Why John was parked up in the handicap space of the No.49 bus, beaming like the happiest man in the world, I suppose no-one will ever really know.

Why I was sat five rows back, ripping a Prison Visitor's Guide into confetti and glaring murder at him from behind a pair of dark shades, is another matter entirely.

I can explain it something like this...

*     *      *      *

On Holloway Prison's website they state:

Disabled access?
Yes. The Visitors' Centre is fully accessible to disabled visitors.
There is even a disabled toilet available.

So, when John snatched his passport back and zoomed in past the first of two external security gates, I was surprised to hear the guard shout into his walkie-talkie:

“We've got a live one. I repeat: We've got a live one! VO 281075. Non-descript battery operated vehicle. Heading your way.”

When I caught up to John three guards had come out to meet us at what looked like a road block. The tallest and least scruffiest of the three stepped forward.
“Are you you two together?”
“Yes,” I said “I'm his carer.”
“Lover!” spat John
“He means 'loving carer'” I laughed
“Uncaring lover, more like it!”
“Unloving carer, and we'll leave it there, hey?!

“Ok, ok. Enough! Let's see your ID and V.O's.”

The Head Goon cast a suspicious eye over our particulars. Satisfied they were at least good fakes, he handed them to the Tit on his left - who took them off, into a little security cabin. When he returned he informed the Head Goon that we were here to see Prisoner B6 2006 (Mrs Verity Cooper). The Head Goon nodded then told us that our visit would be subject to a delay. He said something about wheelchairs and drugs and bombs.

He also said: “Oh, and you'll need to sign this.”

The Tit on his right stepped forward and pushed a blue clipboard at me. A pen dangled from it on a piece of string. I scribbled my name on the paper and handed it down to John. For some reason John made out his arm was all spastic and floppy and signed something that looked like a cloud.

Head Goon took the clipboard and left. In perfect sync his Left and Right Tit said: “This way.”

After a huge metal gate and four classic prison doors we were joined by a woman. She looked like she'd been grabbed from some school canteen, shoved in an undersized uniform, sat at a desk in the middle-of-nowhere and told not to go to sleep. Now she took the lead and led us through two more locked gates and into the 'Main Visitor's Area'. It's amazing the lengths they go to to stop people breaking in.

“Last gate and then you'll be through to the Visitor's hall proper,” said a new man, and one who looked like he had at least half a brain swimming about in his skull cavity. “First though, you'll need to completely empty all your pockets and place the stuff in the lockers to your right. That includes hats, sunglasses, wallets, sweets, chewing gum and cigarettes. Also, belts, toe-capped shoes and any other items of clothing containing metal. Guns, give straight to me, haha!” The other wardens all laughed. This guy must have been the head, Head Sap.

I emptied out all my pockets and then helped John with his back ones. “What about zips/buttons?” I asked.
“Depends on the size, but generally, they're ok.”
Once stripped off all our valuables, the guard explained that the prison doctor and his assistant were on their way with an “in house” wheelchair for John. Just as he finished up they arrived.

After lifting John into his temporary chair,  we were both now ready to go through the security gates and then on to see verity.
“OK, You first Mr Spencer.”
I walked through pretending it was just the checkout in the Garden Centre. When nothing exploded and I wasn't wrestled to the floor by armed police I took it as a pass.
“Now you, Mr McManus. Ready?”
John nodded and wheeled on through.


“Ok. Don't worry, this is very common,” said the gate warden “Lets start at the top. Remove your glasses and go through again.”


“Ok. Back out. Anything in your top pocket?” John patted it and shook his head
“Did you remove your Belt?” John showed his waist. No belt.
“Anything in your front trouser pockets?”
“Just a pen,” said John, holding it up.
“Very clever,  a metal pen! Well, that'll be it! Give it here and re-enter.”


“What the...!! Ok. Out you come. Back pockets, anything??? No. Ok, Mr Mcmanus, would you be willing for the doctor to remove you shoes and socks - and then we'll try again?”
John nodded his accord. As the doctor removed John's footwear he handed each item to the guard who inspected it. With John barefooted he was beckoned through once more.


The guard looked around flummoxed. He chortled, poked his bottom lip out and shrugged. Then he called me back and turned to John.

“We cannot allow anyone who sets the alarm off through to the visiting area, not even The Queen. That's not negotiable. What is negotiable is how far you are willing to go to see your friend. As it seems it's your trousers which are setting off the alarm, if you agree to exchange them for a pair of 'Visitors pants' – which isn't as uncommon as it may sound – then as long as the bell doesn't sound, you may go through. You'd better make a dash decision, though, visiting times will be over in 30 minutes.”

Without wasting any time John agreed.

A guard pushed John into a nearby room, followed by the doctor and his assistant. Not even a minute later the three staff reappeared, barging each other to get out the room first. The guard was red, smirking and holding a pair of plain cotton pants.

“Well, he won't be needing these!” he said shaking them to the guard on gate duty. “And it's not his own trousers setting off the alarm either. Oh no! It seems our bodily disabaled visitor, Mr McManus, has a liking for 'genital adornments'!”
“What, you mean he's pierced?” blurted the guard.
“No, he's actually wearing a stainless steel cock-ring!”
At that, I nearly fainted in shame. But then came more...
“Ok” said the gate guard, trying to compose himself “lets keep this strictly professional. These 'penis rings' are not illegal and no where prohibited on any of our lists. Mr McManus has done nothing wrong. As long as he removes it, and passes through without an alarm, then he can still continue with his visit. Do you think that's an option?”
The doctor shook his head. “not possible... not just now anyway....”
“What! You mean he's got an .......”
The doctor nodded, pulled a bizarre face and used his hands to estimate size.

The gate guard wasn't smiling any more. In fact, it looked like the half a brain I thought he had was melting down and steaming away inside his head. “You” he said now addressing me, “You're his carer, yes? Well, get him dressed, get his stuff and then get him outta here! If you can do that and return in 15 minutes you can go through to see Miss Cooper. If not, then HMP Holloway thanks you for your visit, smiles politely, and wishes you a good day!”

And that was that. How we never got to see poor Verity... how Brian the Postboy stamped another boot print into our lives. Brian??? Yes. It turned out that it was his ring, the same one he had worn last weekend. He had given it to John as some kind of perverse 'friendship ring'. Apparently he had told John to put it on whenever he felt “abandoned and unwanted”. John revelled in telling me that stuff, same as he revelled in having it discovered by the prison staff and revelled in knowing it had completely fucked up our visit. It was all planned and he had pulled it off perfectly.

If that's why he was grinning so insanely on the no.49 bus ride home, I don't know. All I do know is that he won't be smiling much longer. Something wicked this way comes.


  1. Poot Tristy. you want to stick him in the freezer until the offending item falls off xx

  2. “Lover!” spat John

    'Spat' !

    That says it all.

    Love is the greatest sacrament of all, not to be spat out or willfully neglected.

    "I squandered my looks
    Mislaid my voice
    And The Rhythm no longer Is a Dancer"

    By Abigail Winthrope (Mrs)

    Where is Aidan?


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