02 March 2012
One night in prison
“They are not my guns” were the last words I heard myself say as the prison door slammed shut behind me. That slow realisation that this room with no windows and that smell coming from the ‘stainless’ yet somehow ‘stained’ steel toilet pan in the corner is ever present. What is that smell? I realised it was the mixture of bleach and shit -to be honest- the shit smell would have been fine but with a hint of bleach it somehow elevated the scent into a higher sense in my nose. My brain kept trying to make sense of what the conjoined smells were and that made it worse – bleach and shit were the two smells that remind me of that horrible night.
I stood in that small room that was painted a dirty mushroom colour; it had one shelf bed with a blue foam plastic mattress. The mattress when pressed emanated a new smell to the collage of stinks already in the room. I grabbed the grey crusty blanket and lay down. Then immediately sat up- how the fuck did I imagine I could lie down in this room and sleep like I was in some unusual hotel…I was in a police cell and I didn’t know when I was getting out.
I looked about and wondered how many people had slept there and if they had all managed a full piss into the mattress. I imagined men standing up and just pissing onto the bed with no care who may have to come after them. My fingers touched the rough blanket and I felt as though microscopic bugs were jumping onto my hand. I flinched and stared at the ceiling.
The looming sense of aloneness and my mild to middling claustrophobia made a sudden panic flutter in my chest as if a small, half dead bird was trapped inside my ribcage. I could feel my heart bang in my ears and my blood rushing through my veins, my gums tightened and my tongue tingled with the fear rising inside me. I almost screamed, but held back the panic as I knew my husband was in a cell near me and I didn’t want him worried about me.
“Excuse me, can I get a toothbrush in here” I shouted as I banged on the door. Eventually someone who genuinely looked like Les Dawson dressed as a woman came in through the door. I was surprised she wasn’t a police woman, why wasn’t she a police person?
“A toothbrush? Where the fuck do you think you are? The Hilton?” she shouted, turned and slammed the door shut, I guessed she must have been some sort of police worker or someone who looks after female remand prisoners and I started giggling nervously as I recalled she really did look like a wee fat aproned woman from a 70s sitcom. Am sure she had a moustache and then I pondered what if she was a policeman who likes to dress as a wee fat woman at nights and I had disturbed him/her? Then I thought…maybe I should be worrying about this situation instead of finding something to giggle about. I was in a police cell for possessing guns and that was fact I had to face.
Yet weirdly all I could think about was “I really want to brush my teeth”.
I knew that my daughter Ashley was ok; I knew she was with family and I knew my husband was in a nearby cell as he was arrested with me. How could he not know his dead father had secreted weapons in his house the house we were living in whilst my own flat was being renovated. How could he not know this? I was so angry, and had to face it; of course he knew but didn’t bother to worry about it.
Circumstances and a woman scorned had lead me to that police cell, if my father in law hadn’t fucked some crazy bitch who after a long turbulent relationship with the family hadn’t showed the police a map of the back garden where she believed the guns to be…..I would be ok. But we weren’t ok. They found the guns.
In that cell for that whole night I still recall the feeling of horrible injustice. Those policemen knew those guns weren’t mine- yet they still locked me up overnight.
I lay awake on the smelly mattress with the scabby blanket and vowed to never take my liberty for granted ever again- after a sleepless night I was taken to the courts in Glasgow and released without charge. It was over.
It’s been years since all that happened and I have spoke about it in my comedy show and made funny jokes and stories surrounding the whole situation, yet it still haunts me.
The upshot of that experience back in 1994 is- I joined Amnesty International in an effort to help anyone who was dragged into a situation through others and innocently ended up in a cell.
I know I was guilty by association to the family, and my innocence wasn’t clear cut but many people are held against their will and don’t have proper representation or help so please join @amnestyuk on twitter and get involved with their projects.