Upon anniversaries of Death, Witches and the stupid Queens
It is Jubilee weekend and I am determined to avoid the queen. I do not like her reptilian smile and beady eyes. I do not like her slight sanctimonious smirk. I do not like her gently folded hands and I do not like anything she stands for, whether it be her and her extended family bopping wildlife on the head or hee-hawing around their Lovely Houses when I yearn to afford laminate flooring from B and Q.
And thus I end up in prison.
And it’s all the queens fault.
Lancaster Prison contained within the castle complex is open for the second time to non-offenders as part of the Jubilee celebrations since it was decommissioned a year ago. I could give you some fascinating facts about the prison being the oldest continual prison in the country and how the courts sentenced more people to be hung there than anywhere else in the country besides the Old Bailey in London but in my excitement and enthusiasm about PRISONS and DEATH and WITCHES I will no doubt spectacularly exaggerate and not bother to look up actual facts and dates because who would when the subject matter is PRISONS and DEATH and WITCHES. And then instead of my steady stream of Spam I might, if I’m lucky get an annoyed missive from a local person on a Hotmail account informing me that I am incorrect about something significant and I should correct my facts and I will be all embarrassed and angry at the same time.
And it will be the queen’s fault.
The huge old wooden entrance door to the castle, the ancient wall containing it splattered with musket shot is opened slowly to show the fascinating jumble of archaic cruelty, torture, murder, graffiti in ballpoint pen and toilets separated from the room by a mere screen.
The prisoner in cell one should he/she have pleaded Not Guilty might have had narrowed eyes aimed at him in the unlikely event the judge came to his/her cell and seen the cannabis leaves drawn carefully on the wall. I watch my toddler cheerily attempt to thwart the wire and forbidding notices and go up several flights of forbidden stairs and feel a sudden pang of guilt that we are not at a petting farm. Then he has a huge tantrum due to not being allowed to dangerous forbidden things in a prison and I want to leave him here.
The cell where the ‘witches’ and other poor unfortunates were kept is almost Disneyesque in its over the top caricature of terribleness. A stone time worn flight of steps curving into a small hellhole of utter darkness, dankness and depravity. I jokily threaten loudly to put the badly behaved baby in there and no-one smiles. Which is embarrassing. I guess they are too busy thinking about sad and lonely deaths centuries ago or trying to hear the guide to enjoy a weak pun about making a child suffer. Bastards, I will put them in there as well. And the queen. That’ll learn em.
Somewhere a convict is reading this because they Googled ‘escape from prison tips’ or something and my languid prose appeared and they are laughing about the stupid idiots who pay nine quid to go to prison on a sunny bank holiday weekend. For nine quid I was pretty much expecting a ride on a broomstick but the reality was better and I say this rarely. I loved the angular lines of stark modernity against the crumbling walls of the medieval, I loved the Health and Safety notices next to where people were murdered by the state for stealing a handkerchief and I love the way where for a brief minute when recoiling in the sudden sunlight outside the castle, our government, our recessions and even the queen didn’t seem quite so bad.
Then I shivered in that sudden stream of bright sunlight, told myself to man up and went home to play The Sex Pistols and to try not to think of the living deaths I paid nine quid to gawp at, like a viewer at the Roman Coliseums, excited about misery and death as long as it is diluted by Time.