I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.
— From “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” by Oscar Wilde
Word has just come in from the EDL with the latest about their recently arrested leader, Tommy Robinson. He is still a guest of Her Majesty’s correctional officials in Wandsworth Prison.
Tommy is on remand, and has not been convicted. However, because he has to be kept in the segregated unit away from the (largely Muslim) general prison population, he has been housed in the dungeon (basement) of the prison. He gets no daylight at all, and is locked up 23 hours a day.
He also only has a blue plastic mattress, a rock-hard pillow, and one blanket, even though it is freezing cold all the time. His wife wasn’t allowed to bring him a duvet — he was told he could buy one at the prison shop for £25, but at that time he had no money because it had gone missing.
Despite his being held in an icy dungeon, I’m told that he’s keeping his spirits up. He just received his first batch of mail yesterday, because they only have three staff members who read the mail for the whole of the prison, so there is a backlog of two to three weeks.
Tommy sends the following message to his well-wishers:
Big thanks to everyone for all the letters/postal orders I’ve been receiving, thanks also to everyone that is writing to MPs about me being locked up. I’ve had some very positive letters and it is raising my spirits. I’ve also put in a request to transfer to Bedford Prison.
For those who would like to write to Tommy while he is in durance vile, this is his current address:
Tommy’s birthday is on the 27th of this month. He will be turning 30 — old man! — so I’m sure cards will be welcomed.
Just think — he’s going to spend his birthday AND Christmas in the slammer. The rest of us should count our blessings.
Tommy now has a legal team who are working very hard on his behalf. He and his fellow EDL members express their thanks for the donations received to date. The first invoice will be paid shortly.
The EDL is planning demonstrations on his behalf, but no definite date or location has been set. Most of the rank-and-file are afraid they will be arrested, too, especially those who live in the London metropolitan area.
The prison was built in 1851, when it was known as Surrey House of Correction. It was designed according to the humane separate system principle: a number of corridors radiate from a central control point with each prisoner having toilet facilities. The toilets were subsequently removed to increase prison capacity and the prisoners had to engage in the humiliating process of “slopping out”, until 1996.