Surprisingly, the Daily Mail is openly available in here and I have been able to read good old Jonathan Aitken's letter to myself. Here are the best bits:

'On the first night of my sentence in HMP Belmarsh a well-meaning prisoner approached me in "the cage" - the big, communal cell where they put each day's new arrivals from the Old Bailey until the initial formalities such as strip-searching, finger-printing and cell allocation are completed. This was the warning he whispered to me:

"You're a tall poppy so don't let them put you in a peter on the wing 'cos if you get the least bit lairy with any of the big faces they'll snooker yer 'amsteads or give yer a servin' with claret. So take the cucumbers! For Gawd's sake take the cucumbers!"

'Disadvantaged by my Eton and Oxford education I was unable to translate this advice, which was just as well for I would have been scared stiff if I had understood it.

'What my informant was saying was that as a high profile prisoner (tall poppy), if I was allocated a cell (peter) on one of the ordinary prison landings (wings) the hard men (big faces) might knock out my teeth with a billiard ball (hampstead Heath - teeth) or beat me into a bloody pulp (serving the claret) were I to get slightly uppity (lairy) with them.

'The punch line of rhyming slang horticultural advice about cucumbers was a reference to numbers. "Taking the numbers" means applying under rule 43 to be segregated in isolation for your own protection as a vulnerable prisoner.

'Applications for this Rule 43 protection are regularly made by jailed police officers, prison officers, and sex offenders. My adviser evidently felt that any passing Cabinet Minister would be wise to take the same precaution.'

I have decided to take Jonathan's advice and have therefore refused the cucumbers.

Am missing my fragrant wife. These prisoners don't half pong. (Oh lord, see how quickly I drop into the vernacular). Note to self - must compile dictionary of prison slang. I hope no-one beats me to it.

Dropped my soap in the shower today. I don't think anyone noticed. Or maybe no-one fancies me. Oh what have I done to deserve this? Oh that's right, I've lied my arse off all my life.

I hear my son will be visiting me soon. That's nice. Still missing Mary, though now I can't remember why.

Chap in the next cell tells me he's a big fan and has asked if I would like to come round to his place and play with his collection of lard. Am sorely tempted.

I have heard from Mr Big. It is not good news. Apparently he's a Kurd.

Don't know how much more of this I can take. Contemplated suicide for a while there, but decided there's not much money in it. Still, only another 207 weeks to go.

Prison Slang Glossary

Aristotle - Chardonnay bottle
bale of hay - oh I say
ball of chalk - this wine is corked
barn owl -this tastes foul
Barney Rubble - Champagne bubble
bees and honey - this brie tastes funny
Bo-Peep - caviare's not cheap
boat race - Shall I say grace?
Bob Hope - soap on a rope
Brighton pier - this sushi tastes queer
brown bread -slumberland bed
candle wax -mind that axe
cat and mouse -penthouse
chalk farm - stay calm
chocolate fudge- Good Morning judge
Colonel Gadaffi- where's the lavvy?
corn on the cob -quick hand job
currant bun- this is fun
Daily Star - aaaaargh
donkey's ears - four years
Edward Heath - lie through your teeth
Eartha Kitt - tough shit
garden gate- up at eight
ginger ale - jail
grasshopper - copper
half inch - pinch
Harry Lime - time
Ian Beale - squeal
Isle of Wight - oh shite
jam jar - caviare
Jimmy Hill - can I have the bill
kitchen fire - pernicious liar
knobbly knee - perjury
Lady Godiva - lend us a fiver
laugh and joke - up in smoke
lemon and lime - crime
Leo Sayer - failed mayor
Lilian Gish - pish
linen draper - newspaper
mince pies - pack of lies
Noah's ark - shark
oily rag - fag
one time looker - pay the hooker
oxo cube - down the tube
Posh and Becks - sex
sausage meat - dirty cheat
strawberry tart - false start
teapot lid - 2000 quid
this and that - fat cat
tiddly wink - how low can you sink
tin tack - sack
Tom Cruise - lose
typewriter - crappy writer
wooden plank - wank
yellow canary - Mary




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