I run a monthly evening of ‘comic miscellany’. An experimental comedy night called The Oblong Show. Over August we took a break, ostensibly for a holiday and the Edinburgh festival. But the truth was I had an appointment with justice. Last night I confessed with the audience the harrowing tale of my time behind bars.
Sunday 10th August, 2013
Well, here I am, in prison. My cell-mate is the worst cell-mate ever. It’s my mum. ‘I’m glad you’ve finally settled down’ she said to me. I looked at her thoughtfully and said ‘what…?’ She’s called dibs on the top bunk too. Living with your mum doesn’t do much for your reputation on the outside, and sharing a cell with your mum in prison is super embarrassing too. Every time I walk past the other inmates they just stare and giggle. Prison is so brutal.
Monday 11th August, 20-Mocaccino
I’ve been inside too long. I’ve adjusted the Gregorian calendar to remind me that there are varieties of coffee out there, on the outside. I’m trying to get a cafetiere smuggled in, but that means doing certain favours that I’m not sure I can bring myself to do. I don’t even know if it’s possible to ‘lube up’ a pumice stone. I miss Google so hard. The library is really lacking in essential reference materials like the Urban Dictionary and IMDB. I have to settle for dissatisfying answers like ‘he’s been in a lot of things’ and ‘not Peter Ustinov, the other one’.
Tuesday 33rd August, 20-Mocaccino
I’m still here, in prison. But so what? Wasn’t I always in prison, anyway? A prison called SOCIETY? A really nice prison where you can eat Caramacs. Man is born free and everywhere he is eating Caramacs. Everywhere but here, that is. I reight want a Caramac. But you can only get them at some shops and newsagents, and you definitely can’t get Caramacs in this prison. Maybe they’ll let us have Caramacs if we stop asking for the right to vote. Democracy’s all well and good but it’s not a Caramac.
Friturday 44st Remember, Plenty-T’wit-T’woo
You definitely can’t lube a pumice stone. I mean, you can, but if anything it just ruins its structural integrity. There’s weeks of moist chafing ahead for that poor soul. But I provided a service and I’ve got the plunger assembled at least. Only now I have no idea what I’m going to do for the jug itself. I shudder to think. Perhaps a cafetiere was too ambitious. Maybe I’ll be able to use the plunger as a weapon to intimidate someone into smuggling in a Caramac.
Satnav 606th Ipsydipsy, Loganberry-and-Ten-Pin-Bowling
Cafetiere plungers aren’t as intimidating as I thought they might be, and the very thin rod makes them incredibly difficult to hold on to in a fracas. Especially if you’ve still got traces of lube absorbed into your skin. So I don’t have a plunger anymore and if I, and I quote, ‘ever try that shit again’ I’ll get the ‘biggest Cara-smacking since Starbuck twatted Colonel Tigh’. I’m quite scared. I cried myself to sleep. My mum said ‘I told you you’d regret it’, even though she had no knowledge of what had occurred.
Morpsday $$ Marzipan, Nineteen-Hundred-and-Hundred
My mum doesn’t think I’m handling being locked up very well. I don’t know what she’s on about, I spent most of my formative years confined in my bedroom and turned out fine, apart from this prison thing. I did a bad thing! I deserve to pay the price. BUT WHAT’S SO WRONG WITH WANTING A CARAMAC!? I can understand having my freedom taken away, but the judge never said nothing about no Caramacs. I’ve been telling the other inmates and the guards about my golden crusade. Now everyone calls me Caramac Man. I was a loser on the outside, but I’m a hero to people in here! So I don’t know what my mum is on about, quite frankly. Prison is the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m loving life!
Noday Nonoteenth Novenomber, Sweaty-Lonely-One
They put me in solitary. BUT ARE WE NOT ALL IN THE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT OF OUR HEARTS!? I love solitude, the idiots! It’s like they’ve shot me with a phaser and I’ve just absorbed and converted the energy and it’s made me stronger and I’m going destroy them with it when they let me out! But I won’t, I’ll show mercy in exchange for a Caramac. I’m not insane.
Pew-pew-pewsday SlapsteenShlomost Stathamber, Lembit-Opik-and-Nine
I’m getting stronger every day. They won’t destroy my identity. In fact, it’s like I’m becoming more and more in touch with the real me. To demonstrate this I drew a selfie on the wall using my own blood. Well, blood mixed with custard because I could only manage a tiny scratch, but it works quite well as food colouring so it’s still quite striking. The guards saw it and said it looked like Homer Simpson had had a nosebleed in his sleep and asked me if I wanted a plaster. I said yes please, I would, I would like a plaster.
Doo-wah-doo-wah-day Florst Crepeuary, Two-Hundred-and-Million
I’ve been in solitary for weeks now. I told the guards they can keep me in here as long as they like, my powers are building every day. They said I’d been in there an hour and forty-five minutes. When I showed them the tally I’d been scratching into the wall under my selfie they said I must have been counting the seconds. I realised they were probably right and apologised. ‘Oh yeah, my bad.’ And that said it all, really. ‘My bad’, I said again. ‘My bad, my bad, my bad.’ I fell to the ground and wept. ‘My bad’ is a terrible bastardisation of the English language by Americans, and the same can be said of the reliance on incarceration to contain a collapsing society! I bet they don’t even have Caramacs in America at all. It’s only a matter of time until they take them away from us too, and then we’re fucked!
Thursday 14th August, 2014
They let me out of solitary. I was going to destroy them all with the power I’d been building, but it became apparent that I’d actually gone insane. I didn’t even have it in me to mention Caramacs. But I still love Caramacs so much. Sometimes Caramacs just don’t love you back, or not in the same way at least. I guess I just have to come to terms with not having a Caramac. Perhaps I put too much focus on Caramacs, and not enough on the people around me, the people who care and aren’t golden and heavenly confectionery. I returned to my cell and said hello to my mum. She asked why I hadn’t called to let her know I was stopping out, and if I’d met someone. I looked at her thoughtfully and said ‘Yes mum, I’ve met the real me, and I’m not sure I like custard anymore’.
That night, all the inmates got together in the communal area for a double-bill screening of The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. We all cried so much because it’s exactly what prison is like. It’s uncanny. Whether it’s the prison of society, the prison of your heart, or the prison of actual prison, you always need someone to touch your groin with magic, and then you have to crawl through a river of shit, much of which is almost certainly your own.
On my way out a bunch of activists are singing folk songs and I just want to punch them.Ian Martin on Labour: ‘I can’t remember a more spineless opposition’
In writing this piece, I do not mean to disparage the young, privately educated journalists I see around me, the sprigs of the Fox and Irons families, the commissioning editors of the BBC and the staff of the National Theatre and Royal Opera House. They are all nice people. But there’s the rub. They are too fucking nice for Britain’s good. Their niceness is a noose that is strangling our ability to talk to ourselves and to the world.The privileged few are tightening their grip on the arts