Penned Up at Christmas

By Steve Newark


Christmas is an emotive time for everyone, add prison into the equation and it can sometimes be just a bit too much. Missing the children and family get togethers can make Christmas in prison seem the hardest days of your sentence. But it’s not all doom and gloom, as someone serving a life sentence, I’ve experienced 14 Christmases within Her Majesty’s walls and I can tell you, the festive period can be some of the easiest and “fun” times of your whole sentence. 

Once you relax and accept that Christmas is coming no matter what, the whole experience can actually be quite stress free and exciting, it can honestly be a time of genuine happiness, kindness and solidarity, taking you out of your normal mundane routine. 

The first sign that Christmas is upon us, is the Christmas songs, slowly replacing the usual gangster rap blaring out across the landing, groans and murmurs of hating Christmas are slowly but surely replaced by foot tapping and humming along to Wham, Band Aid and Slade. 

Suddenly one morning a fully decorated Christmas tree appears and Christmas is underway. Over the following days, decorations adjourn the wing (not a sprig of mistletoe to be seen) and certain screws start replacing their ties with tinsel. Before you know it the wings become a calmer, friendlier more tolerable place to live, people exchange smiles for the first time in a year, competitions take place, pool, table-tennis, chess, dominoes and quizzes. The amount of useless knowledge stored by people never ceases to amaze me!!

The image of seeing Big Dave, the nutter from C-wing memorising the entire Twelve Days of Christmas and visibility feeling proud of himself still makes me cry with laughter when I think about it. The food is better, the tv is better and the amount of time out of your cell is better.

People that never go to church go to the Christmas carol service and sing their hearts out. I’ve seen people take time to speak to people they wouldn’t normally, because they can see they’re struggling with their first Christmas away from loved ones. Christmas inside usually brings out the best in people. 

I’m not glamourising prison or suggesting that spending Christmas inside is anything other than unenviable. But sometimes you just have to make the best of the situation you find yourself in. Those of you that have loved ones in prison, try and encourage them to enjoy it as best they can, if nothing else, tell them to take part in the quizzes. They might even get to use some of that useless information.

You can find more about Steve here

Football hero and legend Tony Adams also works with Penned Up, another excuse for Keef to post a great photo of him.


2 thoughts on “Penned Up at Christmas

  1. Wonderful positive blog and what a personality the author is. Showing that people can adapt to their circumstances and make the very best of it.
    PS Great use of a photo of Tony Adams in the piece, for no apparent reason but who cares? Is he available for tomorrow at Everton as I fear he is needed at this time!

    Liked by 1 person

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