How to survive your first day of primary school, by a lifer in maximum security at HMP Belmarsh

HEY, fresh meat. Yeah I’m talking to you. About to start your first five-stretch in the learning slammer? Here’s how to get through it:

Adjust to life on the inside

Accept it: you’re never getting out. Sure, after five years they’ll move you to a bigger, tougher prison, and you’ll work to get GCSEs and A-levels on the promise of sweet, sweet freedom. Don’t believe it. Whether you’re in the open prison of university or the D-wing of office work, you’re banged up for life. Hope ain’t on your side in here.

The black market

This place runs on grease, so bring in contraband. Popping candy, scented stickers, conkers; everyone has their price. But make sure you know who runs the joint. If the year threes have the trade in Pokémon cards sewn up, don’t tread on their turf. That can end in an eight-year-old stamping on your Space Raiders.

Gaining respect

Heard about going up to the biggest kid in the yard and punching him? Bullshit. Instead find a weak, trusting kid in glasses and beat the crap out of him. Encourage others to join in. You’ll coast through the rest of your 11 years safe in your reputation as a violent psychopath.

Know your rights

You get 60 minutes exercise a day. If the screws try to fob you off with indoor play, even if it’s only spitting outside, that’s bullshit. Stage a dirty protest by crapping yourself.


Yeah, it’s as bad as they say. Basic, prepared by violent thugs with few cookery skills, remember, these ‘dinner ladies’ are just as much prisoners as you are. They did some heinous shit.


The standard issue is ugly and designed to alert the police if they see you wandering about outside. It can and should be customised. If you’re in the Aryan Nation, sew on patches showing your affiliation and rank to deter would-be attackers; otherwise, just fasten your tie real short and refuse to tuck your shirt in.


You might be lucky. The walls of your cell could be made of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete. A smuggled spoon, or even the corner of a Dairylea triangle, and that shit crumbles away. Dig a tunnel behind a poster of Dora the Explorer and you could be out in 19 years or so. Though once you’re out you’ll start wishing you were back in.

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Friends worried for millennial who's only visited five countries this year

THE friends of a millennial who has only had two holidays, two city breaks and a trip to a Spanish music festival in 2023 are considering an intervention.

Hannah Tomlinson has sparked concern after going almost two months without leaving the UK, apart from attending Benicàssim in July, and friends believe they have a responsibility to say something.

Ryan Whittaker said: “It’s not normal. And if we don’t say anything then we’re enabling it.

“Look, we’ve all done stints at home. After my fortnight in New York last year, I didn’t see an airport for six straight weeks. But you’ve got to pick yourself up off the floor and book your next trip, you know?

“But this year Hannah’s only had that week in Mexico, the weekend in Vienna, a hen weekend in Florence and her usual Ibiza trip, which barely counts because she’s there every year.

“When the rest of us have been to Paraguay, Kyoto, Reykjavik, Dubrovnik, Dubai, Santa Fe, Mauritius and Hue City in that time, to name a few, it’s pretty clear she’s got a problem. Looking at her Instagram made me cry.”

Tomlinson admitted: “I know, I know. I’ve been so busy with work I’ve neglected trips that are vital for self-care. But weirdly there’s all this money in my bank account.”