The Wooden-Pillowed Hotel by Paul Tristram

Back when I was in Junior School in Skewen,
aged around eight or nine years old.
They took the most disruptive of us,
from my year, out on a minibus trip
(Not to a theme park or scene of beauty
like all the other kids often went to!)
down to visit Neath Police Station.
They led us in, not through the front door
and foyer like the honest people
but around the side and in the backdoor
just like all the real criminals.
It was to be an educational visit
or a cautionary clairvoyant trip,
the resulting choice being up to us?
We were first led up a dark corridor
where the Officer informed us with a chuckle
that the prisoner or prisoners were first led.
Then through a barred gate to a room
where the Desk Sergeant sat being just that,
‘This is where the prisoner is booked in
whilst all the information and evidence
relating to the crime or crimes is collected’
we were told before being led back through
the barred gate and down the dark corridor
(Which I now noticed had dozens of trails
of rubber boot and shoe soles up and down it!)
We stopped at Cell 1, where the iron door
was unlocked and we were all led inside
to stand in a police cell for the first time.
I looked at the thick small glass blocked window
high up on the wall which you couldn’t see out of
and was only barely letting in a dull bit
of the grey Welsh Winter, afternoon light.
Then at the graffitied walls, accomplished
by scraping away the paint or with fag ash,
I bit my lip as I recognized some of the names,
also prison and gang sayings which I had heard
countless times before like ‘A.C.A.B.’
‘Silence Is Golden’ ‘Snitches Get Stitches’
and ‘No Dope-No Hope- No Bail-Just Jail’
Then down at the wooden bunk a few feet high
with a blue plastic covered mattress upon it
about half the thickness of a baby cot’s one.
At the top was a large, greasy, wooden block
with a circular hole cut out of it for a pillow,
where you could rest your weary head
whilst composing various alibis (Obviously!)
When we had all scanned the police cell
the Officer took his truncheon from his belt
and rapped it against our knuckles firmly,
it didn’t feel like wood at all but like iron.
(I had seen the scars these things made
and now I knew exactly why they did so!)
“This is what we use on nasty, horrible people!”
he stated, tapping it on his own outstretched palm.
At exactly that moment a drunken shout
came from the next cell, loud and fierce
“Johnny Toshack’s Black & White Army!”
followed by a rhythmical banging of
‘Duh, Duh, Duh Duh Duh, Duh Duh Duh Duh’
Some of the boys around me jumped scared,
some giggled nervously whilst I smiled wisely
for I recognized my youngest Uncle’s voice
singing the Swansea City Football Hooligan song
he always whistled coming up the back lane
to let us all know that it was him approaching.
He was probably in on another ‘D&D’
(Drunk and Disorderly) and I wondered
if he had done it on purpose because last night
he was at the house when I spoke about this trip?
I suddenly felt proud, now I had something to add
to the conversations instead of just listening,
the other kids in my family would be jealous.
Soon we were led back out of the building
and into the yard where the Officer explained
that we had all just seen a future which he was
certain none of us wanted to experience for real.
Then one of his Colleagues appeared to give
out stickers, badges and colouring in flyers with
‘I was a good boy at the Police Station today’
(I took mine home and my Father mischievously
wore one on his ‘going out’ overcoat for weeks!)
As he passed them around he asked searchingly
“Which one’s the Tristram?” and when he saw me
he scuffed my head and slapped my shoulder
with a big grin as I scowled, pulled away
and climbed back into the open minibus to wait.
Whilst he said with much mirth and merriment
“He looks just like his Father and Grandfather,
Jesus Christ but I must be getting too old for all this!”

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. You can read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

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.
You can read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

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