As I bit into into Biblos’s ‘Veggie Challenge’ with a sigh of satisfaction on Friday, I couldn’t help but ruminate on the last ‘meal’ I had had.
Let me set the scene. 24 hours previous to the falafel I was waiting for my prison issue food. Yes, I’d been nicked, again. This time for the hideous crime of ‘chalking on the pavement’, which was almost as ridiculous as the time before when I had been arrested for standing near the police whilst owning a mobile phone.
I was starving. I’d eaten one crumpet with olive oil (the only food in the house) at 8 am, after which I had worked on my essay for an hour, briefly attended a protest against Barclays (who fund fracking) and then been unnecessarily arrested in the process. Apparently writing in chalk in front of a bank is enough to get you manhandled by 3 cops and detained for 10 hours.
Naturally, I was very hungry when they eventually gave us some food at 6.30pm. “It couldn’t be worse than the Spanish prison food” I’d thought, as I remembered that particular delight. I seem to remember a weird mushy green ‘energy’ bar and some dry crackers, 3 times a day. This time I was given the choice, ‘veggie chili’ or ‘beans, wedges and mushrooms’. I considered the question for a while then pumped for the beans, thinking that even prisons can’t get beans too badly wrong. Veggie chili has too many variables.
It was the most exciting thing that had happened in hours, having spent all bloody day in a cell with nothing to do and no-one to talk to and no food. It’s lucky I can see the funny side of things otherwise I would have been FURIOUS.
The ‘food’ was delivered to me through the slot without a word and I took it eagerly (minus points for service). I took my time, looking at it from various sides and taking it all in (there was really nothing else to do). The beans and ‘wedges’ came stacked up in 2 separate trays, served straight from the microwave. Nestled either side were 2 cereal bars. I opened up one of the trays, shaking slightly from the low blood sugar and poked around with the wooden cutlery to see what I could make out. A singular mushroom bobbed up at me and I lunged at it with a spoon, savouring the weird rubbery texture. “Probably one of my five a day there” I guessed and got stuck in to the rest of it, reluctantly sampling the wedges first and then finally the beans. The wedges were soggy as they had been boiled up with the beans, but at least the beans were OK. You really can’t mess up beans.
Other highlights from the day included when one of the policeman took my camera away and photographed his own crotch, and getting moved into a cell that didn’t have poo in the sink.
So, as I sank my teeth into a real meal on Friday, the falafel flavoursome and warming, I couldn’t help but think to myself “this is what freedom tastes like”.
For more information and a hilarious video see this Bristol Post article http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/three-arrested-after-four-hour-44459