Sunday, September 03, 2006

Gaol Time 

On Friday I went to the Coastal Business Centre in Freo. The centre's in a wing of the former Fremantle Prison. I could see the high limestone wall, with a sentry box above, as I walked up Knutsford St. I thought, Where will I find a door to get in?

I'm told the wing's more colourful than it was but I couldn't get over the scale of it and didn't pick up on the colour. There are comfy chairs, projector screens, and carpet in the cells. Yes, in the cells, where small businesses can rent cheap office space. People tell you in which cell to find them.

I couldn't help but walk straighter and taller on my way out. I've read about actors who find a prop or a behaviour that makes it easier to get into a role. Setting must do the same. Whoever built the prison knew this - prisoner or prison guard, you'd know your role.

I spoke to a woman who had visited the prison when she worked in welfare. The prisoners still used buckets instead of toilets then. We wondered if some people just aren't sensitive to the ex-gaol vibes. The central location would be a good incentive to get over it.

Later the woman left to chat to a pet psychic about a business idea. That's Fremantle for you. Go Freo!

This is weird! I just can´t imagine working in a cell. I guess I´ll have a look in December, though I always think prisons are scary places. I´ve visited the Fanny Bay Goal Museum in Darwin a few years ago. I was the first in a row entering a cell in the safety area which had a very narrow entrance. On the bench were clothes of a former prisoner, casually put there as if the person was just around the corner. Though I knew this wasn´t for real I got a little horrified but couldn´t get out since people kept coming in.
Hi Iris,

After I wrote this post, I went to the prison's Web site and read about the New Division (where the business centre is). For a while the New Division held men sentenced to death. I always feel weird visiting gaols, but then I feel weird at the zoo! In this case, it took me by surprise, not coming in as a tourist but still being confronted by it.
Hi Deanne ,

hehe, well, I love to go to the zoo - the Perth zoo sure is on my list already :-)
Still a weird thought of working in a former prison-cell.
While I´m writing this I´m still in the office (having a short break) and the wind is howling around the building (5th floor), sounding ghostly. That added to a cell added to darkness would freak me out!
In Austria a girl aged 18 could free herself after being kidnapped at age ten (maybe you´ve heard about it - she lived in a cell in the basement with no window. Horrible thought!
I gotta go now! ;-)
Hi Iris,

Wow, that's an amazing story. I hope she can get on with her life. The cells aren't dark, and I couldn't hear any howling wind (not that I could hear) so maybe it's not as scary as you might think. I wouldn't like to get locked into an office during a power failure!
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