Gerry talks about food cravings, and I’ll let you into a little secret, his culinary choices really are a little odd!
My own response to our challenge tells of a craving that awakened a memory .
Having been introduced to the combination of peanut butter and banana, a recent brunch-time craving was to eat a sandwich of this twosome.
Unfortunately, the cupboard was bare, so instead, I made do with a bowl of porridge, and whilst waiting for the milk to heat I began to think about the other definition of the word ‘Porridge’.
‘Porridge‘ is a British slang term for a prison sentence, the prisoner is doing porridge, and I imagine the term was coined because porridge at breakfast used to be the only breakfast on offer.
Some years ago my friend Mary’s son was apprehended and arrested in the South of England by the local constabulary, subsequently, he was charged with smuggling cigarettes (by the truckload!). In due course, he found himself detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure in Woodhill Prison, Milton Keynes.
To say his shocked mother was upset would be an under statement, and even though he was caught red-handed, Mary initially insisted that this was a case of mistaken identity. Those of us in her inner circle, however, were none too surprised, we always knew he was a ‘wayward lad’.
Some time afterwards Mary asked if I would accompany and drive her to Milton Keynes to visit the young man in prison, her husband was unable to take her and she did not want to miss her visit.
I didn’t relish the idea of a long drive down to Milton Keynes, but the thought of actually seeing inside a prison excited me.
My late mother’s reaction to my news was as expected. “Oh, Susan, you can’t, what if someone sees you!” A little sigh accompanied my reply, “Mum, you and I don’t know anyone in Milton Keynes let alone someone who is in prison, well, apart from Mary’s Howard!”
Visiting Day arrived, and my late husband instructed me to drive carefully and not to do anything silly. Me… silly?
As Mary and I set off for Milton Keynes, Mary was quiet and apprehensive, but I found it hard to curtail my chatter and frequently had to remind myself to play down the thrill of visiting a real prison.
On arrival at Woodhill I was disappointed to find that the prison building itself was constructed from modern brick, I’d hoped to find an imposing building, built from stone that had long since blackened from industrial smoke, dirt and grime, such as ‘Armley Jail’ the Victorian prison in my home city. I’d always had a hankering to see beyond those iron gates.
Given the age of Milton Keynes itself, and the fact that Woodhill didn’t open until 1992, I really was stretching my expectations.
The town of Milton Keynes was born with an Act of Parliament in 1967 which approved the building of a new community of 250,000 people covering 8,850 hectares (21,869 acres) of Buckinghamshire farmland and villages. Built to ease the housing shortages in overcrowded London, its founding principles were for an “attractive” town that enshrined opportunity and freedom of choice.”
After having our paperwork scrutinised, we entered the building, and as we walked into the security area I positively buzzed with growing excitement.
We were asked to place our outer clothing and handbags into lockers and were told to remove our shoes before being searched by a female officer.
Next we walked through a series of locked doors and a long corridor before we finally reached the visiting room. The size of the room surprised me, I had expected a smaller, drearier room. Instead, we found ourselves in something that resembled a large, bright cafeteria. Howard, having been alerted of our arrival was already seated at a table. I remember two officers standing at the front of the room, but I’m unsure if others were present.
The visiting hall was served by a cafe counter to my left and was situated toward the rear of the hall. Here we were able to purchase refreshments, and on the walls, just like any other cafe, were price lists of the snacks available. Although we weren’t allowed to take in our handbags, we were allowed to carry a small amount of money.
I’m not sure what I expected to see here, but I certainly did not anticipate sitting amongst perfectly normal looking people with their families and even a couple of babies.
Fast forward a few years, and Joss, my youngest, went off to university.
At the school where I worked, and where my grandchildren were pupils, one of my colleagues approached me and asked where Joss was. I told her he was at university in Newcastle. She began to laugh as she answered, “In that case you should be aware that Max is telling everyone that his Uncle Joss has gone to prison!”
Max would have been around five years old at the time. Max’s amusing announcement was the joke of the staffroom, leading to a few witty comments, but for my friend Mary, the actuality of having a son in prison was not at all funny, for her the reality was heart breaking.
Footnote: Woodhill is a category A prison for male adults, with an adjacent unit for young offenders. The prison holds both convicted prisoners and remand prisoners for local magistrate courts along with foreign nationals awaiting deportation.
(C) SueW-nansfarm.net 2019 – Word Prompt Craving from Weekly Prompts http://weeklyprompts.com/2019/04/24/word-prompt-craving
Prison photographs curtesy of the ‘Mirror’ and the ‘Telegraph and Argus’.