It had a burnt helter-skelter in the middle of it,
graffiti upon every concrete surface to be seen.
Broken and smashed beer and cider bottles
strewn all over the ground and used glue-bags
and rubbers dangling from the hawthorn bushes.
No children or parent set foot within its sacred
boundary gates even though being built for them.
For it was ours, smack bang right in the middle
of our territory, with escape streets and back lanes
stretching out like cobwebs in every single direction.
We were the wayward, dysfunctional, troublesome
teenage children of the urban, gangland night
and yes, ‘what un-sweet music did we make!’
It was our youth club, our arena and our sanctuary.
A home when we were not welcome anywhere else
but police stations, secure units and prison cells.
It was the backdrop to so many mad adventures,
escapades and street chases of gigantic magnitude.
‘Always Defended, But Never Invaded!’
Our castle of broken climbing bars and frames,
skinhead swings and punk music themed memories.
Which soaked like living blood into the hooligans
pride of our young adolescent Melyn Street bones.
They do not do it anymore,
they stopped it years ago.
Now every prison cell in Britain
has its own toilet and rightly so.
But I remember it well!
They were dull white plastic things
with a carrying handle at the back
and a removable lid on top.
About a third the depth of a bucket.
I once shared a corner dormitory
in Swansea with 3 other boys.
2 of them shit in theirs by midnight,
we had to sleep with that stink
in the room until the morning
when the cell doors were opened
and they could go and slop out.
There were 2 massive metal sinks
on each landing by the actual toilets
you threw the contents of your pot
into the first and swilled it out
under the tap into the second sink.
But that morning the pots in our cell
did not quite make it that far
a guy 3 cells down had both of them
thrown over his bonce, not pleasant,
because of un-paid drug money.
Put people in animalistic conditions
and they will start acting accordingly.
The Time I worked in the Gardens
right opposite the Prison Gate
was the best, I had it down ‘to a tittle.’
Always, at first break I would use
the public toilets, clean and spacey,
private and with proper toilet roll
not like the Prison tracing-paper stuff.
I would have me a good 5 minutes
of daydreaming and general reflection
whilst smoking my thickest roll-up
of the day as I sat there in total bliss.
Whilst the other boys scammed,
begged, argued, fought and generally
horse played around like Fools.
I was King upon a nice warm throne
for a few minutes out of most days.
Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet.