When Jonathan May-Bowles – a.k.a. activist-comedian Jonnie Marbles – tipped a foam-pie over Rupert Murdoch, oh how we scorned him. “He’s turned Murdoch into the victim!” we bawled, or at least I did, anyway. In hindsight, it seems the real victim was Marbles himself. The father-of-one was sentenced to six weeks (reduced on appeal to four) in Wandsworth prison – by the same judge who had previously acquitted a riot cop for slapping a female protestor in the face.
Tough justice; perhaps even disproportionate. But the good news is that Marbles has reacted to it all with surprising bonhomie – and is even blogging enthusiastically about the experience from inside the jug. Writing on his blog Anarch*ish* (subtitle: “Because the state’s not gonna smash itself”), Marbles recounts how he at first tried to keep his crime a secret from other prisoners, for fear of reprisals. “This plan went up like a lit fart the moment I stepped into E-Wing,” he remembers. “‘Oi, Pie man!’ shouted one of my fellow lags.” But despite his initial fears, Marbles seems to have developed a cult following. “Beebop, my newest lag friend, is getting me to sign his copy of the Sun. He says he is going to sell it on eBay (NSDQ: EBAY). Maybe I’ll buy it.”
There have been some scares. Returning to his cell one afternoon, Marbles found his way blocked by four stern-looking men. One squared up to him. “‘You Jonnie?’ he quizzes me. It seems silly to argue. ‘Yeah? Well, Murdoch sent me.’ I scan his face for a hint of a smile but I find none, a look I’m all too familiar with from the stand-up circuit … ‘Murdoch sent you?’ I reply. ‘Yeah, he’s my uncle’, he says” – and soon everyone breaks out smiling.
Meanwhile, creature comforts are never too far away. Marbles’s room-mate, a serial offender named Splinter, regularly watches Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear: “A reminder, if one was needed, that there are far worse people than the ones you find in prison.”
But there is one sobering aspect Marbles can’t laugh off: his enforced separation from his child. “I love you and miss you,” he tells his son. “Not seeing you is my real punishment here; the only one I care about, anyway.”
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.