normanstrike

88. Thursday September 6th, 1984.

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2009 at 7:16 pm

I got woken just after 4am by the bloody bells of Durham Cathedral. It came as quite a shock to realise I wasn’t having a nightmare and that I really was in a filthy stinking cell in Durham Prison! I tried to get back to sleep but couldn’t so I was relieved when the cell light went on at six. I got dressed and lay on my bed waiting for Bob to wake up.

At 6.30 our cell door was opened and the screw gave us each a razor blade wrapped in paper, and allowed us to get hot water from the toilet. I unwrapped my blade and had a shave, using the paper to cover the numerous cuts I inflicted upon myself. I was surprised when the screw returned for the razor blade, which had to be put in a slot in a clipboard marked with my number. The screw said I should’ve kept the paper but it didn’t matter because I was the only one who would use the blade. Bob of course,being an old lag, did keep his paper and told me I would have to use the same blade for a month. If I’m still here I’ll grow a beard!

At 7am I went downstairs to get breakfast but Bob stuck to his resolution not to eat anything and stayed in the cell. After eating the lukewarm baked beans on half a slice of fried bread, and a slice of bread with the most disgusting tasting margarine, I wished I had his willpower! I tried to get rid of the taste with half a mug of sugarless tea but I still felt ill.At 7.30 I put the empty tray outside the cell door and then dozed fitfully whilst Bob read his cowboy book.

Just after nine our cell door was opened and we were taken down to the reception area to see our solicitor. On the way we passed Alan Margham from Wearmouth but only had time to say a quick hello before we were out. Still, it was nice to know we weren’t alone.

Bob saw the solicitor first and spent an hour and forty minutes talking to him and smoking his fags. I spent the time listening to the conversations of other prisoners which were almost exclusively about their criminal careers, which ranged from car theft to attempted murder! I was relieved when my turn came.

My relief was short lived because the first thing he told me was that we would not be released today, which is what I’d been hoping for. He explained that an appeal would be made to a Judge in Chambers, but before this could be done I had to make a full statement about almost every aspect of my private life, the effect my remand would have on my wife and children, and the effect it would have on my widowed mother. The short time I had been in prison had a profound effect on me and I would have said anything to get out. How different from the protest at Bishop Auckland only a few months ago. At eleven the solicitor had to leave because of prison regulations and I cursed Bob for taking so long. I didn’t have enough time to give as full a statement as I would have liked and felt quite resenful towards him.The solicitor was very apologetic and assured me he would do his best to have us released before the weekend.

We were taken back to our cell and locked up again. I was let out at 12 to go and get some dinner but it tasted so disgusting I left most of it on the tray, despite my hunger. Bob still refused to eat.

At 2.30 Bob was taken down for a visit and I felt really depressed that no one had come to visit me. I was even more depressed when Bob returned loaded down with cigarettes, chocolates, and fruit juice, some of which was brought by his lodge officials from his pit, Wearmouth, the rest from his wife. Where was Kath?If his officials could visit, where the bloody hell were the Westoe officials?I was absolutely furious that they couldn’t even take the trouble to visit, or even arrange for Kath to visit. Bastards!!

The rest of the day was spent locked up and I declined supper because I was too angry to eat. Bob shared his stuff with me and we spent the time until lights out talking about the strike. I couldn’t believe how conservative Bob was in his views, and I couldn’t for the life of me how he ever came to be on a picket line, let alone be sharing a prison cell with me. He said we should have had a ballot, mass pickets were futile, and we should just get back to work! I argued with him, shouted at him but it was all a waste of time. There was no way I could change his mind.

He does have one strong point though. He isn’t squeamish like me and emptied the bucket full of piss and shit left by the previous occupants, improving thr quality of air in our cell. I will always be grateful to him for that!

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