by Nadine Salter
I used to report on the weather. I loved it: the exhilaration of live TV, the creation of a story on what was happening outside. But now they’ve locked me up. I haven’t seen the Outside for six days.
If I had to write a weather report on prison, it would go something like this: “Well I haven’t seen the sky for days,
But I project images of it onto the ceiling,
in my mind.
The weather this time last year: Swirling pink clouds,
Candyfloss in the rising sun.
Peach. Vibrant blue. Wisps of white.
Well I haven’t seen the sky for days,
But it must be a scorcher of a day out there today! The temperature in here is 38 degrees at the moment, I’m starting to see red wherever I look!
And what a change from last week! I only saw the sky once last week:
it bulged with charcoal and ash, But the air was fresh.
This week I see Red (it is too hot); last week, all I saw was Grey. Grey skies (grey ceiling),
Grey walls, Grey bed Grey toilet.
And the forecast moving into next week, Well, it’s looking like very little change, I’m afraid.
Grey walls, grey bed, grey toilet. Oppressive air,
That’s it for now folks, Enjoy it out there!”
I used to finish my reports grinning. I finish today’s report far from that. It has been an age since I saw the sky. Last time I was let out my cell, I rang little Maya at home. I heard of her school lessons about the moon waning and waxing, letting her clatter on in detail so I could imagine it on my cell ceiling. I am waning.
The time I was let out before that, I showered. I no longer feel clean, but that is the choice. Shower, talk to those on the Outside or visit the only outside we see. A small box of Outside Grey.
But, oh, the fresh air. In the Small Grey Outside Box, I inhale light into darkened lungs. How can my lungs be anything but dust when I have sucked in nothing but grey and grey and grey for the past days, weeks, months, years. I do not know how long I have been in here. I asked the prison guard and he just grunted. If he had answered properly, he would have told me, “well son, it’s been eleven months now. We keep you in your cell 23 hours a day, 7 days a week, sometimes more, for safety, you know, and well, it’s been like that since April”.
When presenting the weather, people always expect you to predict when it will change, when one spell will end, and another wave take its place. I couldn’t tell you when this will end.
If I could have answered the guard, I’d have said “In a UK prison? Cloudy with a high chance of injustice”.
If you would like to know more about the campaign to end excessive cellular confinement in UK prisons you can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org