Sunday, 16 September 2007

Offensive offender

An unusual and unforeseen experience befell me today. I was sitting in the ruins of Reading Priory, which are next to Reading prison (famously the place where Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for homosexuality). From the place where I was sitting, you can see the windows of some of the cells on the top floor. Immersed in my book, I heard:

Male voice, shouting: Wwwaaannnker

[I look up]

Male voice, shouting: Yeah, you. W*nk*r.

At this point, I was thinking 'OK, so now I am going to get in a fight with someone from the other side of a prison wall'. I paused. 'Again', I added to my thought.

Unsure as I was about how to deal with being heckled from within a prison, I returned to my book. Unsatisfied with this reaction, he continued his monologue.

Male voice, shouting: Is that a map, mate? Are you lost? Do you need directions?

Now I don't know about you, but I don't spend much time loitering outside prisons. Particularly prisons for homosexuals. So I don't really expect to be seen by people loitering within prisons. Less so sworn at by people languishing in their cells. And what was he doing at 10:45am on a Sunday morning still within his cell? Shouldn't he be tending the vegetable patch? Or, more pragmatically, in the chapel finding his faith and improving his chances of parole?

Heckled and helped by a prisoner within 10 seconds. What a Sunday morning for me.

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