later that evening a con told the y/o to get away from him as he was 'gouching' too close to him and "I'm rattling and canny get a gouch!" "fuck off and gouch somewhere else ya prick!" I could see the con was uptight and it did look as if he was indeed' rattling.' I don't think he had any sort of medication sorted out yet. Minutes later the con steps into the toilet and shouts on the y/o "C'mere you, have you been putting teabags down this toilet again?"
The young boy walks into the toilet to protest his innocence but he never got a chance. By the sounds of things the con smacks as soon as he walks in and after that sounds like a few digs - it is over in seconds. The con walks out looking pleased with himself and moments later the y/o follows and goes over to his bunk. His face is puffed slightly but there is no blood. He lies down on his bed and sobs quietly.
On Wednesday we are allocated jobs. When my turn comes I am took into an office and a guard informs me I can have a job in the textile shed or the scrap shed. I choose textiles as I worked in the scrap last time and it's a dirty job breaking up old cables separating the lead from copper.
The Home Office, or whoever it is that decides, has decreed that each prisoner should be given an allowance of approximately five pounds per week. This money is used to cover the cost of phone calls to families, friends, legal reps etc. ...toiletries, writing materials, and sundries. Prisoners are mostly offered the opportunity to work to earn extra money. Apart from passmen duties which are guys who are allocated parts of the prison to clean, and cooks, the prisoners at Low Moss work in the work-sheds. If you work in the sheds your 'wages' rise from the five pounds allocated to just over eight pounds so basically you work all week for just about three pounds.
Of course eight pounds a week is not enough money for a prisoner to get by, the goods sold in the prison shop are exactly the same as your local store, so prisoners are allowed to use up to fifteen pounds of their own money as well as the eight pounds earned giving your average con up to £23 per week. The prisoners personal cash is called PPC and not all prisoners have it.
Next Day after breakfast we report to the textile shed for work. There must be around sixty cons milling about and in the middle are two rows of what looks like industrial sewing machines. At the top of the shed is a raised bench with a couple of guards sitting. I report to the guard and tell him I am a 'new start' and he asks me if I can work a sewing machine.
I remember as a boy playing with my mothers old 'Singer' in the front room. I tell him I can't. he tells me I can learn how to work a machine or I can sit about doing nothing all day for six months. "It's up to you." I say "Okay then" and go and sit with the other cons. Nobody seems to be doing anything.
The shoplifter has an idea! He sees a con sweeping up round the shed and asks him if there are any other 'shed passmen' jobs going? The con tells him there was another guy helping who was liberated recently. The shoplifter asks the guard if he can have the other passman job. The guard replies he can have the job if he wants and can start straight away. He comes back over to us, brush in hand. I ask him why he wants to do that? He replies "If I can walk around sweeping up all day I can collect the dog ends on the floor and I won't have to buy tobacco.
"I have no PPC and needs must."
Minutes later a guard shouts out a list of names, mine included, and tells us to go back to our billets as there is not enough work. We are taken back to the billet leaving the shoplifter there, sweeping up.