Look what we found after surfing the Bajan Chats this morning. Terry Donaldson the Caucasian prisoner who wrote a book about life at Glendairy Prison with a focus on the arson at Station Hill appears to have visited Barbados Forum, a bajan discussion forum. I hope Mia Mottley, Dale Marshall and the recent Commission set-up to investigate the burning down of the prison are all reading his comment, and he has promised more. His comments are not complimentary to John Nurse at all and the system. His website certainly reveals a lot more. A further check of the Internet toss up interesting discussion over on the Barbados Free Press some time back. BU hopes that the Commission of Inquiry into the Glendairy prison uprising when it tables its report does not languish in a desk draw some where like the St. Joseph Hospital report (but we all know that report was used by the wily political strategist Owen Arthur to kill Brandford Taitt’s political aspiration)
I remember Officer Blackman from Glendairy. Although one of the Dogmen he wasn’t himself such a bad fellow. I used to look through the bars of my cell when I was up on _ corridor and see him up on the first floor of the Officer’s Quarter’s giving karate lessons to the female officers. He was- is, I should say- a blackbelt. There would be times when in the course of his duties he might be pressurised by felow officers or inmates but- frm what I saw- he always acted with the restraint and composure that befits a man that holds that rank or degree in karate.
Regarding his concerns over contraband- the prison was always so awash with drugs- one female officer- a HUGE girl of about over twenty three stone, was caught with a pile of bottles of whisky- or rum, maybe- in her locker. John Nurse always gave these people the bullet- with very little notice, too. Nurse was a disciplinarian, a stickler for doing things by the book, but he was too far up his own backside, allways walking about like some top general out of ancient Roman times. I think he was stuck in some past life, or had seen ‘Gladiator’ too many times. Whenever he went out for a stroll in the prison, instead ot adopting a posdture of accessibility, he wore his redband cap with the scrambled agg on its peak, and accompanied himself with the heftiest looking screws he had.
Whenever he appeared on the yard, one of the executive officers would should out the military-style order, in parade ground fashion, ‘Atten………SHUN!!!’- as if we were all in one of the scenes from Michael Caine’s fim ‘Zulu’.
I remember the first time I saw Nurse, standing outside the entrance gate to _&G corridor, looking like a Spanish galleon done out in its finest colours, pennants, and encrusted with a dazzling array of Spanish doubloons along its side. He looked absolutely magnificient, like a ship’s figurehead, or a pagan deity appearing like a shower of gold in the presence of his band of worshippers.
Everything esle around him was a scene out of total misery, and every man immediately ceased from his own individual activity when Nurse materialized out there on the landing, with several of his fellow galleons on either side of him.
All the men going around selling their bsicuits off ( for weed) stopped in their tracks, as did the crashing sound from the dominoes being intermittently slammed down on the makeshift tables further back along the corridor.
Nurse entered and began to examine inside each cell. Most of the Pamela Andesron type pics came down at that point, and all these girlies gathered together in their pages in a growing pile of womanhood on the wire that stretched across the middle of the gangway.
In my cell – when he came to it- all there was up that belonged to me was a pic I had taken out of a magazine bearing the face of Al Capone. Needless to say, poor old Al was soon down off my wall and spreadeagled, face down amongst the pile of showgirls, awaiting for one of the cleaners to come and be swept away.
‘Are you working?’ Nurse said to me. Now I had been sitting up on _&G corridor for eleven months up until then. The only times out of myc ell and off the landing were for the infrequent trips to the reception room and to see the British embassy on the rare occassions when they would breeze by.
So, although I didn’t want to scare him off by seeming too keen, I did want to get out of my cell and more or less said so.
The enxt thing I knew Officer Shorey – from the admin office- cqame by and asked me about working as a bucketman down in H&I. This was the ‘forbidden zone’ of the prison- it immediately conjured up visions of a labyritnine world of darkness, and, more importantly- the far end of it was the infamous ‘death row’ of Glendairy prison.
What an opportunity! My jaw dropped, and I instantly agreed. Down here I would get right into the inner guts of the ‘belly of the beast’ and see what the hell was going on. As part of the tour, I would get to see the actual cell lived in by Ronald Biggs- the Great Train Robber- when in 1982/3 he had been kidnapped and taken against his will by bounty-hunters to Barbados, from where they had hoped to extradite him back to the UK. I would also get to meet the most (in)famous characters from Barbados’ criminal world; all th top murderers were down there, awaitig execution- and in the front part of H&I were the men in isolation on disciplinary grounds. men such as Trevor Eastman- the famous Flamer of Blackrock mental hospital, men such as Jah Hool- who was well known as one of the most mystical prisoners Glendairy had ever known, and who was known not to suffer fools gladly.
( to be continued)