Thursday, 28 January 2010

Things Not to Say to Prisoners.

I have a gift. It's a talent. I am able to say precisely the wrong thing. Effortlessly. Not always but sometimes. I just open my mouth and put my foot right in it.

I once told a man with an artificial leg that he didn't have a leg to stand on.

Another time I was talking to a lady as we watched children having a snowball fight. I said jokingly, "I'm allergic to snowballs", in response to which the lady introduced her friend... whose name was Mrs Snowball.

Foot in mouth disease strikes me in prison too.

A very shy prisoner used to come into my office quite often and just sit and say next to nothing. Making conversation was hard work. One day (it was the 5th of November) I happened to say, "It's Bonfire Night tonight". As the words were still leaving my mouth, I thought, "You dumpling - this guy is in prison for wilful fireraising." Oops.

This week I was having a chat with a young prisoner who had been reflecting on growing up as the son of an alcoholic father. He was telling me that he and his partner had been talking about their desire to make sure their own children don't grow up with the types of memories he has. We were talking about how drinking alcohol is fine if you can drink in moderation, but if you can't drink without getting drunk, you are better not drink at all. I was explaining that I myself am quite happy to have a glass of wine and then just go on to coke. I noticed that his expression suddenly changed and, although he didn't say anything, he looked absolutely astonished. It was then I re-thought my statement that after a glass of wine I move on to coke. "Er, I mean Diet Coke. The drink. Not cocaine" "Ahh! Right!" - the penny dropped. Good job I noticed his misunderstanding or it would have been all round the jail that their chaplain was a cokehead.


Kieran said...

Hey mate, I'm doing some research on prison chaplains for a short story and I came across your blog. I wanted to know, what exactly is your role in the prison? How's it work? How/when/where/do you have one-on-ones with inmates? Do you visit them somewhere or do they visit your office upon booking? And do you oversee religios ceremonies, mass etc?

Much appreciated if you are able to reply. Thanks, Kieran

AnneDroid said...

Hey Kieran. Email me on and I'm happy to give you the benefit of my wisdom, such as it is...

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