Today I had a coffee with the Human Resources Manager at the prison, at the end of which he said, "Anne, did you know there's really only one manual you actually need to read cover to cover to work for the SPS?"
"No", I said, wondering which manual would be the one that was so indispensible. Then he said, "I've got a copy here. I'll lend you my copy" and produced a three-stories-in-one book of the BBC tv series Porridge!!!
And he's right, actually. It tells you everything you need to know to work in jail (in the UK anyway). I've always loved Porridge (the series - not porridge the cereal which I think is disgusting along with all cereals which I maintain are of the devil!)... But I never dreamt when I watched it as a kid I'd one day have an inside perspective - thankfully a staff rather than an inmate perspective. And the funny thing is there are almost as many laughs in jail as the series would suggest. Lots of banter amidst lots of angst. And the endless "game" of officers and prisoners (screws and cons) trying endlessly to outwith each other with "measures" verses "dodges"! God gave us a sense of humour partly because He is nice, partly because He's got one Himself, and partly, I'm sure, because it is such a help when we're in horrible places like jail. Incidentally I've worked in a night shelter and a hospice-type day centre in the past too - and in the DSS - and it was the same there - jokes and banter interspersed with tears and trials.