Well how was it for you?
I was nervous arriving in the Visitor’s Centre of Her Majesty’s Prison, Pentonville. I had no idea about the processing that you have to go through in order to enter the prison visiting hall. A form must be filled in, which is then checked and you’re given a number. The room was filling up with people, families, kids. There was a small tea bar. You wait for your number to be called. I had been early, so this took 45 minutes or so. You go upstairs where you line up to have your ID checked, a picture taken and a finger print done. They give you a bright green wristband. All your extra stuff which you can’t take into the prison such as mobile phone and anything except a maximum of £20 in coins, you put in a locker.
Then you make your way to the next building, where the visiting hall is housed. On the way, you are frisked, including shaking out your shoes and on arrival you have your fingerprint taken again. You take a ticket from a machine. This turned out to be for the tea bar. ‘Your’ prisoner is waiting for you either in the large main hall or a smaller adjoining one. I was relieved to see M, all present and correct. I had pictured a glass partition or something, but the prisoners were free, sitting at low tables. I was glad we weren’t in the main hall. We hugged.
There was a tea bar in the main hall where you could buy rolls, chocolate bars, and hot drinks, but you had to wait for your new number to come up. M asked for a hot chocolate and a snickers bar, and I bought him a cheese and onion roll as well – I only had four pounds in cash, so I went without. M looked OK, but a bit ravaged and as if he’d lost weight, which he had. He was pleased to see me and we had a pleasant enough chat at first, I asking him lots of questions about what it was like inside.
He did tell me about the circumstances of his offence. I was relieved to hear it was at least someone he knew – who had been giving him some kind of verbals for a couple of years (they were at the hospital together). But what he did – my word. What a shameful, cowardly crime! There are crimes and crimes. His was a stupid one by any standards. I have no doubt that he wouldn’t have done it if he hadn’t been on huge amounts of cannabis. It happened outside a mental health day centre, for goodness sake. He had gone there to do some artwork apparently! I tend to think he was on the hunt for a new woman to latch on to.
Luckily for M, psychopaths are kind of immune to shame and guilt. As out visit wore on he showed his true colours, when the charm is exhausted. He feels terribly sorry for himself. He is regularly getting trapped wind, stomach cramps and passing out on the floor, apparently. He can’t sleep at night, and the food is terrible. He had had a single cell up till then, but a cellmate, a young lad, had just joined him. We were allowed two hours to talk. Too long for two people really, well, at least these two people.
I left after one and a half hours. I didn’t want to listen to any more of his delusional, paranoid rantings about how much he was ‘suffering’. He didn’t talk much about Jehovah, or praying. He said he wanted to die. I had very little sympathy. He’s not really a fully human being. He doesn’t need sympathy, or deserve empathy, since he has none himself, and feeds off that of others. I am a useful source of gratification, news of outside, money etc. That’s all.
I don’t want to go again, dear reader. I don’t mind writing the odd letter/email, and I’ve sent in a bit of money for tobacco etc. There ends all responsibility, and he’s very lucky to get that. He disgusts me. He told me he’d written to his estranged family, whom he had cut all contact with for over a year. Whatever his Machiavellian motives are, it’s interesting that it took prison to prompt him to write and apologise to his frail and housebound mother.
This is the guy I fell in love with and lived with for approaching for twenty months. Morally, emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. I have to take a long hard look at myself, especially as another likely psychopath is already sniffing around me, giving me all the old chat about how important I am to him, and how prison had changed him and made him think.
The redemption story which I am so susceptible to, and he knows it. Just like M, he has huge, innocent brown eyes that you can just get lost in, and that almost hypnotise you. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t worry gentle reader. I am not about to get hooked again! I won’t let him anywhere near my house.
I’m off to my Women’s Group for a dose of sanity. It’s a beautiful day, if cold. Love,