by Paul Tristram
We were in Her Majesty’s Borstal
on the Island of Portland just off Weymouth.
Sat in one of the induction classrooms
in the building upon the left-hand side
of the Notorious, dreaded BLOCK.
Talking shit and waiting (I use that term loosely!)
for a Teacher/Officer to turn up
and teach us the magical alchemy
which comes with the correct knowledge of diet.
(Beans are full of protein and good for you!)
They already had us doing gruelling gym circuits
that would cripple most people in minutes
and now that we were all fitter than ever before
they wanted us to eat like warriors also,
it was getting like a Gladiator’s training camp.
“The Old Bill will never catch me when I’m out,
I can run up walls and vault almost everything!”
laughed Kevin Coed from Penlan in Swansea.
When in marched 2 timid looking new boys
who sat down at the back table next to the door.
Quick as a flash Evans from Cardiff shouts to them
“Oi! matey, bang that light switch on by the side
of you, it’s starting to get dark in here, innit son!”
The one closest turned to the wall and slapped
the big red button with the flat of his palm…
there was a gasp as he realized what he had done
and a fraction of silence before the sirens went off
like the God’s roaring and screaming blue murder.
It was ‘The Riot Button’ only to be pushed by Staff
and then only in case of the said Staff being in danger.
He turned white, then green and looked beseechingly
around the room with desperate eyes, choking
“What do I do…What do I do…What do I do?”
But everyone stayed silent listening for the sounds
of tramping, heavily booted feet through the sonic
chaos that had laid siege to the room around us.
They came running through the door in seconds,
the boy stood shaking next to the panic button saying
“I thought it was the light switch, honestly, sir!”
They spun him upside down, carrying him out that way,
we watched through the prison barred windows
as they took him next door into the Mouth of Notorious,
dreaded BLOCK and we never, ever saw him no more.