Quentin says: “I never want prison to be normal…”

“I’m going home as you know, I’m going home at the weekend and I’m out in about six weeks. And as great as that is, and it is great, it’s fantastic, but it brings a whole new set of fears that I didn’t know about, that no-one tells you about. You just think you’re going home, that’s it, job done, but I don’t think it’ll be that straightforward. I couldn’t tell you why I think that, but I’ve changed, and I might have grown as a person and I might have realised shit about myself, but no-one else might have done. Everyone else might be exactly as they were. Then, what happens then? I won’t find out until I get home. It’s just subtle things. I tell myself that I’m going to be this wiser version of me when I get home, I hope so, but I don’t know, I really don’t know…

I’ve also realised that I’m always going to have a criminal record and I didn’t realise that before, ever. It’s never going to be spent. I didn’t know that. I was aware of it, but I didn’t know that it would affect me the way it did… this is my life now, I’ve got to explain when I phone up for insurance and although I knew, I didn’t really know. It proper pissed me off because I don’t identify with that. There’s things I’m going to have to come to terms with and I think prison’s the easy bit, to be fair. All your baggage goes in prison…

I keep saying don’t worry, everything will be fine, and that’s the other thing, because I’ve been saying it and I’ve been getting on with things, it’s like, f@*#*ing hell, is it going to be fine? I don’t know. And this is the realisation…

I can’t go back into prison as me as I am here, because you’ve got to front it, even if you don’t want to, everyone puts on a face in there. I know a lot of the LandWorks people, when we have the banter that we have as prisoners, the horror sometimes on people’s faces and we’re like “what’s the matter?”, we’re playing, because that’s nothing… and it can sound really nasty, but you’re only like that with people from prison that you like and you feel safe with and trust. Otherwise, you’re going to get chinned. So, in actual fact, when there’s banter going on, it’s actually quite nice. You realise it can’t be normal when everyone else is like “that’s enough of that”. There’s a saying I say a lot, I never want prison to be normal. I never want that normality to be the norm and yet a lot of the time it is. It’s a bit of a conundrum for me because you see when a new guy comes on who’s not been in the prison long and they come onto the wing and they’re talking to you and you can see they’re depressed to hell. They’ve had enough of prison. They’ve had enough of the insanely tedious bullshit conversations that you get because someone’s always going to kill someone, someone’s always a millionaire, someone’s always got this and everyone’s an expert, but it’s daily. The conversations you hear in prison, daily, are D-cat, ROTL, POCA, re-trial. It’s just never-ending. It’s just a never-ending drudgery of crap. It’s all valid and you become very cynical, but you see the guys that are coming in at the beginning and there’s no hope there, but you don’t realise that was you. So, it’s interesting you see that is quite negative. You see what you were and it’s quite strange…

I encourage blokes [in prison] to come out and they’ve said “what’s in it for me?” and all I say to them is “what you’ll get from it, will be very personal to you, I don’t know what it’ll be, but you’ll get something, it’s not slave labour, it’s none of that bollocks, yes, you get nice food, but that’s just a bonus, I cannot quantify what you’ll get and you might hate it at first, but you’ll get something from it”.

It’s not about rehabilitation, but that’s how it’s portrayed, and that’s not what it is. You read the boards, it’s rehabilitation, it’s re-offending, it’s not about that. For me, if I was to say what LandWorks is for me and the whole ethos thing, it’s about discovering, this sounds so gay, it’s about discovering what’s in you. It’s discovering yourself. For me, that’s what it is, but that might not be for the next person. It’s hard to explain what it is…

I know I’ll miss this, even when I get home, when I’m not in prison. I will miss this because … and again, for me personally, you build relationships with people. I’ve got a lot of time for Chris. I’ve got a lot of time for Sarah, everybody really. I work with young Sarah on a day-to-day basis, we have chats, so you build these relationships and it’s nice. I’m doing this art thing and I’m free to do it and this lifestyle I’ve got is bloody nice and I’ll miss that. I’m going to go home and I want to go home, but at the same time, I’ll feel that I’ve lost something. Now, that’s a very strange thing to say, isn’t it? So, there’s two bubbles I’m living in. There’s a bubble at the prison and there’s a bubble here and there’s my reality, I’m going home. Somewhere in amongst that is my happy place…”

2 thoughts on “Quentin says: “I never want prison to be normal…”

  1. Found this account very moving. Just confirms how complicated life is. Hopefully people at home will see the good things in you that have come to the surface and be happy for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, like Janet, I found this moving, and full of insight and interesting observations. You are right about the self-awareness thing – keep that going, make time every day to listen to your self, and listen in your head for stuff that Chris, Sarah and the others have said, little words of wisdom perhaps that it is easy to forget ‘outside/at home’ when you are plunged into a stressful and probably frightening situation.
    good luck. Tattwa

    Liked by 1 person

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