Saturday, July 04, 2009

Inside Out - Real Life Stories From Parc Prison

Inside Out is a collection of 11 accounts of life inside Parc Prison, Bridgend. More interestingly, these young narrators attempt to explain how they strayed from the straight and narrow and ended up over-the-wall. Nathan from Tiger Bay, for example, wrestles with his past life: "But somewhere along the line something went wrong. Me."

Their journeys are varied. Aron is an ex-Welsh Guard who served in Iraq; Shuhel used to run a take-way; Bobby Singh is a wayward sikh. None of the storytellers are bad to the bone exactly - rather they have made (without wishing to sound like a social worker) some poor decisions in their lives. Bad parenting, peer pressure, and the corrosive influence of narcotics form the backdrop to many of these real-life tales.

All the stories are fascinating but my particular favourite is Inside Times by Arif. He recounts how an arranged gang fight between Asian and Somali youths behind Lo-Cost on Crwys Rd, Cathays, Cardiff, ended up in the stabbing of a white skinhead: "There were forty to fifty Somali boys there with baseball bats, and lots of girls were there to watch what happened." And then the aftermath: "That night everyone was arrested, in armed raids. Doors were forced open all over Cardiff. At the police stations, parents were beating their children up in front of the police."

Inside Out is part of Accent Press's Quick Read series. At 90 pages long you can read it in an hour and, trust me, it will leave you wanting more. Note to radio producers: these first person narratives would make great radio monologues.