Christmas Behind Bars

By a mystery man.

December 25th, means so many things to so many people. Growing up it was a magical time of the year, something to look forward to, and something to be excited about. As we grow the magic wears off but it’s still something to look forward to and get excited about. Coming from a big family and separated parents Christmas was always a busy day of visiting.

Entering the justice system at a young age took the magic off Christmas faster than most and put a end for it to be something to look forward to. All my own doing of course. 

My first Christmas away wasn’t a nice one, but no one would have guessed that at the time. No TV, 1 hours association and exercise if you’re lucky. A pigeon leg (aka chicken) with pebbles for roasters and watery gravy. Not something to get excited about or fill you up.

The days were exactly the same, nothing changed. No decorations, no trees, no Christmas movies, no family. It swept past like Santa did on Christmas Eve. I just wanted to go back to sleep to get the day over with, but tomorrow’s Boxing Day which again is just another day, No TV, 1 hours association and exercise if you’re lucky. As a young lad with a lot to prove and face to be kept it didn’t bother me, if it did, it never let me know. The good thing was there was a night cloggy on (a officer that had to clock on at the end of the wing every hour) and he always came and chatted to some of the lads. He wore Christmas hats at Christmas and a scream mask at Halloween. He gave you a bit of interaction and the feeling of normality. Little did I know my Christmas’s were to be like this for the next 16 years. As prisons modernised and prisoners got given more privileges it got better. Christmas films, tress, decorations (paper chains) and more than a hours association. One thing never changed and that was the pigeon aka chicken leg. We always used to say “how come all the chicken legs are left legs”. 

My last Christmas in the system was one of massive difference from the first. I was in a open prison (Cat D) after working my way through categories for 7 years. The pinnacle of any prisoners sentence journey. Home visits, town visits, the lot. The hardest thing to choose from was do you have Christmas or New Years out?? I chose Christmas and it was a beautiful thing. It was like I’d gone back to being a kid again. It was magical, it was something to look forward too and something to be excited about. I might have even believed in Santa for 2 minutes. 

At the time I didn’t think “this will be my last Christmas away”, I was in the moment, I was happy, and to be honest I’d already decided long ago that these would be my last Christmas’s away. That’s what getting a Life sentence (IPP) does to you tho. A life of crime has to stop somewhere and I was making the decision as to where it stops. 

A few words for families, friends and loved ones with someone on the inside. Every body is different so these are only my thoughts and opinions. 

Prison isn’t easy. It can be tough, Christmas especially. There’s many hours behind your door. Hours to think. Hours to torture ones brain of how everyone is super enjoying themselves outside. Pity loves a lonely person. There are “fun” times to be had around these times tho cause everyone’s in the same boat, feeling the same, having the same thoughts so subconsciously everyone rallies around and just supports each other. Says Merry Christmas to the gizza that’s been on the wing 6 month’s but never spoken to them before. Does something daft just for a laugh. The wing is their family and they will support them. 

Send them cards and lots of lovely messages just to let them know you love them, miss them and Christmas will never be the same while they’re not there. 

4 thoughts on “Christmas Behind Bars

  1. Another very moving and very honest piece by someone suffering under the appalling cruel IPP regime showing great strength and resolve. It is revealing to see how the actions of good prison officers have such a positive impact on those inside and not only make life better but add to the desire of people to change their lives and get out. Also the self evident importance of family links in that process too.
    But oh, the memory of those blue plates and dry potatoes in the photo! Nightmares tonight for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Are all your nightmares food related?? At least this IPP is home now, giving us more hope for the other poor souls waiting to come home.

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      1. So pleased he is at home now and wish him every success. Love his positivity on education within prisons too. Let us have one of our wishes for 2021 that all those on IPP will have their IPP replaced with fixed terms. Things may just be moving now!
        As for my food nightmares, I have just been told that my failure to be served pudding (which you have taught me is Duff’ncustard) is not covered by the UN declaration on Human Rights. I mean what exactly is the purpose of it then?

        Liked by 1 person

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