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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Horoscopes #2

December

Sagittarius

Man, woman, happy, sad, open, close, chalk, cheese, black, white, big, small, foul, fair, rice, salad, hats, pens, acne, Portugal, flaky bits, anaerobic exercise, finger food, taxis, squares, some fur... Or: Renee Zelweger. It's up to you.

Capricorn

Text: CAP'C'N033106778830986140229586012790435652866744912234060649 for your horoscope.

Aquarius

Sure!

Pisces

You've been feeling squirmy recently, haven't you? It's because you haven't written your list of things to do before you die. It's ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE that you do it within the week. No reason.

Aries

You should probably go and grab a coffee before The Unbelievable Urn arrives.

Taurus

Try not to think of things in terms of nouns, verbs and adjectives this month but more in terms of poids, bludges and srith. You might find that this way of thinking makes things a bit pasty and sinister but it'll do wonders for your love life. Oh, and go and talk to Jane.

Gemini

You know the problems you're having in your relationship? Stop looking them up on the internet. Also, Christmas might be a bit weird for you this year because of all the problems you're having in your relationship. Wear grey.  

Cancer

VOID.

Leo



Virgo

December's DOs: Tracksuits, strip-lighting, ITV2, forks, heather, pub quiz, sugar, ham, pottery, counting to 20 in Italian, milk, knocking your funny bone, thinking about the colour blue.

December's DON'Ts: cotton, The Guardian, agreeing with people, keys, leaning, sex, options, kale, the abdomen, looking at other people's shoes, cars, fainting, films.

Libra

First of all, things aren't as bad as you think. Second of all, if you think you've got money worries now, you might want to hold that thought until next month. Third of all, your domestic situation will change dramatically very, very soon; think small. Fourth of all, it's likely that you're going to be completely found out. Fifth of all, you should probably talk to Jane as well. More than Taurus should.

Scorpio

You shouldn't be so hard on yourself; you're a really, really good person and everyone knows you're doing your best. Give yourself a break. Have a lovely Christmas.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Case Notes

2nd August 2012
Client came to advice centre. Very difficult to communicate with as has quite severe mental health issues and found it very difficult to focus. Client has received an overpayment of Income Support for the period ... . Client says that he can't remember what he was doing during this time but that he wants to appeal. Difficult to write reasons for appeal on form as little is known about situation surrounding overpayment. Completed an appeal form with client and advised that he will be contacted when paper work arrives.

9th August 2012
Received a call from DWP. Was told that reasons given on appeal form are not adequate. Tried to explain that client has mental health problems and was therefore not very coherent regarding his reasons for the appeal but that it was thought best to submit appeal form to get ball rolling and so that client can be given advice about his prospects of success when paper work detailing reasons for decision about overpayment arrives. Was told that appeal will not be accepted. Requested a statement of reasons for the decision instead so that client can be given advice about why the decision was made. Requested that statement be sent to the advice centre rather than client. Was told that this was fine.

17th August 2012
Called client to advise that statement hasn't arrived yet. Called DWP. Was told that statement has been requested and that it cannot be confirmed how long it will take but it 'shouldn't take too long'.

17th September 2012
Wrote to client to tell him that statement still hasn't arrived and to advise him to send statement to advice centre if he receives it instead. Sent client stamped, addressed envelope.

11th October 2012
Client came to advice centre. Statement has still not been sent. Called DWP with client present. Was told that there was no record of request for statement. Explained that another DWP rep said that statement will be sent so there must be a record of the request. Was told that this will be looked in to. Asked if this phone call could be treated as request for statement. Was told that it needs to be in writing. Wrote again.

25th October 2012
Reviewing case. Statement of reasons still not received.

31st October 2012
Called DWP as still no sign of statement. Was told that email was sent to relevant department on 12/10. Was told that someone would call back today with an update. Did not receive call back.

7th November 2012
Called DWP for another update about statement and its whereabouts. Was put on hold. Phone went dead. Called back. Was put through to another department. Phone went dead. Called again. Explained situation. Was told that someone will call back within 24 hours.

8th November 2012
Did not receive call back. Called DWP. Was advised that call back would be made within one hour in accordance with 'escalation procedure'. Did not receive call back after one hour. Called DWP again. Was told that manager will now escalate this as an urgent issue and that call back will be made before 5pm today. Did not receive call back at 5pm. Waited until 5:45pm.

15th November 2012
Called DWP. Was told that there was no record of any requests for call backs. Explained to rep that all that is needed is a statement of reasons for decision about overpayment. Was told that this would require a call back from another department. Insisted that call back be made to advice centre ASAP. Was told that call back would be made within one hour. Did not receive call back. Called client to ask if he had been called by DWP. He said not.

16th November 2012
Called DWP again. Pleaded with them to call back today with information about why it's been so difficult for the statement to be sent to client. Was told that call back would be made within 30 minutes. Waited for an hour and no call back. Called DWP again after two hours. Was told that there was no record of phone number for advice centre. Explained that this is impossible as this had been given and confirmed during each call. Was told that someone will call back within 24 hours. Explained that this time scale was unacceptable given that this has been going on since August. Was told that call back will be made within one hour. After one hour, finally received call back. Was told that a statement could be prepared but that there was no record of client having given his authority for advice centre to act for him. Explained that client had given his authority on his initial appeal form for advice centre to act for him. Was told that appeal form is with another department. Asked why it can't be scanned and emailed to the correct department. Was told that it is not clear which department it is with. Was advised to write to DWP an enclose a form of authority signed by client and that when this is received, statement of reasons will 'hopefully' be sent.

Cool. Really glad that's all totally sorted.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Horoscopes

November

Scorpio

You have a tendency to shout too loud this month. It's because you're an attention seeker, which is fine, but do try to keep it down for the latter part of the month because your power animal is going into hibernation and probably won't want to be disturbed. Also: knees.

Sagittarius

Lifelifelifelifelifelifelifelifelifelifelifelifelifelifelifelifelifelfielifelife!!!!!!

Capricorn

If you're feeling low this month, don't worry; it's because the moon's pressing on your liver a little bit. If you're not feeling low, buy some spikes. You'll know what to do.

Aquarius

Polly put the kettle on, Polly put the kettle on, Polly out the kettle on, we'll all have tea! If you don't know why this is in your horoscope this month, you need to do some serious work on yourself. Loser.

Pisces

Get rid of all your buckets. Or anything bucket-like. We're not sure if this includes cups or not. It probably does. 

Aries

Andy? Are you Andy? Where's Andy? WHERE THE FUCK IS ANDY.

Taurus

Well, well well... (this is a link. You need to click on it)

Gemini

Somebody, somewhere really misses you. It's someone who really misses you. They haven't seen you for ages and they wish they could. They really miss you. They think about you a lot. They really think about you. In a missing you sort of way. You won't know who it is but they will. Because it's them who misses you.

Cancer

This month is your month for the Michell Solution! Well done, Cancer!


  \begin{align}
   \varphi &= A_0~r^2 + B_0~r^2~\ln(r) + C_0~\ln(r) + D_0~\theta \\
      & + \left(A_1~r + B_1~r^{-1} + B_1^{'}~r~\theta + C_1~r^3 + 
      D_1~r~\ln(r)\right) \cos\theta \\
      & + \left(E_1~r + F_1~r^{-1} + F_1^{'}~r~\theta + G_1~r^3 + 
      H_1~r~\ln(r)\right) \sin\theta \\
      & + \sum_{n=2}^{\infty} \left(A_n~r^n + B_n~r^{-n} + C_n~r^{n+2} + D_n~r^{-n+2}\right)\cos(n\theta) \\
      & + \sum_{n=2}^{\infty} \left(E_n~r^n + F_n~r^{-n} + G_n~r^{n+2} + H_n~r^{-n+2}\right)\sin(n\theta) 
  \end{align}

Leo

There will be lights. There will be cameras. They might be action. If there is action, it will probably be in a car park near Wigan. You're lovely. xxx

Virgo

Every night in my dreams 
I see you, I feel you,
That is how I know you go on
Far across the distance 
And spaces between us
You have come to show you go on
Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more you open the door
And you're here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on
Love can touch us one time
And last for a lifetime
And never let go till we're gone
Love was when I loved you
One true time I hold to
In my life we'll always go on
Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more you open the door
And you're here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on
You're here, there's nothing I fear,
And I know that my heart will go on
We'll stay forever this way
You are safe in my heart
And my heart will go on and on

Libra

Tick tock, tick, tock, tick tock. Uh oh...
Also: Whales.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Eavesdrop #13

A woman is on a bus talking on her mobile phone:


... vodka just does that to me though, you know? 

It sends me round the absolute bend.

It's like, when I'm fucked on vodka, I just jump straight from the fireworks into the fire, do you know what I mean?

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Man


The man is in Somalia

Where there is a terrible war

So the man flees

But leaves his family

He goes to Norway

And becomes a Norwegian

But he has cousins in the UK

So after a while he comes to the UK to work

He works really hard

He makes some good friends

He has quite a nice time

But fears for his family

And then he gets cancer

And gets pretty ill pretty quickly

He has an operation

But there is nothing they can do

Because it's all over his body

The man is discharged to a care home

Where elderly people are slumped in chairs

That are positioned by windows

But the chairs are far too big for their tiny bodies

So their heads flop to one side

Their tiny heads

Like babies

The care home stinks of actual piss

Even though it isn't really a dirty place

It's probably no one's fault

It's just the way these places smell

The man makes a claim for sickness benefit

Because he's really sick now

He was told by someone that he'd get it

Because he's been living and working here for ages

But he is turned down

Because he doesn't have a right to reside in the UK

Due to the gaps in his employment history

The man asks for legal advice

And asks if he's going to be deported

And he's told he's not

That not having a right to reside doesn't mean he doesn't have the right to be here

The man is told that this is a really complicated area of law

But that it looks like he might have a good case

Although the appeal could take a really long time to process

The man gets a look on his face that says, 'time is something I don't have a lot of'

The man says, 'but I don't have money'

The man shakes his head

He does this for ages

Really slowly

The man says, 'they tell me I have the cancer'

And he starts to unbutton his shirt

To prove it

But he's told that this isn't necessary

The man says 'I am dying'

He says it out loud

It might be the first time he's said it

And he says it again

He says he's scared of it and doesn't want it to hurt

And that he tries to pray every day

But that it doesn't work

And then the man starts to weep

And to speak in a language that probably even he can't understand

Monday, 1 October 2012

Safe From Harm

According to Mail Online's Liz Jones, teenage girls are dangerous and adult men need to be kept safe from them. In response to the story of teacher Jeremy Forrest absconding to France with his 15-year-old pupil Megan Stammer, Ms. Jones wrote an article in which she said male teachers need protection because the lengths that a teenage girl will go to when she fancies a man are superhuman.

Ms. Jones goes on to say, if you’d been, as I was, at White City for a David Cassidy concert, you would have seen that the teenage – and much younger – girl can bring down walls, policemen, any barrier to get at the object of her affection. Safety, sense and reality do not come into the equation. Love at this age is like a fever, and although the young woman is not to blame, she is dangerous, too.

Right. Maybe we should have a proper look at and an actual think about what Ms. Jones is saying. That would be fun, wouldn't it! Ms. Jones is in bold italics.


Of course an adult in a position of trust should never take advantage of his position – but I don’t think anyone who has not been a teenage girl realises the extent of their sexuality, the extraordinary longing, the passion. Yeah. Or, maybe this instead: Of course an adult in a position of power should never take advantage of his position. End of sentence. Teachers, especially young, male ones, know that teenage girls will have crushes on them. If they don't, they're cretins. It's the teacher's responsibility to not go there. And, more to the point, why would he want to go there unless he had a really fucked up view of women? And Ms. Jones, what do you mean when you talk about the 'extent of [girls'] sexuality' and this thing about 'extraordinary longing'? You're just talking about feeling horny which is a completely normal feeling. Stop talking about teenage girls' sexuality in such predatory terms. Don't be such a misogynist.

Ms. Jones talks about her own, personal experience of having a man for a teacher: Mr Smith seemed to pay me special attention, entering me for writing competitions. But he was too far away and grown-up for me to ever think of him as a love interest, or boyfriend material, and he smelled like an old man – tobacco, and sock. I couldn’t fantasise about him although, trust me, I tried. Right. So, you're saying that you had a male teacher who noticed that you were good at writing and that you didn't fancy him. But that you tried to fancy him. Why did you do that? You're weird. Oh! But you didn't  do that, did you? You're just saying that you tried to fantasise about him to give your argument (which, btw, is  ALL OVER THE PLACE) some weight. Clever clogs! And the reason this is obvious is because trying to fantasise about someone isn't how fantasising about someone works; you basically just said that yourself in the bit you wrote about feeling horny.

I had to fantasise instead about David Cassidy, and David Essex, who were luckily too far away from my ink-stained grip to be harmed. You had to? Who made you? And what, prey tell, would you have done to harm them had they been nearer to you? Are you actually saying that when a teenage girl fancies an adult male, he needs to be kept safe? From what? Accidentally groping her because of her extraordinary longing and passion? Poor The Men! It must be terrifying for them that they're penises run their lives. But, the thing is, we all know that this is bullshit, don't we? How? Because we've all met men who don't behave like that and the reason they don't isn't because they're being kept safe from the clutches of demonic, teenage whores. No. It's because they're nice, un-fucked up people who want to be in relationships and have sex with people they respect and have stuff in common with.

Male teachers need protection, and to be given strict guidelines and protocol. I wonder if Jeremy – the subject of so much bile and whose life and career are over – was told by his superiors how to dress, speak and behave. All teachers need protection, Ms. Jones; like employment rights and good working conditions and fair pay and stuff like that. Male teachers do not need to be protected from teenage girls who have crushes on them. All they need to do is be the kind of men who have healthy relationships with themselves and, therefore, the kind of men who make appropriate choices when it comes to women. And Mr. Forrest probably was told how to behave. The conversation might have gone a bit like this: we don't really need to tell you not to run off with a 15-year-old student because that kind of goes without saying. Happy teaching, Jeremy.

But the problem now is that today’s male teachers look like boy band members so, of course, the affection is directed much closer to home. Oh, fuck off. All people age. And when this happens, they all say things like, 'you know, I went to the hospital the other day to get my leg amputated and the consultant looked about twelve years old! The consultant!!!! TWELVE!!!!' Men who look young are not the problem here; men who are not healthy people are the problem here.

At 18, I wore brown loons, had greasy hair and spots. I wonder if he’d have reacted differently if I’d shopped tastefully at Topshop and learned make-up skills from Cheryl Cole. In other words, 'ugly girls don't need to worry because men only want to fuck teenagers who know how to dress properly. And girls who dress up and wear make-up are asking for it.' Nice. Really nice.

Yes, Megan seemed to wear a uniform, but look at her eyes – caked in mascara – and the pale-pink lip gloss. This is the crucial difference between girls now and girls when I was growing up. I looked like a child, so it was easier for a teacher not to become deluded. Yeah, Megan is EVIL. Just look at her eyes; they're EVIL. She made Jeremy take her to France by putting a spell on him with her mascara and lip gloss. What a predatory, calculating witch.


There have been a lot of conversations about this story, some of which have been kind of worrying. People have proclaimed that the age difference between Megan and her teacher isn't that big; that they really are in love; that the boundaries are 'blurry'. Hmmmm. Maybe they are; maybe they've got loads in common; maybe she's really mature for her age, whatever that actually means. It's doubtful though. Yes, age differences happen. But there's a huge difference between a 15 year age gap of people in their 30s and 40s and that of a 15-year-old and her 30-year-old teacher. And yes, we're all hearing the beautiful 'love stories' about two people who were in a similar situation to Megan and Jeremy and who are still 'incredibly happy together'. But, there's money on these people probably not really being OK and not really functioning in a healthy way. No offence.

In the midst of rebellion, challenging their own personal boundaries and trying to impress their peers15-year-old girls do a lot of stuff they're not sure they want to do and, even when they're pretty sure they don't want to do it, they can be crap at saying so. They'll boast about stuff that they actually feel like shit about, pretend that they can handle themselves when, in fact, they're terrified. Everything is hugely confusing. They'll make mistakes. Sometimes they'll learn from them. The odds are, patronising or not, that Megan Stammer hasn't really got a clue what she wants even if she is insisting otherwise right now.

Teenage girls can engage in risky behaviour with men and often enter into situations that they have neither the wit nor the experience to exit. Any 30-year-old male teacher who claims not to know this is not OK. And if he really thinks that he wants to be in an actual relationship with a 15-year-old then he is, at worst, really unwell and needs much help or, at best, a narcissist. 

Oh, and just to be clear, it's not the men who need protecting in these situations. Teenage girls need to be kept safe and the adults around them need to do their absolute best to help them make friends with themselves.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

5-7-5 #7

When shame came knocking
With its grins and milk-puffed cheeks
We played Hang Man. Twice.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

A-Z #5

I'm Not Religious, I'm Just Quite Spiritual

Asceticism has been a really amazing journey for me
Brrrrrrrrr!!! Your aura's incredibly cold!
Connectedness is when everyone holds hands and has a beautiful cry
Denial is when people don't believe in fairies. It's really sad
Everything is made of blessings. Everything
Fasting is easy because I'm full of love
Glastonbury Tor is my Power Place
How am I? I don't think of myself as how I am; more how I am. You know?
I feel really lucky to be so totally self obsessed aware
Just to let you know: I have seven souls. Sometimes eight
Karma is when people who are really poor were really bad in a past life
Love = Joy = Peace = No more war! It's so simple! xxx 
My reiki teacher can see right through me. Literally. He's amazing
No room at the Negativity Inn!
Om
Pairs Utility is an anagram of 'spirituality'. Need I say more?
Qi, or ch'i, or chi, or ki. Or cheese
READ THE ALCHEMIST. IT WILL COMPLETELY CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Self-realisation has been so good for me and my relationship with myself
Transcendentalism has been so good for me and my relationship with myself
Universe: do my bidding! (I mean that in a really gentle way)
Very, very, very, very depressed. Please, someone help me
When you ask the Universe for something, it always comes true
X-rays really fuck with your yin and yang
You are so nearly as spiritual as I am
Zoo

Thursday, 13 September 2012

H

H is a single mother of a nine-week-old baby. She's been suffering from chronic depression and anxiety because of various life experiences. Understandably, H has been quite worried, since giving birth, that her depression will be aggravated further and that she will start to display symptoms of post-natal depression or postpartum psychosis. Thankfully, so far, neither has occurred.

Shortly before H gave birth, she made a claim for Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) - a benefit for people who are not well enough to work - on the grounds that she was depressed and anxious and unable to be around people she didn't know very well. H was not told it would have been better for her to make a claim for Income Support as a lone parent; entitlement to this benefit, in H's case, would have been unequivocal.

H received her first ESA payment and was under the impression that her claim had been finalised. She was not made aware that she would be required to attend a work capability assessment with a medical professional and that only after this assessment, would a final decision be made about her entitlement to ESA.

H attended her work capability assessment when she was heavily pregnant. Apparently, the medical professional assessing her had not been trained in the welfare system because H was not advised, due to the imminent birth of her baby, to cancel her ESA claim and make a claim for Income Support to which she certainly would have been entitled and for which there is no medical assessment or points-based test that has to be passed.

H had her baby. A couple of months after the birth, she sought advice from a welfare rights specialist about any other money she might be entitled to as a lone parent with health problems.

The caseworker called the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), as a matter of course, to check the amount of ESA that H was receiving. The caseworker was told that H's ESA had been cancelled some weeks ago because she had failed her work capability assessment and was no longer entitled. H had not been written to about this and so was not aware that this decision had been made. She had not checked her bank account for some time as she had been busy with her new baby. Her only income at this point was Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit amounting to approximately £80 per week with which she had to buy food and household items for herself, nappies, formula milk and other provisions for her baby, pay her bills and pay for public transport to get to appointments to see her social worker and other people.

H was advised to make an immediate claim for Income Support and to ask for it to be backdated to the day that her ESA stopped. The caseworker talked to her about appealing the decision about her ESA but it was agreed that a claim for Income Support was a better route because H was definitely entitled to this benefit and the stress of an appeal where there was no guarantee of success would have been overwhelming for H.

H was also advised to apply for a crisis loan from the Social Fund while she was waiting for her Income Support claim to be processed.

Some days later, H contacted her caseworker in a state of panic to say that her application for a crisis loan had been unsuccessful. H had been told that she was ‘not in crisis’ because she was being paid Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit. Someone in H’s situation should be receiving around £152 per week in benefits and tax credits. H was receiving about half this amount and was spending approximately £20 per week on nappies alone.

The caseworker tried to contact the crisis loan department on the telephone in an attempt to resolve things quickly but was greeted with the word, ‘no’ and the line going dead when she said who she was and why she was calling.

H is now in the process of appealing the decision about her entitlement to a crisis loan and is still awaiting the outcome of her Income Support claim. This does not solve her immediate problem of lack of funds because of poor knowledge and bad decision making on the part of the people working within the services that were designed to protect her.

It was not OK for a H, new single mother with complicated mental health problems, in an extremely vulnerable position, to have been told that she was ‘not in crisis’ when she said she was. It was not OK for people in positions of authority not to have noticed that it would been much better for this woman to have made a relatively simple claim for Income Support rather than a long-winded, stressful, humiliating and unsuccessful claim for ESA. It was not OK that H did not receive written confirmation of the decision about her ESA. It was not OK for H's caseworker to be greeted by a virtual brick wall during an attempt to help her.

What's also really not OK is for David Cameron to say that he wants to protect the most vulnerable in our society when there are very few, if any, examples of what he actually means, especially given that H’s case is by no means unique. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Eavesdrop #12

An elderly couple are on a bus.

Woman           I tell you who I'd like to see soon and that's Bob

Man                Bob died. He died

Woman           He died?

Man                Yes, he did. I didn't tell you because I knew that you loved him and I didn't want you to be sad before Julia's wedding

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Thursday

You're running a drop-in at a health centre and a man comes to see you for advice about his benefits. He's an elderly man in his 60s. He’s not very well. He lives on his own.

You ask him the usual questions about how he copes with his health problems and what he does day-to-day; if he goes out much, what he eats, how unwell he feels on a scale of one to ten, that sort of thing.

For a quiet, unassuming man, he tells you quite a lot about himself. His health problems are many; he has heart disease and angina. He’s had three strokes in as many years that have made the whole of his right side much weaker than the left and his memory poor. He has a condition in his leg that causes it to swell and gives him terrible pain. He can’t walk far without having to stop and rest. He tells you he’s scared a lot of the time. You ask him what about. He says he doesn’t really know.

You ask him if he feels depressed and he says that he’s never thought about it before but that he supposes he does. He tells you that he never really feels like doing anything these days, that there are a few programmes on telly that he likes to watch but that’s about it. He says it’s hard not being able to read or write because it makes him feel like an outsider and it makes everything much harder, like using a washing machine and going to the Post Office.

You ask him more about his reading and writing. He tells you that his teachers at school sort of gave up on him and that he was sent to sit at the back of the class. He tells you that, after a while, instead of being required to go to class, he was given jobs to do like helping the groundsman paint the white lines on the football field. He chuckles a little bit.

He tells you that he left school at 14 and went to work on the railways and that he did this until 1995. He was offered voluntary redundancy because he had an accident at work that meant he couldn’t do the job properly anymore. He says he really misses the railways; he had some great mates there. He tells you he used to go into work an hour before his shift started just so he could spend some time with his friends and have a laugh for a bit. He says that he supposes most of them are dead by now. He tells you that those are the only proper friends he ever had and that he doesn’t really bother with people any more. You ask him if he ever feels lonely. He tells you that that's the thing he feels most.

You ask him if he eats well and he tells you that he doesn’t, really. Most nights he goes to the chippy but some nights he doesn’t bother having anything because he doesn’t feel like it.

He gives you a letter from his doctor, the content of which is pretty bleak. And you look at this man who has grafted all his life and who has learnt how to fit an engine into a train but is really fucking vulnerable and you look at yourself sitting behind your computer doing this job and then you look at him again. 

And you have this image in your head – a fantasy really – that this man is your elderly dad and you picture yourself in one of those films; one of those films that has hardly any talking and is really beautifully shot and has loads of attention to detail and in the film you’re the daughter and he’s the dad and you’re a lonely young woman with sadness and gorgeous secrets and he’s none the wiser and you visit him every week to take him his shopping and you eat together in total silence and you’re this pair of unremarkable people doing unremarkable things but it’s all beautiful because it’s one of those films where the light is always unbearably poignant. And then you snap out of it and feel like a prick.

And then you look down at your paper work and ask him to sign a consent form which he does badly and for which he apologises. And you give him some information but you tell him that you’ll need to see him again soon, after you’ve made some calls and looked in some books. And he gets up from his chair and looks at your eyes and holds out his hand for you to shake and he says thank you very, very much for helping me, in a way that makes you suspect he's rehearsed it a few times in his head, and then he leaves.

And he leaves just in time actually because he’s completely broken your heart and you know that he has because you start to cry. And it’s a total cliché, what you’re doing, you know that, but you can’t really rein it in. And you cry quite hard for a bit but then you start to feel guilty and patronising and spoilt and arrogant and all those other ugly things. Because what do you know? Really, what?

So you decide to just feel lucky instead.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Roads

Lane Lane
No Way
Action Stations Avenue
Successful Walk
Hateful Parade
Attitude Drive
Can't Corner
Incident Park
Fluids Crescent
Yes Way
Top of the Pops Street
Internet Close
Seriousness Hill
An Road
Emotional Court
Statistical Gardens
High-Risk Villas
Pretend Grove
Dark Place
Apology Square
Shoes Mews
Wow! Way
??? Terrace
The Smashings

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Sad Truth

Sometimes, you go to a cafe for lunch and there's a copy of The Sun on your table and you flick through it with a look of disgust on your face while you're eating. And sometimes, while you're flicking through, you come across an article about the Olympic female beach volleyball team and how a decision has been made that they are definitely going to wear their bikinis as long as the weather stays above 16 degrees. And in the article, written by Alex West, it says things like, male fans were up in arms when [they were] told on Monday how all the girls could don frumpy long-sleeved tops and leggings if temperatures remained low.


And then, in the same article, you read that a spokeswoman for the volleyball team has said, we’re thrilled Sun readers have shown such a healthy interest in the Olympic volleyball team. The girls know the bikinis are helping them gain popularity in the sport.


So, you get really angry. Not because some women are wearing bikinis but because of sexism and because some people really think that there is equality between men and women. And because it's the 21st Century. So then you call Alex West at The Sun and ask for the contact details of the Olympic spokeswoman in question. But Alex West isn't available, so you send him an email that he doesn't reply to. And then you have this idea to call the press department responsible for the Olympic volleyball team and you speak to a woman called Sue and you ask her if she can give you the contact details of the spokeswoman in the article. Sue tells you that she's almost certain who it is but that she needs to check and that she'll call you back.


Sue does call you back and she asks you why you want to contact the spokeswoman and you tell Sue that you want to ask the spokeswoman some questions like, doesn't she feel totally fucking depressed by the misogyny of the article? And, does she really think that the best publicity she can give her beach volleyball team is an assurance to men that the athletes will be wearing their bikinis? And, what does this assurance to the men actually, actually mean? Does it mean that the beach volleyball team and its press office totally understands that men want to look at women in their bikinis and think about fucking them and that everyone concerned is just completely OK with that? And, does she think that this sends a positive message to people about women in sport (or in general)? And, why did she refer to the women as girls? And, does she really think that what constitutes a healthy interest in women's beach volleyball is male spectators being up in arms about the possibility that female athletes won't be wearing bikinis? And, what is she playing at?


So, you tell Sue all of this and then Sue says that she's actually not that sure who the spokeswoman is after all.

And then Sue - who has a (probably not badly paid) job, don't forget, at the press department at the beach volleyball team - literally says this:

The thing is, the girls know that sex sells and really they see it as part of their duty. I mean, you're talking to someone who's a feminist herself but that's the sad truth I'm afraid; there's just nothing we can do to change it.


The reason you know that this is what Sue literally said is because you wrote it down while she was saying it because you could feel it coming.

So, after that, you get this feeling in your stomach that's like a bleak, empty kind of hopelessness and you thank Sue for her time and you put the telephone down and you sit on your bed and scream into a pillow. For quite a while actually.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

You Know Who You Are

Sometimes you've got to say 'yes' without a thought
So that someone's strange and impossible life steps up a notch
Sometimes you've got to smoke a million cigarettes
Even though it's a ridiculous exaggeration
Sometimes you've got to stare viciously into the middle distance
Or you'll be sick
Sometimes you've got to lie naked on your bed and break your own heart
Because if you don't, it might stay where it is and never learn

Sometimes you've got to tell yourself that you're the kindest person in the world
Although your eyes are terrifying and your body formidable
Sometimes you've got to string beautiful words together 
Because if you don't, you'll do an amazing, exhausting wriggle
Sometimes you've got to bite down hard
And let the teeth marks do the talking
Sometimes you've got to stay very still
And watch Dirty Dancing and love your family 

And sometimes, you've got to make a noise come out of your face
That sounds like a galaxy screeching to a halt