Pete Doherty. Ballad Of Reading Gaol

Pete Doherty – Carnets de prison

Comme chacun sait, Pete Doherty vient de passer quelques semaines dans la prison de Pentonville suite a ses errances en matiere de drogue dures. En exclusivite pour le journal britannique The Guardian, le chanteur de Babyshambles a livre ses pensees quotidiennes, sa Ballad Of Reading Gaol a lui en quelque sorte. Le reste de ses ecrits de prison devrait etre publie prochainement sur Desole pour les non anglophones, le courage m’a manque au moment de traduire ces ecrits.

January 28
The story starts here with a slap in the mush from some unsympathetic magistrate. I’m banged up in Pentonville with more than a tailor’s dozen charges on me tail. God knows why: the band should be smashing up the Toon, Glasgae and Shepherd’s Bush this weekend and instead I’m birded off on remand after a slow clucking duck walk (sitting too) through the bowels of Bethnal Green nick, Thames magistrates and now da ‘ville. Innit bleeding marvellous?

January 29
I see paint-cracked walls stained with shite
Long long lock-up days
Cold lonely nights
And I think to myself … what a wonderful world
I see men touching fists
Saying "watcha bruv"
Screams from below
Shit parcels from above
And I think to myself …
I see my true love
On a Rimmel advert

January 30
I think I only needed something to hold on to. It has never been about depravity. It’s always been about melody. But melody and I met in many depraved situations. Meeting melody is the victory of the empty spiralling nightmare.

February 1
Another cup of tea and the drilling continues. Another unthrilling day and my tooth aches like fuckery. Caught by my own stupidity I’d wager. At least I’ve got me own Peter [cell] for a while. Oh well, small mercies, small mercies. First time I’ve had a telly in me cell, watching prime minister’s question time. A lot of hot air if ever there was any … Stone me what a life. Hear, hear.

At the wobbly legged table in me little Peter. Still waiting for the jingle jangle of the gaoler’s bangle. Court on the 8th and hoping for bail. Even life without drugs has gotta be betta than this malarkey. Babyshambles all set to take over as well. Won’t do it again honest guv … Oh yes you will Doherty and you know it. Still, if I’m on a DRR [drug rehabilitation requirement] and being tested there ain’t no way round it I suppose. Get to grips with the idea that it is eating away at your money, your love and your life.

February 2
They could so easy take the time and space here and now to make a fine example of me. Many are in the same position I’m sure and worse. Ah, those sirens again all day, someone being taken off the road. I still hear the voices, yeah, loud and clear. They don’t like it because I’m weak. I’ve been doing press-ups though, and they’re letting us have the pool balls just now – alright.

"Might as well win" "two shots" "Chalky innit, where’s Jimmy? Who?" I thought I was living just then. An exhilaration of a place taut with atmosphere and white potted black. Spunk in the shower-room. I wait and wait and then get in the hot spray. Yeah yeah yeah, I’m a clean junky. There’s a hammering outside and some echoing laughter, beeps and slamming, clanging squeaks and banging.

I’ll do my hair a-while, and even make my bed. Top bunk, yellow fire blankets aplenty coz I’ve been on the lookout see. Even nabbed a rare old prison shirt off a passing trolley, a boiled egg and a nice blue prison vest. To say nothing of the many packets of Butler I just found on the side. Baccy down me sock, someone says something a little out of sway, a stranger in all dark non-prison clobber is opposite my open cell door flashing his watch in my direction he was. Later that day … Felt like freak show with a host of people at my cell door screaming and whooping like apes. DOHERTY! It’s him! DOHERTY! DOHERTY! Oi!

February 3
Things that break up the day in fits and starts: food, medication, showers, a game of pool if you’re lucky, walking in circles round the yard. A legal visit, or any visit. I’m doing 10 press-ups at a time, not with great ease at the moment … I’ll come out of here fitter and stronger than in a longer time. Later that morning … Shot a few rounds of pool including a thrashing by one of the nurses. Can’t believe there’s a telly in me room cell. Compensates a bit for the cold I ‘spose. Can’t complain at all really.

This is the largest prison in the country and in some ways one of the most modern. I’ve certainly never come across anywhere as clean or spacious as this, why, in all my days at her Majesty’s pleasure. Shame only one of the eight showers work, but it was a joy to hear the sprinkle in me ears and the steam on my body just now. Someone, and again someone else, asks how I came up with the name Babyshambles and so I think back to Denholme days and "oh deary me why is it always such a Babyshambles?" "I wonder where you are now…"

February 5
Am I ever so mistaken or – oh distraction from some demonic banging by a fellow incarcerated soul – is that the sun spreading its wares all over the looming wing? Can’t be much fun for whoever’s reading this. Basically the plot goes like this: I’m in nick and it’s doing me nut in and that’s it. The whimsical melody of an old film is of no consequence. Nor the inmate’s arm, bloody from self-inflicted scars, poking out of the cell to receive a nurse’s attention.

For my own sake – because it feels like they have the power to cut off my head – I must become a hero, organise my life and obtain from it what they deny me. If I live, in order to continue to live with myself, I must have more talent than the most exquisite poet. These people can only put up with the tamed heroes – they don’t know about heroism.


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