How much more sophisticated than Marsby is London? Let me count the ways… “London has buses on a Sunday,” said the twelve-year-old, at the bus stop. Indeed- and after six in the evening! He was only going down the town centre. The old woman told me when the houses round Eagle’s Nest were built. Those were built in the thirties for the workers in the laundry, and those were built in the fifties. She used to goo to the open air pool in J–, but there isn’t one, now. People aren’t as gritty as they used to be. “Goo” is an indicator I have noticed of the old local accent, as opposed to those who were decanted from London in the 1970s.
Round the corner, two obese young mothers got on. One changed the sim in her mobile, with great difficulty because of her elaborate nails. Why would anyone need two sims? Her son cried, and could not tell her why: perhaps it was the sun in his eyes through the window. They mock the young lad about his bad behaviour- putting bricks through windows. “Not me,” he grins.
The toddler stood by himself on the bus, just for a moment. The bus juddered, he staggered, and kept his footing. He was not loud, then, but clearly triumphant. The problem was that he could not believe a judder could be worse, so refused to sit in his pushchair or even to hold the hand rail. He dropped his dummy several times, on the floor: at least once his mummy gave it back to him unwiped. One way of improving his immune system- though wiping does little good. The old local woman is now telling someone about her operations.
I get to Thamton bus station, a glass walled corridor of stances in a black cavern under a building, brightly lit. My fellow social class E, and some of my betters. It is a drab, noisy place where people are particularly courteous to each other. I cannot understand the bus driver, which is a first for me: I thought bus driving not a usual job for EU immigrants.
On to the “medical” centre. I wait half an hour in a small crowded waiting room. The politics of the moment is that no-one should be on the sick, though previously people have been left there to reduce the headline Unemployment statistic. So someone who Cannot learn anything beyond a moderately complex task, such as the steps involved in operating a washing machine to clean clothes and Frequently cannot, due to impaired mental function, reliably initiate or complete at least 2 personal actions because of their mental health problem but did not score other points would not because of that be found entitled to benefit. However, I give it a go.
Then I go into battle. The nurse is trying to catch me out. I read, I say, and she has a win: that means I can concentrate, so could do a job. Well. If you read, you will have got to the end of a page and realised that you have not taken it in- everyone does that occasionally. I say I do that. It is true, and it depends on how much of the time. I will be found fit, so I will have to sign on and be vulnerable to JSA sanctions. But I gave it a go, not making eye-contact, whining, saying someone takes me to the supermarket, sometimes I do not get up all day.