So it's only been 48 hours so far - that is pretty trivial compared to the Guantánamo detainees. It's not been bad. My wife confiscated the cup of coffee that I was planning for breakfast in the morning, saying that should not be allowed. To that extent, she was harsher on me than the rules that the detainee set themselves - at least they allow themselves coffee, albeit generally without milk or sugar.
As the day went by, a number of cups of coffee passed by me as well, but actually the smell was more enjoyable than the taste would have been.
I drank three litres of water through the day, some of it infused with vitamin supplements. Otherwise nothing. I had four meetings in the office over the space of as many hours and, somehow, at least one person came in with lunch to munch through during each discussion. The sandwiches and biscuits were no problem; even Clemency's mean offer of jelly babies was water off the duck's back. But then there was the meeting on a Guantánamo case, when Jenny came in half way with an extremely powerful smelling Indian takeaway - that was cruel!
I was warned that I would get grumpy, but I hope that did not happen. I did get the sensation of being light headed - I almost felt drunk - in the mid-afternoon. For half an hour, I found concentration more difficult. But overall I did not feel hungry until about eight-thirty in the evening.
I suspect the key was distraction. I had a busy day - working on Kris Maharaj's case on the train all the way from Dorset to London (he's someone else who's suffered a whole lot more than a day without food - 26 years in prison, much of it on death row, for two Miami murders that he did not commit); then a few hours in the office; followed by another train ride up to Ely with a police officer who has some interesting ideas on how to tackle the torture of some of our clients facing the death penalty in the Middle East and Pakistan. Even when I got to my mother's for the evening, there was a task she needed done that kept me busy. I doubt the Guantánamo detainees have the luxury of having so much to keep their minds off their hunger.
The highlight of my day was reading Carol Rosenberg's article about the official Guantánamo critique of the Yasiin Bey / Mos Def force feeding video: "But there's a problem, says Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, the Pentagon spokesman for Guantánamo policy, 'It doesn't comport with our procedures.'" In the next sentence, as ever, Carol delivers the punchline, printing Breasseale's confession that he has "never actually seen a forced-feeding at Guantánamo." He did previously serve as the U.S. Army's envoy to Hollywood, though.
Maybe the low point of the day was when I got to check my Twitter feed as the evening drew in. Of course there are going to be those who think that going on a hunger strike in empathy is meaningless. I understand that. But I was short on energy by that time, and it is always sad when people post gratuitously unpleasant things. I always wonder what inspires them to bother. One kind chap posted: "hopefully [you'll go] long enough... to snuff it." And there was the chap who also hoped it would end badly, posting: "Where would we be without your patronising, obsequious drivel."
But, as always, there were many more kind messages than there was 'drivel'.
Shaker Aamer told me the second day would be one of the hardest - that after day four things would get easier. We'll see.WATCH:
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