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How I Survived the Cameron Years...

That was the subtitle I chose for this collection of thought vomiting I laughably call a blog. It appears to now be complete, since the Cameron years are - almost - over. His arrogance has cost him his job as Britain's premier feudal overlord and, as I write, he has been replaced by Theresa May about whom the less said the better (condescendingly, she promised to be a champion of the poor but her voting record says otherwise).

So it seems that I have survived. These words are not coming through from the Other Side (tm) and are not the product of a seance. In fact I appear to have been returned - unlike Cameron - to the Work Related Activity Group. I received a letter on Thursday informing me of my victory over the forces of ESA darkness. At least I hope so otherwise I'm in for a nasty shock! :D

I have not recorded my experience at the interview since there really wasn't much to tell. Most of those reading will know what to expect; it was a routine affair (fortunately I suppose). My appointment was 20 minutes earlier than when I was seen, despite there being no one else present. The same receptionist was present as the last time, but, pleasantly, she was much less snarky than before. Perhaps we can attribute that to a change in management as these tests are carried out by Maximus and not ATOS. Though I imagine it's too much to assume they are significantly improved over their predecessors.

The interview process was pleasant enough: the interviewer could well have been from any medical (or not) background. I have no idea and didn't see any point asking. The questions were the usual psuedo-friendly mix of polite medical inquiry and subtle pressure - i.e., asking how I attended and who my companion was is all an attempt to elicit a kind of response. We all know this.

There are two fundamental truths I can point to by way of advice to anyone else undergoing this experience from my own:

1. Take someone with you. I had a friend who very kindly volunteered his time to attend and offer invaluable support. I can't express my gratitude enough for this, particularly as he was left to sit and observe. Not the most fun way to spend your time! I cannot offer hard data to support this, but I strongly suspect the presence of another really helps the case.
2. The moment you knock on the door the test starts. From that point everything, including how you enter the building, ascend the floors to the waiting room, how and whom you speak to, is part of the test. It's not Bladerunner's Voigt-Kampf test, but it's close. In fact, and again without hard evidence, I suspect that being kept waiting for 20 minutes is also part of the test. There was no real reason for it, they have plenty of assessors - in fact the whole top floor of the DWP building is given over to this process. Everything is there to test you, no matter how pleasant it may appear.

So this is a happy way to end the Cameron years, for now at least. I am supposed to now be available for Work Focussed Interviews. I've technically already had one, back in June, when I spoke to the adviser on the phone. At that point I was ready to throw in the towel. He was supposed to get back to me but didn't, now I suspect he will.

But the problems still remain: this is still a horrific situation and any victory, and associated happy feelings, must be tempered. There are also plenty of people with far more serious conditions experiencing far worse than I. This system is ridiculous: I mentioned that the entirety of the top of the DWP building is devoted to the medical testing. That itself is absurdity: why are these tests not done by one's own GP or even through the NHS? Why is this bureaucracy necessary? Why is money spent on hiring a private insurance company to administer a test we all know to be, at best, arbitrary, at worst discriminatory? These questions betray the reality: that the poor and sick are to be treated with utmost suspicion if their value as production drones is ever called in to question.

That is the worth of a man, and, to end on a considerably more downbeat note (the struggle is far from over): this isn't really a victory. I don't want to be in this situation. I don't want to be dependent on the capriciousness of capitalism and the whims of its neo feudal aristocratic overlords. I remain at their suffrance and what they deign to giveth can justeth as easily be snatched back.


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