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  • Writer's pictureAnn


Updated: Mar 10, 2023

In September 2020, a shining halo of an event managed to resurrect that awfulness of the disease-ridden months that had already swept by, and managed to let me for one, forget the scary reality of Covid. At HMP Shepton Mallet I was provided with my first interaction with who I think is, a young man named Sam. This is somewhat ironic given that it was working these events subsequently in 2022 that caused me to hand in my notice as night supervisor, but at the time as a guest, this was probably my most productive sleepover.

The other guests were still noisy and drunk, but thankfully my buddy Chris and I successfully managed to sidestep them after the majority crashed out, snoring and mercifully NOT meandering about the rest of the site.

Before heading out to to a bit of recording with Chris when all of the other guests were being chaperoned to their cells, we sat in my 'bedroom' B2,16, and set up a couple of K2s and of course, I recorded. I had festooned my cell with fairy lights so as to make it less imposing later on when returning to it, much better than relying on a torch beam to faff around. Many guests seem not to be able to read the small print regarding the event, that there is no bedding supplied, no working toilets in the cells, and NO lights. Consequently staff are bombarded with dim queries as to why the light switches aren't working (a quick glance at the ceiling with no bulb and redundant wires should sort of be a giveaway. Je despair!

As Chris and I were chatting, both K2s went to red. The one over the sink flashed in time to a loud bang emanating from behind the toilet screen, and then the one near the door on the shelving unit lit into life too. Just briefly, but all the way to red.

It was at this moment that I said that if 'they' would like to knock my water bottle over, to feel free. Chris agreed that this would be a worthy capture. At precisely fifty-five seconds into recording a boy says loud and clear, "Punch your 'ead!"

Of course Chris and I heard nothing at the time.

When I returned to the prison during the day in June 2021 (I had visited plenty more times in between these two visits, each time asking who the boy who'd offered to punch me had been), I finally received an answer. Not from the boy himself, but from an older man, going by the deeper and gruff sounding voice. This time the interaction came in at six minute and two seconds, on the parent file of 215015-0930, and the voice says, "That was Sam."

I have on many occasions asked the identity of this helpful gentleman, and have received mumbled responses but nothing that I can for certain assume as being the answer, or indeed a response at all. Communication seemed to have ceased. But, as ever, when the ebb is low, the prison has the stunning ability to come back and renew flagging spirit! In every sense.

On July 2nd 2021 I attended what was to be my final sleepover as a member of the general public, and I nabbed B2,16 again as my preferred abode for the twelve hours. Again, before heading out I asked in the quietness of the cell, "Is Sam here?". At one minute, fourteen seconds into file 210702-2020, my same gruff-voiced gent' says, "Says is Sam here...?" as if relaying my question either to genuinely aid me, or in a sarcastic manner. It's hard to say, but there it was, an intelligent response without doubt.

My final interaction with the spirits of B2,16 (Sam or the gent') came on January 13th 2022 at 10.36am, when I asked as usual, if the boy was present. A voice comes back with what sounds like (but I'm not 100% on this one as it's not as clear), "Sam,- -". Without imposing my uncertain guess at the second and third syllables, the Sam part is clear. I think I hear "Sam, Ann's here.." but I can't say for sure. That could be wishful thinking. The speaker isn't the previous communicator, nor Sam himself - but all I can say is that it feels wonderful to have the backing and communication of not one, not two, but three chatty souls. And that's just in one cell. In one wing, of that that almighty place.

To some, being intelligently responded to and recognised by unseen entities might sound horrific. Not to me. To me, it confirms that there Is More, that this reality in which we currently find ourselves is not the only one, and that to be recognised and mentioned by name is in fact, a humbling and incredible thing. It's the first page of the most exciting adventure story, with twists turns and scares galore. But it's real. A thirst to quench, an itch to scratch...

It is a similar sensation to another mind-blowing interaction that I had whilst working as a guide and crew on a dolphin watch boat in West Wales. I was actually privileged to have had many over the seasons that I worked in New Quay, but this one sticks in my mind particularly.

One afternoon, my personal favourite of the season a young male calf nicknamed Twiglet, popped up in the bow wave. I was laying on the bow, arm outstretched and waving, my head over the edge just feet from the undulating grey form. The glassy calm water revealed Twiglet turning onto his side, all the while squeaking madly! He then gazed pointedly into my eyes, and we held each other there for five or so seconds. Then his Mumma, Spot, came whizzing over, also squeaking and rotating her head as dolphins do whilst echolocating, and took her boy away. Not far, just a few feet off the bow where they both proceeded to to breach and frolic. What a privilege.

Being viewed by a dolphin, knowing that on a level I've entered his subconscious as he turned thoughts about this strange pink creature on the noisy craft that he came across daily in his watery realm, was beyond humbling. I wonder what he said to his Mother to make her come to retrieve him so speedily! So yes, very special moments indeed, and I feel exactly the same about being recognised by spirits. As Freddie said, it's a kind of magic indeed...

Whoever Sam is, whoever his guardian may be, as long as I am able to visit B2,16 I'll always pay my respects. And who knows, perhaps our conversations aren't over yet!

Have a listen yourself... headphones highly recommended.

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