Chapter Nine

Prison

 

The next morning after breakfast, I returned to Paddy’s place to find him in bed with John Bradshaw. When they got up, Katie suggested that we all go to the Kenco Coffee House on the King’s Road, Chelsea for breakfast and we agreed. On arrival, Katie excused herself and went to the bathroom. She returned with a big smile on her face.

The breakfast was on the table before us when in walked a group of heavies. They walked straight up to us and one of them grabbed hold of my arm and forced it behind my back. I was defenceless. They pushed me outside into a waiting taxi. As the taxi pulled away, I saw John being forced into another taxi behind.

 “Okay Kelly” one of the men said to me as he snapped a pair of handcuffs onto my wrists. “You have not been paying your tax. Now’s your chance, otherwise we’ll take you to Scotland Yard.”

I asked them what they meant and they said that they had all the cheque books and enough evidence to send us down for quite a long time but if we gave them half the money, they would let us go. I told them that I had no idea what they were talking about and one of them slapped me across the face and told the driver to keep circling around. On reflection, maybe I should have tried to strike a deal with them. We had put the money in another bank in my name and then thrown away the evidence of the deposit. I thought that they could not get to it and anyway I was not really sure that they actually were the police. I put two & two together and worked out that it must have been Katie or Paddy that tipped them off. Maybe they were gangsters and if they got the money, what would they do to us? If they were the police and we gave them the money, that would be proof of our guilt. Surely the banks would not give evidence against us? I totally ignored any more questions that they asked me. I said that I had developed a serious migraine headache and could not even think.

The taxi pulled to a stop and we were transferred to cells in the depths of Scotland Yard. I was locked up alone and completely naked. I could hear faint voices in the distance intermingled with the occasional slap & scream. I heard John scream out – “Don’t hit me again please don’t hit me.” Then there were murmurs. My cell door opened and in came the two men who had arrested me. I knew that they were coming to question me and if necessary to beat me as I had heard them working on John. I stood up as they entered and one of them pushed me backwards onto the wooden shelf that served as a bed. He then put one foot on the board and leaned on his knee. He pointed his finger at me menacingly with his free hand and in an instant I caught hold of his arm and bit him so hard that he screamed. I then feigned madness and started screaming like a wailing banshee. They left the cell very quickly and only returned a couple of days later to ask me if I had anything to say. I asked for a lawyer and several days later after I had spoken to one, John and I were transferred to Leicester Prison to await trial.

The Trial took three months. Every other week we were taken to Stafford Crown Court to face judge and jury. We pleaded ‘Not Guilty’ to the charge of conspiracy to defraud. Apparently the police, with all the evidence of the cheque books, had persuaded the banks into giving evidence against us. The trial took so long because there were so many people involved.

Whilst we were still on remand awaiting trial in Leicester prison. Brian Epstein came to visit me with my mother; he drove her down from London. He told me during that visit that John was going crazy with anger because Brian would not release them from their contract with him, but now I could do no more to protect him?

Whilst on remand awaiting trial John Bradshaw’s brother, Chris, sent us both a large box of chocolates as Xmas was approaching. The screws would not let us have them and asked if we would like to donate them to the prison officer’s children’s party for Xmas. The party was to take place on Xmas day. The prisoners were allowed to stay out of their cells on Xmas day. Xmas day arrived strangely, as the screws and their families could be heard in the distance over the 12 foot high wall whimpering and wailing. Some laughing hysterically whilst others screamed their heart out. The second shift of screws took over about mid-afternoon and they were acting very strangely too. One minute they were giggling amongst themselves and the next appearing to be terrified. One of the screws burst out crying because he said his hat was too heavy. In fact they were all in a very strange state.

The cells were left closed all the next day, because we were informed that the screws were all down with food poisoning or somat strange and so were their families. Relief screws were brought in from other prisons for a day. It was not until Chris & Julie next visited that we found out the reason for the strange episode. Chris told us that he had sent us the wrong box of chocolates. He told me that he had injected pure lysergic acid (LSD) into the two hundred special Cadburys chocolates for sale to punters. Unfortunately, during a high, the box of ‘special’ chocolates was mixed up with the box that was intended for us! The screws tripped out with their families for Christmas.

The four months on remand in Leicester prison really dragged by. Life in gaol started as a downer. The whole time we were on remand in Leicester prison I was storing up aspirins by going to the sick bay every day complaining of headaches in order to get the pills, which I sewed into the lining of my prison uniform. It was my plan to overdose if I got more than four years sentence. Whilst on remand, my father, my grandmother and my dog Rex died. These catastrophes did not help the situation. I felt that the world had come to an end for me. However my mother was there for me. She visited me every week and helped me from topping myself.

The last day of the trial arrived and both John & I received the same sentence – 30 months for each charge. It did not exclude the 4 months that we had already been on remand as we had pleaded not guilty. The total sentence then was 270 weeks, but the judge added, after he saw the expression of despair on our faces, these sentences to run concurrently. This meant that on our record it showed that we had been sentenced to a total of Twenty Two and a half years imprisonment.

Prison for me was in fact a bit of good luck. It was always my subconscious desire to do time in Her Majesty’s lock-up. We were taken first back to Leicester prison but some weeks later John was transferred to an open prison. Due to my previous record of violence, I was sent to Stafford prison.

The first day was the humdinger. I was the newcomer, therefore to be treated with contempt. I had been sent to Stafford prison to serve the time allotted. The first morning we were ordered out of our cells to slop out, which means standing in a queue with your pisspot in hand waiting your turn to pour your personal waste down the one sink drain; then the breakfast queue. As I stood in line with about fifty others, a giant of an ugly brute of an excuse for a man waited till my turn came to get served my porridge then he dodged in my front, giving me a push backwards, well I instinctively responded by digging him in the ribs, and telling him I employed many of his type on the outside, as my personal bouncers, and if he retaliated he would be dealt with accordingly by my many friends. To this he simply grunted, but from then on in he treated me with the upmost respect, and over the next few weeks, one by one, the heavies on the inside learned that Clive Kelly the well-known club owner and hard case was in the same institution as them and so befriended me and helped me through it.

My first job was stitching canvas mailbags. Eight hand stitches to one inch. The screw in charge would be constantly measuring our work. If one stitch was wrong, he would rip it open with a sharp knife and we would have to start again.

 

I was in a single cell and so at night I would read all that I could on psychology or anything that was involved with mysticism and the mind. It soon became apparent to the other more illiterate cons, that I was what they called a bookworm. This led to my first fiddle; I became the scribe – the letter writer for those that could not write their own letters. For each letter that I wrote, I would charge ¼ oz of tobacco. Tobacco was the currency of the inmate as it still is today. I became involved in helping the people and earning enough currency to buy myself the favours that meant that life in nick became bearable. For instance, with my extra ration of currency, I could buy a small homemade crystal set radio which was the size of a matchbox. I could also buy extra rations of eggs, sugar and even afford to eat a steak once a week.

Once a week we were allowed a visit. This was the highlight of the week, always something to look forward to. My mother would visit once a month and Maureen, my girlfriend, every few weeks. Mo would always bring me a secret present, usually a small piece of hashish. At the end of a visit, she would lean across the table between us and give me a quick goodbye kiss. As she did so she would pass a small piece of hash from her mouth to mine. My small group of close friends and I would always be able to get high.

After I had been inside for a few months, I got a visit from Brian Epstein. He was astounded that I, of all people, had got myself involved in such a position. I told him that we were really robbing the banks for the fun of it – the excitement and adrenaline rush. He said that he understood and that when I was released, my job with him was still waiting. He went on to tell me that he was now receiving regular threatening phone calls telling him to release The Beatles from their contract. I could see that he was still very afraid – but not enough.

A couple of weeks later, I read that Brian had been found dead in his bedroom. The police said that they did not suspect foul play. I noticed from the photos shown in the newspapers that the verandah in front of Brian’s bedroom balcony did not have the wrought iron framework that we had discussed. I felt sure that he had not died from an accidental drug overdose as the newspapers were saying. There was nothing I could do and so I said my silent goodbye to yet another loved one. I could only console myself by thinking that, maybe if I hadn’t been so abruptly removed from society, I may also be dead.

Stafford prison was run by an 84 year old - Lord Robin Finch. Apparently he was a humanist that truly believed in reforming prisoners, and releasing them as good citizens. His much younger wife was an ex-vaudeville dancer from London’s Windmill Club and actress. Their 21 year old daughter was an avid Beatles fan. I learned these facts within the first few weeks of arrival at the most advantageous prison I could have had the good fortune to be sent to.

Governor Lord Robin knew of my rock and roll history as he himself was a friend of Harry Allen, the Queen’s hangman who bought the CubiKlub rhythm and blues centre in Rochdale from me. It was formerly known as Krazy Cuts and was located in the cellars of the Co-operative Mill. I don’t know what he renamed it when he acquired it. Lord Robin also knew my friend, the Beatles manager Brian Epstein as he spent a lot of time in the West End where Brian had his London offices. He was also a drinking pal of Lionel Bart.

The governor’s wife and daughter were in charge of the newly formed amateur dramatic association. We met once a week on a Thursday night in the prison chapel. There were about twenty cons, and the two ladies, mother and curious daughter. The mother Lorna, and daughter Julie, arranged scripts for us to read, so that we could put on monthly theatrical plays to entertain the other inmates. The governor’s daughter was a major attraction for most of us to join. She was quite pretty and like any other young lady loved to be admired. I enjoyed these weekly get-togethers as I became very friendly with her. She would love to hear my stories of the Rock & Roll world from which I had come. She was particularly impressed by my stories and knowledge of my friends The Beatles.

We rehearsed and presented two plays whilst I was at Stafford. The first one was 'You’re in the Army Now' and the second was the old classic 'Arsenic & Old Lace'. The first play required that I play the part of Captain Percy. The governor’s wife & daughter each played the parts of female officers. I am sure that all our sexual fantasies were satisfied by our fertile imaginations and the closeness of our acting gave us little to desire. Our plays were quite good. The cons would crowd into the chapel every couple of months to see our show of 'Arsenic & Old Lace'.

One day I had a visit from Maureen, the mother of my daughter in Preston. Maureen was my girlfriend and also Rory Storm’s. On occasions, he in fact drove her down to visit me. Maureen had a wonderful surprise present for me, as the hourly visit finished Maureen surreptitiously put in her mouth a half inch square piece of hashish and then as the bell rang for visitor’s time up, she kissed me full on, thus passing with her tongue the hash from her gob to mine. Silly girl I thought as I realised she had not even wrapped it in a Johnny as was normal with such secret transactions and was quite common on those prison visit days.

The chief screw on visits duty must have got a tip off, or suspected the obvious when he saw Rory’s big white winged batman type car in the car park, or he saw the tongue in cheek embrace. When the visiting room was empty he ordered me to strip off all my clothes with the excuse that he suspected I had hidden contraband.

It was cold and it was Thursday, the night of the show that we, the amateur dramatic art group, were to premiere our new play on stage in the church hall immediately after dinner. As I stood to attention nude, and cold, with the under tongue hidden hash slowly melting into my gullet, my head was spinning, the screw had it all planned. As he searched me, he was called away to attend to some duties in another part of the prison. I was ordered to remain standing there and wait for him to return.

After about an hour that seemed like a lifetime I was told to get the hell out to the chapel hall, and on stage. I just had enough time to bolt down my tray of food before reporting with the rest of the cast of Arsenic & Old Lace. The stage was set and the audience of cons and invited guests were filling up the seats. I did my best to don my costume as an old lady but the effects of the drug were becoming stronger. I had swallowed enough dope to keep several people stoned for a few days. During one of my lucid moments, I realised that I was stood on stage in front of the whole prison’s 500 inmate population frozen to the spot and speechless adjusting my marijuana-boggled mixed-up mind. I could do nothing but laugh, the situation seemed so funny. The cons joined me in the laughing. It was total madness until wham, it hit me to sing. ‘My old mans a dustman he wears a dustman’s hat’ etc. It all passed over as a joke and nobody really knew for certain what it was all about.

The screws were advised by Robin, who had, had a running battle with the Home Office about the drama group’s therapeutic benefits. He was by now totally embarrassed with the situation as he had invited fellow members of the Rotary Club to attend the performance. The screws had no option but to put me into a straight jacket and take me off to the prison hospital. I spent the next few days in a padded cell as they thought that I had gone insane. After the prison shrink had put me through several tests, they found out that I was really quite normal. The incident passed but I was not allowed to be in the drama group any more.

I applied to the prison authorities to take a course in television and radio repairs. Because of my previous background as a television aerial rigger, it was obvious that I had an interest in that field and I was accepted for the 6-month course which was held at Lancaster Castle Prison. Apparently before his death, Eppy had phoned Robin at my mother’s request and asked him to get me on a radio and television technician’s course, which he did.

Half of Lancaster Castle was used as a prison and the other half was a museum and so I felt quite good about my new temporary home. My cell was in one of the tall castle towers and from my single cell window I could see Blackpool Tower in the distance. I felt very close to home. Preston was in fact only twenty miles away and most of the cons in the prison came from around there and knew of me and my clubs.

The expert that taught us our new trade was a civilian and he was a really nice man. If he is still alive I want him to know that I appreciated his patience with me.

Whilst I am off again. I would like readers to know that the hurricane that I mentioned earlier in my writings, passed without incident. However it did do a lot of damage in Florida. Now we are sailing between Freeport and Nassau. The sea is calm and the wind is gentle yet strong enough to push us along at 5 knots. The automatic pilot is in control and Luz is sleeping. I am on watch and as I watch, I write my memories.

Six months passed and every day we went to school and learned the true wonders of electricity. The time passed by very quickly. After the course had been completed, I was now a professional TV & radio technician.

I was put to work on the land as a potato picker. A group of us would be taken out each day to a nearby farm. The farm that I was working at was near the road, so I could arrange with Moe to be waiting in a car. Once I managed to slip out of sight long enough to satisfy my desires with Moe. It was really good, an adventure and so stimulating to be able to fool the system once again.

A couple of months later, I was transferred back to Stafford to finish my sentence. On my return I was offered the job as assistant prison electrician. My job was to assist a screw electrician in changing all the cell light bulbs, fixing new conduit around the prison corridors, repairing telephones in fact anything that ran on electricity. This facilitated my tobacco-dealing fiddles and this was where my TV & radio course became very useful. I had learned to make miniature radios using telephone platinum points acquired from the outworkers. The tuner was no more than a copper wire coil wrapped around the lead of a carbon pencil. The earth wire was a piece of copper wire dipped into our cell pisspot, and the cell bars were wired to be the aerial. I made many radios for my fellow cons, each paid for with tobacco.

At Stafford prison there was a special wing for sex offenders. These were the sort of offenders who were ‘kiddie fiddlers’, not the ones who were interested in adult sex. These prisoners were commonly known as nonces. This word derives from a notation on the prisoner’s notes to indicate that they have to be kept apart from other inmates. It is an acronym of Not On Normal Communal Exercise hence N.O.N.C.E. One day I saw a group of inmates pour a four gallon urn of scalding tea over a nonce. They had been waiting on a balcony above his cell. When the screws opened the door they stepped back and called the nonce out. As he exited the cell – whoosh – the contents of the urn were tipped out over the balcony and went all over the nonce.. This was followed by a frightful scream. They took him away to the hospital wing and no more was heard of him.

There was a priest that had been in the nonce block for many years. He had suffered many years of intimidation and threats. Three days before his release he hanged himself from the electrical conduit that carried the power to the light in the cell. The electrical officer and I were called to his cell to cut him down. I was told to wait outside whilst they cut him down and took him away. After they had cut him down and removed him, I was left in his cell to repair the broken fittings and re-affix the bent conduit which had begun to sag under his dead weight. I put my ladder up against the wall and I noticed the blood and finger nails stuck in the mortar between the bricks. I was horrified. Obviously he had been swinging himself somehow and tried to claw himself back up the wall. Was it suicide, or more vengeance by others who had the extreme need to make others suffer more than they; to feel justification of some sort? That incident left a nasty taste in my mouth about humanity, of which I was one.

My time was nearly up and so I got on with my own business. My hourglass of time was a big tea chest, where, when I returned to the toolroom at night, I would smash all the broken bulbs that I had removed from various locations round the prison. I had been told that each time that the tea chest was full and due to be emptied, 6 months would have passed.  The box was almost full.

I met a good friend in Stafford. His name was Tony and we were to remain good friends for many years.

There was one more incident that stands out in my mind. I was sent to the kitchen one day on my own to repair a broken cable. One of the kitchen workers was the one who would help to supply me with my extra treats. Whilst I was in the kitchens he gave me six eggs and a bag of sugar. I had no time to even discuss with him it was so fast. I quickly stuffed the food into the back of my shirt. The screw in charge must have seen the transaction as he came up to me and said, with a smile on his face, “Well Kelly, you’re due to leave us next week so be good and don’t get yourself into any more sticky situations”. He then gave me a big pat on the back and laughed. As he did so he said “Now be on your way.” I left and went stickily on my way carrying my tool bag behind my back to try to hide the stain. I had to remain in those clothes for the rest of the day. Thank God it was a cold climate.