Mobile Trouble - By Prisoner Ben Gunn


You may be wondering who the hell tries to smuggle a mobile into Open prison?? It's up there with smuggling sand to Saudi as an exercise in utter pointlessness. Well, not me. I can fairly be called an idiot, but not bloody insane.

So the truth of that day and my involvement with mobile phones. Many of you won’t be overwhelmed to learn that I’ve been connected to the internet on and off for some time, and staff have long suspected that I had access to a mobile. Quite right, I did. My first involvement with a mobile was for a few weeks four years ago. Later on, I obtained another.

What did I use this facility for? Not surprisingly, the same as you guys out there. Making calls, keeping my relationship alive, surfing, music…the usual. Most importantly, the mobile was my emotional bridge to the Editor, it sustained us and provided an oasis away from the madness of prison life. And in case you’re wondering, no I didn’t blog from the phone, although I did keep a paternal eye on your comments.


When the prospect of Open hove into view a long time ago, I disposed of my mobile. Instead I opted to borrow one when necessary, avoiding the increased risk of having to operate and hide one of my own.


The morning I was told I was off to Open, I went to the cell of Mr X to use his mobile phone to call the Editor. Then I told Mr X that I would be off that afternoon. After visiting Reception and the Library, I shot back to my cell, grabbed a few things and took them to Reception.

On my way back, Mr X told me that he’d done me a favour – he’d hidden the mobile in my word processor so that I could use it to talk to the Editor over lunchtime lock-up.

He may as well have shot me. My legs turned to jelly and it was all I could do to get back to my cell, when what I wanted to do was just fall in a heap and howl at the moon.


I am now in the hands of the disciplinary process, where it has to be shown beyond reasonable doubt that I had knowing possession of that mobile phone. Although my plea is not guilty, that the main Governor has been wheeled out to act as Judge doesn’t fill me with hope – the stench of payback is in the air! My hope lies with an appeal.

Next week, then, I should be slung into solitary for a while. This is a minor irritant. The real consequences are those that flow from being a Lifer – the loss of Open, serving more years, as all that I love and value disintegrates.

And Mr X? He has his own parole hearing later this year and isn’t volunteering to come forward to get me off the hook. And I don’t blame him; he thought he was doing me a big favour.

Every part of my life which gives meaning to my paltry existence is disintegrating. My PhD research is on a knife edge, as a floppy disc of notes has been lost during my recent travels. And yesterday, my oncologist told me that my PSA level has doubled in the last two months and there is a real concern that my tumour isn't being as helpful as it could be. As a crap 48 hours goes, this has been the worst in the sentence.

And so I face the prospect of losing everything and serving several more years. Such is the frailty of life, for all of us, and it can change in a brief moment.