Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A rose by any other name...

Yesterday, 20th April, during the course of a long and boring afternoon, I found myself wandering into the laundry room. (I do that from time to time - it gives me somewhere to go, and real grass can be seen from the window.) When I entered, the laundry fellow was folding some stuff he had recently taken from the drier. He then picked up the bundle and said that he was going to "deliver it to Tommy's bedroom"!

I said to him, "It's a cell."

He said something else, which I can't remember, and I said to his departing rear, "Call it what you like, it's still a cell. A rose by any other name is still a rose."

There is a lot of that creeping into the jargon of prison these days - calling cells "rooms" and the like - almost as though the change in name removes some of the reality of the fact that jail is jail. It's not a room, bedroom or otherwise - it's a cell. In fact, considering that there is a toilet bowl and sink in there, it could more accurately be called a karsi, a loo, a bog, a netty, a shithouse.

One thing it ain't - it ain't a nice place, no matter what euphemisms may be used to sweeten a very bitter pill. It's a cell, a place of incarceration, a place of unhappiness, a chamber of isolation, somewhere we are locked in at night - it's a bleedin' cell. Could be worse, of course - I could be sitting in a cell somewhere really exotic, like Afghanistan. I bet nobody calls them "rooms" over there.

Of course there is a section of the general community which thinks that prisons are nice places to be, thanks to "The Sun" and other dealers in terminological inexactitudes, and a great many of the readers of such piffle think that prisoners should be chained to the wall, fed on bread and water and hosed down once a year with water direct from the North Sea. And that is the ENHANCED cons - the well-behaved ones. "The Sun" has told the country that prisoners are eating steaks and lobsters, boozing, having wild parties with imported females and all the rest of it. All cobblers, of course, but it sells papers and allows the hang-em-and-flog-em brigade to give vent to their spleen at regular intervals.

However, the truth is a little bit different.

Somewhere, as I write this, in some cell in some segregation unit there is a naked man lying on a cold stone floor, blood dripping from his nose or lip, and he is surrounded by several uniforms who are snarling that he ain't so tough now. That's happening right at this minute, somewhere - and not in Afghanistan.

I bet that unfortunate person doesn't call that place of misery his "room". Where is he going to get a steak or a lobster from? (Hey! I think I'll get on to Boudica about that very subject - steak and lobster. Actually, I would settle for a decent sandwich, never mind steak and lobster.)

So, as I sit here, tapping away like a demented woodpecker, I have to say  that I am doing it in my cell, not in my room, my cell. As stated earlier - a rose by any other name is still a rose.

The Voice In The Wilderness

No comments: