One of the most challenging aspects of prison is dealing with the secrecy. Issues arise, actions are taken, your life is thrown into turmoil but little to no information is forthcoming. All you can do is attempt to ‘join the dots’. Occasionally you get told something that throws all your theories and assumptions out of the window but still leaves you in a state of perplexity. One question gets resolved but a whole host of new ones are raise and remain unanswered.
The obvious solution would be to have an open and honest conversation where all of the uncertainty is resolved and you finally know where you stand. Of course, this would involve total trust on both sides. My hope is that one day the other side will take a ‘leap of faith’ with me – they would never regret this decision.
I’m finding HMP Wakefield a slightly troubling prison in several respects, not least in terms of personal safety. Prior to my transfer in January 2012 I had been verbally threatened 2 or 3 times over 9 years (I’d probably would have been threatened far more working as a musician around a lot of drunken people – and that’s just the musicians!). However, in the subsequent 2 years and 8 months I have been threatened 4 times. On each occasion I have had to walk away as my belief system of non-violence precludes my engagement in ‘combat’ (unless in defence of myself or others).
The real problem here is that the violence can involve 2 or more assailants, weapons, scalding liquids, with the target being ambushed when his back is turned. There has been several assaults in the short time I have been a resident. One of these was life-threatening. This environment leaves me with a sense of emptiness and a heavy heart.
On a more positive note – the chaplaincy run a club for prisoners who are over 60 years old. We do a low-key musical performance for them every now and again. Usually they keep to the back of the room playing dominoes and doing jigsaws, with the occasional couple of hecklers at the front (think the 2 old guys in the Muppets who had a never-ending supply of sarcastic put-downs). It went well and all the musicians were on form. We even did a version of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ with me on acoustic guitar – sounded great!
I’ve used my prison time positively over the years. One aspect is pursing creative activities. One of my friends suggested that I should make some of this material available on the site. So, I’m starting this month with a new POETRY page in the new WHO IS GRAHAM? section. I hope to post a new (old) poem with each monthly update. The future plan is to add some of my recorded sons available for free download, as well as my artwork and possible short story. WHO IS GRAHAM? will also included a short pre-prison memoir of my life. Although, perhaps ‘memoir’ is a little grandiose.
My solicitor has now completed the further research he has undertaken. His report is due imminently with a meeting scheduled to take place soon after. Fingers crossed.
As ever, be happy, be safe, see you next time.
Graham Coutts 29th September 2014