Sunday, 29 March 2020


Daily yard exercise, supervised by the dog
Lockdown Week One is nearly over.

My cellmates and I haven’t shivved eachother, although the hierarchy of our isolation wing has been cast into doubt. I think the dog is the Daddy now.

There have been issues. 11-year-old Inmate 1 has slipped on the Coronavirus Home Learning Enthusiasm Scale from ‘slightly keen’ to ‘downright resentful'.

Twenty-one-year-old Inmate 2 (a member of the feared PWS gang, easily recognisable by her distinctive ‘pug in a donut’ tattoo), has added to her repertoire of pandemic-inspired perseveration with new worries added to her ever-increasing list. Top of the current pops is TV listings (a favourite at the best of times, but more pressing now with the prospect of CHANGES TO THE SCHEDULE. We have spent several hours discussing how soaps are made in advance, so will contunue to be aired for some time, especially if they eke out the episodes they have in the can. “But WHEN will Eastenders run out?” my girl pleaded, semi-hysterically, over and over, before finishing with the admission: “I don’t even watch it, Mum.”

The difference in my two fellow incarcerees’ ages and skills has proved a stumbling block. Both need prompting and supervision, which proved difficult when their dad was working for most of the week, leaving me ostensibly in charge on my own (single parents, I bloody salute you, I really do).

I tried to think of jobs the little lags could do for me which can be framed as ‘life skills lessons’. So they cleaned my car, did some washing and drying up, and helped sort out the crap piled up in their bedrooms. Like the corrupt warden in The Shawshank Redemption, I would have had Inmate 1 do my taxes, but as I now have no work and my unusual mish mash of weird agency/PAYE but not PAYE/self-employed jobs mean I am earning f*** all, as opposed to not f***ing much at all, it’s all kind of irrelevant.

Talking of The Shawshank Redemption, do you remember the scene where to alleviate boredom, instil hope, and attempt to broaden the cultural horizons of the downtrodden prisoners, Andy Dufresne played Mozart’s Duettino - Sull’aria, from The Marriage of Figaro, over the tannoy? I'd like to say this inspired me, too. I'd like to say it, but unfortunately, where Andy went high, I went low. I've simply gone for threats, and leapt straight to the nuclear option. My loudspeaker message was simply this: “REMEMBER, I WILL BE CUTTING YOUR HAIR”.

Video: The Mozart scene from The Shawshank Redemption

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