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A blue Christmas

In the mid-1980s, fear about Aids swept through Britain's prisons. Prospect's prisoner, who was then in Wandsworth, chronicles the uninhibited sexual encounters of men inside

By Peter Wayne   January 1999

The Victorians were adept at architectural onomatopoeia. Their houses of correction looked authoritarian from without and within. Even today, pri-soners (this one at least) pass through these ominous gatehouses shocked by the monumental stylistic eccentricities of another age. A Venetian campanile here, a neo-Byzantine chapel there; amphitheatres, rotundas, eerie barrel-vaulted underground passages… From the start the mood is set through this imposing architecture of intimidation. As the gangplank is drawn up the prisoner weakens and (if he knows what’s good for him) obeys.

Wandsworth, in leafy southwest London, is an enormous enclosure of austerely functional space. Imagine a cathedral without…

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