Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2011

Back to Work

The job of looking for work that is. I'm due in next Friday (6th of January) and the holidays ended on Tuesday with the Bank Holiday (New Years is over the weekend so that doesn't count). I'm not entirely sure how much they can reasonably expect me to accomplish in my efforts to find work between Wednesday and next Friday, but I'm sure it won't be any less than is normal. I've already looked on the JC website - useless as ever - and there isn't much at all, unsurprisingly.
This festive season has been, without doubt, the most stressful of all I can remember. I'm still feeling the effects. I went into town yesterday and it's just so busy. I don't know how people can work in that kind of environment, but the Christmas temps/kids seem to be full of beans. That's the way the world expects you to be, all the time (well at least during the working day). Unfortunately, that's just not me. I can't be the person.
Unfortunately dealing with doct…

A Year of Sport

It's boxing day, the weather is uncharacteristically mild (remember last year?), and I've just been for a run. I say run, more a wheezing ball of wobbling inertia (probably the result of an overly large bowl of cereal). I don't run out of enjoyment, though I am not adverse to physical activity; I do it to keep fit. Whether or not that's working is up for debate. To keep me sane as I run I usually listen to the radio, or, if local radio isn't too obnoxious, some music. This morning, local radio's finest were replaying some sport interviews. I hate sport, and next year will be the year of sport as London (ie not the rest of us) is host to a fortnight of amateur dramatics calling itself the Olympics before selling off (at least that's the plan) all the assets we (i mean you) have paid for over the last 6 years.
To be specific, it's more that I hate competitiveness. I can't stand it. Every week I have to listen to it because I live next to a little leagu…


Well, gentle reader, I didn't ring in sick (save that pleasure for another time!), I chose to attend. Really the best thing, to be honest. I'd have only regretted it otherwise. Fortunately they were in a more helpful mood today. It's all a bit random really; sometimes they are helpful sometimes not. Is that itself a good thing? I'm inclined to say no, but there's no point being churlish or ungrateful. I got signed on quickly, got my bus fare sorted out from Monday (finally) and got the heck out of dodge. The last signing time of 2011. I'm sure I'll post over the holiday season (means nothing to me; I don't have kids nor a family to really speak of), but until then happy secularised consumerist state holiday!


Today's Guardian, as we enter the Xmas orbit, is a call to arms. I'm not going to spend this post repeating what it says other than to post links to the campaigns in question.

Here is an article on the 38Degrees blogs about welfare reform, a cause they seem reluctant to support. We need to change that. I've sent them an email, in response to their thanking me for participating in their campaigns this year, asking this. This is an excellent letter from a blog i've not come across before, to the head of 38 Degrees.

Here is the link to an epetition calling for a pause, at least, to the welfare reform bill. We have until January to change their opinions.

Here is a link to an epetition calling for it to be made an offence to maliciously report someone for benefit fraud. I think this has to be looked at: someone that reports on their neighbour out of what is essentially spite must be held accountable.

Scope are campaigning to preserve legal aid for disability claimants. This has…

Thoughts on Yesterday

I spent the rest of yesterday reeling. I couldn't really focus on anything else and went to bed pretty tired. It's like the colours changed; the rest of the day just seems different because of some fundamental change in the settings of reality. That's how my mind processed it, if that makes any sense.
I woke up this morning with issues still unresolved. I'm not sure what to do come Friday. In fact I'm not even sure the buses are going to be up to the job (and I don't want to spend Christmas in the jobcentre!) as the main road is closed for that day. I was and still am thinking of phoning in sick, but I bet saying this here and now makes that look even less credible. I told the psychologist this yesterday, she gave no response. However it's not entirely fake: I really really can't deal with that place at the moment. Perhaps being sick of the jobcentre is reason enough!
Thing is, in any normal workplace people would down tools if they had to deal with the s…


Simply, unbelievable.

To anyone with a conscience, or at least a grounding in economics, that is.

This society is going to suffer a lot more than the popular and populist media will ever ever reveal.

One side effect that concerns me - and I don't even pretend to have a scintilla of the problems that this person does - is that the level of severity that is required to be taken seriously will rise and rise. While of course people such as Sue Marsh should, without fucking question, receive ALL the help and support they need, those, like myself, who have problems of our own will have to, to quote Pink Floyd, hang on in quiet desperation. Now that's not a plea of self pity, I cannot begin to imagine her struggles, it's pointing out that we are yet again storing up a nest of vipers. People forced to repress much less serious issues are not going to do society any favours as that repression, forced by the system, will be the cause of family breakdown, addiction, nervous breakdown, o…

Insistence is Futile

I must blog. I have just returned from my appointment with fear - I mean seeing the Work Psychologist. I'm not really sure I'm any the wiser about the point of it, though it wasn't totally without merit. Unfortunately I again lost my cool with the JC who managed, inexplicably in my opinion, to not refund my bus fare. This doesn't really help with my signing appointment on Friday (which I may not be able to attend anyway as there was signage along the way saying the road will close for three days starting Wednesday).

So i turn up in time for my appointment (and some meagre shopping in Morrisons) only to find the psychologist is quarter of an hour late. Perhaps I should stop her benefits. Ok, fair enough, these things can happen. To be fair she seemed nice enough and not an ogre.

At first the meeting comes across as a glorified careers advisory session. I explain to her that I am interested in writing (can't thee tell?), I'm also interested in music, but that's…

Nice Little Earner

Have a look at this post, on the consumer action group forum (which is a visual nightmare, sadly). Among the discussions is a thread about Ingeus (aka Working Links, though I have no idea why you'd change name...oh wait a minute everyone thinks WL suck). Here we have a client on the Work Programme that, having signed off, is being offered £75 by his provider....on the condition that said client coughs up the details the provider wants so they may secure a payment. This is information the client is under no obligation to provide.
Now you might think that the client should give that information: if they are being helped then why shouldn't the provider get paid. Well, my friend, you suppose an ideal world and I've read NOTHING that gives me confirmation regarding these pimps. As you can see, from the rest of the post they haven't been deserving of the client's trust, and this seems par for the course. There's also the ethical aspect as to whether such organisations…

The Cautionary Tale of Margaret Moran

A claimant stands in the dock, accused of taking the state for an £80,000 ride. You can imagine what the papers might say. You can guess at the headlines again talking about our 'something for nothing' easily abused benefits culture and that the Hard Working Tax Payer (often through it's Taxpayer's Alliance disguise) is forever the victim. Only this time the claimant is in fact a politician.
This is the situation the former representative of Luton South faces.
It would be very easy to cast the first stone here; her party, when in power, introduced us all to those lovely people called ATOS, as well as shifting the disability benefit goalposts into Employment Support (though it's nothing of the kind) Allowance. They sowed the seeds that the likes of Duncan Smith and Grayling are reaping with religious gusto.
Now the Guardian reports she may not face trial due to a deteriorating mental state caused by the stress of the situation. I am not unsympathetic; there but for the…

Quacking Plums Forever!

I have no idea why I thought Alan Partridge's immortal lines would serve as a title for a blog, but the British Library must see something in it. They have decided to archive this blog FOREVER (or maybe a it less)! So, now's your chance to heckle me and have it preserved for the ages. Future historians will see your comments and may even agree that Ghost Whistler is a pitiful scrounger! Heh! Self deprecation immortalised!

What is Mental Illness?

I find this time of year difficult, especially this year. Last year I was (coming to the end of) claiming ESA. Little did I know that it would end on the 14th of January this year, though I was convinced it would end sooner rather than later. There was no way ATOS were going to let me through - especially as they now don't care about people on chemo. So here I am writing blog entry after blog entry, more often than not, now, as a coping mechanism. It's also practise as a writer, which is something I enjoy, though these blog entries aren't revised and redrafted (perhaps they should be).
So now I'm finding myself, in the forced introspection Winter invokes, questioning what my problems are. I've mentioned them before, along with my belief that the answer - or at least diagnosis - is Aspergers. If not that then 'something similar', if indeed there is such a thing. To put it simply, I don't feel like I fit into this society at all. I simply do not feel comfo…

Does Casual Work?

Here, if the link works, is the sort of job typical of what you might find in the jobcentre. It wasn't actually advertised there, I found it by searching on the WHSMith site. These days most businesses have a careers site/page. Unfortunately Jobseeker Agreements aren't up to date with this; mine says that as well as applying, I have to ring up 2 employers. I don't bother, instead I visit the sites for the major high street businesses I can think of (even though it's largely a waste of time and I have zero interest in retail careers). This is easier to do, and fortunately I haven't had a jobsworth yet criticise me for doing this as opposed to following the JSAg to the letter.
I don't see how it's effective to ring a business up and expect whomever answers the phone to even be in a position to know if there are vacancies. Meanwhile these sites have vacancies listed for all shops (at least htat's the intention), not just the one you might be ringing.
I remem…

Wok Psychologist

Next Monday, at 9am (and hopefully not too cold or wet since the only place to wait after getting of the bus is Morrisons), I have an appointment iwth a Work Psychologist at the Jobcentre. I'm not entirely sure what this involves or what such a person actually does. I suspect it's either, or somewhere between, careers advisor or occupational therapist - which wouldn't be terribly appropriate. Perhaps they are there to bludgeon people with the idea that arbeitmachtfrei (I'm sure it does if it's a good job that pays real well, something the JC don't really help with).
I've seen careers advisers before with the DWP; they are useless. I had an aptitude test with one that produced results as bizarre (at least to me) and diverse as: forensic photographer (something I'm not interested in), Plasterer and Motorcycle Courier. All from the same results. Of course actually helping me realise any such career was another matter entirely. It just enabled them to hand …

The Role of the Advisor

Here someone posted a link to an Ingeus (formerly, iirc, Working Links) video for potential advisers in their employ. I respond there and here as well. Here are my responses to what's said in that video.
Firstly, it would of course be very easy to target these people and call them the enemy, even though they are (certainly in my experience of the abominable Working Links), but these people are just part of the corporate machine dependent on them, and indirectly the taxpayer, as me. Unfortunately they are, at best, just not aware of the reality of the Work Programme and similar schemes. These people just channel buzzwords and corporate spiel and can pat themselves on the back when they get an 'outcome'.
Here we have the usual 'my job is varied therefore it's great' spiel, and also a rather blithe approach to the variety of experiences and issues that 'clients' (I'm going to use that word for convenience's sake, but it's just as stupid as JC+ ca…

All Aboard the SS Toff Party

Where yesterday I doubted the focus of the Occupy movement (even though I support their aims wholeheartedly), today's revelation of the toff nazi fancy dress party removes the doubt. How these cretins can be so sociopathic I will never know. If this is how they want to live then by all means OCCUPY!
I just can't fathom the thinking behind anyone choosing a nazi costume and to then, apparently, behave in character as has been reported. Maybe if you ham up the costume to the point of obvious lampoonery, but to just don a bog standard, unadulterated, SS uniform? That's the best you can come up as a guest for a fancy dress party? Must have been a busy day at the costume shop; I'm guessing the only superhero costume he could think of was ubermensch.
If it's ok (Tory MP Aiden Burley seems to think so) to dress as members of a military force that occupied Europe for five years, camping on the village green can't really be any worse.


Where are we going?
In Bristol today I passed, once again, the Occupy camp, located on College Green which, if the news is to be believed, is land certainly not owned by the camp. It is a fairly largish open space opposite the council offices and Bristol Cathedral and Park Street. It's popular in the summer and pleasant all year around.
The camp isn't pretty, there's no denying that - even if that is a somewhat middle class perception. The ground is going to suffer having been reduced to a lot of mud. There are a fair number of tents with constructed buildings in between as well as a couple of portaloos. I'm sure it's none too warm either.
The residents all too easily fit the dropout profile; once they would have been called new age travellers (correctly or otherwise) as well as crusties (even if they don't all have dreads). Of course that's just a superficial thing. I'm sure they represent all manner of people and views. Broadly speaking I share their vie…

Human Error?

I'm not going to be excused on the 23rd, quelle surprise. Of course as a scrounger I shouldn't be because everyone else has to work blah blah blah. Let's just get that chestnut out the way. Though the money does go in earlier (and should clear on that day). That should take the edge off signing.
I also have an appointment with a Work Psychologist (not sure if I've already mentioned this) on the 19th. I have no idea what such a person does, but it was either that or get sent to the local Work Programme Gulag (which will happen sooner or later I think).
Today's fun and games was a complete fucking joke. I'm so sick of the inflexible and hapless Jobcentrebureaucracy now; coupled with this insane time of year and the general winterness of winter I'm starting to seriously lose the plot.
So I'm called over after a ten minute wait; I'm not feeling particularly shall we say effervescent this morning. While I wait I'm watching the three ladies on the signin…

I Want to Break Free!

Though not in drag with a hoover and a 'tache.

My gods do I need a break. This time of year - specifically the pre Christmas madness - really bends my brain. Everything seems to mount up - real or imagined - and I find it increasingly difficult. Once you get to Christmas it's not too bad; I don't enjoy it (I'm on my own, so I don't have a family to share it or kids to spoil, and I don't believe in the miracle of Jesus, sorry), I think it's still to commercial and over the top. Plus I hate with the strength of hellfire those seasonal adverts. But the early nights, the cold (I live in a cold house and I just cannot get on with the cold), the jobcentre...
Having to sign on is bad enough, but I really need a break. I'm not sleeping properly at all. My head is all over the place, and having to concentrate to find work especially at the worst time of year to do so is a nightmare I could do without, frankly.
I should caveat this by saying there are plenty of peop…

So, The Strikes

Tuesday we got the Autumn Statement from Gideon Osbourne (a man who prefers the name George - a hideous insight into the mind of a fiscal madman). Seems to me he was happy to blame the current financial Defcon level on the global economic crisis - that is, NOT Labour, and specifically not Gordon Brown. This seemed to slip past Ed Balls (is that a real name, or a cartoon strip footballer?). So it's ok to blame the last government when it suits them. This has been the trend for the past few months: take credit for Labour's schemes, blame them for the current woes and revise history. The most disingenuous fact, it seems to me, is that had the Tories been in power during the banking crisis things would certainly have been no better. I don't recall Cameron and Osbourne suggesting alternatives to the very act of bailout that seems to be the reason for the current austerity (that the Tories happen to capitalise on very happily). I also notice that while Osbourne didn't increa…

Jeremy's Spoken (hide the kids, there's gonna be swears!)

After the strike, which I fully support, we all get to sit down to tea and watch the delightful flufforama that is the One Show. Look who the guest is, it's comedy legend Jeremy Clarkson. Let's hear what this insightful reporter has to say.
There isn't enough sarcasm in the world to adequately compensate for how angry this fucking moron makes me feel. But of course that's the point isn't it. He's just a sad little agitator handsomely paid (ironically) to animate the country's favourite current bogeymen, usually under the guise of 'political correctness gone mad'. Is he joking? Christ knows, does it matter though? He's a cunt of the highest order. The sad thing is, as his laughable 'career' trajectory veers down he finds he has to resort to ever more shocking nonsense in order to seem relevant to his audience. I can't imagine who they are: the petrolhead Sun reading climate change denying (because climate change is, predictably, 'p…

Santander - A Woeful Distraction

I'm not above a good old fashioned rant at the banks. If it's good enough for (insert middle of the road comedian) then it's good enough for (insert me). Plus I've spent all last week pursuing a complaint made on the 21st to what seems to be a giant black hole of complete indifference.
For about the last year, until this March, I was treading ground with my account which was just within the £200 overdraft, merely paying off the interest thereon. I was then informed that, as of April, they were going to change their overdraft arrangements (as you do) which would leave me unable to pay them and thus incur charges. Wanting to avoid this I contacted them, despite their total lack of interest (because I wasn't technically in debt) I made a complaint which resulted in an arrange to pay off that amount at £3 a month with the overdraft being removed and the account being closed at the end. They even wrote to me notarising this. Great, thought I.
So everything had been going …