Quote Originally Posted by Mellin
I've never really gone into much detail about it on here, and with one or two having implied they'd be interested on my thoughts, I'm going to have a crack at writing a candid account on my experience. Unfortunately, I'm on my phone, so forgive any typos and perhaps a slight lack of fluency, but I'll have a crack regardless. Anyway, let's start at the beginning.

4th September 2004. I remember the date as it was my mate's eighteenth. We were out on the lash and it was a decent night. Chris, who I would later go on to share her majesty's pleasure, came over ranting about how a few lads had been disrespectful to the girls, so I sensed the opportunity to play the hero, got all high and mighty, grabbed another mate and we went in search. Tuned out there was three of them left, but they'd exited the club and were walking down the road. The three of us caught up with them and had an argument. It could, and should, have been left there. However, I then made the most stupid and costly mistake of my life, and head butted one of them. It was out of order and I regret it, but it turned out to be the catalyst for a lot of shit. A fight broke out and come the end Chris and the other lad were kicking one of them whilst he was down. I told them to stop. I reference this at it was mentioned in a statement at the trial. A key piece of evidence that wasn't utilised, but I'll get back to that.

It cleared up and we walked on. Further up the road we stopped at a burger van, meeting up with the rest of our mates. Then the lads we'd just had a scrap with turned up in healthier number. There was a squaring up, then a row. A messy one. I can't tell you exactly what happened as I honestly don't know. I threw and received punches, but the key factor is that one of their rabble was down and took a kicking on the floor. I was not involved in that. It's not how I operate, but it would later turn out the kid spent four days in hospital. Saw photos in the trial and he'd been written off. It was too much. The police turned up about ten minutes later. Again, we should've been long gone, but there was a bit of carry on. I was chased through the city centre for about half a mile and managed to lose them. Saw Moor Street station and planned to hop the gates and set off up the tracks. Thing is, they'd been perusing me on CCTV, and about twenty metres from the fence a riot van pulled up and blocked my exit. Had nothing left to give, so I just sat down and waited for them to bang the cuffs on. Chris was the only other arrested. We were both charged with two counts of ABH and affray.

The trial was a disgrace and my solicitors useless. I say solicitors as the clown I'd been briefing throughout didn't make it to court, rather one of his associates who I hadn't met before and I'm certain had seen my case for the first time that morning. It got to the point where Chris's solicitor was trying to defend me as Mr Ahmed was so fucking useless. Two things I'd have done differently. Should have hung them out to dry and made the court aware of the situation, and made sure the evidence cited in the first fight was used to defend me in the second. I wasn't aware of it at the time, mind, a failing on both my solicitor's part and my own blasť attitude toward proceedings. The judges went away to deliberate and before they returned two screws came and stood directly in front of us. My mom broke down and it finally hit me. Prison. As moments of realisation go, that's a pretty strong one. Your mind starts racing. Where am I going? How long for? Will I be with Chris, or left to face this alone? The judges returned and sentenced us to four months in Brinsford, half the sentence on good behaviour. We were led away and Chris hugged his parents and started crying. I walked straight past my sobbing family, another regret, just couldn't face them at the time. Cowardice, now I consider that.

We were left in the cells for about four hours, waiting for the box van to move us on to Brinsford. That journey is by some distance the most terrified I've ever been. Trying to gather your thoughts. Not knowing what to expect. Prison was a place that had been depicted so brutally in popular culture that I expected the worst. I remember making plans to hit the biggest cunt I could find early doors just to try and prevent being mugged off. Going past Villa Park on the Aston expressway was a low point. I associate a lot with that ground and it gave me my first real yearning for freedom. Half a day in. Only two months to go.

We arrived at the gates, all barbed wire and mesh, and were lead out the van, in solemn silence, and into another holding cell. We were taken out one by one and interviewed, strip searched (something a second screw needlessly wandered over for), then led to the introductory wing where you spend your first night. A screw kindly told us someone had hung themselves in a cell there recently. I don't know if he was just on the wind up, but it did the trick. We shared a cell that night, and talked about the best way to approach this, and what we'd do when we were released. An agreement was made that if one was in any sort of trouble, no matter how bad, the other would stand by him all the way, although that could've gone unsaid. Chris was many things, some negative, but he was always loyal.

Feel I should clarify something before I go on. Brinsford is a juvenile prison. 21 and below. Some people turn there noses up at this. I've a standard response to that. Try it. Full of young men who have a point to prove. It's still all bars, violence and isolation. The first night on the main wing, B1, was difficult. In a single cell at this point, with people calling out the windows, trying to figure you out. I stayed quiet and tried to sleep. Took a while, that. That night there was a row in a double cell. Walked passed it the next day and the walls were coated in blood. Was very thankful for my single at that time.

I didn't end up hitting the biggest cunt I could find. Mainly because that would've been fucking stupid, and secondly because a few years inside with access to a gym tends to lead to some pretty big bastards. Instead, in the hour a week we could play football, I stuck two meaty but fair tackles (no laughing at the back) on one of them. Felt this was the best way to let them know what I was about without causing too much aggro, because as I saw with a few other lads, once the momentum starts against you, you need to be one fucking hard bastard to reverse it. One Asian lad, that's a mark against you straight away, was getting absolutely terrorised every day. Must've been horrible for him. Remember sitting in a holding cell with him and five others and his head was bowed, eyes fixed firmly on the floor. Couple of lads started ripping him and he sat there looking scared to death. They demanded he looked at them, which he didn't, so they proceeded to beat the shit out of him. I'd like to sit here and say I'd act differently now and defend him, but the truth is, I wouldn't. There's a code and you must abide by it to survive. The screw came in shortly after, no one had seen anything, and on everyone went with their day.

The worst thing about prison is the isolation. 23 hours in your cell a day. Plenty of time to harbour regret and count the days, hours, minutes. The absurdity of watching Loose Women every day in prison is not lost on me. Got a bit cliche and started a tally chart counting the days. Jotted down my thoughts in a notepad which I still have. That makes interesting reading from time to time, but I'll never show it anyone. Used to love getting letters from friends and family, and got offended when they were less than a page. Are these few words all I'm worth in this time of need? It probably wasn't easy for them, either. I know my mom was struggling to sleep. Probably didn't help her that whenever she came to visit I looked like shit. Should've made more of an effort to present a positive image and put her mind at ease.

As the days went on I saw more and more violence, although managed to avoid it myself. I felt an angst ridden mess, but the fact there were two of us and my ability to retain some semblance of authority managed to see me through. I didn't feel comfortable in the role that had been forced upon me (only a four month sentence and the long termers tend to run the show - minor bird), so mainly attempted to keep myself to myself. I'd approach it slightly differently if, God forbid, I were ever to return. But in amongst all this negativity there are positives to be drawn. I fucking grew up big time...was going to attempt to list a few here but I only have one more. Getting out. My word. Words just can't describe the euphoria. Just such raw emotion and relief that'll never be experienced again (I hope). And it was only two months ffs. I struggle to comprehend what getting out after twenty years must feel like. Anyway, went home, signed on to TTH to see how you'd all reacted and then my 10 closest mates turned up by surprise and we all bounced around and got pissed. Great day.

So, that's it. Fist time I've ever spoken openly about it, seven years on. There's more to be said, but as I pointed out at the start, I'm on my phone, and this has taken enough effort already. I'll just finish by saying that whilst inside I used to dream about being free every night, then after release it was like someone flicked a switch. Constant dreams about being back in Brinsford. Bizarre. Fortunately I don't have those dreams anymore.

Hmm. That was bent.