|Hard Labour for 3 months|
It made me a tougher and more resilient individual and by God I needed to be. The first few weeks were an utter nightmare - in all truth, I started to question why I was there and why I decided to do this. I expect many do question their motives for joining this insane institution.
I really wanted to go back to the peaceful life and my books but I knew deep down that I would stagnate back home, and nothing much would happen. People and friends had moved on so why go back home?
I accepted where I was and decided to remain there. I did for more than 3 years.
But to my surprise, once I got through the initial months of training and was posted to my regiment 8 months later, life became good and full of surprises.
The first 3 months were atrocious - whatever hard labour must have been like in Victorian times, I was in it. 3 months hard labour. My offence? Ignorance. After that, I left the prison and got, amazingly, weekends off for the first time in what felt like years.
I found myself on nights out in Soho, Bracknell, Camberley, places I thought I'd never visit. I then ended up driving across the Yorkshire Moors for 2 months. At the time I hated it and loathed myself but in hindsight the first 8 months were an utter peak and trough of astonishing experiences. Had I known then what I know now 20 years later I would have savoured every moment...