A week after my sentencing, the Catch 22 caseworker still had not been to see me. Mark had gleaned from somewhere that they were supposed to make contact within 72 hours, but clearly this was either not the case, or else they were just blatantly disregarding it, so I decided to move things along.
Since the revelation that I was in all likelihood going to be deported unless I could do something about it, I’d discussed the situation with Tom, and he had done some research online. Evidently, I had to prove strong links to the community, but it would take quite some doing. I could provide proof of my asset base within the UK, in the form of my apartment in Soho, and I could prove that I had been living on and off in the UK since 2007, however for much of that time I had been classed as non-Dom, which meant that I had not been resident in the country for more than 90 days per year.
In 2012, when I had sold a television series to a UK network and made a considerable amount of money from it, they had ‘deemed me a resident for tax purposes’, but had never formally given me UK resident status, although of course they had been very quick to extract the 50% of my earnings for that and subsequent years — that being the going rate of taxation for income in excess of £150,000 per annum at the time. The value of the Soho apartment was in excess of £2,000,000, unencumbered, which we believed was in itself enough of a stake in the country for them to allow me to remain, however we were not sure.
Tom had suggested that I get married, and in making preliminary enquiries had advised me that Rob would be happy to oblige, but I had heard horror stories in the past from others who had entered into a marriage of convenience so I was reluctant to commit myself to this until I was sure it was the right thing to do and also that there was going to be a benefit from it. I adored Rob, but that was part of the problem. I was under no illusion that this would be solely a business transaction, but I had always had a bit of a crush on him and was worried that I would either fall in love with him, or that he would use my vulnerability to bleed me dry,and then let me down at the last moment with the UKBA when I needed him most. I knew him reasonably well, and didn’t think that this would happen, but in these situations one never really knew for sure, and I was painfully aware that I would only get one chance at this avenue with the immigration officials, and it would be impossible to go back to them with another marriage option if for some reason things didn’t work out with him.
I talked over my doubts with Tom, and we decided the best idea was to have a think about the deal and put it all down in a letter to Rob so that we were both crystal clear and under no illusion as to the terms, right from the start. I decided the safest option would be to come up with an offer whereby he would benefit the most after everything was signed sealed and delivered. It was no use throwing money at the situation right from the start, when at any point he could back out once the cash had been paid, leaving me high and dry. Again, I didn’t think he would, but then again, I hadn’t thought much about a lot of important decisions of late, and look where that had got me!
The deal I came up with in the end was that on my release he would move in with me, I would pay all the bills, and would transfer £5000 to him on our wedding day. I would also purchase a holiday house in Spain and would continue to pay our living expenses for the duration of the marriage, and once I got my permanent leave to remain, I would transfer the title of the Spanish property to him. I would also pay to have all this drawn up by a solicitor, and would at the same time safeguard both of our existing assets, so that neither of us found ourselves in a situation where we might be worse off when the deal was finally dissolved. After my resident status was confirmed I didn’t really care whether he stayed or left. I finished the letter, and was about to send it off when I realised I didn’t have his postal address, and after a couple of failed attempts to reach him on the phone, the only option I could think of was to mail it to Tom and ask him to pass it on. Phoning Tom I told him to look out for it, and settled down to wait.
After a week, I still hadn’t heard from Rob, and hadn’t been able to contact anyone by phone, so I was starting to worry. Eventually a week later I managed to reach Tom, who informed me that he had received the letter, and that in the meantime Rob had decided against going through with it. This seemed rather odd, considering he had volunteered only two weeks previously, but I figured he was clearly more fickle than I had thought. Tom then announced that he had a better idea so I booked him for a visit the following Saturday.
Once we were sitting face to face, he announced that Rob was not a safe bet, and that he had talked him out of going through with it because he was scared for my welfare.It turned out that he hadn’t passed the letter on to Rob, but had rather opened it and read it himself, something I was not overly happy about,as it had included a number of personal admissions, which I had no wish to have bandied about town. He then announced that he had decided that he would marry me, and that he would be happy with the exact same deal. I was dumbstruck. Previously I had been worried that I had no friends at all, and now I had two who wanted to marry me!
I was in no doubt though, that the motivation from Tom, as from Rob, had been purely financial, and that had there not been the promise of a sizeable sum on the table, neither would have given the deal a second glance. We chatted about the logistics for the entire hour of the visit, and I agreed to have it all put in writing with the lawyer, the following week. Tom had wanted to talk to his parents about the idea, making sure they were comfortable with it before he gave the final word, which I thought was fair enough. Although I hadn’t met them, I knew that they were close, so we agreed to talk later in the week.
I did however now have the ability to design my wedding invitations, and even have them printed at a super low cost. The Print Shop were happy to have any jobs they could get their hands on to keep the boys busy, as there was absolutely nothing to do apart from the odd poster for internal use around the prison, or the standard prison issue forms and folders used in administration, certainly nothing of any design merit. Although they couldn’t accept outside jobs, they could in fact debit money from our spends accounts for print jobs and the like.
A couple of the boys had the genius idea, in partnership with their friends who worked in the textiles section, of making and designing cool t-shirts for inmates’ use in the gym. These were then advertised through the CMS system and orders could be placed through the canteen, for delivery a couple of weeks later. As usual, this initiative no sooner got off the ground than the staff squashed it, as it involved far too much work for them. It turned out that once ordered, the t-shirts were produced, and then would have to be sent to property, to be added to the purchasers property in possession list, and then forwarded on to the inmate, however this involved a staff member walking more than 200m in one go, so was very quickly deemed far too much like hard work, and was therefore axed.
I had gone ahead and designed the wedding invitation, along with some business cards for use on my release, unaware that all of this was bubbling under the surface, and in actual fact would have been quite happy to have had them sent out on completion, as there was certainly no one on the inside which I would have wanted to invite to my wedding! We had agreed on a price of £5.00 for 1000 business cards and £7.00 for the 100 wedding invitations — a deal I was pretty sure would have been impossible from anywhere else!
A week or so had passed and I’d had no word from Tom. I had tried calling but his mobiles both went to voice-mail, and I was beginning to become a trifle worried. One of the worst parts of being in prison is that left alone with time on your hands, your mind is constantly working and I very quickly imagined the worst! Having not been in the best mental state when I first came in, recent events had done little to improve my confidence or self esteem, so whenever someone let me down, or rejected my calls, whenever I couldn’t reach someone or they failed to show up for a visit, my mind started working overtime and I imagined the worst, and so it was with Tom.
All of a sudden, I not only started to worry that he was going to drop out of the wedding situation, but also that as he had all my passwords, he was going to drain what little was left in my bank accounts. The time was fast looming when I would have to advise my immigration lawyer of my intentions in terms of a potential husband, and once the UKBA were notified there would be no turning back!
There was a foreign nationals rep on the wing, and Mark suggested it might be worth talking to him. He was a rather gruff looking Pakistani guy and I hadn’t had any interaction with him since my arrival. He seemed arrogant and rude, and as I’d said numerous times, I wasn’t here to make friends so if they weren’t the sort of fellow I would have associated with on the outside, then I certainly couldn’t be bothered to befriend them in here! Anyway, I was desperate for information so I figured it was worth a go, however I was mistaken. It turned out that he had clearly only taken on the position for the £1.56 per session he was paid, and had neither interest nor knowledge of anything to do with immigration and deportation. Once he heard that I had a New Zealand passport, his eyes glazed over — evidently I had no refugee sob-story or political asylum catastrophe, so my situation was of no consequence whatsoever.
An appointment with the UKBA prison representative was of a similar calibre. A message via CMS to the faith centre elicited a visit with a rather angry black woman who clearly had a chip on her shoulder. She immediately fired off questions regarding my health and marital status. At this point I was unwilling to furnish her with any details, the point of this meeting was for me to ask the questions, not her! She was also adamant that I had overstayed my visa prior to my arrest, and would not provide me with any information on what my options were, or what the next steps would be, so afterwards I was left completely in the dark.
Meanwhile I’d still had no word from Tom, so I was becoming more and more worried with each passing day. I had spoken to Edd, who had also tried calling him, to no avail. I was beginning to think that it was not to be, and possibly an omen that the wedding idea should be shelved before it started anyway. Meanwhile after the artwork was completed and the invitations were about to be printed, the print shop manager informed me that they could not in fact complete the order, so it seemed another avenue had been closed.
Double Bubble is the third book in The Chemsex Trilogy — a series of books written by Cameron Yorke about his experience with Chemsex, addiction, and imprisonment in the UK.
We are serialising Double Bubble on Mainly Male. This is the 15th instalment in the serialisation.
We want to hear your opinion
“I was walking straight into a trap…”
Finally my Imaging software session had come around, and dear old Louisa greeted me like a long lost friend. I had hoped to make the most of my three hour session, unsure when I would next get another opportunity, but alas t’was not the case. Once she had set her five students up on their computers, she motioned for me to sit down at her desk. “I wanted to ask you, as a businessman, what your thoughts were on the way I’ve been treated?” she started. I assumed she had not been successful in her interview for the position as deputy head of education. “If I was so shit at my job…” she continued, “why the hell did they leave me on my own to cover the job of two people, and promise me that it would only be a rubber stamp to make it permanent? I’ve been used!” “So who got the job then?” I asked “There was another guy who applied for it at the same time as me, but they couldn’t give it to him because he’s got formal complaints against him, but he’s fucking Pam, the Head of education, so she’s recommended him, and they put me in the job over the summer, and have now re-interviewed both of us, and given it to him.” Oh dear, now she was getting nasty, and I was pretty sure that the prison would have had something to say about this line of conversation between a member of staff and an inmate.
Evidently, Pam, the acting Head of education was already employed full time at another prison, so in effect both positions had been available, so now they had promised her that within six months if both of them worked out OK, the new guy would be promoted to head of Education, and she would finally get her deputies position. At this stage though she was extremely bitter over the entire process, and I had to admit, they had treated her rather shoddily, however even I’d had a pretty good idea from the onset that she wouldn’t be successful. She had completely neglected her teaching commitments throughout the entire probation period, and even in absentia, the hierarchy must have been able to see that, from the student numbers registered for a start. Then it dawned on me,and I felt quite sorry for the poor dear. She had absolutely no idea why she was in this situation, and I realised at the moment that the majority of the staff in these establishments were in the same predicament. A wise old man had once coined a phrase which I had remembered for some thirty years - Sooner or later we all rise to our own level of incompetence! And it was never truer than in this situation.
Suddenly it all made sense. I had been giving these people far more credit than they deserved. I had mistakenly imagined that they were all deliberately out to get me, to grind me down and stop me from succeeding in any activity I attempted, but when I really thought about it, I kicked myself for not recognising the facts sooner. In order to plot to deliberately sabotage something, one has to have the intellect to plan it. The real issue here was that these people were just too stupid to realise that they had risen as far as they were ever going to go, and were not capable of anything more. I suddenly realised that throughout my entire life I had never ever been exposed to a demographic of people with such little mental capacity, and aspiration, much less had to deal with them on a daily basis! I had never even stopped to consider that this calibre of person even existed.
Up until now I had almost prided myself in the fact that I could communicate on almost any level, and of course I had come across people in my life who worked in different fields or had different goals, and different expectations from life, but that was just it, even those people had actually had goals and expectations. These people had none! The majority of them had become completely institutionalised, and their whole life goal was to work their way up to be senior prison workers on a maximum of £44,000 per annum, after which they would retire on their government pension of £142.00 per fortnight and live out their days in abject poverty.
It was as if we had been travelling in different lanes on the highway of life. The majority of friends and associates I mixed with were entrepreneurs, and most were extremely wealthy by comparison but that was not the point. Absolutely each and every one of them was incredibly goal driven, and I could pretty much guarantee that none of them had relied on government hand-outs at any stage of their lives, and certainly wouldn’t be in retirement! I realised that I had been altogether too harsh on the staff in these establishments. I had credited them all with far too much intelligence, and in actual fact they deserved my pity rather than my regard, much less fear.
Sure, I had made a mistake and I was paying the price, but in less than twelve months now, I would be out of here and would resume my life, where I had left off, in fact, better off than when I had come in here, thanks to self-reflection and with the benefit of at least two book manuscripts ready to publish, but quite aside from that even, pretty much everything I had had prior to my incarceration was all ready and waiting for me on my release, and I would be free to resume my somewhat jet-set lifestyle by comparison. Even in my current situation, I had a lot to be thankful for, not least, that I had been blessed with half a brain, and parents who had given me the best education and grounding possible. Poor old Louisa, and those like her had shackled themselves to a life sentence, with no hope of improvement, simply because they were completely ignorant of their options and opportunities, and lacked the motivation to act on them even if they had stumbled upon them. It made me even more determined not waste a minute more than I had to, to make every minute in here count, and more importantly, to make the most of every card I had been dealt.
God Knows my family and I have not always seen eye to eye, and both my Mother and Father have behaved badly at times in the past, but this light bulb moment had made me eternally grateful, for all the tools with which they had provided me in life. I had been thinking for quite some time about a way I could make a difference. In the past I had never really stopped to think about the circumstances of others. I had seen some terrible suffering and desperation abroad, had written about natural disasters, and the devastation of war torn countries for years and had donated to various charities to support these causes in the past, but prior to coming to prison I had never stopped to think about the needs of those less fortunate than me closer to home. This was mainly because I had never mixed with people in housing estates, and I suspect, like most other people I know, had never even considered the problems and difficulties prison would bring, let alone been aware of the total destruction of peoples lives as a result of this form of punishment.
To a large degree the Government was at fault for this because to the general public, they were constantly feeding propaganda through mainstream media. When we switch on the television, we see news reports of people being gaoled for 16 years for murder, or rape, and we feel smug and comfortable, and content that justice has been served. What we don’t realise is that people are held for sometimes over twelve months on remand, waiting for their trial to even be heard. During this time they will lose everything, On the outside, not being aware of the system, we assume that these people are guilty because they are locked up, but it goes far deeper than that. For many they are arrested and have no time to put their affairs in order beforehand, so everything they own is left in the hands of others. More often than than not, they are not even able to contact someone to make arrangements on their behalf, and by the time they do, everything has either been cleared out and left on the street by landlords, or looted and pilfered by those they know.
I had decided that I wanted to do something to assist in the rehabilitation of some of these people. Having completed my first book, and by now half way through my second, and having read numerous books of a similar genre I was confident that mine would be successful. I had also started to consume every last piece of information I could lay my hands on about PR, social media and book promotion, and was determined to be an expert in these fields also by my release, so if the books weren’t successful to begin with, they bloody well would be by the time I had finished with them! I would make sure of it!
I also realised that I wasn’t really dependant on the income that would be generated from them, and that those funds could be better used for the benefit of others, so over the past month or so, I had conceived a plan to set up a charity, supporting victims of the drug industry into legitimate self employment. There were a number of reasons for this rather tight term of reference. 1. I realised that I would not be able to save everyone! 2. I rationalised that if someone could run a drug dealing business, they could also use the same skills to run a legitimate enterprise. 3. My entire adult working life had been consumed with small businesses of one description or another and I felt I had the necessary skills and experience, but also colleagues and peers which I was sure would help with this, 4. I only wanted to help those who were passionate about helping themselves. Therefore if they had the drive and determination to want to start their own business, I had the means to make them succeed! 5. Throughout my own holdings, I had a myriad of useful resources in a number of different countries that could be utilised, improving the efficiency and speed of the start ups.
There were also a number of obstacles to overcome, particularly since I had now decided to leave the UK. 1. I would be banned from the UK until the end of my entire sentence before I would be able to apply to have my deportation order lifted, so would be unable to personally monitor and assist UK based businesses 2. I would also find it difficult to recruit interns or candidates for the trust from the UK because I would not be able to meet them, and if they were released on licence they would not be able to initially travel abroad, until their licence was expired.
Of course these were not insurmountable, and I knew that I could get around them by either appointing an agent in the UK, or by the use of social media and a good website, together with media promotion through my television and magazine contacts, but still they were issues which needed to be addressed. After my chat with Louisa over her problems I finally got to start work on my book covers, but before long she wheeled herself over on her office chair and continued the conversation, this time about me, and she wanted to know what I was going to do when I got out. By this stage I had pretty much decided that I was going to live in either Aachen, Germany, where I had a property, or Monaco, as my boat was moored in neighbouring Menton, France. She had looked at me as if I was mad!
We then started discussing the books and she wanted to know what they were all about. I was happy to discuss them and also pleased with my concept of the charity that I also shared with her, inadvertently letting my guard down and never for one minute realising that I was walking straight into a trap, and the next question took me completely by surprise. “Can I come and work for you then?” Hmmm, how was I to answer that one. It was one thing to feel sorry for her, but I wasn’t that sorry! Jesus, what on earth could I get her to do? Caught completely unawares, I backtracked, conscious that I was obviously giving her the brush off but not really knowing how to extract myself delicately. “Well it’s going to be a while before there is anything to do.” I answered. “Well I could vet your candidates for you, I could work with the prison service and promote the charity through the education departments. You said you needed a UK agent!” Interesting how she was obviously clever enough to identify an opportunity for self-promotion! Perhaps she was not worthy of my pity after all, perhaps she was merely lazy, as I had already suspected. I agreed to talk about it closer to the time, and turned my attention back to the computer screen, but I was conscious that she was aware she had been given the brush-off.
Double Bubble is the third book in The Chemsex Trilogy - a series of books written by Cameron Yorke about his experience with Chemsex, addiction, and imprisonment in the UK.
We are serialising Double Bubble on Mainly Male. This is the 27th instalment in the serialisation. Go back to read earlier instalments.
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