Heritage Open Day Was An Eye-0pener

PUBLISHED: 13:15 18 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:32 04 May 2010

I HAD some visitors on Saturday so I decided to take advantage of the Heritage Open Day scheme and I showed them around Ely Magistrates Court. I have been to lots of courts in lots of different towns and cities over the years in my capacity as a reporter

I HAD some visitors on Saturday so I decided to take advantage of the Heritage Open Day scheme and I showed them around Ely Magistrates' Court. I have been to lots of courts in lots of different towns and cities over the years in my capacity as a reporter but have never managed to wangle a visit to the cells. Well, on Saturday we were not only allowed into the cells, we were locked in, and I have to say it was a strange feeling imagining all the people who have been locked in there contemplating what was ahead of them. I don't want to come across as some sort of bleeding heart liberal, but I do wonder in the 21st century whether we can do a bit better than a wooden bench and a grubby toilet for our prisoners. The cell is also very high, for obvious security reasons, and there was no obvious means of heating in there so in the depths of winter it would be absolutely freezing. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting plush carpet, running hot water (no, I'm am, what's wrong with providing some washing facilities) and cable television, but I do honestly think if we treat people like animals that's probably how they will behave. I know there are strict security and safety reasons why you can't have furniture or a proper bed in a cell, and I don't have any solutions to offer, I just found the thought of someone having to spend the night in there quite shocking.

It was my birthday on Sunday, and in the morning I received a call from my youngest son Russell who is in Australia and then a call from my eldest son Martin who is travelling round New Zealand. Martin was a bit emotional and said he was sorry he could not be with me and before he went he said "it's just so nice to hear your voice mum". I had a little cry and then later when I told my sister I thought about all the times in the last few years when the sound of my voice was the last thing he wanted to hear. All those times I went into his bedroom and told him to 'get out of bed', 'tidy his room', 'do his homework', 'get off the phone', 'turn his music down' etc etc. Isn't life funny?

I went along to the Olive Tree Fellowship in Silver Street on Friday morning and I was feeling a bit frazzled. My morning hadn't panned out the way I had planned and I was running late and had a luncheon appointment to get to. But I walked through the door and felt calmer immediately. Pat Brandon runs the Open Door Café there on Friday mornings between 10am and noon and it's like a quaint tea room. Pots of tea, napkins, china cups and best of all, home-made cake. Along with some mellow music playing in the background it makes for a delightful way to while away an hour.

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