Sprog 2 woke early yesterday and asked if we could go for a walk. “Mummy can’t,” I said, “she has to go to jail.” Sprog 2 didn’t bat an eyelid, just curled up on the sofa to watch Charlie & Lola. Mummy had a hangover, so she wasn’t really looking forward to jail. But she’d promised to meet someone there. (Need a refresher course on my prison time? See https://housegoeshome.com/2012/01/06/murder-medicine-and-motherhood/) When you book a jail visit, they tell you to arrive at 8.15am. Lord knows why, because they’re lucky to unlock the front doors by 9am (followed by another 20 minutes of faffing while they get their scanners working). I don’t mind the wait outside, it can be highly entertaining. Yesterday there was woman wearing fuzzy bed socks and chain-smoking. Between puffs she discussed her time doing jury duty. It was a case involving parents who left their sick three-month old baby in the care of her nine-year-old sister while they played bingo. When they got back the baby was dead. The fuzzy bed sock woman was outraged that the parents were found not guilty. So when she got called up for jury duty again reecently, she told them: “Look, my daughter’s in jail for f@#kin’ murder. I don’t feel like being on a f@#kin’ jury right now. And they got straight back to me that I didn’t have to f@#kin’ do it.” Also listening to her tale – it was a bit hard not to, fuzzy bed sock woman didn’t have volume control – was a terrified nun. At least I think she was a nun. She was wearing sensible brown shoes, her hair was in a bun and she had a big, silver Jesus medalliony thing around her neck. She gave tiny flinches every time the “f” word was uttered, which was quite often. I took pity on her and started a conversation. I really, really wanted to continue eavesdropping on the fuzzy bed sock woman, because she was fascinating. But it was the nun’s first time at the jail and she seemed pretty freaked out. I soothed her jangled nerves by chatting about stuff that didn’t include the words “murder” and f@#K. (Gave me flashbacks to a Valentine’s Day dinner I had with Husband at Marque many years ago. The woman at the next day kept screeching, “Oh my god, it’s f@#kin’ raw! If the next thing’s f@#kin’ raw I’ll complain, I f@#kin’ will” about every course. It was very romantic.) Eventually I got a chance to tune back into fuzzy bed sock woman, who was mid-rant: “It wasn’t f@#kin’ murder, it was f@#kin’ manslaughter. She’d been comin’ after her for ages. It was f@#kin’ self-defence. She came at her again, so she f@#kin’ knifed her in the arm …” A bloke in the queue speculated: “Must’ve hit a vein.” And fuzzy bed sock woman said, “If it was me, I would’ve just stood there and watched her f@#kin’ bleed out.” At that moment, the doors to the visitors’ centre finally clicked open and I didn’t get to hear any more about fuzzy bed sock woman’s colourful life. But I’m really hoping she’s there next time I visit. Eventually, I got to see my friend Kathy. I bought her a can of lemonade and a packet of snakes from the junk machine in the corridor. We discussed old school friends, her hopes for a retrial and her joy at having her first hot chips in eight years (a prison officer gave her his takeaway dinner leftovers). We laughed, we bitched, we gossiped, we commiserated. It felt so normal, yet so completely abnormal at the same time. When I finally re-emerged into the sunlight, I drove to my local butcher and asked him to cut a nice, big lamb shoulder for me. As he sliced, I recalled fuzzy bed sock woman’s desire to watch that unknown woman “bleed out”. Two such different worlds in one city. And I spent the morning in both.