Monday, 6 August 2007


If I'm told to do something by a policeman then (within reason) I'll do it and won't question the instruction.

I didn't realise I had this inbuilt conformity until I roleplayed a prison situation in which I was a prisoner. Don't worry this wasn't a sexual thing, it was a stay in Oxford jail overnight to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Research. We volunteered to behave like prisoners and the prison guards were real prison guards who had volunteered their time.

The experience was realistic to a degree. We were in real prison cells but we got to choose our cell companions. I remember Sindy, Pettsie, Daniel and Alun sharing a hideous cell. We were inducted with a strict explanation of the rules. There was to be no booze but we smuggled some in despite being searched. Prison guards were Sir or Ma'am and when there was a roll call we needed to appear outside our cells ready to recite our roll number then "Sir" or "Ma'am", whichever was appropriate.

Whenever there was a roll call I was one of the first out of the cell, regardless of the time of the call. I had no problem with doing what I was told even though I didn't know what the consequences of non-compliance were. Sindy, on the other hand was our cell rebel.

When a male prison guard demanded a roll call she would call back with her telephone number and an instruction for the guard to call her using a very coquettish tone. They weren't used to this and the punishment was that our cell was turned over.

I would use this as a learning experience, much like Pavlov's dogs. Bad behaviour equals bad consequences. I think Sindy viewed it as more of a challenge. Our cell was turned over five times that night.

All of this should help you understand my discomfort today at being forced to break a rule and contravene authority.

Remember my car park rant? Today the ticket machine was not working, the text payment service was not working and the rail ticket office would not accept payment for the car park.

The lady behind the ticket counter said "Well if you can't pay, you can't pay..."

I didn't pay. I broke a rule. I've felt bad all day as a result.

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