Where can a tin of tuna buy you clean clothes? Which British education system struggles with 50 percent illiteracy? Where do teetotal Muslims attend AA meetings? Where is it easier to get 'spice' than paracetamol? Where does self-harm barely raise an eyebrow?
Welcome to Her Majesty's Prison Service, a creaking and surreal world that has been left to rot for decades in the shadows of polite society. Like most people, documentary-maker Chris Atkins didn't spend much time thinking about prisons. But after becoming embroiled in a dodgy scheme to fund his latest film, he was sent down for five years.
His new home would be HMP Wandsworth, one of the oldest, largest and most dysfunctional prisons in Europe. Horrifying, moving and darkly funny, this is the unvarnished depiction of what he found. With a cast of characters ranging from wily drug dealers to corrupt screws to senior officials bent on endless (and fruitless) reform, this is the reality behind the locked gates. Full of incredible and hilarious stories, A Bit of a Stretch reveals the true scale of our prison crisis and why it is costing us all.
Includes exclusive bonus chapter, available only from Audible.
Good overall just needs a tweak or 2
Well worth a listen - The contents of the book are fascinating, the insight into the prison system is astonishing and something I hope myself or anyone I know do not have to be involved in be it staying or working!
Couple of odd things though - Unfortunately Chris has not taken the time to learn how fast to narrate the book, at the beginning I couldn’t keep up and was worried about finishing the book too quickly, the solution...set the audio speed to 3/4 what a difference! The other odd bit is there is music played at the end of every chapter and I have to say I find it quite annoying, listened to 9 audio books since Christmas and this is the first to have this. I don’t like it and I don’t see the point of adding around 30sec of music at the end of every chapter. All that said GET DOWNLOADING PROPLE!
I’m currently 54% though this book according to the books app and already a number of times I’ve thought about calling it a day. I’m only continuing to listen because I’ve paid for it, I was mildly disappointed when I saw that I was only 54% in because it feels like I’ve been listening for ages. There are some interesting insights into the prison system, much of it is as you would expect from watching so many UK prison documentaries. The most annoying thing for me though are the voices that the narrator does all the way through. In particular the ‘gangster’ voices that he does such as “mans wants some spice, ya get me?!” because every single one of these voices are done with a seriously annoying lisp and I can’t imagine why? Clearly the narrator doesn’t have a lisp so why does he do it every tine he’s doing a gangster voice (which is obviously very frequent since it’s a prison book). I l doubt that every gangster in prison at the time spoke with a heavy lisp. After many hours of this it gets very tiresome. Generally also the book is quite mundane, boring and is essentially just a list of the ways that Chris managed to ‘get one over’ on the staff and prisoners. There’s a real chip on shoulder sense of “I’m so clever” all the way though. I will continue to listen and will edit this if need be, but I felt compelled at this point to say that I regret buying it. I only purchased in the first place because John Sweeney mentioned it on his hunting Ghislaine Podcast. Thanks for the recommendation John... not.
Really enjoyed this book and it is well read by Chris Atkins. Really shocking in places but entertaining throughout. Would highly recommend!