The 1970s British sitcom ‘Porridge’ is now available to watch on Netflix, but the BBC programme is sadly showing its age in several ways. The show not any demonstrates outdated attitudes, but also reflects a time when a prisoner’s lifestyle would have been very different.
The comedy found its name from the 1950s expression ‘doing porridge’ which meant serving a jail sentence. Porridge used to be a significant part of a prisoner’s diet, but news has emerged that the breakfast food has now been banned in prisons for over a decade.
Prisoners at HMC Parc have told the prison paper ‘Inmate Inside’ that oatmeal is not permitted because it can be used to block up door locks. They are, however, allowed to purchase ‘Ready Brek’ from the canteen because of its thinner consistency. Porridge is also banned because oats can be fermented to produce illicit hooch.
Back in the 1800s, inmates used to be provided with a ratio of 5 ounces of oats served with three-quarters of a pint of milk. Jailbirds are now served something more akin to a plane breakfast with a tray of basic spreads, bread, cereal, tea, instant coffee and UHT milk delivered to prisoner’s cells the night before. The hot communal breakfast is now unheard of behind the bars of UK jails.
Future HSPS students should consider whether prisons suffer from not having a hot meal and some socialisation times in the morning.
Students wishing to study Chemistry or Biology at Oxbridge might want to examine the bonding properties of milky oats and how alcohol can be fermented from oats.
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