‘Are you bringing any laundry?’ asks the porter at the fortified entrance to Moabit prison.
When I laugh he says defensively, ‘I was only asking,’ and grimly stamps my permit to visit remand prisoner Honecker, Erich.
Into a waiting-room full of chain-smoking wives and spivs in black leather jackets. Wait for your number to be called from a loudspeaker. Through an automatic barrier. Empty your pockets and put everything in a locker. Body search. Another automatic barrier. Unsmiling guards, barked orders. Moment! Kommen Sie mit! Then you’ve come to the wrong place. Collect all your belongings again. Pack up. Walk around the red-brick fortress to another gate. Unpack. Sign this, take that. Another huge metal door. The clash of bolts. A courtyard, then the corridor to the prison hospital, bare but clean.