All the love here

Cadmus Harmonia Evelyn de MorganI never expected the letter. I thought it would say the opposite. With four pages of tedious verbiage, starting with skirting round the issue, I had to go over it a few times before I realised. Then I paced the floor and babbled for a bit, looking back and forward. Then in the evening, meditating, I had to check the letter again- it could not say that, could it?

But- an extra £28 a week does not mean that I get an extra £28 a week. Down comes the once-so-familiar Welfare Benefits Handbook. Mmm. On last year’s rules, my housing benefit personal allowance would rise by the same amount. So I would keep it. But then, on last year’s rules, I would have got housing benefit for my whole rent for nine months before it reduced to the “Local Housing Allowance,” rather than three months as this year. That is, the benefit changes this year reduced my benefits by £500. Might they also have taken away that £28 a week?

At meeting, Liz ministered about missing Terry, and how here in the Meeting house there is so much love and care. It seemed to me that there is so much love, and that, as if I had a chlorophyll deficiency, I am unable to feel it properly. I am like a cur expecting a kick: I get good news, and I think of ways in which it is not good. I get to keep ESA. I told ATOS about the psychiatrist, and the endocrinologist, and what they are doing, and I got to keep ESA. I hope that means I have more money. I will check. Rather than thinking of the possibilities this opens for me, I think of ways in which it could be not good news really.

I need to be more open to the even breaks. Liz was one of two women who taught me that: I need a lot of practice.

When my housing benefit went down, I really should have moved into Swanston. Services would be in more easy reach, and I could get a flat closer to the amount housing benefit would pay. My flat would not be as lovely, nor in such a lovely location, but the course of action is clear and obvious. Snakes 2Rather than doing the sensible thing, I hunkered down, trying to live on £50 a week, rarely putting the heating on, and mostly not thinking about when I would be obviously found fit for work and have to sign on and get benefit sanctioned and not get any money and

you get the idea.

This is really good, though I will still check that I do get to keep the £28.

Day out

ClytieHow 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.