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So That, Too, Just Happened

And so another DWP letter comes through. Again, I knew it as soon as I saw it from across the floor. I just fucking knew.

So they've given me another appointment, this time a week before Xmas - because nothing says festive spirit like being made to wait in a hostile environment for god knows how long before someone, hopefully qualified, sees you.

Ridiculous. I was told I would get a home visit, but that obviously hasn't happened. I suspect that, if I try and ask for one, they will just say tough shit.

Because that's how it is isn't it. Tough shit if you're struggling. Tough shit if you've already turned up, in good faith doing what was asked of you. Tough shit all round. Now the stress begins again.

This is our world. A system that can't and won't care. If you get screwed up because of some 'adminsistrative error' oh dear how sad. Do was we say and if you can't then tough bloody shit.

Well fuck this. I'm seriously tempted not to go. I ca…

So That Just Happened

Or didn't.

Woke up stressed because I was supposed to be haveing my WCA today.

Yes, you heard that right. Supposed.

So what actually happened: turned up at quarter past nine for a 9:25am appointment. During the subsequent 35 minute wait (because they refuse to book accurate appointments), a guy with crutches has to beg to be seen and not sent away because of some confusion regarding his ability to safely exit the building. Two other people leave for a time because they realise they are going to be waiting for ages.

It's not a happy place. The guy with crutches says his appointment was the same time as mine, so I guess they are double booking people as well. They know how long the appointments take (on balance, of course there are always exceptions), yet they still adopt a completely unworkable structure: without thought for the fact people attending do have problems, particularly with mental health and the stress of appointments and waiting rooms.

So when I'm seen, the ass…

Into the Mirror

So tomorrow morning is my WCA. Needless to say I am not looking forward to it, and that would be an understatement. It's currently sitting in my mind, refusing to leave, cooking up a stultifying negativity. That's the thing with depression; it's a presence that, even if you manage to distract yourself for a time, it returns with hammer-like vengeance. That feeling alone is enough to make the problem of depression the horrible reality it is. Sucker punched by your own thoughts.

Logically - as if we live in a logical society - I should pass. My situation is unchanged from last year. However that is exactly why I won't pass. You might think it reasonable to simply report that fact, but the simplicity of doing so, the ease of process, is exactly why you can't. Instead I will be seen, likely by someone different, and asked the same questions; some of which will not be relevant but part of the deceptive nature of the process. For example, being asked 'how did you get…

That Word That Begins With S

This isn't an easy topic, and so given the nature I'm giving a trigger warning for discussing suicide. It is not my intention to make people uncomfortable, god knows there's enough of that in the world already; but I'm not one of these right wing blowhards who thinks 'triggering' people is funny either. Please be careful.
Essentially what I want to say is as follows, and it is not based on direct experience. It comes from what I have observed about how mental health support works in this country, plus the role of the police in dealing with the collapse of support structures.
It seems to me that, if you present with what I believe is termed 'suicidal ideation' then you run the risk of having your problems ignored in favour of preventing harm - ostensibly to yourself. Conventional wisdom posits this is a favourable outcome - generally speaking we don't want people doing themselves in. But in the context of an authoritarian society that thinks it knows…

No More

Today on the TV you can watch a live performance around the Cenotaph, because it's that time of the year. You will watch, as if it were spectacle, the current elderly representative of a monarchy hopelessly entwined with the fascists of Europe. You will see politicians, who claim to represent us, lay wreaths of plants at the foot of a statue before returning to the business of depriving the heirs to the legacy of those they just 'remembered' and selling arms to other despots because profit.

So watching this morally bankrupt spectacle serves what purpose? Are we so far gone that we cannot see the rampant hypocrisy on display?

This spectacle will be, as it has been for decades now, repeated up and down the country. The great and the good, who otherwise care little for the lives of people around them, will participate in this process. For the most part they will be throwing their weight behind a moral ritual rather than living out any lesson one might learn from the sordid bu…

The Frame (edited)

I spent much of the other day refreshing the stupid news sites in the hope that a pro-torture, pro-murder politician had been sacked by a useless PM. Said politician also went on record calling the British workforce, by default the entire cohort, "lazy". A statement so egregious that it is as offensive as it is stupid. A statement that could only come from a cosy member of the ruling elite.

How do we live in this world? These people are our gods, if not by choice. Certainly by their incessant demand for fealty. The rest of them seem to have their own private foibles and scandals; whether economic or due to some weird repressive trait. When they aren't putting it away in a tax haven nowhere British, they seem to be putting it away...well you get my drift.

However, the rest of us have to slouch along only to be told we shouldn't slouch. Shoulders back stand up straight and look the world in the eye. Big boys don't cry, they just shoulder the increased burden of the…

After the Trust Has Gone

I feel I should play something sickly-sweet by Peter Cetera to underline so melodramatic a title.

Maybe not, I don't think my psyche could cope with that level of schmaltz.

Why has the trust gone?

It's about a relationship with the people who support you. So far the people I'd been seeing at Team North Somerset had actually turned out to be pretty helpful - certainly compared to the dismal experiences with other agencies and social enterprises (or however they identify themselves). This must be understood of course within the context of the prevailing systems that dominate our society (insert standard reference to capitalism). In other words, they can do something, but not really enough because they can't change the government, it's ideology and it's policies to that end.

Initially I was told they (the North Somerset people, not the bloody government) were hoping to get a 'wellbeing' programme of some kind in place. I was told this a few times since I s…

Journey to Jabba's Palace

Sometimes I think living in the Star Wars universe would be more appealing than this shitty old world; despite the prevalence of death stars.

So today is the day. I knew it as soon as I saw the postman hand me the letters. One of those 'I just knew it' moments that represent a sort of mundane clairvoyance.

They don't use brown envelopes anymore, I guess. But the big black "THIS IS NOT A CIRCULAR. THIS IS IMPORTANT!" slogan emblazoned on the front confirmed it; the same as the ESA50 form when that came a few months back.

The 16th of November is the date for my next WCA.

Curiously, and likely the only positive thing so far, is that I now no longer have to dread the post each day - until the next time, when I have to wait for the result of the assessment. A pointless affair really since the outcome is 99.9% preordained. I'm only surprised I passed last time, I certainly can't see lightning striking that favourably twice - and I have to act as if it won't…

The Fucking Cosh

This is the fucking cosh.

Over our heads, for the sake of some dosh...

What agitates me the most: the thought of losing my income and having to go to the local foodbank. I would starve. I can't eat that kind of food, no matter how kindly the hand that gives it to me. Even then their packages are only intended to be an emergency stopgap for a few days. Sugar is no answer to a nation starved by a ruling elite that doesn't give a damn.

I don't even think they could, were they so inclined. Stones don't bleed.

The local foodbank. Hah! Even that's a lie: without an income how do I get to the foodbank? is the bus service going to be made free for victims of Tory sanctions? Somehow I don't think so.

If this happens I am fucked. That would be it.

This is the black hole people like me - the thousands facing this ruinous pernicious government - face. If you stare into this hole, something very dark stares back and it is the shape of a non existent future. It's a void …

Universal Chaos

You sometimes think it can't get any worse.

Universal Credit proves you wrong.

What more evidence is required to show, clearly, that we are not governed. We are oppressed.

This is beyond hypocrisy. This transcends incompetence. This is ideology.

Way back when IDS was at the levers of control he was told that this system would not work. It cannot work: how can you possibly combine, into one single system, a variety of different benefits each unique to specific circumstances. This cannot be done in any way that could possibly simplify the system. All that you would do is make claiming for one reason, whether unemployment or sickness, as difficult as claiming for ALL of them at once, since that is effectively what you are doing.

And consequently the system has failed. As, over four years, since that man promised - with fist pumping certainty - that it would be delivered "on time and in budget". That date was October 2013.

Quelle surprise; it never happened and now, after a …

Mental Health Manifesto 1

It seems apposite that I set out what I think should be done regarding mental health and the wellbeing of our society, instead of simply bemoaning the lack of either. Ok fair enough, says I.

Anyone else that wants to add to this list, a set of ideas that will have zero influence politically and will be read by precisely no politicians ever. Oh well!

The support that exists, that I have experienced, feels like it is intended simply to keep people "off the streets". It borrows from the "idle hands" model: keep people occupied to keep them out of trouble, specifically keep them from realising the truth of their reality. That life in modern capitalist western society is, for the vast majority, shit. This is what I mean when i say that these places institutionalise people. Out of sight, out of mind - literally!

Now clearly there is a place for peer support, but that must not be at the expense of providing proper support, by which I mean offering a framework, or at least…

Eleanor Rigby's Lament

As the Chancellor dines with business bigwigs and mandarins, at a £400/head function, I am left wondering how different our worlds are.

How can anyone fail to notice the cracks in our society? The streets are like a warzone now; there's bodies littered all over the place. These were real people once, they still are despite what austerity and capitalism has done to them. Yet, despite their increasing presence, they are growing ever more invisible. I've never seen anything like it.

And yet everywhere I go there is damage and suffering. I attend a mindfulness class with people that also have the scars of a life forced upon them by this miserable system. People like this are everywhere that it seems the norm. It's only the rich ruling elite that seem to be the exception. Unfortunately they have power; the power to ignore us.

I have a facebook and twitter feed full of the casualties of this war on humanity, waged by profit. At what point does enough become enough - for all side…

Mindfulness

I have a feeling this may drag on. I want to be concise here because there's a lot to cover and, unfortunately, my concentration fades easily.

Mindfulness - the fashionable practice of meditation on the breath or other sensation (hands in the lap, movement of the belly, sensation of body on seat, etc) to stimulate well being, but ultimately the process of becoming aware of the present moment. At the fullest it is rooted in a worldview I'm not entirely sure is as helpful as it is positive sounding. It is my understanding it stems from buddhist meditation practises along with the accompanying worldview of compassion. That's a lovely quality to have, but, at the risk of being crass, it doesn't pay the bills.

Breath meditation is something I have tried for a while, on and off. I usually do it in the morning for about ten minutes. Recently I signed up for a Mindfulness class and the experience of it is oddly more formal than I would like, and I'm not sure that's for…

Everyday Crapitalism 1: The Guy on the Bus

Isn't it fun when there's an awkward bugger before you in the queue for the bus? Wouldn't life be easier if these difficult people would just disappear? Well now there's a means to that end, friend: it's called CAPITALISM!

So there I am with my bus ticket and the guy in front of me, with a pair of crutches, presents his ticket to the driver. Unfortunately it appears it's the wrong ticket. He wants to get back to Bristol, but the driver is having none of it because - according to him - the ticket is not valid in Weston super Mare. It's a Bristol zone ticket which doesn't cover the journey he's making. In response the guy makes an appeal to ignorance: why was he sold the wrong ticket then when he asked to go to somewhere that the ticket he was sold won't allow.

It doesn't really help that First Bus' ticket system is a complete nightmare. But that's the price of profit I guess. You might reasonably think the solution would be to just ha…

Welcome to Little England Where I Ride The Highest of Horses!

I think that's a suitably pretentious title. Also note, this is (and not for the first time) the pettiest and shrillest of rants you are likely to ever hear from me. Enjoy.

So I take a walk usually two or sometimes three times a day. I follow the same route which takes me across the local cricket pitch. Technically this field is privately owned, though I don't respect those rights. Why: because I don't agree that the earth should be subject to private property rights and because these are communal resources. That's not an invitation to vandalism or neglect of course.

I walk across the middle of the pitch and someone shouts at me. I can't hear him, which no doubt provokes him. Apparently he's 'scarified' that part of the field, despite it looking like a muddy puddle with no fence, signage or obvious indication of groundwork. Had that been the case I'd have avoided it, it's not an imposition to do so.

What then ensues is a ridiculous argument that…

What do I think employment figures mean?

Seems like every time these figures come out, if they are preferable, the government takes credit.

That's as bonkers as DEFRA claiming that, if the weather's nice, it's down to the government. I'm surprised they haven't tried that one yet.

The Tories have done precisely nothing to positively affect labour market conditions, how can they? They would argue their policies favouring low tax and no regulation (i.e. no workers rights) make Britain attractive for employers. But the truth is that it is demand that drives employment; no boss is going to hire people just because he has less red tape to deal with and less corporation tax to pay because that would eat into his profit margin.

If there's increased demand for his commodity then that is the most likely - but by no means guaranteed - stimulus for taking on more staff. But even then it is just as, possibly more so, likely that he will simply cut his wage bill (again, the issue of curtailing workers rights and pu…

Experiment 2 - Class War!

Another opportunity to stare at an overgrown reed bed - this time with added fencing!

You can also listen to me rant some more about that bizarre human mantis aristocrat, Mogg, as well as the recent nonsense about falling unemployment, and the general class war that I think we're in (were we ever out?).


Thanks for watching, I intend to look into the unemployment thing a bit more.

Experiment 1 - Moggadons All Round

I thought I'd try something. I made a Youtube clip while I was out on walkabout. Please enjoy an incoherent rant surrounding by dying plants. Feel free to like (or not), subscribe (or not), or ignore, or whatever. This is just, as they say, a test.


Experiments in Sound and Vision

Youtube is all the rage these days - that is, there are a lot of angry people on Youtube spreading rage, and indeed outrage.

However I'm posting this as an experiment: I'm tempted to dip my toe into the Youtube water. I've participated in Hangouts (conference calls on Youtube using Google + accounts) before and now I'm interested in finding out if there's enough interest in hosting such things, with a view to discussing the sorts of issues I talk about here.

Of course that means addressing such issues as anonymity and privacy since no one should be forced to show themselves on camera or risk being doxxed. People that do that are just bullies and I want nothing to do with them.

There's a lot of angry right wing trolls on Youtube, they spread a lot of bullshit from the comfort of their Patreon-fuelled armchairs. It would be interesting to hear, in a respectful space, a discussion of how things can be different and better in our broken country.

One day I'll g…

U.N. and Them

What are my thoughts on this?

It's a humanitarian crisis. Is that a phrase we should only reserve for famines in Africa or force majeure? We seem to have a blind spot to these things when they are on our own doorstep - it couldn't happen here, could it?

Yes.

Seven years of the most brutal selfish and greedy governance, not to mention the least competent, has brought us to the point where the United Nations are telling the Tories they are causing a 'human catastrophe' amongst the disabled and the sick. This is not the first time, and even that doesn't include their comments on the hated and spiteful (not to mention ineffectual) Bedroom Tax.

Do the Tories persist with these policies because they actually believe they are correct or even moral?

Or is it because they have no other way to appease the media attack dogs and/or the braying Shirefolk that delight in persecuting the poor as they do torturing foxes and badgers?

Is it both?

We have a government, in a first wor…

Diagnosis

It occurred to me, on the way back from Tesco earlier (always fun), that the notion of mental health diagnosis is completely wrong. Or at least inflexible.

As those who follow this blog may recall, I've been chasing an ASD (autism spectrum disorder) for several years; specifically in regards to Aspergers syndrome.

My diagnosis was based on a mode selected by the diagnostic team with a binary outcome: either I 'pass' or 'fail'. That is to say: either I meet their criteria, or I don't. I didn't and so they dismissed me as being 'ok' and leaving me to the tender mercies of societal expectations and norms. Something that I (and one of the reasons for seeking a diagnosis) find difficult.

This binary approach seems to me incredibly flawed. It does nothing to address the reality of the patients experience - even if we consider whether or not that experience is 'real'. What does it even mean for an experience of mental health to be real? If I feel t…

The New Support...Same As the Old?

So I've taken up with a new social enterprise; they are called Team North Somerset (or something - it's hard differentiating actual names from buzzwords and slogans). They get lottery funding until the end of 2019 (Brexit? Coincidence?) with which to help.

And to be fair, so far, they seem pretty decent. I'm not going to lie - they are certainly a vast improvement over previous agencies. I think that's because it doesn't come with a DWP pricetag. So far they are not holding my ESA to ransom, unfortunately the government are.

I should caveat that this could change at any moment. It's been my experience with these agencies that, at first they are willing to put you at ease. But later on they stop caring. Again this might be because of the connection of these groups to the DWP and a payment by results motif. But one must always be guarded dealing with these groups. That's unfortunate, but necessary.

However the fundamental, structural, issues remain: this grou…

Hell Bound for Kekistan

What is happening in the world?

It seems there has been a noticeable lurch to the right. Not just under the Tory jackboot of austerity, but in general, across the western world, for a lot longer than seven years.

It seems the systems that exist are being challenged such that what we are now seeing with the shiny whitey faces of the so called 'alt right' is the screaming voice of aggrieved privilege. These are people who think they are entitled to be the dominant group; white makes right, apparently. So that when other groups in society speak out and say "what about us?" the response isn't to address the systemic oppression and inequality they face, but to call them entitled and castigate them for daring to even speak.

We are told that multiculturalism has failed. Of course it hasn't. How many times during the day do you interact in a society that has a diverse melting pot of peoples? How often during that day do you suffer because of it? If you got cut up by …

That Time Again

All it takes is one snap of the letterbox, a single envelope glides onto the carpet, and there it is...that time again.

I knew what it was even before I picked it up. I could tell by the shape and size of the letter, even the amount of creasing at the corners. Another ESA form to fill in; the precursor to another WCA.

How I've gotten this far I don't know, but I really don't fancy my chances this time.

The machine never sleeps. There is no respite.

I have a month to fill it in and return it and then who knows how long before the second letter appears telling me to attend at their pleasure. Whatever the time, whatever the day or month. That's how it works. You have absolutely no say in the matter, you don't have any voice in how this process is carried out. That's the level of intrinsic distrust that operates in this society. Why should we accommodate your needs, they say, we think you're taking the piss. 

And then after that ordeal, the gnawing tension of w…

More Support?

Perhaps my cup runneth over. Another social enterprise has appeared; they are called Team North Somerset. They have lottery funding that lasts until the end of 2019 (at which point...who knows).

I had a meeting with one of their "wellbeing and work coaches" the other day. She seemed nice, but then they all do. The person I saw years ago from Working Links was friendly at first, and then, once you're on board, they completely flip. Will that be the case? Who knows. I'm prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I'm not confident.

To be fair, they are not beholden (as far as I can tell) to the DWP so there can be no threats of sanctions or penalties unlike on the Work Programme or any of their vile subsidiaries. But the fundamental problems still remain: these organisations at best mean well, but they can't address the root cause of people's problems caused by structural oppression.

What I suspect is that it will be the usual mild mannered mood mus…

Support - an example

So the latest instance of support predictably didn't materialise.

One of the more pernicious aspects of the 'doctor/patient' relationship (by doctor I mean any relevant authority) is that if you don't try whatever is put in front of you, you are deemed to be feckless. This of course isn't the sole purview of the mental health 'service'.

What makes it so pernicious is that, deep down, you just know that you are wasting your time. When it comes to actions intended for mental health, it is even more counter productive.

And so it is with the last piece of advice given to me by the 'Wellness Advisor' from Positive Step (the local sole purveyor of simplistic mental health solutions - ugh, solutions, what a word). In respect of help regarding a bus pass, which I sorely need given how isolated I am, he agreed that I needed one, but refused to sign off on one. Instead I was to speak to another social enterprise knowing full well that they couldn't. Guess…

Why Anarchy Is Needed 1

Firstly, thanks to the kind peeps that responded to my last post. It's gratifying to know people are interested in what I have to say, even though there are far more informed people out there than myself. All support is muchly appreciate.

So, I came across this the other day:

A serving firefighter, London fire Brigade: On Friday I went to see my local MP, Crispin Blunt to ask why he thought it appropriate to continue to vote for a 1% pay rise for Public sector workers. He explained to me what austerity meant and why we all had to do our bit. I asked him how he was doing his bit by claiming over £20,000 a year for 5 years on a second home which proved to be his main home given his kids lived there and they went to school round the corner. How did claiming over 2k for airbricks and another few thousand for fireplace repairs was contributing to saving the country money? He seemed at a loss how to explain the 5k he claimed for DFS furniture. He sold the second house, bought a bigger hou…