I make it through the lunch lock up, by looking at my pictures, pacing up and down to the door and back, peering through the gap between the door and wall, trying to look out of the window, listening to the radio, pacing up and down some more and trying to watch some quiz show on TV but not really hearing a word. My brain is buzzing with so many thoughts, worries and fears as well as trying to take in and remember all the things I have learned today and need to remember.
Eventually, I hear doors starting to open again and I peer out to see Andreas making his way from cell 3 all the way up to cell 30. He unlocks my door and carries on. I step out and see Nicola locking her door, I rush back into my cell and pick up my ID card, which has a rubber band on it so you can keep it on your wrist, I attached my key to the ring on the ID card and head back out, locking my door as I go.
We stand by the wing gates waiting, I’m not sure what for. I see groups of women walking past our gates, one wing at a time we are being let out. As each wing of women walks past they stare. Some point, some shout to others and some look and then keep their heads down and follow the crowd like a heard of cattle.
It’s our turn as Andreas suddenly shouts “D2 MASS MOVEMENT LADIES”.
We walk out of the big gates and Nicola reiterates that I have gym induction and tells me she will take me there before she goes to work. I’m pleased by this as no one has told me where to go or how to get there!
We make our way down a set of stairs and back outside to the door to main street where I first came in. We enter main street to a clicker being shoved in my face, CLICK. Why are they counting us? I’ve only gone from one door to another about 50 Feet away. I look at all the doors on Main Steet Healthcare, Separation & Care, Workshops, Gym. I cant see whats upstairs but a lot of women are pushing and shoving up and down the stairs to get there. Officers are standing by each door and shouting at people who stop to talk.
“DONT STAND THERE”
“GET OFF THE STAIRS KAYLEIGH”
“GET TO WORK”
This constant shouting is like a school playground and what felt like a massive empty atrium when I first walked through on my arrival, is now feeling quite claustrophobic. Outside the Gym door, an officer with a clipboard asks my name. She ticks me off a list and tells me to go and wait in the corridor. Nicola smiles and tells me she will see me later back on the wing and walks away. I look down the corridor and see benches either side like you have in schools. I take a seat near some other women who are sitting chatting, and wait!
When everyone is in the officer locks the gate and then the door behind it and walks towards an office. They unlock the gym doors and everyone rushes inside apart from 5 or 6 of us. A lady in gym clothes comes out and tells us that if we’re here for induction to follow her. We all do. We go through the gym to a room at the back which is set out like a classroom.
My gym induction consists of me signing a piece of paper which asks if I have any reason I cannot use the gym and that’s it! Oh so not like Bannatyne’s then… no one is going to show me the equipment or how to use it? I mean I already know but still, I’m pretty sure the girl in the corner who keeps falling asleep then shouting out random words every five minutes has never used a gym in her life. After chatting with the lady doing the induction (Layla) I find out that she is a prisoner too and this is her job, she is in prison for cutting off her electronic tag from her last sentence and she wants to get a designer vagina when she gets out! I’m unsure what to say so I just nod in amazement and smile.
30 Minutes later Gym induction is over and I am told I must go back to the wing until my education induction is complete and then I can be allocated to the gym if I wish to use it. We all wait back on the benches for the officer who takes us back to the house blocks. From there we are left to make our own way to our respective wings. Hmm, where is mine again?…
Up the stairs turn left D2, there it is. I walk to the gate slowly, making the most of not being locked in my room and as I reach the gate Andreas walks up to greet me.
“Good Morning?” He enquires
“Urm, It was ok thank you”
He lets me onto the wing and then unlocks my door for me. I think he sees my face change as I near the cell because he turns to me and says “Why don’t you get a shower as you’ve been to the gym. I smile gratefully, acknowledging that he’s letting me stay out of my cell a little longer. I rush to my room and grab my toiletries and towels and put on my flip-flops, I lock my door and go to the shower block. It’s dingy coloured walls and floor mats that look like they’ve never been cleaned almost put me off but I take a deep breath and step inside. The shower is actually really refreshing and I feel like I’m washing away all the crappy thoughts and things that have happened in the last few days like court and the cells, the prison van and arriving here. I don’t feel better by any means, I’m still in prison and I still haven’t spoken to my family but at least I feel clean and a little more clear headed.
I struggle to get dry and dressed in such a small cubicle. I fall into the wall several times trying to get my clothes over my damp skin, hang my towel on the door only for it to fall onto the floor and drop my shower gel and accidentally press the shower back on when I lean down to pick it up resulting in a wet t-shirt at the back. Great!
Learning curve number 1- Next time I will put shorts and a vest on so that I can slip them on and go back to my cell to get dressed.
I walk back to my cell and dry off properly and brush my hair. Andreas appears at the door with a hair dryer in his hand.
“Would you be needing this?” He asks me
“Oh yes please,” I say taking it from his outstretched hand.
He explains that there are a couple of hairdryers and some straighteners in the office and if I need to use them I have to leave my ID card in the office in case I don’t return it. Where am I going to take it? I cant leave the wing?… I hand him my ID now and he takes it and leaves me to it. He doesn’t lock my door though. I dry my hair and take out some fresh clothes from my neatly folded pile. I press my face into each item and inhale deeply. The smell of home is so bittersweet it brings a smile to my face but tears to my eyes.
Nicola appears at my door.
“You look better,” She says “Have you had a shower?”
“Yes, I feel better,” I tell her
We have lunch and are then locked in again for lunchtime lock up, which I assume is so most of the officers can take a lunch break because it goes very quiet during this period.
I sit on my bed and try to write a letter to my husband but I just end up crying. As I get up to switch on the tv an envelope drops through the side of my door. I rush to look out but cannot see who it was. I tear open the envelope and almost shout out with excitement, it’s my pin for my phone! All I need to do now is hope that my money is available on my account and then I can call home. That wait for my door to be unlocked is the worst ever, the second’s tick by so slowly and I’m excited but nervous all at the same time.
I hear keys on the wing and look out to see Andreas walking up the stairs. I’m not due to be unlocked this afternoon until dinner time as I have nothing on my schedule but if I could just get out for five minute to check my money! I’m a wreck, in tears and starting to make things up in my head like, What if they don’t answer, they don’t want to talk to me, they’re angry? Suddenly Nicola’s face pops up at my hatch. she takes one look at my panic-stricken face as asks
“Are you ok?, Whats happened?”
“I have my pin for my phone but I’m not out this afternoon to put money on,” I say.
It’s not even like she could do it for me as everyone has to log into their account on the kiosk with their fingerprint.
“Leave it with me she says” and leaves.
I sit back down on my bed and take deep breaths. all the commotion of people coming out of their cells and assembling at the gate to go to work is so loud and my head hurts from the worry. I feel hot and dizzy! I throw up!
This is so awful I have no control over anything. I can’t breathe. Suddenly all the noise has stopped and its quiet outside. Everyone has gone and I can finally think a little clearer. My door is unlocked and an officer stands in the door.
“Hi I’m Karl, I work on this wing with Andreas and the others but I’ve been off for a few days,” He says kindly
“Hi” Is all I can reply, I don’t want to talk to Karl I want to top up my phone!
“Nicola tells me you just got your pin and you need to check your money and top up,” He asks.
I jump up in excitement
“Yes please can I?” I ask almost pleading
“Yeah course you can, I just had to get everyone else off on mass movement on time,” He says.
I rush to the kiosk and log in. I’m holding my breath waiting to see my available money pop up. It does!! I’m so happy. My balance shows £60 minus £12 for the goody pack I was given on arrival! What?! no one said there was a charge for that I would have declined if I knew that. £12 that I could have used for phone calls! I have no time to be mad about that now I need to top up my phone. I Put £45 on my phone leaving myself a few pounds for any more toiletries I might need to buy or some decent teabags!
I rush back to my room and lock myself in. I dial my husband’s mobile number as I know he will be at work. I’m worried because the phone call cost 10p per minute to a landline but 75p a minute to mobiles and I don’t know when he will be able to send money again.
It rings and he answers after one ring. Its amazing and all we do is cry. I tell him that calls to mobile cost a lot and he tells me that he has found a company who specialises in helping reduce the costs of calls for prisoners. you pay monthly and they give you a divert landline number so its cheaper. I give him all my details so he can write and then we talk about how the kids are and that we get to see each other in a few days. He’s going to come alone for the first visit so that we can talk and get the tears out of the way. I don’t want the kids to see us upset it will be hard enough for them as it is.
we decide that we should probably end the call so that I can phone home later and speak to everyone and say our goodbyes. I put the phone down and just sit and cry.
Karl comes to see if I’m ok and tells me I can talk to him anytime if I need to. I’m not a talker, especially to someone I don’t know! so I just say thanks. He asks me if I want to play pool so I do because it means I’m not locked up. The afternoon passes and we have dinner and I sit and chat with Nicola for a while. I have another shower and then it’s 6:30 pm and time to get locked in again for the whole night. whilst yesterday this scared me, today makes me smile as I get to call home.
I have a lovely chat with the kids who all seem to be doing ok just worried about me, Mum and Dad are upset but pleased to just hear my voice and my husband seems a lot calmer now he knows I’m ok. After the phone call, I watch a little bit of tv even though the channels are terrible. I need Netflix! Before I get in bed I call home again to say goodnight to my husband and then get I bed and start one of the books I brought with me.
Thanks for reading XOXO
Up Next… Education induction. WOW!…