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Heaven: A Prison Diary Part 24

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I rise, thank him and leave. I have a feeling he'll be only too happy to see the back of me.

But more important, the decision has been made not to remove my D-cat status, thus proving that they had no reason to send me here in the first place.

It was to be another six days before my transfer to Hollesley Bay in Suffolk, and even that simple exercise they managed to botch.

DAY 457 - FRIDAY 18 OCTOBER 2002.

6.00 am I rise and pack my belongings into an HMP plastic bag as I prepare for my next move, not unlike one does when leaving a no-star motel at the end of a rainy holiday. While I'm gathering my possessions together, I chat to my pad-mate, Stephen (marijuana, seven years), who tells me that he's been granted his D-cat status, and hopes it will not be long before they transfer him to North Sea Camp.



7.00 am The cell doors on our wing are unlocked to allow Stephen and his crew to be escorted to the kitchens and begin the day's work. I try inadequately to thank him for his kindness and help during the past ten days, while wishing him luck for a speedy transfer.

8.07 am The cell door is thrown open for the last time, to reveal a young officer standing in the doorway. Without a word, he escorts me to reception. It's a protracted journey, as I have to drag along two large, heavy plastic bags, and however many times I stop, the officer makes no attempt to help me.

When we finally reach reception, I'm placed in the inevitable waiting room. From time to time, I'm called to the counter by Mr Fuller so that I can sign forms and check through the contents of another six plastic bags that have been kept under lock and key.

These are filled with gifts mainly books sent in by the public during the past three weeks. I sort out those that can be donated to the library (including nine Bibles) and still end up with four full bags, which will have to travel with me to Suffolk.

It's another thirty minutes before the final form is completed and I am cleared to depart for my next destination. Meanwhile, back to the waiting room.

10.19 am Two young officers from Group 4 appear in the corridor. They are to accompany me and two other inmates from this h.e.l.l-hole not that the devils' keepers have been unkind. In fact, with one loutish exception, they have been supportive and friendly.

The Group 4 officers help me with my endless plastic bags, before I am locked into a tiny cubicle in another sweat box. I sit cramped up in silence awaiting a 'movement order'.

11.49 am The electric gates swing slowly open, and the van eases out onto the main road. I stare from my darkened window to see several photographers snapping away. All they'll get is a blacked-out window.

I remain hunched up in my little box, despite the fact that as a D-cat prisoner I am ent.i.tled to have my wife drive me to Hollesley Bay in the family car. But once again, the Home Office has put a stop to that.

For the next five hours, I am cooped up with two stale sandwiches and a bottle of water as we trundle through four counties on the endless journey to somewhere on the Suffolk coast.

3.19 pm The van finally arrives at Hollesley Bay, and comes to a halt outside a squat brick building. The three of us step outside, to be escorted into reception. More form filling and more bag checking decisions to be made about what we can and cannot possess.

While my plastic bags are being checked, the duty officer inadvertently gives it all away with an innocent remark. 'It's the first time I've checked anyone in from Lincoln.'

And worse, the other two prisoners who came with me have only two weeks and three weeks respectively to serve before they complete their sentences; this despite the fact that their homes are in north Yorkshire.

They have been uprooted because the Home Office is prepared to mess around with their lives just to make sure I couldn't travel by car.

When all the red tape is completed, I am accompanied to the north block by another officer, who dumps me in a single room.

Once again I begin to unpack. Once again, I will have to find my feet. Once again, I will be put through induction. Once again, I will have to suffer the endless jibes and sullen stares, never lowering my guard. Once again, I will have to find a job.

Once again ...

EPILOGUE.

For the past fourteen months, I have been writing two thousand words a day, nearly a million in all, which has resulted in three published diaries.

Although Hollesley Bay turned out to be quite different from North Sea Camp, it was not dissimilar enough to warrant a fourth diary. However, there is one significant difference worthy of mention. Hollesley Bay is an open prison, not a resettlement establishment. It was clearly selected to ensure that I couldn't work outside. After I had completed my induction, the director of Genesis, a Mencap project in Ipswich, offered me a job.

His request was rejected by Mr Jones, the prison governor, despite there being three other inmates working at Genesis at that time. I appealed to the Prison Ombudsman about this blatant discrimination, but he said he didn't have the authority to reverse the governor's decision.

I reluctantly settled for the position of library orderly, with a remit from Mr Jones to 'get more prisoners reading'. Thirty-two books were taken out in my first week as library orderly, one hundred and ninety one in my last, eight months later.

However, as the library was only open to prisoners between 12.30 and 1.30, and 6 and 7 pm, I was left with countless hours to occupy myself. It doesn't take that long to replace on the shelves the twenty or thirty books returned each day. I could have occupied those lifeless hours writing a fourth diary, but as I have explained, I felt it would have achieved little.

During those first few months of incarceration at Hollesley Bay, I edited A Prison Diary Volume Two Wayland: Purgatory, and had it smuggled out on a weekly basis by a prisoner who was working in Ipswich. But even that demanding exercise did not fully occupy my time.

My next venture was to write nine short stories based on tales that I had picked up from all four prisons. This collection will be published in 2005 under the t.i.tle Cat of Nine Tales. Unfortunately, even this endeavour, with its several rewrites, only occupied me through to Christmas, leaving me another six months to kill before I was due to be released.

It was the death of an old friend that spurred me into action, and once again gave my life some purpose ...

A few months before my trial began, I had lunch at Mosimann's with Chris Brasher and a mutual friend, John Bryant. The purpose of the lunch, and Chris always had a purpose, was first to persuade me that I should run in the London marathon and attempt to break the world record for the amount raised for charity by an individual in this event (1,166,212) and second, that I should write my first screenplay.

While the marathon was postponed by events, I suddenly found myself with time on my hands to write a screenplay. Chris Brasher also knew the subject he wanted me to tackle, and proceeded to tell me the story of George Mallory, an Englishman who in 1924, climbed to within 800 feet of the summit of Everest, dressed in a three-piece tweed suit, with a coiled rope over one shoulder, a fiftyfive-pound pack on his back, and carrying an ice axe in one hand and a rolled umbrella in the other.

At 12.50 pm on 17 July 1924 (Ascension Day), he and his young companion Sandy Irvine were enveloped in clouds and never seen again.

Was Mallory the first man to conquer Everest?

It was the untimely death of Chris Brasher that bought the memory of that lunch flooding back.

I resolved to put into action his second suggestion.

By the same author NOVELS Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less Shall We Tell the President?

Kane and Abel The Prodigal Daughter First Among Equals A Matter of Honour As the Crow Flies Honour Among Thieves The Fourth Estate The Eleventh Commandment Sons of Fortune SHORT STORIES A Quiver Full of Arrows A Twist in the Tale Twelve Red Herrings The Collected Short Stories To Cut a Long Story Short PLAYS Beyond Reasonable Doubt Exclusive The Accused PRISON DIARIES Volume One Belmarsh: h.e.l.l Volume Two Wayland: Purgatory DAY 725 MONDAY 21 JULY 2003.

5.09 am I had a good night's sleep and rose early to take a shower. I pack my bags, so that no time will be wasted once the tannoy calls me across to reception.

I am touched by how many prisoners come to my room this morning, to shake me by the hand and wish me luck. However, it is not true, as one tabloid suggested, that I was given a guard of honour as I left the prison.

7.00 am My last prison breakfast cornflakes and milk. I can't help looking at my watch every few minutes.

8.09 am I am called to reception where no surprise there is a new bundle of forms to be signed before I can be released.

At last, my release papers are completed by Mr Swivenbank, and he doesn't try to hide a grin as he hands over my regulation 40. I place the notes in the charity box on the counter, shake hands with both officers and depart, with the seventh draft of a screenplay, tucked under my arm, and in my pocket a CD of a song that was performed by The Seven Deadly Sins at my farewell party last night. (See overleaf.) Will is sitting in my car parked outside the back door, waiting for me. He drives us slowly through the phalanx of journalists who litter both sides of the road. Just as we accelerate away and I think we've escaped them, we spot a Sky TV news helicopter hovering above us, as well as three motorbikes with cameramen glued to the back seats, and another five cars behind them, in close pursuit. Will never once exceeded the speed limit on the journey home to Cambridge.

On arrival back at the Old Vicarage, Mary dashes out to greet me, and I make a short press statement: Press Release: Embargoed until midnight, Sunday 20 July 2003 Statement by Jeffrey Archer I want to thank my wife Mary and my sons, William and James, for their unwavering and unstinting support during this unhappy period in my life.

I should also like to thank the many friends who took the trouble to visit me in prison, as well as countless members of the public who sent letters, cards and gifts.

I shall not be giving any interviews for the foreseeable future. However, I have accepted an invitation to address the Howard League for Penal Reform's conference at New College Oxford in September, and several requests to do charity auctions in the run up to Christmas.

JEFFREY.

(to the tune of 'Daniel' by Elton John) Jeffrey is leaving today down the lane I can see the paparazzi, flashing away in vain; Oh, and I can see Jeffrey waving goodbye; G.o.d, it looks like Jeffrey might have a teardrop in his eye.

Oh, ooh, Jeffrey our brother, bet you're glad to be free; Now you can tell the world what you think of Narey.

You did time well, it's now your time to tell; Jeffrey, you're a star, go on, son, give 'em h.e.l.l.

I have not given an interview to the press, or appeared on radio or television, since.

During the last year, I have addressed a dozen or so organizations since speaking to the Howard League, including the Disraelian Society, Trinity College Oxford, the Thirty Club, the Hawks club and the Criminal Law Solicitors' a.s.sociation.

I have also conducted twenty charity auctions, raising just over a million pounds, and run the Flora London marathon (5 hrs 26 mins) where I was overtaken by a camel, a phone box, a cake and a girl walking.

Most of my spare time has been taken up with carrying out research for my next novel and continuing to work on the screenplay of Mallory: Walking Off the Map.

Notes.

1.

NSC has two blocks, north and south, with about 110 prisoners resident in each.

2.

While tagged, you must remain at home between 7 pm and 7 am.

3.

You cannot escape from an open prison, only abscond. There are no walls, just a car barrier at the entrance and a public footpath at the back. Most prisoners who abscond do so in the first two weeks. Nine out of ten are back behind bars within forty-eight hours.

4.

There are five grades of governor; the top man or woman is known as the governing governor. I still haven't met one.

5.

Matthew will end up serving five and a half months.

6.

This is only true in D-cats open prisons.

7.

A two-year period of compulsory service in one of the branches of the armed forces, which ceased to apply for anyone born after 1940.

8 the door to each inmate's room has a large gla.s.s panel in it, covered in wire mesh. On the outside is a green curtain to stop casual pa.s.sers-by peering in. However, during the night, prison officers hold back the curtain to check you're in bed and haven't absconded.

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Heaven: A Prison Diary Part 24 summary

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