Sunday, 31 May 2009

Hampstead Heath - A song

To that seaside tune.....

Oh I do love to be beside the Lido
Oh I do love to be beside the pond
Oh I do love to see the water wink at me
So I dive in but never bomb bomb bomb

At the Lido I splash with my young son
In the pond I swim with ducks and chicks
Oh I love how Hampstead Heath does feed me
It's where I get all my kicks

Friday, 22 May 2009

My dream home

It's actually a cottage
low ceilings
A sit in kitchen
Two bedrooms
Three if a man comes into my life
A girl needs a cave to crawl into after all.
It has a wild garden
Because England's soul is wild
It's just we've all been subdued

Actually, that's not strictly true
the subdued bit
We are all wild

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Putting Coffee Shop Man into the picture

I steam into the coffee shop this morning for my habitual expresso clutching the Camden New Journal. I open it up before the Coffee Shop Man stabbing the fantastic front page with my other index finger.

"See this?"

I don't often go into the coffee shop since I bought my own stove top cafetiere (£12.99 in the sale) but the past couple of days I keep forgetting to buy the ground beans whenever I'm out and I need a good kick in the morning.

Coffee Shop Man looks at the headline.

"I read in a the paper not long ago that the council were taking a block in Queens Crescent, near where I live, to rent the flats out to people in the private sector," he says. "They say they're doing it to raise money to refurbish other properties but they've put DSS in there who are getting it for free for three years. Getting it for free while the Council pays for it."

"No," I say. "You're paying for it, housing benefit's paid by the Treasury, not the council." And I tell him about the Private Rental Scheme. It's news to him.

Coffee Shop Man's been on a housing journey of his own. Years ago he bought his council flat, sold it, bought another property, in the meantime setting up his business.

"People were telling me to buy it, I know it's a right wing thing to do but I'm actually a socialist."

I laugh. "I'm not against the Right to Buy," I say. "You wouldn't have all this if you hadn't had that chance. Why shouldn't poor people have the same chances as everyone else? Have a foundation to build their lives from?"

It's a tough one. I'm told there's no flat for me because of the Right to Buy. I believe in a secure tenancy. You get that secure tenancy renting with the council. Will I buy?

I could say "Yes" because it's my right but I'm very much "No". With a secure rental tenancy I don't need to.

Then I think of my son's two visits to the Homeless Person's Unit. I never want him to see that place when he's an adult so I have to say "I don't know". I never want to go through this journey again, so I have to say "I don't know".

I don't know but I hope not. I'm still hanging out for my second lottery win. My first was my son, of course. I really hit the jackpot with him. I just need some cash now.

Cash to buy a home, somewhere nice, somewhere safe. Somewhere where I can bring up my son. Somewhere over the rainbow.

I don't blame the Right to Buy. There's no flat for me because THEY'RE AUCTIONING THEM OFF. Building replacements? Who knows.

Tug of War

The side I was on won the tug of war yesterday at my son's school's Sports Day. Best of three, we tugged twice. To be fair, we had an unfair advantage as there were more of us on my side. Got me thinking though.

Politicians versus the People
Best of three?

Fantastic front page


SOLD - stamped on a bold red backdrop across six properties auctioned off this week.
Next to a picture of Nail'er's grinning mug the CNJ writes:

"In the middle of Camden's worst ever housing shortage, the Town Hall this week sold off all these homes to private bidders.... and the man in charge says he hasn't finished yet."

I like the symbolism of the bold red across these homes. Nail'er's got blood on his hands.
The CNJ didn't need to publish my letter. It spoke for me, for us.
It's good to be grateful for something when you're spitting mad.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Back to Barcelona - A song

At first I was afraid, I was petrified
Accepting my friend's gift
I felt quite compromised
But I spent so many nights
Watching rubbish on TV
To forget about the council
That was all but killing me

But now it's back
Right in my face
The ticket that is free for me
Sits on my database
I should've really thought this through
I should've wondered at his gift
I didn't think for just one minute
Oh God I need a lift

Go on now go, just pack your bag
Just be grateful
Because things have been quite bad
Aren't you the one who lets the Council get to you
You mustn't crumble
You must do what you must do

It will be great
The best surprise
As long as I just take myself
My soul will feel alive
I will leave the Dog behind
It certainly won't mind
And I'll have fun
I will have fun

Yey hey!

It takes me all the strength I have not to fall apart
Keep trying hard to smile to hide my stressed out heart
I spend so many hours
Just thinking of the shite
Christ I moan
Drone drone drone drone
Now he'll see me
Somebody free
Not that crazy chained up little person
Thinking me me me
I will leave the crap behind
And will pack my bikini
For I'm looking to go splashing
Having fun down by the sea

Go on now go, just pack your bag
Just feel so lucky
Because you've felt things have been bad
Aren't you the one who lets the council get to you
You mustn't grumble
You've got some blokey liking you

It will be great
The best surprise
As long as I just take myself
My soul will feel alive
I'll dance both day and night
I'll feel so free and light
And I'll have fun
I will have fun

Yay haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!

(Gloria Gaynor featuring Stigmum)

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Apolitical leanings

My cousin's Tory fiance believes I'm a right wing socialist. Me? I don't know.

The 'I Don't Know' Party

I stand as self elected Leader of the I Don't Know party.
How does the I Don't Know party plan to deal with the housing crisis in the country?
I don't know.
How will the I Don't Know party stop the privatisation of the NHS so people who can't afford to live don't have to wait to die?
I don't know.
What does the I Don't Know party propose to do about the growing number of children who don't have school placements this coming September?
Don't know that either.
Why should people vote for the I Don't Know party?
When the party says "I don't know" the party means "I don't know"

The "I don't know" party believes in choice so would welcome competition from an "I know" party.

"All I know is that I know nothing" - Socrates
European Elections 4th June

European Elections

Voting in two weeks. I don't know where I stand on the issue.
I know where I sit though.
On the fence.
Getting a numb bum.
Who will I vote for on June 4th?
I just don't know.

"I have to close your file"

Matt the mental health support worker's just been round. "I have to close your file," he says. "It's all to do with statistics or something."

I didn't know what to say. The lawyers can't help me, the council support worker doesn't, now Matt my mental health man can't either.

He has to close all the files that have been open for two years. Mine has been open for three.
"Funny isn't it," I say. "That I had you for support for housing, and with your support I haven't been housed, so what do I do now?"

He had no answer for that.

The council will be pleased. No lawyers breathing down their neck, or mental health teams.

"The council doesn't think I need housing," I say. "They tell me I'm "intelligent", they tell me I have "resources". Intelligent people with resources can just be left to sink to the bottom of the pile."

Matt just listens. I like Matt. I always offer him a cup of tea when he comes and we chat about this and that. He went to Japan too. He worked for the same company as me only it went bust and he never got paid so had to come back.

"I want to think fuck it. I want to give up. I'm going to give up.....there's no point... oh there is a point isn't there, I live with a little person."

"I don't want to do this, it comes from the manager."

"Oh I know I know, I'm not about to shoot you the messenger.

Yep, so around Camden in the next few weeks, lots and lots of people with mental health issues are going to have their files closed. They're going to have support whipped away from them. I'm the only 'family' on Matt's book. He's got housebound individuals he's got to break the news to.

"They wonder why we all take drugs, why we all drink..."
"While they get their moats cleaned," he interrupts, we laugh. "And we still don't revolt, we just moan."

Incredulous really. Statistics, that's all we are. Statistics. Foucault's "docile bodies" (Discipline and Punish)

Councillor Nail'er

So called because I feel he'll nail me to the wall if the Camden New Journal publishes my letter. (Yes reader, I retweaked my piece and sent it.) I feel he's nailing us all to the wall with his policies, namely the sell off of council homes.

As to why I retweaked and resent it I give you a quote from Yann Martel's Life of Pi (great book by the way):

"Some of us give up on life with only a resigned sigh. Others fight a little, then lose hope. Still others - and I am one of those - never give up. We fight and fight and fight. We fight no matter the cost of battle, the losses we take, the improbability of success. We fight to the very end. It's not a question of courage. It's something constitutional, an inability to let go. It may be nothing more than life hungry stupidity."

Monday, 18 May 2009

Swine flu II

Weeks ago I said all the poor would die if there was indeed a pandemic. I spoke to son's Headmaster who said if a child got swine flu in the school the rest of the class would be administered Tamiflu. So my earlier posting was wrong. Well, my earlier posting wasn't accurate.
I should have asked Headmaster though why limit it to one class when all the kiddies play and eat together and have plenty of opportunity to pass on the virus but I'm guessing now the school has a plentiful supply and well, I don't want to get on my high horse about all this. Or should I say, my swell swine....(wah wah urrr)

Atishoo atishoo we all fall down

My eyes are burning, my nose is streaming when it's not sneezing. I'm beginning to know what it must be like to suffer from hayfever.
My brain feels like it's been placed in liquid helium. My skull struggles to contain the expanding matter as it freeeeeezes.
It's a common head cold. I think. It's been so long since I had one of those.
"I've got swine flu," I joked to Milly and Ellie at the weekend as my body automatically reflexed to whatever was bugging it over and over again. Didn't feel so funny yesterday, on the Tube. I felt contagious.
I've been making ginger infusions, taking echinacea, chucking paracetamol down my throat, wrapping up warm warm warm as me bones shiver.
It's a flipping head cold but with more cases of flu pronouced on the news last night I will phone the surgery just to make sure....

A A A Tishoooooooo

Millions of £££'s on botch jobs

Some factions of Camden could sympathise with the council selling off the council houses to make repairs on existing properties given the blackmail tactics from Whitehall.
Existing tenants, although against the moves, could be thinking 'At last! My collapsing kitchen is going to be replaced!"
According to the CNJ though, contractors are leaving properties half finished for weeks, toilets in bathrooms fitted so high that it's the adults who sit there dangling their feet.
It's good to know isn't it? Gullible folk like me might believe the rhetoric, like Councillor Nail'er's comment: "We must have homes which can be kept warm and clean, where our elderly and our families can live positive lives."
One pensioner quoted said they were damaging people's homes. You damage a home, you damage a positive life. You auction off homes people could live in you damage even more.
A bunch of flats were auctioned off last Thursday. I should have gone along to bid. We could live in those flats knowing that while we wait for repairs, so are those in whose name all these flats are being sold. Where's the money going really?

On another tack, I did send a letter to the CNJ on Friday. Nail'er hacked me off. He said that he was "proud that Camden has just achieved the biggest fall in homelessness of any London Council." It's bollocks of course, the homeless are merely being placed in private rented accommodation and must continue to bid for security.
Given my letter contained the word "I" there was not nearly enough seething anger, not nearly enough fury, not nearly enough passion behind what I wanted to say.
I could've, should've left it and retweaked it this morning but thought "send it now or you never will!"

Note to self: Write all you want when you're hungover dear. Just don't press 'send'

Friday, 15 May 2009

Mr Gray

I ran into Mr Gray last night by the lift. Armed with a half empty bottle of wine I'd shared with Jab outside, and already somewhat giddy, I asked for his help.
Mr Gray is the chairman of the Resident's Association. I met him a couple of months ago. He has a friendly face and seems very personable.
He remembered my son who sat next to him at the meeting quietly writing in his phonics workbook.
Mr Gray said he was seeing the ward managers next week. He said something about dropping keys at my flat which I didn't quite understand but nor did I want to appear drunk so I merely said "thank you".
Can Mr Gray help? All I know is that light years from now, if someone asks for my help with housing, I won't have the foggiest idea how to.
But as they say, don't ask don't get. Everything's worth a shot.
Que sera sera...

Thursday, 14 May 2009



Legal Advice

I cried. I couldn't help myself. I had a follow up appointment with a lawyer. I went to them because I didn't know what else to do.

Today they told me they couldn't help me. They told me to do as the Council says and go into private rented accommodation. Yes, insecure, yes, I'd receive housing benefit for ever more, but the alternative was uprooting my child into a hostel.

I told them about whoever it was that was housed with less points than me a few weeks ago. If I can get a letter from the successful bidder, they said, I would have a case against the council's point system. Where in the world will I find that person?

The Council must be so pleased I've failed here. The law firm wrote to my support worker a couple of months ago to ask how many points I would get under the PRS and to date has had no response.

I haven't seen or heard from support worker since he came round with his manager two months ago. Coincidence?

I was going to blog something about retail therapy next but don't have it in me... down down down... The green shoe, I'll come back to you.
The dog came back Tuesday, I've tried tried tried to let it go, throwing it a stick and then trying to appreciate good things that happen (such as lunch with Milly at her place) but it keeps coming back. May as well stick my head into its black fur. Better than sticking it into an oven.


Two people have commented (regarding the jailed mother). My voice is not the only one on issues of housing, parenting, this that and the other that pertains to life. Thank you anonymous people.

"Direct Lets"

Needs and Access tells me there are two uses of 'direct lets'.

The first is "where a household is living in temporary accommodation provided by a private landlord and that lease between the Council and the private landlord is coming to an end. At lease end you can choose to rent the property directly from the landlord as part of our Private rented Scheme."

Now.... Mine is Housing Association and my options are to rent directly from the private owner under this PRS, rent somewhere else under the PRS, or go into further 'temporary accommodation'.

Someone else who is in Council provided private accommodation might get evicted by their landlord. In such cases they cannot choose to rent the property directly from their landlord as they are being kicked out. Where do they go? Another private property and another and another....
This is "direct let" into insecure accommodation.

The second use of the term 'direct let' is into permanent council accommodation:

These are for people with 'exceptional needs'
"Some (my italics) examples of these circumstances" are:

  • Child or public protection issues
  • Applicant falls under the National Witness Mobility Programme (such as Maxine Carr for conspiring to pervert the course of justice during the Soham murder investigation in 2003)
  • For wheel chair users (property I bid on last week had stairs, so did Oseney Crescent, I fully understand that ground floor properties should go to the disabled.)

How do you define a 'child issue'? I'm thinking of Billie with her mental health issues. We mothers walk a fine line. Or rather I feel I am.
She says that families have successfully moved into the private sector and many have gone on to bid successfully.
That has short shrift with me. They are telling me today there is a shortage of flats and I won't get one but then saying under the PRS I have a chance. When I was in private accommodation before I didn't have a chance. In temporary accommodation I should have a chance. You don't end up here in mid life if something hasn't gone wrong.

I'm not alone in this big picture

It fucks you up, the council
It doesn't claim to but it does
It throws you up against a wall
Or squashes you beneath its iron foot (Philip Larkin wrote an excellent poem about parents)

Infantisiling children

In March I sent a letter to the Council Chief and got a reply from 'needs and access director' yesterday.
I asked why the council insisted that I allow my son to share my bed or alternatively keep moving him from one accommodation to another.
"With reference to your son sharing your bed at your temporary accommodation, this is obviously not a long term solution (five years and counting!) and we would be happy to provide you with alternative temporary accommodation." (Happy that you keep bouncing him around disrupting his education in other words)

I hug my son all the time. My son hugs me. After breakfast and before bedtime he'll clamber on to me. Hug hug hug. Hug hug hug hug hug.
I hope he'll hug me when he's 60, I hope he will when he's 16. He's six and won't do it in public. An astute child.

A couple of years ago I read a newspaper feature by a male psychologist about how mothers who love their children 'too much' are damaging them.
Chuck me in jail, go on. Give my son "a break"
All those hostel mammas, chuck them in jail. Oh, that's where they are....

I'm pleased the Times printed the injustice on Sunday. I want to find that mother's youtube video....

Courts and councils have to be accountable for what they do in some cases.
It's ironic Channel 4 are broadcasting "Forgotten Children" this week.
Will they find and broadcast her youtube video?

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Mother jailed for loving her children

Quite speechless when I read this on the times online website this evening. A mother formerly married to a fat cat financier has been denied access to her three children for three years for allegedly turning her kids against their father (a social worker noted them making 'serious allegations' about the father's treatment of them when they were in their mother's care), she apparently treats them in an infantile way (hugging her three year old...) is 'indulgent' (not strict enough when seeing them for an hour a week) and was jailed two years ago for breaching a court order by approaching her eldest (9 years old) in the street and telling him she loved him.

A psychiatrist who assessed her case said the mother 'loved her children' but had harmed their development by trying to be always 'available' to them. Doesn't a child need that? To know that someone is always 'available' for them. Her children are being raised by a nanny, so daddy certainly isn't always 'available'. He's clearly very busy trying to find different things to nail mummy with.

Two text messages she sent her ex each resulted in a one-week jail sentence (in a separate article the journalist says a month. A day would be a travesty) One said: "Why are you doing this to my kids? I will do whatever you say." The other said she was 'sorry' and offered to look after the children for free instead of him employing a nanny. The judge said they were 'harrassing or pestering'. Jail? You run over a child in the street you don't get jail, but for a text message or two to your ex about your children you do?

If her ex is happy to see that happen he can't love his children at all. We're told he's applied to have her jailed again for posting a video about the case on YouTube.

According to the article, a judge conceded all the children had a "constant wish" to see their mother but another judge said she should have no contact with the boys for two years in order to "give them a break".

I wouldn't be surprised if this debacle is destroying the children. I wonder what the nanny says to them to placate them. After all, someone's got to be 'available' to them. Or no? Better to leave them out in the cold?

The whole thing beggars belief

Online Dating

I've posted my details on a free dating site.
I haven't uploaded a photo, I've said all I want to do is email, I haven't responded to two messages that have since popped into my inbox.
I'm not looking for a 'mate' so why have I done this?
I'm an old hand at online dating. I've done it on and off for years. I was afraid of men after the Foca left, couldn't even look at them, so it was good therapy for me.
"Why are you on here if you don't want to meet anyone?" asked one.
"Why not?" I replied. I'd reply to every message I received back then, regardless of who it was from.
The beauty of online dating for me was that I was cyberdumped constantly. I was cyberdumped all the time! Rejection didn't matter in cyberspace. I didn't know who they were and they didn't know me. Sometimes it was quite gutting but you get over it remarkably quickly.
This medium for meeting people separated the wheat from the chaff.
Many were put off by my child.
If this didn't deter them I told them I was on benefits.
If they accepted this I told them I was on the homeless register.
If this didn't bother them then I would meet them.
The most enlightening thing to come out of it all was that who I was attracted to didn't tally at all with who was attracted to me.
I sent messages to countless handsome photographs and witty profiles. Only a handful ever responded always saying my child would render the relationship too difficult. Ho hum.
I did meet quite alot of men in the end. I was always slightly disappointed when I clapped eyes on them because they looked nothing like their photos, but they never were when they saw me, which was a boost to say the least.
"Can I see you again?" asked the illustrator.
"Are you asking me or the table?"
I enjoyed long email friendships with men who were often as wary as me. I had a couple of really quite intense cybercrushes. One man said he wanted to meet someone 'slim and attractive' and I'd sent him a message asking "What will you do if you fall for a woman who grows fat on your love?" He was a bee keeper. He'd been stung by a mother. He'd grown very fond of the children and missed them a great deal when the relationship ended. We'd chat for hours on Instant Messenger, way into the night. I eventually suggested meeting for coffee and didn't hear from him for months until one day he popped up on facebook. "I was afraid," he said. He's happy with a childless woman now.

You can get to know yourself on these things. You can start believing in people again. I learnt to become less shallow. I was becoming jaded though. It was time to call it a day.

So I don't know why I've re subscribed to a new site. I am not interested in meeting any of the men there.

Perhaps it's a form of resistance. I'll take myself off.

When hearts are lonely hunters

Something happened between Shit School Acquaintance and I when I went to Barcelona last month. Something so indefinable that I shan't trouble you with definitions.
All I'll say is that it wasn't what I expected, it wasn't what I wanted. As I'd said to friends before I went: "Foca went to that school. What? I didn't shag the boys in the 6th form so I could start to shag them now? No way."
As we said goodbye at the airport, I told him, with my head upon his shoulder: "We should end it here. You live here, I live there, you want to live here, I want to live there, let's just remember it as something positive."

Two weeks ago he flew to London. "I'm coming to see you," he said.

When I saw him off at Victoria I said, with my head upon his shoulder: "This has to end here. The space is good now but it won't always be."

He's been asking me to visit him in Barcelona ever since. "I can't afford to," I say. "And even if I could, I have priorities here."

Yesterday he emailed me. "Come to Barcelona, I'll pay your flight."

A risk is a risk is a risk.
My heart is not lonely, it lives with the most beautiful soul on the planet.
My heart is vast though, do I free it from its shackles?

Friday, 8 May 2009

You win some you lose some

The Camden New Journal didn't take my article. Oh well, you win you lose. Only I haven't really lost. The losers are the homeless people on whose behalf I was trying to write.
I shall not give up, no I won't. I know that I'm a talentless writer but I'm working on these skills. I even bought the Telegraph today, mostly so I could read about MP's expenses but also to see if I could pitch a little something to them.
I usually call that paper the Torygraph but do feel all those Tory supporters should know what the Lib Dems and Tories are doing here in Camden. The Tory supporters ought to know that their taxes are going towards keeping me in poverty, me and half the borough.
I need to do my research.
I want to find out how many unemployed people there are in Britain at the moment and compare that to the number of people claiming housing benefit.
Then I've got to write about it, in a talented way......

Why are you giving flats to high fliers?

I've emailed my local councillor, who happens to be a Tory, to ask why the Lib Dem/Conservative coalition here in Camden is earmarking 500 council properties for 'high flyers' to rent.
Totally against the Private Rental Scheme, I've nonetheless asked him if I can apply to rent one of the earmarked flats.
Response should be interesting, if I get one....

Fieldwork results

It was good to be reunited with my participatory appraisal training mates yesterday. When the facilitators asked how I was, I took the opening lines of Fascinating Aida's I Like Me song.
"I'm feeling dejected, downcast and depressed," I said, not looking or sounding particularly dejected, downcast or depressed. "Oh housing, didn't get the flat I bid on," I explained in response to their query. One told me I looked great. "Makeup!" I smiled, but I didn't burst into song.

Dee was there! Billie couldn't make it as she's volunteering at a school. Fifi (I hope she doesn't mind me calling her Fifi...) came over and sat beside me. She has three children, one of whom is doing her gcse's, though you wouldn't guess it as Fifi doesn't look a day over 21.

We gathered to talk about our fieldwork results and to organise ourselves into teams to go and interview 'stake holders' - the executives working for the police, social services, nhs etc.

What we discovered about the communities we spoke to is that hardly anyone has heard about, or knows anything about safeguarding services. There's a lack of awareness about where to go for information and difficulties in accessing information. There is also a deep mistrust of some service providers.

We are now going to talk to these service providers, though not front line staff, and ask them why people can't access information or services and how they can improve on this.

I don't care who I interview but the facilitators thought it would be best if I wasn't part of the team talking to the managing director of 'Housing and Adult Social Care'. They are quite right as there is a need for me to be impartial, not reach over a desk and lamp the person if they claim to be helping people. I can always make enquiries of my own....

I'm in a team with Dee and Billie again. I told Dee not to get the giggles and set me off. I do love those two women. They have been friends so long they bounce off eachother in very funny ways.
After these interviews have been collated a report will be written up. I have asked if I can help with this and the facilitators have said yes! Whoopee for me!

As for Fascinating Aida's song, it's SO good!!
The beginning goes like this:
I was feeling dejected, downcast and depressed
The world was my clam shell, I'd run out of zest,
All alone with no-one to caaaaaaaaaaaaare.
The people I worked with were all
self obsessed
And beneath the facade you'd never have guessed
I was poised on the brink of despair

Then out of the blue
It all fell into place
The answer was staring me
face (ping ping on the piano)

I like me!
I like the me that I see when I brushing my teeth in the morning
I like me
I find we always agree
It's the others who set out from yawning

Who is the sweetest, completest companion by far?
Who do I long to be with more than justement en peu?

And on it goes, fantastically! Go to their website (, listen to the whole thing and others, go to a show! I so want to go to their show!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The dreams come crashing down....

It's Wednesday afternoon, the phone hasn't rung, I haven't got the flat.

That's how it happens. You get a call in the morning and told you are on the shortlist. You are then invited to view the flat the following morning together with the others who have been shortlisted. You look around and then tell the supervisor whether you want it or not. If you're lucky enough to be first, there are people behind you so don't dither too long. If you're second pray the first won't accept it. If you're sixth congratulations for turning up in the first place. Unless of course it's a shit property in which case you might get it. The flat I bid on being viewed tomorrow is a Good one.

A garden flat; they come round once in a blue moon so there must have been a blue moon last week behind the evening clouds. I think it's a street property. I didn't pay attention because I was thinking about the garden for my bike (and yes of course my son to play in, grow things in, invite friends round for a Knights of the Realm game with swords made of sticks and me to lie and sky gaze in, grateful at last that that the waiting is over, the fearing where we'll end up is over).

A street property though, what with them being auctioned off, they only come round once in a blue with purple spots moon. In which case incredibly dense clouds last week.

I did try. I emailed needs and access woman twice. I spoke to ex support worker. I never go to this much effort for the 'large estates'.

To feel better I imagine there's damp on the walls and doors hanging off hinges but I honestly couldn't give a flying fairy cake. It's got two bedrooms, a garden, not far from my Kentish Town pals, a short cycle to my son's school (to think, no more carrying him on the back!). The rent is £100, not as cheap as it used to be but this shoe box has increased to £250. A week, yes I'm talking a week. I could have been moving next week to a new life! (Yes, it's that quick in many cases. Be ready to move people, ready to move)

What's the point of dreaming? What is the point?
Years ago, in Japan, the girls asked me what kind of man I saw myself with. They groaned when I said I didn't see myself with one. But then I told them what I could see.

I was sitting at a table, facing a garden, writing on a computer. It was a sunny day, the grass glistened in my view. There were toys lying on the floor behind me but no presence of a child. No presence of a man. It felt peaceful.

My friends told me I was 'mad'. Now I have a child it makes sense; my son's with his dad and I haven't tidied up his lego because I'm busy writing something. It's what I'm doing now while my son's in after school club. The flat's a tip and I'll lose hope just as soon as I've written this.

When I was newly pregnant I dreamt that I would lose my job, my home, my partner. If negative dreams can manifest themselves, why not the positive ones. Why not hey?

It's dangerous to dream down here which is why alot of people I've met in my situation have stopped. They know what it's like.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

A step back, a move forward?

I've signed up for a freelance journalism course.
I gave up my fledgling journalistic career years ago after I became a story I couldn't write.
Post Masters, with jobs in scant supply, waiting for the cheaper rent of a council property, I want something to do.
My teacher is very good. A successful journalist herself, she imparts her knowledge and wisdom to the rest of us.
Last week she assassinated my copy. This is good. This is why I'm doing the course. To learn.
It was copy about housing. This week we have to come up with a feature idea. I am not going to write something about housing and homeless people and life on benefits or any of that depressing stuff.
That's because in the future I won't want to dwell on that although at this juncture that's impossible to say. It's hard for me to think outside the situation I am in, it so dominates my life.
Tonight I'm going to think outside my navel. I may change my name to help the ideas along.
I dunno, something like "Grains are good for you'' by Henrietta Loafe or "Camping in the Lake District" by Summer Wether.
Freelancing is tricky when husband is the state so this really is the future when I...?

Moving on and up

About a month ago the Council sent me its consultation document - Moving on and up, consultation on the future strategy for providing accommodation for homeless people.

Today I received a letter asking me to comment on it by May 15th.

It is nice of them to let me know their plans.

That "settled" accommodation does not mean "council flat" concerns me, obviously.
That leaving hostel rooms empty so that they might be sold off also concerns me greatly, for where will the homeless be placed when they turn up at the homeless person's unit with nowhere to go?
"Settled accommodation" means a private tenancy, which for many, is not settled at all (My experience, Hannah's, oh loads of people).

Smoke and mirrors I'm going to say. There are some of us who want to secure a foundation for our children and get off benefits, not keep bouncing them around living on what the Government believes is an adequate weekly minimum.

At the moment I'm better off on benefits. I want to be better off autonomous from the state. I want to be rich goddammit.

I shall ponder my response tomorrow. This evening I have homework to do.

Sometimes a stigmum's got to do what a stigmum's got to do

I have just sent an article to the Camden New Journal.
I'm not sure if this is brave or stupid.
That it's not a brilliant, well written, amazing article does not matter.
Such things do not matter to me right now.
Perhaps they should.
The brave or stupid query is whether I should send anything at all.
Even as a literary genius I would ponder this.
I don't see any other stigmum waiting for a council flat sending anything you see.
Biting the hand that feeds her and others.
Perhaps this is the thing.
I should keep my gob shut.
Or at least my fingers clear of the 'send' button.
Oh well, what's done is done.
It may come to nothing.

Swine Flu

OK, I admit that I'm enjoying the jokes. You know the sort, take your oinkment or you'll come out in a rasher.

This is so I do not panic. Sister in law is deputy head of the School That Kicked Me Out, a girl's boarding school. A Mexican student returned after the Easter holiday and was monitored for a week. I asked sister in law what would have happened had she contracted the illness. She replied that the girl would have been placed in isolation and the rest of the school administered Tamiflu.

Now 70% of the population will not get Tamiflu should there be a pandemic. I don't imagine that should a child get swine flu in my son's community school, the drug will be administered to all 400 plus pupils; there are so many such schools in the borough. Does this mean that the rich will survive and the poor will die? Pearl before swine the saying goes.....

Just an observation

Friday, 1 May 2009

Speedy responses

Director of needs and access has emailed me back! I shouldn't be surprised but I'm still awaiting response from the letter I sent in March, by snail mail.

She said she had responded to my snail mail letter and attached it. However, this is the letter, sent in response to my enquiries in January, which prompted my March letter.
So I've attached my March letter in this response

She said she was pleased that I'd found a property to bid for and that she wished me every success. Given that yesterday I was already 68th on the list it needs a little more than wishing and hoping to meet with success.

She said she'd forwarded my email to my HHSS worker so I asked her to forward my email to the exceptions panel instead as HHSS workers won't do anything because they can't do anything.
I reiterated that my bike was a 'need' and although it's been years that I viewed a flat, that to turn one down on account of the bicycle is very painful.

"Flats are withdrawn and directly offered, people are housed with fewer points, there is a whole world behind what I see on the homeconnections site." You can help us, director of needs and access.....
I also said I was hoping for a miracle...
Well... miracles are happening for some people on that fecking list...
I'll keep ye posted

When negative is positive

I am clean!
They actually called me last Friday, the walk in clinic where I had my 'full screening'.
Over the phone she said I'd tested negative.
Gonorreah, chlamydia, syphillis and the scary one, Aids!
Negative, negative, negative, NEGATIVE!!
The relief!
I am clean!
I tested positive for thrush but I knew that when I went in.

Oral Hygiene

I went to the dentist this morning. When I got my little childtax credits windfall I made myself book an appointment with a hygienist. It's not cheap at £50 a go but I don't want my teeth to fall out. I had a regular check up appointment too but that was free because I'm on income support. Lucky lucky me because that doesn't come cheap for the rest of the country.

Does anyone else worry about the state of the nation's teeth? There was a time when not only was a checkup free for all but so was a good old clean of them gnashers and gums. Given Up Smoking mum in the playground (I'll find a name for her soon) hasn't been to a dentist for decades. She's too scared she says, but she's also a low income mamma and well, teeth aren't much of a priority for many of us. We don't put £2 aside every week until we've got enough to get them seen to. One of those things I suppose...

I first went to a hygienist two years ago after I'd given up smoking. It had been years and the pain was justified in my mind by the amount of blood I had to rinse out.
It's less painful now, and there's less blood, which is good.

I haven't had a cigarette yet either. This may have something to do with the scraping and prodding with a soft brush of my receding gums. It may also have to do with the article I read in the British Dental Journal (dec 2007) while I was waiting.

In America they have found links between oral cancer and ethnicity.
African Americans and Caucasian's are most at risk of oral cancer, mostly tongue cancer. Smoking is attributed to this.
In Asia, Koreans are most at risk of tongue cancer, again, smoking is highlighted as cause.
Some South East Asian countries are at risk of inner cheek cancer, from chewing tobacco or areca nut.
But Filipini women are most at risk of cancer of the palate. This, says the report, is attributed to the practice of reverse smoking, "when the lit part of the cigarette is concealed in the mouth."

Cancer of the palate? Cancer of the inner cheek? I don't know where I've been all my life but I always thought throat cancer and cancer of the tongue for us smokers. But hell, why should an oral cancer limit itself to those?

I will give up smoking. I will, I will. Soon