Tuesday, 27 October 2009

I'm too healthy and too articulate

According to my support worker, the council "won't budge" on its refusal to house me because they will see that if I am able to bid, then I am "healthy", and because of the emails I write, they will perceive me as "articulate". Healthy and articulate mothers therefore are not allowed a secure home to raise their children.

I showed him Pathmead's letter saying it was obtaining a possession order and he couldn't understand it. "There's no date on it, when is it going to happen?"

"Soon, they'll fast track the court order," I said, knowing this of course because it's Groundhog Day.

He told me once again that when the order comes, the council will look at the composition of my family, and as I am a single mother, will put me in a hostel. Ah, the rage, internally combusting because it wouldn't do to SCREAM.

"What have you done wrong mummy?" interrupts my son.

"I don't know but they are punishing me for something. You on the other hand have done nothing wrong and they are punishing you too."

I told my support worker, when I nipped out onto the balcony for a fag, that if it weren't for my son I would end this journey once and for all. "I've enough pills that swallowed down with vodka I could finally go to sleep and see the end of this."

He of course is impotent. "We've tried every avenue, I just don't know what to do now."

I don't know what to do either. As you know reader, I've tried fucking everything; prime minister, mp, councillors, doctors, lawyers. What more can I do? Drugs, drugs, does anybody have any drugs? I want to be Stigmum in the sky with diamonds:

Picture myself on a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Stigmum she calls me, I answer quite slowly
The mum with kaleidoscope eyes

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over my head
Look for the mum with the sun in her eyes
and she's gone

Stigmum in the sky with diamonds
Stigmum in the sky with diamonds
I wanna be
Stigmum in a sky with diamonds
Oh pleeeeeeease

(The Beatles won't mind us playing with their song, I hope)

Doing something is better than doing nothing

I've sent an email to 'allocations' telling her about the housing association's new notice. Why has the council assured me I won't be evicted until next August but the housing association wants me out before?

An 'out of office' reply pinged back. She's away until 9th November.

So I forwarded it to 'quality'. I've not heard from him since he asked Mr Grey to tell me to send my medical records. So although I feel it rather pointless to send it to him, as he will not reply, it's not pointless really is it as reply is what he should do. It would not be pointless to give me more points, lots more points, loads more points so I can bid my way out of this shit situation. Pff, you see what we dream for down here?

Monday, 26 October 2009

Back on the high stress diet

I could SCREAM. A lovely day with my son back from his dad's spoilt by the letter on the doormat.
Council says I'm safe here until August yes?
Seems not.
Letter is from the housing association. "Under the lease between the Association and the owner of the property we need to obtain a possession order to ensure that we can return the property with vacant possession at the end of our lease." The owner of the property is a private landlady.

Now the council would have known this so why lie to me? August they confirmed? Well, according to the letter:

"You are likely to made an offer of alternative permanent or temporary accommodation as [sic] some stage before the date on which the lease ends" (my italics)

What date will this be my friends? Fuck knows.

"Generally the court will make a possession order without a hearing... When the court makes a possession order, it will tell you when you have to leave the property. This will usually be within 14 days of the order."

If I think this will cause me "exceptional hardship" the court "can consider extending this to 42 days."

So when is this hearing? They won't tell me.
When will I get my 14 days notice? Who knows, but it will be well before next August won't it?

As a treat I took my son to see UP at the cinema with his little friend T. I loved it, having had no expectations and thinking it might be dull. My friend Jab bought him his dinner in a diner while we drank; tea me, coffee her. We came home to the post and I didn't talk to my boy in the bath, didn't read him a story. Mute mother is back. No words will come out of her, no food will go into her and I'm not sure I've got enough tobacco to see me through the night.

Like I said. I could SCREAM.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Question Time and Elmer the Elephant

I was disappointed by last week's Question Time. The big furore about allowing the BNP on, I was hoping it would generate a discussion about immigration, the giant elephant in the room.

That the BNP was outed as a racist party was good but I was sad it dominated the whole programme.

There was a great question from the audience as to whether the government's misguided immigration policy had opened the way for the BNP. Well yes, of course!

Jack Straw wouldn't admit this and in the end the elephant they all talked about was Elmer. Elmer's multi colours that the BNP don't like.

No talk that Elmer was very heavy indeed on public services such as the NHS and housing. No talk that Elmer had got so big that to grow anymore would be a disaster.

It was also a shame that Question Time was in London. We mostly love each other in London. Did no-one watch Panorama on Monday about racist attacks in Bristol? Couldn't the programme have been screened up north where the BNP got most of its votes and the audience could have said why it had voted BNP?

It was a wasted opportunity because I don't want to see the BNP on Question Time again. Griffin's a slimy character and all the other parties fear him and his party so much. Labour, Tory and the LibDems could have taken on board some of what the BNP was saying and work to take back voters. I'm not sure the episode achieved this.


My 'elderly' mamma took a tumble last Thursday afternoon. She was climbing down a ladder when its attachment broke away from the loft. Down she fell, down, down, into a space no bigger than a metre squared.

"Broken bones," my sister told me on the phone. Neck, spine, hip, ankle, what? "Pelvis" she said.

Do you believe in angels? I believe in angels. My mother has tremendous faith. I reminded myself of all of this as Google put the fear of catastrophe in me. Haemorraging, surgery, death. I imagined sending white light to my mum's pelvis then distracted myself with the good ol' tv as it was all getting too much.

My brother rang. "Do you think she'll die?"


A text from my sister. Two fractures to her inferior pelvis remus. Enlighten me Google? Academic articles I couldn't get my head around.

"Discharging her tomorrow," came my sister's text. Eh? Google? You said at least a week in hospital.

Son off with the Foca I dropped him off at school and took a train down south. Took the number 10 bus to the General. Saw my mum lying on her A&E bed and cried as I gave her a bunch of flowers I'd grabbed in Sainsbury's on my way down.

They were discharging her, not enough beds apparently. But not to worry, a community service team set up specifically for pensioners would come and visit her three times a day for six weeks. I was somewhat relieved upon hearing this until I discovered it isn't free. Targets, ey...

"Tweedle dum and Tweedle dee," I joked to my brothers as we drove home to sort out a bed for my mum downstairs. My pappy's lost his carer, for the next few months anyway.

Half term, I can go down and help out, shove my son infront of dvds. I'm no use as a driver but I can operate a hoover, administer my dad's medication, customise my mum's zimmer (she won't get a wheelchair until Monday; the hospital told her the Red Cross would be open for an hour yesterday but the community carers told her it's never open at weekends.) Fortunately my sister and her husband live nearby.

What actually happened last Thursday afternoon is a big old story and now is not the time to tell you how extraordinary. I will continue to ask my angels to protect my parents and thank them for averting what could have been a monumental tragedy.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Free books

Although I pledged myself not to buy any newspapers this week (as it makes me think society's going down the pan and I want to think society's getting better) I could not resist buying The Times on Tuesday when I saw that the paper came with a free book: George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London.

The Times is running a book week about London; a free copy of a classic every day.

Yesterday I scoured all the local newsagents but no copy of The Times included a free book. I jumped on Zat bike, headed to Camden and got Patrick Hamilton's Hangover Square. In a minute I will cycle back to Camden for today's free offering and tomorrow again for another.

I have not read fiction for ages. I can't seem to concentrate on it. I have quite a few unread books on my shelf that I want to read but haven't yet. This is a sad state of affairs because I like reading.

So I have decided, that when I get a free book, I will write a 'review' of it. Now I am utterly shit at writing reviews, of books, films, anything really, so generally I don't do it. But just because I can't do something, does it mean that I shouldn't try?

To spur me on, I will post my reviews here on the blog. It may be that this doesn't happen very often. No matter, I want to read more fiction and have decided that this is a way to make me do so. Who knows, I might get better at writing them. If not, it doesn't matter, it just means that being a book reviewer is not my destiny. I don't know what is my destiny, but let's just say I'm entering a process of elimination in order to find out what is.

First up will be the non fictional Down and Out in Paris and London. I'm already finding excuses not to read it for review purposes...weekend away... half term...but I must! There's a whole world of fiction out there crying out for me!! I have to get started on it some how!!

What is it with some women?

"How did you get that scar on your eye?" asked the young assistant at the hairdressers last night. Supermario had invited me in for a coffee and I'd graciously accepted.

"Oh a girl lamped me on the 24 bus a month or so ago. I was rather hoping it wouldn't scar but it just seems to get redder."

I tell her what happened (TFL makes a killing here on the blog) then continue to chat as I peruse a copy of The Sun.

"Women jailed for attack on stranger" it tells me.

They beat, kicked and stamped on a man going about his own business in a "savage street attack".

Now I carry assumptions around with me like many other people. One of these is that attacks by gangs on civilians are usually carried out by teenagers. They may involve girls, but they are 'young'. I'm not saying it's right, I'm just telling you my assumption.

These women were 21, 29, 31, 32 AND 42 years old.

42?? 21, 29, 31, 32?? 42??????? Kicking and stamping on a guy's head???

WHAT is going on girls??? Aren't we supposed to be standing tall as the stronger sex?!

That, before you ask, is from a 'joke' I heard many years ago:

Why are women stronger than men?
Because they carry ladders in their tights! Wah wah wah

Come on come on come on people, isn't there a better way we can vent our fury than lashing out at someone else? And yes boys, I'm talking to you too. Confucius says.. Confucius says lots of things.

A woman stabbed a man in the block last night. There were three men and her up there so says early whispers. Self defence?

I don't know anything anymore.

Dawn raids

"What's that noise mummy," said my son in the very early hours of this morning. "I'm scared."
"Eh, oh, nothing sweetie, just elephants."
"Eh? Elephants? Yes, elephants, no, not elephants, I'm dreaming, but it is nothing, that noise is just the lift maybe, go back to sleep. Everything is ok."

Sometime later we are having breakfast. We hear a heavy thud and the block vibrates. Another and again it vibrates. Three or four times, thud vibrate, thud vibrate...

"What's that mummy?"
"Let me just go outside."
"No mummy no!"
"It's ok, it's ok," and I step out in my totally oversized Virgin Atlantic pyjamas (swiped it off the plane when I was on a work junket years ago)

Two police cars, a police van and an ambulance are in the forecourt.

"What is it mummy?"
"Oh just the police."

My son leans over the balcony. "Why are they here?"
"I don't know, come on, come and finish your breakfast."

It turns out the "elephants" were three men and a woman banging on a door at 4 am this morning. Gleaned that info from a child in the lift. There was blood outside the lift, he said. Police were talking to everybody.

I bump into Mr Gray on my return from the school run. He doesn't know, it's still all very unclear but there was a stabbing and if it's the person he thinks it is then he's "really surprised."

"A man or a woman?" I ask. "Who did the stabbing?"

"A woman," he replies.

"What is it about women at the moment?" I say and tell him what I'm about to post to you, but of course, if you're reading in sequence, you have just read it.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Women who abuse children

I used to think that if behind every great man was a woman, then behind every fallen woman there's a man. I was thinking of my life.

The murder and sexual assault of children by women is in a different league entirely. Stories I've read in the past always involved a man, very often a step father or boyfriend. Victoria Climbie, Baby P...

As you know, a slew of female peodophiles have made the news recently.

Vanessa George, a nursery worker, is accused of sexually assaulting children in her care in a nursery on the grounds of a primary school. She had accomplices; Colin Blanchard and Angela Allen who she met on facebook.

All on her own, Ms George is still refusing to disclose which children she abused.

In the Evening Standard (back on October 2nd) it was said that when she comes out of prison, it is likely she will be given a new identity and somewhere new to live to protect her from vigilante attacks. Why oh why oh why are our courts and councils going to protect her?

She is showing no remorse by disallowing parents any closure, not allowing these parents any understanding of the behaviour of their very young children. Can't she stay in prison? Can we put it to a vote?

Behind some fallen women there's a man, behind others there's cruelty beyond any civilian's understanding. That many peodophiles, men and women, were abused as children isn't enough for me though. Is it enough for you?

Women who lie

Rape is only second to murder in Britain, I discovered on Channel 4's "The Force" last night.
For this reason a specialist rape unit was set up in Portsmouth, as a pilot, with plans to roll it out nationwide which sadly the programme concluded won't happen. "Too expensive".

The unit had 15000 rapes reported last year, which resulted in only 995 convictions. What of the remaining 14,005 cases? What happened to those?

The programme gave some idea for one of the women lied and another withdrew her complaint for fear of her parents finding out. Raped against a car bonnet, again by some stairs when she tried to flee. She had a strong case.

AAAARGH. The women who LIE. Years ago, I read in The Times, a woman went to the lengths of beating herself up so she could get a guy on campus convicted. The woman last night "couldn't remember" how she ended up naked in a room with three men but cctv camera's managed to quash her (sober) claim that she'd grabbed her clothes and run the following morning. It showed her walking out with all three boys. AAAARGH AAAARGH AAAARGH.

A young friend of mine reported the rape by her "best friend" and best friend's boyfriend in January. It is going to court soon. Her parents know, she is terrified as she has already been made to feel like the guilty party. "You are so brave," I told her.

I didn't report my rape(s), none of my friends who have been raped did either. More men assault women than women lie.
14,005 cases resulted in no conviction in Portmouth last year. How many more women didn't even go to the police?

Rape is second only to murder. A minority of women are killing the chances of the majority for justice. In a clear case of deception, the woman on tv last night should have been charged with wasting police time. There are thousands of women behind her who aren't.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Jobseekers allowance

Single mothers kept by the State must claim job seekers allowance once the youngest child is seven
Single fathers kept by the State must claim job seekers allowance once the youngest child is seven

Mothering and fathering is not a job then? Not a valid job? Not a job the mother or father should do? Help me out here for "income support" I understand...

Falling leaves

My support worker didn't notice my tidy up because he didn't show up. Nor did I text him to ask him his whereabouts. At a loss of what to say, at a total, utter loss, I couldn't see the point.
My son was impressed though so the getting down on my hands and knees to scrub the kitchen lino wasn't for nothing. (I'm beginning to think that if one values oneself, nothing one does around the house is for nothing but that is just a thought, a random, flyaway thought.)

I didn't want to post his no show when I woke up this morning. I didn't want to post at all. Sod the blog, sod the blog. I can you know, it's not like calling in sick to work because I can't face it today. Hauling my sorry arse in front of my computer is nothing like hauling my arse to a factory line (though we did have a few laughs I suppose back then, not that I want to repeat the experience now)

I could watch the autumn leaves fall outside my window, like Nat King Cole, but Zat bike is calling me. To Camden, to Camden, to the ingredients for fish pie. My son, I've said, loves fish pie.

He is my boss today. That is what he wants and it will lift me out of this stupor. Onwards, onwards, I go

Hi ho, hi ho, hi ho
Hi ho, hi ho
It's off to work I go
la la la la laa la la la laa
Hi ho, hi ho, hi ho, hi ho

(Stigmum is feeling Dopey this morning)

Monday, 19 October 2009

Sweeping away leaves for the support worker

He's coming around at two. I'm at a loss, a real loss as to what to say but I'll moan even though I know there's nothing he can do.

Once again, it's an opportunity to tidy up. I went a bit crazy last week buying newspapers (all those freebies! A DVD of The Motorcycle Diaries in the Sunday Times yesterday, top film! The Independent were offering a Pink Floyd CD. Tough call, tough call, why do I not have a partner who could buy that one and give me the gift?!)

I can't recycle them just yet as I've not finished reading them and I know there's something I want to post on the back of last Wednesday's Guardian (a real feast that day, that paper fed me). Other things I won't post about but that's largely because Stigmum's driving this and I do as she says.

Music though! We need tunes to kick off the great sweep. Who will it be today? Donna Summer! Donna Summer with a little bit of Stigmum!

It's raining, it's pouring
This housework is boring me to tears
After all these years

Enough is enough is enough
I can't go on no more no
Enough is enough is enough
I want it out, I want it out that door now

(Stigmum is playing with no more of this song as she thinks the true lyrics, about her boring (non existent actually) love life may spur her on in her cleaning endeavours)

Legally I have some time

On Friday I rang a legal advisor after a letter arrived from his outfit saying my case was being closed.
I have, this past month, been sending this outfit correspondance from the council, hoping for a happy ending for my son and I.

The letter told me to wait until the housing department contacts me next year to discuss my options (which I know back to front inside out)

However, it said: "You cannot stop the council from evicting you lawfully but should use the pending eviction as an opportunity to raise your priority banding and secure permanent accommodation from their allocation scheme.....You can also raise your health condition with the council and present evidence of this to them. By law they must consider all the relevant information relating to your housing situation and give you an appropriate priority category."

I rang the lawyer because I'm out of my depth here. I have tried all these things. I need to hear a voice, a voice that understands me.

About hostel accommodation he said "it's very unsuitable for families, that wouldn't be proper." But they do it anyway, I know, I've seen.

About the private sector he said: "You are likely to be evicted at some point. For them the best solution would be to find you permanent accommodation." I need more points, a higher banding because I'm threatened with homelessness.

He said the correspondance from the council was right and proper, to conserve my energy until I can use all of it to secure myself and my son next Spring, when all my efforts "will be completely justified."

Next Spring??? I want to be home and dry by next Spring. I want to see the buds in my own life start to flower next Spring.

I asked him if I can call him again and he said yes. Until then I have little option but to keep bidding, keep on bidding, keep on keep on bidding. I will continue to drive you mad reader because there is an election next Spring and it's so important, so crucial, for all of us. I will also post about other things because it's a better option than hanging myself.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Bonuses bonuses but none for you....

The top 20 staff at the Royal Bank of Scotland is possibly getting bonuses between £1m and £5m and there are huge payouts for senior staff at Barclays as well according to the Sunday Times.
On Friday my housing officer's eyes swept across the Guardian's headline, which was lying casually on my sofa:

"Lloyds asks taxpayers for another £5bn"

He let out a low moan that said everything that neither of us could articulate.

Then Polly Toynbee said it in yesterday's Guardian Weekend, about this decade's financial meltdown (sorry to quote all of her but it's so well said):

"The British Government found itself within hours of the collapse of everything, when ATM's would have closed, supermarket shelves cleared and the thin wall separating our just-in-time capitalism would have been torn down to expose the frightening vulnerability of the whole system.
It didn't happen....quite"

You, taxpayer, saved everyone's arses to the tune of £1.3 trillion. Toynbee continues:

"Were lessons learned? Was the City repentant? The band played on as the new head of the now taxpayer-owned RBS was paid more than £9m. Bonuses were not banned, merely delayed after G20 pressure, and regulation only mildly tightened.
Will it happen again in the next decade? Almost certainly, as the country yearns for every sign that house prices take off again. We want our bubble back - heedless of warnings that the next bubble could be catastrophic."

We're a nation going to hell and not even in a bucket while these "executives" take this cash and threaten to leave the country if Government taxes them at 50%.

I have no words. I can't blog about this, I don't understand. Goodnight.

BNP on Question Time

When my dad told me why he'd voted BNP at the European Elections I laughed, because he told me in French:

"Angleterre pour les Anglais!"

In the furore over the BNP appearing on Question Time, I for one am glad that they are. It's good to confront your enemies. Immigrants aren't the enemy, but immigration has to be discussed, aired.

I don't know who I'll vote for in May but I do know it's not for them. The I Don't Know Party doesn't recognise the BNP as a viable competitor.

"Who votes for such people?" asked the Sunday Times today.

My dad? He placed that vote to get a reaction from my family. He'll miss the show on Thursday but I'll tell him what I remember. He'll be interested but he won't be interested. He knows as he knew then; it's not funny.

Brown, Cameron, Clegg (blimey, can't call them by their first names in this post):
You better shape up, cos we need a choice
and our hearts are set on ?

I know I know, I'm not funny either.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Getting politically incorrect with housing officer

If I can't moan about housing with a housing officer, who can I moan about housing with (other than you)?

I told him about the immigrant families that were moving into the block (yes, I'm still smarting, especially following another failed bid last week)

"You should take it up with the papers," he said. "You have a very political mind."

"Look at this," I said, showing him Wednesday's Guardian. The society page ran an article, "We're all in this together" about an asylum seeker in Manchester; a Bangladeshi single mother who has to live on £92 a week, "30% less than British families," quoted the article.

"I feel for her, I do, of course I do, I know what it's like," I continued. "But she pays no gas, electric, water, which whacks a good "30%" of what I get. What upsets me though, is that she's in a council flat and if, when she gets her Leave to Remain, it's hers. I want one too."

"Move to Manchester," says housing officer helpfully.
"I don't know what the housing situation is like in Manchester, how many families are waiting. I don't know what the situation's like anywhere in the rest of this country."

"Keep bidding," he said.
Yeah, keep bidding....

Housing officer notes the tidiness

"Do you?!" I say excited.
"Yes, I don't have to bend under the hanging laundry." (Alot of it is currently on my bed....)

He didn't stay long, just a routine check; email, electricity and gas provider, benefits I was getting.

"You have outstanding arrears," he says, finding the paperwork. I told him that was the housing benefits fault so he suggested I call them. "Not today," I said, whilst actually thinking 'not anytime soon, haven't the stomach for it.'

The council may extend some of its leases with the housing association. "I thought that was only the bigger properties," I remarked. "Maybe not," he replied. I want to move, I want this to be over.

He told me I had plenty of time before my lease ended and to keep bidding and "not be fussy".

"Bidding won't make any difference with my points and I'm not fussy, I just have to consider my son's school and Zat bike."

A compilation tape my friend George made me years ago was playing and you know what song during this exchange of ours? A Bowie cover, Stigmum couldn't quite believe it:

God knows I'm good
God knows I'm good
God knows I'm good
Maybe God will look the other way today

God knows I'm good
God knows I'm good
God knows I'm good
Stigmum will be singing it all day today

Clear the path for the housing association

I have to wait in between 11.30 and 2.30 for my housing officer from Pathmeads. Will he come? He will come, must be positive. Cuts into your day though right?

It's an opportunity to do the dreaded housework. Stigmum's Andy Williams/Velvet Underground mix comes to mind....

Where do I begin/I am tired, I am weary, I could sleep for a thousand years/ no expenses a job of tears.

No, I need something upbeat to get me going. No-one for it but Diana Ross featuring Stigmum, of course:

If you need me, call me
No matter where you are, no matter how far
Just call my name I'll be there in a hurry
On that you can depend and never worry

Aint no mountain (of laundry) high enough
Aint no valley (of rubbish) deep enough
Aint no washing up wild enough
That I must get throoooooooooough

Ooh baby

Aint no mountain high enough
Aint no valley deep enough
Aint no river wild enough
To keep me from yooooooooooou

Oh well, at least we're 'in it together'....

Thursday, 15 October 2009

White Teeth

I can hardly believe the timing, following my (rather long) post about teeth and the great symbolism of a white filling.
I bought the Guardian again for the free fairy tales even though I'm still enjoying yesterday's copy.

"Smile you're on TV" goes Deborah Orr's column.

She begins by saying how stunned she was by the "incredible loveliness of every single X Factor contestant's teeth."

"Goodness," she continues, and this is where Stigmum smiled her stained gnashers, "I thought, NHS dentistry cannot possibly be in the dreadful doldrums it is alleged to have drifted into. Then I read that all of the finalists where [sic] whisked off for whitening and veneering before they could even call home, on camera of course, to spread the good tidings. You have to laugh really, or at least flash a blindingly expensive public-private partnership of a smile."

I really don't know why Stigmum smiled but I'm sure there's a story in there somewhere, and possibly one with a happy ending? Tsk, that is the realm of fairy tales....

White fillings

"How much is a white one?" I asked my dentist after he stuck a very painful needle into my gums. I hadn't expected that, head in the council clouds, forgot to take my Rescue Remedy didn't I?

Fillings are free under the NHS, which is great, fantastic. A few years ago I shuddered on that dentist chair, not least because of fear of needle. A big, fat metal molar was awaiting me because the other one had fallen out.

With all the makeover programmes on tv, I suddenly associated this metal filling with being poor not skint and normal. I didn't want to be poor. I didn't want to feel it, taste it, be reminded of it everytime I opened my mouth. I thought fuck it and paid the price of a white one. The overdraft was beyond my control now anyway. My big, fat molar suddenly took on great symbolic value. My gold tooth is testament that I am not rich, but I'm quite fond it nonetheless. After all, if the price of gold goes up, I have something to pawn....

My white tooth was very expensive for me because with the Foca's maintenance and excluding sums set aside for water, electric, gas, tv, internet etc bills, my son and I had a little under £70 a week to live on. Less than £10 a day between us. I couldn't manage it, particularly if there was a birthday party to buy a present for, or I wanted to take my son to see his grandparents. A white filling? Well, it's the stuff dreams are made of, isn't it?

I used the overdraft facility still in place from when I was working even though I reined in everything in to keep it under control. Organic food was the first casuality of my life on benefits. There have been tons of others but we're in a recession now so everyone, bar the bankers apparantly, are feeling the 'pinch'.

Today, with hardship grants from doing my Masters wiping out the debt and tax credit paybacks paying off a new overdraft, I still appear to have my son's full maintenance payments, despite informing the benefits office. This will go down when the foca's wife has his second baby. I'm hoping the state doesn't whip it back.

The tooth cost a little more than my weekly income support allowance. £60. A metal filling is £45. My white filling was actually worth £85. I got a discount to encourage me to get it, the dentist told me because "it's a front tooth and metal will not look nice infront of your white molar. Behind it, it doesn't matter."

I don't know if my getting my son's full maintenance is a 'mistake' and next April the treasury will claw back every penny it has "overpaid me". That is my son's money, which enables me not to ask the Foca for anything. Not Beavers, not the music lessons I will give my son when it's his turn on the waiting list. I don't have to rely on his family for clothes for my boy. I can do this aswell as be the tooth fairy.

There are many things I can't afford or justify, like many people. But life is not as hard as before, not as hard as the stigmum I occasionally bump into who doesn't have a bank account, never mind an overdraft facility and whose foca drinks his maintenance contributions. The income support is "mine" (and the first thing to go when I get a job, followed by housing benefit). Thanks to the "full" maintenance, I can afford to go to go the cinema now and then. Can make a decision over a small hugely symbolic white filling thankfully not that often.

I've told you all this because as I've come home, I've been scanning yesterday's Guardian. Mr Will Merrick from Cheshire has written a letter about MP's expenses, for there are many who are up in arms they have to pay back anything at all.

"Any politician who appeals against a judgement that they should pay back some of the expenses they have claimed should consider the plight of poorer families who, if overpaid by the state, have such no right of appeal. Ignorance of the rules, or even of the fact they they have been overpaid at all, is no defence in "benefit fraud". If it is decided that repayment of some expenses would be an unreasonable demand to make politicians then perhaps the same standards could be applied to all the citizens of this country."

Thanks Mr Merrick. I shall keep this clipping in case the Treasury come knocking asking for my son's money back.

(and yes Lorna Wright from Essex, a food allowance for MPs??????? As it is the Treasury canteen in subsidised (I was taken on a date there!). Does this mean they don't have to pay for their food at all??? On their salaries????

"I am looking forward to parliament passing a law to give every woman, man and child in this country a £400 monthly food allowance, " she says. "After all, as Mr Cameron has told us, "We're all in this together".")

Hear hear!

Visit to the dentist

My filling has fallen out. The dentist will replace it for free, just like he pulled out my wisdom tooth for free, put a gold crown on a back tooth, for free. A white one would have cost.. wooo, I daren't think. Thank the world, the universe I didn't need root canal work; my I prayed to my angels that day lying on the chair, not caring that root work too, was free.

Free dental treatment is one of the perks of being on benefits, one of the strokes this symbolic State husband gives me.

I have to pay for the hygienist like the rest of society. Pricey isn't it to get your gums cleaned so your teeth don't fall out?

I wish all society including millionaires could have access to free dental care (for the millionaires' taxes could pay for it, if they don't run off to offshore accounts that is...)

Our pearly whites are important, even if mine are kind of erm, yellow now.

Fun Run champions

Volunteering at Year 2's sponsored Fun Run this morning I was able to see my son and all his little friends charge round the playground. I am so impressed, so utterly impressed by these 6 and 7 year olds. So many managed 3 km!! Loads managed 4!! Some even managed 5 kilometres!!!! The special needs kids went round with everybody else. Blew me away I tell you as I stood at the end of the playground as part of my marshalling duties and whooped and cheered as they turned the last corner to the 'finishing lap', where they would get a tick, or if a kilometre was completed, a sticker. Hand on heart, I could not do this.

In the newsletter last week, following the Year 3 to 6 Fun Run the Head wrote that "of 231 children, 228 children completed 2km, and 35 ran the maximum 5km. The total distance covered by all the children was 880.7 km (550 miles)" !!!!!!!

These figures do not take into account the children's skipping, hula hooping, step jumping.

My son completed 4.5 km. When I'd look out for him he'd be skipping or at the refreshments table having a drink.

At the end, when group photos were taken, he was coughing and choking and then began to cry. I was told by a teaching assistant that he was coughing when he stopped to skip. As he was still wheezing sometime later, the school gave me the option to take him home. My son wanted to, but I said no thinking I have a dentist's appointment.

He'll be ok at school but am feeling like the world's shittiest mother.

Stirling achievement by all the kids though. When the Tories say Labour has failed school children, I look at my son's school, an 'inner city community primary', and I can't agree. That all schools are like this one.

Stigmum stays put

Tis ironic is it not that it's at the Year 2 Fun Run that Stigmum decides she's not going to run at all.

In truth she had me up half the latter part of the night whispering "storm in a thimble, storm in a thimble," into my paranoid ears.

I am frightened, I'll be honest with you reader, that if the council reads this, they will hang me up to dry largely because I don't know if it's legal what I'm doing and I am telling tales. My son and I risk not being housed at all for doing this. Already people have more points, who have waited less time than me. Some are housed with less points than me, many who have waited less time are also secure now. I don't know what I've done wrong. I might be doing something wrong now though....

However, I will continue to blab. You will continue to hear how ignored I feel, how threatened and bullied I feel, because if you can read me objectively, you'll conclude that the housing system I'm caught in is wrong, wrong, wrong, and flawed beyond belief. I don't know what to do about it but someone might.

Don't know what else to say so Stigmum's calling upon the Velvet Underground and Nico again, after all, they were a big part of yesterday

Thursday morning, praise the dawning
It's just a restless feeling by my side
Early dawning, Thursday morning
It's just the council fears so close behind

Watch out, the State's behind you
There might be someone around you who will call
It's nothing at all (eek, I hope so)

Thursday morning and I'm falling
I've got a feeling I don't want to know
Early dawning, Thursday morning
It's all the blogs I wrote, not so long ago

Watch out, the State's behind you
There might be someone around you who will call
It's nothing at all (eek, so hope unless it's good news)

Watch out, the State's behind you
There might be someone around you who will call
It's nothing at all (just the keys to secure accommodation?)

Thursday morning
Thursday morning
Thursday morning

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Run Stigmum run... a song

You've got to run run run run run
Take a drag or two
Run run run run run
Council death and you
Tell you whatcha do

Will you Velvet Underground and Nico? Will you tell me what to do?
(Stigmum has in her possession their truly fabulous Andy Warhol album. They are telling her to run run run run run because she has to run run run run run but she doesn't know where where where where where....)

A chill wind for Stigmum

A law firm acting for an oil trading firm tried to take an injunction against the Guardian to prevent the paper from publishing a question tabled in Parliament. The paper wished to publish "the contents of a report related to the dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast" which has made thousands of people sick. The company in question had other ideas and is currently involved in a libel action against Newsnight for covering the story.

This gagging of the press is becoming more common apparently. If companies don't want people knowing of their ugly and unscrupulous dealings, then lawyers, Ian Hislop informed me in his commentary, will use "injunctions to secure privacy and confidentiality". He says, which has frightened Stigmum somewhat that "now it is not a question of publish and be damned as it used to be: we are now finding that we can't even publish at all."

Anybody should be horrified by that. Stigmum is of course because she is 'publishing'; she is telling my story using emails and phone calls with council officials without their knowing. She and her child may well be damned. We have tried, as you know, to get legal advice from the national union of journalists, but as we are not members, we can't and as we don't ask to be paid (for what we ultimately don't get published out there) we can't become members. Parliament is 'open' to Freedom of Speech. Does that apply to 'post' that you receive too? Stigmum brazenly continues while I get increasing paranoid. Tonight she's feeling the chill.

Oh, all we want is transparency. If the ugly aspects of society are faced, then that can lead to positive change, no? (well, that was what prompted my going for therapy all those years ago - face my ugly self in order to change her)

Don't you want to know everything going on in your world? Or know that you can know everything if you want to know everything? You can't change what you don't know can you? What else can't the media tell us?

Fuck. I only bought the paper because it was giving out free fairytales. Thought I might read them to my son......Got more than I bargained for.

Chilly chilly chill chill, physically, metaphorically, bugger.

Venus in Marigolds - a song

Shiny, shiny, shiny bathroom taps
Scrub the limescale that make them dark
Spray the bowls with super cleaning fluids
Strike, dear mistress, and leave no mark

Clean the pipes that sadly are all dusty
Sweep the corners that hide the muck
Toilet Duck, chuck in a bit of bleach
I'll soon be finished with any luck

I am tired, I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years
A thousand dreams that would awake me
No expenses, a job of tears

Kiss the heart of shiny, shiny oven
Shiny metal in the dark
Tongue of snakes, the coils that await me
Strike, dear mistress, and leave no mark

Stigmum, stigmum, speak so slightly
Stigmum, down on your bended knee
Taste the grime, in truth not given lightly
Taste the grime, now plead with me

I am tired, I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years
A thousand dreams that would awake me
No expenses, a job of tears

Shiny, shiny, shiny flats surround me
Whiplashed mamma's in the dark
Stigmum, your servant comes in bells, please don't forsake me
Strike, dear mistress, and leave no mark

(Velvet Underground and Nico told Stigmum to get herself some marigolds before her hands drop off and stop envying politicians' wives, but for the cleaning allowance, she wouldn't really want to be one)

Politicians expense claims

I am so overjoyed expenses is back in the news, that the media is hanging out Gordon, Dave and Nick's washing for us all to see.

It would be nice if someone would say these politicians are the parasites, not us who they routinely nail to the wall.

Oh a girl can dream, a girl can dream.....

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Shrink Assessment No 2

Thanks very much for seeing me
I know I didn't come last time
This inward look is hard you know
A challenging upward climb

I got some texts from the Foca last night
as I watched "Life" on tv
I'm "manipulative", a "bully", "too selfish"
Why still he bashes me?

But this stuff's fresh, not why I'm here
Not on him I wish to squeal
My problems far outweigh that
Here's my Letter of Appeal

I, we, are not 'work shy'

My rage is tempered by two white envelopes in the post.

One is a "Certificate of Successful Course Completion" from the University of Hull, for the Particpatory Appraisal training I did.

The other is a "Certificate of Participation" stating I worked on a community research project from February to September 2009, sponsored by Camden Safeguarding Children Board.

I loved this work. You know why I loved this work? Not only because it involved research and I love research, but also because it was part time and flexible and could fit around my primary job of parenting my child. That is what, believe it or not pesky politicians, many single mothers want, many married mothers want.

Next year the Government, regardless of which one is in power, will not let me do part time, flexible work because I AM ON MY OWN. THE STATE IS MY SYMBOLIC HUSBAND. I MUST DO AS IT SAYS OR BE DAMNED.

State Rage - a song

Stigmum is singing her version of Catatonia's song to me....

What you've got to do today is find peace of mind
Come round you can take a piece of mine
And if all you've got to do today is swallow the bate
Come here, you can leave it late with me

You could be taking it easy on yourself
You should be making it easy on yourself
Cause you and I know
It's all not on the front page, you getting State rage
Racing through your best days
It's up to you girl, it's driving you crazy
I think you may be losing your mind
Losing your mind
Losing your mind.... (fades)

Stigmum is unsure whether to label it under "housing" or "work" so has decided to go with "mental health"
(in a late edit, I saw that Smoking Mum ( a very funny blog I found) puts posts on several labels at the same time! Wicked! I'm going to try it...)

Go to work, bitch

Brown envelopes through your letter box are often unpleasant and I opened one yesterday from the Department of Work and Pensions.

From the end of this month, I must take part in a Work Focused Interview every three months. This, whilst I am battling to secure affordable accommodation for my son and I, is not welcome news.

However, there are single mums who are working part-time, possibly shelf stacking for 16 hours a week, who also have to do this. Oh no my dear, you can kiss goodbye to being there for your child, kiss goodbye to encouraging your child with his or her homework, kiss goodbye to taking him or her to after school activities, kiss goodbye to volunteering for the school, kiss goodbye to that 'other' life of yours of cooking, cleaning, laundering, kiss goodbye to balance.

Other mums work full time so I can to? I'm sure that there are 1 or 2 single mothers who would prefer not to work "full time" but have no choice. Like next year, I will have no choice. As it is, my son doesn't like to go to after school club and that's only two days. What choice will you have my little fella?

From next October I "may be entitled to claim Jobseekers Allowance". If I'm not housed then I may have no choice but to claim "Disability Allowance" for I am going mad. This is not ideal but is a better option for me than getting pregnant again.

Say I do get housed (finally), I won't be able to work for Women Like Us, a great organisation that finds part time work for mothers. It was set up by two mums with partners who met at the school gates. Their ethos is that they understand mothers' needs.

I told them years ago, and I can't believe I'll have to tell them again: "Women Like Us is not for Women Like Me."

Gordon, Dave, Nick, they all have wives, they all have children, they all have much more besides. None of them have a fucking clue.

This is the kind of slap the State gives you when it's your symbolic husband.

How they allocate housing is another language

A couple of weeks ago I emailed 'allocations' and asked why an immigrant family waiting less time than me is shortlisted for a flat, where I, who have been waiting longer am bullied with the private rental sector or threatened with a hostel.

She failed to answer my question. She said that the allocations system was not based on immigrants and immigration, that indeed "lettings information suggest that households who are White UK, White Irish, White Other have been the recipients of the greater proportion of lettings for 2008/2009 combined, in comparision with other ethic groups and this would be proportionate to the number of households registered for housing."

I personally couldn't give a flying fairy cake, that wasn't my question, which I told her in toned down terms yesterday. For me, it's not about a persons creed or colour, "after all," I continued, "with our borders open to the EU now, immigration and migration is not based on colour."

I repeated my original question, added that the other flat in my block had gone to an "Asian" family who had only waited two years, and found her response in my inbox this morning. From her perspective, allocations are based on "who is in most pressing housing need."

I replied of course, that I, my son and I, were in most pressing housing need, even though we might not "look" like it.

I have trouble understanding this, my five followers. From my perspective it seems that if you fly, take a boat, swim into the country, you will be helped and housed but if you are born here and fall upon hard times, then you can just fuck off.

No, I didn't say this to her, merely reiterated that her email made me feel bullied and threatened by the Council. But I've got to say it to somebody, so it's your lucky day.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Eating Children

Eating Children by Jill Tweedie, is an exceptional autobiography told with humour and a lightness of touch that belies all the events that take place in this woman's life. Sent to a finishing school by her parents, she went off to live in Canada where she met and married a man.

The story turns truly sinister when her husband kidnaps their children and she spends years trying to find them, funding private detectives by working as one of the first female columnists on the Guardian. Her tale is so skillfully told, so funny though you daren't laugh, that at times you think she's making it up. The horror and the tragedy of course, is that she isn't.

I found it quite by accident in a little Romanian bookshop when I was travelling there with my brother, years ago, pre baby. There was only a small selection of books in English, mostly classics. I picked up Dostoyevsky's The Idiot and my curiosity couldn't resist Tweedie's title.

My brother read it first. "What's it like?" I asked him. "Namby pamby rubbish?"
"No," he said, "It's really good."

I've given you the plot, it's an incredible story, you should read it yourself.

I want to see my son

My son will be coming into Victoria any minute. I've a strong impulse to go and meet him off the tube. See him walk through the barrier and give him the tightest hug he's had all weekend. Carry him to school instead of holding his small hand. Never let him go until he's safely back in my world and the people I trust within it.

I don't want to see the Foca though. I don't want to have to go through the motions of that. I either take my son's hand and ignore this man,, his father, and walk away feeling the anger burn inside me. Or I tell the Foca he had no right to take him without my consent like that. But I know the foca, he will say "give me a hug son" and turn away and go back through the barriers. By ignoring me he will make me look like the mad harpie infront of all the commuting crowds.

Maybe that's ok. Maybe the watching crowds will make him see that he can't behave like that.

I don't want my son to see how angry I am, to feel it by how tightly I hold his hand.

At 9.15 I will ring the school and ask if my son is there. He will be. It's me the Foca saves his venom for. It's important everyone else thinks he's a nice guy.

At 9.30 I will email the council. I put a bid on a flat last week. It's worth raising my name up for these people again. Daddy chucked us out baby, but mummy will get you home.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Final update on son not being home

"Our son is not home so just so you know, you pull a stunt like this again, I will log it with the police."

"If looking after my pregnant wife is a stunt I'm more than happy to speak with the police about it."

"Say what you like, you always do"

The next time it will be something else, then the time after that something else, our son meanwhile taking a back seat. He did not have my consent today and he's not going to get it the next time either.

He may not like travelling from the south coast on a Sunday but that was his choice to move away. What will happen if I choose to leave the city? He didn't think about that either did he?

The Foca's opened a brand new can of worms and my little boy has to wake up at 5 am to go to school in the morning. He'll be tired, tired, tired. Never mind that, as I'm the one to pick all that up, there are plenty of pregnant single mothers who have no choice but to cope alone for days, weeks and months not just a few hours like his Mrs. The Foca will say anything and use anybody to get his own way.


The best interests of a child

It is better to be a single mother than a mother in a bad relationship
Though for a child it's best that their mother be neither
In my utopia anyway

Old wounds may heal but scars remain

My son isn't coming home tonight. He's not here now, so it is highly unlikely.

The Foca sent a text earlier saying his pregnant wife was ill so he was staying home to look after her and would bring our son to school tomorrow.

I said he had family nearby to babysit the wife, that my son should come home tonight.
He replied that his family was away (what his brother and his sister?) and that our son was staying with him.

I said that wasn't fair on our son and that his wife would live.

Back and forth went these texts, that it was a "pointless" conversation, he just wanted to know if I'd pick up our son from the station in the morning. The last three texts went:
"Our son comes home today"

Two things you should know reader. At the end of August without discussing it with me, he moved his family from London to Brighton. My son has to get up exceptionally early tomorrow morning to begin his busy day (for he has swimming lesson after school which foca pays for) so too his busy week.

"He's 7, my wife is pregnant" texts the Foca. Our son was "6" once too he'd remind me, and "5" and "4" and "3" and "2" and "1" and has always come second, maybe even third in daddy's list of priority people. Fourth once the baby arrives.

The second thing that is worth you knowing is that although upon my request he doesn't appear in my inbox (because you never can know what awaits you), we are parents and we communicate by text message.

Over time the phone has gone beep beep "you're deluded," beep beep "you're irresponsible," beep beep, "you're a nutcase" (not gently, jesting you understand), I "twist", I "manipulate", I "blackmail" oh the list goes on. Once I did text him: "oh fuck off and shag your girlfriend" for the beep beep beep was going on well after midnight. Today I was being "unreasonable" beep beep "unreasonable" he repeated.

My mother calls sometime later and I tell her that if my son isn't back I will log it with the police. Tell me what choice do I have? I don't want to deny my son access to his dad. People have in the past told me to deny the Foca access, but it amounts to the same thing doesn't it? My son gets hurt. He's not some fucking pawn to be played with.

"Be very careful," says my mother. "Be very careful." Indeed, he'll tell them I'm a "nutcase" and christ knows what else.

I watch Friday's episode of Eastenders on the omnibus. Stacey Slater being strong armed into a police car to be taken away for sectioning. Some of us aren't so well equipped to deal with the pressures of life. I cried, I cried hard.

Get out get out get out scream my instincts, go to the heath go go go.

A school mentor is up there. I don't want to moan on him but the foca said he'd call our son's class teacher tomorrow to check our son's "ok". The mentor knows both me and the foca, tells me I'm not being "unreasonable". I take my coffee to a log and sit and smoke smoke smoke watching the pond water turn all shades of green in the sun that has moved on the drizzle. Smoke smoke smoke, smoke smoke smoke some more, I want to see my son, I want him home when I get back.

It's not from self pity that I say that stigmums are hit from all sides, it's from flipping fury.
Do only the strongest survive?
Or do the strongest take their lives?

I will text the foca now and tell him that if he ever pulls a stunt like this again, I'm going to log it with the police.
I might even write to his wife and tell her too for I'll wager that he's said nothing to her about any of it.

Scars hold memories and opening old wounds he inflicted will do nothing for our beautiful beautiful son.

Help The Aged

I ventured into Help the Aged yesterday afternoon, to browse. On discovering they were offering three videos for a pound, I couldn't resist the bargain! (I know I know I'm supposed to be de cluttering, not adding to the mess but what can I say? It's for charidee..)

I picked Grease, Purple Rain and Shallow Grave to suit my eclectic tastes and decided to stay in and watch one of them. But which?!

On returning home I went online to see what was showing at the local cinema. Fish Tank. I really want to see Fish Tank!

It's a story seen through the eyes of a 15 year old girl living in a Papier Mache Tower with her mother and sister.

It was brilliant, it was raw, it was hard to watch (not unlike this blog perhaps but I'll stop short at calling my Goldfish Bowl 'brilliant'.)

I needed a cigarette when I came out. I leaned against my bike and thought of this multi layered film but also why why why I am drawn to such things? Did I feel its power because I am so close to it?

A woman came to unlock her bike. As she stared at it, I stared at her staring at it. Then the penny dropped.

"Has your wheel been stolen?"
"Yes, well it is Camden Town..."

I'm as silent as she is but I put my hand on Zat, reassured, feeling lucky. Life is a bitch and then you die, Nas whispers in my ear, the film credits still running.

I get home, grateful that Zat now lives in a shed. I wait for the lift. The big one comes first and the stench of urine is so intense I gag and opt to wait for the smaller one.

Tonight I shall watch one of my new videos. I need something temperate after last night.

Which one which one?

Wooooo, I don't want to think about graves, I may be desperately devoted to Grease but yo mamma, Let's Go Crazy!!!!!! (Prince)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Tidying up - a song

Where do I begin
To clear the flat and all the mess I live within
The collective shite that I can't put into a bin
The books, the games, the papers, my son's decorated tin
Where do I start

As I scan the decks
This stuff gives meaning to this tricky world of mine
Though it is true it's really gone too far this time
Nowhere to sit or stand it truly is a crime
Oh for some help

I must pick up these very special things
But put them where? Use my imaginings
It fills my soul with so much dread
That everywhere I look there is no empty space
With this my mess adds to our loneliness
I reach for Henry - it's always there

How long does it last
Can mess be measured by the hours in a day
I have no answers now but this much I can say
I know I need to clear some of this stuff away
Then do another room

How long does it last (with great passion)
Can mess be measured by the hours in a day
I have no answers now but this much I can say
I know I need to clear some of this stuff away
Then do another room

(Stigmum has annihilated this Andy Williams song knowing full well I don't perceive housework as any kind of Love Story)

The man in Bar Italia

He had a "tic Oirish" accent and he started chatting to me as I drank an expresso and smoked a fag before heading home.

I asked him who he was going to vote for at the next election and he said he didn't know.

I told him about the I Don't Know Party. He thought it was a great idea. I told him the leader of this party was otherwise engaged and didn't have the time to concentrate on it. Would he be second in command and whip up some enthusiam?

He said he would!!! I've asked many friends to be my second in command but none will rise to the challenge. Fair enough...

Will the man with the Tic Oirish accent join the ranks? Who knows, who knows, but very promising...!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Tory conference speech

New Labour Old Tory?
New Tory Old Labour?
Oh I don't know.

Stigmum is going to see an old face!

I've been invited to Droopy's birthday party! I haven't seen him for over a decade. A hundred years ago (when the Tories were in power) we used to work together selling theatre tickets for West End shows. The pay was crap but the perks were good. Free theatre tickets to new shows and sunny lunchtimes with a bottle of wine and punnet of strawberries in Soho Gardens.

Ah! I'm so excited!

Will he remember my faux pas?
"I'd like a refund on our Miss Saigon tickets please," said the lady. "We were coming to see the show last week and we lost my father on the way."
"Oh I'm sorry, I hope you found him."
"He's DEAD."

I went into teaching after that for it wasn't only financial ruin where I was heading, though they didn't sack me. No, I didn't teach here, I went far far away where I might make some money. Back then the Tories did nothing to lift me out of poverty.

Today I am not 'working' obviously but I am sparing a thought for those who do. And yes, I'm going to have a drink, it's a birthday party after all, rude not to!

The police won't do anything today

Billie called. No point going to the police today she said as the detective in charge of her case is away for two weeks.

She wasn't happy for the officer she'd spoken to on the phone had told her that the police would just give her ex a warning because it wasn't 'domestic issue'

"Hacking into my emails isn't a domestic issue?" Billie doesn't understand. Can't say I do.

She doesn't trust this detective either: "When I first went to report my ex the detective took care of me, drove me home, said 'any worries you call me'. Then they changed it, put him on another case. This one's up himself."

She said she'd file the report when that detective was back, there was no point going before then.

"My daughter's ill and she's in school. What a crap life, life is crap and the hardest thing is in these emails he tells me he loves me and that is crap."

It's chilling, your ex abuser finding your old email and tapping into it to send emails to your new psuedonym.

Years ago I asked the Foca to stop telling our son he loved me. Have to say though, when I asked him not to appear in my inbox when we broke up, he didn't. Up until recently when he forwarded a picture a professional had taken of our son he has by and large let me be. I never needed to take a restraining order out on him though nor did he ever put me in hospital so we're talking about two entirely different men here.

If Billie's ex cared anything for her, like he claims to, he would let her be. She shouldn't have to involve the police. The police will have to listen to her.

(I asked Billie if I could blog our conversation. "Well, I don't know. OK". She doesn't read this blog but thank you, you fine fine mamma)

Nigella and the tooth fairy

Stigmum's day is blighted! She wanted to post her little queries about Dave's speech but nope, Nigella and the tooth fairy has determined she take a break and read the day's papers (I had to pop out and buy some bread and milk and treated her and myself to the Guardian and the Sun. The Times I get online. I should really get on my bike and score some electricity or my world will definitely be dark by Sunday)

Stigmum should not be knackered. Like a true Desperate Housewife, I, we had the cake in the oven by 9, set the alarm for 10 to 10 and settled down to watch Criminal Justice (I've been missing this! It's so good!)

The cake comes out of the oven slightly burnt but nothing the icing won't cover and she and I put it on the rack to cool. We tussle with the remote between the news and Eastenders (there's something slightly compelling about watching Stacey Slater go mad, there's something very "Don't Look Now" about the girl in the red coat) then turn the cake out to "cool completely"(always frightening, the first time I made Nigella's cake for the school, one half projected from the tin and dived behind the back of the oven so the recipe now has the 'half measurements' should this ever happen again).

We settled down to watch Question Time, always a blast, never more so than last night with Ian Hislop, Yvette Cooper and George Osborne.

We started to watch This Week, thinking it would be interesting to hear what Amelia Fox had to say about class when I suddenly woke up. Half past 12! Half past flipping 12 and I've got to make and ice the sodding cake!

An hour later, icing and chocolate stuck fast to the floor (for that is where I must make the cake in my little galley kitchen) I think ah, at last, bed!

I climb in, nestle my head against the pillow.

"Mummy? Mummy? My tooth's fallen out."

Oh fuck. "Ok, it's ok, give it to me."

"Will the tooth fairy come?"

"I don't know darling, it's really late, it's the middle of the night." (Aaaargh)

I run to the bathroom to see what change I've got in my jeans, race to the kitchen to put the tooth in foil (don't ask) and the money in another bit of foil then go back to the room where my son is Wide Awake. I put the tooth under his pillow, where he immediately reaches to touch it, then lie back in bed and wait, wait and wait for his breathing to indicate that he is faaaaaaaaaaast asleep.

The perks of going to bed at quarter to three is that last night, I didn't wake up at that time, which is small mercy, must say.

My son was delighted this morning and bless the little boy, he arranged the smarties on the cake while I cleared last night's carnage.

We shall go back to reading the papers, even though my eyes are stinging. It's important I know what's going to happen to my life, or that's what Stigmum's telling me anyway.

Ave Maria (Priests)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Single mothers - symptom or scapegoat

I have just sent an email to the event organisers of the single mother seminar in two weeks time saying I'm unable to go but could they email me the results of their discussion.

Nothing wrong with that but this morning, I had the 'bright idea' of using stigmum's email (or was it stigmum's idea? I don't know anymore)

I told them that from my perspective single mothers are a symptom of our society but I also believe we are scapegoats "which is why I write a blog (where I sadly feed the stereotype)"

I GAVE THEM THE LINK. Said that read objectively "you may get something from it to aid you in your research". THEN I replied to the CNJ, who once again said they needed my full details to publish me and said I was feeling "vulnerable".

I have to calm down. Luckily my son is at a play date at mother who I dropped my head on her shoulder's house. I have told her I write a 'secret blog' (the only one in the playground). She doesn't know the link (hasn't asked, phew!) so if I can't talk about the morning's enlightening events (I can't you know, anymore, talk..) I'll just tell her I've done my head in writing. She was published in the Telegraph at the weekend. She'll understand. I'll read her clipping.

"The police won't do nothing"

I'd arranged to meet Billie at 1 o'clock in Camden today following doc and support worker but she rings and says she can't make it, she's on her way back from college and feels overwhelmed with all the work she has to do.

"I'm in the cafe opposite the Crowndale," I say to her. "Swing by on your way home, five minutes, for a hug if you need one, it would be good to see you."

She turns up about half an hour later and tells me her ex has hacked into her old email address and is sending her messages from that to the new fake name one she set up. She doesn't know how he's got that email. She tells me she's scared. "I don't know what to do. The police won't to do nothing."

"Tell the police," I tell her. "Go and log it with them so at least they know."

Hers is a big story but the bones of it is that the police put a restraining order on her ex a few years ago and physically he hasn't harrassed her. But we all know there are other ways to abuse somebody.

She's adamant she won't go to the police: "They'll bring him in, write their notes, let him go again." Or "They won't even agree to see me, they'll say there's nothing they can do."

She told me she called him from a phonebox to ask him to stop sending her emails "but he can hear the pain in my voice. It's horrible, be won't stop."

There is something they can do, there has to be. I tell her to go and tell them I told her to (so that with any luck they'll pick up her own reluctance to take herself there), and to say what she's just told me. I then tell her that I'll go with her. I'm no social worker or anything but I'll be there as her friend.

Billie and I did the "safeguarding children" project together. It's ironic she does not trust any of the safeguarding services open to her. I tell her that if I have to, I'll tell them I interviewed the Chief Superintendant, that he knows me, clout them with that (blimey, the blagging you have to do as a stigmum though thanks to a bit of lip gloss, not even the Chief guessed I was one).

She wiped the tears from her eyes and said she has to call them first to say she is coming and they might say no.

"Don't take no for an answer," I say. "I'm baking my cake tonight, I'll be free to come with you tomorrow morning."

Fingers crossed for her hey?

(Billie agreed to let me post about her when we were doing the safeguarding work but that's not to say I will rat a tat tat, rat a tat tat about her life. Just so you know.)

The man in Kentish Town

As I sit outside a caf in Kentish Town reading this week's CNJ while I wait for my support worker, a man comes up to me and asks if I can spare some tobacco.

I hand my Golden Virginia over to him and carry on reading. Then I look up and say to him:

"I'm not suggesting you are an addict or anything but what do you think of these 'secret drug centres' being planned?" I show him CNJ's front page.

"I am an addict," he says. "I've just relapsed after being clean for 18 months."

There are no words. None. I read out what's behind my question to him:

"The West End Drug Treatment Centre would bring all south Camden's drug services together under one roof and help hundreds of users conquer their addiction with counselling and medication.
"But resident groups fear the the centre will become a magnet for muggers and pushers with junkies discarding needles in the street."

"Yeah, I think they're a good idea," he says.
"Residents are against it. Do you think they've got cause to be?"
"Well yeah," he continues. "Addicts will go there because they really want help, others will go half hearted like, but dealers will come and prey."

I ask him if he has access to a computer, he could write to the paper giving his point of view.

"Oh no, I can't do that stuff, no, I can talk, do the talk loads but try and do that other stuff.... I don't even know how to use a computer, family in Australia, Canada, dunno how to do it."
"I'm the other way round."

He was 12 when he was first introduced to heroin, he was now 39 he said. He learnt to read and write in prison when he was 32. He went to local schools here, a secondary I want to send my son to. He got 'left behind'.

I tell him about the recovering addict who won an award at the Pride of Britain awards ceremony on tv last night. I tell him he can do it.

Oh I could tell you so much more about this man. It's all there, he has everything there to just take off with his life and he knows it, but so is the heroin, so is his addiction and he knows that too. He said he's on 'blockers' at the moment but I'm not going to pretend to you that this is my world reader and I know all about it. It isn't and I don't.

"It's not the same," I say pointing to my fags, "but I gave these up for a year a few years ago, then just started again. I know it's really hard."

Then my support worker arrived and the man left.

Take us home, London roads, to the place that we belong (John Denver)

Some jobs are pants

Following the visit to my doc, I go to meet my support worker. I sent him a text yesterday saying I hadn't heard from him for ages. "A home visit?" he'd suggested. Luckily I was out so a cafe was agreed.

I have to say, before I continue with my diatribe, that I feel really sorry for my support worker. I'd hate to have his job.

First thing I do is lay into him about telling my doctor my messy flat is a risk and a danger to my son. He tells me he didn't but is concerned about it.

"If it's such a concern, such a concern," I repeat for emphasis, "why hasn't anything been done about it before now? Four years I've lived there. Six months ago the managers came and made their judgements. Why now? Why is it such a concern now??"

I feel rather relieved we're not in my flat. It looks worse than the last time he saw it. Copies of the CNJ, the Sun, Mirror, Observer, Sunday Times, haven't found their way to recycling yet, never mind the stuff that hasn't been put away and the other stuff stuffed in every conceivable nook and cranny.

Support worker and I go through my "risk assessments" and he allows me to jot in my input. Alongside violence, addiction, sexual abuse, health and safety, all kinds of risks, I write: "Do I need these to secure a tenancy for my son?"

Support worker's an open guy. He feels bad, he says, because I have waited so long to get housed and he has "exhausted every avenue", the "managers won't budge."

"I feel bad for you," I say, "because they won't listen to you. You are my point of contact. You are the one who sees me, knows me and they won't listen to you."

He says he'll swing by next week to see if we can up my medical points. The question is: Do I bother tidying up? If I do, I'm "coping". Such is the catch 22.

Visit to the doctor No 3

I'm late, I'm late
for a very important date
It's ok, I can wait
I live inside my head

Doc then calls me, doc then calls me
"Are you a risk to your son?
The council told me," council told her ?
I roar I do not run

Doc is nice, doc is nice
she sits and hears me out
My mess is their fault, mess is their fault
I say it do not shout

Come back and see me, back and see me
Doc tells me as I leave
Yes I will, yes I will
What I say you do believe

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Stigmum & proposed government work policies - a song

It's the one, the one with no Midas touch
a spider's touch

Such a cold finger
forcing you to enter a web of sin
but don't go in

Golden words it will pour in your ear
but its lies can't disguise what you fear
But a golden mum knows when it's kissed her
It's the kiss of death from Mr

Pretty mum
beware of this heart so old
this heart is cold

Golden words it will pour in your ear
but its lies can't disguise what you feel
But a golden mum knows when it's kissed her
It's the kiss of death from Mr

Pretty mum
beware of its heart so old
this heart is cold
it loves only gold
only gold
It loves gold
It loves only gold
Only gold
It loves GO O O O O O O O O O O LD

(Stigmum is well aware what side my bread's buttered on (both) but could not resist playing with this powerful Shirley Bassey number)

Aargh, single motherhood is not 9 to 5

Email from Jab. In two weeks time Parenting UK is holding a seminar in London:

Single parent families in today's society: scapegoat or symptom?
Single parent families make up 26% of all families in Britain - is the UK's approach to single parent families working?

There's a drinks reception afterwards but the problem is, the problem IS, it's from 6 to 8pm. If I go, and miss the drinks reception, I still won't get home before 9 on a school night although I can hardly take my son with me anyway (there's no mention of creche provision).

DAMN. I can't get, never mind afford, a babysitter. DAMN. DAMN DAMN DAMN.

Harrassing the local paper again

Raced back from my son's school's sponsored Fun Run to dash off a letter to the CNJ before it goes to press. They haven't heard from me for a while....

Last week readers were defending the actions of the Lib Dems auctioning off properties so I executed a little something about Lib Dem plans to tax those who lived in million pound houses.

As I read "But Lib Dems did tell us so - time and time again" (1 October) I recalled hearing on the wires very recently that the Liberal Democrat Party plans a "mansion tax" so those who own homes worth more than £1 million can contribute an annual 0.5% levy to wider society.
If this money is used to refurbish existing council properties so the local Lib Dems don't auction off the council flats the masses desperately need, then don't you think it's a good idea?

I told them they could play around with it, perhaps put it alongside their own news that celebrities are getting planning permission to "supersize" their homes.

As ever with Stigmum, que sera sera

Is marshalling a school Fun Run work?

Is volunteering for your child's school work?

A stay at home mother does not need to ponder this.

A stigmum, "technically" a stay at home mother, must for she is kept by the State and as such must answer to it (roughly every six months at the moment but the law's changing)

For the stay at home mum, is work the cooking, cleaning, shopping, admin, caring for child and children and oh how the list goes on?

For the stigmum, is work the shelf stacking or data input for a Private Company (even though she must do all the 'work' stay at home mothers do because it doesn't do itself)?

I pondered this as I marshalled the school's Fun Run, the first of its kind to encourage fitness in all pupils regardless of size and ability. The kids were amazing and got a real sense of achievement from it. I'll volunteer next year if I'm allowed to.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Time heals old wounds?

"I want to be your friend," said the Foca, six years ago when he dumped me, told me "no-one's to blame, get over it!"
"No," I'd replied. "You can't leave me then continue to enjoy the best part of me."

On and off these past six years he has asked that we be friends, told me to be as "magnanimous" as mums he knew who were still friends with their ex's.

Good for them, I'd thought, but not for me.

Last week the two of us had taken our son out to dinner for his birthday. Every year I make him hang out on his birthday, come along to our son's birthday parties, after last year's nativity play I suggested the three of us go up to the Heath for some cake. It's as much as I want to do, as "magnanimous" as I can be.

Anyway, a few days ago he sent me an email. Our son enjoyed himself, he said. We should do it more often, we could even take a trip up to Alton Towers.

The beauty of this manic/depressed Motherboard situation I'm in is that I do not always think about what to write, I just do. This, for any mums out there like me, is what I wrote:

"[Our son] did enjoy being with us but he was quiet and didn't talk about it much so who knows what he's really thinking. I find it hard to be honest, not least perhaps because I'm still spinning on the same fecking record I was on when you handed us notice six years ago and was able to move forward with your own life.

"So saying, I'm sure he'd love a trip to Alton Towers and I would be gutted not to see the joy on his face....." (though I didn't add 'I'm used to it though so go ahead without me')

Six years is a long time. Our son doesn't beg the three of us hang out (only that his dad moves in with us).

The foca hasn't replied but then there's nothing really more to say, is there?

Family Relationships

Later that Saturday afternoon, back in parents' kitchen

Bro: I don't know what it is you've got against me, everything I say, you jump down my throat.
Me (very calmly): I sometimes think it's because you can't project your crap on your ex wife, that you project it onto me and mum instead and it winds me up.

Reader, I'm going to stop talking about my family. We aren't what I would call close (although when I was with the Foca I'd tell him we were because I was jealous of the relationship he had with his and I wanted the same for myself). This blog is my story, why drag them into it? It serves no purpose whatsoever and could only damage what is already, for me, such fragile relationships which are getting stronger (bit by bit by bit).

During my brief 'thing' with Old Shit School Acquaintance, he told me he wasn't that close to his family either. It's ok. It's normal.

Housing - another song

How much is that council flat in the window
The one with the secure front door?
The masses they desperately need one
Why won't the State offer more?

(For the 'rich and switched off' the tune is that of 'how much is the doggie in the window')

Row with my brother

Parents' kitchen, at the weekend. My married sister is leaning against a wall, my divorced brother and myself are sat around the table.

Sis: I heard you went to see your MP. What happened?
Bro: You went to see your MP? Who is it? Where? Why?
Me (wanting to get on with the story): [The Labour one] about housing of course, it doesn't matter where...
Bro: Yes it does, where? I want to know where?
Me: Oh christ, at an informal coffee evening, does it matter?
Bro: Yes it does, I want to picture the scene.
Me: Somewhere in Finchley
Sis: So what happened? What is she like?
Bro: Where in Finchley?
Me: (beginning to feel somewhat exasperated): God, Swiss Cottage, a shopping centre, there somewhere
Bro: Oh yes, I see it, the O2 centre, I've done Ceroc there!
Me: Geez
Sis: What did she say?
Bro: Why did you go?
Me: To ask her if she could help us with our housing problems
Bro: What housing problems?
Me: Christ, if after six years, you don't know what I'm going through then where the fuck have you been? Our lease has expired, the council wants us to move to a private flat and if we don't they'll put us in a hostel.
Bro: I don't understand.
Sis: Sue is saying that when the lease expires on her flat the council will put her and her son in a hostel if they don't move into the private sector.
Me: Thanks
Bro: What's wrong with that?
Me: What's wrong with that?? You want to carry on paying for us, for thousands of other families, to remain in poverty? What's wrong with that??
Bro: You should do the private thing. I moved around alot, sometimes you have to.
Me: Not with your children on your back did you!
Bro: Yes I did!
Me: Oh for fucks sake, you didn't. But either way, you might like playing bouncy bouncy with your children but I don't want to do that with mine OK? I want to settle, build a secure foundation for him.
Bro: Well from where I'm standing it doesn't look like you have any choice.
Me: (shouting now): Which is why I'm going to sue the fucking bastards if a lawyer will give me the chance!
Bro (rather too smugly for my liking, leaning back into a chair): Oh and WHO is going to PAY for THAT?


Mother (after a pause way more pregnant than my sister): Un silence mort.

Sis: Apparantly an angel passes through the house every 20 past and 20 to
I look at the clock on the wall, it's 20 past 3
Bro: Ha ha, like that will help her
Me: Actually, I have an entire ARMY of angels!
Bro: You better believe it
Me: I DO

And with that I go and climb into bed and fall asleep as my son plays his psp quietly beside me.

It's a question of perception

Perched on a stool in my parents' kitchen at the weekend I was gobbling up a copy of the Sunday Times. Amongst the many stories there was news that "Some families have been paid almost £200,000 each in housing benefit to live in some of the country's most expensive areas."

Oxford was mentioned, as was Westminster, as was Camden, my borough.

The article implied these families were parasites, feeding off the taxpayer.

Now if I didn't know better I'd have leaned back in indignation, but of course, being on a stool, I would have fallen off it.

However, I have been banging on about this since January (to you, not to others) and do know something (woo hoo, to be skint and dim!)

The article didn't mention AT ALL the Government policy forcing these families into the private sector. Didn't mention AT ALL the council flat sell offs denying many many families an affordable secure tenancy. No mention AT ALL of all the empty properties up and down the country.

It's so easy to blame families, so easy. Sure, some exploit the system but the majority don't. I'm thinking here of Hannah, Tim and their four children, soon to be evicted from their temporary accommodation. Like me they are against the Private Rental Scam and so, Hannah told me the other week, are probably going to go back into a hostel when the lease expires.

"Oh you're not," I'd said to Hannah at the time.
"We don't feel like we've got any choice," she'd replied. "They said they'll try and put us an annex again." (At a cost of £400 a week!)

"Susie Squire," the Sunday Times quoted, "campaign manager at the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "These figures are staggering and show an alarming amount of taxpayers' money is being haemorrhaged year after year."".

"Stigmum," the paper didn't quote, "parasitic member of our society, said: "I've been talking about this for ages. The answer is to build more social housing, refurbish empty properties, not auction them all off."

(So soon, so soon, the MP's second homes scandal has been forgotten.)

Monday, 5 October 2009

Being "the skint and the dim"

It is better to be "the skint and the dim" than to be the rich and the switched off.

This is not a dig at you Sun Columnist (October 1st), because your comment actually made me laugh when I read it.

Policies benefit who exactly?

A little story, based on the assumption that many welfare recipients would welcome a contract of some longevity in order not to go back on benefits.

The Government Party in Power pays a Private Company to employ Mr EX and Ms WHY who are claiming benefits. If Mr EX and Ms WHY should refuse this, this is good, for their benefits will be cut hence more money to give to Private Company.

Mr X and Ms Y take the job with the Private Company because they know what's good for them. After a bumpy start sorting out how they will afford to live the first few months and the headache of dealing with the housing benefit office (for they can now contribute to their rent), the Private Company says "oh dear, your contract is finished, we are unable to renew it in this current climate" and Mr X and Ms Y go back to square one again. Or go back who knows where.

Meanwhile the Private Company goes back to the Government Party in Power and says: "We have hit your targets, give us more money so we can carry on doing so."

My life collapsed during the 'Boom Years' so it would be interesting to see how all this plays out during a 'Recession'. I however do not want to experience it. Little Boy has seen quite enough of his mother crying.

A question of work

The unemployed and single mothers - are stigmums 'technically unemployed'?
The disabled and single mothers - are our children our disability?
The mentally ill and single mothers - are government policies driving us mad?

I don't know, I hand it over to you

Getting those on welfare back to work

The unemployed and single mothers
The disabled and single mothers
The mentally ill and single mothers

What in the blazes and blazers do politicians think we stigmums do with our time?

(And yes, you are welcome to use my life as a template but be aware, be very aware, that I am amongst the laziest)

I could never be a politician

The cringeing shame of all the opportunities I missed when I was younger to THINK of national and world events fell upon me in my Anthropology seminars two years ago. Sometimes you have to forgive yourself, for what you didn't do, for what you didn't take, as a child.

I have, which is why I am self elected leader of the I Don't Know Party.

"All I know is that I know nothing" (Socrates)

(You will find the I Don't Know Party on Facebook. It has about 20 members. I don't know, I haven't checked for a long long time. Too busy dealing with other things...)

Political opportunities

When I was nineteen, n-n-n nineteen I was debating with my dad one night. A Tory, we just didn't see eye to eye.

"C'est bon d'etre Socialiste quand on est jeune," he'd said. "C'est bon d'avoir espoir. Mais quand tu grandit, c'est les Conservateurs pour qui tu doit voter. Ils sont les travailleurs, les socialistes sont les jouers."

(The long and the short of that is that it's good to dream and hope when you are young but get your act together when you are older. Conservatives are 'workers', Socialists are 'players' he was saying)

We still chew the political cud, my dad and I, but he's no longer so strong.

I don't oft post about my family. There is so much mileage within families for writers you could go around the world for 80 years.

This weekend I told my dad I was self elected leader of the "I Don't Know Party".

He laughed.

Snow White and the Seven.....

Quite a surprise as I come out of the lift to take my son to school. Seven police officers are coming out of two vans and coming up to the door.

"You'll have to tell me what it's about," I say to the Good Caretaker as I let them in.

"We don't know yet," says a police officer.

Likely story, I think to myself.

They are gone when I return. "Don't worry, they weren't for you," says the Good Caretaker with laughter in his eyes.

"Who for then? Why were they here?"

"Oh a man upstairs, I don't know why."

"Seven policemen for one person?"

"Well you never know these days, they might have dogs.." and he carries on chatting abit about the assault on officers in the past.

"They weren't wearing riot gear," I say (for here at Papier Mache Towers, that is not an uncommon occurence)

"No, it was probably nothing," says Good Caretaker and I leap fairy like into the lift (ok that bit's not true, just taking abit of creative licence...)

The Good Caretaker was right to put me at ease however as I did get swept away by a fantasy during this morning run.

I imagined I would come home and see my door bashed down then charged with domestic disorder. I rather hoped they would stay and tidy up, then thought of Snow White in the little cottage she found. She had help, but no, the Dwarves didn't help her initially. It was birds and squirrels and deer, not pigs ho ho ho!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Mad ideas that aren't mad but are mad

I've just emailed the Sun, to ask them if they would do a poll to see how many of their readers DO NOT KNOW who to vote for at the next election. Well, it is Britain's largest selling newspaper. It felt like the right thing to do....

I asked them to let me know if they do it because I don't buy newspapers that often at the moment but then realised of course, that if I'm not buying newspapers then I don't know if they already have, tumbling straight into one of their columnist's comments that I am one of the 'skint and dim'....

Oh well, Stigmum's fault. She just can't keep flipping still...

I wouldn't have minded a call.....

Missed call from support worker this morning while I was at the school's annual School Association meeting. I was busy accepting praise for raising so much money as Queen of Tarts and also sticking my hand up saying I'd be happy to be a Committee Member (Registered charity, you know, my son's School Association, I'd forgotten..)

I was also reminded that the first Class Tea is next week! Eek! Best get my skates on!!

I texted support worker afterwards: "Was it you who called?"
"I was in a school meeting, you can call now...."

Haven't heard a dicky bird and that was two hours ago.

I can't be arsed to text again, I've got to find all the posters and letter templates and start organising next week's big scoff. My son's class - must dig out the recipe for Nigella's mouth watering chocolate fudge cake once again! Well I did say it's the one that raises the most cash...


I was perusing my blog last night after posting how energised I was feeling that morning. Bloody hell! It's all fear, paranoia, anxiety, anger, very 'antichrist' like thoughts (the film I went to see about grief and pain....) particularly under the 'housing - government and council' label.

It's like a flipping confessional! What I realised though in that grey darkness of mid night tea time, was that when I go out, whereever, I push all those feelings aside. I have to or I will isolate myself more than I already have done. I cleanse, tone, moisturise my face, little bit of mascara, little bit of lip gloss, a few drops of Rescue Remedy under my tongue, and I'm off!

But these feelings, sometimes I think I'm carrying all the voices of all the families I met when doing my Masters research, these feelings have to come out somewhere and they come out here!
(No there shouldn't be an exclamation mark but Stigmum shoved that in)

So yeah, I did say 'follow me if you have the stomach for it' and I don't blame you if you don't, for I'm having trouble following me...

I am in a dark place, housing wise, but it comes in waves. Stigmum in the hostel, she said that to me: "Comes in waves" so I'm not the only one. There is value somewhere in sharing all this.

Dishy Shrink told me to ring the clinical psychologist I missed my appointment with and see if I could get an appointment. He said it was unlikely, but to try. I tried and as you know, I'm going for that 2nd assessment in a couple of weeks.

Always look on the bright side of life ey? (Monty Python)

But I have to tell you I also had a wierd dream last night. You can picture the scene by the song that accompanied it:

The owl and the stigmum went to sea
In a terribly rusty boat
The owl said to the stigmum listen to me
Don't drown you've got to float

I was clinging onto the sides in a cracking storm. The owl was a tawny one.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Housing questionaire....

It's bidding day, so I duly go to the website to bid, but before I am able to, there is a survey they'd like me to fill in.

1. How well do you understand how council and housing association homes are allocated in Camden? Fully? Partly? Not at all? I pick c) Not at all.

2. Do you think that the way we allocate homes is fair? Very Fair? Fair? Unfair? Very Unfair? I'm thinking 'very unfair' but I pick 'unfair'.

3. How do you think we can allocate homes more fairly? By taking into account peoples individual needs. As a lone parent with one child I feel mine and my child's are completely ignored.

4. Would you like to see an allocation system that helps people move from Camden to other London boroughs and outside of London? Yes? No? I personally don't think the choices are fair because some may want to move out but I have to go with how I feel so say NO. I have a sinking feeling that when the results come out they'll say most respondents said YES. I'll never know if this is true.

5. Could the Council be doing more to explain our allocations scheme? Yes? No? Yes

If yes, how would you like us to do this? Define 'exceptional' needs and housing people at the Council's 'discretion'.(I should have added why are people housed who have waited less time than me, raised all the crap I've been raising the last 3 weeks. oh well)

I had to agree to its terms and conditions. "If you can be identified from the information you give us, we will need your consent to collect and use your information before we:
Share with the public, voluntary agencies and community groups.
Consult with you....
Help to improve our communities...

Of course I can be identified, it was punching in my prison number that flagged up the survey in the first place. Consult with me? I'd like to see that...

Oh and there was nothing for me to bid on. Three out of six properties were council, and the street property in south Camden I just felt too far a schlep from the boy's school. I'd never get it anyway. I saw the flats in the tower had gone, one for 420 odd points, the other didn't say and I just felt an ache. Another flat I bid on has been "Withdrawn". For who? Why? Oh the questions they will not answer....

The end of participatory appraisal?

Today was our last participatory appraisal meeting for the work we did for the Safeguarding Children Board. I almost didn't want to go because I don't want it to end so good it's been.

It was great to see everyone, so wholly crap I am at keeping in touch with them. We were there to amend or add to the 'Stakeholders' opinions we retrieved for the report that's been written up. Our man from God's Own Country said my parent's perspective was good, which was good! I told him not to put my name to it, though now thinking why would I do that if I want a job one day? Durr.

What's been very cool about this research is that if the policy deciders didn't know how to resolve a problem, like people's fear of the police or social workers for example, we made them think about it. Change might come about from all this, in Camden anyway. I still find it so flipping exciting.

Like our Leader said "It's not about money, there's a huge gap in our society and the more we can enable that bridge to be gapped, the better our society will be."

Top isn't it? What people like you and me think of services and what those service providers think of their own. Then change, change, change....

They put a lovely spread on for lunch, and I duly stuffed myself, then we were asked if any of us wanted to go to the Town Hall in a few weeks to present the report to the people we interviewed. I said I would. Yep, yesterday I was lying on a sofa with burning eyelids, today I was feeling energised. Ah housing housing, rid me of the housing housing once and for all.....