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215. Escaping from a prison van

I can remember a time pre F---it list that spending a Friday night shackled at the hands and feet and loaded onto a prison van with one of my closest friends would have seemed unusual.

Photo stolen from The Weekender [once a criminal always a criminal]


With Katya Postlethwaite

Katya is one of my besties, she's always up for trying new things, is hugely supportive and the most fun. I met her through a past relationship and i'm so grateful that she's stayed in my life. She's the Thelma to my Louise and I genuinely don't know what i'd do without her.


On booking this experience I was told I could pick between an escape room with a zombie in it or an escape from a prison van. Just the thought of the zombie one brought me out in a cold sweat (the undead don't normally help my focus on fiddly tasks) and the Police van sounded a lot tamer so I went for that. On arrival at the venue though I started to have my doubts about whether I could handle either of them.

The guy on the reception desk did an excellent job of heightening our fear before we went in, and his teasing info about a deranged 3rd person who would be locked in the van with us, combined with a scary soundtrack rumbling constantly through the reception sound system had us genuinely almost ready to bolt. Signing a pretty morbid disclaimer definitely didn't help either. Kat who is a self-proclaimed cryer when put into extreme situations looked like she wanted to thump me. I kind of wanted to thump myself.

We were so scared we even agreed a safe word with reception guy in case it got too much (who was by this point finding our fear levels hilarious). But before we had time to talk ourselves out of it any more PC Shipman, our handling officer, was leading us into a small room where we put on orange boiler suits and our finger prints were taken. We were clipped into wrist and ankle shackles, which actually really hurt, and led to the van in the carpark outside. A carpark in a residential area of Stratford. Which strangely made it feel pretty real.

We were placed into cells, mine worryingly close to that of The Raven, our deranged co-passenger that Kat and I had decided we would ignore at all costs. Because we were terrified of her. And then the officer left and the 60 minute timer until he returned to drive us to Pentonville prison began counting down.

What followed was 48 minutes of Kat and I badassing escaping from a prison van. We suddenly became this calm, logical thinking unit, finding keys, blasting through tough clues, using The Raven's knowledge but not freeing her (she got pretty shouty once she knew we had her key) and eventually still with 12 minutes left on the clock bursting out of the back of the van. At that point my legs turned to jelly at the shock of what we had just managed. We had gone from 2 girls shackled by the hands and feet, locked in individual cells in a maximum security van to free in under an hour. That's a pretty big achievement for a Friday night.

As we stepped down from the van the team told us we were in the top 15-20% with our time and laughed as they realised we hadn't unlocked The Raven. They told us they'd watched us on CCTV cam so would have witnessed glorious moments like us forgetting my alias name (so becoming 'Thelma and ..... Emma Louise'), me clucking like a chicken and Kat's delight that the evidence bags containing blood stained clothes we found in a safe were from Lakeland.

I have to say i'm really glad we didn't wimp out of this. There's something REALLY empowering about being terrified of something and then completely nailing it and walking to the station I could feel the pride bubbling over in Kat and I. We had a brilliant time.

Get tickets for Trapped events here.


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